Chapter 1 Part 1
Driving through the darkness with only the glow of the headlights leading the car down the highway, Ariana left her home in Coolidge around 7 AM in order to be in Sedona by 10 AM. Tonight begins the All Hallows Eve Event. She smiles to herself as she remembers that most Mundanes would call it Halloween. She makes the trip every year to Sedona to honor her parents at the Red Rock Cemetery. She remembers the promise she made to them to have each one buried at this cemetery. So one by one as each passed away they were transported to their special place and buried in their appropriate spots. First her father passed and she and her mother made the arrangements together. Then four years later her mother passed and she was tasked with making those same arrangements all on her own.
Finally making it to the base of the city and as with each previous year, her eyes widen and her expression goes from long exhausting drive to awe inspiring management as the town comes into view and then those ever popular reay colored mountains. The Sedona mountains are gorgeous during the Summer but breathtakingly beautiful in the Winter. She drives through the town heading to a familiar restaurant to have breakfast and then to the hotel to check in and get some rest. She planned on sleeping for a few hours and then heading over to the cemetery.
After a three hour nap and a long hot shower, Arianna makes her way to the Red Rock Cemetery. Driving through the black metal gates, making her way through the little winding road to where the other cars were parked. She sits in her car for a few minutes mentally preparing herself for the events coming up. She usually does these types of things on her own. Being a Solitary witch affords her the ability to stay hidden in the shadows but something about tonight has her on edge. She’s been having dreams again and she’s being pushed to go outside of her comfort zone and work with other people and she’s not quite sure how to feel about it. But the Goddess would never stir her wrong.
Looking at her watch she finally decides to get out of her car and grabs her supplies and items from her trunk. She begins the trek up the hillside, looking around and realizing how the darkness makes the trees look like shadows. She finally reaches the top of the hillside looking over the cemetery in awe as she takes in the beautiful site of the gravestones and the way the lights and candles illuminate this sacred ground. People are scattered here and there cleaning and decorating different graves. Making them presentable to the spirits of their deceased loved ones. Some sections are packed with people and their decorations surrounding the graves. Food prepared and placed in front waiting for their ancestors to appear and enjoy the night's festivities. To the normal world this would be odd behavior and even to some a disgrace to the dead but for Pagans this is how we honor our passed family members and friends so they are never forgotten.
Arianna finds the two graves that mean the most to her. There’s really not much to clean since she was just here a few months ago, which gave her more time to decorate and put her offerings out just the way her mother had taught her. She sat the flowers in the front of the stones and the little tea lights scattered all over, with the grave candle and abalone shell right in the middle. The offerings were placed just in front of the shell. Ariana takes in a deep breath as she closes her eyes letting all the memories of her parents flow through her mind as she slowly closes her eyes and goes into meditation. All those days from long ago, when she was little, playing in the woods, learning about the herbs and flowers with her mother, lazy days by the waters edge, fishing with her father. She can feel the tears start to well up in her eyes and slide down her cheeks one by one with each memory that drifts through her mind. And then all at once her eyes pop open and she knows that it is time for the ritual to begin. She starts by lighting the candles and incense, feeling that her parents' spirits are so close and the connection is ready.
And so her ritual begins -
“Vela Samhain cadunt,
Hoc lumen, audi vocationem meam;
Beati mortui in terrenis sepulchris;
Tua memoria i me abloom”
As all are in their sacred space and starting their own rituals they never realize how dangerous their night has become. Like a lion stalking his prey, he stands just outside of ear shot as he watches her every move. From the way she laughs, to how she sways through the crowd of people He had noticed her as soon as he came through the cemetery gates. He purposefully grabbed a headstone site that was close but not to close for her to notice him. He begins to clear and clean this little gravesite but never taking himself away from his prey. He can hear her giggles as she talks with her friends. He begins to envision how it will be, what it would feel like to move his fingers down her body. Envisioning the way her face will be as he slides his knife into her chest and watching her life slowly fade as he takes her essence, her mortality and absorbs it for himself. A noise from his left brings him back to reality and now he can't wait to fulfill his needs.
Ariana comes out of her meditation, slowly opening her eyes trying to focus on her surroundings and remembering where she is. She has always loved the types of rituals where she can get lost in her own mind and lose track of time. Those are the ones that refresh and renew her - mind, body, and soul. It’s like taking all the negative energy from the year and sending it back to the ground, back to the earth, back to where it originally came from. After words, she always feels reborn and ready to take on the world again. She takes a few minutes to gather herself mentally and then begins the cleanup process. She smiles as she picks up her items remembering her mother’s words, “Make sure you leave the area as if you were never there”. As she looks around at the other’s finishing their own rituals and cleaning up she feels this night is different. The air seems charged with more energy than usually but she can’t seem to quite pen point what she’s feeling.