Rock of Ages Past

Part 6

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.

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The first thing that Caer did when she had put away the clean dishes was to check on Loic. The man was still sleeping but Caer heard a difference in his breathing pattern. He was beginning the journey back to wakefulness.

Caer half-filled the iron pot with water and hung it over the fire to begin heating. She went to the larder and found some potatoes and a couple of apples. She glanced at Loic and quickly went out of the hut to the small storehouse behind her own hut. From her storehouse, Caer got some butter and a small amount of her cherished sugar and returned to the hut. She peeled and sliced the potatoes and placed them in the pot of now boiling water. She then peeled and sliced the apples and placed them in another small pot on the other side of the fire. To this pot, she added a very small amount of water and the sugar. When the potatoes and the apples were both soft, she removed the potatoes from the boiling water and added them to the pot of apples. Caer added a generous helping of butter to the pot and mashed the potatoes and apples together.

"Mmmmmm, something smells good."

Caer jumped at the sudden sound breaking into the silence. She turned her head and looked at the young man who was sitting up on the pallet, watching her. She smiled, "Apple Mash. And don’t you look hale and hearty sitting up in that bed."

"I do feel much better," Loic answered her. "Enya said that I seemed well enough to get up and perhaps go outside for a bit today. I am rather anxious to be well enough to go home." Loic sniffed the air. "And that apple mash smells ready to eat," he grinned. "I am starving."

Caer carried the pot of apple mash to the small table and filled two plates. She buttered two of the biscuits that Enya had made the night before and put them on the plates. "Here," she said, handing one of the plates to Loic. "We will get you up off that pallet and out into the sunshine when you are finished eating. How do those ribs of yours feel?"

Loic placed his spoon on his plate and poked himself in the ribs. "They feel good. No pain."

"That’s good," Caer said as she swallowed a mouthful of food. "When we are finished here, I will get you some warm water and you can wash yourself and put a clean robe on. We keep a few extra robes here in the healing hut. I will wash your clothes and set them out to dry so they will be ready when you are well enough to return home."

Loic nodded. "And when do you think that might be, Caer?" he asked. "Enya said to me this morning that she felt you might be ready to make the short journey home as early as tomorrow. I, however, am reserving judgment on that until we get you up out of that bed and on your feet." Caer stood up and grinned at him as she took his empty plate and went outside.

A few minutes later, Caer returned to the hut with a jug of water that she poured into the pot hanging over the fire. "It won’t take long for that to heat up. Do you think you can manage by yourself or would you like me to help you?" She asked as she straightened up.

Loic blushed. "I. .I can manage. I really am feeling much better," he almost blurted.

Caer laughed out loud. "I’m sorry," she spluttered, "you ARE feeling better, aren’t you?"

Loic dropped his eyes and smiled shyly. "I know you’re a healer and everything, but. . ."

"You don’t have to explain, Loic," she said still smiling, "Let me get you a clean robe and get the basin ready."

Caer busied herself preparing the items that Loic would need for his bath as he lay on the pallet, watching her. When everything was set up on the small table, Caer went to where Loic lay watching her. "First, I want to check those ribs for myself, if that’s okay with you," she smiled down at him. Loic nodded and lay down flat on the pallet and relaxed. Caer unwrapped the linen from around his ribs. He still had some slight bruising, but it was fading fast. She placed her hands on his rib cage and her firm, knowing fingers probed in all the places where he had been injured. As she felt the bone structure, she listened for any sound that Loic might make. All she heard was steady breathing. "You mend quite fast, Loic. A little over three days and you are almost healed."

"It could have something to do with the healer," he smiled. "You have a tender, knowing touch, Caer."

This time it was Caer’s turn to blush. "Thank you," she said as she lowered her eyes and removed her hands from his ribs. "Let’s get you up off that pallet and onto this stool," Caer said as she stood up. She bent over and placed her right arm under Loic’s arm. He got up off the pallet with little help from her, using her support more for leverage than actual support. When he got to his feet, Caer slowly removed her arm. He stood there still and steady. "Do you have any pain anywhere?" she asked him.

Loic seemed to think for a moment, then said, "No, I was slightly light headed when I first stood, but that passed quickly."

"Good, then I will watch you walk across the room to the table and then leave you to your bath," she smiled. "I will be outside washing up the dishes if you should need anything." Loic nodded and walked slowly, but steadfast across the earthen floor. Caer retrieved her bundle of dirty utensils and went through the doorway out into the bright sunlight.

Caer was just finishing up the last plate when she caught a flash of green around the corner of the hut. She put the plate down and walked to the front of the healing hut.

"Well," she grinned at the young man, "time to use that judgment I was reserving. It looks to me that you are well enough to journey home tomorrow. I will request that Aden and Gorlas accompany you." Loic started to protest, but Caer held up her hand.

"Loic, we are not going to take the chance of what happened to you and your friends, happening another time. At least not to you. Aden and Gorlas know the whole area between here and Newgrange. They were both born in this very village. They will accompany you home using the pathways of old that run through these woods, keeping away from the main road."

Loic nodded his agreement. "You are right," he said. "I would be no match for anyone this soon after broken bones. I forget, sometimes that it is the way that it is. I became a druid to live and preserve the old ways. My ability to do that is being taken away from me by something outside of my control. That is somewhat disquieting to me, Caer." Loic suddenly reached out and took Caer’s hand in his. "Promise me," he said, looking her in the eye, "when Finian comes for you, go. Leave this place and survive to carry on the way of the Goddess. For I fear that all who stay here will be annihilated unless they are so well hidden that they have no life other than existence."

Caer’s mouth dropped open and her eyes opened wide. She stared at Loic without saying a word. "Caer. . .Caer," Loic shook the hand that he still held in his own. "Caer, are you okay? I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to frighten you. Sometimes I just blurt things out without thinking of what effect they are going to have on the ones hearing them." Loic lowered his eyes and let go of her hand. "I’m sorry. I really need to learn to control myself better than that. Caer. . .Caer," his voice started to get a little louder as he again reached for her hand.

Caer’s mind went suddenly to her dream of being on a ship with Finian. She remembered the conversation they were having. She wondered. ‘Was Finian coming for her instead of to her? Suddenly she had another memory. This one more distant and vague. It was more of a feeling than a memory. It was a feeling of being protected, of being safe. Suddenly she was pulled back from her reverie by Loic’s almost frantic calling.

"It’s, it’s alright, Loic. I’m fine, honest. I just got lost for a moment thinking about something."

Loic dropped her hand again. "I’m sorry, Caer. I didn’t mean to frighten or upset you. I can be such a fool at times."

This time Caer took Loic’s hand in hers. "You didn’t frighten me, Loic. Here," she said as she let go of his hand and went to retrieve the two stools leaning up against the hut behind him. "Sit down and I will tell you of the dream that I had last night."

This time, in the telling of the dream, she did include the part about Finian. "Loic, when I was telling Enya about my dream, I didn’t tell her about Finian." "It is not an easy thing to explain to someone. This thing that is happening to you. You are in love with someone who exists, but does not exist here. At least right now."

Loic smiled at her to try to ease some of the tension he sensed about her. "Many of our people, myself included have never experienced or known anyone who has experienced a journey through the veil. We only hear stories and none of them very recent. My gift from the Goddess," he grinned, "which at times can be rather eager, allowed me to ‘see’ the part of your soul which still belongs to Finian. When I felt her, I felt the distance between you. It is different than being here, where we are right now. It is not like a distance of miles. Her time is faster. It is busier."

Caer thought for a moment. "Is this really possible, Loic? I haven’t really thought about this in the light of reality. I’ve only been going on my emotions." Suddenly Caer thought about the enormity of the whole thing. A dream lover, suddenly appearing, in the flesh, in her world from another world. Not another world, really, she told herself, just another time. Another time. When Caer thought about it, her head hurt.

"Anything is possible, Caer, where there is love. You and your Anamchara are meant to be together. Even through a barrier such as time. If it were not so, I do not believe I would be able to ‘see’ her still with you."

"Anamchara," Caer whispered as a vision of Finian’s strong, angular face filled her mind. Suddenly, any sense of doubt she had been feeling a moment earlier disappeared. She still wasn’t quite sure how Finian was going to get there, but she was more convinced than ever that she would come.

Caer stood up and turned to face Loic. "You are a good man, Loic. Thank you for understanding and aiding me in knowing that what I am experiencing is somehow real. I know I have the blessings of the god and Goddess, but sometimes it all seems so farfetched that I wonder if I am in my reasonable mind." Caer managed a light laugh.

"Will you be alright sitting out here by yourself? I should go inside and tidy up."

"Yes," Loic answered her. "The sun is very warm and feels good on my mending body. But I would gladly help you," he added with a grin. "I really should earn my keep."

Caer placed her hand on the young mans’ shoulder. "You have already earned your keep, Loic. Sit here and let Bel aid you in your healing."

Caer walked around to the side of the hut and retrieved the dishes from the edge of the cistern. As she walked back toward the door of the hut, she called out to Loic. "I will return in a short while and bring you something cool to drink." Loic smiled and nodded.

Caer entered the dimness of the hut and placed the items that she was carrying on the table. She then went back and pushed the hide that covered the doorway to one side and secured it on a wooden peg sticking out of the earthen wall. She immediately felt the warmth of the sun warming up the interior of the hut.

Caer quickly put the clean dishes away and took care of the remnants of Loic’s bath. She put a fresh pot of water on the fire to simmer and threw in a handful of mint. She busied herself turning Loic’s pallet and putting clean bed linens on it. Soon the smell of mint filled the air. Caer got two large mugs from the shelf near the table and half filled them with the mint tea. She then retrieved the clay jug that was half buried in the earthen floor of the hut, near the wall. She added cool water from the vessel to the mugs, filling them.

Caer handed Loic one of the mugs of cool, mint tea, and sat on the stool beside him. "Are you feeling tired?" She asked.

"Perhaps a little," Loic answered her, "but I don’t believe it is because of my injuries," he smiled. "The sun is so warm today. It is very soothing to the soul."

Caer smiled. "How about a short walk around the common area to get your blood flowing through you again?"

"It’s either that, or I am going to nod off, and the Goddess knows that I have been doing enough of that these last few days," Loic grinned as he stood up.

Caer steered him first toward the large, stone building at the northwest corner of the common area. The building was built into the ground to about half of its’ height. Thus keeping the inside very cool even during the heat of summer. Just to the right of the storage building was a well-worn path through the trees, heading slightly northeast. "Our small Tor and circle of stones is in that direction." Caer pointed toward the path.

As they rounded the corner and started back toward the cluster of huts, a woman emerged from the doorway of the hut closest to the path. The dark-haired woman waved and motioned them over to her.

"Good Day, Tara," Caer smiled, as she approached. "Tara, this is Loic. He is the one we have been caring for in the healing hut."

Tara reached out and took the young man’s hand. "You look like you have had some very good healing. Caer is one of the best healers in this area. You are lucky that your attack happened close to us and that Arden and Gorlas came upon you."

Loic smiled at the slightly older woman. "Yes. Caer and Enya have been wonderful. There is no doubt in my mind, that had it not been for Caer’s doctoring, I would either be on the other side, or at least still lying on a pallet somewhere." He now aimed his smile at Caer, who returned it.

Loic looked back at Tara, as Caer began to speak. "Tara is our high priestess and her mate, Gregor, is our high priest. He is also Lore Master at our small school."

"Gregor is yet at the school," Tara glanced up at the western sky. "He should be bound for the hearthside, soon, with the young ones on his heels. Why don’t the two of you come inside and drink a mug of tea until Gregor comes home. I am sure he would not want to miss meeting you, Loic. We have spoken about welcoming you to our village as soon as you were well enough to receive visitors. Our Caer, here, has seen that you healed much faster than expected." She nodded and smiled at the young, flaxen haired woman as she turned and led them toward the large, earthen hut.

Tara was placing their mugs of tea on the table, when they heard the sounds of children’s laughter and a much deeper voice bidding them to scamper off and play. Loic and Caer turned in time to see a tall, blond man; his head bent so as not to hit it, come through the doorway. Gregor straightened his tall frame and let his eyes adjust to the dimness.

Loic stood up. "Gregor, this is Loic," Tara nodded toward the young man standing across the table from her.

Gregor put out his hand and walked toward the table. "I can see that you have been blessed by this young woman’s healing soul." He smiled at Caer as he walked past her. Caer blushed slightly as she smiled back at Gregor.

"I have, brother," Loic smiled as he reached out his hand to clasp Gregor’s. "The Goddess was smiling on me the day of the assault. She led me here." Loic paused for a moment. "I have had a sense since I arrived here that I was brought here for more than healing. I do not feel that it was happenstance that the assault happened near here. I do, however, feel that I was led here and to Caer, for some reason unknown to all but the God and Goddess," now it was Loic’s turn to blush. He knew where Caer’s interests lay, but what he just said sounded as if maybe he did not.

"I, I do not mean to imply that I have romantic interests in Caer," he stuttered. "Her heart belongs to someone." Loic glanced over at Caer and smiled warmly. "I feel like the reason will reveal itself when the time has come."

Gregor looked at the young man thoughtfully. "I believe you are wise, young Loic. I sense nothing but truth in your words. At times, it can be quite frustrating to have a gift such as ours. We are allowed only glimpses of what is to come. The Goddess gives us enough so that we may prepare our way. If we disregard what She shows us and do not pay attention to what She presents to us; it will be our loss."

Caer was paying close attention to what Gregor was saying, but she was applying his words to another situation. A situation whose main character was a beautiful, blue-eyed, woman. She was remembering the glimpses of her dream lover that the Goddess had sent to her. She vowed that she would not lose her. ‘Not again,’ she thought. Caer’s attention was drawn back to the conversation that was taking place inside the hut.

"There has been some talk of abandoning our homes and moving further into the forests. To become tree folk." Loic smiled trying to ease some of the tension he felt in the room. "Others have spoken about making passage to America, in the belief that we will escape persecution and be left free to practice our ways."

Caer was lost for a moment, then realized that the conversation had moved on to talk of the rebellion that many prophesied was coming and of which, it seemed, Loic was an early victim.

Gregor was listening thoughtfully to the young man as he spoke. "I do believe, Loic, that at least one of the reasons you were led here to us, was to inform us of this great danger that seems to await us. For, if our brothers and sisters are talking of leaving our homeland, then it is a great danger, indeed. I believe that it is time to arrange a gathering of the Lore Masters and share information that we can all carry home to our villages. The attack that you suffered was a definite message from the Goddess that this is not to be disregarded and passed off as a solitary incident. If we chose to disregard Her message, it will most certainly be our loss." Gregor reached across the corner of the table and took Tara’s hand in his, giving it a comforting squeeze.

Caer felt a little strange. She had missed a great deal of the conversation, but had picked up enough to know that this was even more serious than she had thought. Suddenly her mind was again on the raven-haired woman from the lake. She suddenly felt a small twinge of panic. ‘What if we have to move away from this place and she can’t find me? What if we end up going to America?’ Caer’s mind finally stopped whirling in panic when she remembered her dream of being on the ship. She knew that her dream had been the Goddess’ message to her. The Goddess had told her that Finian would be with her when the time to leave was here. Caer felt a strange sense of comfort settle over her; almost like a veil of protection.

Suddenly, Caer realized that she had heard her name and she managed to clear her head in time to catch part of what was being said to her. ". . . be ready to return to Newgrange?" Gregor was asking her. Caer’s mind automatically filled in the first part of the question.

"Loic is ready to return home. He is healed enough to make the short journey as long as he is accompanied. I was going to ask Aden and Gorlas today if they would see him there either on the morrow or the next day.

"I will take that small burden from you, Caer." Gregor smiled. "I want to ask Aden and Gorlas to carry a message with them to, Lore Master, Logan, requesting a gathering of all of the Lore Masters to discuss the uprisings. As Newgrange is the largest circle in this area, I would suggest that the Lore Masters travel there."

Caer nodded her head in agreement. "Would you do something for me as well?" Gregor asked her.

Surprised, Caer replied, "Of course. What is it?"

"On your way back around the common area, would you tell those that you see, that we will have a short gathering this evening, just before dusk in front of the circle. I will inform everyone when we are gathered as to the nature of the meeting."

Caer nodded. "I think we must be on our way. I must get some food prepared for this man’s stomach," she smiled at Loic, "or all of my healing work will be for naught." With that, Caer stood up and Loic did the same. Gregor and Tara quickly followed suit and the four walked through the doorway into the lowering sunlight.

"Loic, it is a pleasure meeting and knowing you. I am only sorry that your visit to our home occurred because of mankind’s intolerance for one another." Tara smiled. "We have been shown, though, that there is a blessing from the Goddess, in even this. Thank you for coming to us and giving us ample warning and time to prepare. It is a fine messenger that the Great Lady chose to carry her message to us this time." Tara took a step forward and wrapped her arms around him. Loic returned her embrace with a sense that he had known these people before. As Loic and Tara parted, Gregor stepped forward and repeated the embrace. As he backed away from Loic, he looked at Caer.

"I will come by your dwelling after the gathering to tell you when Aden and Gorlas will accompany Loic to Newgrange." He glanced over at Loic, as well.

"Thank you, Gregor," Caer said as she reached out and took the large man’s hand in her own much smaller one. "Difficult times are approaching us. I believe the Goddess is leading us in the right direction. I did not mention it before, but I feel as if I must, now. Last night I had a dream of being on board a ship bound for America. I knew, in the dream that I was escaping something and bound for a better place. I believe it was a message that we will get through all that is coming. I did not feel that I was alone on the ship. I had the sense that many of us were going there together."

Caer did not look at Loic, nor did she mention Finian’s being on the ship. She just didn’t know how to explain someone who wasn’t there. Someone, who, in her time, did not even exist. Yet. She reminded herself to talk to Loic about that later. ‘Funny,’ thought Caer, ‘of all the people I should want to talk to about Finian, it should be Lore Master and Lore Mistress.’

"I believe your dream to be prophetic, Caer. I remember now that you were not present at the circle when Tara shared with us that which the Goddess had shown to her on Beltaine. It was not very clear at the time. It is only becoming clear now."

Caer looked up at Gregor, questioningly. "No, I have not heard what the Goddess shared. I was not feeling well on Beltaine and returned early to my hut. It was the next day that Loic arrived and I have really seen no one except Enya and Da’an only briefly."

Gregor looked over at Tara and nodded. She began to speak, almost as if in a slightly altered state. "I was shown a stone circle, somewhat larger than our own, but not as large as the circle at Newgrange. The trees and plants looked very much like here. There were rolling, green hills, sparkling brooks, and fertile land for planting. The next thing I was shown was a large expanse of water, with no seeming beginning or end. As the vision began to fade, it was quickly replaced with another, of death and destruction. Cities and villages were burning. Women and children falling as they fled. And then a whisper, like the whisper of the wind through the trees at dusk. . .’The time is not nigh as of yet. Watch and listen. We will speak again, Lady, before true action is called for.’" Tara looked at Caer. The short, blond woman seemed slightly paler than she had a few moments ago. For a fleeting moment, Caer questioned whether the woman from her dreams and visions was coming to her or coming to rescue her people.

"Caer, are you alright?" Tara reached out her hand and laid it on Caer’s shoulder. She glanced up at Gregor, then back at Caer.

Caer shook her head as if to clear it. "Yes, Tara, I’m fine. Your vision from the Goddess seems to be confirmation for my dream, or my dream is conformation of the Goddess’ message. I think the similarities in what we were shown overwhelmed me for a moment."

Tara withdrew her hand from Caer’s shoulder. She looked first at Gregor, then at Loic. Her brown eyes coming to rest back on her mate. "I feel that we would be wise not to alarm the people. It is too soon and panic may set in."

Gregor nodded. "You are wise, Lady."

He turned his attention to Caer. "Caer, we will not have the gathering until Aden and Gorlas have returned from Newgrange and we have some information to share. Let us keep what we have shared here today, among us, until we know more about what the Goddess is showing us and why. If she is telling us to prepare to leave, the people will want to know why they must leave their home. We do not have enough solid information to answer the questions they will ask."

Caer nodded, she wasn’t sure that she wanted to hear any more about fighting or leaving or revolts or anything at the moment and felt relieved that the gathering was not going to happen, at least not tonight. She knew that once the information about Loic’s attack and the extent of its meaning reached the rest of the inhabitants of the small village, it would be a beehive.

"Then if my services as a messenger are not needed, I will take this young man back to the hut and feed him or he will be too weak to travel any time soon. I have kept him out and about all afternoon." Caer tried to lighten her voice to change the heavy atmosphere that had seemed to settle over the four of them as they stood outside in the fading sunlight.

"I will see Aden and Gorlas and let you know when they can be prepared to accompany Loic home." Gregor said as Caer and Loic prepared to leave.

Tara extended one hand to Loic and the other to Caer. "I believe we have spent an afternoon arranged by the Goddess. May She go with you both."

Enya was just coming out of the door of her hut, carrying a large pot, when Caer and Loic rounded the bend of trees that circled the common area. She stopped suddenly and turned to face them. "I was just heading your way with this pot of stew," she nodded down toward the black, iron pot she held in her linen-wrapped hands.

Caer smiled at the older woman gratefully. "Then let us hurry it over there before it burns through that linen to your skin."

Caer went to the fire and poked at the embers until she got them glowing. She added a couple of pieces of wood and blew on the embers until small flames started to lick at the wood. Enya placed the pot over the fire and went to the small table to get bowls. She motioned to Loic to pull up a stool and sit down, as she headed for the pot hanging over the fire.

Caer went to the larder along the back wall of the hut, retrieved the last of the biscuits that Enya had made the night before and a jar of honey, and placed the items on the small table. Enya was just placing the last of the three bowls on the table when there was a sound at the door.

"Come in, Gregor," Caer smiled as she moved toward the doorway. "Won’t you join us for some stew?" She nodded toward the table.

"No, thank you, Caer. Tara has our meal preparing as we speak." He smiled. "I came to tell you that Aden and Gorlas will accompany Loic to Brugh Na Boinne two sunrises from now. I saw Gorlas just moments after you and Loic left us." Gregor looked at Loic. "It was a pleasure meeting you, Loic. I look forward to when we will meet again. Take our best wishes back to your Lore Master and Mistress." With a nod at the three people sitting at the table, the tall man ducked through the doorway and was gone.

"Day after tomorrow." Enya said as she looked over at Loic. "That is good. An extra day of healing never hurt anyone," she smiled. "When we finish our meal," Enya was now looking at Caer, "why don’t you get your self home? I will clean things up here and see that Loic has everything he needs for the night. He is well healed so that he does not need a nursemaid sitting by his bed through the night."

Caer smiled and nodded, as Loic voiced his agreement. "Enya is right. I am capable of seeing myself to bed and even putting a pot of water on to boil." He smiled. "You should have some time for yourself, both of you. You have been at my side both day and night giving me healing. You have done your work. Now rest. Both of you." With that, he looked at Enya, who nodded back at him.

Part 7

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