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by Shade ©1995
Rolling clouds covered the land. The hiss of the sea striking the shore was angry tonight. The sailor raised the lantern high as he heard the dinghy grind against the old wooden dock.

He smiled as the shadows moved closer towards him. She was as lovely as ever. He reached down for her as she pushed back the hood of her cloak.

"You're here, then!"

She breathed shallowly as he took her in his arms for a moment before he turned to push off the boat which had brought her. "Yes. So far the night has done its part to protect us, M' Lady. The others are waiting anxiously above."

He was a burly man as salty as the sea with arms made strong by the constant working of the nets. He tossed her bag over his shoulder and took her arm to guide her through the mist. They both knew the king's men were out in force this night. The rumors of her coming had been bandied about for weeks.

"Have you been well, Robert?" A stray whisp of dark auburn hair curled over her face as she whispered to him while they climbed to the highlands.

"Aye, ma'am. As well as can be, when every bit of food that enters one's poor mouth is taxed under the thumb of the Queen of England. She squeezed his arm reassuringly and nodded as she spoke, "...and what shall we be a'doing about that, Robert? You don't mean to replace her with an Irish throne, do you now? That isn't why I've come all this way?"

Robert shook his head as he smiled grimly, "Were, that it was so, M'Lady, but I'm a thinking there is another crown to worry your pretty head. The Druids crown has been stolen."

He motioned to the huddled figures moving towards them down the steep wet path. "We are needing your counsel and fine leadeship in the coven. We've all sorely missed your power, M'Lady. It is a fine thing that you are back among us."

Excited voices embraced her as she moved among the group. Her fingers carressed the broach at her throat and felt the heat of the crystal lance out into her hand, even through the coldness of the mist.

Raising her hand above the band she allowed the light to beam forth and flow over their upturned faces. She smiled as the group went to their knees and each voice slipped into silence.

Robert was the first to speak. "Then all is not lost..."

She nodded with the glow showing a strange rapture upon her face. "There is a story to tell, my Robert. When there is time, I will beguile your ears with it, but not now when deeds remain to be done while they may."

He rose and leaned forward, peering into the crystal as if it would foretell the future. His face reflected the strange light and it danced in his eyes as he turned to the others. "She has the Eye of of the Dragon! Rise. What are we, a pack of rats? Better to honor our sweet homeland with our blood than to lay here any longer. Come! We have our chance."

The wetness of the night hung damp upon their clothes by the time they reached the village. The rocks of her lodging were cold with sweat as she leaned tiredly against them. It had been a long journey. England had scarcely been put behind her before the dangers of travel had begun in earnest.

She was sought everywhere and not just one loyal friend had lost their life getting her here. She tried to maintain a smile upon her face to give strength to the others, but none knew how close a call it had been. She felt the sharp bitter taste of the strain around her in each breath she took. So much hope had been placed in her and there was so little time.


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Revised: March 11, 1999
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