In a story, there are always people off stage. We follow the main characters into the action, but what are those left behind thinking and doing? Off stage at a point that would be late in my new book Before the New Moon Rises, a priestess of the God of Healing looks for a sign of what transpires beyond her reach.
Leaning on her cane, Echidna slowly climbed the path through the ancient oak trees to the pass above the shrine. The way the shrine sheltered at the base of the mountain, she could not see the new moon rise without this climb. One of the young girls accompanied her with a torch to light her way back once darkness descended.
When the last crescent of the old moon had been stained blood red two mornings earlier, she told those who served under her that the goddess spoke of hope as well as warning. She still believed that was the message, but with Poseidon plotting in so many places, she worried.
She stepped on a loose rock and the pain in her hip made her gasp. She laid a hand on the shoulder of the girl to reassure her. Aging joints did not have the flexibility or the sturdiness they once had.
Where are you now Panacea? she wondered. The younger priestess had rushed to Mycenae the day the crescent moon rose red trying to ascertain what disasters Poseidon sparked. Echidna feared it was an attack on the city Tiryns, but she could not be sure.
A little further, and the two stepped out from the enclosing forest onto a rocky ledge. The path continued north to skirt the city of Corinth, but this was the spot she sought. The sky slowly darkened to the colour of tarnished bronze. A single star shone in the north east. As the rim of the sun fell beneath the horizon, a flash of red light shot upward revealing the tiny horn of the new moon, red as rich wine.
A sharp intake of breath from her companion was the only sound. A birthing moon, she thought. Something new is beginning. She sighed. She had no idea what the goddess was up to. And birthing was the most dangerous of moments for a woman and the baby. Still, she felt that this was a promise from the goddess.
News would come. Until then, she could only wait. Echidna looked down at the young girl who looked relieved but also a little nervous. “Come let us light that torch you carry, and we will descend. I am sure you are more than ready for your evening meal.”
The book can be purchased from the publisher Prizm Books. Paperbacks are now available and Barnes and Noble is the most efficient for that unless you live near me (Ontario near Owen Sound.)