The Druid Chronicles, Book One
When the last of members of a secretive Druid cult are forced to abandon their hidden sanctu-ary, they send the youngest of their remaining priests in search of Annwr, their chief priest-ess’s sister, who was abducted by a Saxon war band fifteen years ago. With only a rudimen-tary grasp of English and the ambiguous guidance of an oracle’s prophecy, Caelym manages to find Annwr living in a hut on the grounds of a Christian convent.
Annwr has spent her years of captivity caring for the timid Aleswina, an orphaned Saxon princess who was consigned to the cloistered convent by her cousin, King Gilberth, after he assumed her father’s throne. Just as Caelym and Annwr are about leave together, Aleswina learns that Gilberth, a tyrant known for his cruelty and vicious temper, means to take her out of the convent and marry her. Terrified, she flees with the two Druids—beginning a heart-pounding adventure that unfolds in ways none of them could have anticipated.
While Caelym fell asleep under the floorboards of the Shrine of Saint Wilfhilda, Aleswina stood rigidly upright at her place in the chapel. Slipping the beads of her rosary through her fingers, she stared at the stained-glass window beyond the altar, but instead of seeing the Holy Virgin kneeling beside the body of her crucified son, she saw Anna sitting on the bed next to the Druid, her hand on his bare back, ready to die with him without hesitation or regret. Aleswina had no memory of her life before the morning of her fourth birthday when she woke up from a nightmare to find herself cradled in Anna’s arms. From then until she left her palace nursery to enter the convent, she’d slept with Anna in bed with her. Each night, just before she fell asleep, she asked Anna to promise that they would always be together, and each night Anna answered, “I will stay with you tonight, and I will be here in morning, but someday my people will come to get me, and I will go home again.”
Now one of those people had come, and he was going to take Anna away with him. A black fog of dread came over Aleswina, shrouding everything around her in shadows except for the panels’ glowing scene. She was still staring at Mary and Jesus when the service ended so that Sister Idwolda had to nudge her to get her moving.
The rest of the day passed in odd fits and starts. One moment Aleswina was standing in the dark chapel with the sounds of the devotions around her, then she was in the garden weeding and setting out the new plants, then she was back in the chapel for the noon prayers, then she was putting her tools away behind the shrine, then she was in the common room with Sister Idwolda sitting next to her and telling rambling stories about a seemingly endless number of brothers and sisters—then, without remembering getting up or walking down the hall, Aleswina found herself alone, kneeling by her bed in her own small room.
When she began her religious instruction, Aleswina had gone straight from her first lesson to find Anna and tell her about praying to Jesus. Anna’s answer had been, “This god of yours is so all-knowing, why do you have to explain to him what you want? And what good does it do? If you tell a man to do something, he will just do the opposite to be contrary.”
So, with authority of the scriptures and of the Holy Church on one side and Anna’s skepticism on the other, Aleswina had adopted a compromise of rote recitation of her daily prayers while she actually thought about other things. Now she was thinking that somehow she had to keep Anna from leaving her.
From Chapter 9: The Potion
Copyright 2021 A.M. Linden
About the Author
Ann Margaret Linden was born in Seattle, Washington, but grew up on the east coast of the United States before returning to the Pacific Northwest as a young adult. She has undergradu-ate degrees in anthropology and in nursing and a master’s degree as a nurse practitioner. Af-ter working in a variety of acute care and community health settings, she took a position in a program for children with special health care needs where her responsibilities included writ-ing clinical reports, parent educational materials, provider newsletters, grant submissions and other program related materials. The Druid Chronicles began as a somewhat whimsical deci-sion to write something for fun and ended up becoming a lengthy journey that involved Lin-den taking adult education creative writing courses, researching early British history, and traveling to England, Scotland, and Wales. Retired from nursing, she lives with her husband and their cat and dog in the northwest corner of Washington State.
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