Disclaimers: I only wanted to say what a wonderful and fabulous person that Steph is from the Academy of Bards. She is fantas.....Give me this keyboard back. Tsk. Sorry folks, Steph got ahold of this and was typing in my disclaimer space. I guess I won't have anything here now. Thanks to my beta readers. This story is not for those who are easily queasy.


Part 1


Charlotte Tudor, known to her friends and family as Charlie, read over the text she had written during the past hour. Her brow furrowed, and she pushed the laptop away and onto a low coffee table. She leaned back into the soft sofa she was sitting on, and raised her arms above her head, arching her back, and grimacing as she heard her vertebrae pop.

"Damn," she whispered to herself, and ran both hands through short, dishevelled blonde hair.

She’d been writing for hours, but now let her arms fall loosely at her sides. She looked to her left, to the window.

Outside it was dark, as it should be on a cold October evening. Rain pelted the window pane, and the wind blew against the roof, producing a high keening sound as it found its way between aging roof tiles.

Her cell phone ringing made her jump, and she stared at it for long moments before answering it. It flashed as it rang, sitting on the table beside the laptop.

She leaned forward and picked it up, frowning at the caller ID before flipping it open.

"Charlie!" the voice screamed. "Where the hell are you?"

"Hi, Jeff," she said, holding the small device away from her ear.

"Are you finished?" she asked when the screeching ceased.

"Just tell me where you are," he said, sounding out of breath. "You can’t just disappear without telling anyone where you’re going."

"I did," she said quite reasonably. "I needed to breathe, Jeff, and you weren’t letting me." She listened to the sound of her editor calming his breathing. "I had to get away, or I would have gone crazy."

"Charlie, please."

"No, Jeff. I’m safe, and I’m writing. Something I wasn’t doing in London. Just let me have a few weeks and I’ll have something for you, and for the publishers."

"Where are you?" he tried one more time.

"Somewhere quiet, peaceful." Charlie smiled and closed her eyes. "I’ll let you know in a couple of weeks." She snapped the phone closed before any more could be said, and quickly turned it off, slipping it into her pocket.

Charlie eased her feet off the floor and onto the sofa, lying back against the plump cushion in one corner.

Closing her eyes, she revelled in silence.

She’d never experienced complete silence before, but here, in a cottage on the edge of Bodmin Moor in Cornwall, there was nothing to ruin the peace.

Except for the wind, and the rain, but that was a different kind of sound, different from the traffic and general hum of noise that was always evident in London.

She remembered going into the small village store earlier in the day, and chatting with the rather jolly woman who had served her. In only a short time the woman had extracted more information from her than she’d given her agent in the three years that she’d known him. The woman, a Mrs. Babb, reached across the counter and patted her hand when Charlie told her a couple of the details of her split with her partner of five years. And a half an hour later Charlie left the store, shaking her head in wonderment at the way the woman had gently grilled her for information.

Charlie eased herself up and padded across the thick pile carpet towards the door to the kitchen, which led off from the lounge. Writing tended to make her hungry, and she decided upon a ham sandwich.

She’d managed to find the cottage after a brief search on the internet. Normally only open for holiday-makers in the summer months, the cottage was rented to her after long conversations on the phone with the owners.

She needed some solitude after the painful break up with Jan, and a nasty case of writer’s block. But she knew that her agent wouldn’t leave her be, so she’d stolen away one night, packing a token amount of clothing and her laptop. Since she’d arrived in Cornwall, she’d shopped for the things she’d left behind, and had made herself very much at home in the cosy little cottage.

The kitchen was an addition to the small building. Obviously built for a farm worker and his family, the property consisted only of two main rooms. One would have been for living in and one for sleeping. The addition of kitchen and bathroom brought the dwelling up to modern standards. She thought the small cottage to be at least three hundred years old, and determined to check on village records at some time in the future. The quaint surroundings had also had a positive effect on her writing, and she found herself writing for hours on end, having to force herself to stop and go to bed in the early hours.

She was just opening the fridge door when the lights went out. She stood, frozen for a moment.

"Oh, shit," she whispered, quietly shutting the door to the now-silent fridge.

It was absolutely pitch black, and, if possible, even more quiet. Only the sound of the gas central heating boiler in the kitchen broke the silence.

Charlie fumbled her way back to the lounge, feeling ahead of herself with her hands. She sat on the sofa and waited, listening to the rising wind, and the increasingly heavy rain hitting the windowpanes.

"Well, this is fun," she said quietly, pulling her knees up and circling her legs with her arms.

The hair on the back of her neck bristled when she heard muffled voices outside. She had no idea who could possibly be out in this weather and at such a remote site. A light shone through the curtains and she watched as the golden glow moved from one side of the window to the other.

Charlie set her feet on the floor once again, and stood. She watched the light moving beyond the curtains, and then jumped when she heard a loud thump from the kitchen.

She looked to her left, towards the door that led to the small room, and saw that the kitchen was also filled with the eerie glow.

Taking a tentative step towards the kitchen, Charlie peered into the darkness. Another thump brought her up short. The sound of splintering wood, startled her, and she stepped back, tangling her feet in the short legs of the low coffee table. She put a hand out to break her fall, and felt a sharp pain in her left wrist when it made contact with the floor.

But the pain was forgotten as three large figures rushed into the lounge. The wind whistled through the small cottage, and her vision was filled by wildly fluttering torches, held high by the men that stood before her.

Then hands were grabbing at her, hauling her to her feet. She reached out, her hands coming into contact with heavy damp material. "What do you want?" she screamed, her voice sounding desperate to her own ears.

"That God’s justice be served," a low, hoarse voice replied.

Then she was turned and pushed face down across the sofa. Her hands were pulled together and her wrists bound with rough rope.

"Please!" she screamed, as the rope was pulled tighter, the pain sharp, sending spikes of pain lancing up her arm.

"Hold your tongue, girl," the voice said, and she was hauled to her feet again.

Her vision was filled by the broad back of the man ahead of her as she was pulled along by the two other men. Both held an arm, their grip tight on her upper arms. They pulled her through the kitchen and towards the door and the storm that raged beyond.

She looked down at her sock-covered feet, and then realised she only wore a white tee shirt and black sweat pants. She gasped when the freezing rain hit her bare arms, and immediately soaked through the tee shirt.

The man ahead of her turned and held the torch above his head, the flames fighting to remain alight against the wind and rain.

"Your judgement awaits, witch," he said, and stood aside so that she could see the gathered mob.

She blinked through the water that coursed down her face. The people before her were dressed unlike any others she had seen. The men wore heavy coats, and high boots. The women small, linen head coverings and long dresses. Shawls covered their shoulders. Many held torches illuminating the immediate area. She looked back over her shoulder towards the cottage that she’d just been dragged from. The newly installed windows had gone. In their place small frames, with heavy, thick glass. The roof tiles were no more, replaced by old rotting thatch.

She looked up at one of the men who held her. "I don’t understand," she said, her voice all but lost in the wind.

"You will," he said, and hauled her towards the cart that waited beyond the mob.

Charlie was thrown into the back of the cart, and then it lurched forward, making her attempts to find a more comfortable position just about impossible.

Another man jumped into the back of the cart with her. He pulled her up roughly by her hair so that she was kneeling, and then placed a heavy noose around her neck.

The rain slanted down into her face, but she still looked up at the man that stood over her.

"You will answer your accuser," he said, and jumped from the wagon, leaving her alone, shivering in the wind and rain.

Charlie closed her eyes and slumped down again. She tried to gather her scrambled thoughts. Only moments ago she was sitting in a cosy lounge, enjoying the first little piece of sanity in her life for months. No years.

Now she was here, in some sort of nightmare. A nightmare with no reason. People dressed unlike any she’d seen outside of a film were dragging her through a wild and stormy night towards…She didn’t know.

The sky was lit again, a jagged arc of lightning cracking across the horizon. She turned her face to the filthy straw that lined the wagon, and closed her eyes, hoping upon hope that she would awaken soon.

Then she felt rough hands on her again, pulling her by her feet to the edge of the wagon. Once her feet hit the ground one of the men grabbed the end of the thick rope that encircled her neck and dragged her along. The rain hit her face and she squinted through the deluge, trying to see where they were taking her.

She was thrown roughly into a small dark place. She had no idea what it was. The floor was covered with straw, but she felt cold mud ooze through it. Her shoulder and the side of her head hit the back wall of her small prison, and she slid to the cold damp floor.

Charlie eased herself to a sitting position, feeling the wet straw beneath her and the rope biting cruelly into her wrists. Whatever she was in didn’t keep the rain out. It ran down the wall that she was leaning on and dripped through the low roof. In fact, the roof was so low, that she thought she probably wouldn’t be able to stand upright.

She listened to the rain dripping onto the ground between her feet, which were bare now, her socks somewhere back between her prison and the cottage. She seemed to be in some kind of lean to. A small wooden hut tagged onto the wall of a larger stone building.

She felt the cold now. Her tee-shirt clinging damply to her flesh. Water ran off her hair and down her back. Charlie started to shiver, and flexed her hands, which were becoming numb from the tightness of the rope that bound them.

She bowed her head. "Help me," she whispered, her voice breaking. "Someone, please."

The door to her prison suddenly flew open, and a man bent into the low space, catching hold of her ankles and hauling her out into the storm. She was pulled to her feet and then turned towards another man.

The new comer was huge, and he took her face in his hand, turning it towards the light from the torches that his companions held. "She pleases me," was all he said, before pushing her back towards her small prison.

As she hit the floor once more, she heard the sound of horse’s hooves. The man riding away presumably. This time she didn’t bother to pull herself up, merely curling up us small as she could.

She tried to sleep, praying that she would awaken from this nightmare soon.

Charlie was, in fact, jarred awake very quickly after drifting into a restless slumber. A hand was on her ankle again, dragging her out into the wind and rain on her stomach. The ropes on her wrist released, and her arms flopped uselessly to her sides. She was turned onto her back, and she stared up into the darkness, her sight bleary due to the rain slanting into her face.

A figure loomed above her. She couldn’t see the face, for the person was looking away from her, towards the house. Then it was turning back to her and bending. A hand reached out for her, but this time she was not grabbed and hauled painfully to her feet. Instead the damp, heavy noose that had been put about her neck was gently removed.

"Come," said the voice, so softly, Charlie was surprised she could hear it above the storm. "Come with me. I’ll take you away from this place." It was the voice of a woman, she decided, with a musical lilt evident even in the few words that had been uttered. "Trust me."

Charlie looked at the hand inches from her face, then up beyond the hand to the face of her saviour. For that’s what this person was, Charlie decided. A flash of lightning briefly illuminated the face above her, but she was pinned by the blue eyes that regarded her, but the rest of the face remained a mystery as it was once again cast in darkness. She reached for the hand, but her own were still numb and she couldn’t grip.

So the large hand of her saviour shifted to her wrist. The storm was forgotten with the feeling of warmth that seeped through the skin of Charlie’s wrist. She was hauled to her feet, and she staggered forward into the body of the tall woman.

Then she was being dragged through the darkness and lifted bodily onto the back of a tall horse. She reached for the soggy mane of the huge beast, but couldn’t get her frozen fingers to obey her commands to grip. Then a solid body was settling in behind her. An arm encircled her waist and the horse was turning. She heard the earth churning beneath its hooves, and then the sound of shouting behind her. But it all blurred together, and her body surrendered itself to its exhaustion. She slumped forward, the only thing keeping her from plunging to the ground beneath the horse’s hooves was the strong grip of the woman who held her life in her hands.

Part 2

Brodie O’Shea pulled the limp body back against her chest, and urged her stallion to greater speed. She knew she needed to put as much ground between her and the young woman’s captors as she could before sunrise. She also knew that she needed to get the girl into the warm. She’d seen people die of cold many times before, and the brief sight she’d had of the pale face as she reached down for the girl, told her that the small blonde was in danger of succumbing to the cold autumn night.

Charlie’s body had given in to the punishment it had received very quickly after they’d set off from the small village on the edge of the moor, and Brodie had to hold her tight with one arm while directing the horse with the other.

Brodie had woken some hours before, the familiar feeling of a need to be somewhere overwhelming her. As usual she’d saddled Kane, and followed where her instincts took her. She’d arrived on the edge of the small village and had just managed to duck behind the tree line as a horse thundered into view. Then torches were lit and she squinted through the driving rain to see a slight figure dragged from some kind of small lean-to and presented to a now-standing rider.

She had waited, watching as the men threw their captive back into the lean-to, and then returned to the house. She heard their laughter from within the wall, and smiled at their stupidity.

The rest happened in a blur. She remembered reaching into the small prison and feeling for the girl, then pulling her out. As the lightning illuminated the face below she was momentarily frozen. Then she was pulling the stumbling girl towards Kane and their escape.

She never questioned these nights, when she found herself riding through the darkness to the rescue of some stranger. She had a gift, she knew. She asked and received nothing in exchange for the lives of these people. It was her gift, and she didn’t question it.

Of late, these nights became more frequent, especially in this part of the country. She’d arrived in the south over three years before, and in that time had liberated many. Having arrived on Britain’s shores from her homeland of Eire some six years previously as a young woman of twenty-two years, she’d first made her way north, to the Highlands of Scotland. Over the years she’d drifted, arriving in Cornwall and finding a small one-room cottage, which she re-thatched herself. It was secluded, hidden from the small road near by dense woodland.

She’d never brought one of her liberated souls back to her home. She’d always found a safe haven for them with sympathetic folk who would take them in. But this woman was different. Brodie’d had a vision once of a strange woman, who would change her life forever. The woman in her arms was unlike any other she’d ever seen and she knew her vision might well be coming true.

She slid down off the tall stallion’s back, and then let the limp form slide into her arms.

"Sorry, lad," she said to her horse. "I’ll be back."

She carried the woman into the cottage, and laid her on her bed. Then she rushed back out into the storm and led Kane to the small stable she’d constructed. Once she had the horse settled with enough food and as dry as she could manage, she rushed back into the cottage.

Brodie threw a few logs onto the fire, and lit a number of candles around the room. Then she turned back to her charge. The woman was lying on top of the rough blanket that covered her bed, shivering slightly, blonde hair plastered to her forehead and cheeks. The Irishwoman’s hands trembled as she reached for the senseless woman, pushing damp hair away from closed eyes. She pulled the blonde to a sitting position, and when the damp head rested against her shoulder, she closed her eyes, pulling the pliant body against her own. A feeling of calm settled in the pit of her stomach, a feeling of belonging, and she cupped the woman’s head in her large hand, rubbing her cheek against that of the woman in her arms. But the chill in the soft skin reminded her of her duty. Taking a moment to study the pale face, she started to peel the wet clothing away from cold skin.


It was the chattering of her own teeth that awoke Charlie Tudor. There was a hammering in her head, the pain threatening to split her skull in two. Then she felt a cool cloth against her cheek, and a warm hand cupping her chin.

She tried to sit up, but the hand left her chin and pressed against her shoulder easing her back onto the bed.

A dark shape hovered over her. There was a pale light, but really not good enough to see any detail.

"Where am I?" she asked through chattering teeth.

"You’re safe," said that same smooth, lilting voice.

"Who.. who are you?"

"My name is Brodie O’Shea This is my home." The woman put an arm behind Charlie’s shoulders and lifted her to a sitting position.

It was then that the blonde realised she was naked beneath the rough blanket, and clumsily tried to keep the covering from slipping. "Drink," Brodie coaxed, and lifted a cup of steaming liquid to her lips. "It’ll chase off the fever, and help you sleep," she said, smiling as the smaller woman drank tentatively. "It tastes like the devil’s own brew." She lay Charlie back down and tucked the blanket around her. "We need to get you away from here."

"Sleep now," Brodie said, and looked down when she felt a touch on her knee. The blonde’s hand had slipped from the confines of the blanket, her fingertips resting against the dull leather of the tall woman’s trousers. Brodie took the hand, meaning to tuck it back under the covers. But she found her fingers tangled with smaller ones.

Charlie gave up trying to resist the exhaustion that pulled her body towards sleep. There were questions she needed to ask, and a beautiful, mysterious woman she wanted to know more about. She slipped towards sleep accompanied by a pair of gentle blue eyes, and the feel of a large warm hand curled around her own.

Brodie released a breath once Charlie’s face relaxed in sleep. She eased her hand from the sleeping woman’s grip and tucked the smaller hand under the blanket. Shifting her chair beside the fire, she bent and picked up the strange clothing the woman had worn from where she’d thrown it. She felt the material, wondering at the way the band at the waist snapped back once stretched. The white top the woman had worn was the finest material she’d ever touched, and she decided that she must be a woman of money to own such fine things. Something slipped out of the pocket of the strange garment and Brodie retrieved it from the edge of the hearth, turning it over in her hand before placing it in the breast pocket of her waistcoat.

She turned once again to regard the still figure in her bed. It was the face in her visions. She knew as soon as she’d seen the woman’s face, in that second as the lightning lit the sky. She’d always wondered how the woman with green eyes would come to her. She hadn’t imagined it would be as a victim of the witch-finders.

"Ca as duit?" she said quietly, where are you from?

For the past few months many women had been taken from their homes and tried as witches. It had been over a century since the witch trials that blighted the country, and the same fear and cruelty was in danger of encompassing the small part of Cornwall that she had chosen to call home.

One man was to blame; he went by the name of Martin Birch.

She couldn’t fathom what his motives were. He accused, and then sent his small pack of willing followers to find the women and bring them to his mercy. The women were tested, and searched for the witches mark. Whether or not one was found seemed to make no difference. None of the villages felt inclined to challenge him, and that was mostly due to the fact that many were employed on his estate, either on his farmland or in his tin mines.

The blonde shifted on the bed, and glazed green eyes fluttered open. Utter confusion was evident on the pale face, and her eyes tracked across the room until they settled on the quiet figure sitting beside the fire.

"I’m cold," Charlie whispered.

"Aye, ‘tis almost winter. I’ll make more tea." She leaned across and swung the kettle over the flames. Then she shifted her chair closer to the bed.

Charlie looked at her intently, her eyes taking in every contour of the dark-haired woman’s face. "I know you."

Brodie nodded tightly. "Aye, you’re no stranger to me. But I think our meeting was not in this lifetime."

The brunette’s matter of fact speech would have knocked Charlie back a step had she been standing.

Charlie shifted onto her side, and rested her head on her arm so that she was facing Brodie. "Can you tell me what’s happened to me?"

"Birch wants you. He wants to examine you for the witches mark."

"Something else happened." She looked around the room. "Everything is different. I’ve never seen a place like this before."

"You were brought here from another place?" The blue eyes narrowed. "Maybe witchcraft is involved."

Charlie closed her eyes. "Not another place, Brodie." She almost laughed at what she was about to say. "Another time."

Brodie stared at her steadily for long moments. "Then we need to get you back to your time."

"Does nothing surprise you?" Charlie asked, her eyelids becoming heavy once more.

"I have seen many things." Brodie leaned forward resting her elbows on her knees. "Tell me your name."

Charlie wondered at this woman’s complete trust in what she’d told her. Why was she not running for the hills from her? "Charlie, um, Charlotte Tudor," the blonde said absently.

"I knew you’d travelled far," said Brodie and pulled something from her pocket, holding it up to the candlelight for Charlie to see.

"My cell phone."

"Is this a sorcerer’s tool?" she asked, turning the small object over in her hands. "I’ll not abide sorcery here."

"No," Charlie’s head began to throb. "It’s very common where I come from. People can talk to each other from great distances." She watched the dark-haired woman turn the small device over and over in her hands. "Brodie, I’ve come back in time. Can you believe that?"

"Are you a witch?" asked Brodie, still looking down at the phone.

"No, I’m not."

"That’s good then." Brodie said simply and looked up at her. "For many years I have dreamt of a woman, with hair the colour of the sun, and eyes the colour of the Irish hills. But though I wouldn’t know her, she would be no stranger to me. I dreamed she would be… a ghrá mo chroí."

Brodie’s soft lilting speech was making Charlie drowsy again. "I don’t understand," the blonde said.

"The love of my heart," Brodie translated. "In my dream, she had travelled from a far off land. But when I found her I knew I would know her." She leaned forward and took Charlie’s hand in her own. "Am I a stranger to you, Charlotte Tudor?"

"I think not, Brodie." Charlie heard her own words, but they made no sense. She’d never had the kind of dreams or visions that Brodie spoke of, but the woman before her was so familiar. And her stomach clenched when the blue eyes softened and the handsome face before her became beautiful as she Irish woman smiled down at her. She knew she’d seen that smile before, and she felt like she was in the presence of an old friend.

Brodie leaned forward and brushed her lips against those of the reclining woman.

Charlie reviewed her thoughts. Not an old friend. She felt more than friendship for this woman.

Brodie pulled back. "You feel it too?"

Charlie searched the dark-haired woman’s face intently. "I do." She wanted so much to act upon the emotions she felt, but the demands of the last few hours were pulling her into a place away from the pain and the terror. "I need to sleep," she said, holding on to Brodie’s hand as the tall woman started to pull away. "No, please," she said, blinking against her tiredness. "Join me."

Brodie regarded her for a long moment, then stood slowly. She divested herself of her clothes so slowly that Charlie suddenly began to feel lightheaded. She’d been holding her breath as more and more of the woman was revealed to her. And then Brodie was standing there, naked, the light from the fire and candles reflecting of a body as perfect as any the blonde had seen.

Charlie pulled the covers aside, and Brodie slid in. The Irish woman pulled the woman against her, smiling when Charlie relaxed into her warmth and almost immediately fell asleep.

"Sleep well, Charlotte Tudor, for tomorrow we have to race the devil himself."


Charlie woke and snuggled down into the rough blanket... Rough blanket?

She managed to pry her eyes open and take in the strange room she was waking in.

"Oh my God, it wasn’t a dream," she whispered, and scanned the room for her tall rescuer. She was alone.

She rose to a sitting position, the muscles in her back screaming in protest, then looked down at her wrists and found them raw and bruised. A pain on her face had her cautiously exploring the skin near her eye with trembling fingers. She found a scrape and swelling.

Charlie heard a noise outside, and pulling the blanket around her, she eased carefully out of bed and padded across the cold wooden floor to the door. She pushed aside a thin curtain and looked out through thick dirty glass. All she could see was shapes, so she slowly opened the door, letting in a cold blast of autumn air.

Pulling the blanket closer about her, she peered out, taking only a moment to locate her saviour.

Brodie picked up a log and placed it on a tree stump before raising an axe over her head and splitting the wood into two neat halves. She was dressed in the leather trousers that she’d had on the previous evening, along with the knee high boots. However, she was without the dark waistcoat now, wearing only the loose fitting white shirt.

The Irishwoman picked up another log, but dropped it suddenly and turned towards her small dwelling. Instead of cutting more, she gathered up the logs she’d already cut, and made her way towards her home.

Charlie stood aside and allowed Brodie to enter.

"It’s a cold morning," said Brodie, who deposited her load beside the fireplace, throwing some that had already dried into the fire. "Come here and warm yourself."

Charlie shivered slightly as she eased her aching body onto the hard wooden chair that sat beside the fire. She was offered mug of steaming liquid and she wrapped her hands around it, glad of the heat. "Thank you," she said quietly.

"I have some clothes for you." Brodie pulled some garments from a large wooden box. "They’re not as fine as your own, but they are dry." She handed the clothes to the blonde, a large white shirt and a pair of knee length breeches. "Oh, and this is yours," she said, reaching into the fireplace. She had retrieved Charlie’s panties from where she’d hung them on the arm that held the kettle, handing them to her as her cheeks flushed. Brodie took a step back. "I’ll let you clothe yourself," she said before walking out into the cold again.

Charlie watched her go, already missing her presence. She quickly dressed, her feet chilled against the stone floor. The breeches weren’t too big, and she did up the three buttons that closed the front. The shirt, however, was huge and the sleeves had to be turned back a few times so that she could use her hands. She sat again on the chair, and drank the hot tea that Brodie had made for her.

Charlie sank back down onto the chair and buried her face in her hands. She was tired, sore, and hungry. Only the previous evening she had been in her cosy cottage, writing her latest novel, and more at peace with herself than she’d been for years. Now here she was, in a place that scared her but with a woman whose mere presence gave her courage.

The door opened again, and Brodie entered and deposited another armful of wood on the hearth. "We must leave soon," she said.

"Where should we go, Brodie?"

"Back to where you came from, we have to find the door that you came through." Brodie brushed her hands off, and slipped into a long waistcoat, quickly buttoning it right up to her chin.

"Door?" asked Charlie.

"You say you came from a different time, you must have come through a door."

Confusion was evident on Charlie’s still-pale face. Could it really be as simple as that? "I was in a cottage, on the moor."

Brodie lowered herself to sit on the bed. "Then the cottage has a spell on it," she said. "And something drew you through the door."

"What could that have been?" Charlie asked.

Blue eyes found those of the blonde. "I have a notion." She smiled. "It has to be something strong, to reach so far."

Brodie stood. "We must leave." She went to the box again. "I have no more boots." She ripped a garment into shreds and then knelt in front of Charlie, binding the cloth around her feet. She went back to the box and took out a coat. "Here," she held it up and waited while the Charlie stood in front of her and then turned, allowing Brodie to slip the coat onto her. Then she drew a long, leather sheath out of the box.

Charlie watched as Brodie attached the sheath to her right boot, then reached in again and took out a long knife. It wasn’t as long as a sword, but it was much longer than an average knife. When it was settled in the sheath, the pommel rested above Brodie’s knee, within easy reach of her hand.

The coat was too big again, but Charlie pulled it around herself, knowing she would need the covering when they ventured outside.

"Let me saddle Kane, then we leave." Brodie pulled on her own coat, and left quickly.

Charlie pulled the coat closed, trembling fingers struggling with the large buttons.

She looked up as the door opened. Brodie was standing in its frame and she held her hand out. "Come," she said.

Charlie stood and took the larger hand in her own, allowing herself to be led outside. She was lifted onto the back of the tall steed, and then Brodie vaulted up behind her, settling her feet in the stirrups and turning the horse away from the house.

They moved at a good speed for a couple of hours, and the Irishwoman wound an arm around Charlie’s waist to keep her in place. Brodie craned her neck, trying to see her riding companion’s face. "Are you afraid, Charlotte Tudor?" she asked.

"I’m… confused, Brodie." She drew in a breath and placed a hand over the other woman’s, which rested on her stomach. "So much has happened, in so little time."

"Aye, and I mean to get you home." She gave Charlie a squeeze.

Charlie leaned back against the woman. "Tell me why you kissed me, Brodie."

She was quiet for a moment, gathering her thoughts. "Because I have waited all my life for you, Charlotte. And I couldn’t wait a moment longer." She rested her forehead against the back of Charlie’s head. "Forgive me."

Charlie was frustrated, she couldn’t see the woman sitting behind her, and desperately needed to. She squirmed in the front of the saddle, trying to twist her body around. Then she lifted her left leg and half turned in the circle of Brodie’s arms, for the tall woman had found it necessary to loosen the reins and take a tighter grip of her companion.

They were so close to each other now, and Charlie looked up. Brodie’s eyes, however were scanning the nearby woodland, looking for anything out of the ordinary. Weak sunlight shone down, light rain fell, and the wind blew steadily, bringing a scattering of golden and amber leaves from the trees.

"You were waiting for me?" asked Charlie.

At last those blue eyes turned towards her, and the pain in them took Charlie’s breath away.

"I knew I would find you one day," Brodie whispered. "But I didn’t know I would have to send you away so soon." She cupped the chilled cheek in her palm, and pulled Charlie’s face towards her. "Forgive me," she said again, before lowering her lips to the trembling ones of the woman in her arms.

Charlie wrapped her arms around Brodie’s neck and pulled her closer, badly needing, in that moment of confusion and fear to feel the solid reality of someone who appeared to have answers to her predicament.

Suddenly the world was spinning, and Charlie was falling. She felt the arms around her waist tighten as Kane reared. Brodie’s body cushioned her fall, but the arms fell away from her. She was aware of Kane thundering away through the heavy growth, and of gunshot and shouts. Then her arms were held in an iron grip and she was being pulled away from the limp body beneath her.

"Brodie!" she screamed, looking back down at the unconscious woman. She could see bare, bloody stone beneath the dark head, and knew that was the reason for her new friend’s senselessness.

She was spun around, and came face to face with the man that she remembered from the night before. Martin Birch.

He regarded her for a long moment, then drew his arm back and backhanded her, snapping her head sideways. She would have fallen had it not been for the men holding her, and they hauled her up when her legs threatened to buckle.

"You are testing our patience, witch," he said calmly. "But you cannot escape your sentence. Your trial was concluded in your absence and you’ll be taken to the circle to meet your destiny." He turned from her towards the still figure on the ground, and pulled a musket from the waistband of his trousers. "And who is this?" he said as he walked towards the prone figure.

Charlie struggled in the grip of the two large men that held her. "Stay away from her," she screamed.

Martin Birch turned back towards her for a brief moment, then turned away, lifted the musket and fired into Brodie’s body.

Charlie screamed when she saw the woman jerk with the impact of the shot. But then she was being pulled away from her, and laid across the back of a horse. The fight had left her, and she lay quietly as Birch mounted the horse, and set about binding her hands behind her back. She heard the other men mounting their horses, and then the horse was spurred into a gallop.

It was a couple of hours later that the horses were finally drawn to a halt, and Charlie was dragged to the ground. She knew now that all was lost. She accepted that she had been dragged into this time and this place by something so strong that nothing could prevent it.

She looked around. And found herself being hauled over to a large stone in the middle of a stone circle.

The rain was a little heavier now, and the storm clouds gathered. They must have been near the sea, because she could hear it. At the centre circle she was turned and her hands freed. Then the coat was removed, and two ropes were tied to each wrist.

"You have been found guilty of witchcraft, and so will be given to the servants of the Master." Martin Birch smiled down at her, water dripping from his nose and chin.

"Why are you doing this to me?" Charlie asked. "I’m no witch."

He ignored her, but ran a finger across her face from the corner of her eye to her chin then nodded at the man holding Charlie’s arm. "Tie her to the altar," he said.

The men lifted her easily, securing the ropes at her wrists to two stakes driven into the ground at the foot of the large centre stone. One other rope was tied around her ankles and secured to a similar stake at the foot of the stone.

The stone was sloping, so Charlie’s head was higher than her feet, and she looked down her body at the small gathering of half a dozen men. "This is wrong," she said, but even as she uttered the words a feeling of peace came over her. She rested her head back against the cold, wet rock and felt the rain on her face.

"They come!"

Charlie didn’t know who had shouted the words, but she looked down to see the men scrabbling away into the growing darkness. She looked around the circle of stones, none of them higher than a few feet, but could see nothing beyond them.

Then she heard a scraping noise, and craned her neck. She blinked into the rain, trying to comprehend what she was seeing.

There, on one of the larger stones that made up the circle stood what she could only describe as some sort of demon. It crouched and looked around, and she saw it in profile. Its wings flexed, glistening in the heavy rain, from its head stood two short horns. Its hands were large, fingers long and thin, tipped by pointed nails. It looked towards her, and its face twisted in some sort of smile. A low guttural cry came from its throat, and two more of the creatures approached from the darkness.

Charlie watched them as they circled the stone on which she lay. One crawled up onto the centre stone. It crouched above her, one leg either side of her hips. The smell of it wafted towards her, the smell of decay and death.

She pulled at the ropes holding her wrists, immediately realising that there was no escape.

The creature’s yellow eyes regarded her, its head tipped slightly to the side. A long black tongue licked grey lips, and its hand reached out, plucking at Charlie’s shirt, which clung to her body.

A cry was dragged from her throat, and she squirmed beneath the creature.

It smiled.

Charlie felt something at her ankle, and suddenly her feet were free. But one of the creatures was holding her legs. Then she felt cold, hard hands on her head, and it was pulled back so that she was looking at another of the demons. The one straddling her was trailing the tips of sharp nails across her torso, splitting the material there, and drawing blood from shallow cuts across her abdomen.

Charlie bucked beneath it, straining against the ropes, which burnt her wrists. The three creatures seemed to be working to a frenzy now, their hands grabbing at her and pulling the cloth from her body.

She heard something rip, and her shoulder was exposed to the rain. A sharp pain as one of them dug a long, thin nail into her shoulder.

She cried out again, knowing she was nothing more than a plaything for these creatures, something to be tormented, and ultimately disposed of when they tired of her. Somewhere in her frazzled brain, she wondered what they were and where they came from.

The rope holding her right wrist was cut through, and she failed with her arm, striking the beast closest on the face. It seemed to be delighted with the fight she was putting up, and screamed a high-pitched cry, which hurt Charlie’s ears.

The demons scrabbled around her, their nails digging into her flesh through her clothes.

Then she was free, and the creature above her grabbed her hips and flexed it wings, pulling her a few feet into the air, before dropping her to the muddy earth beside the alter.

Charlie spun around, wiping water from her face. One of them landed on her back, sinking its teeth into her shoulder, forcing her to the ground. She landed on her hands and knees, hearing the other two grunting and awaiting their turn.

Then, through her pain, she heard another sound. The sound of another in pain, and the weight of the demon left her back. She looked to her right, to see one of the demons on its side, its guts spilling onto the wet ground, its blood thick and black.

She heard the other two demons, and looked up to see them, both attacking something on the ground and she recognised the boots of the figure struggling with them.

"Brodie!" she screamed, and threw herself at the trio, knocking one of the demons away from the prone woman.

The creature turned towards her, standing a foot or so shorter than her own height. She backed up, until her back was against the altar stone. It approached her, its claw-like hands reaching for her. A scream made it turn away from her, and the demon that Brodie was grappling with staggered away, a hand to its throat

The fight had left the Irishwoman, however, and she slumped back into the mud, the long knife falling from her hand.

The remaining demon leapt upon Brodie, and reared its head ready to sink its teeth into her throat. It didn’t get the chance, as Brodie’s knife plunged into the back of its neck.

It turned to face the small blonde, who backed away, holding the knife in front of her. It pounced, pushing her to the ground, and suddenly its blood gushing from its mouth, drenching Charlie’s face and neck. She pushed up, and the creature fell to the side, its body curled around the knife, which was embedded in it stomach.

All three of the demons lay on the ground, their black blood spreading beneath their bodies. Charlie watched as the one nearest her shuddered one last time and then lay still. Then each one in turn melted into the ground, sinking into the mud until nothing was left.

Brodie’s ragged breathing made her rush to the fallen woman, and she dropped to her knees beside her. She flung her arms around Brodie’s neck and was relieved to feel the long arms circle her. Then she was pulling at Brodie’s clothing, looking for the shot she’d seen Birch fire into her.

She found a hole in the side of the waistcoat, damp with the warm blood that oozed from an unseen wound. "He shot you," Charlie gasped.

"Aye, he did." She smiled up at the woman. "I’ve had worse." She started to struggle to her feet. "Help me up."

Charlie helped Brodie stand, and then called for her horse. She took the long knife, which Charlie had retrieved from the mud, her pale lips forming a smile of gratitude, and slipped it into its sheath. She looked around, and found her coat on the ground. It was wet, but she slipped it on anyway. The stallion galloped into the circle, and Brodie painfully pulled herself onto his back. "I can’t pull you up, Charlotte."

The blonde nodded and jumped up onto the altar stone, and then onto Kane, this time behind Brodie.

As they started out of the stone circle Martin Birch approached them. Charlie felt Brodie straighten in front of her, and held on tight, knowing her friend was weakening.

"We’re leaving this place, Birch. Don’t try to stop us." Kane danced beneath her, eager to be away from this place of evil. "Go pray to your Master now, he won’t be pleased. You’ll take no more young women from their homes." Brodie urged Kane into a gallop, turning him onto the road for Bodmin Moor.

Birch was shouting something after them, but neither woman stopped to listen, and Charlie held on tighter, resting her cheek against the damp material of Brodie’s coat, enjoying the feeling of the body that her arms encircled.

And then Brodie pulled Kane to a halt. "We’re here," she said, turning slightly to the blonde, who hadn’t moved. "Charlotte, we’re here."

Charlie drew a deep breath. "I know." She slid off the tall steed, her cloth covered feet sinking into the mud.

Brodie eased herself to the ground slowly, and turned to face the smaller woman. She pulled the damp coat closed across Charlie’s chest. "You must get in out of the rain," she said, seemingly unable to meet Charlie’s gaze.

"I don’t want to go alone, Brodie. Come with me?" Charlie asked, putting both hands on the forearms of the taller woman.

Brodie froze. "I cannot, Charlotte. There is too much work for me here. You saw tonight what I have to fight. Those things, the Marlyns, were only servants, they serve a Master stronger and more powerful than you can imagine. I have to stay here to fight him."

Charlie eased her hand into the folds of Brodie’s coat. "You’re bleeding badly," she said, feeling warm blood saturating the fabric of the waistcoat.

"Aye, but I’ll go to the Sisters, they have the knowledge to help me. She cupped Charlie’s cheek. "You must go now," she whispered.

Charlie put her arms around Brodie’s neck, and pulled her down, taking the cold lips in her own, and savouring a moment of peace in the maelstrom of the storm that raged around them.

She released Brodie and took a step back. Looking up into the pale face above her, she wiped angrily at her eyes, her view of the woman blurred by tears. "I’ll never forget you, Brodie."

"Nor I you, Charlotte Tudor." Brodie took a few steps back, purposely creating a distance between them. She watched Charlie turn and walk towards the cottage.

"Goodbye, a ghrá mo chroí," she whispered, and turned towards Kane. She felt the weakness in her legs, and clutched the wound as pain flared in her side again.

Charlie stopped in front of the door, put her hand on the clasp and pulled it open. She could see the lounge beyond the kitchen, and could see her laptop computer lying on the floor. There, only a few steps away, was her life. Just as Brodie had said, this was some sort of doorway. And she had been pulled through, by something so strong centuries couldn’t hold her back. She turned her back on the doorway, a looked for the tall Irishwoman. She saw Brodie leaning against Kane, holding onto the saddle for support. She considered what she had through that door, and then she weighed that against what she might have with the woman who had risked her life for her. She felt a pull, and it was away from the world she knew. She’d rather risk living in the Twilight Zone with Brodie, than in her own world with loneliness.

Charlie very deliberately closed the door, and turned towards Brodie. They had found each other despite two and a half centuries. She knew now that it was an ancient love that had pulled her from her time, a love that had lived before and would live again. But she knew she would never experience it in her lifetime, if she walked through that door.

"Brodie," she called, smiling when the other woman turned towards her. Charlie laughed and ran towards her, throwing herself into the arms of the startled woman.

Brodie was glad of Kane’s solid bulk against her back as the blonde flew into her arms. She knew she shouldn’t be welcoming Charlie into her embrace, but it felt too good to let her go.

"Are you sure, Charlotte?" she breathed into damp blonde hair.

"More than anything, Brodie." Charlie smiled up at her. "Come on, let’s find those nuns," she said, and turned Brodie back towards the horse.



The best-selling author Charlotte Tudor’s disappearance made the newspaper columns for a few days, and in years to come television programmes would be made about the mysterious circumstances surrounding her disappearance. In the end the police assumed that she had walked out onto the moor one night, in a fit of depression. The moor had claimed her, and one day her body would either be found by a walker, or, more likely, her remains would be taken into the bog and be gone forever.

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