Copyright (1999-2000) Elaine L. Becker
All Rights Reserved
DISCLAIMER: This story is an original creation and any resemblance to any persons, living or dead, real or fictional are unintentional. Any words to any songs or any poetry used in this story are attributed to their original artists in the story itself. Television and/or radio programs that are referred to in the story are not to my knowledge, real program content, but created by me solely for use in this story.
This story is about two women in love and may contain language or sexual scenes unsuitable for children or others who are easily offended by material of this nature. This is a story about same gender relationships. If you have a problem with same gender relationships, you should probably see your therapist. Hate is an illness that love can cure.
Comments or suggestions should be sent to: Womynstar@aol.com
Caer sat up and rubbed her eyes, her mantle slipping from her body as she did so. She stood and faced east, raising her arms to greet and embrace the morning. The new day. The sun hit her naked body causing it to appear as if she were encased in gold. Her sculpted thighs; firm, lightly muscled abdomen; round, firm breasts; strong arms and slender neck were absorbing the first warm rays. She felt the strength of Bel. She felt Him offer her guidance. She felt His hand brush her cheek with the first warm breeze of the day. She smiled and bowed down to touch the earth with both of her hands flat on the ground. She was drawing down the sun to connect with the energies of the earth. It was truly the God and Goddess working together to assist her. At Samhains sacred fire, she would be there.
Caer didnt bother to put all of her clothing back on. She threw her mantle around her shoulders and drew the strap of her harp over one of them. She clutched her clothes in the hand that held the mantle underneath. If she were lucky, she thought, she wouldnt meet anyone on the way home. After last nights' festivities, just about everyone, save the older folk and children, would have just recently fallen into drunken sleep.
Caer wound her way down the path and went west when she met the main path from the circle to the sacred fire on the Tor. She slowed as she moved out of the dense glade and into the open area that held the circle of standing stones. Hearing nothing, she proceeded toward her hut. As she passed the easternmost stone, the Beltaine stone as they called it, she thought she noticed a slight shimmer. Must be the sunlight hitting the whitestone. She thought as she kept on walking.
She pushed the huge piece of leather aside and went inside her hut. She was thankful that she had banked the fire last night before going to the handfasting. She put her harp down and went to the hearth. She stoked the embers to get them glowing then placed a log on them. Within minutes, tiny blue and yellow flames started to dance under and around the bottom of the log.
She watched the dance for a few minutes, then heard her stomach rumble. She went to the shelf on the wall that held her food items and eating utensils. She found some dried apples, dried rose petals, rose hips, and honey. There was one piece of bread left wrapped in the piece of linen. She collected all the items and placed them on her small table. She went back to the shelf and retrieved a small iron pot. To this, she added water, the dried apples, the rose petals, and the hips. She placed the concoction over the fire to let the warm water rejuvenate the dried fruits.
She silently thanked the Goddess for her gift of growing things, especially the beautiful red rose garden she grew every summer. The rose honey that she made from her roses lasted her all winter and the petals made such nice jelly. The people who come to me for healing enjoy them too. She smiled.
She went back to the shelf and got a hand-carved bowl made from the wood of the Yew tree. The bowl matched her hair. It was a beautifully, smooth, gold-colored wood with a wavy grain. She unwrapped the bread and broke it into pieces in the bowl. She picked up the honey and a large wooden spoon carved from the same wood and went to the pot of simmering fruit. She added some honey and stirred it all together. After letting the fruit simmer in the honey for a few minutes, she brought it to the table. She poured some of the fruity stew over her bread. As she ate, she suddenly realized how tired she was. It hadnt been long between when she fell asleep and when she had greeted Bel.
Caer finished her meal and quickly rinsed out the iron pot and her utensils with water from the small cistern outside her hut and returned inside. She put another small log on and banked the fire, then turned to lie on the soft down of her pallet. Sleep overtook her quickly in the dark, warm comfort of her own bed. Sure is nicer than sleeping on the damp, chill, hard ground. She smiled as she snuggled down into the feathers and drifted off.
Caer had the feeling that she was being drawn out of her body. She felt The Ladys soul calling to her and she was rising to meet it. Suddenly she was looking up through a pair of eyes that didnt belong to her. The body was similar in size and shape, but she knew that it didnt belong to her.
She was dancing. She was wrapped in the warmest, loving, protective, embrace that she had ever experienced. She heard a womans deep, rich alto singing softly. "Dont leave me standing here. Lead me to your door."
The tall, beautiful, dark-haired woman was holding her like she was afraid she was going to lose her. Caer was looking up into a sea of blue. For a very quick moment, she thought she saw recognition in those eyes as the tall woman held her closer and tighter.
Caer began to sing the song that she had sung the night before at the well. Suddenly she felt the other womans body tense, then pull away.
Caer woke up suddenly with a jump. But she said "yes" at the sacred well. She thought as she struggled to awareness. She was confused. The dream was so real. She had actually felt the Lady of the Lakes warm, arms around her. She had felt her warm sweet breath on her skin. And she had recognized Caer. For a split second, she had known. Caer was certain of it.
Then Caer had a memory of drifting up out of her body and the feeling that she was occupying space not quite her own. It was then that she understood the other womans quick retreat. Although the woman had seen and recognized the green eyes, the body was foreign. The Lady had known when she held her that the body didnt belong to the eyes that shone out at her.
Caer relaxed. She let her fears drift away. She was out there. Somewhere. Her presence was too strong and her energy too powerful not to exist. And her existence was getting closer. She knew it and she knew that the other woman felt it too. It had passed between them in that split second.
Caer pulled herself up off the rumpled pallet and poked in the fire to get the embers glowing then threw a small log on. She swept aside the hide and stuck her head out the doorway. She glanced at the sky and saw that it was late afternoon. Goddess, she thought. How did I sleep that long? She had slept the rest of yesterday after returning home from the well and most of today. Guess I really havent gotten much sleep the last few days.
She glanced quickly around the clearing and saw Enya, the other healer and mid-wife shaking out her bedclothes. Enya looked up and waved. Caer waved back and smiled as she pulled her head back inside and dropped the leather curtain. Nine cycles of the moon from now would see Enya very busy. And me too. She thought as she moved to her larder. Imbolc would be a very busy time of year.
Caer got the shallow, iron skillet and to it added a small amount of safflower oil. She hung it over the edge of the small fire to warm the oil and coat the skillet. In a bowl, she mixed a good handful of corn flour, an egg and a small amount of water. She poured the mixture into the warm skillet and set it back over the fire to cook.
She went to the shelf and searched among the many small, earthenware jars until she found one with the picture of a raspberry carved into it. She picked it up and placed it on the table. Careful not to chip off pieces of the beeswax, she unsealed the small jar. The aroma of raspberries made her mouth water and brought a vision that made her smile. She blushed that her mouth watering would bring a vision of the Lady in the Lake.
Caer dipped her fingers into the jar and popped a large, still firm, juicy berry in her mouth. As she licked her fingers, she felt a warmth begin to creep over her. Suddenly, she smelled the corn flour bread and dragged herself back from the sight of the lips that were smiling at her. Whoa, Caer, she admonished herself.
She let the iron skillet cool on the table while she started a pot of water to heat for her chicory. To take her mind off her recent train of thought, she went to the shelf and started taking mental inventory of the herbs and spices that she needed to restock. Seems some years were more prone to certain ailments than others, so it varied each year as to how much of each herb was used. The past season had been mild. This would be an easy gathering cycle.
Good, she thought as she moved toward the smell of brewing chicory root. I will have time to gather clay and form more jars. I think Im going to do a lot more berry picking this season and stock up for the winter. She had a feeling the upcoming cold season was going to be more demanding on her food stock than usual. She wanted to be prepared by Samhain when the first cold winds began to sweep in from the Irish Sea.
Caer poured herself a mug of chicory tea and added some rose honey. She coaxed a chunk of the corn bread out of the skillet and into her bowl. The raspberries, canned in their own juices, topped it off. As Caer ate, she listened to some children playing outside.
Suddenly, shouting interrupted their laughter. She arose quickly from her stool, went to the door, and looked out. Two of the Druids were half carrying, half dragging a tattered looking young man. He was gasping and moaning in pain. They got him into the healing hut next door to Caers and laid him down on the clean pallet.
The two men told Caer they had found him lying in the woods a short distance from the settlement while they were out checking rabbit traps. Gorlas and Aden then set about making a fire in the hearth as Caer spoke gently to the young man. She searched his body with her strong, knowledgeable hands. She felt his ribs and the unnaturalness there.
"Can you tell me what happened?" she asked softly.
The sandy-haired man looked at her through pain-filled brown eyes and managed to gasp. "We. . .were attacked. . .by a small band of Protesters. . .on our way to Drogheda. We were. . .sent to Drogheda to. . .share the messages of the Goddess with those. . .who could not make it to the Beltaine fires at Newgrange. . .There were five of us." He stopped to try and catch his breath. "I. . .I think Im the. . .the only one who managed to get away." He started to sob. Caer put her hand on his shoulder and he stopped. He looked up into her green eyes. "We werent even armed. We had no weapons." When Caer looked down at him again, she noticed the tattered, dirty brown robe of an ovate. A first year druid.
"Are you hurt any where besides your ribs?" She asked him.
"Everything hurts. My soul hurts." He answered her.
Without thinking, Caer whispered, "I know." But her hurt wasnt for the same reason.
"Then you know about the people fighting over whose deity has the most infinite wisdom. About that which the god and Goddess share with us? Why do people fight and kill over something as personal as who the creators are?" He was becoming a little agitated and was trying to sit up. Caer pushed him gently back down into the down of the pallet.
"Here," she said. "Let me take a look at you. I am one of the healers here and a bard. My name is Caer. And what might your name be, young man?" She smiled down at him.
"Loic, my lady." He replied. "Youre a Bard and a healer? But, you cant be much older than I." He said.
"And how old might that be?"
Caer looked down at his soft, brown eyes as she opened his robe to the waist. "Well, I do have a few seasons on you, but youre right, not many."
Caer guided her hands over the mans ribs and felt several displaced and one definitely broken. She could see the cracked bone in her mind.
"Loic, you have a broken rib and some more that are out of place. Ive got to set them back the way they were and bind your chest tightly to hold them in place. Its going to hurt and I need you to be still, so Im going to ask Aden and Gorlas to come help you lie still. Okay?" Loic nodded his assent. "But first, let me get some water heated to clean you up and to make some boneset tea and something to keep you from getting a chill."
Caer gently patted his shoulder and went to put a pot of water on the fire. While she waited for it to heat, she went around the hut and gathered up strips of white linen and large, square pieces for bandaging. She asked the two druids to keep an eye on Loic for a few minutes while she went to her own hut and got the herbs needed for the healing remedies.
When she returned, she poured some of the warm water from the pot into a basin that rested on a small table beside the pallet. She added a little more water to the pot and walked to the fire dropping a handful of herbs in the water.
She took one of the squares of linen, dipped it into the water, and carefully washed the grime off his bruised and battered face and his chest. She was extra careful around the bruised and broken ribs. After she had him cleaned up to her satisfaction, she nodded to Aden and Gorlas.
With one on either side, they held Loics shoulders and arms and Caer straddled him, holding his legs with her own so he wouldnt jump and kick when she snapped the ribs back into place.
She leaned forward and as she placed her hands on his rib cage, she told him to close his eyes and try to concentrate on even breathing. She let her hands linger on his cool skin for a moment as she raised her eyes to the thatched roof of the healing hut offering a silent prayer. She lowered her head and felt the heat beginning. She closed her eyes and moved her hands around until she felt the heat intensify. She stopped, took a cleansing breath, then another, and snapped down quickly with her the flat of her hands. She heard an audible pop and the ends of the bone became one again. She opened her eyes and looked at Loic. His eyes were still closed, his breathing steady. Good, She thought. He is willing to work with us, Goddess.
She finished relocating the two other ribs and they released him. Caer knelt beside the pallet and placed a still warm hand on his brow. He opened his dark eyes and smiled at her. "You have very warm, soothing hands, lady. Thank you."
Caer nodded her head and smiled. "Im going to wrap your chest in bandages and give you some tea to drink that will help you heal. Then I want you to rest. You are going to be with us a few days. When you are well, I will ask some of the brothers to accompany you home. We have already sent a message to Newgrange to tell them of the trouble. Tomorrow, when you are feeling some better, we will talk and you can tell me more of the Protesters.
Loic nodded as Caer got up to make the tea. She poured it into a large, clay mug, through a piece of clean linen to separate the liquid from the herbs. She placed the mug on the table to cool and told Aden and Gorlas that she would be right back. She pushed the leather curtain aside and walked across the clearing to the large hut that Enya occupied. She called through the hide that hung in the doorway. Enya called back to her inviting her in.
"Enya, there was a young man brought here today by Aden and Gorlas. He is an ovate at Newgrange. They found him in the woods not far from here. He was on his way to Drogheda. He must have tried to make his way here after he was attacked. He says that he and four companions were attacked by a band of Protestors. He was the only one who managed to survive." Caer sat down on the stool as Enya stood up to get them a cup of tea. Enya sat back down and looked across the small table at Caer. Sometimes it was difficult for her to remember that the beautiful, little, flaxen-haired girl that she had taken into her home to foster twenty-three years ago was all grown up. Enya took a breath and began to speak.
"Until the English Protestors came here and started trying to convert the native Celts to their religion, the Catholics and the Druids got along well. We respected each other for the most part and worked together." Enya sighed. "I fear if the Protestors gain hold of the land, we will be consumed and our ways will be forgotten. As it is, the native Catholics have managed to convert some of us to their belief system. We will have to move our people further away from society if we are going to survive physically and keep our spiritual ways from man-made corruption."
Enya was much older than Caer and had heard of the Protestant takeovers and uprisings escalating over the last few years. Caer, on the other hand, had been safely ensconced here since she was a small child and most things of a violent nature were kept from the childrens ears. She had no first-hand knowledge of the rebellions other than talk. Loic was her first experience of the violence that the warring factions were capable of.
Enya stood up and seeing the look of confusion and fear on Caers face, said, "Dont trouble yourself, child. The Goddess will see us through this as She always has. She will find a way for Her children to survive and carry on Her ways. Now, lets go have a look at that young druid."
Enya chased Caer off to her own hut after checking on their charge. "You go get some rest. Ill stay here with Loic through the night and you can relieve me when the sun comes up. After all, you did all the hard work." She smiled at Caer and sent her on her way.
Back in the comfort of her own space, Caer made herself a cup of chamomile tea. She felt a slight unease after her conversation with Enya. She really hadnt thought that the uprisings she had heard about would ever affect her and her people, personally. But Loics arrival today had told her differently.
Caer finished her tea, banked her small fire, and lay down on her pallet, falling swiftly into the confines of sleep.
Finian woke up thinking about the Irish religious wars. It was almost as if she had been overhearing a conversation just before she awoke. She was feeling an urgency that she couldnt quite put her finger on. She had the feeling that she needed to hurry. To get away. Must be because of that stuff I was reading online last night. She thought as she got out of bed and headed to the bathroom.
She took off her nightshirt and stepped into the shower. The warm water caressing her skin brought memories of the warmth she had felt the other night when she was dancing with Marty. Warmth, hell. That was fire. She felt a blush creeping up her cheeks even through the warmth of the water and another stirring that she didnt even want to think about.
Finian soaped up her washcloth and began scrubbing her body. Suddenly, she remembered the first part of last nights dream. Her hand slowed its scrubbing motion. The flaxen-haired woman was naked and her petite, supple body glowed in a golden light. Her arms were raised and her angelic face was turned up toward the light. Finian was suddenly aware that she had known what the woman was doing. She was sure of it. She was offering thanks to the sun god.
Finian quickly dropped her hand to her side as she realized she had been caressing her own breast. There is something seriously wrong with me. She thought. This was beginning to seem a little uncomfortable. She didnt even want to think the thoughts that she felt rising to the surface. She finished rinsing and stepped out of the shower, still aware of the warmth.
She wrapped her long hair in a towel and strode resolutely toward the kitchen. Coffee. Thats what I need. Coffee. She stayed focused on the coffee allowing no other thoughts to intrude. The coffee brewing, she checked her answering machine. "Please call me."
She heard the pleading apology in Michelles voice. Shit, I dont have time to deal with you, Michelle. She thought in agitation. How the hell can I explain any of this to her? Even if she is willing to listen. None of it makes any sense. Yeah, right. Ill say, "Michelle, Ive met a woman. But you cant meet her because shes not here. She leaves me flowers, she sings to me and Ive seen her naked even thought Ive never really seen her." That sounds real sane.
Finian allowed the aroma of the coffee to pull her from her thoughts. She poured herself a cup of the steaming, robust liquid and went to the living room to sit down. She turned on the television and put it on one of the morning talk shows. It didnt much matter which one. They were all carbon copies of one another and she mainly needed the distraction.
She reached over, opened the drawer in the table at the end of the sofa, and took out a notebook and pen. She thumbed past the notes on old history articles that she had written until she found a blank page. She started to make a chronological list of all the strange events, dreams, and visions she had been experiencing.
Finian finished her shorthand list and went to the kitchen for more coffee. This time she decided to pour the rest into a thermal carafe and take it to the living room with her.
She took a sip of her coffee and picked up the notebook, tearing out the page she had just written on. From that list, she took the keywords she had written and started elaborating on each one so that she had a clearer picture of what had been happening.
First, she noticed was that it had all started on the first of May, Beltaine and that the word Samhain was in the song that her dream lady had sung to her. The two Celtic/Pagan festivals when the veils of time and space are at their thinnest.
Finian began to remember how she had felt when her dream lady was singing to her. She thought about how she felt every time she imagined she saw her. She blushed for a moment when she remembered her shower that morning. She quickly brought her attention back. She felt whole when she saw her. Connected in a way she had never felt connected. Like she had found something that had been missing.
Then she remembered hearing the word Drogheda in her dream. Ill have to look that up. As soon as she thought it she began to sense a fear come over her. Finian tried, but could not rationalize it. It didnt seem to be coming from anything external or anything in her present life. The fear seemed directly related to that word. And the fear felt the same as the fear she had felt yesterday when she was reading about the Cromwell invasion.
"This is getting more confusing now than it was before I started to try to figure it out. She thought just as the phone started to ring. She got up, stretched her tall body, and strode to the kitchen. "Hello." Finian answered dryly.
"Fin, its me. Im really sorry about how I reacted when we talked yesterday. Ive really thought about it and Bobbi and I talked about it. I was a jerk. I didnt give you a chance to explain. All I heard was you saying you couldnt talk to me about it. And. . .and Im really sorry." Michelle finally stopped her rambling.
"Okay, apology accepted." Finian said concisely.
"Are you okay?" Mich asked her. "You sound a little tired."
"Im okay." Finian tried to reassure her. She really didnt feel like getting into anything. She wanted to go look up Drogheda on the Internet. "Ive been writing a good part of the day and I still have more to do before I can crash." Finian convinced herself that she wasnt lying. She really had been writing just about all day. She just didnt say what she had been writing about.
"Want to come down for coffee?" Michelle asked hopefully.
"Uhm, no thanks. I really do have to finish up what I was working on. But thanks. Oh, and tell Bobbi I said Hi. And Michelle, about what happened yesterday. Im not mad. Okay? I just need some space to sort all this out and then well talk about it. Okay?" There were a few moments of silence.
"Yeah, okay. But, Fin?"
"Dont leave me hanging too long, huh? You know how I get."
"Yeah, nosey." Finian teased. She felt Mich trying to lighten the mood and decided to go with her.
Michelle laughed. "Yup. And I want to know what was going on the other night. Bye." She hung up the phone before Finian could say another word.
Thats the tricky part. She thought. How to explain that it had only looked like she was dancing with Marty. That it was Martys body, but for the time that she had held Marty in her embrace, she had known that it was her dream woman, who had somehow managed to inhabit Martys body. That was going to take some work.
Well, she thought, at least I bought a little time. She went to the refrigerator and grabbed a bottle of water. On her way to her office, she grabbed the notebook lying on the sofa.
Once she had the computer booted up, she brought up a search engine and looked down at her notebook. She typed in the word Drogheda, hoping that the spelling was right. She found that Drogheda is a city in northeastern Ireland near the Irish Sea, south of Ulster. In 1641, the Irish army besieged the town but the people held their ground and refused to fall. Instilled with a fear that their native Catholic religion would be suppressed, the native Irish rebelled. The rebellion gradually spread over the entire island.
Eight years later, in 1649, a fanatical Protestant from England, Oliver Cromwell took his army into Ireland and stormed the mostly Roman Catholic city of Drogheda. Most of the populace of the town and the surrounding countryside were massacred including women and children.
Finian got up and went to the kitchen to start a pot of coffee, wondering what the town of Drogheda; Ireland had to do with the other things that had been happening. She tried to recall if she had heard any other part of the conversation from her dream. She couldnt.
She poured herself a large mug of coffee and went back to her computer. She looked at the notes she had written in her notebook. She started thinking about the song from her dream. She remembered hearing an Irish accent. The woman from her dreams had an Irish accent. Finian picked up her coffee and took a sip. Her mind kept trying to find a connection. She felt like she was looking at a jumble of cut wires and none of the ends would match up.
One thing she was becoming pretty sure of was that the woman from her dreams and visions was Irish. Celtic, to be more specific. Somehow, she didnt feel that the woman was either Catholic or Protestant. In her dreams, she had seen the woman giving thanks to the sun God and asking for the Goddess help.
Finian began to think about the fear she had experienced when she first stumbled across the Irish rebellion stuff and then again when she had remembered hearing the word Drogheda. Somehow, she didnt think any of this was related to the strife that was going on in Northern Ireland today.
Fin got up and went to the kitchen for a refill of her coffee. When she did, she noticed the time. It was almost eleven. She had spent the last twelve hours thinking about, writing about, and trying to research some type of phenomena. That or she really was going crazy. At this point, it really didnt matter. She didnt understand either one. She filled her mug and went back to her office.
1641, she thought, as she stared at the computer screen. The rebellions were just really getting started. It seemed that the Puritans were becoming more hell-bent on converting Ireland from its native Catholicism to Protestantism. And that meant the Druids, too. The Puritans burned the Druids as witches because they refused to worship a monotheist; male god and they were healers and bards.
Finian realized that she had begun to feel that sick fear in the pit of her stomach again. She felt that she had to do something. But how can I do anything about events that happened in 1641? She asked herself. She forced her attention back on the computer screen and read everything she could find on the English invasion and the rebellions. Whenever she stopped reading about it and let herself think about it, she felt a panic start to take hold.
She finally shut down the computer and stood up, stretching her long body, as she did so. She dropped her coffee mug off in the kitchen and shut lights off on her way to the bedroom.
As soon as she walked through the doorway, the scent of apple blossoms hit her. She couldnt believe how strong they still were. Finian peeled off her nightshirt and let it drop to the floor as she reached for the light. "Mmmm," she murmured as she snuggled her naked body up against the down-filled body pillow.
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