Taster chapters book 2
THE FOLLOWING DAY 1995 AD
Chapter I. The day after the handfast at the Wood Henge.
The echoes were softened by the mist of time, like butterfly wings fluttering inside Paul’s head, ripples across the surface of his subconscious mind, faint, very faint, or were they simply memories – long-forgotten memories? He was unsure. His head felt heavy and dull, was it something he drank last night? He shook his head trying to clear his thoughts, his heart lifted as he recalled something and glanced sideways. The whirlwind that was Alice Llewellyn lay next to him on the bed. ‘Oh, my God it wasn’t a dream – this time – at last, after all these years it has actually happened.’ He whispered the words to himself not wishing to wake her. He pinched the bridge of his nose between his thumb and forefinger as the memories of the previous night became clearer in his mind. Mushrooms, magic mushrooms, she pushed a mushroom in my mouth, at least I think it was. God, no wonder my headaches.
His gaze turned to her, she was naked, her body covered in Celtic runes and Pagan symbols. Oh God, we are married – according to her that is. His thoughts drifted back to his youth and to his very first love interest, Jenny Walker. He had painted runes on both him and her, saying it would tie them together in love - just like she had done for the ceremony. How had he known that? No one had told him; it was like he had always known. Was it simply in his DNA? He shook his head in confusion and the pain made him wince. Had he recalled it from one of his many dreams? Or was it simply another ‘inherited memory’ like his mother and Alice believed?
Her one arm was wrapped around his neck and her long black hair, normally immaculate, now lay in a tangled mess covering her face and sticking to the moisture on her body. He could not comprehend the love he felt for her, the deep physical attraction. He shook his head once again clearing his thoughts. It was like a dream – a fantasy. Five days ago, he was living in New York, unaware of the existence of Alice Llewellyn. Yet he had known her all his life; how tall she was, the color and length of her hair - and her eyes. It was her eyes that he remembered the most, eyes that had burnt deep within his soul, always there, always watching, smiling, teasing, enchanting emerald green eyes, always drawing him here – to this moment in time.
He shook his head in disbelief as the events of the last couple of days became clearer in his mind. It has to be her? from the moment I saw her in the hotel - I knew.
He had followed the Druids deep into the wood and watched their ceremony from the cover of the trees. He remembered thinking straight away that it was a wedding ceremony, again no one had told him and wondered how he knew. I have seen them hundreds of times before - in my dreams, and it was her – the Priestess, no what did she call herself? The’ Earth Mother’ that sat conducting the ceremony. A virgin Earth Mother? How is it possible to dream about someone all your life when you have never met? Yet I am sure it has always been her. And how on earth could she be so ignorant about making love and still be a virgin at twenty-five? and conduct ceremonies like that?
He turned his attention to the birdsong, so loud it was a discordant force. Gently, extracting himself from her embrace, he slid out of bed and went over to the window, and opening it, took a deep breath of clean Westcountry air. Outside the mist lay like a pure veil across the meadow. His eyes took in its magical scene and for once in his life, he felt at peace with himself and the world around him. His attention was drawn to the sky by the mewing sound of a hawk circling high above the cottage. He studied it until it spiraled away out of view. A blackbird sang from the treetops - its liquid trill muted by the wind, whilst in the distance a curlew cried mournfully.
This for Paul Masters was a different world. No traffic noise, no police sirens, just the birdsong, the wind in the trees, and the whisper of long grass dancing a melody with the wind. He took a deep breath and sighed heavily, for a city boy it was unbelievably noisy.
Tiptoeing out of the bedroom, avoiding various items of clothing strewn across the floor he made his way to the shower. After testing the water temperature, he switched it off immediately. ‘God that’s cold,’ he said instinctively in a low voice, not wishing to wake her. After leaving the water running for several second’s he turned it off. He slipped on his jeans and tee-shirt and strolled back to the manor for a shower.
The dew lay across the grass like a shimmering veil laced with spider’s webs sparkling with jewels and diamonds reflecting the sunlight. As he walked alongside the lake his eyes searched automatically for the lady in white on the far side but the whole lake was shrouded in a mist hiding its secrets. The hawk called out high in the sky once again and his eyes followed it as it spiraled directly above him, searching, surveying its territory. Paul took a deep breath tasting the smells of the country, the mist itself, the wet grass, and the myriad of smells that was alien to him. For once in his life, he began to feel this was somewhere he could belong.
Jed answered the phone at the reception desk at the Manor. A man’s voice was on the line. It was a familiar voice. He was insistent that he spoke to one of the cleaners. Jed answered abruptly, it was unintentional, he had not slept well. Saul was back and his mind was in turmoil. Alice had called him to her once again. After waiting for almost four hundred years, and living a dozen lifetimes, they were once again, together. He was glad for Alice’s sake, no one she had met since their first encounter could hold a candle to him. Paul Master’s, however, knew nothing of his previous lives, he knew nothing of the powers hidden deep within his DNA, he was ‘a stray,’ unaware of who he was, and how dangerous it was for him to be here - especially sleeping in that room. Jed was aware of his powers, he knew he would be a major asset to the Prime, but was as yet, an unknown quantity. If he was drawn to the dark, he could be the demise of mankind throughout the whole world. They needed to tread carefully and Alice was blinded by love.
‘Is this call important?’ He did not hide the irritation in his voice. ‘We only let staff take calls in an emergency?’
The man’s voice responded calmly and melodically; the voice gave off an air of authority. ‘Yes, Jed, very important. Serious family matters I'm afraid. Please put her on the line, you do know to whom you are speaking do you not?’
Jed hesitated. ‘Yes, I know who you are sir, but we have rules. Can the call not wait?’
The caller’s voice continued its melodic rhythm. ‘It's private and very personal, Jed, so put a call out immediately, there's a good fellow.’
Jed heaved a sigh.
‘Yes, of course, sir, sorry about that, I will put a call out for her, but you will have to hold the line as it might take a while.’
After several minutes one of the cleaning staff approached reception to take the call and walked up to the phone. She could tell Jed was in a bad mood as he snapped ‘Mrs. Smith, do not make a habit of this. You know the rules.’ Jed informed the caller she had arrived and handed her the phone. ‘I will put her on now, sir, but don't keep her talking all day.’
Having passed the phone to the lady she answered nervously. ‘Hello.’ When she heard the voice, she walked away from the desk and spoke in a whisper. ‘What can I do for you, sir?’
The voice was deep and rich, almost too deep for a man. ‘Have you been to her majesties room, Mrs. Smith?’
‘Yes Sir,’ she said nervously. ‘I went in her room today to check up on him, but sir, his bed hasn’t been slept in.’
There was a long pause and for several seconds she thought she had been cut off. When he answered she thought he had lost his air of authority. ‘So that’s why she is calling me. Were his personal possessions still there?’
She glanced across at Jed and lowered her voice even further. ‘Yes, Sir and he slept in that room all the previous nights. I can't understand where he has gone.’
‘Mrs. Smith, do you think she simply frightened him away?’
‘No Sir, I don't think so, she seemed to take it very carefully this time, he seemed so confident like, no sir she hadn’t appeared to trouble him at all. Could she have consumed him already Sir?’
‘Don’t be a stupid woman.’ He snapped, ‘did you see a body in her room?
‘S- S- Sorry,’ she stammered, ‘the room was empty, of course, there would be a body at least wouldn’t there. She normally likes to have her fun with them first - I know that - but she doesn’t normally let them escape.’
‘ Were the curtains open, Mrs. Smith?’
Mrs. Smith repeated the question, her voice reflecting her confusion. ‘Were the curtains open? Yes, sir, the window curtains were open this morning, so he didn't come back at all last night.’
Again, the man raised his voice and snapped. ‘No, Mrs. Smith, the curtain covering the painting - stupid woman.’
‘Oh, the curtain covering the picture of our Queen? No Sir, they were closed. He seems to close them every night for some reason. I open them each morning when I clean his room but….’
The voice on the line cut her short. ‘Make sure, if he comes back, he can’t draw the curtain shut, do you understand?’
‘Yes sir, so you want me to fix the curtain so they are jammed and can't be closed. You want him to keep looking at our Queen? I see - yes Sir - I can do that. Sir, before you go you said I could participate in the next ceremony, will it be soon----?’ He again cut her short and the phone went dead
We rejoin the story when it has been decided to reawaken both Peter and Saul's memories. The scene is the Wood Henge at Glastonbury. The year is 1605 AD.
The day of the awakening finally arrived. The boys had spent the morning with the tutor Mr. Friend, who ran through the proceedings and prepared them for what was to come. He also tried forcibly to deter Saul from proceeding at such a young age. Saul was adamant he wanted to go through with it. Having taught the boy for the last two weeks he recognized Saul had an iron will and would not change his mind.
Mr. Friend had concentrated the lessons these last two weeks on different meditation techniques. The two Princesses also took part, refining theirs, and advising both Peter and Saul what worked best for them. For the awakening it was important that the recipients were in a deep meditative state, failure to achieve this would mean that they could not communicate with the spirit world, and their spirit guides could not guide them.
Both Maria and his lordship were full of doubt. Was Saul too young? If they delayed reviving his memories would it weaken his defense against the Primevil? Even Peter was young, normally for boys, it would be in their fourteenth summer. Maria herself, secretly had pangs of doubt and inwardly questioned her motives. Am I agreeing to this for selfish reasons? because I no longer want to exist in a dormant state. Silently she prayed to the creator, the Earth Mother. Keep them both safe, return them to us.
Just before dusk the whole Prime household put their Druid robes in the wagon and walked behind it down to the far side of the lake. They were all dressed in their normal clothes so the Earls's soldiers would be none the wiser.
The three wolves accompanied them, as always within earshot of their respective charges. Above them, a hawk circled, a peregrine falcon, the physical daughter of Saul’s spirit guide. In the bushes following unperturbed by the wolves was a wildcat, Peter’s land guide. All the creatures present understood what was happening, their Primeval memories even older than that of the Prime.
On reaching the Henge everyone changed into their robes. Torches were lit and placed around the perimeter. Their flickering light casting eerie shadows on the underside of the roots like gnarled fingers grasping for the moon. Morag looked up at the cloud-striped moon. She was standing under one of the upturned trees. Its shadow lay before it, a grotesque silhouette across the ground
The peregrine perched himself above the Henge alongside Morag's guide, the Raven. There were several birds watching along with other animals, land guides representing members of the household. A fox, rabbit and a stoat also positioned themselves around the perimeter, their natural instincts ignored.
His Lordship took both his sons to one side and asked them if they were sure this is what they wanted, both were adamant they wanted to go ahead.
His heart was heavy and full of dread, but he hid it well. ‘Well my sons you will be reunited with your ancestors shortly, your mother will be with you there is nothing to fear. I've been through this on my fourteenth summer, you need to relax and prepare yourselves, when you come out of your trance there will be lots of voices in your head, echoes from the past, this is normal.
Remember your mother will be with you; listen to her, not the other voices. After a period of time you mother will introduce you to the others, but only when she feels you’re ready, understood?’
Both boys responded in unison. ‘Yes father.’
‘Good, now Morag has a potion for you to drink, it is to relax you further to help you meditate.’ The boys drank the potion and mingled with the congregation until they began to feel its effects. They were then led to the altar, where both lay down side by side. The rest of the congregation positioned in a circle around the edge of the altar and sat cross-legged on the floor. They joined hands and also went into deep meditation. The mist enveloped them up to waist height dimming the glow from the lamps.
After a while, Morag felt the spirits of their ancestors being drawn to the boys. Wisps of mist began to swirl around the henge accompanied by different scents and odors. A spiritual vision of a Peregrine, and a wildcat, appeared on the altar standing next to the boys. Their shapes held together but only briefly, fading and then reappearing, struggling to hold their form in the land of the living.
Morag began to speak. ‘In the name of the Earth Mother the creator of all things and the giver of life, we welcome you. We welcome all the ancestral spirits of these boys Peter and Saul Monkton. We welcome their spirit guides and the people gathered here.’ More and more spirits began to appear and disappear as they struggled to hold their physical shape.
Morag continued. ‘Peter and Saul have come here today to be joined with their ancestral memories. These boys are true Prime. They have rejected the temptation of our dark brethren the Primevil and have chosen to follow the light of life. Join with Peter, join with Saul. Use your wisdom to guide them and their descendants in these dark and turbulent times. Pass on your skills of healing magic. Pass on the gifts that your ancestors passed on to you. Travel with them on their journey throughout their lives and guide them back to the Mother when it is once again their turn to walk in the land of the spirits.’
One by one, the shapes of their ancestors began to appear around the edge of the Henge, still wisps of vapor. The first to appear was Lady Monkton, his Lordship lost his composure for a second. A tear rolled down his cheek. He watched, not daring to breathe. More and more spirits appeared around the perimeter of the henge until the circle was completed, then a second circle formed. They were fainter. Then another circle fainter still. On and on it continued until the spirits were simply a wisp of vapor.
The breeze began to move the mist that had collected in the hollow surrounding the henge, revealing the lower half of the bodies of the Prime in the circle. Slowly the wind began to increase in a circular motion centered on the Henge. Fallen leaves were lifted off the ground and carried around in a mini-tornado. The wind steadily got stronger and tugged at the robes of the Prime. They locked hands together and the circle held firm. Morag, who was standing next to the altar, lent against her staff for support as her hair flowed out horizontally by the force of the wind. Slowly but surely the spirits began to move towards the altar, Lady Monkton led the way. Moving to the heads of both her sons. Her essence, shinning bright surrounding them, slowly she got fainter and fainter as her spirit entered through their open mouths. His lordship gasped. The next spirit did the same, and the next.
The moon was high in the sky when the last visible spirit entered. Gradually the wind lessened and the last of the leaves fell to the floor.
The henge was once again bathed in silence. Up in the trees, the birds began to leave followed by the land totems. One by one, the congregation came out of the trance. They looked at one another and waited until the last of them finished mediating before rising. Lord Monkton stood and walked over to the altar followed by Morag. Both boys were in a deep meditative state and could not be revived. The noises from the forest began to return to normal. A blackbird flew out from a bush and sounded his warning call. Lord Monkton turned in its direction. Like all Druids, he listened to the creatures around him and was guided by their knowledge. His face blanched.