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Chapter Fifteen

“Have you got the baskets?” Cardamon asked. Resplendent in his flowing black silk robe, he pulled the hood over his head and took the ancient staff from its nook in the corner of the kitchen.

“I have two of them. Are we going to the stones first?” Alanna was curious. She knew there were two large bonfires waiting to be lit at the castle ruins.

“Roark will drive so we can attend to both ceremonies. The one at the stones is for you and me, we’ll ask for the Goddess Gaia to bless Hallie and Ginger, granting their transfer to Montana as you promised.”

“You remembered.”

“My memory isn’t the problem, my dear.”

Alanna adjusted her own diaphanous white robes and pulled her charcoal black floor length cloak over her shoulders fastening the amber clasp at her throat.

A thunderous knock sounded at the front door, and Alanna jumped to answer it. On the doorstep, a lanky man stood with keys in his hand, the ancient Bentley gleaming in the late afternoon sun behind him.

“I thought the old girl would be the right one for tonight. She’s smooth as glass to ride in, and I doubt your old bones would appreciate the bumps going up to the castle.”

His Irish brogue was so thick Alanna had to listen carefully to understand him. She thanked the Goddess silently for arranging time in school here. It was easier than it would have been only two weeks ago.

“Fine idea Roark. Meet my niece, Alanna Quade. She’s my cousin Gaia’s great granddaughter.”

“Pleased to meet you.”

He gave her a half bow before turning to open the rear passenger door for them.

Alanna swept by him her cloak and robe swirling around her ankles. She wore sturdy sandals which she would remove when the got to the stones. Privately she was hoping the king stone would pull her in, but they didn’t have time for her to take a trip into the past tonight. She didn’t want to miss the bonfires.

Cardamon eased himself into the seat beside her, folding his long legs into the generous space between the front and rear seat.

“Roark, to the stones first. We wish to make our offering there as the sun sets.”

Their chauffer eased the 1950 four door Saloon into the street, quietly accelerating along the town streets and turning up the narrow road toward the stones. The sun shot brilliant white rays off the hood ornament, and the pearly white fenders reflected the deep red leaves as they swished against the hedgerow. The metallic pale gold on the hood gleamed and Alanna felt like a modern day Cinderella.

“Leave your cloak and your shoes here,” Cardamon suggested as he kicked off his own supple leather boots, revealing long elegant toes. “The stones are warm.”

Alanna folded her black cloak over the gate and slipped out of her sandals. They approached the altar stone as the sun approached the crest of the hill to the southwest, and laid their baskets down, one on each end of the granite slab.

“Should we cast a circle?” Alanna asked.

“Not tonight.” Cardamon’s voice changed, the timbre changing to a musical bass as he he continued. “Gods and Goddesses both alike, we as your blessing on this night. Bring your gifts across the sea and watch over our distant family.” He nodded at Alanna to finish their plea.

“Aine and Gaia, Cerannous too, I ask a blessing for my mothers through you. Give them all their hearts desire as they dance at the Samhain fire.”

Her white haired tutor joined his to hers as she intoned the last words of her request.

“As we ask, so mote it be, and it harm none, one times three.”

She felt the vibrations through the soles of her feet, and the warmth increased as she raised her arms.

The form shimmered, a ghostly wraith, as Cerannous materialized with his great triple crown. His antlered head towering, blocking their view of the king stone where it glistened in the last fraction of the sun.

“Your plea is answered child,” he rumbled. “I owe your line a boon. For the return of my crown, tell Morgan thank you once more. Hallie and Ginger will have their wish, and you shall travel as you wish.” He slipped an iridescent blue moonstone over Alanna’s head.

Alanna closed her hand over the stone, barely containing it within her fist. Turning it toward the rising moon, she saw faint rainbows playing over the deep azure blue. The humming sensation of power spilled through her and she dropped to her knees at the God’s feet.

He reached down, taking her hand before she could lower her head to acknowledge his gift.

“Rise child. You have a mission, and I wish to aid. This stone will allow you to move between time and space. Find the two lost souls who yearn, return them to each other for they have learned.”

“Thank you,” Alanna whispered.

“Find her amulet where she once lived, fine his sword where did serve.”

“I’ll bring the back to each other. I’ve found him already, she’s not to be found.”

“You’ll find her, but courage will be your friend. I must go,” Cerannous faded, leaving the scent of musty leaves and spicy yew behind.

“Come, my dear, we haven’t much time.” Cardamon’s voice penetrated her wonder.

“I have to be up at the castle now,” Alanna said as her cloak flew to her shoulders, and her shoes bounced at her feet with a life of their own.

Flinging the billowing cloak over her shoulders, she grasped the moonstone as she stepped into the thick soled leather sandals. The last thing she saw were Cardamon’s surprised blue eyes before she few into the silver of the new night.

The dark gray of the castle stones towered over the main gate as she joined the peasants and serfs trudging into the main courtyard. In the center wood balanced in a pyramid under a platform with a stake raising its slender form to the starry night sky.

She turned to look behind her, and saw bonfires at the crest of three hills, and another at the stones, which somehow glowed in the dense night air. Quickly pulling her hood over her head, she shielded her face from the curious, and felt the heat of the moonstone between her breasts.

Alanna drew a deep breath, this had to be the night of Muireanne’s death. She didn’t want to bear witness, but for some reason, she needed to be here. Glancing around, she found an archway slipping into the deep shadows, only to bump into another hidden figure.

“Watch yourself,” the maid was her double.


“How do you know me?” Her voice croaked.

“I am your child from many years hence. You and I need to leave. Come, we must find our way out of here before the bishop notices you are here.”

“But I promised my mother,” Niamh protested.

“You promised her you would stay safe,” Alanna said.

“How can you know?”

“I was there, I was you in my dreams.” Alanna grasped her hand and tugged.

“The bishop can’t see me, I’ve blinded him to me,” Niamh scoffed.

“He’ll kill you if he notices you. He’s the devils own spawn.” Alanna pulled her deeper into the shielded passage leading back to the gate.

“On that we agree.”

“Hold here,” Alanna pulled the moonstone from under her cloak. “Take us back to the cabin hidden, bring us safe and do my bidding.”

They swept into the darkness as they heard the shouts of a guard.

“Here, I know I saw her, she’s the image of the witch, and there was another, a twin, more evil than their mother.” The guard’s flickering torch chased them as they faded from his sight.

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