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December, 2001

After the curse was removed I noticed that the family began to take a more active role in my training as a Dreamspeaker. I didn’t get the impression that they thought Jared wasn’t doing a good job or that I wasn’t applying myself, so I welcomed the additional ‘tips’ that I started to receive from my Grandparents as well as from Glenn and Siofra. They seemed concerned about the fact that I had made the decision to split my studies between the Dreamspeaker and Verbena philosophies, but since I seemed to be progressing fine in my studies, no one really came forward with any real issue with my choice.

It was almost like they wanted to make sure that I was learning the ‘right’ things, in the ‘family’ way if you will. It was like there had been some kind of understanding made by all of them, including Uncle Angus and Aunt Cara, that was pushing them to make sure I was well rounded or something in every way. My uncle began to take a more active role in teaching me how to fight with Mac and Eliza and I found myself sparing more and more on my visits to Ireland and the island. I found the sessions odd, fighting with different members of my family and trying to remember everything they were telling me and when to do it.

My Aunt Cara began to teach me what it meant to be Garou. She explained each of the different stages that the werewolves changed into and some of the more base gifts that they possessed. I knew that she didn’t tell me any of the tribal secrets that would have offended the elders of her pack, but she did tell me stories about Gaia and how she interacted with the wolves so that I could interpret them with how she interacted in my own life. A great deal of what she told me reminded me of the lessons that Jared and my Grandparents had already taught me about our tradition’s paradigm so it was easy to understand.

My grandparents suggested that it was time for my next Seeking at the beginning of December when the whole family was at the farm for a visit. I was excited about the prospect of looking inwardly for what the future held for me, especially after the tumultuous past year, so I welcomed the idea wholeheartedly. I thought that the Seeking would be an opportunity to refocus on where my life was going and give me a chance to gain additional power that my lessons with Jared and Rachel were preparing me for.

I talked to Jared about it when I returned to Salem and he gave me his assurance that he believed I was ready as well. Soon preparations were underway for the Seeking to take place in Ireland, out on The Point, on the winter solstice which would allow me some recovery time before I had to travel to Bar Harbor for Christmas with my Mom and Dad. I was really looking forward to it until a realization struck me.

Jared would be there, which wasn’t a bad thing at all, but if he were there then what about Mac and Eliza? Jared still respected the fact that I hadn’t divulged Eliza’s whereabouts to him and had never pushed me to tell him anything that I didn’t want to share. But he didn’t know that Mac was back from the dead. How could I possibly have a Seeking without Mac or Eliza there? The thought was impossible to comprehend for me.

Eliza hadn’t been at my first Seeking and I had felt her absence greatly. It wasn’t the same to tell her about it over the phone after the fact and I had always regretted her not being there. She had been to almost every one of the major events of my life; I wanted her at the Seeking.

Mac hadn’t been at my first Seeking, either, because he was no longer connected with the world of mages. But I really wanted him there this time, too. I wanted to be able to talk to him about what happened, not wait until I could go to him later, after I forgot half the things I wanted to ask about.

I called my Grandfather in a panic and explained to him my thoughts. “Is there anyway of making Mac look different so that he could be there, but look like someone else?” I implored. “We could say that he is a cousin or something.”

Grandfather laughed. “Such an imagination,” he chuckled on the other end of the phone. “Do not worry about Mac and Eliza. I will see to it that they are there. You have other things to think of. Leave this to me.”

In the end it was determined that Eliza would knowingly attend the Seeking since it would seem odd if she did not. Jared knew that she was still alive and it would be good for him to see her for the short time he would be in Ireland. There was no way for him to track her, even if he wanted to anyhow so there was no risk. Mac on the hand would be placed in an umbral pocket where he could watch what happened and not have his presence known to Jared, thus protecting them both.

The day of the Seeking dawned bright and clear. Jared arrived about an hour before the ritual was scheduled to begin and most of us had breakfast together. Everyone moved out to The Point as a group and gathered in a circle around the small fire that Mac had started earlier, while we were eating. The Seeking got underway when Jared faced me on the other side of the fire where we both sat on mats to keep our butts dry. He then asked what I had learned on my last seeking.

“I learned the importance of strength,” I replied after thinking for a moment. “I learned that I had the ability to fight for myself. Sometimes I can’t always do everything on my own, but I was kind of shaken by what had happened at Mother Abigail’s that night. I had never had to worry about my own personal safety until that night and all of a sudden I was a victim, something I had only read about in newspapers or seen on the news before then. Having the chance to see and do that again helped me gain back the self confidence that I had lost that night.

“I also learned the importance of helping another,” I continued. “Vengeance isn’t the answer. I had the opportunity to kill the vampire that had attacked me that night. To make him pay for violating me so maliciously. But there was someone else who was in trouble, too, and helping her was more important than the extra bit of self gratification I would have received for killing the vampire.”

I looked around at the faces of the people in the world that meant the most to me and I smiled. “I was also reminded about the importance of family. How just their presence can be reassuring and how the bonds of loved ones help to give me the strength that I had thought I lost.”

Jared nodded as if my answer pleased him. “You did well on your last seeking, but this one will be more difficult,” he explained as his eyes met mine over the flames. “Never assume that there is any right action you must take, or a right answer you must give to the guardians you will see. Speak only what is in your heart, do only what your heart directs you to do.” I nodded that I understood and he continued, “Close your eyes. Clear your mind of all distractions. Nothing exists now, but the sound of my voice.”

He then led me through some basic meditation steps that I had been studying since the beginning of my training that now felt like second nature. “Open your eyes,” he said in a low voice at the conclusion of the exercise.

The scene was unchanged, but now each person’s animal totem stood with them. I smiled at each of the wolves who sat next to my Grandparents and Siofra and also to the family avatar wolf who sat to my left by the fire. The large gray wolf was looking across the flames to where my own animal guide, Blar Sidheach sat, smiling at me in her own happy way. A crow sat on Glenn’s shoulder and a beaver was next to Jared, quizzically looking around him in a very animalistic way.

I nodded in the direction of the family wolf respectfully and smiled in greeting to Blar before looking at Jared again. He was meditating still and Blar stood and looked at me keenly. “You know what is expected of you, Corrinemackenzie,” she told me in my mind. “No one is allowed to accompany you. Follow this path to your destiny.” She indicated an opening in the trees that I hadn’t noticed before, but I stood and moved toward it without question.

As I did, I looked down and saw that I was once again wearing the white robe that I had worn when I departed for my first Seeking and the familiarity helped to settle the nerves that had been building in my stomach. Secured to the belt at my waist was my athame and pouch that I knew held the other foci that I needed to work my magick. The presence of these items was a comfort to me as well.

Blar was a valuable companion to me as I traveled through my magickal studies and I was glad to have her by my side once again for this seeking. Many times she had found me in my dreams in the time we’d been together and she helped me learn things way beyond magick. She was my companion whose presence I felt even in a crowd where she couldn’t be seen.

I was glad to know that she was once more at my side as I walked through the opening in the trees and it was a comfort that regardless of how this turned out, she would still be there for me, no matter how bad I might screw it up. We walked through the woods for about five minutes until the path opened up and we entered into the yard of Mother Abigail’s house in Salem where my powers had first manifested.

I’d made sure to lift the skirt of the robe during my journey through the woods so that the white cloth didn’t get caught in the brush. As I stepped into the open yard that I was now so familiar with, I allowed the soft folds to once again brush the green grass at my feet and I stopped for a moment to look at the house where my entire life had changed. It was daylight, so as I peered toward the house I didn’t expect to be able to see in any of the windows, and of course I couldn’t. Blar climbed the porch steps and looked at the front door expectantly.

I mounted the porch as well and when I turned the handle the door swung open and I went through. The house was much the same as it had looked before the vampires attacked it that night that seemed so long ago now. The only exception was in the dining room where Akari was once again lying on the floor where I had seen him last, the stake still pierced through his heart.

I entered the room carefully and looked around slowly, fists in front of me like Eliza had shown me many times during our sparring matches. I was ready to make my stand against anything that might come my way, but I was also ready to make the determination that it was necessary before I swung. The additional training that I had received in the past few months had left my senses honed and I was aware of all of my surroundings. I was quickly able to ascertain that there wasn’t anyone else in the room and I found myself looking at the vampire who had threatened my life so brutally for the first time.

I felt sure that I was safe for the moment and I dropped down to my haunches to consider the sight of him. He was a large man, probably over six feet when he was alive, and I found it hard to believe that I had managed to hold him off my neck for as long as I had before Mac had been able to get to me. I dropped down further so that my butt was on the floor and held my knees to my chest as I continued to look at him. I contemplated where my life was and the part he played in my Awakening. The sight of his fangs flashed through my mind and I once again felt his hands on my shoulders as he tried to bring my neck to his mouth. A shiver ran down my spine with those memories and I hugged my knees closer.

Blar was just looking at me as I pondered the vampire. I knew he wouldn’t hurt me and part of my mind was saying that it wasn’t right to leave him staked like he was. I stood and straddled the body, then grabbed the stake in order to remove it. I looked at Blar to tell her to move back and found her on her feet and ready in case he decided I was dinner again.

I pulled the stake clear of his body and jumped back, holding the piece of wood like Eliza had shown me. Out of the place in his chest where the stake had pulled free came a blackness, a hole that opened up until it was large enough to walk through.

I stood with the stake in my hand, a little unsure about what was going to happen, but not yet making any movement toward or away from the opening. I couldn’t sense any Life from the other side of it, so I pulled out a lighter from the pouch on my belt and concentrated on the flame as I reached out with Mind to sense any emotions or thoughts. I felt nothing from the other side of the opening, almost as if the gateway were blocking anything that could have been there.

I tucked the lighter back in the pouch and looked down at Blar as I gripped the stake tightly. “I’m going in,” I told her in what I hope sounded like a sure voice, as I squared my shoulders and walked toward the blackness.

It was like all of my senses were taken away except for that of touch. I could feel the clothes that I wore, the stake in my hand, and Blar as she leaned against my right leg. I reached down to touch the white of her coat, once again finding comfort in her presence. I took a step forward, waiting to see that she followed, and together we made our way through the darkness. After a few minutes I realized that I could hear drums coming from somewhere in the distance on my right and I began to move in that direction.

I walked for a long time with Blar by my side. Gradually the drums grew louder, and eventually I saw an archway into a cave ahead of me. Through the arch I could see that the cave was tall and deep, but comparatively a great deal narrower than where I was at the moment. There was water on the far end, and I could see that there was some sort of figures carved into the sides of the cave as I got closer.

I hesitantly moved into the opening and the drumming stopped as I looked around. The space was about five feet across and I could see that the figures were carved directly into the walls in sort of a low relief. I could easily see the details of the first of them from where I stood, but they were about five feet apart so it was harder to make out the ones further away. There wasn’t an obvious light source in the cave, but the light level was about that of a room lit only by a single 60-watt bulb, so it was pretty dim.

I walked tentatively into the cave and looked around, stepping closer to the first of the carvings to get a better look. They were all placed on pedestals that put their feet at about my chest and I could see now that they were slightly larger than life. The first figure I approached looked like Eliza. It was a perfect likeness, right down to the jeans and tank top that she normally wore. I took another step closer to get a better look, and the figure opened her eyes looked down at me.

“Corrinemackenzie,” the figure spoke in Eliza’s voice, which made me jump slightly, “freely I gave you protection that you would grow strong and without fear. What would you take from me now?” Her voice may have sounded like Eliza, but her cadence and the words she choose were nothing like my birth mother’s.

I swallowed a couple of times to get my heart back down into my chest and thought about what the figure asked. “I would have your love and your understanding,” I replied, meeting the figure’s gaze. “I would ask that you be my friend, as you always have, and that you would be there to help me stand after I have fallen.”

I fell silent for a second and wondered how honest I should be. There was something else that I wished for Eliza, but I knew that I would never tell her about it. She would think it silly and tell me not to worry about her. I figured this would be my only chance to say it out loud. “If you are really a representation of Eliza, I would also ask that you take care of yourself now. That you enjoy what Gaia has given you, because you deserve rest now.”

“Is this what you would give to me in return?” the figure asked.

“Yes,” I replied with a smile.

The stone Eliza smiled down at me for a moment, and then the figure returned to a lifeless state. I heard my Dad’s voice from behind me say, “Freely I gave you protection that you would grow confident and secure in your sense of self. What would you take from me now?” Again the figure spoke in words that Dad would never have used, but as I turned to face the stone representation of him, I found that like Eliza it was him in every detail.

I smiled at the figure of my Dad with a heavy heart. His presence here was a reminder of the lack of honesty that I had given him and the guilt of my actions bore down on me. When I spoke I could hear the evidence of tears in my voice. “I have not been honest with you,” I confessed. “I have lied to you and I have not told you the truth about what is happening in my life. I don’t know if telling you is right or not, but I do ask that when you learn the truth that you give me your understanding and that you continue to love me like you have all my life.”

“What would you give to me in return?” the figure asked.

I pulled myself up and faced him with determination. “I will give you my protection and I will give you the truth, as soon as I figure out the best way to do it.”

He smiled down at me for a moment, and then his face slackened to a lifeless state again. The figure down from him on the same side of the cave came to life next, speaking with my Mom’s voice, but like the others, not using her cadence or words. “Freely I gave you protection that you would not know hunger or cold. What would you take from me now?”

I moved down to her. “I would have your love and your ear that I might ask your advice. You are the rock, Mom. You stayed with me when I was sick and put up with a lot of teenage crap. I respect you for that and I thank you for it.”

“What would you give to me in return?” she asked.

“I give you my respect and my love. I also give you the credit for your sacrifices that I didn’t always give when I was younger. Thank you.”

The figure smiled down at me for a moment, then returned to stone. The figure across the cave from Mom came to life, speaking with Mac’s voice. “Freely I gave you protection that you would know the truth without fear. What would you take from me now?”

I turned to face the likeness of my birth father and even as the words formed in my mind I silently thanked the powers that be for allowing him to come back to us. “I would take from you your further guidance and advice. You know more of the world that I do and I hope that I might learn from your experience. I would also ask for a little of your time, so that I can know you better.”

I eyes dropped to the floor because I wasn’t sure if I should continue, but I took a deep breath and cleared my throat. “I would also ask that you make Eliza happy. She has known so much pain in her life, give her happiness now.”

“What would you give to me in return?” the figure asked.

“I would give you my loyalty and my strength if you were to have need of it. I would also give you my undying love and compassion.” I cleared my throat again and finished in a rush. “I would also give you my life if I needed to.”

The figure of Mac smiled down at me, and then returned to a lifeless state. The figure down from him on the same side of the cave came to life and I saw Jared’s face as he spoke. “Freely I gave you protection that you would learn your craft. What would you take from me now?”

I stepped down to stand in front of him. “I would take your compassion and patience as I continue to learn under you. I would also ask that you continue to challenge me in my studies and be honest where I am lacking.”

“What would you give to me in return?” he asked.

“I will give to you all the hard work and dedication that I can give. I will also give you my assurance that I will hold all that you teach me in the strictest of confidences until the time that I might have a student of my own.”

The figure of my mentor smiled down at me for a moment, and then his face returned to stone. The figure across the cave from Jared cave came to life next, speaking with Sam’s voice, “Freely I gave you protection that you would know kinship on your path to enlightenment. What would you take from me now?”

I turned to her and said, “I would take your continued friendship and trust. You are incredibly dear to me and I am grateful for your presence. I would also ask that you watch over Brian.” I hesitated slightly and had to swallow the lump that had suddenly formed in my throat. “I have hurt him badly and I hope that you would be a friendly ear to listen to his troubles.”

“What would you give to me in return?”

“I would give to you the knowledge and kinship that you have given to me. I give to you a part of my heart so that we might be able to better know each other and I give you part of my mind so that we might better learn from each other.”

My friend smiled down at me like the others before going still again. The figure down from her on the same side of the cave spoke with Rachael’s voice, “Freely I gave you protection that you would learn the magick of others. What would you take from me now?”

“I would take the continued guidance that you have offered and I hope to develop a friendship with you as well.”

“What would you give to me in return?” the figure asked.

“Like Jared, I give to you my hard work and the knowledge that I will keep the secrets that you have shared with me.”

She smiled down at me, and then her face stilled. The figure across the cave from Rachael moved, speaking with Siofra’s voice she asked, “Freely I gave you protection that you would seek no vengeance for wrong done to you. What would you take from me now?”

I was really startled by Siofra’s presence and her words. “I ask that we each take the time to learn about each other,” I said as I moved to face the likeness of my aunt. “I thank you for taking the time to understand Eliza and where she has come from.”

“What would you give to me in return?” she asked.

“I give you my love as a member of my family and the acknowledgement that you have changed your life for the better.”

She smiled down at me and then her face became stone again. The figure next to her on the same side of the cave spoke with Glenn’s voice, “Freely I gave you protection that you would feel no hate toward those unlike yourself. What would you take from me now?”

“I take from you the knowledge that, hopefully, we understand each other a little better. I also partake in the love you now share with your new family.”

“What would you give to me in return?” the figure asked.

I met the figure’s stony gaze and replied with all the honesty I felt. “I give you a new start. Like Siofra you were invaluable to Eliza when she really needed you and for that you have my respect.”

The figure of Glenn smiled down at me and then returned to stone. The figure across the cave from Glenn came to life and I heard my Grandmother’s voice say, “Freely I gave you protection that you would know the traditions of your family. What would you take from me now?”

I faced her and smiled at the perfect reflection of her kind face. “I take from you the knowledge that you are the backbone of the family and a constant source of amazement to the next generation. I take from you the guidance that comes with experience and I also take from you the example of what quiet persuasion means.”

“What would you give to me in return?” she asked.

“I give you my love and hope that I earn yours. I give to you my attention in matters where you know more and I promise that I will listen, even if I do not always heed, your advice.”

My Grandmother smiled then went still again. The figure next to her came to life and spoke with my Grandfather’s voice, “Freely I gave you protection that you would not learn too much, too soon. What would you take from me now?”

I reached up on tiptoes to touch his hand of stone lovingly with my fingertips. “I would ask that you never leave me, but I know that is too much to ask. So instead, I take from you the knowledge that you know best and I depend upon you to point me in the right direction. You are the heart of the family and you own my heart as only you could.”

“What would you give to me in return?” he asked kindly.

“I give you my promise that I will try to remember that you know best and I promise that I will think before I leap. I give you my love and my utmost respect.”

He smiled down at me for a moment then his face went still again like the others. The last figure across the cave from him came to life finally, but I didn’t recognize the male voice. When I turned to look, the features of the figure were unclear to me, almost as if he was not yet known to me. “Freely I would give you protection that you would know the love that you seek.”

His words left me deeply confused as I crossed the room to where his figure stood to get a better look at him, half wondering if it were a likeness of Brian that stood there, but sure that it couldn’t be. “Do I know you?” I asked, forgetting for a moment what I was doing.

Somehow I knew that it wasn’t Brian. The stone figure of the man in front of me was taller, more muscular than Brian. More mature. He was wearing a robe type garment, and something that looked like it might be a sword hung from his belt. As I stood looking at him, his eyes got a little more detailed, and held an expression of kindness in them.

“You will know me,” he answered. “Aside from the love you seek, what will you take from me then?”

I leaned back, not sure what to say and utterly surprised. My heart was slamming in my chest and I tried to collect my thoughts as half sentences stammer out of my mouth in a rush. I smoothed my palms over the material of my robe, confused by how this figure had me so dumbfounded with just a few sentences.

Finally, I just stopped myself and spoke with my eyes closed, “If this is true… if this is true, then all I ask is that you accept me for what I am. If you are to show me love then I ask that you do so openly and honestly.” It was a hard confession for me to make and I opened my eyes again and looked around to be sure that I was alone with Blar still. “In the end I ask for no more than you are willing to give,” I finished.

“What would you give to me in return?” the figure asked.

I took a deep breath. “I would give you all that I am,” I said sadly, knowing how badly I had screwed up with Brian and not wanting to hurt anyone like that again. But I was also aware of how much I wanted to have someone in my life and I felt my heart yearn to know who this man was whose likeness was now before me.

The figure smiled down at me for a moment, then the eyes lost their detail and it returned to a lifeless state. Blar came up between me and the water at the end of the cave and as my gaze lingered on the last figure, she morphed into the image of the goddess Tara. She stood with her arms out, blocking my passage to the end of the cave where it opened wide and was filled with the water I’d noticed earlier.






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