Synopsis: Culleen Callawe’en left north where all but she possessed personal magic, to quest for her own. With companions Vesta, wolf-dog, and Kuth, raven, she traversed the abandoned lands of the middle. Eastern gate, guised as escarpment, provided passable through fissure to cave above great easterlies sea. There, Culleen spied her pale doppelgänger; wraith-woman with whom she would clash. Culleen won the round – possessing wraith-woman’s bow and single launched arrow.
With arrow came Culleen’s first taste of magic – she now understood, as all her people did, raven speak. Following a dream message, she found wraith-woman – Maaginen – at an encampment in the heath lands of bending sea grass and copses of twisted yews on the sea cliff undulating landscape. In a trance, she rode with Maaginen to a stone crossing where outward sea meet inward stream. Walking across the high tide waters, Culleen was lead through the forest to a spring that flowed still, yet moving – refreshing cool water, then soothing hot spring. She still knows little of why the wraith watched, attacked, then welcomed her. Why they were almost mirrors of themselves – one light and airy, one dark and solid. Sea foam green eyes meeting midnight blue ones. Raven hair to flaxen hair. Sword and staff to bow and arrow.
Dressed in new clothes provided by Maaginen, Culleen felt renewed and restored; all weariness and hunger banished, trance-fog cleared. Then Maaginen asked a portentous question: “Are you ready now for a real adventure, a true quest?” Culleen felt Maaginen already knew her answer.
Wind whipped up and over duned cliffs tufted with sharp edged sea grass. Culleen stood before standing stones – stones so old weather had carved one into a figurine.
Charged by her pale, other-self, Maaginen, to quest along side her, Culleen yet struggled with what she knew of the easterlies and it’s strange magic. Maaginen spoke of it thus: “ Flows from water – salt or fresh. Rises from land, from forests and fields. Tis wood of an arrow, not hand that fashioned it, gives you magic. It is our way.”
Culleen was confused. All her knowledge, power and strength came from her attunement with nature and ways of the Ancients, of time before magic came to her people. Yet only Maaginen’s arrow gave her insight into Kuth’s raven speak. Not waters of a sea, not string of bow.
Maaginen laughed, saying “You in your humanish ways can not understand what I know in my being is the way of magic.” Stung, Culleen fumed, “Am I only thing humanish in existence, then, since all is magic north and east.” To be called humanish cut her; taunts of her childhood, reality of her life. Until she possessed Maaginen’s lost arrow. To understand the now strangely silent Kuth’s raven speak had sparked her spirit as much, perhaps more, than that long ago far away kiss so recently remembered and relived.
“Humanish is passing – you bear a special gift.” Then Maaginen was away from Springs, mounted on her pony – unbound flaxen hair mixing with wild mane. Culleen clumsily swung up upon her mount, silent Kuth settling on her shoulder, Vesta, the wolf-dog, in joy of the run, trotted beside. Back across the undulating land, back towards the sea. Twas all Culleen could do to keep Maaginen in sight.
Streamers of mist rose up over cliff tops, blotting out sea beyond. Maaginen dismounted, moving towards edge of the world. Sudden sharp breeze swept mists away, revealing strange standing stones. Culleen, arriving in late time, dismounted and strode towards her companion.
“Read these,” Maaginen commanded, her eyes fierce, mouth drawn in serious line. Stones so weathered, even faint carvings merged with wind-cracked surface.
Culleen closed her eyes, let mind slip beyond today – she saw Ancients as they placed stones, carving messages in each. Runes glowed as they chanted, full clear moon rising. Hooded, deeply cloaked figures undulated like the ground upon which they stood. Culleen danced to their rhythms, swaying in beat with their drums. She stepped closer to ring of Ancients, moving through their circle to stand before the stones. Each rune now burned bright, transferred to her staff, carved of living heartwood given freely.
Then she knew, she understood Maaginen’s need for her ordinary self. Dark complimenting light; humanish matching magic. Only she could read runes, feel presence of Ancients, share their knowledge, their wisdom. Both their quests began and ended here, where Ancients left last message before passing. Unsure of where decoding runic message would take them, Culleen opened her eyes to bright noon sun.
Kuth suddenly spoke: “Well then, Culleen, what have you gotten us into? What of your quest?”
“Will they not be one in the same,” Culleen whispered. “Maaginen seeks humanish, I seek magic. Let our almost mirrored selves join into one.”
Maaginen waited for her answer; for the present, Culleen could only nod.
(image: Sue Vincent)
Culleen has been channeling her quest through me. This is part 12; links to the other installments are below. Culleen has most often appeared through Sue Vincent’s Thursday Photo Prompt – the most recent: #write photo enigma. This a crazy quilt installment, pieced together from tidbits formed by other prompts left unanswered. Culleen became restless, impatient; she is very demanding when she chooses to tell her tale. So, with roads ahead yet unknown by me, Culleen insisted I pick up her quest again. Rushed by her persistent nudging, this is writing in the raw. Perhaps she, and I, shall rest awhile by runic stones.
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
For Part 10 read here
for Part 11 read here