Practice, Practice, Practice

For the afternoon, we repeat steps over and over, but my frustration builds as each and every time, I fail to finish a sequence without using the wrong foot or pausing out of time. Amaryllis is completely calm, reassuring me each time I stamp my feet and grunt like a petulant child. Tears rise to my eyes when I see the temple attendants - who have walked in the same procession over a dozen times today - sigh and roll their eyes at me. 

I'm a joke to them. What ever made me think I could do this?

"Come here," Amaryllis says after another unsuccessful try, pulling me away from the procession towards Ideón. "You're in need of a break."

For some reason, the closer I come to Ideón with her, rather than her comfortable demeanor, my legs begin to shake, as if there's a wave of energy lashing against my shins to unbalance me. As I stand just feet away from the largest root ploughing into the tiles, I'm barely able to hear the attendants. All I sense is Amaryllis and the drips of constant water running down Ideón's trunk, shutting out anything that might unnerve me.

"It's strange, isn't it?" Amaryllis asks, clearly feeling it too. "You feel it right before you leave, this...tranquility. It's unlike anything I've ever known,"

Words stick in my throat, but I force my question through. "What's it like...there?"

"If I told you that, there wouldn't be any surprises waiting -,"


She turns to me, putting her hand on my arm. "Nothing is ever safe, Netea. There is danger there, and Ideón will test you with it. He does not just control the fates of Muses, remember that,"

"I was also do you become the - the -,"

"The apprentice of Calliope?" I nod stiffly, biting my lip. "Well, as I remember it, she only told me at the final moments when it was too late for me to do anything,"

"What did she do?"

Amaryllis leans in closer to me, "she blessed me with oil, and in barely a whisper said one word to me." I feel her breath in my ear as she says it, "evlogiménos..."

The word shivers through me, and in that moment, I swear that a breeze makes the branches of Ideón quiver, one that not Amaryllis, but only I can feel.

The End

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