The dochas

January 18, 2018
By EmilyBrynne BRONZE, Portsmouth, New Hampshire
EmilyBrynne BRONZE, Portsmouth, New Hampshire
3 articles 0 photos 0 comments

Long ago, magic flourished on Earth alongside humans. It blended in seamlessly in everyday life, weaving in and out of people’s existences as easily as air. Yet eventually, as with most things in life, man found ways to corrupt this source of light, and magic became a source of power over others.
From this time came the first dóchas, a woman born with a great power to save the world. She locked away the magic, and with that it faded from memory. Every few generations, her descendants are born with the gift of magic, even in a world where it has disappeared into children’s tales and fireside stories. The dóchas rarely realise their gift, the power not only to protect and use, but set free the magic that has been caged for so long. Those who do open a door into a life filled with danger; for there are still those, although very few, who know of the truth and seek to set free what has been hidden for so long.
The magic is hidden by a door more ornate than one has ever seen. It has no definable shape; instead the edges seem to twist and turn into the forest surrounding it. It is impossible to focus on a single part of the door, as each piece of intricate woodwork captures attention. Daisies and lilies dance around the edges, while dozens of stars, birds, and trees float and mix together in a grand maze. The winding branches are embossed with flowers, twisting together to form the handle. When pulled by curiosity to see what lay beyond, the door leads to woods beyond that look much the same, save for a tree now centered immediately past the doorway. This tree’s grand, sprawling branches curl through the air reaching far in all directions. Instead of leaves, small dancing lights cover the ends, giving the impression the tree itself pulses with bright life.
The few descendents who manage to reach the tree often do not understand what it is that they have stumbled upon. One of these such descendents was a young girl named Agnieszka, who lived in a small Polish village along the border of what is now considered Lithuania. Agnieszka was known throughout her village for both her kind heart and clever mind. Her cheerful spirit could brighten the day of any who came across her, and she never failed to see the good in everyone and everything.
One day, Agnieszka had been sent to the forest to collect berries when, although she had walked this path dozens of times, she came to the abrupt realisation that she was lost. She spun in a circle and attempted to gain her bearings, when suddenly a door appeared in the same direction she was certain she had been facing before. Agnieszka was at once captivated by the door’s beauty, and found herself taking quick steps towards it. As she neared it, she noticed that the small holes in the door glowed with a twinkling light. The light grew brighter with each step she took, until it eventually consumed the door itself.  This light shone and glistened like a star, bouncing off of her golden hair and sparkling eyes, and yet she could not bring herself to walk away. It seemed to draw her in as she continued to walk forward until she was surprised to find herself in a different world altogether. Her surroundings were still much the same, save for a grand tree now set directly in front of her. As she drew closer to the tree, Agnieszka noticed that the light she had seen before was from dozens of small stars, dangling from each of the grand tree’s branches.
A single daisy sprouted from the center of this tree, its roots intertwining with the bark. As Agnieszka was about to step closer to view it, a clear voice startled her out of her dreamlike state. She whirled around to find its source, when she saw a woman stepping from the shadows. She wore a deep red dress that flowed to the ground, in contrast with the bright green of Agnieszka’s. Her dark hair and green eyes melted with the forest surrounding her, giving the appearance that she was herself a part of it. This woman wore a kind smile, and Agnieszka felt an immediate sense of kinship with her. As Agnieszka’s mind struggled to grasp her surroundings, the woman began to walk towards her, all the while explaining the history of the tree. She had been watching Agnieszka for a while, she explained. She had been waiting for her to find this place as all of the dóchas eventually do, and for her to finally learn about her abilities. Most dóchas took years to discover the door and what lay beyond, Agnieszka was different. She was the strongest to be born in years, which was why the woman was drawn to find her.
“Although,” she warned, “this may also lead others to find you.”
The woman, who was called Lucja, told Agnieszka of the countless years of battle between the descendents of the dóchas and those who wished to use the magic for their own benefit. It had always fallen to the dóchas to protect the tree, but the burden fell especially hard on those born like Agnieszka, those who held the power to release the magic from the tree.
“I can protect you,” Lucja said, “and I can teach you.”
The next few days Agnieszka spent behind the door with Lucja. Lucja taught her to control the powers that she had gained. She learned to bend light with her hands and to grow flowers from air. She learned about those who had come before her and how they had fought to protect the very space she was in. Lucja and Agnieszka worked together for hours at a time, and Agnieszka came to trust Lucja as a dear friend and mentor. Finally, they decided, it was time for Agnieszka to return to her old world. No time will have passed, but for Agnieszka she had entered an entirely new life. The magic showed her new exciting parts of the word that she had never explored before.
Before she was to leave, Agnieszka and Lucja sat down to enjoy a cup of thick hot chocolate. Their conversation was light and cheerful, and Lucja promised that the two would meet again. No sooner had she said this than Agnieszka’s eyes began to feel strangely heavy. The lights from the tree grew dimmer, and finally blinked out while she slowly fell to the ground.
When Agnieszka awoke, she had little recollection of what had transpired before. It was only when her tired eyes fell upon the tree that her memories of the past days were returned to her. As she struggled to understand what had happened, she realised that her wrists were bound to the tree she was leaned against. Agnieszka attempted to break free, freezing when she heard footsteps approaching. She closed her eyes and feigned sleeping, suppressing the surge of fear as the footsteps came to a halt in front of her.
“You can open your eyes,” Lucja’s voice broke into the silence, “you’re not fooling me.”
As she did, Agnieszka opened her mouth to speak, but found herself unable. She shrunk back against the rough bark of the tree as Lucja squatted in front of her, and was able to mutter a single word, “Why?”
“So naive,” Lucja said, placing a finger under Agnieszka’s chin, “such a pity.”
Lucja abruptly stood up and paced a few steps away, keeping her back towards Agnieszka. “This whole time I warned you about your enemies, and yet you failed to see what was in front of you.” Lucja went on to describe how she had waited years to find a dóchas like Agnieszka. “Don’t you see? This tree belongs to the world. It is our burden to return it to them.”
While Lucja talked, Agnieszka shook herself out of her shock and tried to wriggle her hands free. Without a glance behind Lucja flicked her wrist and the bonds tightened once more. Realising her dire position, Agnieszka endeavoured to keep Lucja occupied while she found a solution.
“How am I help to you? I don’t know how to release the magic.”
With another flick of her wrist, the ropes binding Agnieszka fell free. “Come here,” Lucja ordered. She pointed to the daisy that grew out of the tree. “You don’t need to know. It is your energy that will allow me to fulfill my purpose. This flower represents the power within the tree, it is the key to setting it free.”
As she neared the tree, Agnieszka could feel something growing inside her, the same feeling that came when anticipating something, something that might change a life forever. The twinkling lights grew stronger, steadier until they consumed the world around her, and Agnieszka’s last memory was that of Lucja’s dress, swirling as she fell to the ground.
Epilogue
As the years went on, Agnieszka never fully understood what happened that day. She met dozens of women like her, all of whom had formed a sort of community, none of whom could explain to her why Lucja had chosen her, or where she had gone. Yet, as time always does, the questions began to fade from Agnieszka’s mind. Sometimes another like Lucja came, but none as strong as her and each was quickly defeated. The dochás community grew protective of Agnieszka, and so she never found herself alone to face anyone again. 



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