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Fantasy
(Fic)
Aradia's Diaspora: Book One
by Susan Woerner

What if you found yourself in a different world? One in which your ancestor was attempting to enslave the inhabitants of that world? Would you kill her and risk your own annihilation? Or would you join forces, creating a legacy of power? This is the dilemma that faces Betty. And this is the story of what she risked to try to save the women who became her sisters, in the land that she came to call home. In her journey, she'll meet shape-shifters, bovine priestesses, monsters, and come face-to-face with her great-great-grandmother in a great battle that may decide the fate of all.

Scene 1

I looked at the photos one by one, taking in details, arranging and rearranging them, shuffling and stacking different ones, as if I were giving myself a tarot reading that I didn’t like the answers to. One photo in particular stood out because I saw new detai...





Scene 2

“You want some coffee?” I asked. “I’m in need of a little wake-me-up.”

Mom looked up at the clock. “Oh my god! We’ve been doing this for three hours!” she said. “Yeah, honey, make a fresh ...





Scene 3

In the morning, which was pretty late by the time I’d gotten up, Mom was fixing breakfast for me. She had a card table set up in the living room so we wouldn’t disturb the photo piles.

“Good morning, sleepy head!” she said as I ...





Scene 4

I didn’t go back to the photos right away. I read through the file that my Mom’s cousin – my second cousin? – had made. She had hand-drawn a chart, having taped together several 8x10 inch sheets when she ran out of room on one.

There we...





Scene 5

I showed the photo of the young woman to the archivist at the second county seat I visited, thinking maybe I could get more information if I could identify anything else in the photo that might be particular to a region, or to a farm family that was well-known in th...





Scene 6

I was through the door and outside, coughing some from the smoke. Turning around I saw that the inside of the building was on fire. I couldn’t believe how fast it had spread. From the open doorway, I saw the flames start to creep up the side of the building. L...





Scene 7

“It will take them a while to come into the wood. They do not like the dark and they certainly do not like the wood in the dark,” the rider said.

Still panting, I held out my hand. “Thank you,” I said, “thank you … ?”

<...





Scene 8

My arms ached as we rode. I thought I was either going to bite my tongue off, my lower lady parts were going to be permanently flattened against my body, or both. Arion was tall and I didn’t fancy falling to the ground from what felt like the height of a secon...





Scene 9

Falling on my butt as I slid to the ground off of Arion’s back, I was thankful to have such a well-padded derriere. Isobeau had sheathed her dagger and picked up a nearby bucket as if it were just another day. She headed for the stream to the side of the clear...





Scene 10

Something a bit foul smelling filled my nose as I came out of the darkness of unconsciousness. The smell came in waves of barely noticeable to overpowering. I felt steam near my nose. That was enough to help me break the surface to daylight and to Isobeau, waving te...





Scene 11

We rode Arion out of the protective circle. I looked back and couldn’t see the rainbow of dust that surrounded the place. I asked Isobeau whether the shadow creatures would be waiting in the woods for us.

“It is likely they were called back by the ...





Scene 12

“Hey, I know it was dark when we rode to the cabin and all, but none of this looks familiar,” I said, looking around the woods, “Aren’t we going back the way we came? I thought you said the Sisters, or Daughters, or whatever you called them, ...





Scene 13

Coming over a ridge, we stopped at the top of a hill to view the valley below us. There was a group of small houses or tents - I couldn’t tell what they were for sure - clustered together. It reminded me of spokes and hub of a wheel. In the center was a huge t...





Scene 14

We rode into the village and I smelled something extremely delicious on the air. We hadn’t eaten since the eggs and mushrooms at breakfast.

Isobeau and the rider stopped in a clearing near the edge of the village. She dismounted as did the rider.

&...





Scene 15

I ran my eyes along the beams that held up the circular ceiling. I’m not exactly sure how it worked, but it opened in the center, the central beams never meeting at the top. Smoke was rising from a large oven set into the earth in the middle. To one side, the ...





Scene 16

The fire roared as if someone had poured gasoline on it, but no one was adding branches or logs, yet it was burning hotter and higher in the night sky. Above it flew owls circling above the flames, catching hot updrafts. They dove, pivoted, spiraled around each othe...





Scene 17

I was riding in a boat. In the boat was this very cushy bed and it felt so good to sleep. But I kept hitting my head on sandpaper, which was getting more unpleasant. But I didn’t want to leave the boat and the nice furry bed.

Furry bed?

Li...





Scene 18

Thundering hooves. Passlande galloped toward us, Ruis on her back. Arion followed close behind. We stood as they approached.

“Isobeau! One of the warriors from the journey returns,” Ruis shouted, “one of the Guard spotted her. She’s hur...





Scene 19

For the next two hours, we waited. Ruis and Isobeau, two healers and a couple of women who were part of the Guard were in one of the house yurts with Shala, the warrior who was first spotted on the hill. Beside her, in her hawk form, was Bhasi. No one else was allow...





Scene 20

The woman and cow in the photo had not only changed, but the image itself was becoming clearer.

Changing colors.

No longer only black and white, subtle color variations were apparent. There was a tinge of pink to the woman’s lips and cheek...





Scene 21

Isobeau was standing near the door to the yurt as we made our way back to the village. I saw food and flowers left in front by well-meaning Daughters. A healer came out and whispered something in Isobeau’s ear then walked toward the Great Yurt.

“He...





Scene 22

Shala fell back onto the bed and mumbled more things but there was no getting her to focus on me and answer questions.

One of the healers placed her hands over her face, saying through them, “Nana is dead? How can that be?” In turn, she looked at e...





Scene 23

What I thought would happen when Toci declared this to the entire village was total panic and chaos, with some wailing, cloth-rending and ash-wearing.

But. That’s not what happened.

There was a small group of women who came up to Toci and spoke to ...





Scene 24

Isobeau came in with Toci in tow. I followed, closing the flap behind me.

“Pua is Nana now,” Shala said, “and I must tell you, Isobeau and Nana and Betty what happened.”

I don’t know if I’m prepared for this.<...





Scene 25

I have never had much trouble eating even when things were upsetting and chaotic. This meal was no different and I finished quickly and waited for Isobeau and Nana, who both picked at the food on their plates. Perhaps it was because I still felt like an outsider, or...





Scene 26

“Me?!” I said, taken off-guard by Isobeau’s question. I looked at Nana and opened my mouth to suggest it would be better if she did it, but before I got there, she interrupted.

“I am not the leader for this journey,” Nana said, &l...





Scene 27

Even a drink of Diamond vite water was not enough to extinguish my thoughts.

She’s Malefici. Photo changed again. Harming a cow. Well, she had a knife. Maybe she wasn’t going to.

Kill that cow.

No, not a cow. An Au...





Scene 28

“Show Nana the drawing - the photo - is that the word? - show it to her,” Isobeau said, “she needs to know your connection to this woman.” We were walking toward the yurt. The sun was warming the pink tops and blue-purple bottoms of clouds on...





Scene 29

“Rest now, Shala,” Nana said, “thank you for telling us what you can remember.”

Nana stood and we did the same, moving toward the door.

“I think it would be good if the four of us went to my yurt to discuss this further,&rdq...





Scene 30

Mira said on her out-breath, “Betty. Isobeau. Toci. Bhasi…”

“Bhasi?” Nana asked. I thought that might break Mira’s concentration, but she continued.

“Bhasi. She knows the way,” Mira said. She did not open her e...





Scene 31

“This is Maddalena who came to live with the Order when I was young,” Auri said, nodding, “it’s been a long time since I have heard her name or thought about her. But this is she.”

We shifted in our seats toward Auri.

&ldquo...





Scene 32

“Gone? She left?” Isobeau asked.

“She was not there,” Auri said, eyes wide in remembering that night’s events, “but she had not left the room. Brothers came pounding on the door trying to get in when I called out to them. It...





Scene 33

“Betty, there will come a time when you will understand more about how we live in our world. For now, you must leave it at that,” Nana said, “Auri, thank you for sharing this information with us. I am sorry that your heart was broken and for the pa...





Scene 34

“Who’s Madeleine?” Auri asked.

“A bear-woman - she-bear - I met. And sort of dated,” I said, looking where Madeleine had run off, hoping she might come back.

Really? She might be wicked mad if she comes back.

...





Scene 35

We’d walked in from the west where Daughters lined the main pathway, waiting, chatting with each other in low tones, looking expectantly down the dirt street.

Looks like a parade route.

Ahead, I could see women rushing in and out of the Gr...





Scene 36

A makeshift stage stood in the space where women and girls had once sat to eat meals together. Logs that had served as benches were put in service as the base of the stage. Smooth, uniformly flat wooden planks were being laid on top of the logs. The Daughters had ta...





Scene 37

This is the moment, Betty. You can jump off the stage or you can stand against your fear. No one in this room will force you to lead them. But you need to do this - for yourself, for all the women before you.

In the photo, a great fire blazed and I could almost smell acrid smoke ri...





Scene 38

The Great Yurt was empty except for women packing food for the trip.

Auri came up behind me, making me jump. “Oh, sorry, I thought you felt me coming up to you,” she said, “I want you know that the Brothers can spread out to reach any witches...





Scene 39

Waiting for Auri’s return, I slept fitfully. Nana and Pua were up most of the night, conferring with various women who were put in charge of groups preparing for the walk ahead. Auri never showed.

Just before dawn Toci gently shook my shoulder. Bleary-ey...





Scene 40

“How far is it to Chalcedony?” I asked Isobeau as we slowed when the Kyr strained to pull their loads up an incline. She and Arion had been on the trail ahead but came back along the line, checking on the carts.

“Well, a single woman could wa...





Scene 41

Along with the Daughters I waited for Nana and Pua to return from inside the dome, the cave, the house - whatever it was - and tell us it was time to go inside. I’d walked around the perimeter of the structure. It was huge, but still left me wondering how we&r...





Scene 42

Chalcedony. Chalcedony. Where do I know that word from?

We were walking along in the dark, my hand gripping the hand of one of the interpreters walking in front of me. Fortunately, the floor of the massive structure we’d entered was smooth and the way flat. As long as I held ...





Scene 43

Feeling lighter than I had in days, I looked for Nana, Pua and Isobeau. I wanted to know what to do next and since Aurie had still not caught up to us, I had to look for information from other sources. I didn’t want to have any time in which to consider the pr...





Scene 44

Just like in the village of the Daughters, the children were running around, meeting others, trying different foods and generally just being little girls together. I saw Tatha’s two girls holding hands with two other little girls about their same age. They wer...





Scene 45

As she got better, my sister constantly reminded me of how much she loved me and the girls. I would stretch out beside her in our bed, resting my head against her shoulder and stroking her belly skin, which had begun to swell over the growing twins. She started show...





Scene 46

On the day the twins began to make their way into this world, the wind swirled the snow into a blinding gale. The air was so thick it reminded me of mist, like the one that had ushered Rati to our valley long ago. I opened the shutters expecting to see two horses pu...





Scene 47

Over the next several days, I put healing salve on my sister’s yoni hoping it might relieve the soreness she still felt from the stretching during her labor. Her leg, still swollen, did not respond to any salve or poultice I had. It worried me, but even more o...





Scene 48

“And found your way here,” I said when Mella paused for a long while.

“With the aid of others,” Mella responded, “a long journey ended in this beautiful place with the Cryst and their healing arts. I only wished I had known of the...





Scene 49

Later I found Nana and Pua enjoying tea with some of the Cryst women. They looked rested and happy, the burden of leading the Daughters here seemed far from their minds. I hated to break the mood, but I needed to speak to them about Mella and the twins. Since Lazuli...





Scene 50

Days became weeks as we prepared for the troupe to head out for the Inquisito. I had wanted to leave earlier but several things were happening: the Cryst were working with Bhasi to see if they could help her heal; we were waiting for the Aurochs and the Herd, probab...





Scene 51

The Cryst magicked the Aurochs and Woodlanders small enough to make it through the Passage. Those who were already small had to be carried by others across the gap. Some of the Aurochs were injured but patched up enough to get inside where they could be cared for. I...





Scene 52

Needing some fresh air, I decided to head outside the Passage. So I left the Daughters, Aurie, and Madeleine to their tea. I needed to see the sky, feel grass under my feet.

Sitting against the kerb wall watching Arion nibble grass nearby, Isobeau held her hea...





Scene 53

Golden girls of the realm. What a joke. A troupe with slim odds of winning - a woman-child, two bear women, a hawk-shifter, and Aurie. There was me, of course. Would I be able to fight? Certainly I could defend myself, or so I thought. Maybe I need to take a few les...





Scene 54

It had been nearly a month, if I understood how to correctly read the phases of the moon, since the bovine priestesses and Kyr had left to honor their dead. No one knew - not even the priestesses - how long they might be gone. My hopes for the Kyr to join us somewhe...





Scene 55

By midday, my feet were killing me. Not that my boots were new - I still used the pair Isobeau had traded with me - but the ground was much more rocky than I expected. And it looked like I wasn’t the only one with aching feet - everyone in the troupe except Bh...





Scene 56

On the fifth morning as we prepared for another day’s walk, I made my way down to the edge of the sea to marvel at the pinks and purples the reflection of the sunrise made on the clouds. Aurie came up behind me, wrapping her arms around me, kissing my neck.





Scene 57

“We cannot go back now, Betty!” Ina said, her voice not quite a whine but close to it. She had locked arms with her sister and they stood before me. It took me by surprise because I hadn’t voiced my concerns about them being with us and my feeling ...





Scene 58

The idea was that the girls would take mushroom cakes with them and after convincing the slavers that they were lost and asking for help, they would offer the cakes in return. It was anguish waiting for the preparations to be completed. Meanwhile, Isobeau and Ruis w...





Scene 59

“My heart is pounding really hard,” Toci whispered to me as we made our way down a trail Isobeau and Ruis had discovered. Enough light filtered through the trees that I could see her eyes were wide with excitement and maybe fear.

“Me too, Toc...





Scene 60

Their moaning caught everyone’s attention. N’kiri and two of her women bolted toward the men, searching them for knives. But before they could use them, Ife and Ina ran up to N’kiri.

“No, you must not!” Ife said, raising her hands...





Scene 61

Isobeau, Ruis, Artio and Ursel, took turns along jogging back the way we’d come to see if there were any signs we were followed. We walked where the woods and beach met, using the compact earth beneath our feet to keep our legs from getting too fatigued.





Scene 62

We reached Akay Niris Bay just as the market was opening for the morning. Merchants were setting out their wares, farmers hawked vegetables and fruits from their wagons as they pulled them through the groggy streets. Citizens threw off sleep like blankets in the sum...





Scene 63

“I am Njoku.”

“I am Tenga.”

“I am Alo.”

“I am Nimba.”

“I am Chi.”

“I am N’kiri.”

“I am Betty.”

“I am Toci.”

“I...





Scene 64

“N’kiri, I hope you will agree to be with me,” I said, “as all the other women are now in groups.” I had in mind that she might like to help me cause chaos in the slave market once we found it.

“Betty, we are together in thi...





Scene 65

Making my way to the side where I’d seen several men and women coming to the gate, I waited for a larger group to make its way. I planned to become part of any entourage entering so as to go as unnoticed as possible. I didn’t wait long before such a grou...





Scene 66

Carefully, I made my way to the entryway and peeked out. Isobeau was having a very heated argument with a man who she dwarfed in size and probably, strength. But it wasn’t only Isobeau - N’kiri stood at her side, pushing away other men I presumed to be g...





Scene 67

Hearing Ursel’s roars, we followed her voice and the screams of women down a long alley, turning a corner to find a wide opening that must have served as a backyard for several of the buildings. Though the sun was high, there was little light in the open area....





Scene 68

“I have a plan,” I told the women, “we need to get help for Ursel and we need to get everyone on the ship. Aurie told Artio we need to do this while the fire is distracting everyone, including the slavers.”

“But Ursel is not able ...





Scene 69

There was smoke in the alley I jogged down, following the drops of blood. At one point I thought I’d lost the trail - it seemed as if it had completely vanished. But standing still, thinking of what to do next, I spotted a splatter of blood along one wall. It ...





Scene 70

The bodies of dead women lay all around me.

Looking at my hands, I contemplated the power I had used to disperse the Shadows. Though I was able to save myself from them, I had not stopped Maddalena from leaving the scene, and worse - I could not stop her from...





Scene 71

Racing toward the pier, I spotted Toci on one of the harbored ships. I continued running, looking over my shoulder to see if the slavers were catching up. So far, no. Toci spotted me and began waving frantically, shouting to someone down on the dock and pointing tow...





Scene 72

“I asked Arion and Passlande to head back to Chalcedony to let them know what happened,” Isobeau said to me as we shared breakfast, “I sent Bhasi with them. She did not want to go but Arion and Passlande needed her to guide them in the forest.&rdqu...





Cast of Characters

Cast of Characters

Updated March 31, 2019

A

Alo

Warrior of Shanakdakheto/Shanakheto; women in N'kiri's group

Aradia’s Daughters

The women of the women-only village who have shape-shifting abilitie...






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