by Morgan Talon
Time Travel, sword and socercy
Michael leaned on the railing on the back porch of the house with a cup of steaming hot coffee to clear the cobwebs. The gentle breeze tugged playfully at his graying hair. The sun was just breaking the horizon, rays of light shining off the fading clouds.
A fine start to Litha, he thought, as he reached unthinking for a cigarette. A smile came to his face as his hands found nothing.
"Much better off without them" he said to himself as he straightened from the railing.
He caught movement out of the corner of his eye that made him glance back towards the house. His cat Shadow was watching him from the window. His gaze moved over the dew-covered grass. A sigh of contentment escaped his lips. Everything was finally perfect; the car, the truck, the love of his life in his arms, and of course, the land. He shot a rueful look at the pathetic garden. Well, almost perfect.
Noting the time, he moved back into the house to begin the ritual of getting ready for work. Breakfast, shave, shower, and got dressed. All timed like a fine watch.
The only break in the routine was reaching for the missing cellphone he had left at the office. His thoughts dwelt on his love all the way to work, as he was not able to text her last night. It left him hungry for her response.
Finally, at work and settling to his chair, he retrieved the cellphone. He smiled at her unanswered text, which had beeped through the night. He typed a quick "Good morning, love!" and smiled as it sent.
His eyebrow arched at the missed phone call from midnight last night. The number, 0131-496-0018, made no sense.
Plugging the number into Google, a shiver ran up his spine as if someone had stepped on his grave. The screen read "area code for Edinburgh". The last thing he needed was a call from the Messenger.
He'd have to visit this later, he thought. "I've got a meeting to deal with!"
The same call came again at that midnight. He stared at the phone, really not wanting to answer.
"Hello?" he sleepily queried.
He grimaced. It was her. What could she possibly want, and why was she calling now?
"Katrina" he paused. "Hope you are well."
"As well as can be expected."
The conversation awkward and cold. Like her heart...he chuckled to himself.
"I don't suppose this is a courtesy call after 8 years?"
"Michael you know it isn't......"
He cut her off, angrily.
"No, I am done, retired, finis."
"But what? What part don't you understand, Katrina? DONE. The last time was ENOUGH. You ask too much. Or have you forgotten Jane?"
"Michael, the Realm needs you" she nearly whispered.
"Find someone else...surely I am not the only warrior left."
"You are the best..."
He cut her off before she could finish the sentence.
"I am old, and tired and CONTENT. Leave me BE!!"
He clicked off the phone with a vengeance, and threw it across the room.
The text tweet shrilled to life. Turning over the phone, he stared at the text: "BLOOD FOR BLOOD"
Cold hard reminder that he had sworn blood after Jane's death at the hand of the Witch. He sighed and fell back into a restless night of fitful sleep.
Six days had passed, and it was time to make ready.
Michael ascended the attic stairs and studied the random boxes strewn about. Slowly he cleared a space, condensing and piling the boxes in the opposite corner. Retreating to his study, he gathered the box and the portable altar and returned up the stairs. With a sigh, he opened the box and spread the cloth over the altar and arranged his tools. Candles placed to the corners, Green to the North, Yellow for East, Red to the South, lastly, Blue to the West.
Lighting the North:
"Guardians of the North, Element of Earth I call upon thee to be present during this ritual Please join me now and bless this circle"
"Guardians of the East, Element of Air I call upon thee to be present during this ritual Please join me now and bless this circle"
"Guardians of the South, Element of Fire I call upon thee to be present during this ritual Please join me now and bless this circle"
And lastly, The West:
"Guardians of the West, Element of Water I call upon thee to be present during this ritual Please join me now and bless this circle"
Standing tall, Michael drew his athame from its sheath, pointing to the edge and turning three times, marking the circle boundaries.
"God and Goddess, Guardian Angels, and Spiritual Guides Please be present with me during this ritual Bless this circle and keep me protected. No unwanted entities are welcome here, Only pure, divine beings are invited into this space. The circle is cast So mote it be"
Setting the blade down, he knelt at the altar, lighting the Gold Candle to the left and the Silver Candle to the right. As the time drew to the hour of the full moon, he closed his eyes and slowed his breath.
"Lord and Lady, I come seeking your guidance, and your wisdom. Enlighten your servant, and show me the path."
He lifted his head as warmness seemed to enter the room. An ethereal light shown through window, the beam ending inside the circle. Almost translucent, the image of the Lady arose from the moonbeam.
A smile played on her lips, "Michael, Michael, Michael, much time has passed since you have called the corners"
"Aye, tis so, Lady. But you have granted me many of my heart's desires and your protection."
The ring on his right hand glowed brightly. No fool, he knew where his prosperity welled from.
"Yes, Michael and well earned. But more than once you have asked me what you owed in return, to which I have been silent. Now you will have your answer. Honor the Light, Michael. You must answer Katrina's call." She said sternly.
His head bowed in supplication. "Lady, I am old, no longer what once was."
"Michael, you know that would not be true in the Realm."
He thought a moment, and raised his eyes to hers.
"Perhaps, but why? Why now? Not that I question your wisdom, but are not others more suited?"
"Do you have the gazing ball?" she searched the room.
"Nay, Lady, it was Jane's and I passed it to her daughter." Again, he bowed his head in supplication.
"Ah, as it should" Her hand passed over the Chalice "Look here, then."
His eyes were drawn to Chalice, now filled with water. The water seemed to cloud, then slowly parted. In the vision, the sun barely shown, dark clouds blocked the light. He could see what looked like armies marching. Vampire women, the Baobhan Siths, haunted every glen. Kelpies swam the rivers. Banshees wailed and circled. He lifted his eyes to the Lady's.
"These are dark days in the Realm. The Witch of Cawdor has stolen the Foundation Stone. The Highlands are not yet lost, as she gathers her strength. But time is short. Katrina has called out to other warriors as well, but they do not have the ring" His brow furrowed. The Lady smiled. "Michael Dunross your ring was cut from the Foundation Stone eons ago. If you cannot retrieve the Stone, no one can."
He sighed deeply, "Debts must be paid, and I owe you much. I will try, dear Lady"
"You will not be alone. Your soulmate will accompany you." She prophesized.
His eyes widened "Piper? Never! I would never bring her to such desperate times."
"She is a Gordon, a shieldmaiden and powerful witch in her own right. She will know of the call to arms"
"Lady, how can this be?" Concern furrowed his face.
"Did you not give her Jane's Chalice?" she asked, fully knowing the answer.
"Aye, 'twas her right, she was the heiress." He bowed again, faithfully.
"Then she would be open to the call." The Lady waved open arms as if to embrace the call.
"Aye" Michael replied and took another deeper sigh.
With utmost caring, the Lady laid her hand on Michael's head and said softly,
"You must bring your panther to watch your back against Cu Sith, the Hound from Hell. He will be your guardian and protector."
With that guidance and encouragement, the Lady disappeared as softly as she'd come. A moonbeam guiding her way.
Michael knelt there until all the candles had melted and gone out. His mind swam, and time passed quickly. How was he to do this? How would he approach Piper? Would Loki be able to protect him? What was exactly going on in the realm?
Arising from his knees, he thanked the Guardians and released the circle.
Exhausted, he curled into a ball and slept there on the floor until dawn.
Piper had been restless all day. Something just didn't feel right, although she could not place the reason. Maybe a walk would clear her head.
Gathering her cane, she slipped out the back door, with a glance to the sky. The clouds hung low and gray, blocking the sun, but rain did not seem imminent. Moving slowly along the walkway, she noticed it was unusually quiet; in fact, there was literally not a sound. A small chill crept up her back.
Suddenly, a wild cawing in the tree overhead shattered the stillness. Three black crows were together on a branch directly over her head. As soon as she made eye contact with them, they swept down low, just over her head and vanished to the east.
Piper frowned, as this was clearly a sign. "Morrigan, Morrigan, what do you bring to me?" She shook her head and turned towards the door.
In her office, Piper set up four purple candles on the small altar. After setting a few tools out and filling the chalice, she began.
Starting with sprinkling the candles with the salt, "Element of earth, help keep me grounded, firmly rooted"
Next, she lit the incense and circled the candles several times, "Element of air, breath of the Goddess, clear away the clouds so I may see clearly."
Sprinkling the candles with water, "Element of water, quench my thirst for knowledge".
Finally, lighting first her white candle, then the four purple candles from it, "Element of Fire, light my path, so I may follow".
She bowed her head, closed her eyes and spoke silently to the Goddess for guidance and understanding. A coldness seeped into the room, and Piper shuddered.
As she slowly opened her eyes, the chalice bubbled and frothed like a cauldron. A bolt of light shone suddenly through the window, the chill faded, and the chalice stilled.
Piper cautiously peered into the chalice. It was dark at first, and then scenes appeared she did not understand. A myriad of armies and creatures, and a scent of evil arose from the water.
The same vision that Michael had seen, unbeknownst to her. The ray of light moved across the chalice and the vision vanished, leaving simply clear water.
Feeling drained, Piper sat down and as she closed her eyes, she could hear pipes and drums in the distance and faintly, the ancient Gordon call to arms, "An Gordonach! An Gordonach!"
As she drifted off, she heard a voice in her head of the Goddess. "Follow your heart, Piper Gordon. You're called to fulfill a promise made lifetimes ago. Go and Blessed Be."