As Homer once wrote poetically, the difficulty is not so great to die for a friend, as to find a friend worth dying for.
It’s a powerful quote that can be dissected into so many meanings. But the interpretation that spoke to me was simple. Anyone can give up their life for another. Whether it propelled by the notion of bravery, love, greed, jealousy, honor, guilt and so on. Whatever vices are, noble or not, it can be done.
As for the so called honored priestess of the Olympic realm, The Guardians were never granted a choice. Our destiny was decided for us a long time ago. We must protect the five legacy families of Ipswich from not only evil, but destroying themselves, even if that meant death.
I smile now as I write these words down.
Dying for a person is easy. Trust me when I say this. We are professionals at it by now and have become empty shells just doing our job. But what I never took into account was the second part of his quote. What it was like to be the person “worth living for.” As I pondered this question for many years, I come to the conclusion that was the harder part.
You, the worth living for person, had to live on.
Live on with cherished memories, painful pasts, and the unknown and lonely future.
This was something I don’t think any of use five unchosen ones would ever understand. That’s until we met them and everything changed. To understand let me take you back 300 hundred years ago where our stories all started….
The Birth of the Priestess of Artemis
The Ferguson clan was a fierce breed with their vigorous Scottish blood. He and his wife, Isobel, decided to make a fresh start in the new world when Mr. Ferguson was slowly getting into further trouble owing money to more and more people, thus leaving him with little options after his extended family disown him.
In the new world, Ipswich to be exact, Mr. Ferguson bought a big piece of land where he built a small log house and worked the rest of the land for planting food. It wasn’t much, but it would do.
As the season was bringing new life everywhere; from the barren land slowly letting small green vegetation peak up, to the news that a baby was growing inside the belly of Mrs. Ferguson. The harvest was a success, but not enough to help support his family, so on the side, Mr. Ferguson’s bad habits of borrowing money returned.
It was mid-winter when his wife went into labor and delivered a baby girl with red fuzz on her head. Holding his newborn daughter in his hands with pride, Mr. Ferguson stared into her deep green eyes of his wife. “Isn’t she a bonny lass, Jamie,” Mrs. Ferguson said holding his hand.
He commented back, “I can understand why. She looks exactly like ye.”
She suddenly grasped her husband's hand and added urgently, “Keep her safe, James.”
“Of course I will. She’s a part of our flesh and blood, Isobel.” His eyes scanned his wife in alarm and she patted his hand gently. “Good,” she gave one smile back, before her eyes closed shut.
“Isobel?” Her face was very pale and he shook her shoulders in fear. “Isobel,” pressing his head over her chest, his mouth released a cry. His wife was dead. Weeping over his late wife, Mr. Ferguson heard the cry of his child behind him.
Coddling the only thing left from his wife, Mr. Ferguson whispered to his child, “Whatever it takes, I will make you safe.” He placed his finger in the baby’s mouth and said, “My, my Isobel.”
But finding a job to pay off the debt he own seemed impossible. Not even if he sold all his crops and then the land, would it even justify the damage he had done.
Walking back in shame, Mr. Ferguson glanced up to find an elderly man, who was the only help he had left. With his kindness, Aster gave him without warning a goat and warm clothes for the ween during the harsh winter.
“Any luck?” He asked and Mr. Ferguson responded, “No.” The old man patted for him to sit next to him on the log. Mr. Ferguson continued to say, “If I don’t pay some money I owe, I’m afraid I may either have to flee living a wanted man’s life or go to debtor’s prison.” He stared down at Isobel, “I’ve failed as a father.”
Clearing his throat, Aster responded, “Aye, those do seem to be hard choices, especially with the wee young lass ye have. But there might be a third, James.”
Mr. Ferguson glanced over at his odd tone, “What do ye mean?”
“I’ve heard,” Aster moved closer, “That a certain group needs a man like ye. Someone strong, trusting, trying to get on the right track.”
“And what would I be particularly doin’?” He asked skeptically.
Aster shrugged his shoulder, “I don’t know. I’m not totally in the main circle. I just take care of the grounds.” His eyes glanced back at the baby, “But what I do know, is they pay ye more than a fair price. You would never have to worry about debtor’s prison and ye both have food in empty bellies.”
Without much choice, Mr. Ferguson took the only opportunity that meant more than just surviving. A new manor on his land buried the small home that held too many memories. A library that could come close to the Alexandria, was constructed so his daughter’s mind could be bright as the stars.
“Isobel?” Her father called into the library and her red head popped up from a book, “Someone is here to see ye.”
Stepping into the doorway, a tall young man with sandy blonde hair smiled at her.
“Ben,” she squealed out and ran to his open arms.
Benjamin O’Connell, was a charming, kind and had taken a liking to her as a young sister.
Laughing in joy, he spun Isobel around. “My you’ve grown. Like a weed.”
“Don’t be to long,” Her father told Benjamin, who nodded his head.
When her father left, Isobel said, “Another secret meeting, is it?”
Benjamin shook his head, “Always beyond her years, curious one.” Yes, without him telling Isobel, she had a wise sense to know the truth. And so a beautiful friendship had started. One where Isobel and he kept a secret between each other. Isobel knew magic existed.
“What are ye goin’ to do this time,” Isobel asked excited and Benjamin bend down closer to her.
His warm voice whispered, “I’m going to make the impossible happen.” Opening his hand, a small rock sat in the center of his palm. “Isobel, I want you to focus on this rock,” Benjamin said as a smile crept onto his lips.
Without a blink, Isobel did as she was told and slowly the rock had miraculously transformed into a dainty butterfly fluttering its wings on his finger.
“Amazing,” the words left her lips.
Benjamin put his finger up to his lips, “Our secret.”
Yes, it was a secret kept from her father. Mr. Ferguson tried to conceal the magical world in fear Isobel couldn’t handle it.
But Isobel wondered, Why would anyone be afraid of them? Ben was a magical being and every time he created something, it seemed to become more beautiful with his powers.
It was on a rather chilly night, her father entered her room with a withering expression. Isobel politely waited in the silence as he played nervously with his hat. Finally he said sitting on the edge of his daughter’s bed. “Do ye remember the stories I told ye about. The magical beings.”
She nodded her red head, “Aye.”
“Do ye know what people would do if they found them, Isobel?” Her father asked very serious and she responded weakly at the thought of Benjamin, “No.”
Wiping his face, Mr. Ferguson said, “People that can’t understand beyond their fear quickly judge and think of them as monsters. And because of that, they will be hunted down like dogs, tortured in unspeakable ways until their souls are broken and forced to confess their true nature.” He paused to search his daughter’s face for terror, but somehow Isobel kept it impassive. “Finally they will faced a horrible death.”
Monster? How could they even call them that? Call Ben that. In truth the prosecutors were the monsters. Her mind seemed to be in overdrive again.
Glancing away from his hands clasping tightly together to his crinkle forehead, her father's eyes began to shined with such determination. “You must not fear them, for they are like us with the same flesh and blood. They are just gifted.” How could she argue with his logic when she was already immersed in this different world?
Taking her small hand, her concerned father added, “That is not really what I have come to talk to ye about. There is something more important now lass. I have too…,” he fumbled to find his words. “Leannan, my job has been very important. Did Mr. O’Connell ever say anything about it?”
Did her father know we did magic behind his back?
Isobel shook her head and he confided in his daughter, “I am what they call a secret keeper of a book, Absolution. No one knows the location, not even the council, except me.”
As if her father could read Isobel’s mind, he stated, “Because it is a very powerful book. One we cannot chance to ever fall in the wrong hands or else it could lead to bad things.”
“Why are ye tellin’ me this, da?” Isobel asked confused and his father said quietly, “I’m going to be taken away to debtor’s prison.” Her jaw dropped open at the upsetting news.
They couldn’t take her father away like that, she thought as a tear started to slide down her cheek. What would happen to her?
Pushing back her bright red hair away from her face, he informed her, “I need ye, now. The book has to be kept safe. You need to be the next secret keeper.” His eyes seemed to be hiding a dark deeper meaning to this choice. “And I need ye to to help guard and protect the special ones we talked about.”
Isobel’s mouth was about to open when her father said, “Benjamin needs you, Leannan."
“But how?” Her small voice asked.
This was a large pill to swallow and her father sensing Isobel’s tension tried to ease it by explaining, “Everyone will die, including you Isobel, so you can be reborn as Artemis’ priestess. You must be brave when the time comes and remember this is an honor to have been chosen. When you come back, Mr. O’Connell will be there to help guide you….”
Isobel couldn’t hear anymore what her father was explaining.
I am going to be reborn? Reborn as Artemis’ priestess? What did that even mean? Wait, he mentioned of Ben. That’s right, he would be with me later on to help guide me. Isobel thoughts swarmed around.
Her father suddenly kissed her forehead and stated as he got up, “Good night Leannan. You will do what’s right when the time comes.”
The next night Isobel was getting ready for bed and one of her servants named Savannah knocked on the wooden door. “Yes,” Isobel called out, but she just stared at Isobel with regret.
Isobel’s eyes dropped to the floor in panic knowing what Savannah would say. Stepping forward she quietly said, “Your father had been escorted out. They have taken him away for his debt.”
The news seemed to shatter Isobel, for she knew there was nothing in her power she could do about it. My destiny should surely be next, she thought doomed. And as of that she went to bed for the first time and wept. Only Savannah had stayed by rubbing her back to calm her down until asleep.
A few hours later...
“Miss. Ferguson,” Isobel heard her named called and tried to rub her sleep eyes.
Practically being dragged out of bed, Isobel was disorientated. “Why?” she asked in a mumble, but Savannah was pushing outside quickly through the back entrance of the Manor.
It wasn’t until the sight of seeing the mob tearing and burning her house down that it made terrifying sense. Her home was under attack. Quickly, the riled crowd called for her father’s named and even more shocking her own as well.
Swiftly Savannah grabbed her hand pulling Isobel deeper into the forest, when a yell of Isobel’s name rang through the air. They raced fast through the dark hearing many footsteps approaching and tears began to stream down Isobel’s face as she feared for her life.
This was it; where my life would end. Be brave my father told me, and yet, every fiber of my body told me to run faster. I wanted to live.
As Isobel slowed down from her panic escape she realized she lost, Savannah, the only person that was her friend, besides Mr. O’Connell. Feeling her hands shake, she tried to keep her ears open to any sound, but only the pulse of her heart seemed to consume her hearing. With what little focus she had left, Isobel travel the opposite direction from the sound of people.
She was safe.
“Gottcha, you brat,” an older man yelled in glee. Surprising her from behind, a man grabbed her with a knife in his hand and she let out a blood curdling scream. Without thought, Isobel swiftly hit his throat making his air way close. She wasn’t going to go down without a fight.
Grabbing the knife, while he gasped for air, two more men came. Like predators on the prowl, the first man made a grab at her and she stabbed him surprisingly in the side to make her escape.
Running as fast as her legs could push, the other man pulled out his pistol. I’m going to make it. I’m going to live, Isobel chanted in her mind.
The gun shot echoed in the air and Isobel clutched her stomach where sudden pain rang through. She had been shot and a lot of blood was on her hands.
Feeling weak in the knees, Isobel fell to the ground and pain coursed through her body as she bled slowly out. The man holding the pistol bent down at her head. Trying to keep even breaths, the man told her, “I’d shoot you in the head, but letting Ferguson’s kid die suffering would be the best revenge for him ripping me off.” They left her to die alone in the woods slowly.
The Birth of the Priestess of Poseidon
In a small town Albi, France laid a family, the Rowans, on the brink of poverty. Even though their father was a candle maker, he didn’t pull enough money to support his family. As a last resort he married off his eldest daughter and sold his youngest daughter of seventeen, Savannah, to an owner in the new world.
Her father promised she would have a better life as she got on the boat. That would be the last time she would see her family and she felt alone. After she arrived in a large manner by the town of Ipswich, Savannah was told her duty was to help his daughter, Isobel, with anything she needed.
Through her days of servitude she found being with Isobel was more of an enjoyment than she thought. This girl was not a spoiled brat being a young girl of twelve. Instead she was a charming, curious, little girl that spent most of her time in her father’s study answering questions that plagued her mind.
It was the night where the master of the house, Mr. Fergusson, was gone and a mob with pitch forks and torches came storming the gate that many of the servants and staff of the manor were abandoning the estate. Savannah thought of running too, but she felt obligated to keep Isobel safe so she ran up to Miss Ferguson room to wake her from sleep.
“Miss. Ferguson,” she called out and hurried Isobel away from danger approaching. The girl was confused with all the chaos, but kept up with Savannah, who was leading her toward the forest where many of the servants went for refuge. The mob was already burning and plundering the place as they called for the family of Ferguson.
Isobel stopped in awe at the destruction and the screams from the house. Savannah quickly tried to pull her before the mob could notice their presence, but it was too late, a man yelled from the crowd recognizing Miss Ferguson.
They ran into the woods hoping to lose them, but ended up fearing for their lives, and lost each other. She kept walking hoping to find Miss Ferguson and then a scream of terror echoed through the dark woods and a shot of a gun went off. Savannah raced to her aid and ended up getting caught.
With the mob up in rage and irrational as the rumors of the witch hunt hit its peak they accused Savannah of being a witch. Dragging her to the lake they stripped her clothes off, gagged and tied her with rope. The mob leader, with his dirty blonde hair tied back and his brown eyes that were so dark they seemed black, gave a speech explaining to the wild crowd,
“Of this witch trial we will test if she be a witch. Throw her in the lake and if she floats an evil witch is on our hands, but if she sinks, a good soul is she, and not bewitch by the devil.”
Tears ran down her face wishing their madness would stop. Two men grabbed her and she squirmed to get away as they pushed her in the icy water. As precious air escaped her lips, she quickly drowned. The quiet of the water that entrapped her was the last thing she heard. Savannah Rowan was concluded to be not a witch in the end.
The Birth of the Priestess of Aphrodite
On the outskirts of Ipswich lived a very wealthy aristocratic family, the Abels. Mr. and Mrs. Abel adored their eldest daughter, Catherine, for she held, in her parent’s eyes poise, grace, talent and beauty. While her parents focus on the marriage proposal from the royal family of Normandy, the other daughter went unnoticed. Ella had lived in her sister’s shadow since she was born and desired only one thing; for someone to give her the love and affection she craved for.
At the small town of Ipswich she made her rounds going through the market by buying an apple and sitting on the edge of the well munching away. It was that day when Mrs. Smith, an elderly woman she helped at times, told Ella to take the coin she held in her hand.
Mrs. Smith said in her soft voice, “This is a magical well. Take this coin and make a wish, my dear, and throw it into the well and let your wish come true.” Ella being an innocent sixteen year old had closed her eyes and wished with all of her heart to find someone to love her. Throwing it into the well, her day felt a little less dreary and a smile started to envelope her face knowing a wish was on its way.
After helping Mrs. Smith carry water to her home, she decided to return home. It was then Ella bumped into a charming man, with black locks and gleaming green eyes, which would capture her heart.
Each day for those five weeks William and she would spend time together wrapped up in their little world loving each other.
It was a hot August day when Ella got up and rushed to the door to go see William again. But before she got to the door Catherine asked, “Where are you going on such a day?”
Ella said nonchalantly, “To the market like I always do, sister.” Catherine was in one of her finest dresses with her long blonde hair intertwined up in a complicated hair do.
She said, “Well make it quick. My fiancé will be coming today for tea and my dear sister should be here to meet him.”
Ella nodded her head, “I shall make it quick then.” She rushed off to the stall and saddled up on her favorite horse, Clash, and rode off to their spot. Wind whipped through her light brown hair as she picked up speed because she ached to be with her love.
When she reached the well, there stood William, but in different attire than his normal. He was now in dress with fine materials. He helped her down and said, “Let us walk.”
After they strode the streets in quiet she asked with anticipation, “What is it William?”
He glanced down to her and confessed, “My parents have arranged to whom I must marry.” She froze and her eyes began to release tears. He wiped a tear with his hand and said sadly, “Ella with all my heart I love you, but I can’t go against my parent’s wishes. There just cannot be more for us.”
Ella’s heart was cracking at this point of their last farewell. When she returned home, her servant rushed to get her prepared for the Duke of Normandy and his royal family. When the servants dressed her and pinned her hair in an elegant bun, she sat at her vanity trying to drive herself to move.
When the time came, she did somehow manage to descend the stairs to notice her parents were with a couple dressed in the highest fashion of clothes and Catherine holding onto the crook of a man’s arm. Ella curtsy respectfully to the king and queen of Normandy. And when she turned toward her dear sister’s fiancé, Ella stood there in shock.
The man she loved, that was to be bestowed away from her, was in the arms of her sister. The Duke of Normandy snapped out of his surprise and bowed to her with his intense eyes trying to convey that she must move.
She quickly broke into a new facade and played her part as a good host. It was hard to keep from breaking down when news that their wedding date was set in two days from then.
In those two days she kept busy by helping with the wedding setup and would dodge William any chance she could get.
It was the night before the marriage and a ball was being held at the Abel’s household to celebrate the unification of their offspring. Ella leaned against the rail of the balcony letting wine numb her very soul. The sound of a cough interrupted her silence and Ella turned to see the last person she wanted to see.
William stood next to her saying, “Ella….”
She shook her head and her lips trembled to say, “Don’t William. You know as well as I that there is no way for us to be together. If we should run away, we shall both disgrace our families and hurt my sister and your fiancé.” His lips started to pull into a frown.
“If it helps, my heart will always belong to you Ella.”
Ella took another gulp of her wine and said knowing this would be the last time she would be able to say it, “William you’ve had my heart since I met you and it still is yours.”
She left the balcony and her heart that night. The day William and Catherine had become man and wife, Ella returned back with her parents to their house. The deafening silence echoed throughout every hall as she slowly went to her room.
As she stared at the plain ceiling for her room and tear trailed down her cheek. Feeling like her world was collapsing, she barely whispered to no one. “I wish. I wish.”
That I never met William? Her mind argued, No, I don’t.
Maybe that I could be with William? She still didn’t feel satisfied with her thought.
She sighed as she turned over to her side and softly said, “I wish that my heart would stop this hurting?”
It was the next day Ella was found cold and color from her once red cheeks and lips were drained. She had passed away with no vital signs of sickness or foul play, but from a broken heart.
The Birth of the Priestess of Zeus
Justine Facet was born in the city of London and brought up mostly by her mother, Miranda, since her father, Joshua, traveled around a lot. Under her mother’s watch she was pushed to be a perfect, obedient, and an upcoming woman. Through this training Justine did everything she was told because she wanted to be obedient and make her mother proud. This continued until she hit the age of nineteen.
Her mother had caught the flu and died leaving her under the care of her father. This death was a hard hit for both of them. So, Justine traveled with her father to Plymouth Rock for a new start in the new world. Her father wanted to have the best for his daughter, so he sent her to the best finishing school in Ipswich to continue what his wife wanted for his daughter. And the fact he would be at sea for the year trading.
Sitting in the carriage, Justine held her hands firmly together. This is what my mother would have wanted for me. I had to be the best, Justine deeply thought.
Jolting Justine out of her bubble of thoughts, the carriage made a sudden halt throwing her forward. What was the meaning of this? She pondered more, We couldn’t have arrived yet?
Peeking out the window, two men had stopped the carriage and quickly began to kill her escorts in the process. Flying out of the other side of the carriage, two of the men caught her movement. Holding the gun up at her, Justine threw her pouch of money at them hoping they would leave her alone.
But the one man laughed as he wrapped his arms around the back of her body. It was more than money they wanted. Justine screamed in terror and kicked when his hand slid up her leg under her dress. But that wasn’t stopping his hold on her. From the close proximity, the smell of alcohol reeked from him, as his mouth made contact with her neck. Fear crept up into her body and she by instinct to survive, Justine bit his arm forcing him release her.
Fleeing toward the woods, the rain began to pour down adding another element to battle in her quest to survive. But Justine was stronger than that. She pushed herself to move faster when stepping into a clearing of a field. Quickly Justine scanned around to see if she lost the bad men while catching her tired breath.
No one, she thought.
Everything was quiet as she walked further into the field; only the sound of her ragged breath and heart beat filled the silence.
I lost those robbers thankfully, her mind seemed to repeat. Slowly sitting on the ground, Justine was not sure where to go next in her surroundings. But now I am lost as well. Where could the road be that I need to find Ipswich?
All she could do at that moment was stared at the dress which was ripped from the many branches, and her arms and legs were decorated with scratches. She tried to stop her body from shaking, but the suddenly a gush of cold wind was everywhere, making Justine shiver violently.
“Why did you ever have to die mother?” Justine whispered in anger. If her mother never got sick, Justine would still be home in London, safe and warm.
Never in her life did she ever feel as hopeless until an abrupt noise of a branch snapping came behind her. Justine only got a glimpse of the wretched men towering over her before the flash of bright light obstructed her vision. The men never got there way with her for they all were struck by lightning from the grey stormy sky.
The Birth of the Priestess of Apollo
The “Olde City” in Philadelphia was an area near the Delaware River, where William Penn and the Quakers first settled, including the old family of the Taylors. Lucinda Taylor was one of the many children in her family raised under the Quaker rules. Rules Lucinda keenly broke with every chance she could because unlike her sisters, Lucinda wanted out and to not be forced into things she never wanted.
The last straw was when her father announced she was going to marry at age of seventeen to a man named Roderick Penn, a strict Quaker that tried everything in his power to tame her.
Sometime in the night she rode off and eventually landed in a small town called Ipswich. There she was able to make her own rules in her life and began to teach children to read and write, since she was an educated woman.
One afternoon the idea of a witch hunt spread and chaos coursed throughout the town. Trying to stay out of the mobs way, Henry Jefferson’s, the one little boy in her class she had grown fond of, house was inflamed. Mrs. Jefferson’s screams for help blended in with the crowds panic. Henry was still inside and Lucinda made a quick decision to save him since no one else was around.
Entering the unsteady house, heat and smoke engulfed her face making it hard to see and breathe. She yelled for Henry, only to find him curled in the corner crying. Lucinda grabbed his arm coaxing him to come. The house began to creak more and she pushed Henry in front and hastened their pace toward the door. It was then the ceiling gave and pieces fell toward them. The sound of wailing came to Lucinda with concern and she soon began to gain awareness they were still in trouble.
Lucinda tried to push her body up, but pain retched through her body. Debris had pinned her body from the waist down. She glance up to see Henry weeping as he tried to push off the timbers. But it was no use, the taste of blood was pooling into her mouth and Lucinda knew she wouldn’t make it.
Grabbing Henry’s hand she choked out, “Henry do you see the door? Run to it and find your mother. Now.” The house gave another loud groan making Henry look up frightened and ran toward the door.
As the fire spread faster and faster, the sound of the crowd’s screams, her heavy breathing, and the pounding of her heart that echoed loudly in her chest slowly dissipated. Only the crackling of fire reached her ears before she lost consciousness and died as a hero.