It was only a candle.
In fact, it was only the stub of a candle, set on a battered pewter plate, and she didn’t light it right away, but sat waiting as the last faint rays of the sun faded away.
She knew what she needed to do, of course. She’d been well-schooled in the rituals. But part of her still hesitated. Was it right, to do this thing? Was it fair – to invoke the shadows for her own desires?
Her teachers had made her memorize the rules till she was word-perfect, but they had not ever explained those strictures.
Still, there had been nothing that explicitly said she should not. The couplet spoke only of having an unselfish heart.
She laid out the chalk circle.
She measured out the offerings of grain and water.
She lit the candle.
And snuffed out the bad luck of her village.