With no teachings to go to, and nobody to bother me, I amble around the apartment, taking in all of the amenities and decorations until I can look at them without feeling overwhelmed. I look at my reflection in a golden vase, one which I could sell for a month's worth of food for my mother, and see myself beginning to change. My hair is pinned from my face, and now unable to hide myself behind corkscrew curls, my skin seems to glow, soft and clear from various oils and creams.
A meal is brought to me by a veiled attendant who even curtsies before me like I'm particularly important. It's the kind of food that I see Akantha eat every mealtime, and when I uncover a cloth from a golden goblet, I find, with disbelief, nectar filling it, a gold substance that is thick and milky, incredibly sweet when I drink it. It sends tingles through my body, easing the tension in my nervous muscles with each wave. When I finish, the nectar makes me sleepy, but then I hear footsteps coming up the stairwell, expecting her before I see her, but still just as amazed that she stands before me.
She had looked like something ethereal walking in Marissa's ceremony, and the effect was not lessened now. She has grey hair though she is physically only a little older than me, probably three times in reality. Her eyes are strange, originally brown like mine but with flecks of gold that seem to be spreading across the iris, slowly making her more and more similar to Calliope. I wondered why that was, and if it was what happened when a Muse completed her mission...
"Netea, I presume." I've heard her voice when she was telling stories to the village gatherings, but now I realise that her voice is just like her mentor's, effortlessly calm and pronounced. I don't know what to do, so I curtsey awkwardly, my knees bent stiffly and my head too far down. Amaryllis bats her hand, "there's no need for that. Please, treat me as an equal."
An equal? How can I treat Amaryllis as an equal?
"Sorry, I just...I'm not sure what I'm supposed to do,"
Amaryllis approaches me, the silk sashes around her shoulders blowing back like wings. "That's why I'm here," she says. "I'm here to make sure you know the ins and outs of this ceremony, and to ease any nerves that I'm sure are building. I myself was in hysterics, though that was quite a while ago..."
I'm tempted to ask how long, but Amaryllis then takes my hands and I freeze up. There's something about the way she looks at me that I don't like, the look of somebody who knows more about my future than me, but who refuses to tell. She gestures for me to turn, and mechanically I do.
"You're going to be a vision." I spin the rest of the way quickly. Her compliments make my cheeks flare red and I knead my fingers together; just like Marissa.
"I - I'm scared I'll trip up or - or I won't -,"
"Relax," Amaryllis says as she pulls me towards the stairs, and I follow as if in a trance. "Like I said, that's why I'm here."