Cautiously, he crept towards the copse of trees, anticipatory of what he might find therein.
* * *
Aslyn arrived at the grove and smiled. Everything sat exactly how she’d left it two days ago. The pyramid of firewood had been set in the centre of the opening and her stone altar stood at one end of the glade. The night air carried with it a bite, but once she set the bonfire aflame, she knew she’d warm up.
Untying her bundles, she laid her things around the altar, then struck the flint, causing sparks and igniting the kindling packed amongst the firewood. The dry herbs and parched twigs lit in no time, and it wasn’t long until the fire burned brilliantly, lighting up the entire area.
From the altar, Aslyn took her herbs bound in string and stood before the roaring fire. She raised them above her head and tilted her face to the sky. “This night I dedicate to Druantia. May she find it worthy of her.” Holding the herbs above the blaze, the tops of the bundle caught fire. Raising it to her mouth, she blew out the small flames. The smouldering, dry leaves sent wispy grey-white strands of smoke into the air.
“Druantia, I smudge the air to purify this grove.” Aslyn began to dance around the flames, twirling, filling the air with a fragrant fog.
Thrice Aslyn danced around the bonfire and tossed the herbs into the flames. Then she removed the crown of flowers from her head and did the same.
Aslyn walked over to the altar and spread one of her silk panels on the ground. She lightly dropped to her knees and bowed her head. “I dedicate this time to you, Druantia, may the Goddess do as she sees fit.” Aslyn shed her ritual garments. Taking a handful of flower petals and fragrant, fresh herbs, she rubbed them into her skin, her neck and chest, her torso, her thighs, stroking her body with their softness, inhaling the scent as it rose from her. With the foliage spent and scattered at her knees, she closed her eyes, tilted her head back and slid a hand to the juncture of her thighs.
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