Fiction Friday – Lost and Found – Chapter 21

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It was the greatest amount of magick that I had ever held, much less manipulated on my own. Usually I was just an added amount of magick that another, more experienced mage like Siofra or Glenn. This time, however, it was me that was calling forth the energies and using them to expel whatever it was that was in Joel.

My eyes were closed as I concentrated on my task, but I could still feel Joel’s warm hands around my wrists and they were a sure anchor that helped me remember what I was doing. The amount of magick nearly overflowed inside me as I sought whatever had invaded him and I needed every single ounce of will that I could muster to find the little black spot inside Joel’s chest that was the center-point of the spell Taeynd had used. Once I found it, it was easier to carefully detach it from him and break it up so that the smaller pieces left his body without harming him and fell to the ground where they then soaked harmlessly into the dirt.

As the last of the spell left his body, I felt Joel’s body lean against me and I looked at him quickly, worried that I had in some way hurt him. Thankfully he was alright, the expression in his eyes telling me that it was exhaustion from the healing that he was feeling and not pain. His fingers were still around my wrists, but his grip wasn’t as sure as it had been and he weaved against me so that I feared if he passed out he would take us both down.

I released the magick I still held and felt incredibly drained, but determined to do what I could to replenish his strength. Siofra must have had some indication of what was happening because she stepped forward and laid her hands on Joel’s shoulder before I called for help. Within seconds the light was back in his eyes and his grip once again tightened around my wrists as his gaze watched me intently.

I smiled up at him and was rewarded with a similar one. I parted my lips to speak to him, but Mac’s voice interrupted me.

“It was too easy,” Mac said in a low voice. He was scanning the forest around us as if he expected an army to attack from all sides at any moment. I had to admit that getting Joel away from Taeynd had been rather easy in the over all scheme of things, but I hadn’t put much thought into it until Mac had voiced his opinion.

As if to give proof to his statement, the stone in the center of the circle suddenly exploded, throwing dust and smoke into the air. We all dropped to the ground to avoid the flying bits of rock and when I turned around again I saw that Peorth, Kenaz and Siofra were all on the ground and appeared to have passed out from the blast. Eliza was still on her feet and looking between Mac and me, wondering who to go to. Glenn quickly moved to his wife’s side to be sure she was alright.

Mac unsheathed his sword again and told Eliza to move over toward me, but she moved closer to his side instead. I quickly scrambled to my felt and was looking around me for Joel, but he and the old lady were gone. I was beginning to feel slightly dizzy and was about to call out Joel’s name when Mac spoke. “It’s a dream.”

I leaned back against one of the rocks of the circle to keep my footing as the scene shifted back to our rooms at the inn. I watched as Taeynd materialized in all her dazzling splendor near Eliza with her men surrounding us in the room as well. Waves of nauseating warmth washed over me as I realized that Eliza’s body was bloodied as if she had fought off many season fighters. I was afraid that I was going to pass out and I fought to remain conscious.

“It was too easy, wasn’t it?” she asked as she smiled at Mac coyly. “Not quite as much fun as shooting me, to be sure.”

My mind tried to latch on to a meditation exercise that I hoped would keep me awake. Before I could fully slip into the trance I felt my body drop forward, first onto my knees and then further down still until I felt the ground beneath my cheek and everything went black.

 

 

 

 

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ABCs of Angel Mythology – Israfel

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Israfel

The Angel of Music

This powerful angel and his legions embody the creative word of God/Goddess through songs from the heart. Think of a time when you heard music that was so powerful and beautiful that you were touched deeply by its vibration. Archangel Israfel was there, opening your heart through sound. Music and sound are vibration, which is a powerful tool for transformation through the higher self. Allow the magic of music to move you into dance and celebration of who you truly are. Call upon Israfel to invoke the sound of God through the vibration of music as you listen to the songs of angels.

 

 

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ABCs of Angel Mythology – Haniel

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Haniel

In the Kabbalah, Haniel presides over the seventh sephirah, Netzach. This sphere is related to victory and represents our inner world of intuition, imagination, and emotions.

The Netzach marks the beginning of humans’ free will, and the expression of endurance and tenacity. It is the embodiment of earthly love. Archangel Haniel radiates inner qualities outwardly like the full moon. Mysterious and feminine, Haniel has been revered since the Babylonian era, which tied astronomy into religion.

Archangel Haniel can help you develop your intuition and clairvoyance, as well as any aspect of sacred feminine energy. It’s very effective to call upon Haniel during the full moon, especially if there’s anything you’d like to release or heal. Haniel can particularly help with women’s issues.

As the expression of the inner world of intuition, Archangel Haniel is a supportive guide for those who wish to develop their spiritual gifts, like clairvoyance. Her bluish white halo color reminds me of the moon, and wearing moonstone can both amplify intuitive transmissions and also help you feel connected to Haniel.

Men as well as women can benefit from connecting to this archangel, as men also have feminine energy (just like women have male energy). Haniel can help members of both sexes awaken and trust their inner guidance.

 

 

 

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Fiction Friday – Lost and Found – Chapter 20

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My gaze met Joel’s for the first time in the waking world as we sped for the gate that meant freedom and it was then that I finally saw recognition in his eyes as he looked at me. I felt what was fast becoming a familiar tug in my heart whenever I thought of him and a smile touched my lips as magick continued to flow from me and into my aunt. He smiled back even as he urged his mount to go faster and that was the last thing I saw as a blinding pain enclosed around my entire head.

“Ahh,” I cried out, as my hand left Siofra’s to hold my head. Within seconds the pain had subsided enough for me to open my eyes and look around, but it still throbbed slightly as I tried to gauge how long I had been out of it. An educated guess was telling me that the pain had been a result of Siofra and I doing magick while we were still inside the castle walls. Did Taeynd known where we were? Was she following? What had happened inside after Eliza and I left? As the pain continued to slowly abate my gaze found Kenaz, who was now watching me in complete terror as she cowered in the skirts of the old woman who had accompanied Siofra.

“Keep her down, keep her safe,” I managed, trying to assure the child that I was okay while I looked around us and saw that Mac was in the process of throwing the oil I had given him at the guards near the gate, the substance landing on them as well as the wall close behind them. Without thinking, I attempted to light fire to the oil to stop them from attacking us, but it didn’t work and the headache that had been receding to a dull ache become blinding again.

Lightning struck the wall then, igniting the oil that Mac had thrown and the men that it covered. I looked to Mac as he lifted the powder bag and threw it in the fire as we sped past.

The guards that weren’t on fire began to shoot at us as we edged ever closer to the opening that I hoped we made it through before it closed. Since I had given my gun to Mac I was now weaponless for the moment. I wasn’t about to try to use magick again while we were still inside the castle walls, the pain was too great. So I waited until I could be more useful.

Siofra had produced a gun of her own and was firing at guards along with Mac. She was still cradling an unconscious Glenn in her lap. Panic grew in my throat as I saw a bullet graze Mac’s shoulder, but when he kept his seat on his horse I knew that the wound wasn’t a life threatening one for the moment. That didn’t stop me from making a mental note to check him when we stopped.

Finally, we cleared the gates and were on the other side of the castle walls. I used magick to heal my headache and watched as the people that were still waiting in line to enter the castle scatter confusedly as Os-tur in dragon-cat form cleared a path in front of the wagon for us. He must have flown over the wall and landed in front of us.

Amidst the rain of bullets Glenn finally regained consciousness and sat up in the bed of the wagon. Fortunately, the guards that were following us had really bad aim and aside from the flesh wound that Mac had received, we were making a pretty good escape.

Mac stopped on the bridge after everyone else was safely on the other side and dismounted his horse long enough to dump a line of the gunpowder across the structure. He then strategically placed the pouch in the middle of the roadway and stepped back enough to fire at the line, the flames igniting the rest of the powder and quickly moving toward big pile. Then he mounted the horse again and pushed the animal hard to catch up with the rest of us before the whole thing blew.

I heard Eliza muttering something about Mac being reckless that caused me to look at her where she sat on the wagon seat, urging the horses to go faster. I wondered if she could use a break from the constant strain that holding onto the reigns of the horses was doing to her. “Do you need help up there?” I asked, thinking that I could take some of the burden from her since neither of us was accustomed to using our arms in that way.

“No, I’m fine,” she replied. I looked down her body and noticed blood on her shirt so I made to climb onto seat to heal her now that we were on the other side of the castle walls. “Get in the back,” she bit out.

“No, you’re hurt,” I insisted.

She flicked the reigns again. “I’m fine. You’re gonna fall.”

I ignored her as I tried to lift her shirt to get a better look. “Are you all right?”

“I’m fine,” she said through clenched teeth.

“You’re not. Did you heal?”

“Get down with the others,” she yelled as she started to pull the horses into a slower pace as we approached a crossroad. She didn’t seem to be favoring anything for the moment as she pulled the wagon onto an old road and finally stopped it, all be it with some difficulty, but she did manage to do it.

I decided to drop my questioning for the moment, figuring that if she were hurt bad enough she would have let me help her. Quickly we all climbed out of the wagon or off our horses and I joined hands with Glenn, who had regained consciousness again, and Siofra to create a gateway that opened next to the circle of stones where we had arrived in this world in the first place. The gateway was large enough for everyone to move through quickly as Mac caught up with us and we passed through to the other side and assembled inside it.

I was eager to get back to our world, but I couldn’t keep myself from glancing at Joel as I took Kenaz’s hand and kneeled before her. He was checking the horses over as the others quickly scouted around for signs that we had been followed.

“Kenaz,” I said to the little girl, trying to form the words that I hoped would make her understand what I was about to tell her. “I don’t want anything to happen to you here once we leave. Do you want to come home with me?”

She looked at me quizzically, not sure what to say. “But I live here,” she said matter of factly. “I don’t want to go anywhere else.”

The old woman that Siofra had brought along came forward and put her hands on the girl’s shoulders. “I will make sure that no harm comes to the girl once you have gone.” She looked down at Kenaz kindly and smiled a gentle smile. “It would do my heart good to have someone to take care of.”

I nodded my head silently in agreement and got to my feet again as I caressed Kenaz’s cheek with the tips of my fingers. All around me preparations were underway by Mac and the others to return home. Packs were being removed from the wagon and brought into the circle and Os-tur had rejoined us again, now back in his human form.

Like a magnet, my eyes were drawn back to Joel. I worried about any lingering effects that he might have after being liberated from Taeynd even as I continued to wonder if he had in fact had feelings for the other woman. Then I started to think about some of the things that he had said in the limited conversations we had and suddenly I had an idea.

I called forth Spirit to look at Joel in such a way as to determine whether or not he was possessed. That had to be it. He had said that he was bound to her… what if the only place he had free will was in his dreams? It made perfect sense to me, but I needed to find proof of it, or something close to what I was thinking, in him.

I couldn’t tell for sure, but there was definitely something inside Joel that resembled a poison or parasitic infection that triggered an alarm in my mind. Siofra was only a few feet from me and I crossed to her quickly as I reached into my pouch and pulled out the little stone wolf that my Grandfather had given me. “There’s some kind of parasite in him,” I told her, managing to keep the panic from my voice that was rising in my chest.

Siofra looked at me oddly, and then glanced over at him. “In Joel?”

I nodded. “I can’t recognize what it is.”

Siofra looked at me quizzically. “Do you want me to figure it out?”

I didn’t know what it was, but the last thing I wanted was to leave whatever it was inside him. “Can we just get rid of it?”

“I don’t know,” she said with a shrug as she seemed to watch him closely, as if she might. “I don’t know what it is.” She continued to watch him for a few seconds as he checked the gun that had been strapped on one hip and the sword that was hung on the other. I recognized his attitude from the times I had seen Mac prepare for an altercation. Joel was in battle mode, I told myself and that, along with the fact that we were running for our lives, was why we hadn’t yet had a chance to really… connect, for lack of a better word. There would be time for that when we were safely back home.

Eliza was fawning over Mac’s flesh wound. “You should be more careful,” she scolded as she tried to pull the material of his shirt and tunic back enough to get a good look at the damage.

Mac stopped and looked at her incredulously. “Ring, hello?” he commended as he glanced down at her blood-stained shirt. “Pot?”

She brushed his concern off. “You could have been seriously injured, and you need to take more care.”

Mac grinned as he took her hands gently and pulled them away from his shoulder. “Yes, but then I’d have been dead and you’d have to kill me,” he pointed out, humorously, his voice full of mirth.

“That is not funny,” Eliza bit out.

“Can’t see anything,” Siofra said finally as Joel went over to Glenn to make sure that he and Peorth were both okay after our quick escape from Horsetower. “You’re seeing things.”

“No, I’m not,” I insisted as Gwrhyr padded closer, having heard our conversation while the others were checking things over.

“No spirits per say,” I heard him say in my head, but he did agree that there was some sort of corruption about him. “You’re right, little one,” he told me.

“Do you think it’s something we need to look into right now?” I asked. “Or do you think it will wait until we get home?”

“What does your heart tell you?” he replied.

That was all the prompting I needed. I crossed the space that separated Joel and me. He was facing away from me as he talked with Peorth and I had to turn him so that he looked at me, then I laid my hands flat on his chest. “Why do you have…?” I started, then stopped and swallowed because this was the first time I was touching him in the waking world and a familiar warmth was coming from his chest and into my fingers.

“There’s something in you, what is it?” I started again. “Did she do it to you?” I was trying not to look in his eyes. Trying not to show how scared I was at the thought that maybe Taeynd had done something to him we hadn’t anticipated. Something that she may have the ability to trigger whenever she chose. Something that might kill him before I… before we could do anything to stop it.

Joel lifted his hands and enclosed them around my wrists. “I told you, she used her blood in a spell,” he told me in a quiet, soft spoken voice that caused goose bumps to sprout on my skin.

“I think I know what it is,” Siofra said as she came up behind me. “I think I understand.”

“We have to get it out,” I told her, not taking my hands from Joel’s chest. “How do we get rid of it?”

“I have no idea,” he told me.

“Does her blood make you stronger?” Mac asked.

Joel shook her head. “No, it’s not like that, it-”

“Binds you to her?” Siofra finished for him.

His eyes moved to her. “Yes.”

I looked up at him and said quietly. “It needs to come out. How do we get rid of it?”

“Not standing in the middle of the circle,” Mac said, eager to get the hell out of here before Taeynd and her men found us.

I glanced at him over my shoulder. “We need to get rid of it before we go home because it might be a tracking device.”

“I will try to help you, but I don’t know,” Siofra said as she put her hand on my shoulder.

“I’m thinking Life,” I told her, referring to the types of magick we could pull from to create what we were looking to. I glanced up at Joel again, who was smiling down at me reassuringly. “I’m thinking Spirit, Matter.”

“Okay,” was all she said, opening herself to her magick so that I could use it to, hopefully, get whatever was in him, out.

“We could try it together,” Glenn said as he, too, linked with Siofra and me.

 

 

 

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Circle of Hands: Lammas Ritual

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In HotWP podcasts, Cathy and I have talked about the monthly pagan meet up we started a year ago, but I don’t think I’ve ever talked about it in a blog post. We wanted to create a safe place where solitary (or not so solitary) pagans could come together and meet likeminded others in our community. The meet ups are open to all, including those who might not claim the word ‘pagan’ to describe their Path and the diversification has really been a learning experience for me personally. Actually, the meet ups have been a pretty successful venture for all of us and the new friendships we’ve started have been such a blessing.

One thing that Cathy and I really hoped would come from these monthly get togethers was to form a multi-traditional organization in Shiawassee County that would serve all pagans in our area. We are calling this organization Circle of Hands because that’s what we wanted it to be, a circle of people that would hold up those who might not have a coven or circle like we have with the Mystics of Rhea Lur. We also wanted the Circle to serve as a place for education and we wanted to do things like host open rituals and provide pathways to clergy services to those who need/want them. We intentionally took things really slow in getting the Circle started, but I think that is what we needed to do.

Cathy and I were also aware that we already had our hands full with the Mystics of Rhea Lur and we have had to be careful that we kept the two entities separate. Rhea Lur is a Wiccan coven of witches, while Circle of Hands is inclusive of all pagan traditions and those are two very different things.

So, now that I’ve covered all that… I’m so excited to say that Circle of Hands held its first public ritual for Lammas last weekend! It was a great event and I thought I would share some pictures from it, including the one at the top of this post that shows the altar before the ritual started. The ritual was held in a local park that was a perfect set up for a group of pagans. We were in the very back of the park, which meant we had a ways to haul everything back, but it was worth it! We had a nice pavilion that had a nice grill built into the center that we used for the altar. The only bad thing about the park is that we couldn’t have any kind of fire, which we understood and the limitation gave us an opportunity to get creative with Fire and Air (no burning incense either).

Special thanks to flame less candles and magickal sprays!!!

Lammas is the first harvest, traditionally marking when wheat and other grains are harvested. We wanted to honor Lugh, the Celtic sun god whom the Sabbat is named after, and his bride, Blodeuwedd, during the ritual so we decided that we would have these tripod frames on the altar that we would decorate with flowers, fruits and vegetables. These figures became the embodiment of the god and goddess and after the ritual we then left the flowers and other decorations at the park as offerings/food.

 

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God

goddess

Goddess

We broke bread together as a symbol of the first harvest and to commemorate Lugh’s funeral games. I led everyone in a meditation to meet the spirit of Lammas and to commune with it, to see if there were any messages or tasks for us during this season. We also left offerings for the wild creatures as a ritual sacrifice in the name of the Grain God.

We also did some really fun elemental altars:

 

 

And then we feasted!!!!!

All in all, a great day with amazing people. Building a pagan community is something that I feel strongly about in recent years. I know how lucky I am to have a web of support with my coven and other organizations I’m lucky enough to be a part of, but I know that not everyone has that. Cites like Salem and New Orleans have a sizeable pagan presence because of their histories, which is great, and in Michigan I know that the Detroit area has a lot to offer to pagans. But what about the rural areas that are far removed from these pagan centers? I think it’s great to look at what these places are doing and use that as an example for something we can all create in our own backyards. Yes, there is a strong solitary base for many pagans, but I think that there are times when we all might find a need for support.

Thanks for walking the Path for a little while with me… Blessed Be!

 

altar-end

 

 

 

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PodOmatic site for podcasts:

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Fiction Friday – Lost and Found – Chapter 19

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We passed into the courtyard of the castle and moved into a ‘parking’ area of sorts where the other visitors with horses were leaving their mounts with young men in Taeynd’s black livery. Stable boys came to take charge of our horses and Mac instructed them to leave the riding horses saddled and the others harnessed to the wagon. Gwrhyr climbed into the wagon to wait there while the rest of us went inside.

We entered the great hall of the keep as a group and I quickly saw that the visitors were split down the middle so that the commoners were on the left, nobility to the right. I glanced around the room behind the others to get a better idea of how things were laid out as Kenaz clutched my hand tightly.

At far end of hall was a dais and chair that stood empty for the moment, but I noticed that no one pressed very close to the area, making me wonder if all the nobility feared Taeynd as much as the common folk did. Each of the four corners of the hall housed a set of spiral stairs that seemed to go both up to the higher levels, and down to what I hoped weren’t the dungeons. Bathrooms were on either side of the hall under the balconies that made up the second floor hall. Guards were posted at each stairway, as well as among the people. I guessed to keep things in order once Taeynd appeared.

A man who looked as if he were an official approached Mac, asking what we were here for. After a curt, but polite answer from Mac, he directed us to the right side of the room where the nobility were gathered around tables where wine was being served by more of the castle’s staff.

Hoping to come up with a valid story that would keep us from being imprisoned, I turned to Peorth and asked for the name of a town that was part of the country we were in, but obscure, far away. She gave me a name and I filed it away in order to use it if I was approached by someone and they asked where I had come from.

Mac turned so that we formed a rough circle. “What is our goal?” he asked quietly, so that only we could hear him as he looked around the group of us. “Do we just want to get Joel out? Or do we want to kill Taeynd?”

“We don’t want to kill Taeynd,” I told him, keeping my voice as low as possible. I understood the fact that what we’d learned of Taeynd was all negative, but I didn’t want her blood on our hands if we could help it. Getting Joel out was all I cared about.

“We just want to get Joel out?” Mac repeated as he looked around again.

I glanced around the group as well, not sure how anyone else felt, but I knew that if there was a chance of getting Joel away without death, the whole situation would be a better one for all of us. “We don’t want to kill anybody. We can bring her down.” That would remove her from power and get Joel away from her at the same time. It seemed like the best outcome.

“We can kill her,” Siofra said.

“We can’t kill anybody,” I retorted quickly, my voice rising slightly so that I quickly looked around to see if I had been overheard.

“Why don’t we just get Joel out and go home,” Mac suggested, looking between Siofra and myself.

“This woman obviously has a hold over these people, and that’s not good,” I said, not sure if I could live with myself if we allowed Taeynd to maintain control of this land, meaning others would suffer after we had gone, but murder just didn’t sit well with me.

Mac’s gaze met mine. “We came here to get Joel,” he said, his tone saying that he had made the decision and we weren’t to question him about it. “We’ll get him and go home,” he finished with another sweeping look around the group of us, and then he turned to look over the crowd again.

I was torn. I knew that if possible, we should help the people rid themselves of Taeynd’s oppressive dictatorship over the country, but I knew that my first concern was to get Joel out of here. His safety was the priority for us at the moment and what we needed to concentrate on. Mac needed him to learn more about his new powers and to gain whatever he needed to in order to fulfill his destiny.

I tried not to think about my developing feelings for him because I hadn’t really had time to explore them in my own head yet. I figured there would be time for that after we got Joel back home as I pushed the mental picture of him from behind my eyes. I took Kenaz by the hand and kept her at my side as I began to mill through the crowd, thinking that I needed to my use of my time until Taeynd and Joel showed up to learn all that I could about the strange place that Joel had unwillingly found himself bound in.

As Mac and the others wandered about to see what they could learn as well, I chatted with a few people in the hopes of finding out more about Taeynd. I ended up talking to a woman in her early fifties, whom I quickly determined was nothing more than a gossip looking for her next piece of news. Since I was looking for information, I was more than happy to let her chat on about her husband, who was an ambassador from the capital who was here to visit ‘Bloodmark’ as Taeynd was called.

Part way through the conversation I bent down to Kenaz to whisper to her. “I’m talking with this woman so look out for people looking at us strangely. I want you to tug on my skirt if that happens.” The girl nodded that she understood and I felt her little hand move from mine to my skirt where she held on just as tightly as she had my hand.

“Is Bloodmark married?” I asked her. “Does she have a family?”

The other woman nodded. “She has a consort, but I don’t think they’re married.”

“Really?” I replied, trying not to show too much interest as a knot of dread suddenly formed in my lower abdomen. “Who is this consort?”

Her answer caused my heart to stop for a moment, but totally explained the sudden tightness in my gut. “Jolesic.”

I swallowed as I tried to cover my surprise and smiled widely at the woman to keep my jaw from dropping. “What is he like? Have you met him?”

“He’s a very gracious man” she gushed with a knowing smile that made my stomach lurch sickly as I crossed my arms in front of me and clutched at the sleeves of my dress desperately. “He seems to dote on her,” the other woman confided.

I had to clamp my teeth on my bottom lip to not scream, and then tried to sound nonchalant as I spoke. “Amazing. Sounds like a match made in heaven to be sure.”

She looked to either side of us, and then leaned forward to confide in a loud whisper, “I did hear a rumor that they are to be married, but I can’t seem to get it confirmed.”

I blinked in what I hoped was surprise and not repulsion. “How long ago was this?” I asked.

“Just a few weeks ago,” she commented as she took a sip from the pewter goblet she held. “I heard about a wedding dress.”

I cleared my throat. “Where is this Jolesic from? Around here?” How could he have acted the way he had toward me the other night in my dream if he was planning to marry her? It didn’t make sense. Was that why he hadn’t wanted her to see me?

Her eyes gleamed as if I’d asked the million-dollar question and she leaned toward me again. “No one knows. He showed up one day and Taeynd fell for him. Some of the more common folk fear Bloodmark, but they don’t understand what it means to be a ruler. One must keep an iron grip on things or the peasants will over run you.”

I looked around the room to see where Mac and the others were and found that most of them hadn’t gone far. I didn’t see Siofra. “How long will she make us wait before she comes down?”

The other woman shrugged. “She’s a busy woman, she’ll come down when the time is right, she just seems to sense these things.”

All this talk of Joel marrying Taeynd was leaving a horrible taste in my mouth. I knew that I needed to change the subject fast, before I gave myself away. “I heard she’s looking for ladies in waiting. How does one become a lady in waiting?”

The woman looked over her shoulder and pointed out someone, but I was saved from continuing my conversation with her because at that moment horns sounded in the hall and everyone was turning to face the dais. My eyes moved there as well and I found that Joel and a woman I could only assume was Taeynd seemed to have just appeared before everyone, several guards surrounding them and looking the audience over for possible attackers. Taeynd’s hand was lightly resting on Joel’s arm as they stood smiling at the crowd and he seemed to have eyes only for her as everyone welcomed their ‘lady’.

I didn’t think of her for a moment as I looked Joel over carefully. He was wearing a royal blue tunic, trimmed in black with Taeynd’s snake emblems embroidered along the bottom hem and at the shoulders. His black, knee-high boots were polished until they gleamed and his black pants fit him like a glove as they hugged his legs tightly. He didn’t seem to be hurt in any way, but I got the impression that Taeynd had the ability to hurt people in ways that wouldn’t always show readily.

Convinced that he was okay for the moment, I moved my gaze to Taeynd and was overwhelmed by how beautiful she was. Her dark hair was pulled back away from her face in a gentle cascade of fat curls, some having been allowed to spill from their pins so that they caressed her neck and partially exposed chest and shoulders. Her gown was pale pink and looked like a cloud as she moved to sit on the throne in the middle of the dais, Joel helping her adjust the pillows so that she was comfortable after she was seated.

Out of nowhere I felt a sudden need to be closer to her that I couldn’t understand. I found myself wondering why I had ever thought anything bad about the woman as she looked out over the mass of subjects before her with a radiant smile.

I must have taken a few steps forward because I felt Eliza move closer to me and she put a hand on my arm. “Corrine, honey,” I heard her say, but I couldn’t take my eyes off Taeynd. She was so beautiful.

“Isn’t she awfully pretty?” I whispered as I stared at her, awestruck.

“Corrine, honey,” Eliza repeated, shaking me slightly.

“But look at her, isn’t she pretty?” I insisted.

Eliza took my shoulders and turned me so that I finally faced her. “Her presence does not affect you,” she told me when my eyes met hers, and just like that her words sunk in and I instantly knew that Taeynd had done something with magick to make me forget why we were here. Make me become enthralled. For once I was glad that Eliza had used her own brand of mind control on me to break the spell Taeynd had caused.

My eyes moved back at the woman on the dais and I knew that my gaze was filled with malicious intent that if spotted would have given me away to any of the guards in the room. “That bitch,” I ground out through clenched teeth as I tried to take a deep breath to steady my anger.

“Why don’t you come back here with us,” Eliza suggested as she slipped her arm around my waist and practically had to pull me back to where Mac, Glenn and Kenaz were waiting for us with Peorth and Os-tur.

“She’s pretty,” Kenaz told me, her eyes looking soft and dreamy and I winced as I wondered if I had looked the same way just a moment ago.

I took her hand loosely in mine. “Honey, she’s mean, she’s not pretty.”

“Are you sure?” she asked in her innocent, childlike way and I nodded in answer.

Taeynd was thanking everyone for their attendance as Joel stood next to her and her guards moved between her and the crowd on either side of the throne. She sounded very gracious, her voice full of sweetness that made my upper lip curl in distaste. She was manipulating them and I knew it. She then called for the judgments to begin, starting with the peasant class then working up to nobility.

Mac motioned for us to move closer to one of the bathrooms, but he didn’t give an indication as to why. Once there we stood and listened for a while to the proceedings. Taeynd was harsh in her judgments, but everyone around us appeared to approve of her decisions.

Glenn leaned over to Mac and whispered, “Siofra found this woman who was crying that she’s going to help get out of the castle because her daughter’s a bitch.”

Mac glanced at him in disbelief then shook his head. “No, we’re getting Joel and getting out. No more strays.”

Glenn was silent for a moment and I figured that he was talking to his wife in his mind. “She’s not listening,” he told his brother-in-law after a moment.

Mac shook his head again and eyed Glenn in a way that said loud and clear that he expected Glenn to be able to control his wife a little better. This time it was Mac who was quiet for a few more minutes, as if he were locking in the last few pieces to a puzzle that he was working on in his head, and then he turned to Eliza and said, “Get Corrine and the kid out to the wagon.”

“Are you sure that’s such a good idea?” she asked as she eyed him wearily; obviously not ready to leave the castle without him.

“Yes,” he answered.

“Are you sure that’s such a good idea?” she repeated, really not liking the idea. I didn’t like it either, but I knew Mac. Not as well as Eliza did, but I knew him well enough to know that he had a plan and it didn’t include us being there.

“What are you going to do?” I asked, my eyes quickly darting to where Joel still stood next to Taeynd. He hadn’t taken his eyes off her since they had appeared on the dais and that scared me. I had hoped that he would have seen me, or at least one of us, so that he could have been reassured that we were here to help him. That everything was going to be okay. I still wasn’t sure what was going on between he and Taeynd, but part of me hoped that what the other woman had told me was somehow wrong.

“I can’t be in both places,” Eliza was telling Mac. “I can’t protect you both.”

“You need to protect her,” he replied, looking pointedly at me.

“And who’s going to protect you?” she countered, her voice taking on the slight edge of panic that she was trying to control.

“Glenn,” was his answer.

“Are you sure that’s such a good idea?” she asked a third time, obviously stalling.

Mac grinned and dropped a discreet kiss on her cheek. “Well, I have a heartbeat, so Glenn isn’t going to stake me anymore. Go, but give me your cloak.”

Eliza quickly shed the garment and handed it to him, but worry was permanently stuck in her gaze. “Okay, but if you die, I’m going to kill you.”

Mac’s grin widened to a full smile. “Fair enough.”

“Diddo,” I added, unable to think of another funeral for him.

His face set seriously again as he regarded the two of us. “Go get ready, with the gunpowder and the oil. Be ready.”

We turned and discreetly made our way toward the exit as Taeynd continued to listen to the petitions that were being presented to her. As we left I found myself looking over my shoulder for one last lingering glimpse at Joel. I was still secretly hoping that he would look at me, but he never did.

Disappointment at leaving the man behind for the time being took a hold of my heart as Eliza, Kenaz, Peorth and I returned to the wagon. I silently brought Gwrhyr up to speed on what was happening as I determinedly did as Mac had asked, readying the oil and gunpowder for use. Mac’s mystical guide informed me that no one had bothered any of the horses or the wagon while we’d been inside, probably because a large wolf had been pretending to doze in the bed of the wagon, but I didn’t comment on that.

Kenaz didn’t need much prodding to hunker down in the front of the wagon near the seat and be prepared to hold on tightly. Peorth immediately went to her and Os-tur’s horses while Eliza gave the team and wagon a quick once over. I worked on the oil and gunpowder and Eliza climbed into the drivers seat a few minutes later, taking up the reigns with a concerned expression on her face as she looked back toward the keep.

Long minutes crept by before Siofra finally appeared with an older woman who climbed into the back of the wagon with her. No sooner had they settled themselves in the wagon, than a magickal gateway opened a few yards away from us. Mac and Joel stepped through with an unconscious Glenn between them. Siofra bolted from the wagon to her husband and helped the two men get him in the bed as we all scooted around to make room for him. I saw no sign of Os-tur as Gwrhyr jumped down and out of the way, then he went to Mac’s side, probably for a private conversation.

“Corrine, give me your hand,” Siofra commanded in a tightly controlled voice as she reached for me. Knowing that she intended to heal him, I clasped her hand tightly and opened myself to the magick. As the power flowed from me and into my aunt, I watched as Mac and Joel quickly mounted our horses.

I felt the wagon lurch beneath me as we started to move toward the gate and heard Mac call for the oil and a gun. With my free hand I lifted the oil to him, giving him my own gun to use for lighting the packages up, as we rushed forward, Glenn’s gateway to the inside of the castle closing behind us.

 

 

 

 

 

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ABCs of Angel Mythology – Gabriel

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Gabriel

Gabriel is one of two archangels specifically named in the Bible (the other being Michael). In the Old Testament’s Book of Daniel, Gabriel appears to Daniel to help him understand his visions of the future. In the New Testament’s Gospels, Gabriel appears in the Book of Luke in famous scenes called the Annunciation, because the archangel announces the forthcoming births of John the Baptist and Jesus Christ. Scriptural roles underscore Gabriel’s mission as the supreme messenger of God, and why this archangel is the patron saint of communications workers.

Artists throughout time have portrayed the angel in the Annunciation and other images of Gabriel with feminine features, long hair, flowing gowns, and—if you look closely at the Renaissance paintings—a feminine figure. Perhaps this is because Gabriel is so closely aligned with the Divine feminine situations of pregnancy, birth, and communication.

Gabriel and Mother Mary work closely together to minister to sensitive children. They guide conceptions, adoptions, pregnancies, births, and the raising of children. Because Gabriel is deeply concerned about children’s welfare, the archangel mentors responsible and loving adults who wish to help the young. If you feel called to work with children in any capacity, please ask Gabriel to help you. Gabriel helps earthly messengers such as teachers, counselors, writers, artists, and actors. This archangel acts like a Heavenly agent and manager who motivates you to polish your skills. Gabriel then opens the door of opportunity for you to work in your chosen career, and gives you a loving push through it if you hesitate.

Gabriel’s halo is copper colored, like the angel’s symbolic trumpet. If you see flashes or sparkles of copper light, or if you find yourself suddenly attracted to this metal, this is a sign that you’re working with Archangel Gabriel.

 

 

 

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Fiction Friday – Lost and Found – Chapter 18

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cw-02-lost-and-found02

Mac woke Eliza and me at first light. As soon as my sleepy mind registered where I was, I quickly remembered what had happened the night before and I scrambled out of bed to finish getting ready for the day with nervous hands as I worried about Joel. Since I had changed in the middle of the night when I thought we were going to help him and had gone to bed still dressed, I only had to quickly pull a comb through my hair and make sure that I had everything I needed to go.

Mac, who was already dressed, had gone next door to wake Glenn and Siofra while Eliza pulled on her leather tunic and leggings. I watched in surprised when he came back into our room a minute later to pick up a pitcher of water that had been brought up for bathing and disappeared through the door again. I was just finishing a check of my belt pouch to be sure that everything was still in place when I realized what Mac was intending, which was a split second before I heard Siofra’s outraged scream from the next room. I was moving to stand next to the door to the hallway when Mac blinked back into our room, a satisfied smile on his face.

“Breakfast first,” he said as he replaced the pitcher and picked up his gloves from the bed. I looked at him disappointedly, hoping that we would go directly to the castle as soon as everyone was ready. Apparently that wasn’t the plan.

I bit back everything I wanted to yell at both of them, but I knew that outbursts would only delay out departure. I was hurt by the way they had treated me the night before and I was determined to not give either of them any more justification for treating me like a child if I could help it.

“Are you that hungry?” Eliza asked when she glanced up and saw me waiting by the door anxiously. I crossed my arms over my chest and didn’t answer her, remembering the fact that she had used some of her abilities on me to get me to go back to bed. The silent treatment may be childish, but I didn’t really give a crap. “How did you sleep?” she asked as if nothing was wrong, Mac right behind her.

“I’m not talking to you right now,” I said, avoiding making eye contact with her as I turned to open the door to the hall so we could go downstairs. No one said a word as we made our way downstairs until Glenn, Siofra and Kenaz met us in the dining room a few minutes later.

During the meal that I only pretended to eat, we watched to see if Peorth and Os-tur would make an appearance. When they didn’t, Mac suggested that we go back to our rooms to wait out of sight while he went to see if he could find them.

I was antsy to get underway to the castle, but I managed to sit on the bed after Mac left us. I tried to keep my mind from drifting to different possible torture scenarios that Tayend would be putting Joel through, but it was no use. We had to get to him and quick, that was what kept going through my head.

Soon there was a knock on our door and I bolted to my feet to answer. It was Os–tur, looking as if he had dressed rather hastily. “Your lord wants you to come quickly,” he said in a rush, as if he were frightened about something.

I was aware that Siofra was just entering the room to see who had come to call as I took a step forward to go with him. “Let’s go,” I said. If Mac had sent the other man for us, then it had to be important. He might need help and my mind slipped from worrying about Joel to Mac without considering anything else.

“What are you doing?” I heard Siofra call out, but I was already starting to shut the door behind me.

“I’m going,” I said, determined to get to Mac as soon as possible. The other’s quickly followed and when Os-tur and I arrived at his room, I saw that Peorth was still in bed and Mac was kneeling beside her, his hand on her forehead. The room was cold like it always was when Mac was using his new found magickal abilities and I watched as he became aware of our presence and held his hand out to us.

Siofra quickly stepped forward and took Mac’s hand; Glenn followed and laid his hand on her shoulder, while I took hold of Glenn’s other hand. Even though he never really discussed his abilities with me, I had come to assume that Mac could in some ways enter the dreams of others, much like Joel had been doing during our first meeting. We were linking our powers together so that Mac, who was obviously in Peorth’s dream, could help her escape whatever it was that was holding her there. I closed my eyes and opened myself to the power of Mother Earth to make the magick available to him.

Behind my closed lids, light came from everywhere all at once, but not from any one source. I opened my eyes again and could see Peorth’s form as she was free falling in a tunnel that was lined all around with rock and seemed to have no end. What I couldn’t see, however, was myself when I looked down at where my hand should have been joined with Glenn’s, which threw me. I couldn’t see Glenn either, or Siofra, who should have been on his other side. I could still fell his warm fingers where they held mine, but there wasn’t any sign of either of them visibly.

“Where are we?” I heard Siofra ask from where I had last spotted her in front of Glenn.

“Peorth’s dream,” came Mac’s voice.

“Why?”

“Taeynd is punishing her because she gave me information. We need to stop her from falling, bring her out of it.”

Siofra continued. “Okay. What do you want us to do?”

“I’m going to try to stop her. Either back me up with power or do it yourself.” Since I had no idea how to stop the falling woman myself, I manipulated the magick within me so that it in turn coursed through the line of Glenn and Siofra and into Mac. I felt the magick as it flowed around me and after a moment the other woman slowed and finally came to a stop. She looked around her in surprise, unsure of what was happening around her.

“You have to change your surroundings,” I told her, knowing that she wouldn’t be aware of where my voice was coming from.

Peorth looked around her jerkily. “Who’s there?”

I felt power surge through the connection between the four of us and I had a feeling that Mac was attempting to make us visible to Peorth so that she would trust us enough to listen to what we were saying. She had to be the one to free herself of the dream she had been trapped in. He succeeded in making Siofra, Glenn and I totally visible, but he still remained semi transparent so that he looked like a ghost. Peorth jumped slightly as we came into view, but she quickly realized that we weren’t a part of the nightmare that Taeynd had created for her and relief was evident in her expression.

“You need to do something to change the dream,” Siofra told the other woman.

“Can we do it?” I asked. There was no telling how long Peorth had been falling in her dream state and I was afraid that she didn’t have the strength left to pull herself out of it.

Glenn seemed to agree. “Maybe we should decide what to change it to before we do it,” he advised.

“The common room of the inn,” Mac instructed Peorth. “The table.”

“The table we were sitting at last night,” Siofra added.

The well around us wavered slightly as Peorth’s body turned so that she was no longer in her free falling position, but standing instead. The walls of the common room in the inn took the wells place and soon we found ourselves standing near the table where Peorth and Os-tur had introduced themselves the previous night.

Peorth glanced around in confusion as she took a minute to re-acclimate herself. “By Ishmonir, what is going on?” she asked.

“Taeynd was controlling you,” Siofra informed her. The four of us were all still linked together physically and no one made a move to break contact. I didn’t know what would happen if we did.

Mac nodded. “She stuck you in a nightmare.”

Peorth frowned as her eyes rested on him. “How did you end up in my nightmare?”

Mac looked back and Siofra, Glenn and myself, then returned his gaze to the other woman. “We came in. This is all still a dream.”

“You’re lying in bed in your room,” Siofra added.

Peorth thought a moment and by her expression, accepted what we were telling her as truth and she began to nod her head slowly. “I see. So we wake up and everything is fine?”

“We’re already awake,” Siofra confessed.

“We need to figure out how to get you awake,” Mac said.

Peorth looked around the room and crossed her arms in front of her, looking like she had no idea what to do next. “Does this happen often in your world?”

The grin was apparent in his voice when Mac spoke and glanced at us again. “Yes.”

That coaxed a slight smile from Peorth. “Any ideas on how to wake up? Maybe some cold water?”

Siofra sniffed, not doubt remembering her rude awaking not long ago as she glared as Mac nastily. The last thing we needed was for the two of them to start sniping at each other so I quickly described some simple methods to Peorth on how to wake up that Jared had taught me. Within minutes we were all back in the waking world once again. Os-tur quickly came forward to check on Peorth and Eliza, who was standing by the door to the room, ran a worried glance over Mac and me to be sure that we were both okay as well.

 

*****

We left the inn for Horsetower within the hour, making a quick stop at one of the shops in town so that Mac could buy oil and wicks that he deposited in the back of the wagon. Peorth also wanted to stop for a new cloak that she claimed would allow her to enter the castle.

So she wouldn’t be recognized, Siofra had changed her appearance before we left the inn because she’d had such an up close and personal talk with Taeynd. She had decided to wear the male clothing that she had purchased the day before and she rode one of the horses with Mac and our new friends. Glenn drove the wagon that contained Eliza, Kenaz and I. Gwrhyr stayed close to Mac’s horse as we made our way out of the town.

“What are you going to use lamp oil and wicks for?” Eliza asked Mac as we made our way north.

“Lamp oil is highly flammable,” Mac explained. “If we have to seize the castle, we need some kind of ammunition.”

Eliza blinked at him in surprised. “You’re going to make Molotov cocktails?”

When he nodded I felt me eyes bulge slightly at the thought of blowing things up, but I was sure that Mac would only let that happen if there was no other solution to the situation. Regardless, I was a little worried about how things were going to turn out. I was still really scared about Joel and what Taeynd was doing to him. Since we still had a while before we would get to the castle, I pulled out my Ogham sticks and cast them on the floor of the wagon. All the signs pointed out that the plan would work so I felt a little better as I put them away again and faced the looming structure of the castle.

Kenaz asked hesitantly where we were going as we moved closer and closer to the castle. She had made it very clear that she would help us get to the town, but she had been very adamant that she would not go to Horsetower. Her body language said that she was upset and I understood that her young mind had probably heard all kinds of horrible stories about Taeynd, but there was no way that we could leave her to her own devices when so many had seen her with us the day before. I didn’t want to be responsible for Taeynd harming the girl because of our actions.

I looked at her kindly and said, “We’re going to save Joel.”

“But where are we going?” she pressed.

I took a deep breath and prepared to deal with her outburst as I answered, “We’re going to Horsetower.”

Fear clouded her young eyes and she shook her head. “I don’t want to go there.”

I didn’t have a whole lot of experience with children so I tried an aversion tactic that I hoped would keep her mind off thinking about where we were headed. “Why?” I asked her, trying to move my body so that she could no longer see the castle as we continued to move toward it.

“Because I don’t want to go there. She said I didn’t have to go there,” she almost whined as she pointed toward Siofra who was ahead of us, riding on horseback next to Mac.

“But why don’t you want to go there?”

The distraction technique was failing miserably as Kenaz started to get to her feet by holding onto the side of the wagon. “Because I don’t want to go there, she said I didn’t have to. Stop the wagon, I want to get out. I wanna go home.”

I glanced up to the front of the wagon as I reached over to take a hold of Kenaz’s arm. “Glenn? Stop the wagon.”

“What’s going on?” Glenn asked over his shoulder from the wagon seat where Eliza was looking back at us as well.

I caught her gaze and tried to implore to her without words. “Eliza, tell her that she’s not going to get hurt at Horsetower, that she’s gonna be okay.”

Her brow lifted in surprise. “So you want me to lie to her?” she asked, obviously missing the fact that I was trying to calm Kenaz down, instead the girl renewed her efforts to pull away from me and to get over the side.

I tightened my hold to keep the struggling girl in the wagon and glared at my birth mother. “No, I want you to just tell her that everything’s going to be okay. You know, like you did last night with me,” I said pointedly, trying to tell her without words to do to Kenaz whatever she had done to make me go back to bed without further fight the previous night.

Eliza rolled her eyes and glanced ahead of us to where Mac and Siofra were riding. “Where the hell is your father at?” she asked under her breath as she twisted on the seat and tried to catch Kenaz’s eye, but the girl wouldn’t look at her. She was adamant about getting out of the wagon and getting louder about it.

“Here,” I said to Eliza, holding out my hand, “I’ll hold the crossbow; you come back here and deal with this.”

“Can’t you deal with it?” came her reply. “Do something?”

“Like what, tell her its okay?” I asked in exasperation. “Been there, done that.”

“You’ve got spooky boo things, can’t you use it? Give her a good paddling, maybe that will work.”

I couldn’t believe that Eliza was being so crass. I wasn’t about to spank the poor girl for being frightened and I had my hands full trying to keep her in the wagon to think of anything I could do magickally to calm her down. Kenaz pulled free of my grasp and started to climb over the side again. I caught her by the arm and pulled her around so that she was looking at me then. I covered her mouth with my hand to quiet her and said, “Look, there’s a man’s life that hangs in the balance here. You need to calm down, and you need to shut up, because if you draw attention to us and cause him harm, I’m not responsible-” The girl screamed beneath my hand and sobbed inconsolably and I pulled her onto my lap. “I understand that you’re scared, but if you can tell me why then I can help you.”

Kenaz started to cry and became partially limp in my arms and I pulled her to my chest to sooth her. She was sobbing that she was convinced she would die if she went to Horsetower, that no one would be able to stop it.

I let her cry for a few minutes, understanding that she had fears that were obviously very real to her. When she had calmed down a little I took her head in my hands. “Look at me,” I urged as I used my thumbs to wipe the tears from her face. “I’m not going to let anything happen to you. Why would you think otherwise?”

“Because everybody dies who goes to Horsetower,” she told me, her breath still shaky.

“Joel’s at Horsetower and he’s not dead,” I replied, needing to believe it myself. “And he’s not going to die.”

The girl shook her head in disagreement. “My mother was taken to Horsetower, and she died. My Dad went to Horsetower, and he died. Everyone who goes to Horsetower dies.”

Kenaz’s admissions shed a new light on why she had the fears she did concerning the castle. My heart went out to the girl for seeing such horrible things come to pass in the few short years of her life. The fact remained, however, that we had to go to the castle and it was too late for us to do anything with her but take her with us. “They might not have had the gifts that we have,” I told her, hoping to ease her fears. New tears gathered in her young eyes and I found myself saying, “I swear to you that nothing will happen to you. Something will have to happen to me first, and nothing is going to happen to me.” I pulled her to my chest again to comfort her and I stroked her hair like my own mother had many a times when I was a child. “You will stay with me; nothing is going to happen to you.”

Kenaz calmed eventually and when we neared the bridge that crossed the great river, Siofra traded spots with Glenn, who lagged behind the wagon on horseback to bring up the rear. We were within two hundreds yards of the castle after we crossed the bridge and it was easier to get a better idea of its size and how big it really was.

Horsetower sat on a hill. Its walls were high, and the keep at the center looked much older than the rest of the out buildings. The guards at the gate and on the walls were alert in their chain and plate mail, and quite a few of the general population of the city was moving toward the castle with us for court. The guards were questioning everyone pretty closely by the look of things as we got in line and I could see that they carried both pistols and swords. They performed random searches on a few people, dragging some off for reasons that seemed to be random.

Mac turned to Peorth and Os-tur and asked them to move toward the back of wagon.

“Why?” Peorth asked, sounding slightly offended.

Mac glanced at her, then to the guards as if he were judging if we were being watched as he used his thumb to indicate Os-tur. “Because you are highly known to Taeynd and he’s a flying kitty.”

Peorth smiled slightly. “There’s lots of flying kitties, and that’s what the cloak is for.”

Mac eyed her suspiciously. “You don’t think you’re going to get recognized?”

“No.”

Mac shrugged and turned forward again. “Okay.” Peorth must have thought there was something to what Mac had said because she looked at Os-tur knowingly and the two of them fell to the back of wagon near Glenn without another word.

I rose to my knees and positioned myself behind Eliza and Siofra where they sat on the wagon seat. Kenaz joined me, clutching at my cloak with her little hands. I put an arm around her and leaned down to whisper that she should look at things like she had never seen them before. I did the same, but it was easier for me since I hadn’t in fact ever seen the castle. I was eyeing the men on the wall closely in preparation to help with magick if they decide to shoot at Mac, or any of us.

By what I was able to hear, the guards were asking the same series of questions as each new group of people approached them. What’s your name, origin? What’s your business in Horsetower? They asked the men if they were looking for work, saying they were looking for guards and soldiers to employ at the castle. The better dressed women were asked if they were looking for work as well, the reason being that the Lady Taeynd was looking for ladies-in-waiting.

They seemed pretty standard questions I guessed. One thing I found odd was that they were looking at the ears of anyone with dark hair. That seemed odd to me, but I said nothing as our turn neared. I reached into my pouch and took out my sapphire and moonstone for magickal defense and protection respectively and held them in one hand. I didn’t know if they would do me any good, but I figured that it couldn’t hurt to have them out either. Their presence in my hand was a familiar one that warmed me somewhat.

Finally we got to the front of the line. The guard who was doing the questioning looked fairly intimidating, but Mac was his usual sure self. He gave the name Macalister when asked and when the guard inquired about his business in coming to Horsetower he replied, “We’re here seeking the lady of the keep’s ear for a moment. I seek employment.”

“And the other members of your party?” the guard asked, looking up at Eliza and Siofra and myself.

“Are members of my party,” Mac told him.

“Are they looking for employment as well?”

“They are in my employ.”

The guard looked back at Mac. “Where are you from?”

Mac adjusted himself in his saddle. “Around, I’m a traveler.”

“Where are you from originally?”

Mac took a deep breath then laid into a story that would have made any natural storyteller jealous of. “Thirty winters ago I was born on the road, discovered by…..”

The guard let him go on for a minute or two, and then waved for him to stop, asking if there were any elves in our party.

“No.”

The guard looked us over again then gave Mac a name and time to report to the armory. “We need people like you, you’re obviously trustworthy,” he told Mac, who was smiling at him slightly.

 

 

 

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Fiction Friday – Lost and Found – Chapter 17

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cw-02-lost-and-found02

“Goddamnit,” I shouted out in frustration as I threw back the covers, causing Eliza to wake from a sound sleep to sit upright with a jerk, a knife in hand.

“What is it?” she said, looking around for the nonexistent intruder. I didn’t answer her as I lit the candles around the room with magick and started looking for clothes to dress. “What is it?” she repeated.

“Siofra fucking pissed off Taeynd and now she’s probably gonna kill Joel. We have to get to the castle now,” I told her, pulling my dress on over my head.

Eliza reached over to wake up Mac, but he didn’t move. “Can you explain that a little more rationally?” she asked as she shook him again.

I stopped to look at her and I knew my voice sounded harsh, but I was terrified for Joel. “I don’t know what happened. All I know is that she came into my dream and pulled me out and said we have to go, she pissed her off in some way.”

“I didn’t piss her off,” came Siofra’s voice from the other room.

I hoped that she didn’t come into the room just then because I was sure that I couldn’t be held responsible for what I would do when I saw her. I was scared to death. I couldn’t believe that Siofra had done something as stupid as to piss off the woman who was holding Joel and not expect there to be consequences. We didn’t know enough about her yet to be so irrational. I had to clasp my hands together to keep them from shaking as I looked for my boots.

Eliza rose from the bed and walked to the door that separated the two rooms and opened it a little to talk to Siofra while I continued to dress. “Rational thought processes? What did you do?”

“What did I do?” I heard Siofra repeat the question. “That’s a really good question. I kind of did, um, the opposite of an exorcism, I put the bad ghost into her. It wasn’t a ghost, now that I think about it.”

“What was it?” Eliza asked.

Siofra giggled a little and said, “Remember the big cat with wings? Bigger.” I watched as Eliza shuddered then turned back to the bed to try to wake Mac again. I was sure that he would agree with me that getting to the castle as soon as possible was what we had to do.

“Mac, you have to wake up,” she said and he stirred slightly as he turned his head toward her and smiled.

“Hello, luv.”

“Your sister’s freaking out Taeynd with big kitty demon spirit things,” she told him, the knife now dangling slightly in her fingers.

“Glenn helped,” she called out from the other room.

“And you’re smiling about it,” Eliza called back in frustration as she looked down at him. “Good dream?”

Mac stretched and looked around the room for the first time. “What are the lights doing on?” Eliza looked at me in answer, prompting him to look my way to where I was now standing fully dressed. “Where is she going?”

“I don’t know,” Eliza answered, looking at me as well over her shoulder.

The lights started to extinguish then and I assumed it was Mac’s doing. “What is going on?” he asked sleepily.

Eliza sat down next to him on the bed. “She woke up cursing, I have no idea.”

It really pissed me off how they always talked about me like I wasn’t even in the room. “We have to get to the castle,” I insisted, preparing to light the candles once more as I took a few steps toward their bed. “She’s probably going to kill Joel.”

To my utter frustration Mac replied with a yawn, “We’re going there tomorrow.”

I blinked in disbelief. “No, we have to go now,” I insisted, narrowly stopping myself from stomping my foot.

Mac looked at me with one of his expressions that he normally reserved for someone who pissed him off and when he spoke it was deliberate and harsh. “No we don’t. We’re not going to flee off in the middle of the night on some half-assed adventure. We stick to the plan. Go back to sleep, you need your strength.”

His tone did nothing to calm me down, in fact if anything, he stoked my temper. Joel was in danger, that much I knew for sure and frankly that was all I was thinking about at the moment. I didn’t know what Siofra had done to Taeynd, but I knew that if she was concerned enough to come find me that it had to be bad. I crossed my arms stubbornly as I looked at Mac and Eliza as she laid down next to him again, slipping the knife under her pillow once more. “So why do you suddenly think she’s going to harm Jolesic?” Mac asked as he turned to his side to better see me.

“Siofra busted into my dream and she said that she had just been with Taeynd and she was able to fight her off or something.” Why was he asking all these questions instead of getting ready to go stop her?

Mac spoke in what I was sure was supposed to be a reassuring voice, but I was too upset to really let it effect me. “I was just with Taeynd and I fought her off, too.”

“She said that she knows now that we’re here to rescue Joel, and she’s going to kill him,” I insisted.

He lifted a head off the pillow and looked at Eliza. “And no one smells trap on that one?”

“She told Siofra that she was going to kill Joel,” I said, racking my brain to remember everything my aunt had said before dragging me off. “That’s what Siofra said to me anyhow.”

“If she said she was the queen of England would you believe her?”

“I don’t know anything about this woman,” I replied.

He lowered his head to the pillow again. “She’s arrogant.”

“Joel’s in danger,” I cried, my voice sounding desperate.

Mac hesitated a moment and took a deep breath. “Joel’s not in danger. She’s arrogant, that is her weakness.”

“She’s holding him here against his will.”

“And that is why we are here, and we will stick to the plan we have formulated to get him free of her bond.”

I was ready to say the hell with it and go on my own. “I can’t believe you’re just going to lay here and not do anything about it.”

Mac lifted his head again. “I am going to do something about it; I’m going to get some sleep. We need all of our strength and our wits about us when we go. Tomorrow.”

Eliza stood then and came to stand in front of me. “Corrine?”

I looked at her. “Yes?”

“Go to bed.”

And for some reason I wanted to do what she said. I felt my temper calm slightly and even though I was still really mad that they weren’t being gung ho about getting to Joel, I found myself climbing back into bed, still fully dressed.

“Next time calm her down first,” Mac said as I heard Eliza slip under the covers again.

“At least she’s in bed,” she retorted.

“She’s laying there fuming.”

“She’ll get over it.”

“Don’t talk about me like I’m not here,” I told them through clenched teeth, wondering why I had done what Eliza had wanted so easily.

“What did Joel say before you were rudely interrupted?” Mac asked.

I hesitated a moment, still angry that he appeared so indifferent toward Joel and his safety one minute, then ply me for information about him the next. “We won’t be able to use magick in the castle because she’ll know that it’s being used,” I told him finally. “Like she doesn’t know who we are now anyway.”

“She’ll know your magick. She won’t know ours.”

“She’ll know magick,” I said again.

“She won’t know our magick, she does not recognize it. She’ll recognize it as magick, but she cannot place ours. She’s never seen mine, nor Eliza’s. She’ll recognize yours as it is true magick, but not ours.”

I hated the fact that I could never be right to either of them. I doused the remaining candles and pulled the covers over my head, wondering how long I would have to wait until they were asleep again so I could sneak out of the room. It was becoming obvious that Eliza had done something with her vampire related abilities to cause me to calm down and I didn’t appreciate that knowledge at all. I was very conscious of abusing my powers and had never used them on anyone in the family without having their best interest at heart.

“Worse than a damn clapper,” I heard Eliza comment as I heard her adjust the covers over her.

“What else did he say?” Mac asked in the darkened room.

Because I felt like they were once again treating me like a child, I decided to act like one and said, “He ran from his destiny too, and look where it got him.”

“Would you like first watch or second?” he asked Eliza after a slight hesitation, crushing my hopes of getting out of the room without them stopping me again. It was obvious that they could read me like a book and would resort to imprisonment to ‘protect’ me.

“I’m awake now,” Eliza told him.

“Wake me in a few hours. Make sure she doesn’t leave the room.”

“Not a problem.”

Sleep wasn’t as quick in coming the second time around, but I finally did as I listened to Mac’s breath even out in the darkened room. Part of me wanted to seek out Joel in my dreams again, but I was afraid of what I might find. Actually, I was afraid that I wouldn’t find him and that was what actually stopped me.

 

 

 

 

 

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Fiction Friday – Lost and Found – Chapter 16

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cw-02-lost-and-found02

I fell into an easy sleep in no time at all. I concentrated on Joel as I did; using the techniques that Jared had drilled into me during my training and picturing Joel as I had seen him that first time. Soon enough I found myself in the familiar field of stars from my lessons where each peg of light represented a person’s dream. I focused on Joel, thinking about him as hard as possible, and in a short amount of time I found myself drawn to a particular star.

I pushed myself that way and when I reached out to touch it, I found myself standing at the edge of the white cliffs of Garelan. The river was about forty feet down, and it ran fast and deep where it cut through the rock toward the sea. The opposite shore was about sixty feet across from me and the forest was twenty yards behind where I stood. In the distance to my right I could see top turrets of Horsetower where we were to travel the next day and I stayed still a moment and I took in the large structure. Ahead of me was a man walking toward the castle and I noticed for the first time that Blar was at my feet, looking up at me expectantly.

I looked down at her with a small smile as I started off toward the man at a brisk walk. “Is that him?” I asked the wolf who trotted beside me.

She glanced up at me, and in answer sped up her pace a little. Joel was walking slowly, almost as if he were enjoying this quiet time after a tedious day. I caught up to him fairly quickly, but Blar reached him first. When she came into his field of vision, he stopped and bent to pet her, seeming a bit confused by her sudden appearance.

“What are you doing here, girl?” he asked. As if the answer hit him suddenly, he turned to look at me about the same time that I reached him and he smiled. “Corrine.”

I smiled back at him as I took a moment to catch my breath from the fast pace I had set to get to him. “We’re here,” I told him, clasping my hands in front of me because they were itching to reach out to touch him. “We are staying at an inn in the city. How do we get to you?”

Joel straightened from petting Blar and looked down at me, his face serious. “You’re in Grimhaven?” he asked expectantly. When I nodded he said, “Did—who came with you?” He was a little anxious about the question.

I smiled again, knowing that he was eager to learn if Mac was here since it appeared as if their destinies were intertwined. “We’re all here. Glenn, Siofra, Eliza, Mac and myself. We were told that Taeynd will have open court tomorrow and we are coming.”

He closed his eyes in relief for a second when I mentioned Mac’s name, then frowned when I talked about coming to the castle. “You would walk into the viper’s nest?” he asked, his voice warming me so that goose bumps jumped on my flesh.

I regarded him seriously for a moment with one of those ‘hello’ eyebrow lifts that expressed slight irritation. “It’s not like you told any of us how to go about doing this once we got here,” I told him with a smile, then I sobered. “What do we have to do to free you?”

“If I knew I’d have freed myself long ago,” he replied with a sigh and paused. “That’s not entirely true.” He turned away from me and looked over the river, half angry, half regretful. “I know how to free myself, but I will not do it.”

I moved around him so that I could see his face. “What do you mean?” I asked, nearly whispering the question.

Joel looked down into my eyes for a few precious seconds, then reached for my hand and tugged on it so that we began to walk along the edge of the cliffs, away from Horsetower. “What do you know of sorcerers, Corrine?” he asked as he looked ahead of us.

I glanced at him while we walked, unsure why he was asking. “I know that Mac came back as one and that for some reason mages look down on them. I’m guessing that it has something to do with the difference in power between the two groups. Personally I think the idea of looking down on someone is ridiculous. It’s what is in your heart that makes you who you are. But I don’t think that’s what you are asking about.”

We were walking hand in hand slowly along the cliff edge and I tried not to enjoy the secure feeling I had being at Joel’s side. The ground was rocky and uncertain here and I found myself clutching at his hand at times as we moved along. But Joel’s grip was strong and he guided me easily, making sure that I didn’t stumble. “My family has always believed that Sorcerers receive their power from Great Spirits, either to fulfill a task for the spirits, or to repay a debt they owe to the person receiving the power,” he explained. “Your father has a task to perform, rather a series of them, some of which he has already completed.”

“And is helping to free you so you can return to your family one of them?”

“In a way,” Joel replied, glancing down at me with an emotion in his eyes that I didn’t understand. “There are things I must teach him, things Gwrhyr cannot. I had planned to be in Galway when he returned, but…” He turned his head to look out over the water, his voice full of regret. “I thought fate could not touch me if I did not acknowledge it,” he said almost absently.

I watched his features as best as I could while we continued to walk, but my eyes narrowed at his last comment. “You sounded like Mac just then,” I commented. “What made you change your mind? About fate?”

“A man can only run from his destiny for so long,” he replied, still not meeting my eyes, keeping his face turned almost as if he were ashamed. “The Fates have ways of forcing one to their will.” He finally looked down at me again, and smiled sadly. “I like to think I have learned my lesson. I bow to the wisdom of the Fates,” at that he gave a short bow from the waist, “and give thanks for their mercy.”

I stopped and used our still joined hands to make him stop as well. “Did they put you here as a way of making you bow to their will?” I asked my voice low and showing that the idea was not an agreeable one to me. I lifted my other hand so that I could touch his cheek, “That’s not fair.”

“No,” he said with that sad smile. “I came of my own free will, believing I could somehow elude their plans. Had I not run so hard from my destiny, I would not have fallen so deeply into their grasp. It was a hard lesson to learn, but learn it I did.” His hand came up to cover mine and his smile lost some of its sadness. “And it is not always so difficult to follow the Fates, sometimes their grasp is sweet as honey, and gentle as a flower bending in the summer breeze.”

I nodded and looked down at his chest. “I don’t know what to do. We read a prophecy that seems to tell about us coming here, but it doesn’t say how we go about doing what needs to be done.” My gaze met his again. “Will we see you tomorrow?”

‘Only ruin may open the traveler’s cage’,” he quoted part of the prophecy to me. “Only her death can free me,” he looked away from me and toward the water again, “and I know that I should do it, but I cannot, must not.” His voice was very low, almost urgent, and I could tell that the idea killing Taeynd really bothered him a great deal. It bothered me as well.

“Taeynd must die so that you can be free?” I asked in astonishment. Without realizing what I was doing, I took a step forward as if to move into his arms, but I caught myself and pulled back again. “I had hoped it wouldn’t come to that. What kind of powers does she have? I get the feeling she isn’t nice. Maybe there is a way to barter with her for your freedom or trick her.”

He laughed almost harshly. “Don’t you think I’ve tried?” he released his hold on me and turned to walk a few feet away toward the very edge of the cliffs. He was obviously agitated as he spoke, “I have no power here to escape except here in my dreams, and waking I have no power over my own mind. She has bound me to her with the power of blood so strong I cannot break free.” He turned to face me. “One does not ‘negotiate’ with Taeynd, or trick her. She is the strongest creature I have ever known, and if you try, she will destroy you, as she has destroyed so many others. I’d not see your life end on your knees before her, nor your father’s life, nor any of the others. Elizabeth is the only one she might spare, and then only for her own purposes.”

I knew that he was very serious in his claims, but I wasn’t about to stop now since we had come so far. “You said blood. Is she a vampire or something?”

He shook his head, his hair moving in waves around his face. “Not the way you mean, not the way Cormac was. I have felt the warmth of her skin, heard her heart beat. Vampires on our world lose their lives and keep their souls, Taeynd has kept her life, but her soul is gone. She feeds on others, but not of their blood; she feeds on their hearts, their magick, their souls.” He turned again, as if he remembered something horrible that he had tried to forget. “She used our blood combined to bind me to her with a magick so strong I couldn’t fight it, I still cannot.”

Hearing the finality in his voice cemented in me the need to see him free of Taeynd. I went around him so that I could see his face and put my hands on his shoulders to hold him there. “I need to know how to break it,” I said to him sternly. “Is killing her the only way? I relish the job no more than you, hell I don’t even know if I could kill her, but I will do what is necessary to see you free from her.” I made sure that he was looking into my eyes for my next statement. “You must help me do it. Tell me what I must do. You are the only one who can. We are not of this world and we don’t know how everything works.”

“I don’t know how to break the spell,” he replied as he rested his hands on my waist. “I can’t use magick the way that you can, I can’t see or feel what it was she did to know how to undo it. I know only that her death will break it and that only because she told me so, and gave me a knife to do the deed.” He pulled me into his arms and the warmth of his chest against mine was almost like he was holding me in the waking world. “There are times when I wish I could have done it, but I cannot, dare not.”

I pulled him closer, wrapping my arms around his neck. “We’ll figure it out. Don’t worry. Somehow we’ll figure it out. Can she feel that we have power? Will she know it if we get too close? We need every advantage we can get by the sounds of it.”

“She can smell magick if you use it in Horsetower,” he warned, speaking into my hair. “Macalister may be able to use his brand of magick, I’ve managed to keep mine hidden from her the few times I’ve been able to use it.”

“Okay, no magick until it’s time.” I pulled back enough to look in his eyes as I cupped his face with my hands. “Will she be able to tell where the magick came from? Or will she just know that it’s there?” I was so worried that we might be too late; that maybe whatever hold Taeynd had over him was too strong to break.

Joel opened his mouth, but what he was about to say was lost when I heard Siofra call out to us urgently. Joel straightened and both of us turned to watch my aunt as she hurried across the white rocks. She was wearing jeans and a shirt and Princess was beside her.

“Siofra,” I said in bewilderment as I pulled away from Joel to move toward her. Where had she come from? “What’s wrong?” I called out.

She greeted us hurriedly then said, “I was just with Taeynd and I was able to fight her off, but I don’t know how long it will last.” She looked at Joel and went on, “She knows that we are here to rescue you and she is going to kill you. We have to hurry.”

I felt the blood drain from my face. I couldn’t process what she was saying. “What have you done?” she asked quietly, in disbelief. I felt the numbness as it crept into my soul at the thought of Siofra seeking the woman out. What had she been thinking? How could she have told the woman that we were here and meant to free Joel? It was like signing his death warrant.

I glanced at Joel, who paled a bit, but gave us a wry smile. “She won’t kill me, Sprite, but she’ll make me regret your visit to her.”

“What’s done is done,” Siofra said to me as if she were speaking to a child whose favorite toy had just broken by her own hand. “There isn’t much time. We need to wake Mac and Eliza and come up with a plan.” She turned to Joel then. “I am sorry for what she may do to you. If there is anyway that I can fix it I would. Please be careful and avoid her if you can. We must go, now,” she said to me.

I felt Joel’s hand as he placed it on my shoulder. “Take care, I’d not have you lose your life for mine,” he told me as his gaze moved to Siofra. “Any of you.”

I turned to him and not knowing what else to do, touched his face. “Will you remember this when you awaken?”

He nodded. “Perhaps. You, I find hard to forget.”

I swallowed hard then spoke. “Then remember this, we will get to you and we will get you away from her.”

Siofra was eager to be gone, but at the moment I didn’t care. “I’m sure that he will, Corrine. Now we must hurry.” She grabbed my hand, and with a last regretful look, Joel let me go. I awoke back in bed at the inn, but I hadn’t forgotten the danger Siofra had deliberately put Joel in and I could feel my temper begin to rise uncontrollably.

 

 

 

 

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