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Stronghold 2 » Forums » The Sword and Buckler Inn » Bands of Gold ~ A Haunting Tale
Topic Subject:Bands of Gold ~ A Haunting Tale
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Lady Arcola
SHH Seraph
posted 10-16-09 13:28 EST (US)         


By Civis Romanus and Lady Arcola

All text copyright © 2009 by Civis Romanus and Lady Arcola. All rights reserved. No part of this story may be reproduced in whole or in part, or stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means without the prior written consent of the authors. This story and copyright notice is posted here with permission of and by agreement with HeavenGames LLC.

All characters in this story are historically based or fictitious. Any resemblance to any person living or dead is purely coincidental.

This is a two author written story. Please do not post in this thread. Go here to the Discussion and Comments thread to contact the authors or post a comment. All comments welcome.

Seraph Lady Arcola
"I believe that friends are quiet angels who lift us to our feet when our wings have trouble remembering how to fly."
"A real friend is one who walks in when the rest of the world walks out." -Walter Winchell

~ BFME2 Heaven | Stronghold Heaven | Stronghold 2 Heaven~

[This message has been edited by Lady Arcola (edited 01-23-2010 @ 00:51 AM).]

Civis Romanus
posted 10-16-09 21:31 EST (US)     1 / 35       

"Whenever you're ready, Miss Seren," spoke Professor Mac G., with an air of mild amusement and a small touch of impatience. "You do remember the mechanics of this simple assignment I just gave you?" She looked up to see the University's Professor of Archaeology standing before her, hand extended, palm up.

Oh how embarrassing, thought Katie Seren, as her cheeks flushed a brilliant pink. "Yes, of course, Professor. I was just thinking a bit about what you want us to do in our assignments." She looked once more at the index card she'd been dealt and at the scrawled name upon it-Alistair Heath-and quickly wrote down her own name with her ballpoint pastel green gel pen.

"Uh huh, plenty of time for that over Fall Break. That starts in a week's time Miss Seren, not today." The corners of his mouth twitched just enough to give the inkling of a smile, which for Professor MacGregor was quite a variation from his usual serious academic frown. He held out his hand and Katie placed the card directly in it, this time without glancing at the young man sitting in the small lecture hall two rows down and to the right. That would be Alistair Heath, the student whose name was on her index card.

Katie deliberately looked for a spot to her left at which to focus her blue green eyes. That way she would see neither the Professor nor anyone else in the class who might still be staring at her. What they would see if they were is a young woman of 21 years, blonde, slender, reasonably athletic from playing tennis, an overseas student from America studying archaeology at Edinburgh University, dressed in fitted but not too snug blue jeans, a yellow shirt and light blue sneakers. Her fair complexion needed no blush and her light pink lips were just a little bit pursed from the stress of the moment. Was she being that obvious? Gracious, she hoped not.

Finally, she gathered up the courage to glance to her right the way she covertly had quite a number of times before since joining the class a few days after it had begun. Inwardly she sighed in relief. Alistair Heath was giving his attention exclusively to white-haired, white-bearded, well-respected, Professor MacGregor, and nobody else. The Professor was reading out the names of the students paired together to complete his Fall Break assignment. Twenty students in the class and 10 index cards passed out at random, at least it seemed like it was at random. Each card had one student's name. A student getting a card was to write his or her name on the card, he instructed, and turn it back in and thus, an academic research partnership would be launched. Not unlike archaeology, he said, for you can't always be sure who your colleagues might be for a project. It would be the museum's or foundation's choice, not yours. It was their money and that was that. Now the names were being announced.

Professor Mac G (for that's how the students referred to him among themselves) read her's. "Miss Katie Seren and Mr. Alistair Heath." She swallowed hard and glanced towards the young man. He noticed and nodded, adding a brief smile, but that was all. He made no other gesture or movement. Katie felt so foolish about her past thoughts. Why, she was acting just like a 15-year-old with her first crush and not like a woman of 21, mature and sophisticated. Mature and sophisticated? She almost laughed out loud, but managed to suppress the giggle before it could become public and cause her face to redden once again. Meanwhile, the professor completed reading out loud the list of partners. And it was finsihed just in time for the class that day to end.

Well, there was no time like the present. Katie cleared her throat and steeled her nerves, for it was time to greet her new research partner. Katie decided she would begin the introductions since the card was given to her. She leaned over to pick up her text book and straightening prepared to leave her chair; but looking up she saw standing there, directly in front of her and quite unexpectedly, her research partner, Mr. Alistair Heath.
Lady Arcola
SHH Seraph
posted 10-17-09 22:53 EST (US)     2 / 35       
Alistair watched as the undergrad before him dropped the book again along with her bag that had been precariously teetering on the edge of the seat. Her mini laptop and mp3 player fell out on the wood floor which let the raspy voice of Bryan Adams croon out of the headphones as the mp3 was turned on.

Eyes twinkling now, he reached down and picked up the headset.
The Spirit soundtrack, Katie?”

Blushing again she looked away, “I believe that is what was playing. Why?”

A slow easy smile spread across his handsome face as he detected the mild irritation in her voice.

Just asking…

The lyrics “to you I will always return… echoed out as he removed the headset.

Katie’s startled eyes locked into his and she quickly looked away.

Alistair laughed and ran his free hand through his unruly auburn hair. “Come on research partner, let's get out of here and grab a pint.” He eyed her intently for a second, bent with easy grace, and quickly scooped the wayward items back up. In one deft move he had Katie in her light jacket and moving ahead of him.

Where are you parked today? We can drop off these things and keep the research folder –Have a good weekend Professor Mac G!”

Professor Mac G. merely smiled and shook his head. I hope she knows what she is getting herself into, flitted across his busy thought process. Alistair was one of the brightest students he would be teaching this year. In the third year of his graduate studies he not only had an uncanny knack for Archaeology, but also found time to pursue athletics offered at the University. He watched as Miss Seren was propelled by the charming Mr. Heath out through the door and into the hall. Shuffling the papers on his desk, he again shook his head. Celtic & Linguistics was her major and she had taken his class to better understand the world in which the languages were born, though last week when talking with her, Katie had implied she may pursue Archaeology along with her linguistics.

So young… so young,” he muttered.

Alistair just caught the last, “so young,” and smiled as and pretty too, popped into his mind. He couldn't help the soft laughter that followed that thought. Looking ahead at the young woman who was stalking out towards the door, he smiled again as she turned back towards him, her mild irritation showing once again.

What’s so funny now?"

Alistair answered with his signature wink, “I'll tell you over that pint I promised you.” He then whisked Katie out of the building.

It did not take the pair long to get things squared away. Within an hour they were at the pub that Alistair knew was close to the Archaeology department. The waitress asked for their ID's, verified his age as 24, turned to Katie and flipped hers over and looked back at the girl as though boring a hole right through her. She skeptically handed the ID back and returned with their drinks.

Alistair thumbed through the assignment sheets of the planning folder that had been placed onto the pub table. His eyes narrowed as the location sheet slipped out from the others. He knew from a short conversation a few minutes ago that Katie was only familiar with the immediate area around the university. Alastair held the sheet up again to check the location, then stood and picked up his cell phone. Flipping open the case he looked back at Katie.

Hang on Katie; I need to see what my family has going on next weekend. You know where we have to be in a week is not too far from my family’s home? The weather should be fairly clear on that Saturday."

"Hi, Mum… Not today… Can I bring a friend home next weekend? … No, a girl … very funny mum… She is my research partner for the… yes....... let me explain....MUM, listen! … why don’t I just tell you when we get there? …yeah… love you too."

The cell phone flipped shut and Alistair lowered his lean, 6'2" fame back down into his chair. Propping his long leg up on the chair beside them he looked thoughtfully at the closed cell phone.

Seraph Lady Arcola
"I believe that friends are quiet angels who lift us to our feet when our wings have trouble remembering how to fly."
"A real friend is one who walks in when the rest of the world walks out." -Walter Winchell

~ BFME2 Heaven | Stronghold Heaven | Stronghold 2 Heaven~

[This message has been edited by Lady Arcola (edited 10-18-2009 @ 10:36 PM).]

Civis Romanus
posted 10-18-09 14:04 EST (US)     3 / 35       
Alistair idly reached and scratched some little nothing itching the side of his nose. Then he glanced up at Katie with an odd little twist to his mouth. Katie noticed it made little laugh lines appear at the corner of both of his hazel eyes, and the twinkle reappeared as he slipped the closed cellphone back into his jacket's pocket. "Are you up for an excursion the weekend next?" he asked suddenly.

"An excursion, is it?" Katie asked, her eyebrows knitting ever so slightly. She even unconsciously managed a mild Scottish inflection, or Irish maybe. Certainly not how it would be said in America. But she was not in Kansas anymore.

"Yes. My Mum says they'll be home as usual and my sister's room is available. She was married last year and is in Glasgow now."

"Well, I don't know," Katie hesitated. "Why there? The research library's here. Besides, what would your family think about you bringing me to your home? Did that occur to you? I mean, we just barely met each other only a couple of hour's ago."

Alistair laughed. "Oh that. Well... Never mind about that. I'll get that straightened out when we arrive, assuming you'll agree to go there with me."

Straightened out? For some reason what he said and how he said it somewhat annoyed her. "Look, we can do research in the library, can't we? You tell me when you want to go there and I'll meet up with you," Katie said, emphasizing "in the library." Nothing ever happens the way she expects. Losing her parents to illnesses as a teenager and then her guardian aunt passing away just before this term started, she was alone but not without caution. I like him, she thought, but I don't really know him, she warned herself.

"Of course I'll go there, Katie," agreed Alistair. "This week only." To which Katie said "Why this week only?" with her eyes. Alistair smiled his rather compelling smile. "We can do basic research there just to get started. Early Ninth Century CE stuff, I think. Local area, Katie, where I live."

Katie sighed. "Okay, Alistair, local area where you live. But why in all the Isles are we talking about there in particular? Just because it's where you live? I mean, I've studied many places here and around from prehistory to the Roman era to the Norman Conquest, why your area?"

"Because, Miss Katie Seren, in a box in my room are two objects with which we can knock the socks off that archaeology class, ace this project and even put a smile on old, white-haired Professor Mac G's face. But you've got to see them to believe it. Are you game?" Alistair's face was alight and his eyes were twinkling like stars in the evening sky. She felt herself drawn in and unable to say no.

"Alright, Mr. Heath, I will accompany my colleague on this assignment," she replied with an assumed officious air. "After all, as the Professor said, you never know who your colleague might be and you'll just have to put up with whoever it is the powers that be assign." She formally presented her hand to seal the deal. He took it in his and pressed it gently. She liked that just a little more than she expected, and pulled her hand back shyly while clearing her throat. "Now, about the library."

"Yes, yes, of course. The library. Let's see." Alistair pulled out his cellphone once more. "Hmmm, how about this Tuesday at 7:00 pm and then this Thursday at 7:30 pm? A couple of hours each night should be enough, don't you think?"

Katie glanced at Tuesday on her pocket time management calendar. "Tuesday's fine. We'll talk about Thursday on Tuesday, okay?"

"Works for me," confirmed Alistair. "Now, let's do some work on these pints, Milady, and talk of other things," he offered. And so they chatted about other things while Katie, in the back of her mind, had many other thoughts swirling around about which she wouldn't talk, certainly not until after next Tuesday.

[This message has been edited by Civis Romanus (edited 10-19-2009 @ 11:44 AM).]

Lady Arcola
SHH Seraph
posted 10-20-09 14:45 EST (US)     4 / 35       
Tuesday dawned cold and crisp and Katie rushed from each of her respective classes with her head throbbing with the stresses of the morning. Alistair had called late Monday to alert her that the Centre for Research Collections would be closing around five p.m.; anything she needed copied from there had to be done before they started work out in the main library tonight.

I better cut across the by the theater in George Square, and get over to the library faster.” Katie thought.

A quick check of her watch confirmed there was little time between the class she had just left and the closing time of the Centre for Research Collections, an hour and a half was all the time that was left.

Shaking her head, Katie wondered why he was going to be late and also why he had asked her to pick up all the information that was assigned in their research packet.

Probably is tied up with that cute blond that always talks to him, again.” invaded her subconscious. “Stop it right now, Katie Seren. You’re an idiot, focus!” Katie quickly retorted herself out loud, then chided herself mentally for talking out loud to herself again, but continued on. “This is starting to be a habit with you girl. If you jabber incessantly aloud, someone will think you have lost it, arghhhh, I miss you Aunt Emily, you would have loved it over here.”

Dashing through the library doors ahead, Katie searched for her student ID as she wiped the tears that sprang unbidden to blur her vision with the back of her other hand. Shaking that moment off she hurried on up to the Centre.

An hour had passed, Katie glanced through all the research she had in front of her and gently started drumming her fingers on the table, Alistair had thirty minutes before this part of the library closed. There were several items in the stack that she wanted to bring to his attention.

From the entrance of the Centre, Alistair could see the irritation in the fingers that were drumming the table top.


I was wondering if you were going to even show up.”

Alistair laughed, “I suppose I deserve that.”
Grabbing her drumming fingers he closed his warm hand over them and smiled as Katie flushed and turned her stormy eyes to him.

Shhhh, girl…

Katie looked up at Al and retorted, “shut your lips, do the Helen… the sarcastic lyric’s last words remained unsaid as she caught the surprised look on Alistair’s face.

Whoa! Ok, I am sorry. Something came up that I could not avoid. Did you get all the info Professor Mac G assigned? Really, Katie I couldn't help it.” He pulled her hand up and chastely kissed the top of it. “Forgive me?”

Yes. Sorry I was just getting exasperated.” Withdrawing her hand, Katie flushed again and as quick as it had surfaced the irritation was gone.

I pulled this book, “Borderland Myths”, the back says it is the complete collection of Urban and Ancient myths from the border of England and Scotland. That is where we will be next week correct?”

Um hmm, we will be at my home for a day at least. It is right on the border. I see you have everything; nice work Katie.”

The two gathered the work they had on the table in the Reading room and went to out into the main library research area to work, they now had till closing at midnight if they needed the time.

I see you have a page marked in here? Alistair handed the book over to Katie.

That particular myth just grabbed my attention… her eyes took on a dreamy look. “It’s about a Northumberland princess that has appeared from time to time asking for help to get back to her true love. I didn't have time to read it all as I was pulling this other stuff for you." Katie rolled her eyes at him, "I would have loved to lived back then, been a princess and married my true love. Emily, my great aunt always said I was born in the wrong century.” She handed it back to him.

Your aunt was the one you mentioned the other night? The one who just passed away correct?” He had not learned much about her last Friday.

Katie nodded, and looked back down to hide the wateriness in her eyes. It would not benefit the study session if she let the tears fall and she was still not sure about the young man sitting across from her. If she avoided eye contact maybe he would let the personal questions fall out of the discussion again. Next thing he would want to know would be about her parents and she wasn't sure she wanted to go there today.

Alistair watched her intently for a few seconds, then turned to the marker and read for a while. He kept glancing at Katie from time to time as he read. She avoided his eyes every time he looked at her. Twice he started to ask something and was cut off by a question from her.
Hunger was attacking his stomach and he looked up from the story again at Katie, “ Would you like to go to the café downstairs? “

Seraph Lady Arcola
"I believe that friends are quiet angels who lift us to our feet when our wings have trouble remembering how to fly."
"A real friend is one who walks in when the rest of the world walks out." -Walter Winchell

~ BFME2 Heaven | Stronghold Heaven | Stronghold 2 Heaven~

[This message has been edited by Lady Arcola (edited 10-21-2009 @ 01:32 AM).]

Civis Romanus
posted 10-20-09 16:16 EST (US)     5 / 35       
"We may be here 'till midnight, right?" asked Katie.

"Yes, we might," Alistair confirmed. "Need a little refueling for the ordeal?"

"Probably. Okay, let's take that break then," she acquiesced with just a slight hint of reluctance. Two flights of marble stairs with a black-painted wrought iron bannister later they were seated at a table in the cafe, each with a cup of hot tea and a half of their shared egg-salad sandwich.

"I thought Americans couldn't pass up a cup of coffee if it was within reach," Alistair observed.

"Not British coffee," Katie noted after she swallowed her sip and put the cup on its saucer. "Too bitter. Bites me back when I try to drink it."

"I'm not too fond of it either," Alistair admitted. "Tea, cocoa or a pint of bitters. Those are my choices depending upon time of day and company."

Katie's face took on an odd expression and her blue eyes narrowed with feigned concern. "So what beverage and time of day suits you for present company? Besides tea, I mean?"

"Well, I think time of day would be anytime; and beverage would be... whatever she wants it to be." He smiled at her and she returned it. Then his expression turned serious. "Look, Katie," he continued. "I really am sorry I was late. I had a meeting I just couldn't avoid. It was very important."

"And what did Heather want?" Katie was as shocked by what she said as Alistair appeared to be that she said it. She couldn't stop herself, even as Alistair stared at her, his eyes bigger than she'd ever seen them before. More emptied from her before she could stop herself. "You know, Heather, the blonde girl in our class, the one you talk with all of the time." It was obvious that thoughts of some kind were rampaging through Alistair's mind. Then his expression changed to something much calmer as realization of what this was about finally dawned on him.

"Scotland's national flower is the purple bloom on heather, and there's a lot of heather around Scotland; but none of it is named the genus "Katie Seren" and that singular genus is the only bloom I'm interested in right now." His eyes never left her's. "She's my suitemate's girlfriend. That's why I chat with her."

Katie's chin hit the table. "I'm... I'm so sorry, Alistair," Katie stammered looking down and worrying the edge of her teacup. "I had no right to..." Alistair shooshed her and she didn't finish her sentence, looking up at him with overly moist eyes. "I just don't know what's the matter with me. I'm not usually like this..."

Alistair nodded his head. "You've lost your great aunt, the last of your family, and you are alone in a foreign country. No stress there, right?"

Katie leaned back in her chair. "But I wasn't like this back in the States. I mean, even at her funeral I was as strong as anyone could be. Now I'm this...person...who gets emotional, invades other's privacy, asks embarrassing questions, snipes at friends, annoys a research partner..."

"I'm not annoyed, Katie."

"But you have every right to be."

"If you were named 'Heather' I most likely would be." The twinkle in his eyes reappeared.

Katie hesitated and then looked up at him. She saw the look in his eyes right away and smiled weakly. A simple "Thank you" was all she could think of to say.

"Delayed reaction, my psyche prof would say," continued Alistair. "There really is something bothering you, Miss Seren. Lay down on my couch and let me ask you a few questions," he continued pointing to an invisible couch and stroking an invisible beard, trying to mimic that professor of old he once had in lecture hall. "You miss your great aunt, don't you?"

Katie blinked but decided to play along. "Why of course, doctor, very much."

"Just as I thought. Feel alone? Like an orphan?"

Katie paused. This was awfully close to home and not even playing. "I can see, doctor, why you are so esteemed among your colleagues. Yes, I feel very alone. In fact, I feel abandoned. Just like the princess in the myth-alone and abandoned. Like I felt when first my mother died of cancer and my father suddenly died of a heart attack. Then my aunt from an aneurism. All of it. Yes, quite alone and abandoned. Maybe I even fear it now, I think."

"I see." Alistair concentrated his eyes on Katie as if in deep contemplative thought. "Then, Miss Seren, I have just the prescription for you."


"Seek out the company of this Mr. Heath you know, as often as you can. I hear he is better than a wonder drug." Alistair pulled on his invisible beard once again.

Katie couldn't help but laugh out loud. "I see. One Mr. Heath taken daily with tea, is it?"

"Indeed," replied Alistair with emphasis. He too started laughing. Then they both went quiet, in something of an awkward way, neither knowing what to say next. Alistair broke the silence finally. "So about my meeting today," he began. "It was with Professor Mac G." This admission captured Katie's undivided attention. Alistair continued. "I described to him what I have in a box in my room and I'm happy to say I made his day."

"You did? How?"

"Let's just say, when you see them you'll understand. Katie, we are going to be the talk of the class when this is over," he exclaimed, hands gesturing, enthusiasm overflowing. "Now, let's finish that research. And please, tell me again about the myth."

Katie nodded and began to collect her things to return to the research room. They probably already were the talk of the class, but she decided then and there she really didn't care at all what they thought.

[This message has been edited by Civis Romanus (edited 10-20-2009 @ 04:22 PM).]

Lady Arcola
SHH Seraph
posted 10-22-09 02:37 EST (US)     6 / 35       
Katie watched Alistair intently as she waited for Alistair outside Professor Mac G’s classroom. It was Friday and they were just tying up loose ends before they left on their week research trip. An animated discussion was taking place between the Professor and Alistair and from time to time she caught Alistair glancing her way. Nodding at the white haired Professor he said his goodbye’s and caught up to Katie in the hall.

What was that all about?” Katie asked as they made their way down to the cars.

Just a few more things he needed to add to the research portfolio and I mentioned that book you found also.” Alistair replied. “Did you get a chance to read it?”

I did. You know that one I had marked Tuesday was the saddest in the book, most are just myths about buried treasure and Roman artifacts that have been found.”

Wonder how many are close where I live?” Alistair mused.

There are maps for each entry.” Katie’s eyes were glowing now as she neared her car. Alistair caught her growing excitement.

Alistair, there is one section on a Viking stolen treasure trove that was stolen back from the invaders that is supposed to be buried near Lindisfarne as the monks fled capture from the Vikings. The map parchment was found inside the Scottish Psalter of 1564. The parchment had two illuminated passages that caught my eye. They were verses from the 119th book of Psalms, and the first one said something to affect of “O let my soul live, and it shall give praises unto thee.”

What did the other say? “ Alistair querried?

Let me look at my notes; ok here it is… I, like a lost sheep, went astray; thy servant seek, and find. Why would they illuminate just these two passages and not any of the others?”

Can’t answer that one, Katie. Whatever happened to the princess in the one you marked?”

She was fleeing a Viking that wanted to take her as his own, was at Lindisfarne to be given in marriage by her father to the man she loved, was pursued by the Viking and after the Viking killed her father she fled with the help of the monks. Only she got lost along the border never to be seen again and they say her soul speaks to travelers via dreams. There are quite a few people that say they have dreamt about her after they have walked or stayed near the border . Sad isn’t it?”

Tragic.” Alistair answered rolling his eyes and laughing. “You realize that the border then was most likely Hadrians wall?”

No I didn’t realize that, how close is your home to the wall then? You said you lived near.”

You will just have to wait and see today. Let’s get you packed up and I will pick you up as soon as you call. Don’t wait too long to ring me, if we leave early enough today I can show you the scenic route home.”

Along the coastline like you mentioned Thursday? “

We will see, Katie Seren. We will see." And he spun her playfully around before opening the door of the car.

Seraph Lady Arcola
"I believe that friends are quiet angels who lift us to our feet when our wings have trouble remembering how to fly."
"A real friend is one who walks in when the rest of the world walks out." -Walter Winchell

~ BFME2 Heaven | Stronghold Heaven | Stronghold 2 Heaven~
Civis Romanus
posted 10-22-09 11:45 EST (US)     7 / 35       
Katie quickly made ready for the week-long stay Alistair said would be her "plight" over the break. Packed and ready, she called Alistair and let him know they could be on their way whenever he was prepared to leave. Alistair's response was terse, not at all as jovial as when she left him in the motorcar lot. What happened, she wondered.

Nor was it any more cheerful when he arrived in his 6-year-old, light grey over grey, two-tone Land Rover. "Ready then?" was all he said, his characteristic smile gone into hiding somewhere. Katie decided she wouldn't say anything until Alistair was ready. Kilometers passed by and still nothing was said between them. Now and then Katie glanced at Alistair to see if any part of the chill had thawed. As they approached the coast, his cell phone rang. He reached for it and glanced at the display. Frowning, he pressed a button to stop the ringing and put the device back into its holster, mumbling something Katie couldn't discern.

She couldn't stand the silence any longer. "Alistair, is something wrong? Did I, I mean, is there anything I...?

Alistair shook his head. "No, Katie, this has nothing to do with you."

"Well, I mean, if this is about your parents, then I understand if..." Alistair wouldn't let her finish.

"Not my parents either." He sighed. "Look, if it will make you feel better, I'll tell you. I didn't want to because it seems so stupid. I mean, I really can't believe he'd tell me something like that." Alistair became more agitated as he spoke.

"Who told you what, Alistair?"

"Mac G, that's who," Alistair answered through clenched jaws. Katie noticed "professor" was missing in his reply. "Absolute nonsense!" Alistair continued. "Curse or warning, indeed. What does he take me for, a superstitious fool? A "King Tut" turkey? He's a full professor! You'd think he above all would be the first to discredit anything superstitious!"

"Slow down. You're hyper about this, Alistair. I'm trying to understand. What exactly did Professor Mac G tell you?"

"I described to Professor Mac G the artifacts I have which you're going to see at my home. He called me just before you called to warn me of a "curse" on them. It's that Lindisfarne treasure thing you told me about. He thinks we should call this off and told me so. I just can't believe it. A tenured full professor. My mentor. Pathetic!"

"And the call on the cellphone? The professor again?"

"Yes. That's why I ignored it."

As the car rolled along, Katie stared out of the right side passenger's window while thinking. So much in archaeological discoveries has been spoiled by superstition, fear or outright ignorance. It's often been a hard fight to break through these obstacles to learning. She could easily empathize with Alistair's irritation. She made her decision. "Alistair?"


Katie looked at him with an unblinking, steady gaze. "I don't want you to turn this motorcar around and go back. Do you understand what I mean?"

He turned his head briefly to study the expression on her face. The hint of a smile returned to his face. "I do, Katie. Thanks."

"You're welcome. And now, Mr. Heath, my Northumberland tour guide, would you at long last finally start the tour."

"That I shall, milady," his typical good humor finally breaking through, just as the Land Rover began its descent into the rolling coastal pastures that begin after the rockiness of the western region concludes. Sheep were everywhere, and Katie drew the logical conclusion that the Heath manor most likely was engaged in the sheep industry like everything else on or near these coastal moors.

Northumberland was a battlefield since the time of the Romans. First between the invading Europeans and the Picts and Scots and then between the Scots and English. The terrain simply begged to be a battleground with its rolling lands free of the rugged rockiness of the western area. The Romans saw this advantage and anchored the eastern end of Emperor Hadrian's wall in Northumberland. The area is considered the cradle of Christianity in Great Britain with its early Christian settlements; and it was the place where the Vikings began their plundering raids on Scotland and England from their refuges in what is now Scandinavia and Denmark. The geography and historical distress in the region partially accounts for why it is the most sparsely populated region in the Isles, with only 62 individuals on average per square mile.

As they travelled down the coast, even with the heater operating competently in the the Land Rover, Katie could feel the chill coming off the auto's windows and she could see various four-legged farm animals all wearing their winter coats of hair. Northumberland is one of the coldest regions in the British Isles, and Katie believed it without question. She was glad she'd followed Alistair's advice and brought her heavier, wintry clothing for this trip.

"So when do we get to your stead?" She asked when Alistair paused a moment in his tour guiding mode.

"Actually, you've been on it for awhile now. The house is coming up very soon. There, as a matter of fact." Alistair pointed to a modest two-story white with green trim dwelling, slate stone roofed, featuring traditional English styling. It certainly was not a cottage, but it wasn't a nobleman's manor either. In fact, it was very much the size of a prosperous farmer's ranch home in the States, but with two stories instead of being spread out. It sat upon a rise and was accessible by a narrow stoney road which began at the open gates positioned on a short turnoff at the edge of the road. She looked to her left, passed Alistair, and saw the spectacular view of the sea which must be even more spectacular from the shuttered 2nd story windows. Katie suddenly had the bizarre sensation she had just returned home from a very long stay in a place very far away.
Lady Arcola
SHH Seraph
posted 10-24-09 04:37 EST (US)     8 / 35       
Alistair drove up to the two story home and switched off the engine, turning to Katie he said, “Aileen and Russell Heath are my parents. I expect them to come charging out here any second now if they are home.”

He quickly got out and went around to Katie’s side, just as he opened her door, his parents walked out of the barn.
Alistair! You made excellent time down from the Uni, how is that cranky old Professor of yours?” Russell Heath’s low voice called out to his son.

And this must be Katie Seren, the young woman from the states you called about? Aileen Heath smiled at Katie as she warmly greeted them as the couple walked closer.

Katie watched as Alistair ran, picked up his mother and twirled her around before setting her down again as her laughter spilled out into the crisp autumn air.

Yes mum, meet the charming, Katie Seren, my research partner for this next week.” Alistair’s eyes twinkled as he looked back at Katie.

Russell Heath shook his head at his son's antics and took Katie’s hand and led her away from his chattering. “Welcome Katie, you will be staying in our daughter’s room, Amie is now at Glasgow with her husband and we don’t see them much. You must be tired from the trip down here. Let me show you where you will be staying.” With that the party moved inside.

Katie was awed at the high ceilings and dark rich woodwork that graced the inside of the country home; she could tell that the history of the home had been carefully preserved. Wonderful aromas were coming from the kitchen and Alistair’s mom told them it would be a few hours before the evening meal would be ready. Time enough for naps or showers if they needed them. “No going off any where!” was threatened to Alistair. He flashed his mother his disarming smile, grabbed their things and started up the large staircase,

Hurry on up Katie, I will show you Amie’s room.”

Katie eyed him with some exasperation. “Excuse me Mrs. Heath.”

That is fine dear. Go ahead and follow him he will show you his sisters room; we will talk later after you have rested.”

Katie doubted rest was anywhere in Alistair’s agenda at the moment.
Alistair, you could have waited till I was done talking to your mother.” Katie scolded as she reached the top of the stairs.

He showed her into his sister's room which adjoined his with a bathroom. Katie eyed the bed, it's canopy with large pillows called to her; she felt the tiredness hit her system, nodding in Alistair’s direction she was now looking but not listening to Alistair. She had that odd feeling again of coming home from a long journey to a place she felt loved and part of.

Alistair could see he had lost her to the lure of the comfortable room, eyes twinkling at her he quietly spoke, “Katie, take a nap and I will get you an hour before mealtime.”

Humm.. oh ok, thank you Alistair.”

Alistair turned and took his things on to his room, turned off his phone and set it on his dresser. Bending down he reached way under his bed and took out a carved wood box. Lifting the lid he looked at the contents, smiled and took the box down to his father.

A few hours later he woke Katie and the family shared a lovely meal of roast mutton,two sides of vegetables, wine and laughter. The fireplace crackled and warmth filled her soul. A loving bond flowed from the family unit and she felt welcomed and safe. Katie could not remember the last time she so acutely felt the pain of her own loss along with the gentle memory of the love they had given her. Love so strong it was mirrored in the family she was now with. The emotion hit her like a wave of intense loss and joy mingled in one. …

Alistair looked over his glass and smiled at her, never guessing the battle inside her. “Are you ready to learn why we needed to come here first?”

If it is time...… Katie watched the faces around her as they all seemed pleased at her answer.

Father found the artifacts we are going to show you, he gave them to me, under the condition that I not touch them or tell anyone we had them till I could gain a foothold in the world of Archeology. Oh, I also had to pass the classes mum and he were paying for with A’s or he would be the one to tell of this find.”

Russell Heath laughed at his son then, “He was born an archaeologist, he was always bringing us buried treasure. The summer he left for school he took a bicycle touring trip east along the full length of Hadrian's Wall. Hadrian's Wall was one of his deep interests in archeology.”

Alistair laughed back at his father, “You left out that I took the train back to Edinburgh from the west.”

Aileen, gently pushed the box over to her son. Alistair moved it in front of Katie, lifted the lid and watched as her eyes grew wide in astonishment.

There nestled in black velvet was a two gold bands one for a ring finger and one for an arm, ancient runes went around each band, separated by intricate knot work.

I know these runes! I just had to learn them for the test I had last week over ancient Futhorc, the runic alphabet used from the fifth century onward for recording Old English. The first one is a T, Tiwaz rune, I had to learn this rhyme.
Tir biþ tacna sum, healdeð trywa wel
wiþ æþelingas; a biþ on færylde
ofer nihta genipu, næfre swiceþ.

It means: Tir is a star, it keeps faith well with athelings (Prince), always on its course over the mists of night it never fails.”

Do you know the other two, Katie?” Alistair was now leaning over the box and gazing intently at the other object. “This one has the same runes too! What are the other two symbols Katie!” Excitement charged the air.

A, the Ansuz rune, for God, it is the second symbol... but its shape is off by one mark, here.” Katie pointed carefully at the symbol on the armband now. “And the last rune is Wynn also spelled wen, ƿynn, or ƿen) It was a letter of the Old English alphabet. It was used for the sound of W. I even remember its rhyme.
Ƿenne bruceþ, ðe can ƿeana lyt
sares and sorge and him sylfa hæf
blæd and blysse and eac byrga geniht.

Bliss he enjoys who knows not pain, sorrow nor anxiety, and himself has prosperity and bliss and a good enough house.” Katie was beyond excitement now.

Do you know what the three runes mean Katie?” Russell and Aileen both asked at once.

Pondering for a moment she looked up at Alistair, “They spell TAW but it does not mean anything in the old English I am studying in linguistics. The only place I remember seeing TAW is in the alphabet for Hebrew, and it means T...” Katie went a shade paler at that statement and looked back into the box.

May we turn that over to see if there is an inscription inside the armband and the ring?” Katie looked up hopefully at the Heath family.

Russell looked over at Alistair, “Son you may touch them now.”

Alistair reached in and picked up the gold armband first, stamped inside was the Roman numerals, I VII V. “One, seven, five father.”

Aileen smiled over at Katie, “Would you like to check the gold band, Katie?"

Katie’s hand was trembling now, if what Alistair held was the number she knew it was her band would hold the number 176. Her mind flew back to the article she had read on the message in the Psalter. The illuminated verses were 175 and 176 of the TAW or 22nd book… her hand shook so bad now she was afraid to lift it up.

Let me hand it to you Katie, what is wrong with you your as white as the table cloth.” Alistair eyed her uneasily.

With one deft movement he scooped up the band and set it on her shaking palm. Inside very small numerals were barely visible.

Seraph Lady Arcola
"I believe that friends are quiet angels who lift us to our feet when our wings have trouble remembering how to fly."
"A real friend is one who walks in when the rest of the world walks out." -Walter Winchell

~ BFME2 Heaven | Stronghold Heaven | Stronghold 2 Heaven~

[This message has been edited by Lady Arcola (edited 10-25-2009 @ 00:33 AM).]

Lady Arcola
SHH Seraph
posted 10-28-09 04:14 EST (US)     9 / 35       
Katie’s eyes lit with excitement, she knew upstairs in their research notes was an article that would shed light on the treasures they were holding. The numbers were exactly the same as the verses; she rolled the smooth ring in her hand and her eyes shown with excitement.

Alistair had not had time to research to the extent she had and she knew that there were maps to Hadrian’s wall and Lindisfarne that went along with notes on the article about the treasure and if that were the case then they had maps to look at.

Then another thought bolted through the thought process Katie was having. “Why should you be included in this families find?” It startled her somewhat and she turned and looked at Alistair and his parents.

Thank you for letting me hold this, are you sure you want me part of the find? I mean you have been waiting a long time for this to happen.”

Aileen looked over at Russell and smiled back at Katie, “Yes we have, but you should also know you're not here by accident Katie Seren. Alistair worked with our good friend Professor Mac G. to set it up so he would get the best partner, so you got his name on purpose. He needed a top research partner and a language pro to help him. You are the best in your class. This past week working with you, he found he really wants to know you better. He may kill me for telling you but he really likes you. And this may be the last time he tells me everything.” Aileen’s eyes twinkled at the young woman across from her as she heard her son’s sharp intake of breath.

Alistair groaned, “MUM! She did not need to know all that.”

Russell laughed at his son, “Your mum never could keep your secrets Alistair.”

Katie I am honored you’re my partner in this. You will bring all the ancient text and runes to light. Something I could not do.”

Katie blushed and looked down at her hand that held the ring; it had been a long time since she had been praised so glowingly.

Ah, its been a very long evening… Alistair’s father pushed his chair back and stood. “We can pour over the books and maps in the morning….” Russell stifled a yawn. “Exciting as this is we have lots to do tomorrow and your mum and I have been up since 5. And you two drove down from the school and must be tired too.”

Katie fingered the gold band again and smiled, she wanted to dash upstairs to the notes. Gently she laid the band back into the box; Alistair also laid his down into the soft black velvet and smiled at her as their eyes met.

Snapping the clasp closed he pushed the box back over to his mother and turned to help Katie stand.

Thank you so very much… Katie was getting a warm hug from Aileen now and Alistair turned to his father and bade him goodnight. “Father, thank you for everything… I will make you and mum proud with this.”

Son we are all ready proud of you.” Russell good naturedly hugged his son. “Off with you now, and stay in your room young man we have a guest in your sister’s room.”

Katie bid them both good night and started upstairs, laughing as the statement floated up to her as she climbed the stairway up to the rooms.

Alistair bounded up the staircase behind her and opened the door to the room. “You have something you’re keeping from me?” he asked as the door opened.

No I have something to show you!” Katie excitedly whispered. “Will they get mad if you come in to see what I had in the notes?”

Alistair laughed, “Father is tired, I think he is in their room all ready. Mum is the one we need to be wary of. She will be listening for a while yet. But she knows your going to show me something… she is like that.”

Katie rushed over to the desk that held the notes she had laid out after her nap. Quickly pushing aside the ones on the missing princess she pulled up the ones on Lindisfarne.

Here Alistair, look at this map I copied… see here... there is two texts in old manuscript written and each have a beautiful illumination on them. This map ties in with artifacts’ found on Hadrian’s wall and Lindisfarne.”

One seventy five and one seventy six… the very bottom two of the Taw?”

Yes it is the very last two of that Psalm. Almost like someone wanted the last two to jump out at the reader like a message.”

Maps, illumination, bible texts, numbers and runes… Alistair reached out and gently pushed the hair out of Katie’s eyes with a slight shake to his hand. “You think we have the keys to unlock the Lindisfarne treasure, don’t you?”

I think we do, and thanks for making me a part of this Alistair, you have no idea what that means to me.”

Yes Katie, I think I do understand,” he pulled her towards him and wrapped his strong arms about her. “I know you miss everyone you have lost, but you will never lose me. I am here to stay in your life if you want me.”

Katie laid her head against his chest and listened to his rapidly pounding heart. “I would like that. You in my in my life Alistair, I think I would really like that.” Katie looked up and caught the joyful smile that spilled across the handsome face looking down at her.

Alistair tilted her chin up and sweetly kissed her, then caught her as her legs buckled. Laughing now he swept her up and dropped her onto the bed. “Sorry about that… I just couldn't stop myself.”

Katie laughed back at him, “I bet you have used that excuse before, go to bed Alistair before your mom comes up to see what we are laughing at.” She swung her legs over the edge so she was upright now.

Blushing now she looked over at him shyly, “That will give my dreams some warmth tonight.”

Alistair looked at her with unfathomable look, “I could do it again;” he taunted. Katie’s joyful look betrayed the serious stance she was taking as she pointed to the door. “Out! Your mom said we would be up at 7.”

Yes my lady,” and he ducked out the door. Peeking back in around the door frame Alistair gazed back in at her, softer now and with no laughter he spoke, “Katie, thank you. Sleep well.” Then he was gone.

Katie fell back against the pillows on the bed and smiled. Two treasures found in one night. Sleep came quickly to her and the smile never left her features.

Seraph Lady Arcola
"I believe that friends are quiet angels who lift us to our feet when our wings have trouble remembering how to fly."
"A real friend is one who walks in when the rest of the world walks out." -Walter Winchell

~ BFME2 Heaven | Stronghold Heaven | Stronghold 2 Heaven~
Civis Romanus
posted 10-28-09 15:14 EST (US)     10 / 35       
It never left her features, that is, until the noises came.

The old house stood firmly against the sea breeze that sharpened as the night progressed. Katie lay there, fast asleep beneath just enough linen and blankets to ward off the chill trying to penetrate the walls and window, but not too heavy on her body to disturb its calm. With increasing vigor, the movement of the air seemed to accelerate around the structure, coming in more rapid bursts with what seemed like greater insistence.

Whistles, groans and oddly sounding, almost patterned whooshes of air caressed the walls of the farm house, not so gently pressing against Katie's room's window as if testing its strength or its locking mechanism. Easing pickings there, as the upper story window had no need of a lock. It could not be accessed except by an expansion ladder and no awning or cover could be stood upon to reach it. Katie moved about in her bed, disturbed somewhat by the fleeting sound of lipless formed words calling to her, beckoning her to rise and see their origin. She resisted, frowning in her sleep. Refusing to open her eyes.

Still the whispers called out to her. "Come to me... Help me... Why have you never looked for me... Cold... Alone... So alone..." Were those the words she heard so fleetingly? She couldn't be sure... And yet she knew she must respond. Compelled, Katie couldn't stop herself. Being alone, she knew the fear. How could she not respond to the same plea she silently uttered as each loved one passed out of her life.

As she rose she saw another was in the room sharing her bed. Who? She could not see the face in the near total blackness of the room. Yet she knew another was there. Arms extended, hands splayed before her, Katie allowed her eyes to adjust to the darkness and then she carefully made her way to the window and pulled up the shade. She heard the winds form a sigh outside at her appearance in the unshuttered window. Then something moved oddly in the distance over the gray, barely visible surf where the North Sea met Northumberland. The fog... It silently coalesced into a familiar shape and swept in with the strong ocean winds. It was a human-like arm with an open palmed hand moving without noise and rushing towards her window.

It reached the window and reached for Katie in almost the same moment. There was no sound of shattered glass. In fact, except for the whispering, there was no sound at all. Not even coming from Katie when she screamed as the open hand passed through the wall and seized her firmly about her waist. Closed about her, the hand lifted her off her feet and pulled her through the unbroken, never broken window. She screamed again, but there was no sound just like before. She screamed and she screamed and she screamed again until she could not draw another full breath and her throat felt raw. Relentlessly, the disembodied arm and hand pulled her from Alistair's home and propelled her she knew not where as she dangled in the air with no other support than this.

She slipped a little in its grasp and terror seized upon her. Sea passed by underneath as the spectre sped her south. "What are you?! Who are you?!" she implored at the top of her lungs, further inflaming her throat. "Why are you doing this to me?! Put me down, please... Please! Put me down!" she begged the silent spectre with tearless sobs. No answer came from the ghostly appendage; the whispering came instead. "Find me... Help me... He's coming... I haven't the strength... Too long... Apart too long... I'm so lonely... So alone... So afraid"

The frightening flight lasted iterminably it seemed to Katie, but in truth is was mere seconds in passing. Up ahead loomed a structure, partly disassembled, consisting of the longest length of stone and wood wall Katie had ever seen. Here and there oddly garbed men stood grasping torches and pointing to her as she approached propelled by the spectre. The wall had to be Hadrian's, but it wasn't complete. And the men, they were workers removing wall stone piece by piece, thieves by the look of them. No, not thieves. They were peasants. No, not peasants. Soldiers, but lacking polished armor. These were not Romans.

At the foot of a section of wall facing north crouched a young man busily digging a hole. Into the hole he threw something that shone briefly by the light of the torches above. He paused looking up to see if he had been seen. Not yet, but soon. He hurried his task then stood ready to run into the dark of the night. The hand holding Katie tensed and tightened, then descended rapidly enough to nearly take Katie's breath away. It flew its captive straight at the scene evolving below.

The young man never had a chance to see her. A shout from the wall sent the men on the wall streaming for the nearby remnants of a gatehouse while others on the wall cursed in a guttural germanic language Katie hadn't heard spoken before. Then they leapt from a lowered section of wall onto the ground at its base. They were on him in an instant. Swords were pulled from the belts which girdled their fur clothing. The blades glinted in the flickering light of the torches held by those who hadn't pulled their swords. The young man stood still in his tracks, straightened his back and cast them all what must have been a withering glare, and a challenge. They fell upon the young man just as the spectre appendage drove Katie right into the highest standing piece of Hadrian's Wall, into solid stone; and the world exploded around her in cold white light.

[This message has been edited by Civis Romanus (edited 10-28-2009 @ 03:53 PM).]

Civis Romanus
posted 10-28-09 16:44 EST (US)     11 / 35       
Continued from Post 10.

Katie felt light as a feather and quite comfortable. She once slept on a waterbed at a girl's sleepover. It felt just like that. It was still dark. She was still in the grip of the spectre. It adjusted its grasp once more, and again terror swept through Katie as she sensed herself about to fall, almost. But the grip changed merely to adjust her view. She saw ahead a structure on an island and a causeway to the island with scores of soldiers like those on Hadrian's Wall passing across towards the structure. A priory, she recalled by its look. Lindisfarne? The arm sped on. Suddenly, a group of soldiers obviously commanded by the tallest version of themselves split off and began running in the direction of a fleeing figure sitting side-saddle on a horse, slight in build, with her hair streaming behind her. They could not catch her there.

The spectre slammed Katie into the ground and still bearing her they erupted from the ground in the middle of a small forest of trees. The figure was there again, a young woman, standing by the side of her dead horse and surrounded by those who had pursued her. Katie had experience with horses and knew by the looks of it that the fleeing woman had driven the horse too hard, or caused it to go lame by riding on rough ground in the dark. The hand holding Katie made no move whatsoever but remained still, dangling her above the ground, above the trees, by the grip on her waist.

The tall soldier approached the young woman who stood her ground defiantly, dagger drawn and poised to be wielded. She struck with her weapon, but the soldier knew it was coming and grasped her arm while pulling his own dagger out. His grip was beyond anything she could withstand and the dagger fell from her hand. In one swift move he released her arm and grasped her upper clothing intent on tearing it as far as his grip would allow. With her two hands free, she grabbed his weaponless wrist and bit down on the soldier's arm with all of her strength. The soldier reared back and howled his pain. She then grabbed his dagger-bearing hand and fell upon its blade burying it deep in her upper belly, just below her lowest ribs. Long-bladed, herself small-framed, the dagger's length immediately found her vital organs and she hemorraged her life away on the spot. Falling backwards, the young woman's hand formed a pointed finger aimed at an isolated boulder with disturbed dirt at its base, situated amongst the living trees. Lying on the ground, the young woman seemed to be staring straight at Katie with eyes saying "Help me..." before the woman's eyes dimmed and then rolled back in death.

The spectre soared once more and sped north. Ahead, as more sea water passed below, Katie could see the outline of Alistair's farm home. The spectre never slowed. On it rushed as the exterior elevation of the house became clearly visible even in the dark of the night. Like a runaway vehicle, the appendage flew straight through the walls and window and stopped suddenly with Katie dangling in mid air above the bed in which she could now clearly see the other person restlessly trying to sleep. It was Katie, herself, in the bed. Gaining presence of mind, Katie sreamed at the sleeping woman "Wake up, Katie! You must wake up." In her plight and though shouting at the top of her lungs, Katie held by the spectre could make not a sound the sleeping Katie could hear. Suddenly, without warning, the hand grasping Katie suddenly elevated itself and in one swift move threw its burden right at Katie's sleeping form. With the sound of the piercing scream that followed, the spectre dissipated rapidly and disappeared.

Footsteps on the floor outside and a rapid knocking at her door finally broke through Katie's terror as she found herself sitting upright in her bed, her brow moist with perspiration and her body shaking from adrenalized fear. "Katie! Are you alright?!" came Alistair's anxious voice. "You screamed! Something wrong?!"

Katie took a deep breath. "Alistair. It's okay. Just a bad dream. I'm okay," she answered.

"Are you sure."

"Yes. I'm... sure. It's okay. Thanks."

"Alright then, Katie. Tell me about it tomorrow, please."

"I will, if I can remember it all."


"Goodnight." She hoped it, anyway, as she slowly layed back on her bed.

In a sealed box in a dresser drawer in Allistair's darkened room, two carved objects, one a ring and the other an armband, suddenly brightened and shined forth with a golden glow then returnded to their previous state. Fast asleep, Alistair never noticed.
Lady Arcola
SHH Seraph
posted 10-31-09 14:08 EST (US)     12 / 35       
Katie’s sleep was fitful to say the least. Moring did not come quick enough and she was up before the alarm went off. A lovely breakfast was waiting when she came downstairs. Aileen was talking quietly; her husband and son were packing a cooler full of delightful things to eat when Katie came into the kitchen. Alistair was already loading up the Land Rover; he just needed her things and was now collecting a new armful of things to take out. He saw Katie enter and cast a perplexed smile at her.

Good morning, Katie…did you sleep at all? I see you brought your things down and are ready to go. We will leave as soon as we eat.” Then Alistair was out the door again with his father following. Aileen sat Katie down and then gave her a worried look.

Alistair said you had a bad dream last night?”

I did, but it is nothing, most likely the excitement of last night lingered just a little too vividly in my sub consciousness.” Katie felt her face redden, she did not want to worry Alistair’s mom with the actual happenings she had dealt with last night. “I am fine this morning just a little tired.” Aileen smiled at her, waved her men folk into the kitchen and they enjoyed a merry breakfast. As soon as they were done Alistair’s parents hurried the pair out to the car.

Metal detector?”

Its in the back seat father, with our bags, we will be gone till Sunday night on this trip. This short overnight trip is just for the area you found the ring at and then the arm band. Katie and I need to go and spend at least 2 days this week at Lindisfarne Island, if the information I saw last night in our notes is correct we may have more to find than just the two pieces that you found. We are not sure there is a connection but we don’t want to leave it to chance.”

Remember now its past Newcastle, you know the way Alistair, we have been there before.”

Nodding his acknowledgement to his father’s statement he picked up his mom and hugged her tightly spinning her around like he had when they had arrived. Turning to his father he gave him his hug also and turned back to the Land Rover.

Katie had thanked them both got in the vehicle while the goodbyes were taking place feeling a little awkward. There was that feeling again; like she was missing out on something special and it made her blink back the tears that suddenly tried to well up. With a wave and thank you the pair started off.

Alistair drove them out of the drive and headed for the A1. Katie watched the coastline till they crossed the border into England. The hum of the tires, soft music that Alistair was playing and her lack of sleep kept her silent for a long while. A few questions from Alistair broke her stillness and she began to watch as he pointed out things that might be of interest. The miles flew by and soon they were passing the area where they would turn if going to Lindisfarne, though not on their itinerary this day it still caused Katie to crane her neck trying to glimpse any sight of the Holy Island.

Alistair laughed at her childlike enthusiasm. “You will get your first taste of real history soon Katie Seren.”

As Newcastle came into view, Katie watched intently as Alistair drove thru the city heading to Wallsend and Segedunum fort. By the time he had parked the Rover, Katie had unbuckled and was out the door before he could get his opened.

Slow down Katie,” Alistair’s eyes twinkled, “Do you want to know why we are here?”

Is this the project your dad worked on in the 90’s? I think he told me the Segedunum project began in January 1997?”

Yes, he was with one of the excavating teams that worked on this project till it opened in 2000. But it was not till I was 17 that he found the ring. And it was not found right here either. My father wanted me to stop here and get a map from his friend that still works here.”

Katie looked at the event advertised on the door, “Hadrian's House of Horrors?”

Alistair laughed, “Something is needed to draw people here for Halloween.”

It did not take long to get the map and then they were on their way again.

Seraph Lady Arcola
"I believe that friends are quiet angels who lift us to our feet when our wings have trouble remembering how to fly."
"A real friend is one who walks in when the rest of the world walks out." -Walter Winchell

~ BFME2 Heaven | Stronghold Heaven | Stronghold 2 Heaven~

[This message has been edited by Lady Arcola (edited 11-03-2009 @ 03:13 PM).]

Lady Arcola
SHH Seraph
posted 11-03-09 14:30 EST (US)     13 / 35       
Alistair looked over at Katie and decided now was a good time to bring up her frightened scream of the night before. “Katie, now that it is daylight would you like tell me what made you scream last night?”

Katie looked over at Alistair and blushed, “It’s silly now that I think about it… that, and you will think I am crazy.”
Alistair bit back the smile that threatened to spill across his face. “No I will be very understanding; dreams can really scare people at times.”

Katie stole a sidelong glance at him and sighed, “I thought I was awake… She shook her head in remembrance. “Don’t laugh at me now, because this next part is…is…awful. A misty shape came at me from outside the window….It became an arm that went right through the wall, grabbed my waist and pulled me with it through the wall and outside over the sea… The voice was so lonely and scared, Alistair, it said,
Find me…Help me…He’s coming…. I haven’t the strength… to long apart… So alone…So afraid!” Katie’s voice became a whisper now.

Alistair, again stifled the urge to smile, shifted his hands on the wheel and reached over and pulled her to him. Katie's hands that had animatedly showed the actions of the haunting arm that had held her, were now shaking. “Katie, its not here now.”

But there is more, there was a very thick stone and wood wall… I was slammed into it… and he was attacked right there.” Katie’s face was white now and her eyes were fear laced. Alistair drew her closer to him.

What happened then, Katie?”

There was an island and woman fleeing it on horseback, soldiers were chasing her. I thought she had made it but the apparition pulled me underground and we came up in a small forest of trees….” Katie shuddered with the memory, “She didn’t get away… they found her and she impaled herself on the soldiers sword… Bleeding…so much bleeding…
Alistair gently kissed the top of her head and hugged her tightly.

Wait till I tell my sister that your sleep was disrupted by a haunting dream in her room.”

Alistair! I thought you would be more understanding, it was like a vision not a dream. It really felt like I was right there and I was supposed to do something to stop these horrible acts of violence.”

Katie pulled out of his arms and hit his shoulder in exasperation. “Never mind I should not have told you.”

Alistair could not help the laugh that bubbled up now, “It’s not that I don’t understand… My sister would do the same to me.”

Turning the Rover sharply he pulled into their next destination. “Come on Katie don’t be mad, maybe seeing the wall for real will chase these bad thoughts from your head.”

Katie was about to retort when where they were registered. She gasped as she looked out on a very well preserved section of Hadrian ’s Wall.

This is where my father found the ring. I thought it would be a nice distraction for All Hallows Eve to hang out here. But now since you told me that…

Oh shut up! Just look at it!” Katie completely forgot her irritation at Alistair and dashed out of the car. Alistair laughed and they spent the next hour or so with the metal detector beeping now and then in the growing evening light.

Better wrap this up and get to our night’s destination.”

Alistair watched her in the setting sun run her hand over the old stonework and smiled as the last rays of sun just caught her form, Katie had no idea the lovely picture she presented to the eyes of her beholder.

Plans had been made the week before to stay with his father’s brother, where they spent a lively evening with cousins and Katie again felt the loneliness of her missing family creep into her.

Morning came early and they sped back up the coastline and towards the family holdings. This time they went past the farm and on up into wooded area just past the house.

Shouldn’t we stop and check in?”

After we get to the spot father found the armband, it just ahead.”

Alistair helped Katie out and pulled her into the wooded area, a deep ravine was sheltered by the trees. Hidden from the house now and alone he pulled Katie into his arms.
I am sorry about yesterday Katie, I do believe you.”

Its ok… its just I know that loneliness that the thing was emanating. She was scared and so am I at times. It was like it was trying to warn me of something Alistair.”

Its ok now, I am here and will never let anything happen to you.” His eyes filled with emotion, he brought her chin up to meet his kiss. Katie let herself fall this time into the warmth of the love that flowed out of Alistair. All her fears melted away in his warm embrace. Did she dare believe that she had found a love that would never leave her alone?

Alistiar hugged her tightly, then turned to pick up the metal detector.

Where did I set it?” His perplexed voice carried back to her as he took a few steps back into the trees where they had entered the ravine.

Katie watched him as he took a few more steps away, the warmth of his kiss still filling her with security. One more step and he was hidden from view…

Katie’s agonized shriek of terror was the next sound that split the still air of the ravine…

Seraph Lady Arcola
"I believe that friends are quiet angels who lift us to our feet when our wings have trouble remembering how to fly."
"A real friend is one who walks in when the rest of the world walks out." -Walter Winchell

~ BFME2 Heaven | Stronghold Heaven | Stronghold 2 Heaven~

[This message has been edited by Lady Arcola (edited 11-14-2009 @ 03:06 AM).]

Civis Romanus
posted 11-03-09 16:29 EST (US)     14 / 35       
Alistair stopped dead in his tracks at the sound of Katie's scream. Spinning on his heels he made as if to run right back in her direction, but spied his metal detector leaning against a tree nearby, right where he'd left it he now recalled. He ran over to the tree where the machine rested and grabbed the metal detector on the fly, never stopping. A good weapon if necessary, he reasoned, thinking he could use it like a quarterstaff if necessary.

Katie stood stock still, her face white as a sheet, staring into a place within the woods. Her hands were folded into two fists pressed hard against her face just above her chin. Her eyes were open wide and she was shaking all over. At the sound of Alistair's approach she jumped as if severely startled and appeared as if she contemplated running towards their parked Land Rover. Finally recognizing Alistair, she ran to him and buried herself in his arms crying.

"It was her!" she sobbed. "I saw her."

"Her? Who, Katie? Who did you see."

"The girl in my dream. The one the soldier killed, I mean, the one whose knife she used. Oh, you know what I mean!" She sobbed even more.

"There now, Katie. Shadows and such, that's all. Come on, we'll go home and..."

Suddenly Katie ceased her crying. "No, Alistair. We will not 'go home.' I want to know what's going on with me... With her." She pushed herself out of his arms. "And I want to know now."

Alistair sensed there was no arguing with her that moment, and he, himself, was wondering too. "Tell me what you saw."

"Alright," she agreed. "The girl was about my age, give or take a year. She was there." Katie pointed to a place at the edge of the clearing away from the Land Rover near a thin line of trees. "She stood absolutely still, one hand pointing at the trees, and her other hand beckoning to me. I was startled at first to see her there, and shocked when I realized I could see the trees she pointed to through her body. She, the apparition I mean, dropped her hands and started walking, well, floating actually right towards me. That's when I screamed. You came and she disappeared, but as she disappeared I saw her point towards the trees again and say "Help me. Then I was running and your arms were there and..." Katie paused. "Thank you."

Alistair smiled. "Anytime." Then his smile faded and his face took on a more serious look. "Let's go home."

"No, Alistair, please. Let's walk to where she pointed. I must know. I simply have to know."

Alistair sighed. "Alright, Katie. Together." Katie nodded and without hesitation seized Alistair's free hand, the one not holding the metal detector, and they both walked to the place to which the apparition pointed. The trees there stood uncaring about the approach of the two strangers. They formed a jagged, almost single line of staggered trunks. Alistair and Katie walked between two with a wide gap into another clearing, the sight of which caused her to stop and draw in a sudden breath. Alistair stopped the same time as Katie and turned to see what had caused her reaction.

"Alistair! My dream! See the boulder over there? Just like my dream: a clearing among trees with a boulder. The girl in my dream when she died lay there pointing to a place where the dirt was disturbed near the boulder."

"I'm not surprised," commented Alistair matter-of-factly. Now it was Katie's turn to stare. "That's where my father found the golden armband."

"Do you think...?" began Katie; but Alistair only shrugged his shoulders.

"I suppose. We found the ring near Hadrian's Wall in the place you dreamed about and now you confirm the exact place where we found the armband. You'll have me believing in spooks and dreams before the day is out, I fear." Alistair said this lightheartedly, but Katie was not amused.

"I'd rather have neither if you don't mind." Then she forgot her minor irritation. "Alistair, use your metal detector!" she pleaded excitedly.

"What for, Katie? We've done this before," Alistair protested.

"Please, Alistair, one more time." She put on her face for the first time in years her well-designed "teenager begging her boyfriend" look. She felt guilty about it, but only a little, as Alistair's resistance melted away.

He turned the machine on, put the headphones on his head, and began to walk a slow pattern designed to cover the smallish area from corner to corner. About 15 minutes into his pattern, the dial indicator on the machine suddenly surged up to the "metallic" range, the indicator light illuminated, and he distinctly heard the sound in his headphones which signaled solid metal lying near the surface begging to be unburied. He turned the machine off and hurried back to the other clearing in which he left his backpack and digging tools. Soon he returned bearing backpack and tools. Katie decided to wait and not begin digging with her hands despite her intense curiousity.

Alistar set about digging where the machine said metal could be found. About six inches below the dead growth and dirt line, his trowel struck something very metallic, because only a piece of metal would make that kind of 'ting!' sound he heard. He began to work the trowel much more carefully, and then pulled out a paintbrush to push the soil away from the object slowly revealing itself.

"Old pair of scissors," he noted fueling a wave of disappointment in his research partner. "No, hold on. Something else." His revision pushed the disappointment in Katie away as her interest climbed once again. Alistair brushed away at his mini-dig and find. "Hmmm. I think I can free it now."

Up it came out of the dirt, an oddly formed, very rusted object looking like a slightly opened pair of scissors lacking the customary scissor's handle, but unlike any pair of scissors, ancient or modern, he or she had ever seen. "Katie, I don't think this is a scissors."

Katie leaned in to look at the object more closely. "No, it can't be a scissors. The blades are wrong... Hmmm, the blades." Katie looked at Alistair. "I think this is a dagger."

"Yeah, could be," Alistair conceded. "But a double-bladed dagger? Or maybe..." He hesitated as he turned the object over in his hand. "Maybe two daggers." He turned it over again. "Yes, two daggers I think, fused together. Handles would have been wood covered in leather, or layers of wrapped leather, both secured with leather cord. The leather and wood wouldn't last in this soil, but the metal could last for centuries. As it is, these...daggers...nearly have disintegrated from exposure. There's not much left."

Katie leaned back, an odd expression crossing her face. "Do you have the artifacts?" she asked pointing to Alistair's backpack.

"I do. I thought I should have them with us if we discovered anything similar."

"Good, please give me the armband." He did, placing the fused daggers back on the ground and holding the ring in his hand in their place since Katie didn't ask for it." He waited while she re-examined the runes. "Okay, Alistair, Would you mind passing over the ring?"

"Sure." He gave her the ring as she handed back to him the armband. At that moment the artifacts must have caught a bit of light from the sun as they were passed between them because a glow suddenly surged forth from the artifacts and then quickly faded. The two only barely noticed.

Katie looked at the ring and then slipped it on her left hand's ring finger to keep it safe while she leaned over to grasp the daggers. Alistair, idled while watching Katie examine the ring, casually slipped the armband on his own arm, smiled when Katie slipped the ring on her finger, then recognized by her movement that Katie wanted the daggers. He reached down to save her the stretch, grasped the rusted artifacts and handed them to her. Two hands, one Alistair's and the other Katie's, touched the daggers at the same time.

The world around them exploded in a brilliant flash of cold white light.

More to come.

[This message has been edited by Civis Romanus (edited 11-04-2009 @ 04:31 PM).]

Civis Romanus
posted 11-04-09 21:44 EST (US)     15 / 35       
To his relief, Alistair's blinding by the flash of white light lasted only a few seconds. As quickly as it happened, it passed. So too had most of the day. Obviously from the position of the sun over the meadow it was mid-afternoon. Meadow? He heard a creature snort behind him. He turned to find a chestnut-colored mare with a white blaze on its muzzle looking at him expectantly at the end of a rein he carried in his left hand. Alistair stared at the horse not believing his eyes. Even less believable was the presence to the south a good distance away of a section of Hadrian's Wall more complete than he had ever seen it in all of his years. To the east he saw a column of men approaching the wall. He knew these to be Norse, without question, based upon his studies of their artifacts from pieces of clothing exhumed from Viking burials, to the swords, armor and helms they were wearing. He quickly guided his horse behind a huge oak, wide enough to conceal him from their view though they were a distance away.

That's when he noticed he held a wooden box in his right hand. He looked at it, at the sleeve of his shirt and followed it to study the rest of his clothing. Nothing said 21st Century to him. It said Ninth Century CE loudly and clearly. Katie! How could he forget. He looked everywhere he could from his hidden vantage point and could not find her or see anything of her. He nearly panicked... Then the knowledge of two ages began to blend within his tortured mind as the ring in the wooden box gleamed ever more brightly but unseen.

This was but a dream, like Katie's, and he was napping in the clearing near the boulder and the place where he found the daggers... But he had no daggers! He quickly felt around and found he did indeed have a weapon-one dagger only. A sword poked its handle out of a saddle scabbard at the right of his horse, but that's all he had. He opened the box to find inside the ring, suddenly without its bright shine, and full recollection flooded back. He was on his way to the Priory of Lindisfarne to meet his bride and be bound in marriage. The ring was for her. Her name is Katie. No, wait, not Katie. He couldn't remember her name; but he knew she was there. So to there he would ride.

A noise on the far side of the trees startled him and nearly caused the horse to bolt. Men, speaking in germanic. Norse! He looked towards the Wall and saw men walking across its uppermost level, peering over the edge and waving to fellow Norse marching in from the east. He felt trapped, no escape, no recourse. Compelled, he tightened his grip on the ring and decided to bury it before it could be taken. He would recover it later when the Norse had gone. Alistair realized almost simultaneously that he was doing exactly what the dream portrayed to Katie. He knew the consequences and decided they would not be his. Carefully looking about from his position, he noticed no Norse were on horses. All were on foot. Almost impulsively, Alistair mounted his horse and with a press of heals, made it very clear its master wanted her to gallop north at her very best speed.

The horses in the distant stables of the Priory seemed incredibly nervous to Katie's way of thinking as she stood in the courtyard in front of the smallish stone church. Horses? Her briefly blinded vision cleared and she immediately realized this was not the clearing where she had been just a moment before. A monk in a well worn brown-dyed woolen robe approached her in what seemed to be an extremely agitated state calling to her, but with a name she did not recognize. Yet there was no doubt in her mind the monk sought her. His language was similar to English but spoken with different construction and dialect. She understood most of the words, but the one that most caught her attention was an old English pronunciation of the word "Norse."

[This message has been edited by Civis Romanus (edited 11-04-2009 @ 10:02 PM).]

Lady Arcola
SHH Seraph
posted 11-10-09 16:59 EST (US)     16 / 35       
Ælfgifu! Run to me now; we must find your Fæder.”

Katie stared blankly at the young monk. “My Fæder? Where is he?”

Katie shook her head as if to clear it, unbelief spread through her as she heard the ancient word for father leave her lips. What had happened to her?” She then glanced franticly around for Alistair, nothing… he was not there. Katie felt the panic rush into her like ice water. The rapid flow of speech from the young monk caught her attention again. She watched as if in a dream as he gestured to her again shouting what appeared to be the name he thought belonged to her, and started walking away.
Suddenly the thoughts of where she was at were replaced with a new terror, as a completely different thought process flooded into her consciousness. Running after the monk that was now rapidly walking away from her she asked, “Theodric? Is he here yet? Please…. My Fæder, has he brought word of Theodric? Has Theodric arrived?” Where did that come from, Katie's paniced mind raced.

The young monk turned to her with a terror of his own mirrored in his eyes, “Hwæt!(What) The Norse are attacking, they will be here…Lindisfarne… You must come now Ælfgifu! You must come now… Reaching down he took her hand and started across the courtyard with her.

Where are you taking me?” The ancient language flowed from her as if she had been born speaking it.

Someplace safe, you cannot be here in the courtyard, someplace safe…We were told to guard you with our very lives. Our princess must not come to harm.”

Two things clicked in Katie’s mind, the word princess and the realization she was now in Lindisfarne… and from the look of it she was so far back in time Alistair would never know where she was. Ælfgifu? Ælf meant elf, and gifu if she remembered correctly was gift. Her eyes grew wide with terror… the princess of the mythology had that name.
Panic rushed through her again. Looking at the monk dragging her across the compound she only registered more panic. Putting up her hand she went to run it though her hair only to find it had been neatly woven up and a long braid fell from the neat weave. Glancing down at her dress she saw a deeply embroidered cobalt blue gown graced her form. A warm dove grey woolen cape covered that and its fur lined hemline was dragging in the dirt of the courtyard. She felt the urge to scream in terror as the gravity of her plight sunk in.

Seraph Lady Arcola
"I believe that friends are quiet angels who lift us to our feet when our wings have trouble remembering how to fly."
"A real friend is one who walks in when the rest of the world walks out." -Walter Winchell

~ BFME2 Heaven | Stronghold Heaven | Stronghold 2 Heaven~
Civis Romanus
posted 11-11-09 16:08 EST (US)     17 / 35       
Alistair drove his horse on as fast as he could. It was the time of the year when light was long and dark was shorter, but he knew he would never reach the Scottish border or Lindisfarne in time that day before the sun would set. Yet he couldn't drive his horse too hard or the beast would succumb to exhaustion. In that event, he knew he would not reach Lindisfarne at all. One thing he knew instinctively, Lindisfarne or nearby is where he would find Katie. Her dream was precise about that fact. It was from the Lindisfarne Priory that the dreamgirl fled.

Alistair had no idea why he was travelling alone. He knew by his clothing he was not a peasant but a more wealthy occupant of some manor in some part of this country. He had no retinue with him when he first found himself near the Wall and saw the Norse arrive; but he had a fine horse and he was riding upon a well-crafted saddle that only a Lord or his son could afford. Thank providence his father saw fit to make sure he knew how to ride a horse English style.

But which Fæder was that? There is a two-story farmhouse he recalled which... "Fæder?" he said out loud causing the mare's ears to flick backwards. What word is that? Did I say that, he wondered. But there is another house he remembered: it was fortified with high, thick walls peppered with slotted openings for archers. The living quarters were elevated, almost to the very top and the entry point was double fortified with two thick oaken doors riding on cast metal hinges, reinforced with hammered iron flat metal cross braces at the door's top, middle and bottom. It could withstand the assault of any Lord's army of the times and outlast even a prolonged seige since it was built on the site of a well and contained two floors dedicated to storage of foods and other necessities. He shook his head as if that would help sort out the conflicting memories.

Katie's dream... He wished he'd paid closer attention to some of the detail instead of treating it as something of passing interest. He knew he must go north to Lindisfarne, and there was a problem the dreamgirl experienced in a clearing like the one they were searching with the metal detector. Daggers were involved... Then he recalled the girl sought a young man. There was a young man at the Wall who buried a ring and died there. No, Katie said he was confronted by Norse, not that he died there. This puzzled Alistair while the horse continued instinctively to follow the road north. Its master gave the chestnut mare a nudge with a knee now and then just to keep it pointed and moving. Theodric's ring, he knew, was safe and in his saddle pouch... Theodric?

Suddenly, he pulled back on the reins and with his knees gave the horse the signal to stop. He realized he could go no farther as he spied through a break in the surrounding growth the sun would soon be setting. Driving a horse in the dark is a sure way to get its leg broken. Nearby he saw a clearing with long grass and the signs of a small stream. He could feed his horse on this and both of them could rest during the relatively short dark of night. Those are the reasons he stopped.

The night had mercy on him by not bringing a cold wind. He found some wheat cakes free of weevils in his saddle pouch, and cupped stream water with his hand to wash the last crumbs down his throat. He didn't dare light a fire though the warmth would have been welcome. Theodric. Where did that come from? Once he thought he heard the unfamiliar language of the Norse being spoken, but awakening in the dim light of a partial moon, he did not see that his horse was agitated and so he wrote it off to imaginings, like the name 'Theodric.'

The area north of Lindisfarne did not fare as well. Groups of Norse overran the area in a disorganized pattern woven by distinct parties of opportunistic raiders. Those in the south left behind the Wall they briefly examined out of curiousity. They began to march north in order to meet up with their dragon ships which had sailed to a rendezvous point for the return voyage to their Norse villages. The Priory of Lindisfarne, though isolated on its island, heard the distressing news and was preparing for the worst.

Ælfgifu! Please, we must hurry," urged the monk. Katie tried her best to keep up, but in her long gown she was naturally not as agile as she would have been in her daily classwear. Finally, she stopped.

"A moment, please. I must catch my breath!" she protested as the press of the tightened garment behaving like a bodice, something she was unused to, began to get the better of her. "You say Norse? Coming here?"

"Aye, M'lady," the young monk answered, his eyes nervously looking towards the Priory's walls and gate and back to Katie. "They are not the traders who've come here before. These are pillagers, not traders. We heard rumors of this happening, traders no longer coming but instead it was raiders; but we thought them to be footpads and a few here and there exaggerated by pilgrims. These are not footpads we are told, but soldiers organized for pillaging, taking without payment anything they want. And we are told they take slaves as well, and women, and... I've said enough to you, M'lady. I must bring you to your Fæder. Please hurry!"

The young monk again grasped Katie's hand and as best she could she kept pace with the hurrying cleric as they entered the monastic dormatory which housed the small population of the Priory. Inside one of the rooms his back to the door stood an older man, shoulder length hair streaked with gray, broad at the shoulders and narrowing slightly towards his waist. He was somewhat taller than the monk, far more muscular; but it was obvious he was no longer in the prime of youth, for as he turned to greet his daughter, the King of Northumbria's face displayed the weariness of age and mirrored his worry about the Norse invasion.

[This message has been edited by Civis Romanus (edited 11-12-2009 @ 11:08 AM).]

Civis Romanus
posted 11-15-09 16:38 EST (US)     18 / 35       
"Ælfgifu!" The King opened his arms wide and beckoned to Katie to receive a welcoming embrace. She at first hesitated upon seeing this stranger, but his expression of warmth won her over, or the girl named 'Ælfgifu' over, who seemed to co-exist in this different body clothed in ancient garments Katie possessed. She felt surprising comfort in his embrace and couldn't help whispering "Fæder" while being held.

"Ælfgifu, Norse have attacked us to the north and the south. Villagers fleeing here say it is only a matter of time before they move south from the northern villages. You must leave this place and go west and then north to Edinburgh to circumvent them. Use the ancient road built by the men from across the water. Take a horse in the morning and a company of men to protect you."

"But what of Theodric, Fæder!" she protested.

"He will have to take care of himself. He shall if he's the man we both think he is."

Katie, who wasn't sure why, couldn't immediately accept this. "But I must have Theodric with me, Fæder!"

"You must be safe, Daughter!" the King said, his face reddening with irritation, but his eyes showing empathy with the girl's emotions. "You are my only child and shall be Queen of Northumbria when I am gone. It is your duty to do this, and to obey me, your King and Fæder."

Instinctively, Katie understood this, as if she were in fact the daughter of this man. "Yes, Fæder," she agreed, though a tinge of reluctance remained.

Her father's voice softened a little just then. "We shall do everything we can to see that you and Theodric are reunited, I assure you my daughter. Now go, rest and get prepared. Your journey must be swift and silent."

Katie nodded and then with the young monk guiding her, retired to a room farther into the Priory.


Blood poured once again from the mouth of the bound and battered Northumbrian villager following a smash to his face with a balled fist delivered by a Norse warrior standing next to him. "When I ask you a question, I expect an answer!" bellowed the blonde haired, blue-eyed, powerfully built Norse Chieftan who towered over the villager. "What is to be found in the structure on the island? Is there treasure? Who defends it and how many?"

The villager remained silent.

"Perhaps your wife or children know?" said the Chieftan with a cruel half grin and narrowly slitted eyes emphasizing the malice he intended if he didn't find out soon. The villager's face paled immediately.

"No, I'll tell you. Promise me you won't hurt them and I'll tell you!"

The Chieftan grinned again. Weakling, he thought. "Of course, no harm. Now tell me." He could afford this lie. What could this weakling do about it anyway.

"It was said the King of Northumbria and his daughter, the Princess, journeyed there. She is to be wed to the son of the Lord of Bernicia in the Priory."

"Is there treasure?"

"No coins, if that's what you mean."

"Objects of gold. Are there any?"

"Just holy objects the monks place on the altar."

Ragnar, Chieftan of his village, snorted in contempt. "Holy objects. We care not for what those weakling monks claim is holy. They are not of Odin's making. They are gold to be melted into whatever we want them to be. Are there soldiers?" Ragnar took a threatening step forward.

The villager cringed. "The King usually travels with four companies of mounted soldiers. I do not know how many he brought with him, but there are soldiers there if the King is there."

Two scouts presented themselves to Ragnar at that moment. "Soldiers are standing watch on the island at the end of the causeway and on the beach. We can anchor two ships on the island's beach and one ship on a narrow length of the causeway. The causeway at high water is too narrow to cross and even underwater at times. We should wait for lower water."

"When?" asked Ragnar.

"Before the sun is at zenith."

Ragnar motioned to his soldiers who were standing guard over the beaten villager. "Take him away from here. Take him back to his wife and daughters." The villager smiled through bloody lips and missing teeth at the fulfillment of his deal with the Chieftan. "Then kill them all in front of this weakling's eyes," Ragnar commanded. The Northumbrian's wail of misery could be heard by all until what sounded like a sharp blow administered by a leather-shoed foot silenced him.

Ragnar paid no attention, but instead turned around and began to bellow commands to his subordinates. "Load the ships. Soldiers and weapons only. We feast on their 'holy' larder as our next meal!" His men scurried about making ready their attack on the Priory of Lindisfarne.


Alistair pressed his chestnut mare onwards in the early morning light. Strangely, he felt no need to break his night's fast. In fact, he ate the wheat cakes simply out of habit and not from any kind of clawing hunger like he would experience at the university or his apartment from time to time. The horse too seemed uninterested in the long blades of grass. Well, it didn't matter, the time saved was time needed and he took full advantage of it.

Finally, the benefit of travelling so long the day before manifested itself in his seeing in the distance the island of Lindisfarne, the priory and the causeway, with the sea water sufficiently withdrawn to permit passage by horse. To his dismay, he saw to the north four square sails which helped propel the swift dragon-headed ships to which they were affixed. He could see that the ships might arrive well before he could and so he hurried his mare to try and reach the Priory before the Norse.

It wasn't to be. A dragon ship broke from the group of four and beached itself on the causeway just as a company of soldiers, and a figure riding side-saddle, burst forth from the Priory, the soldiers in the lead. On the narrow causeway a battle broke out between the soldiers and the disembarking Norse. The figure, a woman most likely, following a narrow phalanx of mounted soldiers managed to break through the Norse, the last soldier felled by arrow in his back. She rode on alone. Though Alistair couldn't understand why, he felt overwhelmingly compelled to follow the woman, eventhough she looked nothing at all like Katie.

Compelled as well were the Norse, who first followed on foot and then stepped aside as the Norse chieftan, now mounted on one of the fallen soldier's horses, led a party of his men in pursuit of the fleeing woman, who he instinctively knew represented a fortune in ransoming gold. His warriors would take good care of the Priory, the chieftan knew. They had their orders and no such structure had the ability to withstand a concentrated Norse onslaught. No, it was the fleeing woman who represented the greatest treasure; and he, Ragnar, would have it all and her too if he could.

The image of the woman fleeing the Priory and the Norse in pursuit on foot flashed into Alistair's memory and he understood this to be another part of Katie's dream. Now he understood his compulsion. Follow the dream and you will find Katie, and you will find my Ælfgifu a fleeting thought passed through his reasoning mind. Who? Ælfgifu? Who is that? No answer. He saw the fleeing woman gallop into a narrow passage through two bare boulders and disappear behind the boulders' twin bulk. Without thinking, he pressed his horse's side and shook the reins in his hand to signal the horse to go and then ordered it into a gallop. He followed them all, the fleeing woman and the pursuing Norse.
Lady Arcola
SHH Seraph
posted 11-17-09 03:39 EST (US)     19 / 35       
The King had sent his best warriors to guard his last surviving child, with his sons dead, only his lovely daughter Ælfgifu was left in his life and he watched her disappear from view with overwhelming dread. A small band of Norsemen chased after her, but a larger force was attacking the Abby, there was nothing at the moment he could do to save her.

Ælfgifu had been anointed and blessed by the Bishop Eardulf, prayed over by the Monks who had called on the protection of the Lord most High to save her before she had fled the Abby. It was in His hands now, no earthly force could harm her if she was protected by their prayerful plea.

A bigger problem now pulled his attention away as he saw his Bishop, Eardulf and the monks saving the sacred bones of St. Cuthburt and other artifacts of Lindisfarne. Could he make it back to the castle at Bramburg? The castle was just to the south of the Abby, he watched his soldiers load and hurry the monks towards the end of the Abby complex with what they needed to save. They were fleeing from the opposite end the Norse were attacking, hoping they would make it before the soldiers were discovered masquerading as the monks. Ælfgifu's father gave one more look at his men and then was escorted after the monks.


Ælfgifu gave her father’s warhorse its head urging it forward with her knees and heels, the landscape opened before her and she instinctively turned the warhorse south towards home. She desperately wanted to flee home to Bramburg but was instructed to flee inland. Unhooking her knee from the pommel she now rode astride the horse, only when she felt secure on the horses back did she look behind her.

Terror and panic flowed through her in waves as she watched her chance of escape evaporate; the Norse were on the causeway now, the sand was fast disappearing on the incoming tide but that did not stop them. Tears blurred her vision blocking the view of carnage behind her. The escort that had tried to safely guard her from the attacking Norse had been slaughtered. One small band of Norse chased her and one lone rider coming up inland side from the South also caught her attention.

Ælfgifu mind raced, could it possibly be, “Theodric?” The rider was too far away on the mainland and the Norse were closing the distance as she sped across the channel and onto the mainland. She had been told to go to Saint Cuthbert’s cave , wait for her father or one of the royal guards to find her there and if none came she was to flee north to the Kingdom of Alba and safety.

Ælfgifu’s heels spurred the horse into a faster gallop. He was powerful and the distance increased till all she could see behind her were faint images of the riders. She rode without stopping into the forest keeping far ahead of the pursuing Norse. Every time the trees hid her from their view she changed her course. Keeping her father’s words in her mind she fled to the hiding place she had been taken to many times by the monks as preparation for a day like this. She knew there were provisions stored there by her father for just such a day of flight. She only had to survive and make it there. Plans had been made after the deaths of her brothers to flee North to her aunt who was married to a prince within the Kingdom of Alba. She knew from his hurried instructions to flee north following the coastline but staying inland far enough to be unseen if he did not come to her or the Norse found her. With no protection she was at the mercy of the landscape and anything she met as she fled and she realized how very alone she was now.

Ælfgifu felt her self getting weary; she looked behind her again and saw she had evaded the Danes following her so far. Dark clouds rolled in from the coast and blew in behind her bringing with it a storm that was fast approaching. Flashes of lightning and rolling thunder rumbled behind her as the storm traveled inland with her. It would catch her soon. She smiled slightly knowing they would be hard pressed to find her if the rain washed her tracks away.

She had fled inland for half the day and now was heading into hiding. Soon her destination came into view and she fled inside the cave. Large enough to protect her and the warhorse it was a welcome and safe place to hide though the night. She kept close to the horse letting the warmth of the animal lull her into sleep. Murmering softly Ælfgifu chanted out the parting words of the Bishop, “The Lord shall keep thy soul; he shall preserve thee from all ill. Henceforth thy going out and in God keep for ever will.” Sleep claimed her quickly.

Suddenly Katie was back in control of the maidens thoughts, she knew from reading her story the Norse would track and chase her down, she had to get her moving again but was lost as to how she could do that. From her vantage point in the cave she could see for miles in the night. Off in the distance flickering lights moved back and forth. Odd Katie thought there should be not lights in this era of time… fear pierced her thoughts.

Torches! Ælfgifu was being hunted; even the darkness was not stopping her pursuers. Katie nudged the giant horse lying beside her. Soft dark eyes of the stallion looked back at her, Katie pushed on the animal again and leaned herself into him. As if he could sense her stark fear of being caught the large animal nudged at the form next to him and softly nickered.

Slowly Katie was lost once again to Ælfgifu as the princess struggled back to wakefulness. With the last thoughts Katie could project she looked towards the distant flickering lights. Ælfgifu gasped with horror and Katie’s thoughts were suppressed again.

Seraph Lady Arcola
"I believe that friends are quiet angels who lift us to our feet when our wings have trouble remembering how to fly."
"A real friend is one who walks in when the rest of the world walks out." -Walter Winchell

~ BFME2 Heaven | Stronghold Heaven | Stronghold 2 Heaven~

[This message has been edited by Lady Arcola (edited 11-20-2009 @ 02:51 AM).]

Lady Arcola
SHH Seraph
posted 11-20-09 14:41 EST (US)     20 / 35       
Ælfgifu pulled the warhorse over to the large rock next to her, loaded the supplies and pulled herself up on the animal’s broad back. Carefully she urged him out of the protection of the rocks. The storm had passed earlier and now the ground was damp, frowning she looked down and realized that the horse would leave a very noticeable trail. She looked out again across the expanse that was between her and the flickering lights and cringed as she heard the howl of a wolf on the night air.

The Danes were heading straight towards her hiding place. How was this was possible? There should be no way she could be tracked. Shivering against the cold she urged her horse upwards through the ferns. Up the hillside and into the pines she rode quietly looking out towards the twinkling torchlight miles away. She knew the trail out of the pines led due north and rode quietly through the darkness. The warhorse seemed to know his way and they sped north.

Daylight came hours later and she knew now that she was at least half a night away from her attackers. Pulling her grey cloak tightly around her she could feel tiredness pulling at her and feeling safe she slowed the horse to a walk. Miles had sped away during the night and she was back along the coastline but farther up north than when she had left Lindisfarne. An old Roman road came into view and she kept the horse parallel to it. Nothing moved in the landscape ahead and she moved on. Soon the rushing of water pricked at her senses. The Tweed River loomed into view, Ælfgifu searched the bank for the bridge she knew she should be close by. She traveled north east now following the flow of the river as it sped to the sea and soon the bridge loomed up through the grey mist.

Nothing moved and quiet stillness caused her to be wary, Ælfgifu slipped off the horse and led him across the old Roman stonework. Fog from the coastline shrouded the opposite side and muffled any noise as they made their way across the stonework. Suddenly a shape appeared ahead in the fog. Ælfgifu paused and tried to get a better look. Terror coursed through her as she recognized the figure ahead.


The dark shape came closer and Ælfgifu saw the dark welt under his eye and deep cut above it that left blood trickling down his brow.
“Ælfgifu?… Ælfgifu sto…” As if unsure she was real he reached for her and then crumpled to the ground.

Panic filled her as she rushed forward and pulled him into her arms. Nothing Ælfgifu tried brought him back to consciousness. Frightened beyond words now she pulled her father’s horse down beside him, then she pulled her beloved onto the broad back of the animal. Anger filled every fiber of her being as she mounted the horse and rode forward into the fog.

Not far ahead she found his dead horse, lather covered his neck and she could tell it died from exhaustion. Pausing she gathered his things placed them with hers on the horse and remounted steadying his draped form as she did so. What had he been doing up here? Nothing made sense as she continued north, a few miles past the bridge she moved off the road and up into the trees. Here the land moved up from the sea and she wove her way up the gradual incline looking for a place to stop and care for Theodric. A glade opened up before her and she moved out of the trees into it. A small spring welled up from the rocks ahead and she moved towards it.

It did not take her long to get Theodric settled and she carefully cleaned his wound. Norse forgotten she cared for him in the quietness of the meadow. Evening was fast approaching and she laid her head on his chest, his heartbeat steady below her was a wonderful melody and slowly she drifted off to sleep.

Ragnar was furious now, they had hunted the princess for most of the day and had not gained site of her. She had left a very traceable trail and he was running out of daylight again. Following the horse’s tracks up the incline he gasped as they approached the meadow. Halting the men in the tree line he looked across to the site before them. There beside the spring lay a sleeping woman and a injured warrior. Narrowing his eyes he gazed around them looking for something that would let him know if this was the girl they had chased. Drawing his dagger he moved forward to wards the sleeping couple. Just a few feet more separated them now. Suddenly the war horse whinnied a warning and his cold green eyes fell on the startled blue of the Saxon woman before him. Terror filled her expression and she reached down and drew the dagger from the sleeping form next to her. Ragnar sneered at her attempt and moved in closer. Panic in her eyes mirrored the hate in his eyes and he moved one step closer to her. The shaking words that spilled from her were just noise to him as he reached out to touch her face. Rage swept through him as the dagger she held cut him deeply on the hand extended. Her scream rendered the quiet stillness as his dagger plunged into her body. His evil laughter was the last sound that was heard across the silent meadow.

Seraph Lady Arcola
"I believe that friends are quiet angels who lift us to our feet when our wings have trouble remembering how to fly."
"A real friend is one who walks in when the rest of the world walks out." -Walter Winchell

~ BFME2 Heaven | Stronghold Heaven | Stronghold 2 Heaven~
Civis Romanus
posted 11-20-09 16:14 EST (US)     21 / 35       
Ælfgifu had never felt pain such as this. She staggered backwards clutching her belly just below her ribs, hearing the Norseman's laughter echoing off the trees. Weakening more and more as blood poured from her deep wound, she dropped Theodric's dagger into soft ground near the natural spring. Her legs began to shake and then buckle. She fell onto the floor of the glade and lay there, her breathing more and more labored. She lifted her eyes to see someone standing over her and then her eyes closed even as she recognized it was her Theodric, horror in his expression becoming an upwelling of anger.

Theodric spun on his feet and reached for his dagger; but it wasn't in its sheath. From the corner of his eye he saw it in the dirt near the spring. Mustering what strength he could he leaped for the weapon at the same time Ragnar realized what Theodric intended and did the same. Theodric, smaller, lighter and more agile, got there first, with Ragnar leaping on top intending to wrestle the dagger from Theodric. Instead, Ragnar received the full length of Theodric's blade deep into his chest. In agony, but driven by battle sense, Ragnar raised his dagger and plunged it into Theodric's exposed body, once, twice, thrice. Then the Norseman collapsed on top of the dead Saxon and his life ebbed away as well. Both men's hands were empty of the daggers, which fell into the water of the spring momentarily turning the flowing water red with gore. The daggers fell to the bottom disturbing sediment which quickly covered the weapons to hide them both from view. The blades rested there one on top of the other, like the two men whose lives they ended.

Katie awakened in that moment as if from a deep sleep. She lay on the floor of a glade, the sound of running water nearby. As she rolled over and pushed herself up, she saw she hadn't moved at all. She was still lying on the glade. A moment, her mind screamed at her in that instant. I must have a moment to understand! Katie pushed herself away from the body lying on the glade. Then she looked down at herself and saw that she wore the same clothing as the dead woman, but without the bloody stain below her ribs. She could see the lower section of her dress, but also the ground of the glade. She was transparent, ghost-like. She had become a shade. "But that's not me!" her mind cried out.

"I'm afraid it is," said a voice behind her she recognized immediately. She turned about filled with joy and saw standing nearby... "Who are you?" she asked.

"Alistair," the young man answered. "Or Theodric, if you would prefer. And you are Katie, or Ælfgifu if you'd prefer. Also seemingly transparent, the shade standing before her who called himself Alistair, but looked like Theodric, walked, floated or glided in some manner over to where Katie sat stunned into silence. "Katie, the next time you decide to have a dream, please invite someone else into it. I've had entirely too much to do in this one."

All caution thrown aside, Katie reached out for Alistair and collapsed into his welcoming arms. She was surprised she could feel his presence, his arms around her. Can shades hug? She realized the answer was a resounding 'Yes!' They stayed that way for a moment before Katie remembered about Ragnar. With a start she pushed herself away to see that the Norseman still lay upon the ground on top of Theodric, but his shade was nowhere to be seen. Other Norse, oblivious to their presence, were milling about. Some were arguing, perhaps about what to do with dead Ragnar. He did not seem particularly popular as no rush occurred to gather him up. Instead, the living Norse, incapable of seeing anything other than the three dead bodies, simply joined up and faded away into the forest until they and their coarse language could neither be seen nor heard any longer.

Turning their heads away from the forest to their left, the couple were startled to see standing before them an aged looking man in white clothing, a shade like themselves, but smiling at them and giving no indication whatsoever of ill will. Katie asked first, "Who are you? Are you dead too? Or are you a dreamperson?"

"Oh," the old man said in very Olde English. "I am quite dead. Don't you recognize me Katie who is Ælfgifu?"

"No, I'm sorry but I don't," she replied. Katie looked at Alistair who shook Theodric's ghost head to say he didn't either.

"My name, Katie who is Ælfgifu, is Cuthbert."

[This message has been edited by Civis Romanus (edited 11-20-2009 @ 04:22 PM).]

Civis Romanus
posted 11-21-09 12:56 EST (US)     22 / 35       
Nothing about the demeanor of the old man standing before them signaled any reason for alarm, so Katie and Alistair felt no compelling need to flee. Their eyes once again were drawn to their prostrate bodies. Cuthbert continued to smile his calming, benevolent smile. “I suspect you have many questions,” he invited.

“We do,” Katie confirmed. “Are you the one known as St. Cuthbert, and are we dead?”

Cuthbert nodded. “To the first question, my answer is yes. To the second, in a manner of speaking, you have entered a place for the dead, a transition place.”

“But this is not our time, our place. Why are we here and now dead?” asked Alistair.

“You, like the others who were called, needed to be in this place since this is where those you will help are located in your own time.”

Katie frowned. “Those we will help?”

“Hmm, you haven’t come close to understanding have you? Well, we shall begin at the best place.” Suddenly Cuthbert displayed a faraway look in his eyes. “Very annoying… I do so hate to be disturbed like that.” He shook his head and then realized by their puzzled expressions that neither Katie nor Alistair understood his reference. “The monks of Lindisfarne, bless them, are carrying my reliquary and my relics away from their priory to protect them from the Norse. Your father, Katie, well, I mean Ælfgifu’s father, has done a fine job of defending the Priory but he won’t be able to withstand their next attack. He and the monks know this, so they are taking advantage of the temporary Norse withdrawal to move my relics to a safe place.” Now Katie and Alistair understood, since in their research they studied the history of Lindisfarne and read of the monks who saved the relics of St. Cuthbert.

As if like a feather settling, Cuthbert glided to a stone near the spring and sat on it, the hardness of the stone and its uneven surface seemingly of no concern. “The Norse are not ready for this land and what they will become. The Work is not yet done and so it is necessary that the lineage which rules Northumbria continues for a time. Ælfgifu and Theodric must rule in the place of their fathers for a full lifetime, not lying on the ground as you see them with their souls in transition. You were called to reverse what has occurred.”

“But we are dead, and it has happened in the way you didn’t want,” noted Alistair, trying to reason through it all.

Cuthbert‘s expression changed to concern. “Yes, this is the crucial point. We always come back to this point and its starting place with so many who have tried in the past.”

“Tried in the past? Have there been others like us?” asked Katie.

“Yes, many. None since your family found the ring and armband, of course, as these portals were left uncombined with the third portal until now. High hopes ride with you, I must say.”

“None succeeded, I presume, since we are here.”

“No,“ Cuthbert admitted with some reluctance, “None before you have succeeded. It seems the obstacles are far too numerous or powerful.”

Katie frowned. “Yet, we read of the history of this region and the noble line did continue, and the Norse eventually settled around York, becoming much more a part of the land than raiders. So if it happened, why are we still trying to ensure these events occur?”

Cuthbert smiled. “Excellent, you are now entering the yolk of the egg. Perhaps, this time we shall succeed. Katie who is Ælfgifu, we cannot find who it is who saves them from the fate you see before you. Thus, they die and hope is dashed. We must continue our quest to save Northumbria, for it is the culmination of the quest which makes the event you know happen, and we cannot rest until what you know is made into fact. That we succeed is known through the history you’ve learned. How and when and by who is unknown, even to me. We must continue, forever, if necessary.”

Katie and Alistair looked at each other wondering if the other understood. It seems they both could visualize the cause and effect for neither felt compelled to ask Cuthbert any questions about what he said, except this: Alistair wondered out loud, “Why do you say ‘we’ so much? Is there another besides you who seeks this?”

Cuthbert’s expression remained the same. “Yes, another. Now you must be on your way. Your journey begins to the west where Ælfgifu can be found, and to where Theodric is bound.“ Cuthbert paused noting the expressions on the pair’s faces. “Oh, I didn’t tell you did I. The real Ælfgifu and Theodric are not yet dead. This little drama you’ve experienced is strictly a construct of shadows and suggestion. A little clay, some water, some light, some dark, and some shaping by hand.” Cuthbert waved his hand and the three corpses disappeared leaving no indication they were ever there. Katie felt something pass through her, not uncomfortably or painfully, just the same way as did Alistair in that moment. She looked at Alistair and he appeared as he always had, just like the moment they found the daggers. She too had now taken on her real features and dress. They were indeed Katie and Alistair once again, but still the composition of shades.

Alistair, feeling increasingly confident, realized ‘going west’ was too general a directive. “Please, what are we looking for or supposed to do in the west?”

Cuthbert frowned for the first time during the entire time of their meeting. “Young one, this I cannot tell you; for the task is to find your way, not be told the way; or there is no task. These are all I can offer: Go west and bear the portals. The rest you must discover through experience and reason. You have the freedom of your choosing here and beyond. But beware of the denizens of the transitory world. Neither are they pleased to be opposed nor are they pleased to be where they are, and they are not necessarily to be counted among your friends. Though some may be. Now please go.” Saying this, Cuthbert rose to his feet effortlessly as if a breeze suddenly lifted him from his place on the stone.

Katie and Alistair knew instinctively their talk with Cuthbert was concluded. They stood as well. Alistair unconsciously felt in the pocket of his pants for the armband, and found it there. Katie as well had the ring. Turning to Cuthbert, she wondered, “Will we see you again?” Cuthbert answered tentatively, “It is our hope you will.”

The couple turned to walk westward, but heard Cuthbert call to them one last time. “Haven’t you forgotten something?” They both turned to see him pointing to the spring. Indeed they had. Alistair walked over and immersed his hand in the small pool surrounding the spring, finally locating the objects previously obstructed from view. He withdrew his hand from the spring water holding in it the two daggers, one belonging to Ragnar and the other Theodric's. Alistair held them up to show Cuthbert what he’d found. Cuthbert smiled and nodded and then pointed to the west. “Good journey,” he said as Alistair walked to where Katie waited. They waved, turned and began their walk to the west where the glade ended and the unknown began.

Cuthbert waved back and then dropped his hand, his face taking on an unexpected look of melancholy. “We have tried so often, and failed just as often,” he lamented to the newly appearing, white clothed figure which now stood at his side. “I have such high hopes for these two, but have had such hopes in the past, Edwin.”

Edwin of Northumbria, nodded. “I too, Cuthbert. But I fear we have not prepared them as well as we could.”

Puzzled, Cuthbert turned to Edwin with an inquiring expression. Edwin spoke to allay Cuthbert’s confusion. “We did not tell them to beware Ragnar and the Lady of Northumbria.” Cuthbert’s expression turned to one of dismay, but he said not a word in response, for it was true. “But, Edwin, they did not ask the right question, and we could not tell them about this until they asked it.”

“Perhaps, but then again, maybe we should not be so righteous at all times and give the advantage to those in the place they are bound.” Edwin paused and looked sheepishly at Cuthbert. ”Well, so I have thought at times.”

Cuthbert’s calm smile returned. “We are free to think, Edwin, and always have been. It’s what we do with our thoughts that matters.” Edwin agreed silently. Both watched Katie and Alistair disappear into the distance. But before Cuthbert and Edwin themselves thinned and departed, Cuthbert waived his hand once more, and the spring which bubbled freely all this time faded away leaving only dirt and dry boulders and the look of the place as Katie and Alistair first found it. Then Cuthbert and Edwin were gone as well.

Katie and Alistair joined hands and walked out of the glade and into a place they never imagined could possibly exist. Not even in their worst nightmares.

[This message has been edited by Civis Romanus (edited 11-21-2009 @ 01:11 PM).]

Lady Arcola
SHH Seraph
posted 11-25-09 20:25 EST (US)     23 / 35       
Terror filled Alistair and Katie as they turned to look back to the glade they had just departed and realized it was no longer there. Turning back around they both gasped in horror, the landscape before them was indescribable. Flames licked at timbers and thatch and smoke filled the air with acrid foul odors. Dead bodies’ lay where they had fallen along with destroyed livestock. They seemed to be in a compound of burning dwellings with no way out.

“Did they send us to die!?” Alistair’s unbelieving voice carried out into the flames.

As if in answer a gentle voice answered him. “Not unless all we have strived to obtain is for naught, young one.”

Katie and Alistair spun around towards the direction of the voice. There in the flames walked a woman clothed in white, she strode towards them unharmed.
Alistair instinctively put his arm around Katie and pulled her into him, turning so she was partially shielded from this new visitor.

“Do not be afraid, Alistair Heath and Katie Seren, I was expecting you.”

“Why are you here…?” Katie gestured with her free arm at the destruction burning around them.

“I was Eanflæd, daughter of Edwin of Northumbria, who lost his life for upholding the light of truth. I was in this village when the battle engulfed it, my father had retreated here but was lost when King Penda took his life and captured my brother. Queen Æthelburg my mother fled with Bishop Paulinus taking me to safety in Kent.” She smiled gently as the couple still wary of her backed away as she stepped from the flames. Nothing on her was burned, and she smiled at them again.

"When I was older I married the son of King Æthelfrith of Bernicia, Oswiu. He was also my cousin, his mother being, Acha my father’s sister. My father King Edwin, led the battle that killed his father King Æthelfrith, and took the crown when he died.” A sad faraway look came into her eyes. King Æthelfrith’s children fled to safety in the kingdom of Dál Riata and hence your lineage to Theodric, is established through your mother Alistair.”

Alistair let his hold on Katie drop and he stared at this visitor with unbelief written on his face. “You’re saying I am of royal decent?”

Eanflæd gently laughed and nodded in affirmative. “Ahh but you are not alone in this respect.” Now she turned her ancient eyes on Katie and locked her gaze on her. “You Katie Seren, through your mother’s lineage also are connected to Ælfgifu the daughter of the last King of Northumbira. You are also of royal decent.”

Katie looked at the white robed apparition and shook her head in disbelief. “This means what?”

Eanflæd looked at Katie with a sad expression, “I don’t expect you to understand but you must understand one thing… In this realm, pagan King Penda with his fire of wrath and its source must be stopped. Are you willing to take this task?”

More coming in a few...........

Seraph Lady Arcola
"I believe that friends are quiet angels who lift us to our feet when our wings have trouble remembering how to fly."
"A real friend is one who walks in when the rest of the world walks out." -Walter Winchell

~ BFME2 Heaven | Stronghold Heaven | Stronghold 2 Heaven~

[This message has been edited by Lady Arcola (edited 11-25-2009 @ 10:22 PM).]

Lady Arcola
SHH Seraph
posted 11-26-09 03:02 EST (US)     24 / 35       
Katie’s eyes narrowed, she had been taught to test principalities and this apparition had yet established that it was a messenger of goodwill. “How do we know you are a messenger of truth?”

“You do not know Katie Seren, but you can test me if you like. Or maybe I should test your faith in the truth.” Eanflæd eyes twinkled and she smiled broadly at the couple.

“How would you test us Lady Eanflæd?” Alistair asked with a skeptical look on his face.

Eanflæd stepped back into the flames and beckoned them to follow her. Katie looked at Alistair and he could read the frightened resolve in her face, taking her hand he stepped towards the flames.

“You may follow me in this fire to the edge, you will not be harmed for your protection is sure with me. But from then on you must walk by faith alone and make it to its source. Will you trust a messenger of truth or quail at the tasks set before you? There will be many who will deceive you on this quest. You must prevail and defeat all that threaten you. I am not one of the ones to cause you pain, I am only here to give you hope. For in this fire is its source you will be tested to find and defeat it. Come follow me, I have a gift for you both.”

Taking a deep breath the couple stepped into the flames, the heat radiated off them but did not harm them at this point. They followed the ancient messenger to the edge of the flames where she gave Alistair a sword then produced a smaller one for Katie. Also she bestowed a bundle of items she said they may need in the future. Now she stepped back and bade them walk through the fire out into a rocky escarpment marred by a deep gash where the flames emitted. They both looked at her in dismay for molten rock flowed from the flames issue.

“Go forth in faith and persevere. Seek the truth and keep faithful to one another. Do not be led astray.” Slowly the daughter of Edwin backed into the flames and was no more vanishing as quickly as she had appeared to them.

A terrible sound emitted from the rocks, Alistair grabbed Katie away from the flames that shot out. The village had vanished and all that was before them now was the fire they could not pass. Alistair pulled Katie behind a large boulder and went up the rocky embankment, it did not take him long to return to Katie. One look at his face told her something was very wrong.

“What is in there Alistair?”

Seraph Lady Arcola
"I believe that friends are quiet angels who lift us to our feet when our wings have trouble remembering how to fly."
"A real friend is one who walks in when the rest of the world walks out." -Walter Winchell

~ BFME2 Heaven | Stronghold Heaven | Stronghold 2 Heaven~
Civis Romanus
posted 11-27-09 14:08 EST (US)     25 / 35       
Alistair hesitated to answer while he tried to think how best to explain the nature of what he saw. Finally, he decided there was no use in sugar-coating the problem. “We have ourselves a dragon.”

Katie blinked. “You’re kidding,” she replied. Looking at Alistair’s matter-of-fact expression convinced her this was no joke. “So what do we do now?”

Alistair was about to answer when suddenly from nowhere a warrior of some unknown origin charged past them with a curved sword raised shouting something which seemed Asian in intonation; at least it did to Katie the linguist. The warrior turned the corner past the rocks and shouted what seemed like a battle-cry. This was met by a blast furnace full of superheated flame charring the warrior into ash. Katie and Alistair swallowed hard and looked at each other.

“One must have faith, I suppose,” noted Alistair with less than a convinced look on his face.

Katie reached down and selected a piece of a tree branch about a third of a meter long and tip-toed up to the point where the boulder pass ended and the dragon flame began. All was quiet until she threw the tree branch into the space where the warrior had stood. Flames turned the branch into charcoal and then white ash as Katie hugged the boulder with her back, her face turned from the heat of the beast’s flame. She walked back to where Alistair stood staring at her with horrified eyes.

“I thought you were… I mean… Next time tell me what you’re doing, would you?” he stammered.

“Well, I wasn’t going to do anything stupid, you know,” she countered, appreciating Alistair’s concern. “It seems a little too real to me. Doesn’t it seem real to you?”

“Very real,” Alistair agreed.

Katie sighed. “Wonderful. Now what? Where is St. George when you need him, right?” she mused. Despite it all, Alistair mustered up a small smile and a short laugh.

But a shimmering in the air just above one of the piled boulders made his smile fade and raised his apprehensions a tad more than had been the case just a moment before. The shimmering ceased when a young man clad in peasant clothing appeared sitting casually on the stone. “Can I help you?”

Katie noticed Alistair’s chin had dropped and so she answered for them both. “Who are you, stranger?”

“George, of course.”

Finding his voice Alistair noted, “But where’s your armor?”

“Armor? Think a peasant like me has armor? Oh, you mean those illustrations and heraldic images… No, well-imagined fables. I wish I had those things, but I don’t. So, I ask again, do you need my help?”

Katie nodded. “Certainly. We would be ever so grateful.”

George jumped up. “Then you shall have it. Wait for me to say all is well and then pass through the narrows and be on your way. Understood?”

“Yes, understood,” Katie and Alistair answered together.

George nodded and began to climb up the stones to the top and to the same place where Alistair previously had spied out the dragon’s lair. He called out to the dragon, “Kalgor, Dragon of Perth! What are you about these days? It’s George! Yes, you silly beast, George! Remember me?”

A growling sound rumbled from beyond the rocks. A burst of flame shot upwards towering over George who stepped back a few steps just before the flames shot by. “Now Kalgor, that’s quite enough of that. The last time you did that we had a severe falling out between us, and you know what happened.” An answering rumble with a different tone, one might even say was tinged with admission and even a degree of remorse. “Yes, that’s right. I wasn’t happy about it either. But here you are as a result.” A loud snort of acknowledgement followed.

“So Kalgor, I know these warriors who consider you fair game annoy you constantly, but they aren’t me, and I don’t wish you any harm. I have two friends here who I’d like you to permit to pass in safety. They are not warriors, I promise you. And I’ve never lied to you have I?” The dragon rumbled a sound which seemed to Katie and Alistair to be the dragon’s concession of the point. “Good,” answered George. “And I won’t lie to you now or ever. They are very important to us, Kalgor. It will go well for you if you let them pass.” The dragon rumbled a query. “How good? Well, let’s see. Mutton, a boar, a brace of pheasant, maybe more? You know I’ll take care of you.” An excited rumble followed. “Will you let them pass?” A pause ensued which suggested to the couple that the dragon was thinking things through. A moment more passed and then a different rumble echoed off the boulders. George turned around and waved to them calling out, “Safe to pass! Go! Stop to pay respects and then press on right away!”

Katie and Alistair together walked swiftly through the narrow pass and to the edge of the boulders. There, Alistair paused and offered Katie his hand. She took it in her’s, which was shaking. The pressure of his hand in her’s steadied her. Taking a full breath they stepped out into the area where the warrior had been incinerated, stopped and turned. Before them was an awesome creature, long and slender, bearing sparkling colors in every shade. Its jaws were open, displaying row upon row of deadly serrated teeth curved inwards to suggest the direction its prey would go when pushed towards its gullet. George remained on the boulders well above them. The dragon stared at the couple through reptilian eyes, the pupils characteristically narrowly linear, not round. It began to frown as only a dragon can, drawing its skin together above its staring eyes. They heard George call out, “Remember, respect!”

Alistair promptly offered a deep bow, while Katie performed a curtsey just like she’d seen made before the Queen of England on those occasions she watched such events on the telly. The dragon’s expression seemed to return to what it had been before, and the dragon promptly closed its jaws and looked up at George high on the boulders. “Go!” he called out to them. “Kalgor approves. Fare thee well, Katie and Alistair!” They both waved back to George and walked at a brisk pace on the path going north. What they left behind faded from view and they both halted in the woods which appeared before them pausing to let the tension they felt drain away.

Silently, a cool, moist mist began to form in the woods, and on the path to the north and south. In mere minutes it became so dense they knew they would not be able to find their way, least of all find the path on which they were to proceed north. All visual references gone, they looked at each other dismayed at this new obstacle. “How do we navigate this?” an increasingly concerned Katie asked Alistair.

“I don’t know, Katie,” he replied without a hint of reassurance. “We can’t see anything and we really don’t know where we are. We will need help again, I’m afraid.”

Katie pursed her lips. “Help yes, but from where or who? St. George, again? I’m not even sure how that happened.”

“It’s what you said, Katie,” noted Alistair. “You spoke of St. George and there he was. I wonder if that’s the secret to getting through this.”

Katie considered this. “Maybe. But we can’t call on St. George for everything. The dragon is one thing. Navigating a fog is another. And I have no idea which saint to call upon.”

“Then that, Katie, is the puzzle we must solve. Who could navigate with no knowledge of what was before him...”

“Or her,” Katie added.

“Right, or her,” Alistair agreed. “Who might it be?”
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Stronghold 2 | HeavenGames