Synopsis: Born humanish in the north land where magic is part of everyday life, Culleen Callawe’en has ever felt the outsider. Left to run wild in the forest, she learned the earthy nature of the Ancients from the time before magic came to her people. As a young woman, the difference became too strong; her longing to find magic too deep. So, with her wolf-dog, Vesta, she set out upon a quest to gain her own personal magic be it token, totem, or flowing in her veins.
Joined on her strange journey by raven Kuth sent from the north, the trio crossed the abandoned middle, found a fissure in the eastern escarpment, and arrived upon the sands of the great easterlies sea. A wraith-woman, glimpsed upon the shore, watched Culleen as she slept by the sea. Later, after climbing the dangerous sea cliffs path, while resting in a copse of stunted trees, Culleen was attacked. One arrow grazed Vesta before Culleen was able to knock the bow from the wraith-woman’s hands.
For Culleen, the arrow is imbued with some form of magic as she can now, as can all her people, understand the clacking raven speak. In a dream, she envisions the wraith-woman’s encampment, and hears a request for the return of the bow . . .
As in her dreamscape, Cullen stood before silvery strip of path under full clear moon. She knew what waited ahead; she shouldered bow, held tight her staff, and took steps towards her fate. Kuth and Vesta cautiously followed – senses heightened by eerie nature of their journey.
Fire danced in brazier, casting shadows ‘cross moonlit encampment; softly, horses moved just outside of ring of light. Yew bow glowed warm, as if alive, as she heard dreamt familiar voice, “ Greetings. ’Tis time you returned my bow.” The words hung between the two women. As their fingers touched in the exchange, Culleen felt a tingle, as sting of a jelly fish in cold northern sea.
Wraith-woman was pale almost mirror of herself. Guised too in a man’s jerkin and leggings, wraith-woman’s flaxen hair cascaded freely down her back; Culleen’s raven hair in messy plait. Wraith-woman’s midnight blue eyes held Culleen’s sea-foam green ones. “Can you ride?” her almost other self asked. Culleen nodded. Unable to speak, she stepped with her guide towards shuffling, neighing sounds. Horses – mere ponies – sturdy with long manes like their mistress’ hair, awaited them.
Vesta alongside, Kuth on her should, Culleen rode through moonscaped land, seemingly heading back toward the great easterlies sea cliffs. All was in silence; even Kuth did not clack into her ear; ponies’ hooves’ beats muffled in the still air.
Culleen became dreamily aware: wind picking up bringing sea tang; sound of distant breakers against rocky shore; path widening into road. Ahead, first signs of people: massive stone bridge, built to cross narrow fjord; where inlet of sea met inland stream.
Wraith-woman slowed her pony, murmuring in it’s ear. Dismounting, she signaled Culleen to do the same. Kuth whispered in her ear, “Well then, awaken, Culleen, ‘tis no more a trance upon you.” Vesta, both exhausted and exhilarated by her run, lay at Culleen’s feet.
“The tide is on the turn,” wraith-woman proclaimed, as if this explained all.
“Magic?” Culleen muttered, her voice returning.
“What you call magic is to us mere life,” was the response.
First rays of sun streaked against cliff top chasing away moon and stars. Slipping her pale hand into Culleen’s, the pair waited what tide, what sea, might bring.
For Sue Vincent’s Thursday Photo Prompt, #writephoto bridge (photograph: Sue Vincent)
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
For Part 8 read here
For Part 9 read here
© Lorraine 2017