Recovering from the shock of the wraith-woman’s attack,* Culleen examined the bow she knocked away from her attacker. It was well-crafted, attuned to the archer. The gut string was new, but grip well-worn. Though not an archer, she appreciated the deadliness of the art, and the skill required.
She pulled the embedded arrow from the ground. The flight was of unfamiliar feathers, in shades of brown and grey, the tip not of argon. The first weapon she held not forged from the special light metal. She felt the weightiness of the light coloured wood and dark metallic tip.
Kuth flew back into the copse and was clacking at her. She sighed, “I wish I could understand you as my people do.”
“Well then, if you would simply listen.” Startled, Culleen almost dropped her prize. “Am I understanding your clatter, Kuth? How can that be?”
“Well then, the arrow must hold some residual magic – easterlies magic.”
“Then there is magic beyond our home in the north,” she cried. “Magic I can hold in my hand – magic that I may yet make mine own.”
Her quest to find personal magic, to become like her people, not such a fey journey. In this arrow, she found a charm. Overcome, Culleen felt the prick of tears – being humanish all her life, the coming of the least bit of magic so powerful to her spirit and soul.
“Vesta, I must see to Vesta.” Culleen wiped the few fallen tears off her cheeks, placed the arrow in her bundle and swung it up upon her back. The wolf-dog struggled to her feet following Culleen to a bubbling spring. She saw no signs of poison in the graze wound nor evil doings in Vesta’s manner; the wolf-dog remained the same in spirit. They both lifted voices in a howl of thankfulness.
Shading her eyes against the brightness of the sun after the dappled light of the woods, Culleen scanned for signs of life. The sea grass swayed, a circle of gulls white against the sky, trees creaked – but nothing moved on the plain.
Kuth counseled, “Well then, best to bring more supplies through the crack, and establish base camp here atop the cliff.” The way through the rock, narrow; the cliff path treacherous and steep; one misstep a high price – broken leg or worse. Vesta to heal at the bottom or top – she would be without her protector and friend. Not easy times ahead.
Cullen asked, “Who sent you after me?” A question upon her mind since the raven’s timely arrival whilst she was crossing the middle.
Kuth shook his head, “Well then, some must remain a mystery.” And, flew off to join the gulls in their dance. Culleen and Vesta traced the path back to the cliffs, then the plunge down, slipping and sliding over the gravelly patches. Culleen oft held her breath and did not look ahead, but down upon her feet.
The last of the day’s light was rolling over the cliff when they reached the beach. Culleen prepared a fire by the line of yews, as she had the previous night.
Kuth returned to them, with a large fish in his claws. Gliding low, he dropped it on the fire stones, and wheeled back towards the sea. Culleen took out her knife, gutting Kuth’s gift, and placing the fillets closer to the flames. Kuth dropped a second fish, then on his third flight, keep smaller one for his own dinner.
Culleen slept well that night, the magic arrow across her lap. Vesta and Kuth kept watch, but neither felt any unease. No strange shadows danced within the encampment.
Culleen woke as dawn spread across the sky, turning the low tide beach into a shimmering golden sea of sand. A good omen. Hard work ahead establishing a base camp from which to seek the wraith-woman and her kind. But she could hold magic in her hand thus understanding raven-speak for the first time.
She smiled, stretching her limbs, walking the low tide beach searching for treasures of shells and beach glass, the arrow secure upon her back. Magic did not only reside within the north; perhaps her quest was not yet in vain.
Another part of Culleen Callawe’en’s quest, written in response to Sue Vincent’s Thursday photo prompt, #writephoto low tide. I don’t know where Culleen will take me next, nor which prompt she will respond to – she is a character with a mind and a plot of her own.
*Culleen Callawe’en is on a quest – to find her personal magic. She is from the north where magic runs through the people, and especially strong within her clan. Born humanish, she grew up a child of the forest, learning the ways of nature and the Ancients. But, grown to a young woman, she felt even more deeply her lack of magic. She can not use weapons forged of argon – a special metal mined and worked in the north – imbued with the artisan’s magic. Nor can she weave tapestries whose magical threads breathe life into the images. Without personal magic, she can not fit within her society.
On her quest, she has traveled from the north, across the strange, abandoned land of the middle, and through a fissure in an escarpment wall to the great easterly sea. Adventures along the way shared with her wolf-dog, Vesta, and companion raven, Kuth. After spending a night on the shores of the sea, where shadows of shades and wraiths danced unnoticed by Culleen, the party climbed the sea cliff along a treacherous path. Resting in a copse of wind-twisted trees upon the cliff top plain, she was attacked by the wraith-woman she had glimpsed upon the beach the previous day.
image: JW Waterhouse, Study of a Girl, 1908
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
For Part 6 read here
For Part 7 read here