Leute is a thwarted wielder
who turned to blood magic and twisted it for revenge.
Her decisions and actions create the conflict in Sing a Graveyard Song.
Here is a first glimpse of Leute and the opening scene of the epic dark fantasy.
First Night / Moones / 32nd Night of Deep Winter
Snowmelt slicked the path. Several times she slid backwards and saved her ascent only by clawing at the jagged rocks that bordered the path. She cared nothing for the mud, nothing for the scrapes and cuts on her hands. She cared only for the safety of the items in her scrip. She clutched it to her to prevent its knocking against rocks.
Deep caverns and shadowed crevasses pocked the mountain’s snow-smoothed face. In the caves lay death, ancient and new. Bones stacked upon bones filled the upper caves, disinterred for centuries from Alpage’s hallowed graveyard. The lower caves served the newly dead. When winter froze the church grounds and smothered the vale, the lower caves served as temporary resting places. She climbed to those caves and to a month-old corpse, tucked away for spring burial. In that place of death, she would evoke new life. Using Air and Water, Fire and Earth, she would call the dead Harroth back to life.
Leute gained the first ledges and headed for the cave which held Harroth’s shrouded body. He had died of a hidden infection one month ago. One month of the old calendar. Thirty-two days and thirty-two nights as the full moon waned to its death. Thirty-two days, and each day she induced Grisetta to drink a little tea to aid the delivery of her babe. Thirty-two nights, and each night she milked a newborn lamb of its rich blood. Thirty-two days and nights, while she distilled blood-based potions and practiced incantations to rouse the dead.
Today, with Dragon Moon the night before, Grisetta had delivered her son a month before his time, and Leute had sacrificed the weakening lamb for her spell. When Dragon again devoured the moon, thirty-two nights from now, her revenge would be complete.
Sheltered inside the cave, she lit a single candle. Snowmelt dripped off the lip of the entrance, trickled down the sides of the opening, and pooled on rock smoothed by centuries of passage. The cave smelled faintly of decay. Leute paused and looked down the steep slope. Twilight darkened the village far below. Lanterns bobbed along lanes and streets, like fireflies homing on a scent. In one of the houses with gleaming windows, Feldie and her apprentice Magretha helped Grisetta and her new baby. They wouldn’t look for her until long after her incantations were over, Harroth was re-born, and her revenge had begun.
She lifted her gaze to the snow-locked mountains on the far side of the valley. Alpenglow cast its pinkish taint on the white caps, while night already cloaked the western flanks. More than night would soon cloak Alpage.
The candle and her movement disturbed bats nesting in the cave’s maw. They swirled down. Instinctively she ducked, guarding the candle flame with a cupped hand as the bats swooped past. When the swarm had flooded out of the cave into the cold twilight, she straightened. Holding the flickering candle high, she ventured deeper, tracking the smell of old earth and slow decomposition. At a branching where the flame guttered in a wind, she bore right, toward the source. The walls verged closer. She followed the way into a cleft that funneled wind from the mountaintop. Three shrouded corpses lay one beside the other. Harroth’s would be the newest.
She put the candle in a niche then bent to tug the body away from the others. The waxed cerecloth slid easily across the slick rock. She sliced open the embroidered shroud then peeled back the protecting layers. White white skin, eyes closed, mouth bound shut, it was Harroth and not Harroth, a shell without a soul. The icy wind had kept his flesh from decaying.
Once she had the waxed bindings peeled away, she drug her scrip close and set out the essentials for her spell: her knife, the water distilled from the boiling of five herbs, a copper bowl with a stand, and the flask of lamb’s blood. She lit the candle beneath the stand and lay the knife in the bowl so the metals could heat. Last out of her scrip came the clay pot that contained the most crucial ingredient. She carefully placed it beside Harroth’s head. When she unsealed the lid, the blood-scent filled the cave. Afterbirth from Grisetta’s newborn. Called the second-birth. Blood-rich birth that contained new life.
With everything ready, Leute closed her eyes and breathed deeply to calm her jangling excitement. When her heart rate slowed, she concentrated on the candle flame and sank into meditation. Her voice no louder than her breath, she chanted a gathering spell. Here, surrounded by solid rock that didn’t drain energy from soil and air, she would gather the power needed for the five spells of the incantation. One spell for each element and the last for chaos, the chaos she would unloose on the village of Alpage.