Kindred Spirit Lodge Presents
Parts 1 thru 8 (of 27)
by the Kindred Spirit Lodgers
May 30th~June 14th, 2002
(Part 1 - Shaman/Warrior - by Nessa) --
I remember myself.
I am Nessa, a warrior and a shaman.
Shameless is my Goddess and ferocious.
I am a horse-bound clanswoman;
a red haired, full-robed, bronze-belted swordswoman.
I am shaman of sacred groves and other old realms,
A poem by Nessa
The Celt sat up. It was no use. sleep would not replace the sounds in her head. They were sounds of drums and chanting. Memories of long ago and something calling to her spirit now, brought her to her feet. It wasn't a sense of urgency that moved her, but rather a sense of reverence and duty to her great belief.
The light of the moon and the Seven Sisters beamed through her open window. Fragrances from the garden below blended heavily with lilac, honeysuckle and night blooming jasmine. Calls from the night bird rang out through the warm air. Nessa consumed these things with all senses, as she quietly dressed.
The corridors of the Lodge were lit with the small torches Killian found in the village. They threw off a nice flicker that made the shadows dance. Nessa was glad she thought to oil the hinges on the huge door to the Lodge entrance. It was quiet as she pulled it open and stepped out into the silver night.
Tuttle was as alert as she always was when the Celt came into her presence. She lifted her nose for the touch she loved. It was unusual but not alarming that her beloved Nessa was here at this time of night fitting her bridle to her. Coming out of the stables without a saddle, the mare felt the grasp of mane and the weight of her rider settle from a leap to her bare back. Powerful warrior legs held close to the broad back. She lifted her ears at the slight whistle and bounded into the meadow on a full gallop toward the trees.
Nessa felt a kind of blending with Tuttle when she rode without the saddle. They felt movement and weight and heat from each other. This was the way of the ancients. Her thoughts rolled back to past times as she rode. She thought of the Isle of Shadow and her great teacher, Aife.
Her warrior skills were honed well at nineteen winters, but Aife would have her be more ready and rounded by learning the ways of the druids. Nessa complied and studied with the great, Inindair whose name means, 'daughter of the oak.' The Celt thought this thought and was suddenly aware of the nature of this calling. She understood that she was being summoned by the Spirit of the Oak. She gave way to intuition and gave Tuttle full rein. Horse and rider raced through the night, both sensing sacred meaning in every particle of motion.
Once inside the forest, Tuttle slowed to a soft lope and then a walk as the trees thickened around them. Nessa stayed watchful. She saw the owl swoop out from an overhead branch. It drifted in close and then swerved as if to say, "follow me little sister." Nessa watched as the night bird fluttered and dipped from tree to tree, waiting for the Celt to follow.
They were deeper into this forest than Nessa had been since moving to the Lodge. The air itself took on a kind of thickness as if it were teeming with living, invisible beings. She sensed them gathering about. Steady, she dismounted and walked, stopping just short of entrance to a circle of trees so beloved it made her tremble to be in their presence. But Nessa was Druid now. She belonged among the oaks. The very name of Druid means finder and knower of oaks.
Scattered just beyond and around the circle of ancient giants stood the equally powerful Maple, waving their flaming red leaves in the breeze. They seemed to be partnering with the Oak sisters toward the common purpose before them. They shimmered a psychic light that entered the shaman, welcoming her to the realm of sacred trees. Dropping the reins to the forest floor, Nessa entered the circle.
Standing in the center, Nessa turned slowly to face the oldest oak in the circle. The moon gave her gift of light to the exquisite scene. The heart of the Celt beat hot with wild yearning. She breathed deeply, sensing the powerful spirit housed in the monument tree before her. She bowed her head and whispered, "Mother Dair (Oak), your inin (daughter) awaits your bidding."
The air rippled around Nessa. Faeries of every size and description appeared within the circle. They sat on stones and lounged on branches. They skittered and danced as they moved from place to place. They tittered in shyness, glancing furtively between the shaman and the Mother Oak. Nessa took in a breath to hold her in place when she saw the venerable Spirit of the Oak appear within the tree trunk... blending with it. She staggered back when the being smiled. "Woo hoo, scary warrior!" Giggling faeries teased. "Some big Druid... ha, ha."
Nessa could barely speak "I... I take your will upon me, Mother." She dropped to a knee and bowed her head.
The Spirit's voice penetrated right into the Celtic heart. "Stand young walker between the worlds. I desire your attention."
Nessa moved slowly, not sure of her footing in this place between worlds. Yet if she was a walker between the worlds as the Spirit called her, she ought to at least be able to stand. She took heart and lifted herself to her full height. She focused her gray eyes on the vision. "You have my attention Mother." The tittering faeries quieted.
"It seems we have an unwanted guest here in the realm of Faery. We know not how she got here but she is rapidly losing all knowledge of who she is as she dwells here. The Faery have named her `Einni (anyone) since she does not know her own name." The Spirit of the Oak nodded to a troop of guardians standing by. "Bring her." The Spirit smiled. Again, Nessa felt her legs melting to mush.
The guardian troop filed away with a seriousness that was comical to the lord, given the attitude of the other faeries in the circle. They came back after a short time Nessa thought, but could not be sure since time was so elusive here. They walked with a very pretty young woman. Her clothes were those of a warrior Nessa could see, though they were tattered and worn through. The Celt was struck with a sense of familiarity. It was the clothes. She had seen this particular uniform before. Suddenly she was struck with a thundering rage as she remembered the insignia of the hated Tantalas. This warrior was an enemy.
(Part 2 (Shaman/Warrior) - by Nessa) --
Nessa's hand closed around her sword hilt. Memories of battles and ambushes where Kindred fell jabbed at her. Her beloved friend Alison took a twisted crossbow bolt through the shoulder. Had it not been for the tested skill of their healer, Amber, Alison might have lost that arm. Thoughts of Killian's rape at the hands of one of Tantalas' most evil soldiers drove the hatred to a pinnacle in the Celt. She drew her sword.
"Stand down shaman." The voice of the Oak Spirit shook the air.
"But Mother, she is evil!" Reluctantly, Nessa held all movement, but stood just ready to lunge.
The voice softened. "That much is clear daughter. But you will not spill blood on this ground." The Spirit watched the warrior in a moment of reassurance and continued. "Look at her walker. She is barely aware that you stand there. She has become as a child in her perceptions."
Nessa looked at the Tantalas warrior. `Einni (pronounced, any and means, "anyone") seemed to have nearly no attention span. Her eyes glanced from one faery to the next, up at Nessa and back to the Spirit. There was a slowness about her that made it clear that she was no threat in this state. Still, there was something about the way she moved. She held shadows close... as if she belonged to them. 'This one has secrets' Nessa thought.
Nessa moved her gaze to the Spirit of the Oak. "She is the reason you called me from my bed Mother?"
"You must guide her through the realm of timelessness and take her from our world. It requires little from you daughter, but we cannot do it. We cannot find where she entered so that we may send her back the way she came." The oaken face seemed sad.
The Celt knew that all she needed to do was to take `Einni's hand. She knew she could lift the veil and walk back into the world of human knowing. She knew because she was taught to do it many years ago. Nessa determined to show the evil bitch the end of her sword immediately after crossing.
The Spirit seemed to read the mind of the shaman. "You must not kill her then either walker... not right away. She has to show you where she hid our sacred immram (soul stone), which you will return to us." She paused and spoke softly. "That, my daughter, is why I called you from your bed."
Nessa blinked. "What happened, Mother? How did she get your soul stone?"
The Spirit explained. ''As you know, there are accidental avenues whereby a human can enter our realm. It is our belief that this human did not come accidentally but came through with a purpose. She found the entrance and stole our stone from us. She was clever and fast."
"But she got out and hid the stone. Why is she back Mother?"
"She was running from battle daughter... the battle in which you and your Kindred defeated the wicked Tantalas. She ran to the only place she could run, to hide completely... here." The Spirit of the Oak sent a look that Nessa felt to her bones. "You know my will daughter."
Nessa understood her duty to return the sacred soul stone to the otherworld. She could not deny it. But she also knew that Einni's confusion would clear soon after the entrance to their realm. The warrior was crafty in her thinking and would not make it easy for the Celt. This evil woman could have allies unheard of. Who knew what barriers may be in store?
(Part 3 - by Nessa) --
The warrior druid stood her ground as if held by some great invisible hand. Her throat clenched at the duel within her heart, yet she managed to speak out a hoarse request. "I will need rope to bind the woman."
The Spirit of the Oak nodded. She lifted a hand toward the Faery guardians in a gesture. Two of them scuttled off and returned in a strange mix of time. The Celt knew she needed to leave the otherworld. Her perceptions would be fragmenting soon. The two guardians held out a coil of woven rope. It was obviously heavy for them. Nessa lifted it, dipping her arm into the center and husking it to her shoulder. She swallowed in resignation and held her hand out to `Einni.
The stupefied warrior responded naturally and took the offered hand. Nessa turned to lead them both toward the edge of the sacred Oak circle. She paused to look again on the Mother Spirit and nodded in silent understanding. She would find and return the sacred soul stone or die in the service of her task. "Bless me Dru`antia" (mother of the trees).
"We will all be with you shaman/warrior... you will succeed if you listen, and you must succeed."
Nessa took that last bit of advice as a tool and turned to the edge of the circle. Still holding the hand of the thief, her other arm rose as if lifted by the air. That same air rippled and shimmered all around them. The Faery were gone. The vision of the Spirit was gone. But Nessa still felt their presence.
Quickly now, Nessa pulled `Einni just under a Maple outside the Oak circle. Dawn was stretching through the forest. The light of the sun glimmered off the bright leaves that dressed the powerful giant. The Celt bowed her head in reverence. She heard Dru`antia's voice within her. "We will all be with you... " She knew then that every living thing of the forest was her ally.
`Einni sat dazed against he base of the Maple. She offered no resistance to having her hands and feet tied by the tall warrior. She was pretty in a way that was more under the surface, showing up through her eyes and the soft smile. Her face was battle-scarred and leathery from too many long days spent marching under a cloudless sky and no trees. This was Nessa's first clue that her captive was not from this fair land. Her hair was dark as ink. Judging from this, one pierced nostril and olive skin that peeked out from a tear in her shirt; Nessa thought she must be from far away... perhaps Turkey.
The Celt reached into her side pouch and pulled out a piece of parchment and quill. Carefully she drew a small cut on her forearm with her dagger. She dipped her quill in her rich red blood and wrote,
Kindred, I have come upon a task of some magnitude. Please take care of my Tuttle and perhaps send a prayer.
She tied the note to her mare's mane, whispered to a flickering ear and gave a light slap to Tuttle’s hindquarter. The beautiful war-horse loped through the woods and out of sight.
(Part 4 - by Killian) --
Killian sat on a small stool, trimming dead parts off of the array of flowers found in the garden beds, set all over the Lodge. Pansies, sage, and coreopsis, mingled with alyssum, penstemen, lobelia, and petunia.
Today killian was working on the bed by the stable, when she saw Tuttle gallop in, riderless. She jumped up and went to Tuttle in a panic.
"Whoa girl, where ya going? Where is Nessa?"
Tuttle was soaked with sweat and breathing hard. Killian looked her over to see if she had been hurt. She hadn't. Then she saw the parchment. She took it and looked at it, noticing it was written in blood. Killian screamed loud and long, bringing out her Kindred to find out what had happened.
Killian was dumbstruck. She handed the letter off to Klancy to read aloud. Killian nearly jumped on Tuttle to take her to find Nessa, but she knew that planning was needed. She waited to hear what her Kindred would say.
(Part 5 - by Shasa) --
Shasa closed her eyes and felt the cool dampness settle within her. She was thankful that her sleepless nights were becoming less frequent, yet she'd made peace with the darkness, and had actually come to enjoy the solitude of the night. The secret had been to simply accept and embrace it.
She'd spent her sleepless nights since returning to the Lodge, either roaming the woods or sitting, as she was now, at the edge of the water. She let the good memories of her time spent at sea spread throughout her body, and take her to another time. The hours slipped by, as Shasa drifted.
Until she heard the bloodcurdling scream.
Shasa's eyes flew open, and for a moment, she was disoriented. And as she realized the sound came from her new home, her heart leapt in fear. The sailor ran up the sloping path, and as she approached, she saw her Kindred also racing to gather at the stable. She joined them, wide-eyed and panting.
Killian stood distraught, and Klancy was reading from a parchment. The note was from Nessa, and was short. She'd seemingly found trouble, and simply wished to inform her Kindred. It was not a request for help.
A feeling of anger mixed with Shasa's concern. Was it not Nessa who had made her promise not to run off alone when trouble came?
"I don't know about the rest of you, but I'm going after her." Shasa vowed. "She might not want my help, but damned if she isn't gonna get it anyway."
Shasa moved her sisters aside as she pushed further into the stable to get to Kirsa. A hand on her arm halted her.
(Part 6 - by Klancy) --
Drama," Klancy growled, the breeze stirring her glorious chestnut tresses against her exquisite brow as she studied Nessa's letter. "Always with the drama, Nessa, that blood-for-ink, mush-for-brains, tree-hugging ninny . . . "
As sometimes happened with the Courtly Butch, sarcasm disguised grave concern. Her blue eyes squinted through the sunlight flooding the Lodge's fenced corral, to take in the silent circle of Lodgers surrounding her.
"You were right to summon us, little sister." Klancy's tone gentled as she turned to Killian, who stood beside her large-eyed and white as a sheet, Tuttle's reins clenched in her delicate hand. "Although the scream you used to do so, half-deafened Artemis herself. "
"'A task of some magnitude,'" Alison murmured, taking the crumpled parchment from Klancy. Worry creased her beautiful brow, and she flexed her left shoulder once, as if a twinge of memory pained her briefly. "Celts! Are they never just a little more specific, as to location?"
"Tuttle will find her." Killian's voice was strained. "If we could all just stop talking long enough to actually move -- "
"Patience, lass." Klancy's hand was warm on the back of the girl's neck. "Your Nessa needs your courage now, not your panic.
"I know. I know, I'm okay." Killian closed her eyes, and drew a deep, shuddering breath.
Aria put her hand on her shoulder, in silent sympathy, and DJ put her arm around the trembling girl. Killian leaned into her comforting touch, gratefully.
"I'll gather arms." Dory spoke with her accustomed calm. "If I can ask a few -- "
"I'll help," Ikarias offered at once. The half-dragon's luminous hazel eyes usually held a glint of amusement, but now there was no trace of it. She'd grown fond of the big Celt in recent weeks.
Freya's hand rose, as did Catt's and Robyn's.
"DJ, sweet amiga, please gather our maps." Klancy nodded as the four women trotted toward the Lodge. "Rach, pray help Amber prepare a satchel of medical supplies. Kit, MerryAngel, Sirius, sarah, please help Shasa prepare our horses."
Klancy drew in a deep breath, her eyes on the horizon. "We ride for Nessa."
(Part 7 - by Nessa) --
Nessa watched her mare disappear through the trees. "Go with Brigit's own speed girl." She whispered. She was fully certain that once Tuttle reached the Lodge, the Kindred would take to the trail in search of her. They knew nothing of what they would be getting into. Nessa wanted it to be a simple thing... the finding and returning of the stone. She looked down at the Tantalas warrior, now coming out of otherworld stupor. She sensed that nothing about this was simple.
Dark eyes flashed. The captive squirmed in her bindings. "What is this and who in ala's name are you?!" The accent was definitely Eastern. "Fucking untie me you bitch!" But the words were definitely universal. Nessa looked back up at the waving leaves of the Maple and asked silently for strength in patience.
The Celt sucked in a deep draft of air, letting out slowly. She wanted in her bones to kill this woman. She wasn't sure what exact evil the woman had within her but she understood that it was as if her soul was taken by some inhuman force. She closed her eyes and envisioned the film of protection she would be relying on. It wrapped around her in a swirling motion. Nessa opened her gray eyes and looked into pure hate... and something else. Something strange. A hardness like granite, yes, but also a questioning, as if the hateful one almost recognized the Celt.
"Ye no doubt watched me hack the heads from a few of yer stinkin' comrades, Tantalas bitch." Nessa delighted at the fear she saw come over that twisted face. But it did not last.
"You no doubt found a little cunt or two whose backs I bloodied until they begged to be fucked just to make me stop." `Einni spat back.
A wave of rage filled Nessa to the brink. She backhanded the bound woman and watched her fly back and tumble on the ground. 'Stand down shaman' Nessa heard the echo of the oak Spirit and made herself calm. She walked slowly to the panting figure and leaned down. Nessa grabbed a handful of a filthy shirt and pulled the woman roughly to her feet. She dragged her back to the tree base and pressed the creature hard against the trunk.
"Alright Turk. I'll be gettin' it straight with ye." Nessa held her face close to the woman and hissed. "We are going to be partners. You are going to take me to where you hid the Sacred Soul Stone of the Faery, and I am going to see to it that you bloody live long enough to get back to Turkey!"
An evil smile crossed the lips of the Turk. "Oh, so we are making a deal are we?" She waited until Nessa pulled back from her. "What makes you think I want to go back to my homeland?"
"What do you want then?"
"That stone is full of power and that is what I want. I want this land and everything in it. That stone can make it possible to uncover all the riches in that enchanted land. We could share it druid." The dark ugliness of greed engulfed what may once have been a gentle soul. The Turk looked expectantly at Nessa and held her hands out as if to ask to be untied.
"I don't suppose it matters to you that every living thing in the land of Fairy will wither and die once the veil is permanently destroyed. That is what will happen if the stone is not returned. It is the only protection the little people have against evil such as yourself. No, `Einni, I'll not share in that."
Nessa pulled her gaze away from the dark eyes of the Turk. She saw a raw power there and wondered what kind of dangerous magic this woman could inflict. She wondered how this heartless creature came to own such power. It came right through her eyes. She realized that she would have to stay away from the gaze of the Turk. She ripped her sleeve from her left arm. "I'll be blindfoldin' ye now."
Nessa heard the woman spew, "It won't help for long Celt." She tied the sleeve around the Turks head and held her by the arm. She untied her feet then and held an arm. We'll be walking now. She pulled the blind beast along with her, having no clue where they should go. She just had to move as if some divine force would lead. She hoped her Kindred would show up soon. Sooner or later, she would have to sleep.
(Part 8 - by Nessa) --
The way through the thick forest was not marked. Without Tuttle there as her homing companion, Nessa struggled with direction. It was made worse by having a less than cooperative, blindfolded thief to guide. Nessa thought of some adage about the blind leading the blind. She knew they had to get to some water soon. The sun was high and her throat was parched.
The voice of the Spirit of the Oak echoed again, 'You will succeed if you listen' The Celt halted. She jerked the Turk to a stop beside her and held them both still. Her captive grunted in protest but Nessa insisted. "Shhh... listen." She held her breath still. Water! She heard it. She lifted her face to the treetops and sighed a thanks. With a quick, rough tug she jarred the Turk forward and they headed for the sweet sound of water running.
Nessa pushed her captive down on the ground just at the bank of the precious stream. She simply put a big hand at the back of the woman's head and pressed her face to the water. She debated for a moment whether or not to drown the bitch but felt the sting of the Great Mother of the Oak in her head, and thought better of it.
After the Turk drank her fill, Nessa checked her bindings and blindfold. Satisfied that they were secured, she pulled the woman to the base of a shade tree and bound her ankles together. She left her for the stream. Goddess how good was this water!!! Nessa swallowed the pure element in long, savored gulps. She was exhausted. She knew she had to sleep soon. The night before was eventful and restless to say the least. She walked to the shade tree and sat down beside `Einni. Her curiosity took precedence over sleep at this moment though. She had to ask, "How did you find the portal to the realm of Faery `Einni?"
The low, shifty laughter seemed to creep like a slimy dark thing over Nessa's skin. She shook it off and listened. "I am not a mere warrior. I am a sorceress... great among my people. I have many secrets and knowledge of the dark arts. Tantalas brought me into service with the promise of getting close to the realm of the Faery. That is all I wanted from her." The black sound of the sorceress' voice grated.
Nessa sat silent against the tree. It seemed that her eyes closed without will. The Turk was bound and blind. The Celt thought it would just have to be alright to sleep for a short time. She drifted to the soft sound of the stream in her ears and the feel of the light breeze moving the wisps of red hair around her face. Nessa fell into a dream.
She was in the land of Faery. She was looking for the stone but had it. She continued to search with the help and guidance of the little people. No one seemed to know that the stone was right there held firmly around the neck of of a little Gnome-like Faery named, Fios (means Knowledge). They all seemed intent on looking everywhere but the obvious. Little people scurried all over the forest and valley, searching. Nessa too, kept her attention to looking here and there. Fios stayed very close to her. He was the only one who didn't search. He seemed to be waiting for someone to notice the stone. 'Why doesn't he say something?' thought the dream observer that was the sleeping Celt.
Then with a sudden jerk back to her senses Nessa opened her eyes in time to see a maniacal Turk slicing the air with the Celts own sword. Just before the blade reached the stunned warrior, a bleating cry ripped through the forest and a flying arrow pinned the sorceress's sword arm to the shade tree by the sleeve. The sword clattered to the ground.
`Einni Pulled a mighty pull and ripped the arm of that shirt straight off. She dashed away with magical speed. She seemed nearly to disappear before the astonished gray eyes of the Celt.
Next, Nessa saw a courtly hand reach down in a gesture to help her up. "Klancy!" she managed and grasped the offered hand. She was pulled to her feet easily by the Highlander. She looked around. Kindred came just as she knew they would. Killian jumped from Tuttle's back and ran for Nessa. Nessa enfolded her dear friend into her and looked at the relieved and smiling faces of her Kindred.
Sacred Stone - Continued in Parts 9 thru 17 (of 27)
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