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Authors: V. C. Birlidis

Tags: #Young Adult, #Romance, #Fantasy

Muse Unexpected

BOOK: Muse Unexpected
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Table of Contents

www.crescentmoonpress.com

Muse Unexpected
V.C. Birlidis

ISBN:
978-1-939173-74-4
E-ISBN: 978-1-939173-75-1

© Copyright V.C. Birlidis 2014. All rights reserved

Cover Art: Taria Reed
Editor: Kerri Nelson
Layout/Typesetting: jimandzetta.com

Crescent Moon Press

1385 Highway 35

Box 269

Middletown, NJ 07748

Ebooks/Books are not transferable. They cannot be sold, shared or given away as it is an infringement on the copyright of this work.

All Rights Are Reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles and reviews.

 

This book is a work of fiction. The names, characters, places and incidents are products of the writer’s imagination or have been used fictitiously and are not to be construed as real. Any resemblance to persons, living or dead, actual events, locale or organizations is entirely coincidental.

Crescent Moon Press electronic publication/print publication: January 2014
www.crescentmoonpress.com

quotations embodied in critical articles and reviews.

Dedication

For Mom, Nanny and Joel

You proved a life of laughter is a life well lived

Chapter 1

Chios
, Greece
— 1950

Georgia
sucked in a deep breath as she felt the nail of her right index finger tear.

“Ow. Ow. Ow.” She pulled herself across the edge of the cliff, got to her feet and stuck the throbbing finger in her mouth, attempting to somehow lessen the pain. The nail was barely held in place by her cuticle and after a quick examination she used her teeth to tear it away and then spat it out.

“Damn it.” She popped the finger back in her mouth.

A wave of physical exhaustion threatened to make her double over in dry heaves, but Georgia smiled, both relieved and surprised she had made it. She stood on the edge of the cliff looking at the starting point of her journey—the valley down below and its tiny cluster of houses. As a moment of contentment filled her mind, her left foot slipped over the edge and she stumbled backward. She steadied herself, closed her eyes and took several deep, calming breaths, trying to ignore the throbbing of the cuts and scrapes she had earned on her journey. The skirt of her favorite yellow sundress was filthy and torn. Her mother would be furious at her for ruining her only decent Sunday dress, but she pushed the thought out of her mind and grabbed for the bag slung over her shoulder.

“It’s still there.” She patted it closer to her hip.
So much depends on this bag
.

She swallowed the lump in her throat, afraid to turn around; afraid of being disappointed; afraid she’d risked everything just to find out she’d been a fool. She knew she was meant to take this journey. She had the chance to change her life, and she wasn't about to turn back. She would scream to hell with her mother, to hell with the beatings and screams of “no” “you can’t” or “know your place”. She would seize what was hers and once she had it, no one would ever take it away.

Georgia
began humming the latest Billie Holiday song, “God Bless The Child”. It reminded her of her beloved Yiayia and the countless afternoons they'd spent together. Remembering her Yiayia always made her feel better, stronger and more confident. Always dressed in the same heavy black polyester dress, Yiayia’s deeply lined face would light up whenever she saw Georgia, and once they were both sure Georgia's mother wasn’t around, Yiayia would pull out the old leather book she hid under her bed and tell Georgia of the endless stories of their long, amazing and magical family history and the greatness for which she was destined.

She stopped humming and turned around. She had always pictured the temple on the top of the mountain as being untouched by the elements, as if it could avoid the relentless winds and the brutal Chios winters full of massive downpours that whipped around with such force that they were sometimes mistaken for hail.

But now she realized this was just a fantasy. Her history books and numerous trips to Athens did not prepare her for the size of the structure in front of her. It was massive, with countless Ionic columns, each at least twenty-five feet thick and tall enough to make estimating their height impossible. The main temple was flanked by several connected chambers with their own separate entrances, each a smaller version of the temple itself. The exterior walls were made of what appeared to be stone of varying sizes and textures, but the wind, rain and salt air had eaten away at the façade, making it look like coral. It was hard to see where one stone ended and another began. Many gnarled mastic trees had sprouted alongside the temple, uprooting some of the foundation’s massive stones. Major cracks worked their way up the walls, like a system of veins pumping life into its stone body.

Georgia
scurried forward, entering what appeared to have been a courtyard at one time. The remains of several long marble benches were scattered throughout the area, almost completely hidden in the tangle of vines and grass. There were also countless statues with eroded and stained bodies. As she walked past the statues, she stopped for a moment. While she was certain she was alone, the journey to the remote, virtually unknown ruin being too difficult for most, she was sure she heard voices. Barely whispers, but they were there, floating in and out on the wind.

Don’t look back, you idiot. Ignore it.

She glanced over her shoulder as a sudden gust of wind made the vines on the statues sway, unnerving her enough to make her turn and run blindly toward the temple’s entrance. Her foot caught on a hidden root and she tripped, sending her flying into the portico, slamming into a set of massive iron doors. The impact created a cloud of dust and rust flakes, and one of the doors swung open with a horrible screech that echoed throughout the structure.

“Could this get any worse?” She lay there with her face on the cold, filthy floor, coughed and spit out a few rust flakes and a small bug. She slapped the floor, hard, and stood up. “Whoever is in charge of housekeeping needs to be fired.” She glanced back at the door she came through. Something moved, just out of her line of vision, and she shivered and walked forward.

Her eyes took a moment to get used to the temple’s pitch-black interior. It reminded her of so many Greek Orthodox cathedrals she had attended services in. She walked in-between two massive white columns and found herself in the center of the temple. Several birds, startled by her presence, took flight and flew out through the nonexistent roof. Appearing to be somewhat interested in her, a single white dove flew into a nook between pieces of rotten roof timbers.

She was a bit unnerved by the stillness attacking her confidence. She set down her bag, pulled out a large book, several tightly wrapped packages, a large flashlight and a lighter. Above, the dove cooed from its perch, flapping its wings before nestling deeper into its nook.

Her flashlight beam sliced through the dark, revealing the profile of a white statue. A burst of adrenaline surged into her heart.

It’s not one of the rotting statues from the courtyard. Calm down.

The statue was in perfect condition, the only exception being the jasmine vines and tree roots covering its base. It depicted a beautiful woman holding a grapevine. The vine entwined itself around her, all the way up to the woman’s head. A golden crown glistened with several large, roughly cut stones embedded in it. Georgia cast her beam of light around the chamber, revealing other statues, all in different poses, holding different objects. Her Yiayia had been right all along. This temple had been created to worship the Muses, the nine daughters of the King of the Greek gods, Zeus. She was exactly where she needed to be.

She rushed back to her pile of items and picked up the large book, fumbling with its pages. Finding what she was looking for, she placed the book on the ground, angling the flashlight so she could read the text. She reviewed the diagram of the interior of the temple and thought she must have selected the wrong page because it was different from what she remembered reading earlier. Instead of being a diagram of the temple as it appeared during ancient times, the diagram now illustrated the temple as it appeared to her now, including the depiction of a girl holding a book in one hand and something she couldn’t make out in the other. Georgia reminded herself, regardless of whether or not the map had changed, there was some sort of hidden trigger she needed to find.

She knelt and pushed on the tiles around her, but the floor felt solid. She stood up again and began biting her thumbnail, closing her eyes to think. She guessed the mosaic pattern was confusing her and assumed it was created to do just that. Forgoing her sense of sight, she knelt and ran her fingers across the tiles again. Finding nothing, she changed her tactics.

“If the tile won’t give the secret away, maybe the filthy, disgusting grout will,” she muttered, as she followed the rough pattern outlining the mosaic pieces. She winced as her fingers touched the centuries of filth. Directly underneath the spot where she stood, she felt a slight difference in the grout's texture. She pushed on it and the tile seemed to give a little, so she pushed harder. The tile popped up, held in place by a metal rod. She twisted it. The first turn brought nothing. The second and third caused the temple floor to shudder for a few seconds. With a trembling hand she twisted the tile a fourth time and braced herself. The pressure of her pounding heart filled her ears. The dove cooed from above.

As she was beginning to calm, the temple floor shook with such force she was sure the building was falling off of its foundation and would slide off of the cliff. The room filled with overwhelming sounds of crunching and growth. The roots below the floor strained against their marble prison, sending mosaic tiles, soil and rock shooting into the air. Georgia fell backwards and covered her head against the falling debris. Something squirmed across her foot and she yelped, turning over to discover the tree roots and jasmine vines crawling across the floors and engulfing the columns they had been strangling for centuries. Enormous trees grew and expanded, shattering what remained of the roof.

Among the churned up roots and soil appeared a large round formation of pure white marble, the raw stones creating a circle around where Georgia crouched. Several deeper roots grew, fusing together and growing leaves out of the tips of their tendrils. A large slab of marble forced into the air reached the end of its airborne journey and she scurried back, expecting it to either crush her or slam into what she assumed was a young mastic tree. The slab hit the tree with such force she was sure it would shatter, but the roots caught the stone and held it in place, forming a high altar.

The floor ceased shaking and she stood up, unsure what to do next. The dove cooed above her and she scrambled to gather her items, placing them on the newly formed altar. She took a deep breath and reopened the book to the temple diagram. Like before, the diagram of the room had changed and she took a moment to glance around her new surroundings. It was surreal, a fairyland, the trees creating a natural canopy of branches and leaves, and the jasmine vines covering the columns with their fragrant flowers. The statues of the Muses remained unchanged, although the roots surrounding their bases seemed thicker, as if they were straining to keep the statues from flying away.

She opened the packages she'd brought. One contained a bundle of white sage, Greek oregano, lavender and aged cedar, which she placed on the altar to her left, along with a small lighter. With great care, she unwrapped the next package, which contained three pounds of raw sea salt. The next set of packages had nine candles, and after referring to the diagram, she placed them onto the marble slab.

Although she tried to, she couldn’t shake the feeling she was being watched as she worked, and when the breeze gently working its way through the trees suddenly stopped, a chill ran down her spine. She wiped the sweat out of her eyes and decided it was time to act. Below the diagram was some handwritten text titled
The Awakening Invocation.
She read the spell she had been practicing for the past several weeks and feeling sure she had it correct, she chanted in ancient Greek.

“Oh, sweet inspirations, in eternal sleep,

I, the soul unworthy, call you from your keep,

Remove thy self to bestow Zeus’ power

And deliver my birthright this golden hour

For what was stolen, be now restored

Or else feel my sorrow, forever more.”

Several sparks of lights crackled and then extinguished themselves in the ancient rusted torches dangling from the stone walls. Both exterior iron doors slammed into the vestibule walls. She jumped, nearly dropping the book, as they banged open again and again with such force their rusted hinges snapped and the doors flew into the main worship space. Wincing, as the echoes off the temple’s walls made her ears ring, she picked up the bunch of herbs and flicked the lighter open.

Click. Click. Click. “Shoot. After years of lighting Yiayia’s nasty cigars, now you decide not to work.” She shook the lighter, hoping it would help the flint to catch. Click. Click. Click.

The lighter sparked, producing a large flame and she lit the bundle of herbs. She breathed in the fragrant smoke and threw the smoking bouquet into the round tiled pit in front of the altar. The sense of being watched was almost suffocating and she glanced around the room. She saw nothing, but right as she was about to push the thought out of her mind she heard a low guttural growl. She fought every ounce of her instinct to turn around and began chanting again.

“Oh, sweet inspirations, in eternal sleep,

I, the soul unworthy, call you from your keep,

Remove thyself to bestow Zeus’ power—”

The torches sputtered again, but remained dark. The deep growl came again, except it was louder now and coming from several places in the room. She continued her chanting and did her best to speak in clear and even tones.

“And deliver my birthright this golden hour

For what was stolen, be now restored

BOOK: Muse Unexpected
4.35Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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