The incense has been well blended, the fire built with care, and the oil infused for weeks before.
Alone I️ kneel, a thousand eyes on me at once, and yet none are there but myself. Carefully, delicately, I️ strike the flint pieces together, until a spark catches the bark, dried moss, and twigs.
Then I️ breathe. I️ breathe deeply, slowly, patiently, emptying my lungs. To this flame, I️ give a the breathe of life. May it grow well. And it does. The flames begin to spread, wood cracking from the heat.
Before long, a small fire has caught well. The space illuminated well, and the eyes of the forest are watching closer. Who is this young fool? Has he come to harm us?
I️ gently reassure the unseen that I️ have come not to harm, but to work. I️ stand and move about the space, gathering what I️ need: cone of an elder tree, tip of a protective shrub, feather of corvid, tendril of a winding weed, and most importantly, root of an Verdant One too oft overlooked. I️ place these about me according to need. Then I️ gather more wood. My plans will not end once the fire begins to die down. On the contrary, they’ll only just begin.
From the dying flame, I️ gently gather a glowing ember. I️ set this down, and cast upon it the resins, leaves, flowers, roots, and oils of the incense. A sizzle. The air is suddenly filled with the pungent scent of burning botanicals.
I️ whisper to the presences there gathered. I️ tell them of goals and desires. I️ tell them of dreams and of longing. I️ show them my heart, and they come closer. I️ take up the rope smuggled from my home, and into it do I️ tie my materials. Each is a reminder; an echo of all that will yet be. Into the bottom is tied a stone of great virtue. All are watching, all are focused, all are present.
I️ cast more of the incense upon the ember. Into the rising smoke do I️ hold the device. Swinging to a fro, to and fro, to and fro through the carefully blended concoction. I️ feel a current come through me, and I️ know it is time. Pulling out a bramble rod, I️ ensnare the device in thorns.
Kneeling, taking up the red oil and anoint the device. I whisper secret words of a language long since lost, and pass the object through the flame.
A phrase comes to mind. “One thing more, and all is done: add a bit of thine own tongue.”
I️ smile to myself. I suppose no one can escape Winifred’s spell. With a gentle bite to the tongue, I️ release my essence, letting it fall on a finger. From end to end, bare thee my mark, by whispered spell at midnight’s dark. Perfect. I️ feel everything fall into place.
I️ cast a final hand of incense upon the dying embers, my offering to the wood and the spirits therein. A gentle wind rises, carrying the smoke beyond my field of vision. I️ can hear it whisper to me, reminding me of all that I️ have become. In this moment I️ know, my rite is done. I️ douse the fire with the water brought specifically for the purpose, and I️ stir the remnants of the burnt sticks into the dirt. Covered with fallen pine needles, none will know I️ was here.
I️ walk away from the wood, my device in hand, knowing that all has been changed.