Samhain Vallen Style

Tatiana Ashurst, youngest daughter of Lord and Lady Ashurst felt like she had been run to the ground. She was exhausted as she finished helping her mother with all the preparations for the Samhain bonfire that evening.

The night of All Hallows Eve was her favorite. Tonight they would like the enormous bonfire in the road leading from her family’s estate to the village nearby. Everyone came out to enjoy the good food, dancing and singing as they celebrated the end of the harvest season and prepared for the coming winter.

She just had a few more tasks to finish up and all would be ready. She had just completed one last check in the kitchen to find that all the food preparation was nearly completed, and now she simply had a quick run out to the site of the bonfire to make sure there was enough wood and hay to last night.

It was a lovely afternoon. There was a pleasant nip in the air but the sun was shining. As she walked along the road she turned her face up to catch the warmth of the last rays of the day. Her footsteps slowed, however, as just before she reached the site she heard someone crying.

She followed the sound and found her twin sister Trina sitting on a stack of wood, her face in her hands.

“Trina! What’s happened?” Tatiana said, rushing over.

Her sister looked up and did her best to stop her tears.  “It’s… it’s nothing.”

“Nothing wouldn’t make you cry. Now, tell me what’s happened,” Tatiana insisted.

Trina shook her head and then wiped away the tears still lingering on her cheeks. “It’s stupid.”

“Tell me,” Tatiana said, taking her sister’s hand and looking in her eyes.

Trina frowned at her. “Don’t do that.”

“No! I’m doing anything, I promise. I just want to know why you’re crying. Please.”

Trina sighed as if she were giving up. “It’s Aaron.”

Tatiana dropped down onto the ground. “What has he done this time?” Their brother was always causing trouble. In a family of seven children, he was in the middle with two brothers and a sister older than him and a brother and two sisters younger. He was also the least powerful of all the siblings.

Tatiana and her family were what were know as Vallen. They were descendants of the people of the magical Isle of Avalon. Tatiana and her family were in the direct line of the great Morgan le Fey. Each Vallen had his or her own special sort of magical power, but some were naturally more powerful than others.

Aaron and Trina were the two least powerful children in the family. Tatiana, the seventh child and the one destined to take over from her mother as High Priestess of all the Vallen was the strongest.

“What has our beloved brother done now?” Tatiana asked.

“Nothing. He… he was going off about how stupid Samhain and our bonfire is. He was saying that we were Christian and shouldn’t be celebrating old Celtic Pagan holidays.”

“What? But he used to love our bonfire!”

“Well, he doesn’t any more. What worries me is what will happen when the veil thins tonight. I’m… I’m scared, Tatiana. You know that tonight the veil between this world and that of the dead…”

Tatiana grabbed Trina’s hand. “It’s okay. It’s going to be all right.”

“You don’t know that. Could there… could there be repercussions, do you think?” Trina asked.

Tatiana had spent her entire life studying the Vallen, it’s history and magic, but she’d never heard of anything happening to anyone for not believing in Samhain. “No, I don’t think anything could happen to Aaron from the other world. However, there is a distinct possibility that something is going to happen to him in this one.” She stood as she said this and brushed off the back of her skirts.

“No! Tatiana, you aren’t to do anything,” Trina said jumping up as well.

“Don’t worry, I’ll just have a little talk with him. I promise.” What Tatiana didn’t tell her sweet, sensitive sister was that it was going to be Tatiana doing the talking because she’d had it with Aaron upsetting Trina in this way. She was certain he only did because he knew she would become upset.

“You promise, Tatiana?” Trina asked.

“Absolutely! Now, could you please do me a favor and see that there is enough fuel for tonight’s bonfire?”

“Oh, of course!” Trina said. She was always so helpful. Tatiana knew how lucky she was to have a sister like Trina.

Tatiana gave her sister a quick hug and went off to find her no-good brother.

***

He was lounging in his bed chamber, reading when she found him.

“Aaron, why did you deliberately upset Trina?” Tatiana asked after he bid her enter.

“I didn’t deliberately upset her, I merely told her the truth,” he said, sitting up on the chair in front of the fireplace.

Tatiana frowned at him. “The truth? What truth?”

“That Samhain is a pagan ritual that has no place in today’s modern, Christian world. I mean, honestly, Tatiana, it’s bad enough that we adhere to so many old traditions we don’t have to dancing around a fire like monkeys as well.”

“Monkeys? You are such an idiot! We are celebrating the harvest! We are celebrating the coming winter!” Tatiana argued.

“You are behaving like imbeciles who don’t know understand the basic science of the seasons and nature. We are no longer forest-dwelling people looking in awe at something that grows from the ground. We till the fields. We carefully cultivate our food. We study agriculture. We don’t need to be dancing around a fire thanking gods for this bounty.”

“You’re just upset that you have had nothing to do with the bounty we’re going to be celebrating. You’re angry because Papa has Earth magic which he uses to help our crops grow.”

“I don’t need any nasty, pagan magic to make crops grow! I’ve got science,” he spat.

“You say you don’t need it because you don’t have it,” she said crossing her arms in front of her chest.

“I don’t want it! I’m thankful I’m not a freak like you. I’m thankful I don’t—”

“Shut your mouth!” Tatiana shouted, her fury finally getting the better of her. She hated the anger and hate her brother spewed when he got started. He’d done so one too many times and she was not going stand for this any longer. She was not going to listen to him degrade her and her family because they had powers that he hadn’t been born with.

Her brother’s mouth snapped shut and try as he might, he could not open it again. He put his hands to his mouth and made all sorts of squealing and groaning noises which would have been shouts and curses if he’d been able to open his mouth.

He jumped up and grabbed Tatiana’s shoulder and gave her a strong shake, looking daggers at her.

“Fine. You can open your mouth, but you will never say anything more thing against Samhain, against magic, anything that would upset Trina, you will never speak again.” Tatiana said, this time putting deliberate power behind her words.

Aaron’s mouth popped open, and although his mouth worked furiously no sound came out. He couldn’t speak and Tatiana liked it that.

“That will serve you right. I’ve had it with your disparaging me, magic and the Vallen. I’m sorry you were born without powers, but that doesn’t give you the right to denigrate those who have them. You use your words to hurt, not help, so I see no reason why you should have any at all.” With that she turned on her heel and walked out of the room. She knew her brother had nothing further he could say—she’d made sure of it.

***

That evening just about the entire village were present at the bonfire that had yet to be lit. It was a great ceremony, the lighting of the fire, and one which Tatiana and Trina along with so many others looked forward to every year.

Tatiana and Trina were nearly late they’d spent so much time dressing for the joyous occasion. They had new woolen gowns to wear and had fun doing each other’s hair. They joined their siblings behind their parents just outside of the door to their magnificent, ancient house. Lord Ashurst, Tatiana’s father, held a large torch in his hand as he turned a smile onto his wife.

“My lady, would you do the honors?” he asked.

“Happily, my lord,” Lady Ashurst said with a broad smile. With a wave of her hand, the torch burst into flames.

Tatiana giggled and clapped her hands silently. She loved it when her mother did that. It didn’t matter that she could do the same, there was always something special with the way her mother did it every year at Samhain.

Lord Ashurst nodded and started off toward the bonfire where everyone was waiting.

Aaron turned around and glared at her—the meaning in his eyes was clear. He was furious. Tatiana lifted her chin and ignored him determined to enjoy the evening. Maybe before the end of the night—if he were nice to her—she would restore his words, but first she had to teach him a lesson.

The family followed in Lord Ashurst in a beautiful procession of happy—but one—Vallen off to celebrate the changing of the seasons. With great ceremony Tatiana’s father approached the stack of wood and dried corn stalks that made up the bonfire. Slowly, he lowered his torch and set it alight.

Huge cheers went up from everyone standing around. Tatiana’s were probably amongst the loudest, but they were all drowned out by the vision of a man that arose with the smoke and flames.

There were screams of shock and fear as the vision of the man appeared.

Tatiana’s mother approached the fire and called out, “Great Merlin! We are honored tonight by your presence. To what do we owe this pleasure?”

“It is sadly not pleasure for which I have appeared here this evening,” Merlin said, his voice sounding as if it were coming from a great way off.

He turned to Tatiana and pointed at her making her heart stutter and a cold sweat coat her body. “It is because of the actions of this one who will someday hold an esteemed position.” He paused and looked straight at Tatiana. “Do not think, child, that because of your position that you may do as you wish. With great power comes great responsibility. You who are to be the one to uphold the laws of the Vallen must be the first to uphold them herself.”

Tatiana’s mother turned on her in anger. “What have you done?”

Tatiana didn’t know who to address first. She turned from Merlin to her mother and back to Merlin. “I… I didn’t mean to cause any harm.”

“Do not hide the truth, daughter. You know what you did and you did it with complete understanding,” Merlin said sadly.

“What did you do?” her mother repeated from behind clenched teeth.

“I didn’t know it was against the law!” Tatiana cried. She turned to her mother. “I put a suggestion in Aaron’s mind so that he can’t speak. He was being cruel saying that Samhain and our bonfire was stupid and pagan. He said we should move forward with the times and dispense with our traditions. He even implied that having magic was a bad thing. He said he was happy he didn’t have any!”

“So you stopped him from speaking—at all?” her mother clarified.

“Yes. That’s not against the law, is it? I didn’t kill him or even threaten his life,” Tatiana said.

“You used your powers to harm,” Merlin explained. “That is against our laws.”

“You should know better, Tatiana,” her mother said, clearly furious with her.

“I was angry and he—” Tatiana started.

“You must control your temper, child. You cannot allow it to control you for if you do, it will be your downfall,” Merlin warned.

“I… I’m sorry,” Tatiana said. She caught Aaron’s gaze as he stood there a few feet away watching. “I release you, Aaron. You may speak.”

When she looked back at the fire, Merlin had disappeared.

“Come! Let us feast and dance and forget all unpleasantness,” Tatiana’s father called out loudly.

There seemed to be a collective sigh of relief and everyone was more than happy to do as his lordship said.

For Tatiana, however, there was no relief, not yet. Her mother pulled her away from the fire. “You have a great destiny, Tatiana, and I am disappointed in you. How do you expect to be the great leader the Vallen expect and need you to be if you cannot control your temper? How do you expect to raise your daughter who will be the most powerful Vallen in generations if you cannot teach her right from wrong?”

“I’m sorry, Mother. Aaron hurt Trina with his words. He—”

“Aaron is male. He cannot help being an imbecile and your sister is overly sensitive.” Her mother sighed. “Male children are insignificant and weak, but they are necessary. You cannot let them bother you or sway you from your purpose. You will have a daughter. A beautiful, powerful, wonderful daughter who will love and who will grow up to be the most powerful Vallen, but you must be there to teach her and guide her. You must fulfil your destiny. Don’t forget this.”

Tatiana nodded and was grateful for the lesson.