A young man came upon a strange looking
tree as he walked to meet his girlfriend, the tree was an ordinary Oak with just
one small thing out of place. Instead of
a vine hanging off of a branch there was long brown hair. Once he came up next to the tree he started
laughing. Hearing his laugh the tree
turned toward him and with a female voice said, “Apollo, knock it off. I am practicing.”
Apollo replied, “I’m sorry your treeness but your hair is showing and I’m on my way to see your sister, Echo.”
The woman stated, “She is practicing something in the yard.”
“Thank you, Bridget. I think you have something on your mind which is why your hair is showing.” Apollo said.
“I’ll walk you there.” Bridget replied.
Bridget changed into a beautiful woman with brown hair that curled below her shoulders as she took a step. They walked in silence for what seemed like ages, but it was only ten minutes to the yard of Bridget’s house and Echo was practicing still. As they approached Bridget shouted, “Echo look who’s here to see you.”
“Bridget, don’t interrupt me….Oh, hello Apollo.” Echo said setting down her sword.
Bridget continued walking into the house while Echo and Apollo continued to talk. As she walked up the stairs her hair slowly turned red and lengthened. Once inside she ran into her brother and said, “Helios, if father asks, I am at Court because mother is ill. I have to change into Court clothes and I do not want to see father or the man he has with him. And also Apollo is outside with Echo again.”
Helios started for the front door but turned around and said, “Are you sure you are going to Court because mother is not or just to see Pyrithos? Think about that whilst I go and keep an eye on Apollo and Echo.”
Bridget ran up the stairs to her room, she was wondering how her brother could always see through her. She chose her best green floor length dress to set off the red hair she wore to Court. As soon as she was certain that it fit the way she wanted she opened her door and with a regal air she walked down the hall and slowly down the stairs. At the bottom of the stairs she saw that not only was her father waiting for her but the visitor was as well. The visitor was looking at her with lust in his eyes and this made her uncomfortable. Her father said, “Lord Odin this is Bridget. Bridget this is the Lord of Lagos, Lord Odin. Now, Bridget I need you to go back upstairs and pack your things you are leaving for Lagos with Lord Odin.”
“What do you mean by I’m leaving for Lagos? I am not going to go anywhere with him.” Bridget stated with a force that most would cower from.
“My dear you will do what I tell you because you are my daughter and you live by my rules until such time you have a husband then you live by his.” Her father replied getting red in the face.
As Bridget walked back up the stairs she was wishing that she said something about Pyrithos. She also overheard Lord Odin say, “Bran the next time you see her she will be obedient.” Bridget took a detour on her way to her room to speak to her mother but she saw Helios walking out of their mother’s room and so she raced up to him and said, “Helios you have to do something. I believe Bran just sold me to the Lord of Lagos. What am I to do?”
Helios replied, “Just pack like he wants you to but I will try to talk him out of it and I will think of a plan if that doesn’t work.”
Bridget walked slowly towards her room and reluctantly started packing but took off her green dress and put on a plain blue one. She laid out her green dress and with an idea she took a sheet of parchment and wrote a letter to Pyrithos saying:
I wish that it was you who was to take me from my father’s home. Unfortunately, Bran has sold me to Lord Odin, Lord of Lagos. My hope is that you find out about this before it cannot be reversed. If you need to, please use your mother’s influence with the church to make it seem like we have been in the process of marriage for at least a fortnight.
Please hurry my love.
Bridget set the letter on her dress, picked up her bag of clothes, and shut the door behind her. She slowly walked along the hall and down the stairs; she lost the regal air she had when she was going to Court. As she approached the bottom of the stairs she could see Helios arguing with their father. She could tell that Helios was losing the argument so on approach she set her bag down and touched Helios on the shoulder and whispered in his ear, “Give the items on my bed to Pyrithos and help him.” She then turned to her father and Lord Odin and said, “I am almost ready to go, but I would like a few minutes alone with my sister before I go.”
They both muttered an agreement and Bridget turned around on the spot and walked out the door heading back out into the yard. Apollo was still talking to Echo when Bridget walked outside. Bridget walked up to them and said, “Apollo, I need a few minutes alone with Echo.”
Apollo walked a few yards away and Echo asked, “Why did you do that, Bridget?”
“Because, Echo, father just sold me to the Lord of Lagos. I need you to go into the woods and find where I left my ring and then give it to Helios and say it belongs to the letter recipient.” Bridget explained.
"What are you talking about?” Echo asked letting concern fill her voice.
“Have Apollo take you to where he found me and start there. Once you see the ring you will just know.” The front door opened, Bran and Lord Odin walked out. Bridget whispered, “You got to find the ring it is my last hope of coming back here.”
Lord Odin asked with an urgent voice, “Bridget are you ready now?”
Bridget replied with a contemptuous look at Echo, “Yes, my Lord.”
Bridget walked over to the carriage, gave an evil look at Bran, and let Lord Odin help her in. Once the carriage started moving Bridget sat up against the wall as far away from Lord Odin as she could get. Lord Odin asked in interest to what he bought, “Is it true that you can change your appearance?”
“I used to be able to all the time but lately I have been limited, ever since I broke my arm as a matter of fact.” Bridget replied hiding a smile.
Bridget knew that there were only a few reasons that would limit her changing; she said the less offensive one knowing that the real reason should not be reviled, least of all to this man who bought her. Lord Odin continued his line of questioning with, “And when was that?”
Thinking back to a real injury Bridget replied, “I fell out of a tree about three months ago. Before you ask Bran had no idea because I went to the town healer and she fixed it.”
Lord Odin asked, “How did you know that would be my next question?”
Bridget turned her head towards the small window next to her and with a smirk she stated, “Considering you bought me off of my father and he didn’t tell you about my fall that was the next logical question. Besides only my sister knew about that fall.”
Looking with a bit of concern at Bridget Lord Odin asked, “Is that the only damage?”
Thinking of Pyrithos, Bridget said, “Yes, unless you count the fact I was forcibly removed from my home by yourself.”
Lord Odin replied, “You were not forced, you were bought. If you wanted to stay you should have found yourself a local boy by now.”
“It is not my fault if the local boys cannot take a proper hint. Also by days end the whole town will know that Bran sold me and some of the Court will demand they get me back.” Bridget said passingly.
Lord Odin commented, “Is that so? I doubt that any Court will want a Changeling back after it has been sold.”
“A Changeling is what you think I am? You are sorely mistaken, even ‘damaged’ I can change faster and longer than a Changeling. A Changeling can only fool by changing while we can permanently change.” Bridget started.
Lord Odin cut in and said, “I thought that the Order of Danu died out.”
“Most did the rest hid as Changelings or did a permanent change and taught their children to stay permanent.” Bridged replied.
Lord Odin just stared at her in disbelief. Bridget thought that she might have given away too much. Lord Odin asked, “Is it true that if your children can’t change they can inherently fight?”
“Sometimes, but that depends on how strong the mother is.” Bridget replied.
Bridget was hoping that her mother’s history of illness would pop into Lord Odin’s mind and he would stop suspecting that Echo might be a better fighter than her practicing showed. She also didn’t want him to suspect her brother was like her or else he might start suspecting everyone new to be her brother. As it was he took her bait and asked, “Is that why your sister practices so much?”
“Yes, Bran pushed her into practicing multiple different fighting styles because she showed no sign that she could change a hair. Helios used to be able to change but when he was young he saw something so traumatic that he can only change his hair. And the only reason Bran didn’t make him practice as hard as Echo was the fact that he did change and the potential of his powers coming back would diminish the more he got hurt.” Bridget stated as fact but anyone who actually knew the family would know better.
Lord Odin asked, “How did you get away so clean?”
Bridget decided to let her voice quiver as she said, “Bran would keep me locked up in my room and only let me out for meals and lessons. At least until I could control my powers. And then I could only be out in the yard. Part of my lessons was how to behave at Court.”
Lord Odin asked, “Why do you call your father Bran?”
“Because mother did not want us to call him father; he told her that she would have equal say but once he brought her home he dictated to her and so this was her revenge. By the way I heard you tell my father that the next time he sees me I will be obedient. Before you say anything I want to you to know I will never be subservient to him no matter what you nor anybody else says.” Bridget replied.
Looking bemused Lord Odin said, “I have no intention to let you see your family again. There is nothing anyone can do to stop me.”
Bridget turned towards the window with the hope that her plan could stop him. She thought about the secret wedding that had taken place a week and a half ago, and how the stupid tradition of spending the wedding night together and then the bride having to live without her man back at her father’s house for a fortnight and a day. She also hoped that Apollo and Echo found her ring and Helios gave it, her Court dress, and the letter to Pyrithos.
Bridget let her mind go back to Court a few days prior and how she asked Lady Andromeda, Pyrithos’ mother, for a private audience with the pretense of talking about her mother. Once the audience was granted they walked down a deserted corridor and Bridget told Lady Andromeda about her fear that Bran will sell her during the fortnight and about the joy and sorrow of finding out she was pregnant. The sorrow being she might not be able to tell Pyrithos before she gets sold. Lady Andromeda found a way for Bridget to tell Pyrithos without breaking the tradition of the land, by coming to Court in the stead of her mother and wear green, the symbol of new life in Babos although most have forgotten that it should be worn only by pregnant women. The only people who will always have to follow the symbols are the Lords and Ladies of Babos.
A bump in the road pulled Bridget from her daydream. All too soon they were slowing down, Lord Odin shouted at the driver, “We should not be there yet, so why are we slowing down?”
The driver didn’t answer but soldiers opened the carriage door and said, “Sorry to bother you my Lord but we have received an urgent message saying that there was something stolen from the Lord of Babos. We are checking every rider and carriage to find what was missing. I am sorry my Lord but we are not able to say what is missing but if you would step out of the carriage we will try to search it as swiftly as possible.”
Lord Odin looked over to where Bridget was sitting but he could not find her anywhere so he complied and hoped that they would find her for him in the process. When only one of the soldiers searched inside the carriage Bridget knew she had her chance. All while still invisible she pushed the soldier up against the wall of the carriage by his neck and leaned in and whispered into his ear, “I am the Goddess Danu, you will obey me and then you will be rewarded according to how well my instructions are completed.”
Bridget then released him and he fell to his knees and asked, “Goddess, I did not think that you would return in my lifetime. It will be my honor to follow you without a reward. What is it that you need me to do?”
Bridget replied, “My kind Sir, you are to help me escape from the Lord, Odin, and then spread the word to all of the Order that you know that I have returned and I am with child.”
The soldier said, “Goddess, it is good news to hear. But if I might add that after I help you escape we do not know where the ceremony is to be for your child.”
Bridget said, “Have everyone start heading toward where Court is held in Babos.”
The soldier nodded once in compliance. He opened the door of the carriage and held it open while he told his captain, “There is nothing in here, sir. My apologies, my Lord, that we had to search your carriage.”
The soldier got down from the carriage and shut the door behind Lord Odin. As soon as the carriage pulled away everyone heard a loud scream in anger that came from Lord Odin. Bridget heard it and ran faster, with the knowledge that Odin would have the soldiers stop looking for the stolen item and start looking for her. Although she had an idea that she was what was stolen from the Lord of Babos.
Bridget decided to change into an old woman. Her hair changed to gray and her face gained wrinkles she also shortened herself in case the lord himself decided to look for her. Bridget knew that she could not go straight back to Babos so she went to the land west of Babos and slightly south of Lagos called Kaliton. Kaliton is a small land that she knew only few people would look for her there. Although Kaliton is a separate land most people support Babos in their war against the tyrant of Lagos.
Bridget paused for a moment closed her eyes and thought of Pyrithos and Helios and in her mind tried to contact them by thinking, ‘Kaliton’. She then closed her mind to any thoughts aimed at her. She did not need any distractions because she had to hide herself among people she barely knew. She came upon a small town just inside the border and went into the inn. Looking around she noticed the Innkeeper and to her surprise it was an acquaintance that she met at Court. She walked up to the Innkeeper and said, “I always wondered what businesses people at Court had. But then again, those in the Order of Danu are always welcome in Court.”
The Innkeeper turned around and said, “The Order is supposed to be dead. Now how may I help you?”
Bridget replied, “You met me at Court in Babos. My name then was Bridget but now it is Danu. I need food and shelter for the night and if possible, information.”
“My Lady, whatever you need. Would you require privacy with the information?” the Innkeeper asked.
“That would be nice, Aurora, I have a small number of people I can trust. And the same should be said of you too. Before I say more, we need to be in a more secure room.” Bridget replied.
Aurora led Bridget to a small storage room behind the bar. Once the door was closed Aurora knelt down and said, “Goddess Danu, may your reign only end when the stars don’t shine anymore.”
“Rise, Aurora, I need to exchange information. Firstly, there is a small group of people that never believed that we have truly died and they hunt us at every turn. Secondly, the hardest for you, you must spread about the death of Bridget Agnew. I know how hard it is for the order to lie but there are those that are tracking me and as I am mated, Bridget no longer exists.” Danu stated, giving up her given name for good; or as good as she could.
Aurora said, “That might explain why there has been a group of strangers camping outside our meeting house. But don’t worry we moved our location as soon as they settled. Unfortunately, there are some Order items that we have not dared to go get. As to our numbers here in this village I would say we have upwards of twenty.”
Danu’s face brightened and then she asked, “Can we all get together soon?”
“I will try.”
“I have a message for all of you. I will tell you only if you promise not to tell the others until I leave. Only as a failsafe in case the meeting cannot occur.”
“There is a room at the top of the stairs behind the shelves of cans. No one but the Order knows of that room. You can stay there until it is time for you to move on.”
“Thank you, Aurora. I will take the house special and bring your-self something as well. We have a lot to talk about and not enough time to talk.”
Danu moved the shelves of cans and Aurora bowed before leaving. The stairs that Danu traversed were wooden, oak she believed, and old but surprisingly not a sound escaped them as she went up. Once she reached the top of the stairs there were only two doors, one was straight ahead while the other was to her right. Danu opened the door to the right and it was a decent size restroom. She closed the door and went to open the other; this was a nice sized room for being at an inn. A huge bed was at the other end of the room and there was still room to move about on both sides. There was an intricately carved oak desk with matching chair along the left side of the room. Along the right side of the room there was an oak wardrobe with carved pictures of the Order of Danu lore. It didn’t seem long until Aurora knocked on the bedroom door. Danu opened it slowly until she saw Aurora’s face and then continued to open faster.
Aurora gathered up the discarded dishes and said, “My Lady it is an honor that you stumbled upon my quaint little inn and to be the one to inform the other members of the order if you cannot. I will leave you and bid you to have a pleasant nights rest.”
“Thank you, Aurora.” Danu got up and walked toward the door. She continued, “I hope you have a pleasant night as well.”
Danu shut the door after Aurora and went over to the oak desk. Danu traced the scene carved onto the chair with her fingertips, she proceeded to pull out the chair and sit down at the desk. Her hand drifted to the upper right hand drawer of the desk and attempted to pull it open; however, as old as the desk was it took several attempts and one final yank in order to open the drawer. Nestled in the drawer were parchment, writing ink, and a writing pen as well as sealing wax. She then moved to the left hand drawer, this one was opened after a few attempts. Located inside were candles and matches as well as a candle plate. Danu pulled out a sheet of parchment and everything else from the right drawer plus everything from the left drawer. She set the parchment in the middle of the desk and placed the candle plate to the left hand side of the parchment. After placing a candle upon the plate she struck a match, lit the candle, and brought the match up to her lips to blow out the orange flames. To the right hand side of the parchment she placed the writing ink, twisting off the top and placing it beside the ink. She put a ball of sealing wax in the holder part of the candle plate to melt while she wrote. Her hand hovered over the writing pen as if part of her brain did not want her to write down what she could not send. After what seemed an eternity but in all reality was, just a few moments she grasped the writing pen and dipped it into the writing ink. Danu took a deep breath before writing:
My Dearest Pyrithos,
I do apologize about having to stay away from you for so long. However, as much as it pains us to be apart what I am doing, what we are doing: is for the Order as a whole. I wish we could still be those naive children who ran around court without a care but we are older and it is not just the two of us anymore. Hopefully, Helios and Echo have given you what I asked them to and you realize that my coming to court was to tell you without words that soon it will be the three of us.
As soon as she was done writing her letter she reread it as the ink dried. Once she was sure the ink was dry she folded the letter and lifted the holder off of the candle plate and let the wax drip over the edges of the folds. Danu reached into her bossism and pulled out a marking ring. She placed the top of the ring into the wax and marked it with her seal. Once the ring was cooled down again she replaced the ring where she retrieved it.