In a landscape of pre-history, a time of ancestor worship, young Druid priests Owayne and Nial, are tasked to travel and learn all they can of rite and rule in a world of competing tribes, unsettling technologies and priest power.
Displaced people wander the lands, forced there by conflict and hunger, where they are used to create chaos. Fertility is revered, children have value for work, in marriage, for worship and sacrifice.
Superstition, religion and ancestor beliefs have power for good and or evil, inflicting pain or kindness and sometimes both.
Amongst the chaos pass our two priests, seeking to learn from and influence events. A mysterious helper, Bron is with them. It is unclear whether he aids them or is simply to watch and report their actions. They love, make friends, struggle and fight to alter fate; meeting decent peoples whose belief and actions conflict with their own. They have to reconcile friendships and very different values.
These modern issues and events are played out in a landscape of our pre-history, one that we can see and touch today.
A tribal lord resists the march of progress, fighting for values that no longer resonate with his family or clan. Battles of mind, values and technologies occur. Those who prevail ultimately determine the telling of history.
She reaches up and touches my priest marked forehead. I would have felt this an invasion of my spirit space from many others, but her curiosity shines forth in the guileless way her hand reaches to me. It is artless, unplanned, there is complete innocence of intent. Some spirit inside pulled her arm and hand towards my forehead and for that I was unthreatened, comfortable at her touch that gentles.
It is too noisy to talk, there is calling shouting clamour, rolling fun. In due time it settles, ebbs.
Maeve points behind me, there are women and men at our backs in shadow of the light and of our noise. They are on the earth bank, dressed clothed, waiting to serve. Some are building up new stones to be heated by fire, others pulling down stones from the upper fire end and rolling them to the water, pushing them with fresh hot blocks into the other end of our pit, causing more steam to rise. Children carry beakers with water, topping up the pit, maintaining the level.
A hand passes my head from above and behind; from it Maeve takes a beaker with liquid, I notice Nial with another and surmise this must be mead of the Ersh. Maeve dips her fingers in the beaker and rubs her hand upon my shoulders and chest. It flows across, sloppy soft, slippery and cold, she repeats this on my forehead and face; instinctively I close my eyes, at which my nose senses a sweet flower smell and becomes aware that wort is being used to clean me.
It is quieter as people rub fingers and hands into and on others, some stand, Maeve rises to reach behind my neck, I rise with her, but she pushes me back down with a hand on my shoulder.
Beakers of wort are replaced and filled, some have floating leaves left in them from a soaking that releases the slippery grease.
I feel Maeve scratch at a mark on my back, then I notice small bones and shells being used to scrape and clean the skin of others who are still sweating out dirty spirits and ill airs.
Maeve has a shell, it looks sharp and I fear its cut. I reach and take it from her, running my thumb over all of its edges. She stops, waits, looking at me. We are alone in our quiet space, surrounded, each person absorbed with another, too focussed on one to worry about others.
~~~ About the Author ~~~
Born in London, one of five children of mixed Scottish, English and Welsh heritage, of people who had hard lives and wanted better for their children. Heritage is important; it should bind us, not divide us.
An avid reader of fiction, I am in awe of those who can draw out emotions, creating worlds with words that we can escape into and learn from.
With degrees in Geology and Business; I worked as a geologist for seventeen years; in underground mines, surface exploration and geophysics. A life of geology and travel informs my writing.
I mountain bike: off road on trails over woods, hills and mountains. Walking is an obsession in any terrain, particularly the beaches, mountains and hills of North Wales.
A world traveller for work and pleasure. I lived overseas in a number of countries. I am privileged to have known and worked with people of different cultures, backgrounds and views of the world.