books, Cereal Authors, Fiction, Heather Poinsett Dunbar, paranormal

Snippet from One Fat Witch by Heather Poinsett Dunbar and Christopher Dunbar

A few weeks ago I posted a quote from this scene.  Here’s the entire piece from one of the manuscripts we’ve been working on lately.

Hazel, an Archaeology prof as well as a solitary eclectic witch decides to visit a new age story called Bunny’s Garden with a coworker and picks up a new piece of jewelry that catches her eye.

For those in the know, the term ‘bunny’ or rather ‘fluffy bunny’ has a lot of connotations in the Pagan/New Age arena.

However, this piece of jewelry is anything but ‘fluffy bunny’.  😉

It’s a first draft, so please be gentle.  😉

****

They exited the sushi bar and headed towards Bunny’s Garden.

“Okay, you were right about the sake,” Hazel admitted.  “It was much better than a margarita.”

“Hey, the Japanese have been pairing sake and sushi for generations.  They know their food and tequila may not mix,” Steven said.

They approached Bunny’s bay window.  Hazel stared through the window and blinked at all the sparkly things.  There were crystals, little statues of angels, with a few Buddha, fairies, and various gods and goddesses scattered amongst the glittering items.  A lone unicorn stood by one of the angels appearing to be somewhat out of place.  A box revealed some odds and ends. A sign in the window advertised aura readings, tarot and rune readings, reiki healings, and other services.

Steven pointed out the aura reading.  “Do people really believe in this?”  He asked.

Hazel smiled a little.  “I suppose it’s possible that some people can sense beyond the visual spectrum and it may appear to be an aura, but I personally don’t believe it that.  My mom does though. In fact,” she leaned in closer to Steven.  “My sister does the readings.”

Steven chuckled a little and opened the door.  The door chimes rang a welcoming trill of notes.

Within seconds a red-headed woman pranced into view.

“Hazel!  Give me a hug!”

Quinn was as beautiful as Hazel found herself plain and somewhat fat.  Quinn had a slender svelte figure, long legs, and Hazel was simply just never quite as sparkly as her much younger sister.  It was as though the Gods or Goddesses…whomever, decided that Hazel was a test run on a prototype and Quinn was version 2.0.  Hazel was a five-year-old slide phone that handled things reliably and efficiently and Quinn was the latest and greatest iPhone that still suffered from a glitch or two.

Hazel returned Quinn’s hug.  Then released her sister.

“Ooooo,” Quinn touched a strand of Hazel’s hair.  “I love this.  Is it teal?”

“Teal, purple, and blue,” Hazel answered.  She had added strands of funky colors to her plain brown hair.  “You only live once, right?”

“In this form,” Quinn grinned.  “Wanna see my latest ink?”  She rolled up her sleeve.

“It’s lovely,” Hazel touched the rainbow of colors decorating the merman. Quinn as usual was as colorful as a gay pride parade.  One never knew what she’d have next.  Last time it was a nose ring, but Quinn decided it emphasized her nose too much.

Quinn looked over at Steven and smiled.

“Oh sorry, Quinn you remember my colleague and lunch buddy, Steven, right?”

Quinn rushed over and embraced Steven as if they were old friends.

Steven looked a little uncomfortable but returned the hug.  “Of course, we met a few months ago at the tea shop next door.”

“Oh I better get back to my customer.”  Quinn released Steven.  “I’ll be right back.”  She ran back to the woman standing by the cash register.  “I’m so sorry.  My sister came in and I just had to give her a hug.”

“Is there anything new?”  Hazel called out.

“We just put out some new jewelry today and some books on the new book shelf,” Quinn responded.  She returned to checking out her customer.

“Is your sister always this friendly and open?” Steven asked.

Hazel strolled over to the jewelry case.  “Only always,” she answered.  “Quinn has the charm, the looks, and energy.  However, sometimes she isn’t exactly sensible.”  Hazel paused as she focused on new items with Steven.  “I remember one summer Quinn was convinced she was otherkin.”

Steven smiled a little.  “That’s when someone thinks they’re an otherworldly or mythical being trapped in a human’s body, right?”

“I think so,” Hazel nodded a bit. “Quinn thought she was an elf.”

“Really?” Steven looked a little surprised.

“She changed her mind that fall,” Hazel answered.  “Quinn gets odd new age-y beliefs sometimes that have little to do with reality or real mythology.  Usually she gets out of it quickly, but she’s working on her MBA now.  I’m sort of proud that she decided to do that.”

Steven smirked.  “If you and I had done that we might have been rolling in money at this point instead of grasping for tenure and research grants.”

“True, it may have been another type of misery though.”  Hazel turned back to the jewelry.  “What are you going to get the wifey?

“Probably something with angels,” Steven admitted, “but I’ll pick up some booze and chocolate after work.  She and I need to celebrate next.”

Hazel nodded and began looking through the displays.  She passed up the usual crystals, mermaids, pixies, and other cutesy items.  Then something unique captured her attention and she could not look away.

A necklace with a red stone of some sort in the center laid amidst all the other usual offerings at Bunny’s Garden.

It was very striking and appeared to have a dark metallic finish on the embellishments.  On closer inspection she could see intricate metalwork around the red stone.  The cut stone or crystal revealed many facets of the large gem.  It was deep red through and through, yet slightly opaque with a strange inner glow.

Hazel couldn’t tell if it was a special treatment or what. The stone, metalwork, and necklace exuded a sense of timelessness and strength.

Hazel smiled at the necklace and barely noticed Quinn’s arrival at the jewelry case.

“I know that look,” Quinn said.  “There’s something here you can’t live without!”

“Huh?” Hazel said.  She pointed at the bauble.

Quinn looked down.  “Ewwwww!” she exclaimed.  “It’s so ugly and dark.  It feels so angry to me!  Why on earth do you want such an ugly necklace?”

Hazel smiled and stared back down at the necklace.  “I just do.”

“It’s not…” Quinn sputtered for a moment.  “Well, it does practically match every one of your black outfits.  I still don’t know.”

“How much,” Hazel asked.  “It doesn’t have a price tag on it.”

“Huh, that’s weird,” Quinn commented.  “Let me go find Bunny and she’ll be able to tell us how much and something about it.”  Quinn pulled out some velvet pieces, picked up the necklace, and placed the necklace on the counter.  “Hazel, can you keep an eye on the front for me until I get back.”

“Yeah, sure,” Hazel agreed, not really hearing what Quinn said.  Part of her felt some strange trepidation about touching the necklace.  The stone beckoned her to reach out a finger and stroke the elegance.  She reached out her right hand.  Every inch closer a strange confidence grew within.

“Oh that piece.”

The interruption broke Hazel’s concentration. Bunny, the proprietor of Bunny’s Garden walked towards Hazel in a long dress and several pounds of crystals and silver do-dads.  Once she had been a Catholic sister.  The idea of that was most amusing.

Bunny looked at her as if perplexed.  “Are you alright, dear?”

Hazel knew she would normally be somewhat annoyed.  She had to get back to work soon and to her lovely meeting with Peyton, but something made her feel a little bit positive about the rest of her day.

“I’m doing really well, Bunny,” she replied.

Hazel collected her thoughts.  “Can you tell me about this piece?”

Bunny looked down at the necklace and pursed her lips as if confused.  Then the elder woman frowned.

“It’s the strangest thing,” Bunny began.  “I’m embarrassed to say that I know nothing about this necklace or stone.  It’s in the locked case.  Either Quinn or I put it in here.  Quinn dear, do you remember putting this necklace in the display?”

“I would remember putting that icky thing out there, ewwww,” Quinn replied.

“Perhaps another employee put it in the case.” Bunny shrugged a bit.  “It’s not something we’d normally sell.  I’m a little surprised to see it here.”

Hazel rubbed her hands together.  “You can still sell it though, right?”

“Absolutely,” Bunny answered.  “I just don’t know the price.  I don’t even remember what I paid for it.”

“Well,” Hazel studied the necklace again for an all-too brief moment.  “Just tell me what you think is a fair price for it.”

Bunny picked up the necklace, ignoring the velvet piece Quinn used to touch it.  “It’s metal and the weight feels like silver, but it’s dark.  The stone is a garnet I think.  A pyrope garnet.  It’s probably worth $100.  How’s that?”

Bunny met Hazel’s eyes and grinned.

“I’ll take it,” Hazel pulled out her debit card.  “I’ll wear it out.”

Steven walked over with a pair of angel earrings and examined the necklace and pendant.  “Fascinating.  You’re getting it right?”

“Yes, it’s a treat for me,” Hazel grinned and put on the necklace.

“It matches your clothes perfectly.  Mysterious…” he paused, “but exquisite.”  Steven blushed a little.

Hazel found the expression on Steven’s face a little odd.  Then he looked away and his redness faded.

“It’s lovely.”  Steven put the earrings on the counter.

“Oh this is a beautiful choice,” purred Bunny.  “The silversmith lives in Colorado and says the angels inspire all his works.”  She continued talking as she rung up her other sale.

Hazel kept touching her new necklace and imagined herself as empress of a distant land, wearing her new otherworldly jewelry.  She found the imagery intoxicating.

“Here’s your receipt and card!”  Quinn interrupted her fantasy.  “I can’t believe you got that, but it does sort of suit you.  It’s just so negative feeling though and it makes my head hurt.  Bye sis.  I’ll call you soon as soon as I get a break from work and studying.”

Quinn hugged her for a moment and walked off.

Hazel didn’t even realize when Steven completed his sale and picked up his bag.

“Hey Hazel, we gotta get back to USM.”

“Yeah, right.”  She followed Steven out.

He went to the driver’s side of the car.  “Yikes, I’ll drop you off at the building and then park.  Hopefully we won’t be late.”

Hazel looked at Steven and smiled.  “I’m fine.  Despite the horrible morning, I think the rest of the day will be fantastic.”

****

I hope you all enjoyed.  Have a great rest of the week!

 

books, Fantasy, Fiction, Heather Poinsett Dunbar, History

Odds, ends, crazy book ideas, and snippets from our book series

Some days the words come to our manuscripts so quickly that we can hardly type them out.  Other days it feels like we can do everything but write.

I’ve been having a dry spell for a bit.  Even though I had a few ideas for books after talking to a few other authors.

One other author and I were discussing what genre sold today.  He told me cozy mysteries sold so he wanted to write a cozy mystery with clowns which made me laugh and feel better, even though clowns scare me.

I came up with a cozy mystery involving a Wiccan that drew a comic cat series which he found amusing.  I want to call it  ‘One Fat Witch’.  Who knows maybe I’ll work on that a bit and post it here.  Please kick me in the backside and remind me to write.

In the meantime, here’s a bit of Morrigan’s Brood: Crone of War (book 2 in the series)

*****

Marcus felt the cool, early morning breeze blow through the night sky, as the horizon began to brighten to the east. The calls of birds echoed through the whispering trees as he, the rest of the warriors, and the others who accompanied them walked back towards the dun.

A few minutes before, Marcus had dismissed the Deargh Du soldiers, instructing them to dig holes in the ground to serve as their shelter from the sun. Now, their grumbled complaints rivaled the sounds of the waking day.

He followed Claudius, Mac Alpin, and the druids on the path leading towards the dun. Marcus then noticed Maél Muire stray from the group, walking at a slower pace, with her head down as if lost in thought. Just as the others disappeared into the shadows that still remained, Marcus edged back towards her, matched her pace, and gazed into her now upturned eyes. It seemed her eyes reflected a growing astonishment. Perhaps the large gathering of Deargh Du and druids had been too much for her to take.

He broke eye contact with Maél Muire and then stared ahead of them, thinking about how to prepare for the next evening’s work, when she interrupted his thoughts.

“I have never seen this side of you,” she said in a soft whisper. “Marcus, how could you be so brutal? Your actions were vicious, even for a Gael, and I have seen many bloodthirsty Gaels.”

“As a general under the command of Julius Caesar, I had not the patience or tolerance for insubordination, or the outright defiance that these Deargh Du display, and–”

“You were a general?” He could barely hear her queried interruption.

He stopped walking and noticed that she had stopped next to him. “I have never lost a battle using these tactics, Maél Muire. My men were part of a unit, and we fought for the cause of Rome. We were all unified in our struggle.” He paused for a moment. “I am just doing what I feel needs to be done to save Éire. I do not wish to offend you, but the methods I use yield winning results.” Marcus chuckled softly. “Besides, their limbs will grow back.”

As he started walking again, she paced in step with him, her shorter legs having to take two steps to make one of his.

“How are Berti, Sitara, and Edward?” he asked.

“They are all doing well,” Maél Muire answered, though her tone seemed dismissive, as if she desired to speak on a more pressing topic. “We are going to see my aunt and uncle tomorrow so they can check on Sitara’s progress. My knowledge in such things is limited.”
A pregnant pause grew between them, but soon she asked, “So, how did you become Deargh Du? Why did Morrigan choose a Roman general? Before you, She only blessed the people of Éire with Her gifts.”

Marcus sighed while trying to think of an appropriate half-truth. “Maél Muire, I do not know why the Goddess allowed it,” he began to explain. “They left me to my own devices, abandoning me to the mortal world.”

“So, did the Deargh Du encounter you within Rome, or were you in Éire? When did your transformation take place?”

“I was in Éire,” he answered, hoping she would end the interrogation soon.

“When?” she asked. “Where in Éire?” Maél Muire’s questions grew more demanding.

“Near Loch Garman,” Marcus answered, “nearly six hundred years ago.”

He heard Maél Muire stop in her tracks. He then turned around to regard her and saw pain etched across her face.

She drew her sword from its sheath and stared at him while moving into a defensive posture. “You were the Roman general who led the invasion there? You ordered the slaughter of the villagers and the druids in that grove?” Tears welled up in her green eyes.
Marcus said nothing, and yet he knew is posture exuded the guilt he felt.

“And you participated? There are still stories told of your cruelty.” He heard her voice grow wrought with emotion. “They spoke of a Roman soldier in red and gold whose swords raged like lightning strikes, a man possessed by the elements and driven with bloodlust.”

Marcus opened his mouth to speak, but she continued. “They invented words in our ancient tongue to describe you.” She finally grew silent, awaiting his answer. Her eyes now swam with angry and fearful tears as her palpable emotions intensified.

“Yes, that was me,” he confirmed, “when I was mortal. I had my reasons for being that way, Maél Muire.”

She uttered a soft cry. “I will not hear another word from you. I–”

“Please hear my story before you judge me,” Marcus pleaded. “Caesar made a deal with Mandubratius. We pledged our assistance in helping him regain his lands in Britannia. We invaded Britannia, yet there was a stalemate, and Mandubratius led one of our ships to what we all believed to be the western coast of Britannia. Instead, we found ourselves in Éire, and while ten of us went scouting for Mandubratius’ comrades, the local chieftains and their warriors killed my men. The soldiers were scattered over the beach, their bodies desecrated.”

Marcus stopped speaking to let her brain digest the information. He then continued, “The Britons were nowhere to be found. The one survivor of my men told me, before he died from his wounds, that Mandubratius’ friends had spurned us and joined with the Gaels. We then turned our fury on Mandubratius.” He decided to leave out the details of the punishment. “Then, we went to find the killers, burning the forest as we marched, killing whatever dared cross our paths. It was about justice, Maél Muire, justice for my dead men. Don’t you desire justice?”

“But you still have not told me how you became Deargh Du!” Maél Muire raged. “The bards say Morrigan Herself came down to slay the invaders! Why did She choose you? How could a murderer such as you be accepted by Her? I cannot believe this!” Maél Muire then pointed her sword at him. “If you did not have the blessing of the Council, I would insist you leave immediately. However, because you do, I will only insist that you not present yourself in my dun. Bearach will bring your things to your dark hole,” she hissed.

Marcus watched Maél Muire storm off with her jaw and fists clenched in utter fury.

****

Again…please remind me to write.  😉

Have a wonderful August!

Heather Poinsett Dunbar

Meet the Broody Heather Poinsett Dunbar!

cropped-wordpress-photo.jpgOne of our lovely Cereal Authors is the amazing and talented Heather Poinsett Dunbar. She and her husband, Chris, write dark fantasy novels – The Morrigan’s Brood.

f7239-heather2bdunbar

Heather was recently on my show and I thought I’d take a moment to share the link with everyone so they can get to know this talented author better.

 

Cereal Authors, Heather Poinsett Dunbar, Karen Vaughan, Red River Radio Network, Ruth Davis Hays

Red River Radio Presents Dellani’s Tea Time with Heather, Karen and Ruth

TODAY at 4:00 PM Eastern (3 Central, 2 Mountain, 1 Pacific) Christina and Dellani will chat with several of their author friends; Heather Poinsett Dunbar, Karen Vaughan and Ruth Davis Hays. Among the topics of conversation, their Cereal Authors project. Of course, anything else can and will come up. Join in the chatroom for this fun and lively discussion.

To Listen Live or to the Podcast at Your Convenience 

Heather Poinsett Dunbar is co-author of Morrigan’s Brood Series, with husband Chris Dunbar.

Karen Vaughan is the author of cozy mysteries; Left for Dead, Jamaica Dead, Dead Comic Standing, and more.

Ruth Davis Hays is the author of the Translations of Jorthus fantasy series.

Heather Poinsett Dunbar, Musings, Sharing, Writing Process

Writing Process: Drafting methods panel program but what’s your process?

How do you draft your manuscript?

And how did I get interested in this topic?

I thought it might be interesting to share some methods Chris and I use and see what other authors do.

First …a little background.

At some cons Chris and I wind up as guests on several panels.  I’m not sure sometimes how we got pegged as experts on anything.  Ha!

At the last con, I wound up on a panel for a workshop on drafting and we had to come up with what we do to draft our works, which is weird for anyone writing with a partner.  Chris and I threw together a powerpoint presentation because that’s what he and I do to stay on track in a panel, otherwise we tend to get easily distracted by shiny things and digress a lot.

We have several presentations like this.  Some new authors think they’re great because it’s sort of organized instead of just a bunch of people at a table throwing out ideas and most panel goers don’t have a notepad with them..They can take a packet, write notes on it, etc.

Unfortunately the rest of the panel decided to spend 2 hours talking about their publishing experiences, editors, and their local writing group who seemed to mostly be interested in tearing up authors works in progress instead.  I was the one indie author in a crowd of traditional authors from another city who all knew each other.  Since I run a booth with the hubby and a few minions (Yes, I actually have a minion who cosplays as a minion at cons – LOL), I generally spend most of my time there at the booth and can’t mingle or network at most cons.  I’m sure I miss out on some great conversations, but honestly I’d rather send the hubby to deal with that sometimes.

So here’s our program.  I hope you all find it useful or at least interesting how two people can work out a way to draft manuscripts together.  Maybe if you’re stuck on your manuscript, it may give you an alternative or two to try.

Writing and Drafting Methods

However, I still would love to hear about what you do.  Do you have a set process for drafting?

Maybe it’s time to start a dialogue about our processes?  🙂

 

Fiction, Heather Poinsett Dunbar, History

Dynasties of Night prologue

Normally, I would plan on putting together an interview or something interesting on writing.  However, as many of you know I’m still plodding through remodeling.  Today the new floors are going to be put into the master suite…or maybe the countertop.  I’m not sure to be on.

So I figured I’d toss in what I’ve been working on lately.  The hubby and I are working on a story that centers in Heian-era Japan, Japan in the 9th century to be specific.  It’s been a lot of fun, but the research is kind of difficult.  So here’s the prologue so far.

****

The sun kissed her body and Brigid sighed in absolute contentment.  She stretched out her right paw and then brought it back in to lick it and wipe the right of her face, then the left.  Such were the simple pleasures and joy in this form of her favorite animal.

Then again the reality of the predicament reared its head again.

What am I to do about Marcus?

She wished greatly to test him, but she could not decide how to accomplish that.  If only she could think of an idea.

Brigid considered returning to grooming herself, but the satisfaction from the act remained a distant memory.  She rolled over and stretched after getting to her feet.

She heard a sound and swiveled her ears to catch more of the noise.  A voice captured her attention.  She rotated her head to pinpoint the origin of the utterance.

A child sobbed into its hands.  Brigid narrowed her eyes.  It appeared to be a female child about seven or eight cycles old from the far eastern part of the mortal realm.  Nippon perhaps?

With her goddess eyes she could see the girl’s hidden form.

A Dragon!  How thrilling!

t had been so long since she spied a dragon.  Yet the girl seemed far from excited.  She sobbed in between pauses of silence, all while staring at a massive game board.

Brigid found it odd that a deity would bring a game to this haven.  For her, this realm was a warm sandy beach, with sea salt in the air.

The dragon child leaned over the board and sobbed again.

Brigid felt her curiosity rise beyond measure.  She stretched again and gathered herself into a crouch, loving the feel of sand between her feet, acting as a massage for her pads and paws.  She moved in closer to the girl and stopped ten feet away.

The girl looked away from her game.

“Oooo, kitty!”  She said.

A Goddess getting caught by a dragon?  How pitiful that I could be caught.

The girl rose from her seat and ran over to Brigid, but stopped short.  She smiled a toothy grin, lowered herself to her knees.  The dragon with a child’s face extended a hand.

Brigid extended her nose and sniffed at the fingers, even though she could smell the girl just fine.  Yet something made her purr.

“You’re such a pretty kitty,” the girl cooed.  “May I hold you?”

Brigid decided to continue the ruse.  She stood up and rubbed her body against the girl’s left leg, waiting to be lifted.  Tiny hands wrapped around her and lifted Brigid a short distance to her chest.

Soft and gentle lips brushed her brow.

Are dragon deities always so soft and gentle?

“I was hoping I could meet a friend to talk to,” the girl murmured.  “I really need a friend after what my brother has done.  I could use assistance or advice.  Let me explain.”

The dragon goddess stood up and hefted up Brigid, carrying her to the game board.  Brigid found herself on a wooden pedestal that appeared.  The high perch gave her a good view of the game board.  Yet the term ‘game board’ was not an apt description for this toy.

The board looked like the Nippon islands and many colorful tiles represented different things within the map.  There were armies, priests, an emperor, peasants, and crops, as well as other aspects of the life in the mortal realm.  The map seemed to zoom in on some point like a city.  Brigid narrowed her eyes again, watching individual pieces interact together in intricate detail.  She could see mortals, animals, and other beings.

“This is my land,” the child explained.  “My mother and father gave me these lands when they took on other duties.”  She moved her right hand over the board and the scale of the map increased.  The areas around the Nippon islands became visible.  The islands became a dark red as another land mass to the west of the islands turned jade green.

“These are my brother’s lands,” the dragon girl explained.  “Father didn’t think I could be responsible for such a large area.  In private I complained to my brother about it but he said not to worry because he had a plan.  He said it would be easier to control our lands if we built a great game board together.  This isn’t the main game board.  It’s in our realm.  It’s much larger than this of course.  I only take this with me when I wish to be alone.”

Brigid looked over at the girl a moment, impressed with the idea of a complex game simplified to this board.  It must take a great deal of work to get it to function correctly.  It reminded her of world-building games in the mortal realm.

“My brother is so good at this game,” the little dragon informed Brigid.  “I couldn’t keep up and I would walk away from the game to pout.”  The girl looked into the distance for a moment.  “Then my brother proposed that we just watch the game and not play it.  I didn’t think my side was in a good position to win, but at least he wouldn’t be interfering with the game anymore.  For a few hundred years, we watched.”

Her eyes teared up again.

Brigid stretched out a paw and the girl allowed her to wipe away tears.  The dragon girl rubbed Brigid’s head and back.

Brigid lost her concentration and rolled onto her back to get her tummy rubbed.

The girl continued to pet her.  “My brother’s people have become so dominate that my people’s culture has almost disappeared.  He swears he doesn’t play, but there are signs that he does and he cheats!”

The dragon goddess began crying again.  “Why would he do that to me, kitty?  He’s older and he has so many advantages?  Why does he have to be mean?”  Her sobbing grew louder.

Brigid decided she needed to do more than just listen.  She sat up again, and took on another form and embraced the other goddess.

“I understand why you cry, little dragon,” Brigid said.  “You said you needed help and I wish to help you.”

The other goddess hugged her in response.  “You do?”

“Yes.”  Brigid changed her form again, to her favorite maiden form, a blonde, freckled, green-eyed girl who might have seen seven to eight cycles.  Brigid beamed a full radiant smile to her new companion.  “Now, let’s get back at your brother!”

Her new friend stopped crying and grabbed her arm.

“This will be so much fun!”  Brigid promised her.

*****

Hope you all enjoyed.  Now back to smelling fumes!  😛

 

 

 

books, Fantasy, Heather Poinsett Dunbar, History

Morrigan’s Brood: Prologue

Hope you all enjoy!

 

 

Journal I

She gave me gall ink, quills, and several sheets of vellum today. Finally, I have a chance to record my past, what I can remember of it.

However, the legend remains forefront in my mind. So this is my first entry, the Legend of the Deargh Du. It is the story of my line, my people, and the Goddess who created us. The sun rises soon, and the fire is dying, so I must make haste. Here is the tale.

****

Morrigan, the Tuath Goddess of blood, battle, justice, destruction, and rebirth, gazed upon the expanse of the impending battle below. To the east, She could see the massive army of Mílesians disembarking from their crude, yet seaworthy, vessels. The Iberian invaders wanted to try conquering the rich land of Éire again.

As She exchanged glances with the others of Her family, The Tuatha dé Danann, She noticed Her consort, Dagda the All-Father, striding to Her side as they assembled for battle.

Morrigan licked Her lips in anticipation. Soon, spilled blood would mix with the green grass, causing a myriad of delightful scents. Soon, Her ravens could feast again. This time, She would join them.

“Remember what Lady Dana, mother to us all, told us, Morrigan.”

“Dearest, how could I forget?” Morrigan felt Her lips turn up into a grimace. Dagda always wanted to be fair, even to His enemies.

“I know that look,” Dagda whispered into Morrigan’s ear. “You are the Great Balancer. Practice some restraint.”

“They are our enemies,” She hissed in reply.

“Do not allow your anger at the invaders to overwhelm you. They are our mortal brethren, after all.”

Morrigan sighed, before drawing Her blade. While Her consort provided for Her and loved Her, Dagda’s little rules about peace and harmony always proved to be highly annoying. Life always involved highs and lows, even for immortals. Tipping the great balance toward good or evil always caused ripples in nature. Such ripples made Her duties more difficult.
Morrigan tilted Her head to the side in order to study the advancing Iberians. “Just another group of invaders.” She chuckled to herself. “They will never learn. Perhaps it is time for these rash Mílesians to learn not to tread on our lands.”

As soon as the Mílesians gathered into some semblance of a formation, their leader shouted out a blood-curdling battle cry. At that moment, the enemy charged full force.
Morrigan peered into the leader’s dynamic, diamond-blue eyes as he ran, and She could see no fear. Oh, how She would love to see fear in those eyes of his. Perhaps She would have that opportunity soon. “Attack,” She shouted as she began to charge.

In answer, the roar of the Tuath chariots echoed through Tara as they galloped over the hills to engage the enemy, but then Dagda shouted, “Hold back,” while waving his arms at them, and then the chariots slowed to a walk. Their drivers seemed anxious to charge.

Morrigan ceased Her charge to stare menacingly at Dagda. An itch to plunge Her blade into a mortal heart made Morrigan twitch. She could sense every mortal warrior’s heart beat faster and faster as they ran. The scent of blood created by each beating heart became an aphrodisiac for Her bloodlust. Her resolve to stand still and wait for Dagda to make up his mind dwindled in the face of Her hunger to enact vengeance. The Balance had to be maintained.

Finally, Her hunger for rash action won. “I can wait no longer,” She cried out. Morrigan then pushed Her way past the other swordsmen and charged the enemy.

She could hear Dagda’s grumble of discontent as He and the others joined Her mad dash towards the waiting swords. The roar of the chariots resumed.

Morrigan lost Herself in the tide of redness that overwhelmed the green, sloping hills of Tara. Spears whooshing through the air, swords clanging on other swords and shields, and the screaming, grunting, and shouting of men and women created a sweet song to Her ears.

One had to admire the Mílesians for their fighting skills and bravery. They cut down many immortal warriors. Flush with victory, they continued striking down the Tuaths, unaware of the invincibility of their foe.

However, fear soon flooded the ranks of the remaining Mílesians as they realized that the dead Tuaths returned to life, even after being hacked into pieces. The mortal warriors screeched in horror as the Tuaths impaled them with spears. Soon, sleeting rain hit the Mílesians, pummeling the warriors into submission.

Morrigan’s pleasure tripled as the majority of the remaining Mílesians took flight, heading back to their ships on the beach, and began calling on their druid Amairgin for assistance.
In short order, the ships pushed away from the shore, leaving behind the dead and wounded Mílesians as offerings for the carrion birds.

“Come,” She called to the others. “We will show them what we do to our enemies.”

Dagda held up both hands and replied, “Peace, Triple-One. We shall ask Dana first.”

“They are invaders, Dagda,” She argued in a hushed tone.

“The Iberian Invaders have no home, remember? The sons of the King Míl left for a new horizon after their enemy took their lands and cattle,” Dagda explained, while leaning up against an oak. “Have mercy and let them come forth. Perhaps they will wish for a truce, now. Perhaps they will want to join forces with us against the Fir Bolg. We could use such a worthy mortal adversary to our benefit. Tara and Éire will remain in our hands.”

Morrigan sighed. “Fine, work out a truce with our enemies.” She then thrust Her sword in the ground and stomped away, watching as the other Tuaths cleared out of Her path. They then formed a circle and began discussing what terms they should offer. She could hear them deciding that they would allow the Iberians either to join them, leave peacefully, or drown in the cold sea.

Fury inflamed Her as She recalled previous invasions. If the others wished to be peaceful, they could. However, She would enjoy tipping the balance against these warriors any way She could. Morrigan cawed as She transformed into a raven and took to the sky, leaving the others behind. Burning hunger grew within.

Morrigan watched cold flecks of snow fall as the Tuaths left the battlefield, leaving the dying Mílesian warriors behind on the hillside of Tara. The remaining ice transformed into slush as mud and blood mixed with the sleet. Deep red pools of vitae spilled from the dead and dying Mílesian warriors.

Morrigan the raven flew over the carnage. She then paused mid-flight upon seeing a pair of limbs flail about as a warrior tried to pull a spear from his torso. Intrigued, She hovered in closer for a better look. Morrigan soon realized that She beheld the leader of the Mílesian force. The spear, with which he struggled, held him to the ground.

As Morrigan watched the warrior’s blood escape from his lips, he soon ceased shivering. She could feel great warmth surround his soul as his spirit prepared to depart for the Otherworld. She then cast Her shadow across his broken form and turned the air around them as black as Her feathers. She would not let his soul depart so soon. Morrigan then landed on his chest and stared at the face of the prone figure in the snow. Fear greeted her gaze. Ah, how much She enjoyed finally seeing fear in his diamond-blue eyes.

Morrigan soon hopped to the ground and returned to Her previous form. She then knelt next to his prone figure, leaned forward in order to drown Herself in the aroma of his blood, and then closed Her eyes. She stretched Her neck, letting Her nose guide Her, and began licking away the reddened trails of blood from his skin, losing Herself in the fear exuding from his blood. His terror immersed in Her consciousness, pushing aside the other concerns of battle. She continued to partake of the man’s spilled blood.

These new invaders exuded life, and their memories tasted sweet and intoxicating. The coast of Iberia, home of the Mílesians, became clear in Her mind. Then, exhilaration swallowed Her whole when another emotion emerged from the warrior. Utter fury.  So delicious.

Morrigan opened Her eyes again, looked up, and noticed that the skies had darkened, signaling the time to return home with the others back to Dagda. She rolled Her eyes, thinking of Dagda’s displeasure at Her blood thirst. Defiant, She pulled back a lock of Her hair and turned Her head to regard to the dying enemy once again.

She slid Her tongue across his cold mouth, licking away the remaining blood. As his death drew near, the warrior shook and turned to face Her. She then began to pull out the spear pinning the warrior to the ground, watching him wince as She drew it out inch by inch. Her ears feasted upon his cries of agony. With the spear now withdrawn, She tossed it aside.

“Who…” he whispered, as confusion and anger covered his face.

She snorted a laugh and shook Her head. “I have many names,” She whispered. “Some call me Badhbh, Macha, or Neman. For simplicity, most call me Morrigan. You may call me Phantom Queen. I reign over battle, death, destruction, creation, justice, and revenge. I am She Who Maintains the Balance.” Morrigan paused and then added, “I watched you during the battle. You were magnificent, Adhamdh,” She purred his name.

Surprise greeted Her.

“Yes, I know your name. You were superb, just not good enough to survive my immortal clan.”

His ire sweetened his blood as he stared at Her. “I call you by your true name, Witch,” he whispered. “Stop taking my essence.”

Morrigan’s battle apron flapped in the cold winds as She sprawled next to him. She leaned over, traced the remnants of blood surrounding his lips with Her index finger, and raised it to Her mouth. She exhaled as the fury leapt from his blood into Her body. Morrigan then leaned forward and whispered into Adhamdh’s ear. “I will do as I please.”

Soon, however, his annoying impertinence grew tiresome. “You are nothing but a witch, trying to snatch my soul away to keep me from joining my brethren in the Otherworld.”

Morrigan snarled before regained Her senses. “Fine,” She hissed. “I will show you that I am no mere witch.” Morrigan sat up and tossed aside the bracer on Her right wrist. She then brought Her teeth to Her bare arm and tore away at Her flesh. She crawled over towards Adhamdh and raised Her hand over Adhamdh’s face.

“Now, watch a Goddess heal,” She whispered as she watched him stare up at Her.

“You bleed as I do,” he hissed, “and now I will take your essence back with me to the Otherworld.”

Without warning, he latched onto Her mending wrist with his teeth. Adhamdh then drank some of Her blood, before rolling over onto his side, clutching at his stomach, and gagging. His eyes glazed over as he began to giggle and then laugh in a maniacal fashion.

His body then began to transform to become more beautiful, more perfect.

Morrigan gasped, horrified that She had failed to prevent this heinous action. She needed to take care of this mistake and send Adhamdh to the Otherworld, but at that moment, She felt his mind tickle Hers. At first, She experienced annoyance at finding Adhamdh within Her mind. However, She soon felt a wordless acceptance and gratitude from him. Morrigan relished that the former mortal understood Her motives and the reasons behind them. He knew, and yet he did not flee like other mortals or turn away like Her fellow Tuaths.

She never realized that sharing Her essence could be so satisfying. For once, true calm settled over Her. The warrior Goddess closed Her eyes, enjoying the understanding between Herself and the former mortal about the need for balance and the hunger for bloodshed, destruction, and creation.

Adhamdh turned back to Her and began licking away Her bloody wound.

Morrigan watched Adhamdh’s wounds close as the harsh reality of what She had done grew more clear. A mortal man had ingested Her immortal blood. Her family, the Tuatha dé Danann, would be furious that She had permitted a mortal to share in Her essence, even though it had been an accident. She could still terminate him, but he seemed to fill a void previously unknown. She could not destroy him now. She needed him. Besides, he could help Her manipulate mankind for Her own satisfaction.

Adhamdh looked at the Goddess with his newly changed, glowing green eyes. Morrigan turned to watch him, and She felt Her face smooth into a small smile.

Morrigan clasped Adhamdh’s cold hand. “We must go now. There is much for you to learn,” She told him as she banished the darkness around them.

They flew far from the battlefield to the hills where the Tuaths held dominion.

The Gods, Goddesses, and fae-folk turned away from Adhamdh. They found him unnatural, but Morrigan enjoyed Her newfound child. Adhamdh’s thirst for blood matched Her own, and Adhamdh understood Her bloodlust unlike Dagda or the others.

The Tuaths and faeries called Adhamdh the “Deargh Du”. He spent his days hiding from the killing sun, and he hunted with Morrigan at night, feasting on the blood of mortals and the wild creatures of Éire.

As the years passed, others of Adhamdh’s kind stalked the night. Morrigan’s Brood became legendary, forever caught in the world of mortals with the blood of a Goddess in their veins.

Beautiful, immortal, deadly.

****

My friend, the young druid, leaves me again to rejoin her teachers. Despite her offers of friendship, there is something in her eyes that chills me to my bones. Still, she offers me the secrets of our race, and I long for the friendship of a companion, even a mortal one. I only fear that my hunger will rise again one night, and she will become my victim.

She promises to teach me more tomorrow night. Perhaps then the thick fog of the past century will clear.

– M.G.P.H