Heart Thief cut
Her appointment as Supreme Judge of Druida had been 'ported to her personal scry cache at dawn that morning, along with a request that she start immediately in Druida's Judgment Grove. She'd blinked sleepily at the official parchment, then read the cover letter. Her appointment* had been based on her record as a circuit judge and on her Flair testing after her Third Passage, the emotional storm that had freed her psi power completely. At the time she had tested highest in telepathy, empathy and judgment. XX years had passed and she still held the highest scores. And now she had grown and matured, and her Flair, too had increased. She'd rubbed her sleepy eyes and yawned. It was to be expected, after all. She was the Daughter of a GrandHouse, a FirstFamily, that like all FirstFamilies, had bred for Flair for centuries. She'd been named "Ailim" at birth, the heir's name, when the oracle attending her birth had sensed the power of her Flair. So she was confirmed as Supreme Judge, and soon to be publically and officially confirmed as D'SilverFir.
She shifted her shoulders, feeling the unseen burden as if weighed on her back.
Her day ended in the early afternoon.
In the distance, between a small, planned, gap in the trees, loomed Nuada's Sword, the last of the three starships that had brought the colonists to Celta. The grove had been planted in such a way to remind all of the society they had sprung from -- a society that had hated and feared their ancestors for their beliefs and their burgeoning psi powers.
**The ritual ending Judgment Grove.**
Ailim removed her robe in the small building that housed her offices and hung it in her refresher. She stepped from the small two-story, building and admired the flagged terrace and the semi-circle of pillars that arched behind her altar-table. Her glance rested on the matching building at the other end of the pillars. It held a suite of rooms, a small but stately apartment for the Supreme Judge, should he or she wish to reside there.
She went and sat once more in her chair behind her table. Ailim smiled. One of the first things her bailiff had done was to initiate the spell that made the chair conform to Ailim's body, a personal ComfortChair. She ran her hands on the XX (stone & color) surface, smooth and slightly warm from the sun's rays that the weathershield had magnified.
The weathershield and anti-harm forcefield faded as the Grove returned to normal, or as normal as it ever would be. The manifestation of great Flair over generations had given it an atmosphere as strong as any Healing Grove, or outdoor RitualCircle. She looked out to the grove, massive trees of all the FirstFamilies namesakes were planted in a way to draw the eye. Some of the earth trees had not prospered and had either died or been cross-bread with Celtan flora. Still, the prospect was both stately and comforting*.
She breathed deeply of the fall scents of turning leaves and fading flowers. A sense of peace enveloped her as she enjoyed the lovliness of the Grove, and she was glad that her Family was a GrandHouse and had no month named D'SilverFir, like the GreatHouses did. What would she have done if she'd been born a Hazel, a Family with a month in high summer, and loved the autumn like she did? Ailim chuckled at the fancy, an impractical, unlikely thought to be flitting through her brain.
Still, as the air shimmered a little less, the colorful purple, maroon, and red leaves became highlighted by the sun, brilliant in their beauty. A last summer-warmed breeze swirled through the trees. Ailim smiled, but the stress of her first day in such a lofty position, the use of her Flair, and being the scrutiny of all of Druida who came to see the new Supreme Judge D'SilverFir seemed to transmute to weariness in every cell of her body.
She loosened the pins in her hair, just a little, and rested her head on her arms, just for a moment.
And slowly, wonderfully, peace came upon her.
"Sleep." She imagined she heard it, almost as if the Grove itself spoke, deep and quiet and infinitely tender. "You've had a full day, and you haven't recovered from all the time you went without sleep to try and solve your Family problems, have you?" The voice turned a bit tart, with an autumn apple bite. Ailim murmured, she agreed she needed sleep, but to agree that her Family was plaguing her would be disloyal.
"Sleep." She heard again, and the tight braids on her head loosened*, and wonderful, massaging fingers seemed to knead the knots from her neck and travel down to her shoulders and her back. A soft sigh of pleasure escaped her. And a little laugh, something supple and furry tickled her cheek, then her nose. Even as she thought of sneezing, she fell asleep.