Sea froth rippled around her toes, the salt tang mingling with her hair un-plaited by the wind. Culleen, her boots and stockings off, followed the movement of the waves along the shingled beach. The great blue easterly sea spoke it’s name loud upon the peaks of breakers crushing and grinding the rocks on either end of her sheltered cove.  She had scrambled from the fissure in the escarpment separating the middle from the east. The young woman she watched from above gathering beach glass and shells was gone in the minute it took her to slide down. Perhaps the chimera was a harbinger – an omen of good fortune.

Culleen had come from the forges and forests of the north to seek what she of her people alone did not possess – magic. She was as the dross poured off the molten argon – of the clan Callawe’en yet not of use or worth. To be born humanish was a whispered disgrace to her family. The stitches in her embroidery did become alive; she could not long hold the hilt of a short sword made of argon imbued with the magic of it’s crafter. She grew from feral child to wild young woman well versed in the senses of the natural world. Her staff was carved from a living piece of heartwood, it’s runic symbols drawn from the markings on standing stones. Her friend, Darwin, once laughingly said her soul must be green like the world she felt home in.

She hoped her magical calling might be found in one of the other directions – crossing from north, through the middle, to east on her quest. She and her wolf-dog, Vesta, trudged through changing landscapes encountering things strange and darkling. Now, they stood twixt combers and cliffs. She smiled at the thought of Darwin, working his magic in the forges, embracing and kissing a surprising not unpleasant long good-bye. For him, more than for her family, she wanted to return with the spark of magic, be it within herself or a charm, object, slight of hand.

The shrill call of the raven, Kutkh, circling over head awoke her from these inward wanderings. The calls and clacks, to her ears were mere psittacisms. Lore had it her people had risen out of the cold waters of the northern seas to listen to ravens – with magic came understanding between bird and people. Kutkh seemed to be reminding her that the narrowness of the fissure meant leaving full pack and traverse behind. She had only the basics and the last ribbons of light were streamers over the cliff tops. Howling for Vesta, she gathered driftwood; the circle of light ‘round a fire was comfort. With her back to a small stand of windswept yew, she shared meal and water with dog and bird. Careful not to singe her fingers. she warmed their food, leftovers from an earlier hunt, on rocks placed within the wake of the flames.

On the morrow, they would explore – Culleen caught sight, in the twilight, of a winding path clinging to the rockscape. She did not see the additional shadow that the firelight danced upon the trees behind her. Though Vesta felt a prickle, a sharpness of warning her comrade did not. They were not as alone upon the shore as Culleen supposed – perhaps in the east, chimeras had substance.

The story of Culleen sprang to life as a Tale Weaver post and continued through Sue Vincent’s Thursday Picture prompts. Unlike most characters in my serial stories, often told over and over to myself, she and her quest form themselves each time she steps onto my keyboard. She has been “stuck” in a cave opening above the shores of the great easterly sea for a while now, and she was determined to move towards her goal of acquiring magic. She formed herself around words from the Sunday Whirl 282 and mlmm wordle 138. She is a restless spirit but one with a mind of her own. I can’t conjure her up, just as she can’t conjure magic. She comes unbidden; if I call, she doesn’t answer.

Sunday whirl words: water, become, shrill, sense, stitch, peak, wake, singe, circle, draw, blue, ribbon

mlmm wordle words: yew, harbinger, dross (waste product taken off molten metal during smelting), pour, crush, trudge, prickle, green, inward, psittacism (mechanical, repetitive, meaningless speech), toes, froth

(c) Lorraine

Culleen’s Quest:

For Part 1 read here

For Part 2 read here

For Part 3 read here

For Part 4 read here

For Part 5 read here