March 19, 2006 at 6:47 pm #1902Minoru the MinnowParticipant
It was 1846. There would be three more years before the blight that invested the potato crops would be over. Amidst the sorrow of the age and failure to prosper, there was a little family in a seaside village outside of Letterkenny, Ireland. Their heritage belonged to the chieftains of the village, and it was twisted in heathen and old religion. They had done as many had to survive the conversion of St. Patrick and paid homage to the new god and swore their souls to the new faith.
Arianrhod Moira O?Tate was the third-born child to the family It was ill fortune for a child to be born during the Great Hunger, but the O?Tates did not listen to the whispers of their neighbors, but instead enjoyed their newest babe as any parent would. The blight would be forever blamed for this Irishgirl?s frame and thin-faced beauty. She aged delicately, often falling ill with colds that kept her bedridden for weeks on end.
The O?Tates did not have the money for modern medicine, and this is what brought the Witch to their door. Her name was Raghnailt O?Cannons. She offered them a chance to heal their daughter, but it would threaten any favor they had with the power-hungry Church. Though Mrs. O?Tate rejected the idea of tampering with magick that should have died centuries ago, Mr. O?Tate would risk excommunication in the Church and expulsion of his neighbors favor. Blood was that important.
Ragh worked her magicks and brought Arianrhod to health once more. In payment, the Witch said she would return when Arianrhod was coming of age and take her to be schooled in the old ways. The O?Tates had little choice in this matter. Souls sold and deal sealed, the Witch left the town and would not return for another ten years.
During those years, Arianrhod continued to live in sickness, but Raghnailt?s charms and brews worked to soothe her and diminish the illness within a few days of its existence. There were several patterns to her illness, such as the Crone Moon and winter. She was raised as any young girl would be, under the close attention of her mother to learn such arts as cookery and family keeping. Her brothers were more focused with the harvests and pub business. However, each night, when her father settled with pipe and woodwind, Arianrhod would get out her grandfather?s fiddle and the two would play together.
On her sixteenth birthday, which coincided with the night of old Beltaine, they were paid a visit by an old hag of their past. Raghnailt had returned mid-celebration to the little house on the hill. There was a pipe in her mouth and new crook in her strides. She announced that it was time for the contract to be completed. Though Mrs. O?Tate wept and pleaded Ragh to not take her, Arianrhod was forced to pack her things in little sacks that were easy to carry and say her goodbyes. Her father was rather emotionless about this whole ordeal, but presented her the fiddle just as she was out the door.
Arianrhod remembered Raghailt, but it was the same as remembering a dream. There were many facts about the old woman that she could not recall or dared to. The two travelers met up with a band of men and women outside the town in a small encampment. They all followed a faith long dead with only spoken stories about their roots. Hesitant at first by this new family, Arianrhod kept to herself. Ragh gave her the space she wished, but by the sixth month of their nomadic travels around the country, the girl had formed a bond of friendship with several and the sixteen years of past began to fade into distant memory.
Years past. The O?Tate daughter was taught the ways of magick, though the skills of all were greatly limited due to none truly knew the way the Old Ones had done it. She was skilled in her skills, but always enjoyed a bit of music played with friends at the evening meals.
Raghailt was aging poorly, and by the time Arianrhod was twenty, she had passed into the Summerlands. Arianrhod was rather heartbroken by this event, but she kept her chin tall and spirit strong as her teacher had instructed.
The band continued, through unbeknownst to them, they were being hunted. Church-sanctioned hunters were scourging the lands of Ireland and Britain for heathens. Several of these had been tracking the band for several months. It was just outside of Dublin that they were attacked by Church forces. It was a massacre. Men, women and children all fell under the violence and those that survived were separated into small groups that numbered only to four or less. Arianrhod had escaped with a fellow learner, but the girl caught an arrow in the back just as they fled into the nearest woodland.
Alone and frightened, Arianrhod had found shelter in the thick canopy of a tree and waited for dawn. When it came, the sun raised red over the bodies of the fallen. She watched from afar as they were gathered up into a pile and burned. With only her fiddle and what clothes she had on her back, Arianrhod fled into Dublin.
Almost penniless, she managed to get passage to Britain by working as a hand in a horse ferry. It would take many months before the urge to fly subsided and the grief hit. By the time the boat landed at the London docks, the O?Tate daughter was a wreck of a woman and carried on into the city with a sunken heart.
By her second or third week into her stay in London, she was visited in the dead of night by the essence of Raghailt. Though frightened, Arianrhod managed to listen to the ghost?s instructions, though whispered in the wind and only heard when she closed her eyes and strained her ears. She would stay in London?Ragh spoke that there was another in the city that she could find. Who, the ghost did not say, but it was enough to give her purpose.
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