Rock of Ages Past--

Part 8

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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Caer blinked her eyes as she stepped out into the bright May sunlight. No trace of the early morning storm remained in the sky, but the small puddles in various places outside her hut told another story.

She had taken her time leaving her hut this morning, intending to give Loic some privacy, now that he was up and about. She had taken the opportunity to make some needed biscuits and started a pot of stew for later. She didn't think that Enya would be at the healing hut this early, knowing that Loic was capable of caring for himself now, so she carried a basket of the fresh baked biscuits. To the basket, she had added a jar of blackberry preserve and a small square of butter she had retrieved earlier from her small cold storage mound in back.

As Caer approached the small hut closest to her own, she saw Loic sitting outside on a stool with a steaming mug in his hand. She glanced at the doorway and before she could say anything, Loic smiled at her, "No, Enya's not here yet. I foraged around and found some chicory root that you left a few days ago and I do know how to boil water."

Caer nodded at him as a grin spread across her angelic face. "I'm sure you can do more than boil water, but you'll not find much to work with in there," she nodded toward the hut.

Loic stood up, walked the few steps it took to reach her, and took the basket from her hand. "You are very right, my lady, and I have had to sit here and be content with the aroma coming from your hut until I thought my stomach would turn inside out." He smiled as he rubbed his midsection with his free hand.

Loic picked up his mug from the stool and with his elbow pushed aside the heavy hide, holding it as Caer scooted past him into the dimness of the hut. He placed the basket on the table and started unpacking it as Caer went to get them plates. Caer had noticed the ground chicory root in the small wooden bowl on the table on her way to get the plates. She grabbed a mug and a small piece of clean linen from the small pantry and placed the items on the table. Loic quickly had a small heap of chicory wrapped up and in Caer's mug as well as his own, by the time Caer returned with the pot of hot water.

The meal passed in relative silence, except for the occasional small talk and Caer asking after Loic's health, which he informed her, was better yet today. After the dishes were cleaned up and the remaining food taken care of, Caer asked Loic if he felt well enough for a walk to the circle. Loic nodded. "It will be good to stretch my legs before tomorrow's walk."

They passed through the copse of trees that separated the circle from the living area and as they emerged from the soft green light of the forest into the open, rolling meadow-like area, Caer nodded to the left. A long, low rectangular shaped earthen building stood with its back against the trees. Smoke poured from a chimney at either end. "That is our house of learning. Gregor tutors the young men on the far end, there," she pointed, "and Tara leads the young women on the other."

They made their way across the open expanse of trodden grass toward the towering stones. Loic noted the hillock behind the circle, and the small tower that peeked out from behind the trees that covered the top of the hill. Loic knew without asking that it was the Druid's Tower. On the eve of a major festival, the chosen Druid, most often the Lore Master, would retire to the tower and enter into a dreamlike state where he was able to commune with the gods. It was here that promises of sacrifice were made and here where the prophecy of things to come were whispered.

As they got nearer the circle, Loic could make out a small opening in the side of the small hill just above ground level and to the left of the path leading up to the tower. This was the Lady's mound. While the Lore Master listened in the tower above, the Lady lay in a similar dream-like state safely enclosed in the womb of the Mother, below. Her inner ears were attuned to the voice of the Goddess.

They avoided entering the circle, but walked around the perimeter of it until they came to the side where the sun hitting one of the stones created a shadow for them to sit in. The warm sun had taken care of any leftover signs of the early morning rain. The grass was warm and dry when they sat down with their backs against the stone.

After several minutes of silence, Loic looked over at Caer. "You are lighter, today. Less burdened in you heart it seems. I was afraid after our talk with Gregor and Tara last evening, that you would be fearful. I am glad to see you not so." He smiled as he turned his head to gaze back over the rolling expanse of green before him.

Caer glanced over at him, marveling for a moment at his insights, before she turned her head to follow his gaze and after a slight pause, answered him. "I did become somewhat fearful with all the talk of fighting and bloodshed," she began, "but sometimes fear has a way of forcing the mind the get organized."

Loic shifted his gaze from the green meadow to the green eyes that glowed from within the radiant face beside him. "Does this have to do with Finian?"

Caer took a deep breath. Loic knew a little about Finian. He had overheard her singing to her. She wondered for a moment if she should share what she had learned with him. A sudden wind through the stones seemed to whisper her answer. She knew in her soul that she could trust Loic and she might need his help when Finian actually arrived.

The sound of young voices carried on the wind across the meadow and reached the ears of the two people, heads bent in deep conversation, unintentionally concealed on the north side of the circle. Caer stopped talking and looked up at the western sky. The sun had dropped noticeably and she was mildly surprised that several hours had passed. The voices they heard were the young people being released from their lessons.

Caer's mind drifted back to her days in training. She wondered about the young women that were in training here, now. Were any of them as lonely as she had been? She was grateful for the talents that had allowed her to be accepted into the Druidic order. If it were not for her talents and her precociousness, she would have been married off and forced bear children.

At the age of four, her mother had convinced her father to foster her out. Her mother had a cousin who lived among the druids, who had never married and had no children. Caer's father contacted the woman and it was arranged. Caer would go to be taught and raised in the old ways. Caer had been surprised and enthralled when she arrived in Sloane, the small village where Enya lived and she was to be raised, to find that her mother had sent the harp that she had so admired and been drawn to that day in the luthier's shop.

Caer had known since she was a very young child that she was different. She had a perfect memory and often knew things that a child her age had no way of knowing. She had been a very busy child, always curious, always wanting to learn. Her mother had no patience for her constant chattering and questions. She had hired a nanny to look after Caer as soon as she was born and had been emotionally distant through all of her childhood. She had always felt that her mother had had her only as a showpiece, to prove that she was a capable woman and to please her father. Her father had been a busy man and liked the drink. Most of the time, Caer didn't think that the man even remembered that he had a daughter.
She often thought, that had she not been such a precocious child, maybe her mother would have cared for her more. Not to say she hadn't been happy. She had been a very happy child, quick witted and witty and very talkative. She thrived on being raised in a loving, supportive, nurturing environment among those whose truths were her own. She never lacked for friends or companions, but a part of her had always been lonely. 'Always,' she thought suddenly, 'until Finian.' It was then that she knew that the well of loneliness in her soul would soon be filled with the waters of contentment.

". . .over for the day." Caer managed to pull herself back in time to catch the last few words. She glanced back up at the sky. "We have managed to talk away the day. At least I have managed to talk away the day." She grinned as she hoisted herself to her feet and extended an arm to the young man.

Loic blushed slightly as he reached for Caer's outstretched hand. "I guess I have a wee bit more healing to do before I can run any games."

When they were eye to eye, Loic placed his hand on Caer's shoulder. "Caer, you are being offered a gift that not many are ever offered. The Goddess is offering you the gift of your anamchara. In time, you may uncover how and why you were separated. For now, it is enough to know that she is coming to you. Listen to your heart and listen to your memories. They are the words of the Goddess and they will lead you to the place to welcome Finian."

Caer nodded her head in agreement as the two started back toward the cluster of huts on the other side of the copse. Her talk with Loic had helped her to understand more of what had been shown to her and had given her some understanding of what was to come. Her only fear was that Finian did not understand what was happening and how to find her. Somehow in her gut, she knew that Finian was struggling to figure it all out. She just prayed to the Goddess that she would figure it out in time.

Caer was still thinking about Finian, when she realized they had reached the small clearing. Loic had seen where Caer's mind was on their walk back, and had left her to her dwellings. As they approached the healing hut, Enya's large frame filled the small doorway. Caer heard her stomach grumble as the aroma coming out of the doorway behind Enya, reached her nose. Enya immediately noticed Caer's interest in the smells coming from the small hut. "Mutton stew," she smiled at the two young people standing before her. "I saw you when you left this morning headed for the heath. A beautiful spring morn like today, I knew you wouldn't be back till late." She stepped aside as she motioned Loic and Caer inside.

As the three of them sat around the small table, eating the delicious stew that Enya had prepared, she looked up at Loic. "You will be leaving us tomorrow, Loic. May the Goddess bless your journey to your home and keep you. I feel that we will meet again so we shall not say goodbye. We shall say merry part and merry meet again." Enya reached her hand across the table and laid it on Loic's wrist. Her eyes sent him a message that her words had failed to convey. Loic glanced at Caer, then back at Enya. "When the time comes for us to move on, we will be together. This I know. If it is to America that we must go, then we shall. If it is deeper into the forests of our own lands, then we shall go. If it is underground that we are driven to, then we shall go there and germinate. We will learn and we will teach and we will grow."

Caer had been extremely quiet throughout their meal. She was thinking about the gathering that Gregor wanted to have. She wondered for a moment if she should tell Enya about all that had been discussed. She almost felt like a traitor for keeping the information to herself, but she knew that if the information got out too soon, it could create panic among the people. She looked at Enya. The older woman caught her eye and smiled widely. "Don't trouble yourself, child. We all must move on. Whether it be by our own choice or someone else's choice. It doesn't mean the end, it means new beginnings." Caer nodded her head. She didn't have to tell Enya anything. The woman already knew.

Caer arose from her stool and began to clear the table. She was placing the soiled dishes in a basket to carry outside to the small cistern when she heard voices.

Gorlas' tall frame suddenly filled the open doorway. She could see the shorter, Aden, standing behind him. "We just wanted to come by and let Loic know that we are prepared to leave at dawn."

"Come in," Caer smiled as she set the basket of soiled dishes on the floor beside the doorway. "Loic will be back in a moment. He went to see a man about a cow," she winked at the two men as they ducked through the door. "Sit yourselves down," she nodded her head at the stools around the table.

Enya placed two steaming mugs on the table in front of the men. "Join us for some tea, then, while you wait." Caer went outside and retrieved the two stools from outside the hut while Enya prepared more of the mint tea. Soon, Loic returned and the two women left the men to discuss their coming journey.

As the two women stood at the small cistern outside the hut washing the supper dishes, Enya glanced over at the small, well-built woman standing beside her. She marveled at the woman that the child had become and smiled to herself in satisfaction at having had a hand in crafting the strong, resourceful, independent, and compassionate young woman standing beside her.

Enya had been thinking about the dream that Caer had shared with her a few days earlier. She could not shake the feeling that there was more to the dream than Caer had revealed. She remembered how the young Caer's sea-green eyes had become hooded whenever she had tried to avoid something. She had seen that hooded look when Caer was telling her about her dream of America.

"Caer?" The smaller blond woman tipped her face up toward Enya, her eyebrows raised in question. "Did ye and Loic talk about leaving the homeland and going to America?" She hesitated. "Together?"

Enya had never been sure of Caer's love interests. In fact, when she thought about it, there really hadn't been any that she could recall. Whenever she had tried to approach the subject with young Caer, she had been quickly turned away by the young woman's' implied devotion to her studies. She simply stated to anyone who asked, including Enya, that she was much too intent on her studies to have any time or energy to pursue a swain. Enya entertained briefly, the thought that Caer might prefer the companionship of other women; but she had never had any indication of such, and quickly released it.

Caer's expression quickly turned from questioning to puzzlement as her upraised brows became inverted to form a 'v' between her eyes. Enya watched as the hoods began to form over the darkening, almost emerald orbs.

"Whatever led you to think that, Enya?" Caer tried to force a smile, which made her face look wary.

"Loic and I talked about America and how many of the Druids are trying to make passage and how many more are considering it. Then the dream that you had the other night about being onboard a great vessel going to America. You and Loic seem to get along very well. There is an ease between you. It is not unusual for two people to fall in love and decide to move away and begin a new life. Especially in these times of unrest. When ye were telling me about the dream, I had the feeling that something was missing. That you were leaving something out. And the timing being such as it was, following my talk with LoicÉÉ" Enya stopped and looked into Caer's eyes. "Ye are like a daughter to me, Caer. I have not only raised ye, I have loved ye." The older woman's large brown eyes began to water. "If ye were to leave without telling me, my soul would not rest until I knew ye were safe."

Caer's eyes suddenly softened. She reached out and brushed a stray tear off Enya's round cheek. "Enya, dear, Enya, I would not do such a thing. Loic and I are not running off to America. We have made no secret plans. We have only talked as you and Loic have."

Caer still did not feel that she was ready to share the most important part of her dream with anyone other than Loic. And Da'an. She knew that she would not get out of telling her best friend about what had been happening to her. But she felt compelled to keep the information close to her. At least until Finian was here. Somehow, although Enya and the others had been raised in the old ways, so much had been lost. She wondered if all of them would understand and accept such a happening as Caer felt she was soon to be a part of, with the acceptance of her ancestors. Somehow, she felt that most of her people did not really believe in all of the stories of old, about such things as moving between the worlds and the world of faeries and such. As much as she loved and trusted Enya, she did not know how to tell Enya about Finian in a way that she thought Enya would understand and believe. Enya was a healer and a midwife. She did not have the bardic gift and therefore did not have the memories of the clan committed to her.

Caer did not want to lie to Enya, but felt that this gift from the Goddess that she was about to receive was best left unspoken, here, now. "There was someone on the ship in my dream that I do not know." Caer felt somewhat comfortable in relating this to Enya. In reality, in this time and place, she did not know Finian, and therefore felt that she was not really telling an untruth. "I felt this person was guiding me or accompanying me to America. That is the part that I left out of the dream when I was telling you about it. I guess it just seemed insignificant at the time, as I do not know the person." She smiled at the older woman who still looked at her with skepticism in her brown eyes.

"So, you can rest in knowing that Loic and I are not running off together. I do enjoy the young man's company and his conversation. There is an ease between us that perhaps speaks of a life past." Caer knew that this was safe ground. Her people had not let go of their belief in immortality and of the soul's continued rebirth in a new body in order to achieve its next level of knowledge and understanding. "Perhaps, if indeed it was a prophetic dream, then Loic may accompany me and many others on a journey to America."

Caer was telling Enya about their encounter with Tara and Gregor on the previous day and how she had told them of her dream when they heard the men's voices nearing the doorway of the hut. The three men emerged from the doorway, into the advancing twilight. They bid their farewells and Enya hugged Loic and winked at Caer. 'So, maybe they won't run off together, but perhaps the child likes the young man a bit more than she is letting on,' Enya thought as she turned toward the small copse of trees where she could just barely make out her own hut in the falling darkness.

She would be pleased if the two young people became more than friends. She would rest well knowing that Caer had a companion who she felt comfortable with and who Enya felt was capable and willing to be Caer's equal and not someone who would try to control her. Though her people still followed the old ways, there were those among them who had picked up patriarchal ideas. Ideas that the god was more powerful than the Goddess. Enya shook her head as she walked along. She wondered where men first acquired the idea that one could be more powerful than the other. Somewhere the balance had been lost.

Loic helped Caer gather up the clean dishes and they carried them inside. Caer filled a pot with fresh water as Loic built up the dwindling fire. "Caer, would you do me the honor of singing for me before I leave? I have not a preference in the world what ye sing, just as long as you sing." The young, dark-haired man smiled at her as she carried the pot of water to the fire." Caer stopped where she was for a moment, put her free hand under her chin, tilted her head as she raised her eyebrows toward the ceiling and appeared to be thinking. "For a hot mug of chicory, I'd be bound to honor your request," she grinned at Loic. She placed the water over the fire and slipped out of the door to get her harp.

When Caer returned to the hut, the chicory was steaming in the mugs and the rich, bitter aroma filled the small hut. A stool had been placed in front of the fire and Loic sat on his pallet facing it. Caer sat down and unwrapped the small, enchanting instrument, caressing its lustrous surface as she gently drew her fingers over the cool strings to relax them with the aid of the warmth from the fire. When she had finished checking its tuning, she placed the harp gently on the floor off to her right side and picked up the mug of steaming chicory.

She glanced over at the Loic, who was now lying on his side with his head resting on his left hand, supported by his elbow on the thin mattress. His mug steamed in his right hand. "Any calls?" she grinned at him. He shook his head. "Whatever your heart and soul compel you to share with me, I will be grateful for."

Caer took a sip of her drink and picked up her harp. She got lost in the lyrics and music of times past, singing of mysteries which had faded into the past, only to be remembered by a chosen few. As she let herself float on the music, she wondered that the Goddess would bestow such a great gift on her. The gift of remembering. For had she not had the ability to remember, she would not have the ability to know. And being with Finian would not be a possibility.

She thought back for a moment about the brothers at the monastery that was now forbidden to them and to Brother Richard. When she was a young girl, she had had many conversations with Brother Richard, sitting outside the stone walls that surrounded the imposing stone building that housed the monks and the cluster of smaller, wooden buildings clustered around it. Brother Richard had called it faith. Connecting with that small voice within and listening. There was such a comforting quality about it. She knew that if she walked in perfect love and perfect trust that she would reach her dream.

Caer let the last strains of the music fade away from her fingertips as her voice disappeared into the silence of the small hut. She placed the harp on the floor beside her and looked over to where Loic was now lying with his head resting on the pallet, breathing deeply and peacefully. She wrapped her harp, took the two mugs to the kitchen area, and rinsed them in the large bowl of water sitting on the sideboard. She returned to the fire and quietly placed a few more logs on, banking them to ensure a slow burn. She covered the sleeping man with the blankets that were folded at the end of the pallet and left the small hut.

Continued in Part 9

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