Dark of the Moon

Dark of the Moon by Tracy Barrett Page B

Book: Dark of the Moon by Tracy Barrett Read Free Book Online
Authors: Tracy Barrett
every spring and yet they had fertile fields with a yield of crops in the fall, so why was it necessary here?
    Was
it necessary here?
    And what was my part in it?
    The sun moved to a new section of the sky, and one of his rays pierced my vision, reminding me that the day was passing. The priestesses would be waiting for me in my mother's chamber to instruct me in the rituals of the dark of the moon. But I couldn't face them now, especially poison-tongued Damia. How many of the priestesses thought that I was merely a girl born to my mother as a mortal woman and not as Goddess, and to Kilix and not Velchanos? That would make Kilix my father, and Kilix's daughter, who worked in the palace as a weaver, my sister.
    This was a strange thought, and an even stranger one followed it: if I was the daughter of Kilix but Asterion was the son ofVelchanos, he was not my brother.
    No. Not possible.
None
of it was possible. I loved Asterion more than I loved anyone except my mother. I could not lose him, and I knew it would be even worse for him to lose me.
     
    This time, I didn't care if other people were in the corridors as I ran, then walked, then ran again to the Minos's quarters. I reached the inner courtyard and stood in its entrance to catch my breath. It was a sunny, open space, large enough for several trees whose fat, tight buds showed how close we were to the Planting Festival. Birds in the small cages that hung from the boughs were singing, their odd little faces showing nothing of what they felt as their beaks opened and shut and notes came out of them. I always wondered if the Minos's birds were happy to be safe from hawks and cranes or if they were sad to be locked in those cages, secure and comfortable though they were.
    The courtyard was paved with pale stone polished so smooth that it was dangerous to walk on after a rain. I knew this well; until two years earlier, I had spent most of my waking hours in this place, and every night during the Festivals, I, too, used to sleep in the Minos's compound. I would play with the children of the Minos and the children of She-Who-I s-Goddess and then curl up with my best friends among them in one of the rooms that opened onto the courtyard, snuggling against another warm body. Those were my favorite nights of the year.
    But that happy girl was a stranger to me now as I stood and looked at the activity. As always, the Minos was surrounded by children. He sat on a low stone bench, showing the little girl on his lap how to handle her pet rabbit so that she wouldn't injure it. An even smaller boy hung over the Minos's shoulder and eyed his sister or cousin stroking the soft brown fur. At the Minos's feet, two boys laughed as they played some game that involved counting stones, and in a corner, Timandra, formerly my best friend, tuned the strings of a lyre. We had sworn that when we became women, we would still be friends, and after the ceremony, when they had received their new, secret adult names (I had no need of one, as my new name would be She-Who-Will-Be-Goddess), I ran to her. But she turned her back on me and hadn't spoken to me since.
    I missed seeing Enops and Glaukos, who, now that they were old enough to dance with the bull, would have moved to the men's quarters. I didn't miss Simo, who also had gone to be trained for bull dancing. Simo had always delighted in tormenting me, and even after I became She-Who-Will-Be-Goddess, he found ways to hurt my feelings that stopped just short of the disrespect that would cause him punishment.
    I hung back. Until recently, I had been one of the children petted by the gentle man whose long hair was streaked with gray. Now I wasn't sure of my welcome, especially when I saw Kodros, the Minos's spoiled daughter, approach and whisper something in Timandra's ear. Until I became She-Who-Will-Be-Goddess, Kodros had made my life miserable with teasing and hidden pinches and hair pulling. Now the two of them stared at me, and Timandra giggled.
    The

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