This month’s sketch (a little excerpt of my writing) is a scene from an as yet unnamed work in progress that is set in the world of Thalandria (the same world in which The Caretaker is set). It’s a rough first draft and the action takes place in the main temple of Garana, the Moon Goddess.
The sun was nearly up so Jaila hurried through the pavillion hallway, coming close to breaking the rule of not running. Struggling to wake at the gong that morning had made her late for her duties, again. Quickly, she grabbed a broom, a brush and a bucket from the cleaning cupboard at the end of the hall and hurried outside. Juggling the broom and her brush, she kept hold of both as she filled up the bucket with water from the courtyard’s well. Slushing water over the brim as she not quite ran towards the wide pathway that led up to the shiny white domed building at the centre of the enclave.
She felt the stare of the other novices as she set to work on removing bright red berry stains from the cream coloured path. There was only a small patch left to clean. The others had done most of the work.
Jaila groaned as she kept her eyes on her task, unwilling to meet the annoyed stare of Fran. They got on well usually, her and Fran. But she had been late a couple of times this week and it definitely strained their relationship.
“Moon-cursed berries,” she muttered. Why had they chosen the one tree that dropped red berries to line the most important pathway of the entire enclave? They popped open at imact, spilling their staining colour all over the otherwise impeccable white slate. It was a well-rehearsed litany that had crossed the minds of hundreds of novices before her.
“Hurry! It’s nearly time for the ceremony!” Fran dipped her own brush in Jaila’s clean bucket of water and helped her to remove the last of the berry staines. There was little time left.
Jaila pushed her broom and brush into Fran’s arms and took up both their buckets.
“You clear them away,” she said, “and I will empty the buckets.”
Fran nodded and walked swiftly towards the novice building. Jaila cast a quick glance at the orange glow that spread above the closed gates of the enclave. She jumped as she heard the familiar chiming of the morning bells. White-robed women streamed out of several buildings and took their positions with unhurried but determined steps. Jaila let out a soft squeal of fright and tried to walk at running pace, a bucket of water in each hand.
As the gates creaked open to let in those that wanted to attend the Moon-goddes’s ritual of Rest, and The Silver Watches appeared from their Watchhouse to lead the procession, Jaila stumbled.
In what seemed like slow motion, she felt her balance slip and in a desperate move, tried to hold up the buckets as she fell to the ground. As if by miracle, one bucket remained upright, holding its contents. Jaila wished it had been her own bucket.
Bright red liquid spilled over the pathway. Women stopped in their tracks, faces filled with horror. From the Watchhouse emmerced The Keeper. She eyed the grounds in wonder, searching for what had broken the routine of that morning’s ceremony. She did not have to search long. The red stain spread across the path like an oilspill with Jaila strewn at the start of it, rigid with fear.
The only thought that went through Jaila’s mind as she lay stretched out on the floor for all to see was thankfulness that the goddess was no longer able to see her disaster. The sun had risen.