Amelia Emma James, a red haired young woman with small black rimmed glasses, freckled to the point of having red skin as well as hair, sat in English 101 at Northern Kentucky University. Now, in her third week of college, no one around her knowing what dark secrets lay just below the surface, or what she hides behind her adorable smile. Roughly five feet four inches in height, she was not unlike most of the other young woman throughout her university. She dressed as any other young woman of her nineteen years, mostly long black dresses, though she always found a way to have a single bright color to accompany her black. when she wore shorts or yoga paints on workout days, they too were all if not mostly black.The tops also match the black bottoms on the days she worked out her body as much as her mind. No one would ever think twice about her life activities, she made exceptional grades, had a bright personality, and many friends. The teaching staff knew her as the student who never turned in her assignments late, and always put 100% into everything she did. She was part of the Greek community on campus and though not originally from Kentucky, she came from a small town near Salem Massachusetts where her family has lived since the birth of the United States.
NKU, was the first time in Amelia’s life she had attended any kind of public education. As a youth, she had been taught in a private community education program, following the views of hr families religious practice. There were nine other children in her educational past. They had all been raised under the same strict religious beliefs, this belief passing on into their education. Being in a public university had been the idea of her father, and though her mother had allowed it, it was not, by any means what she would have preferred for her daughter. Amelia’s mother had wished her to attend a small private educational system in the soother region of Italy. The same place she and all the women of the family had attended for the past several hundred years. Amelia had never cared for her mothers expectations, but she did care deeply for the beliefs of hr family. Her grandmother still lived in Italy, s did her mothers six other sisters. Amelia had four sisters of hr own, and though she did have a younger brother, it had been very clear during her childhood, that girls were the preferred sex of children. Her father was not strictly Italian, though it was close. His grandmother had been Irish, and grandfather Italian. For this reason alone Amelia had very bright red hair, and fair skin. When she was a young child, her mothers closets sister had told her she would have exceptional skills and abilities, due to her red hair. Amelia had never understood why it could be all that important, but had not argued either.
Now, attending a public university, out of state from her family, she was, for the first time in her life, learning about other practices in faith then how she had been raised. She had been asked to attend this school by one of her mothers sisters, Lisa, also a professor of psychology. When she had first been asked if she would want to come here, she had not given much thought about the idea, but over the last year before needing to start university, her mothers friend had pushed a great deal for this decision. Amelia had, eight weeks ago agreed to come to Kentucky to attend this school. When her father had dropped her off three weeks ago, he had seemed different in a way she could not put her finger on. He had helped her into her new dorm and in getting her classes in order, but when he left he seemed concerned about her new life upcoming. He had given her a hug, as he always did, but right before he left, he had spoken to her in a strange way, and though it had now been three weeks, his words still echoed in her mind.
“Remember, we are always only a phone call away. I know you coming here was my idea, but if you want to come home, for any reason, all you have to do is ask. Please be careful and listen to your heart for hard decisions.”
She hd called her parents for the first time since coming there last night. She was shocked to find out her father had gone out of the country for business without saying anything to her. She was very close to him, and he hd always told her where she could find him. The tone of voice from her mother told her more then her words. She knew the was hiding something, but had not been able to figure out what. Amelia’s aunt Lisa had lost her husband two years ago to a terrible accident in the French Alps, while he had been skiing. Ever since then, she had worried she would loose her father though she could not understand where the fear came from. Now, him having left without saying anything to hr about it, gave her more reason to fear then before. Her mother was very quick to get off the phone, only reminding Amelia to not miss her religious meeting tonight. She knew Lisa would never allow her to not attend, but her mother had been much more pushy then usual. Lisa, was known for being very strict when it came to how the family pursued their beliefs. Amelia, was, she knew being groomed to become a more intricate part of the families belief structure. For the last five years all she had been told was it would be a great honor to be asked to become a Credaira but no one had ever elaborated on what all of it would mean to her life. As a child Amelia had always knew her family practiced very old magick, but until the last few weeks, she ha not wondered any deeper then what she had always been told. “You will come to the understandings you need, when the Goddess is ready for you to join her.” this had been repeated to her over and over since childhood. Now, the night had come when she would be told the rest about her family and how it would impact the rest of her life.
Lisa was waiting for her when she walked out of her English class. She was wearing an all black dress, full length, flowing like water over her brilliant figure. This woman had been hand created by the goddess Herself. Never a thread or hair out of place. Always in clothing matching what a queen may have worn hundreds of years ago. Today was no exception, though there seemed to be a kind of energy about her Amelia could not fully comprehend. She had wanted to go to the student union to get food with her sorority sisters, but it would seem, Lisa had other plans.
“This is your last class this day, yes?”
“Yes, aunt Lisa. I am not going to forget about the arrangement tonight, but I do have people waiting for me for lunch, if you would please excuse me?”
“I fear your friends will have to go without you today. there are many preparations you must complete before the gathering tonight. I am sorry for the inconvenience, but you have agreed to take your part on the great path, and your mother has spent your entire life waiting for tonight. You do know she will be here tonight?”
“No, I had no idea she would be coming, but it will be nice to see her. Will my father be coming as well? Has he returned from Europe yet?”
“No dear, he has not, an as always this gathering is for the women of the family, I think you would understand that by now, you did just turn eighteen last month. Have you no understanding of what our family is truly a part of? When I was your age, I could not wait for this night. The night all my questions about what we truly are were answered and I was able to move forward in my responsibilities. Are you not jut as excited?”
“Honestly, I have wondered about so many things over the years, and now I have more apprehension then curiosity, but I am looking forward to tonight. What are the responsibilities you were speaking of, that I need to do before our gathering? I already am missing a sorority meeting tonight, I really don’t want to miss lunch with my sisters! May I please be allowed to join them now?”
“I am sorry Amelia, I simply can not allow you to go off track, today of all days. You must com with me so you can be dressed correctly. I am sure your sisters, if they truly live up to that word will understand.”
Amelia was anything but happy about being told she could not even speak to her sisters, and it was making her more then angry to be spoken to as if a small child and not being treated like an adult. She had it in her mind to simply not go, but had the feeling her family would never allow her to get away with such an act. Almost as if Lisa knew what she was thinking, she reached down and took Amelia’s hand and started walking for the door, not even making sure Amelia was going to follow. By this point Amelia was almost boiling with anger, but it was clear she had little choice in this matter. All her life it had always been about her Credaira, but nothing had ever been explained. She had been expected like the other young women in the family to simply accept this as part of her life to be, no questions answered. Now, she was being taken from the new sisters she had wanted for years, being made to follow like an obedient dog and though she made it clear how upset she was, Lisa was not giving her any room for other choices. As they walked out of the English building, they walked towards the main parking lots.
Amelia had only been off campus once in the last three weeks, and though it made sense her aunt would own a car, she had no idea where they were going or why. Lisa walked to a beautiful black Maserati with all blood red interior. She felt like it was something gout of a dark movie. After they left the campus, they drove for some distance into the country. This was not what she had been expecting. They turned down a dirt road, and continued to a bark in what looked like the back of a rather large field. No animals, or other buildings. Only this massive barn, painted all black, and a single woman waiting around the side. Amelia was no longer interested in the importance of this night. She was becoming more and more frightened and now she wanted answers.
“What is going on? You said I was going to get ready for tonights gathering. How am I going to find a dress in some old barn? I know this family has many secrets, and this night is some big important event, but I am not comfortable with any of this and demand you return me to school. I don’t believe my mother would allow me to do anything that may bring harm to myself.”
“Oh, poor little thing, you truly don’t understand just how important this night is, do you? I know this is all a bit much, but for now, you re going to have to place your trust in me and Sabrina around the corner. Please do not start any more outbursts, all your questions will be answered in a few hours. We have been following the traditions of the Credaira for more then three thousand years, so now, you too will become one with us. Come along please.”
Amelia was beyond being pissed, though she saw no other choice, as they came around the side of the barn, another woman of the family, Sabrina, from Italy was the woman waiting for them. She also was wearing a dress fit for a goddess. She could only hope her own would be of such immense beauty. As they entered the barn, it was clear this was no ordinary wooden barn. Amelia was not even sure a single animal had ever been in this building. The floor was some kind of shiny black stone, and though the outside was made to look like an old wooden ban, the inside was completely made of stone. She felt as if she had just entered some kind of ancient tomb, not a barn. She looked back to Lisa, who only smiled at her and kept walking forward. they came to a set of sone spiral steps, depending into the ground. As they walked down, Amelia noticed there were no electric lights inside. There were, though torches burning on the walls. The further they wend down, the more uncomfortable she became. Both of the other women seemed completely comfortable with their surroundings. Finally they came to the bottom and started down a long circular hallway. Th far end was a set of rooms in the shape of spheres, not cubes. Amelia could not imagine how such a place had been built, or even the cost to have it built in the first place. They moved to enter a large sphere to their right. Over the door was something written in Latin. Though she recognized the language, she could not make out the meaning of the words.
“Vertias Invenitur in Carne”
Sabrina stood directly below the words and looked back to me smiling. Lisa came to stand beside her, an they both stood there looking directly at Amelia. Amelia was not looking very happy by this point, but the other women only smiled and motioned for her to step forward. IT had been made very clear as a child never walk through a door if you do not fully understand the expectations of your actions. She stopped a step before the threshold and refused to move forward. This time it was Sabrina who spoke first.
“You must enter! You must take your place in our great family!”
“That may be true, but I know the laws in our family, and I know if I enter a room, I am bound by blood to follow the expectations of that choice. What do the words say, and furthermore, what do they mean?”
“I am not able to give you that information, at this time. Lisa has already told you, the rest of your questions will be answered tonight. Now come along!”
“No! I don’t care what this family has done for thousands of years, I know I have never broken any vow and I am not going to start being ignorant tonight. Since, as you have both said, it is so important to my life to come. Now tell me what the words say, or I will turn around and leave!”
None of the women moved, not even Amelia. It would seem they were stuck in the places they now stood. Lisa looked directly into her niece’s eyes and stopped smiling. Amelia was now very frightened. She felt as if something were terribly wrong an had no idea what to do. She tried to turn around and found she could no longer move. The look on the faces of her family brought horror to her heart. Her father had told her to make decisions with her heart. She was starting to break, when she heard her mother voice behind her. It was the only sound that could have calmed her down.
“What is troubling you Amelia? You know this night is very important. Why do you resist in the only decision we have told you is imperative to the future of this family and your own life?”
“You have always told me to know what I agree to before I enter a room. I can not make sense of the words above the door. I will not enter till I understand what they mean. You taught me that!”
“You are correct, I did teach you that, but I also taught you Latin. Look at the words, listen to your heart and find meaning where it matters most. We will wait for you, but know this gathering can only take place tonight. No other night will ever be the same.”
Her mother was still behind her, and though she could not turn from the door, she knew her mother would never allow harm to come to her. She did as she was told and looked at the words again, this time looking within to find their meaning. As the moments turned to minutes, she started to make a bit of sense, then as if out of a dream, the words fell from the wall in Latin, and hit the floor in English. It was clear and simple as it read,
“Truth is found in flesh.”
She looked into the room and noticed small shelves on the walls, a small sink like area with water flowing into it from a small whole in the wall above. Another door leading to an even larger sphere could be seen on the far side of the room. This one also had writing above the entrance reading..
“Nisi ut vos per puritatem procedere”
Again she stared at them and allowed her mind to relax, and again the words seemed to fall from the wall to the floor and she was again able to read them, though this time they could only mean one thing.
“Only through purity may you proceed.”
This was a phrase she had heard many times throughout her life. She knew exactly what it was asking her to do. If she proceeded through that door, she would have to shed all the parts of her self to be allowed to leave. She had to accept her future, through her past to her present. This must be the room that tonights event would take place. Now she had a better understanding of what she was being asked to do, she was again able to move, and she turned to see, not only her mother standing behind her, but more people then she could count. She and Lisa had left the campus just past four, and she knew this gathering was to be held at nightfall. She considered the two sets of words and decided it was time to trust her family and stop making this harder then it was supposed to be. She knew what she already was. Knew the modern world would never understand, and though she was still vague about this night, she knew it would not bring harm to her, not after eighteen years of being prepared for it. Amelia tried to see past her mother to the others standing in the hall, but past her mom, she did not recognize anyone. The first thought was how many people would com to this event? She knew this was a big deal for the women in the family coming of age. She also knew if the women were not eighteen themselves, they would not be here.
Turning back to the entrance, she again considered the words above the first door. truth is found in flesh this was simple enough. from teachings of childhood the family taught that only in your purest form can you find the answers you seek. To be able to move forward in this event and in her life she would have to start the way she had come into the world, flesh and only flesh. Lisa and Sabrina still stood in her path, waiting for her to make her move. A single deep breath, in and then out, and she started to remove her clothing. Her shirt was off, and handed to Lisa. Then her bra, her shoes and her skirt. When she was standing in panties alone, Sabrina moved from her path in the door way. Lisa took the rest of her clothing and placed it on a shelf inside the sphere. Now the entrance was clear, and Amelia was able to step forward. from Lisa, Sabrina and all those standing behind her she heard the words spoken in their true form.
“Veritas invenitur in carne! Veritas invenitur in carne! Veritas invenitur in carne!”
Over and over the words were spoken as she entered the first of the two spheres. The chant filled the rooms and hall ways. It echoed in the small sphere and then through her very being. The words became more then simple sounds. They became a single power that bounced off the walls and came flooding forward. She could hear and feel the power as if being hit with wave after wave of water in the ocean. when she stood in the middle of the room, the words and power stopped. Turning she could see everyone moving forward to another entrance to the larger sphere she would go to next. The last person to stand outside the first door was her grandmother, Venezia from Italy. She bowed her head and smiled. Amelia felt as if everything may be alright. She was standing in the middle of a spherical room completely nude, but for the first time today, she felt a bit of peace. She turned away from her grandmother and back to the space around her. the small alcove with water flowing into it, caught her eye. More writing above it, though this time it was not in any language she had ever seen. As far as she could tell, it was not any language or writing she could even imagine. The structure of it, was almost in multi dimensions, not only flat on the wall. It gave her a headache to even look at it for very long. Though, when she looked away, she found herself feeling very much in need of rinsing off her face and body. Looking around, she noticed a set of small wholes in the center of the floor, where the water would be able to run off and not sit in the floor.
She took her time to get as clean as she could, with limited ability. Splashing water out of the stone bowl and onto herself. When she was still dripping wet, she did find she felt a great deal better. She took a step to stand in the very center of the room, allowing the water to fall through the wholes. She also noticed a small breeze hitting her from an unknown location. It felt wonderful, and in moments she was completely dry. Looking behind her, she could see all the women who had been behind her in the hallway. Peering around the corner, as much as possible, she could clearly see her mother, grandmother and aunt. The women in the next sphere were also completely nude and standing in, what looked like geometric positions near the walls. In the center of that room were more whole in the floor, though right in the center of the wholes, and the room, lay a silver knife. Gemstones in the handle shimmered and glinted off the torch light in the entrance. The very idea of having to cut herself in any way brought chills to her, but as it were now, she was completely relaxed and she was not going to go getting upset about something that may or may not even happen. One phrase she had been told over and over as a child was also being change softly by the women in the next room. it was being chanted in Italian, not english, though she had been hearing it her whole life she understood it without thought.
“La paura è solo nella tua mente. “la paura è solo nella tua mente. la paura è solo nella tua mente..”
In simple translation it was; fear is only in your mind. She had been warned as a young girl to only concern herself with the present, not the unknowing future. If you don’t worry about the future there is nothing to fear, since fears is our mind creating possible outcomes to present situations. It was her grandmothers voice that broke her from her current thoughts. She walked into the room and came to stand next to Amelia. She did not seem to think anything out of the ordinary having her grandmother standing next to her completely nude. Only peace was being worn by both, and in so doing no stress could be felt by either.
“Are you ready child? Many have come to witness your acceptance into our growing family. Being Strega is a great honor, as you have always been told. You can not imagine how happy I am about you being old enough to move forward in this way. Is there anything I can tell you, or o to help you?”
“Would you hold my hand as we enter the room?”
“I think that would be lovely dear. Of course I will hold your hand. shall we?”
Amelia held out her left hand which her grandmother lovingly took and they both stepped forward. At the entrance between the two stone spheres there was a moment when a sense of powerful energy almost held Amelia out of the room, but when she pushed forward, the other members watching only chanted louder. She was led to the very center of the room, and shown to stand with her feet apart over the silver knife laying on the floor. More words were written in both the unknown language and Italian on the floor, surrounding the knife and holes around it.
“Il sangue è il percorso del passato”
At first she had to think to be able to translate it from Italian to English, but when she did another shiver ran across her skin. The women in the room continued to chant and the power could be felt growing. As she looked at the unknown writing around the outside of the Italian she again felt a deep understanding, and without thinking bend over and picked up the silver knife. A young woman, who she knew to be a distant niece from India was the first to step forward. She walked right up to Amelia and held out her right hand. There was a small scar in the middle where she had already been cut once before in the past. Amelia realized it was the others she was supposed to cut, not herself, though this realization was no better then the idea of cutting herself. Looking around the room, the others had stopped chanting, and once again they were looking to hr with smiles on their faces. She took a single deep breath and held out the knife to her niece and started.
Chapter Two: Three Drops of Blood