Every Monday and Thursday, I will post two chapters of my enthralling fantasy romance novel, Maid of the Forest (that’s four chapters each week). Set mainly in a mystical Arthurian world, filled with mythical creatures, Goddesses, and magical powers, the reader is taken on a truly memorable journey.
Don’t worry if you miss any chapters, since you will find links to other posted chapters here:
Maid of the Forest – Forestyne: Chapters 9 & 10
Travel Through Time
Clara grimaced. ‘I don’t think I want to go down there again Tani.’
‘Oh come on, we just let our imaginations run riot, it was that gloomy light. Let’s get the clothes up here. And if we see one machined hem or seam, we’ll know they’re present day. It will be a re-enactment group.’
Clara bit her lip. ‘I think we should wait until we’ve got someone more powerful with us, an exorcist may be, someone who knows about these things.’
‘I’m surprised at you, come on. We’ll take Lily and the cat with us for protection, plus you’ve got your rune tattoos.’
‘Yes, but I said I don’t know how to use them.’
‘Just show them to any ghost that appears.’ Tani grinned.
Looking up, Clara saw Lily walk over to Spectre and lick his head; to their surprise, the cat purred and arched its back. ‘Oh my God, I think they’re friends. Can’t believe it. I told you there’s something magical about the cat. Maybe it’s a shapeshifter or a magician in disguise.’
Tania giggled. ‘For goodness sake Clari, your imagination. Come on, they’ll sort themselves out.’
They both stopped, surprised, as the cat went to the cellar door and scraped at the wood. Giving Clara a mystified look, Tania lifted the latch whereupon the cat slunk down the rotting steps. Nodding, Tani followed with Lily at her heels, and Clara close behind who whispered, ‘see magic.’
Tani whispered back, ‘curiourser and curiouser, maybe Spectre will start grinning soon.’
Clara stifled a giggle. ‘The slightest sign of ghosts, goblins or gremlins, we run – right?’
The girls made their way silently down to the cellars, torches, and weapons in hand, the cat still in front, and Lily now bringing up the rear. Shining the lamp through to the main arch, Clara led the way whispering, ‘the crates were just past the second arch, I think; we’ll have to crawl through.’ She stopped suddenly. ‘I don’t believe it, the arches have changed again. They look newly built.’
‘Oh come on, we just let our imaginations run riot; it’s just this murky light. Come on, let’s do it.’Tania said.
The girls made their way silently through to the cellars, torches, and weapons in hand, the cat still in front, with Lily now bringing up the rear. Shining the lamp through to the main arch, Clara led the way muttering, ‘I don’t believe it, the arches have changed again.’
‘Maybe we went through a different tunnel the last time,’ Tania whispered. ‘Okay. Let’s keep close together.’ She clasped Clara’s arm in terror, whispering ‘This is no Alice in Wonderland’
‘No, more like the Devil’s Den.’ Clara shone her torch. ‘There are lots of weapons against the walls. Shields, lances, helmets, bows, huge ones, and arrows all bunched together, but the only thing is—’
‘They’re new, Tani. Where are the old clothes we saw? This is so strange.’ She shivered. ‘Eerie. I think we ought to go right now.’
‘Someone must have stashed these here whilst we were upstairs. Maybe they have a way in and out.’ Rising to her feet, Tani shone her torch on more wooden chests.
Clara gasped, crying out, ‘These are the same chests we saw last time. I recognize the carvings.’
‘Can’t be; they were old, battered, the wood rotting.’
Clara grimaced. ‘This is weird; I’m sure they were decrepit; you saw them too.’
‘Yes, someone’s been down here, creeping after us.’ Tania shivered. ‘How could anyone have got down here without us knowing? Besides, they wouldn’t have time.’
Peering into one of the chests, Clara whispered, ‘Oh my God, look at this’ She took out a silver and violet garment. ‘It’s a dress, gosh it’s so beautiful and look, a veil, it looks like voile.’
‘It’s got to be a re-enactment group; must be.’ Tania looked deeper into the trunk, ‘Look, this must be an underdress; it’s linen, so soft.’
Clara bent down again, lifting out a cape trimmed in ermine. ‘This is gorgeous, must be fake fur, but it’s so soft.’ Holding it up for Tania to see, she exclaimed, ‘look at the embroidery.’
Tania squinted at it, ‘It’s a cup, a large golden cup. This is a cloak for a male. The ladies of the court would have spent days –weeks, embroidering it. Now, let’s see if the seams are machined,’ She turned the dress to the inside and peered down. ‘Oh my gosh, it’s all hand sewn. So neat, but it’s definitely by hand. Oh, my God.’
‘The re-enactors have taken it to the extreme. Weird.’Clara said
‘Not really, there’s that TV history programme; the team of historians live like the men and women of the century they’re researching – right down to making the clothes and wearing them.’
Tania grimaced. ‘Hmm, strange, though.’
Clara frowned, turning the cape over in her hands to see letters exquisitely embroidered on the breast. ‘Hmm, this embroidery is by hand. Now, it seems to be a circle of oak leaves and AS and ACM – I wonder what they mean?’ Just for a moment, it seemed to glisten, to slither through her fingers. She shivered. ‘This has a life of its own – eerie. If it’s oak leaves, it’s Celtic. Oak and Yew trees are sacred to the Druid.’
‘So it could be a re-enactment group then?’ Tania murmured, ‘But
I think there’s more to it.’
Clara frowned. ‘Well, the cup could be the holy grail – you know, King Arthur. Mallory wrote they were fervent Christians. But then Mallory fantasized about Arthur. All of his books were medieval, published in 1485. The real King Arthur, if he existed, was around AD 450.’
‘You seem to know a lot about that.’
Clara nodded. ‘Yeah, I’ve got most of Mallory’s books on my Kindle. My mother loves them, as well. I shall have to tell her; she’d be fascinated.’
Tania frowned. ‘There’s some magic going on here, or there’s a secret way in. Surely my aunt would have told me. God, Clari’ don’t move; there’s a black shape growing behind you.’
They both screamed as Lily howled and Spectre leapt, claws unleashed towards it. To their horror, the light faded, leaving them in total darkness.
Tania reached out and clutched Clara’s arm. ‘What can we do?’
‘I’ve got my torch.’ Clara’s voice trembled as she whispered, ‘Let’s go, there’s an arch over there. Now – go – go.’
Still clutching her friend’s arm, Tania gasped. ‘Look, there’s a small door here; let’s try it.’ Cautiously she caught hold of the handle and turned it. Peering in, she cried out. ’It’s so tiny, but there’s a light up there.’
Clara shifted to her side and looked up. ‘Oh my God, it’s the well.’
‘Oh, there is a walk space around it; we can climb up the railing. But Lily can’t.’
‘Wait a minute, let me have another look … yes, there are steps on the far wall leading up to the top. I think it would be safer to climb out of the well. We don’t want to get lost in a warren of tunnels; I mean no-one knows we’re down here.’
‘Yes, and there are no near neighbours, so we wouldn’t be missed. Yep, you’re right, let’s climb out.’
Standing on the ledge, Clara shrieked. ‘Someone’s put the lid on.’
Petrified, they stood, watching with horror as the water began welling up around their feet.’
‘There’s no way out, Clari, ’ Tania said. ‘Dammit, we have to go back.’
As they turned, the small door slammed shut on them, leaving them and the two animals trapped on the walkway.
‘Dammit. What’s going on? Someone or something shut the door. They’ve been watching us. Why would they do that?’
Tania peered at the dark space in the facing wall. ‘Look, there must be a tunnel there. We can get to it by the walk space.’Hurriedly, they stepped around the well, their faces now pale and grim. Holding firmly onto Lily’s collar, Tania gingerly stooped and peered into the hollowed round space. ‘Yes, it’s a tunnel and a door at the other end.’ We’ll have to bend right down to get through.’ She pulled on Lily’s lead to guide her through, but the dog pushed her large paws into the soggy earth and wouldn’t budge. Weighing over six stones, there was no moving her.
‘Come on, Lily, please. Don’t be so bloody stubborn. You little bugger.’ The dog looked at her with flat eyes. She was going nowhere.
Tania bit her lip; she couldn’t leave her behind, the water was rising, she could drown. Desperate now, her mind raced; how could she get her obstinate dog to move? She grimaced. ‘Lily – treat – treat.’ Lily pricked up her ears and lunged with joy at her mistress, knocking her flat on her face.
Coughing out globs of dirty green moss, Tania got up, ‘Ugh, yuck, bloody hell Lily.’
Clara followed, bent almost double. ‘Is that a door up ahead?’ ‘Yes, I think we’ve made it. Tania groped her way after Lily. Reaching the door, she hesitantly lifted the heavy iron latch. ‘Damn, it’s so rusty, it’s stuck.’ Gritting her teeth, she pulled again. ‘Damn it.’ She pulled again without any luck. Grimacing, she put her foot up against the wall and tugged again. ‘It’s moving, I think we can….’ A whoosh of black water drowned her words. Tania had no time to scream as it flooded over her.
Devlin the Protector
Ignoring the spluttering gnome, Devlin said softly, ‘So the herbs will restore your mother to health?’
Forestyne frowned; it was not wise to let him know Moraig had only days to live. She’d seen the way he looked at her; he would know she was on her own, unprotected in the hut. ‘I pray so, Sir.’ She didn’t mention her pack of wolves who kept vigil over her and Moraig day and night.
‘Hmm, I met with many strange diseases whilst in the wars; herbs are indeed powerful to thwart the Eternal Shade.’ He frowned, touching the crucifix around his neck; once again, he’d fallen into the pagan beliefs. ‘I pray the Goddesses will answer your prayers.’ He bit his lip; the Christian God would forgive him if this time he favoured the old gods; the maiden was so delectable. ‘Now tell me your name?’
‘If it please you, Sir, I am named Forestyne.’
‘Hah, the sweetest maid of the forest.’ He leant his head over, inhaling her delicate perfume.
Forestyne took a sharp breath. ‘Sir, let us make speed to my mother, who is in dire need of me.’ Cradled in his arms with her head against his mighty chest, Forestyne prayed Moraig was alive. She stroked the carved gold handle of the dagger secreted in a hidden pocket in her tunic. She hoped he kept his word; she did not want to kill such a handsome knight. ’
As Devlin made to leave the grove, they heard the thrashing of water. Looking back, he gulped as he espied two strange beings splashing desperately in the pool. Turning his horse around, he shouted, ‘in the name of the Virgin, begone foul beings. Get thee back to the abyss.’
Forestyne cried out as she saw two fearsome creatures rise from the pond. Drawing nearer, she shrieked, her heart thumping in her chest; they were so loathsome to behold. One had black tears streaming down a face which appeared half metal, carrying a black furry demon, whilst the other pulled on the neck of a white bear. Their attire was most weird and ugly; indeed, they had female breasts but were dressed in men’s attire.
Devlin whispered, ‘show no fear, for that is what they wish; pray to the Virgin with all your might.’ Again he cried out in a dreadful voice. ‘Begone foul creatures from hell, get thee back to Satan.’
Ansgar snarled. ‘I warned you – did I not warn you?’ Reaching into a saddlebag, he drew out an iron axe. ‘Now we must despatch these foul monsters.’
Forestyne screamed for the Goddess to save them from these demonic creatures and dragged her dagger from her pocket.
Devlin whispered, ‘Put down the dagger; tis no use against their black magic. Don’t look at them; they seek to bewitch us. See, even the frogs jump from the water. They’re evil – evil.’
Forestyne froze in terror as when one of the creatures uttered strange words as it attempted to drag the white bear from the water.
Devlin raised his sword high. ‘Silence, you obscene apparition. Speak not in a foul tongue. Silence.’
But the creature looked at him with huge black eyes, let go of the bear, and crept nearer, raising its hands in supplication.
As the denizen from hell staggered nearer, Devlin waved his sword. ‘If you come one step nearer—’
‘Let us begone.’ Forestyne shuddered.
‘Nay, for then, it will give chase, bringing down a thousand devils on us.’
As she watched the creature turn and try to help the other from the water, Forestyne whispered, ‘see you the jewels on her fingers? Diamonds and rubies, precious gems. This is no witch but some strange Goddess, one that lives in the bottom of the pool. Yea, look, she has gold around her neck, and the other is snorting silver from her nostrils.’
Devlin peered down. ‘Hmm, I have not heard of any scullion from hell wearing precious gold and sneezing silver. Look, it even eats it, tis silver rings stuck in its lips.’
‘Let me talk to them. Mayhap, these creatures mean us no harm.’
‘Nay maiden, you have the courage of a knight, but I am your protector; l shall approach them.’
Devlin dismounted and walked slowly to the edge of the pond; the creature with black tears spoke hesitantly, her speech foreign to his ears.
Frowning, he asked for her name. She answered in a spate of words, but the only one he recognized was Clara.
‘She speaks in a strange tongue.’ He murmured to Forestyne. The only word I comprehend is Clara, tis of Latin origin.’
Forestyne nodded. ‘Hah, it means clear, shining, bright. Then she is no demon, Sir. I’ll question the other one.’ Hesitantly, she leant forward, and in clear Latin asked the other woman her name.
The creature answered, ‘Tania.’
Shrinking back from the people on the bank Tania felt her heart pounding. This went far beyond Arthurian re-enactment. They were fanatics.
Forestyne frowned, ‘Tania? You mean Tatianna?’ She turned to Devlin, ‘Tatianna is roman – Latin. She understands Latin, but I think she speaks a different language. Ask what it is.’
Astonished, Devlin sat back, eyebrows raised in consternation. Not only was he shocked by the grotesque figures in the pond, but he was also astounded with Forestyne’s knowledge of Latin. Who was she really? Why did she abide here amongst the Whispering Tree people? His lips thinned; he would question her later. But now he must attend to these strange creatures. Using a more gentle tone, he spoke in Latin. ‘Qua lingua loquor tibi.’
Tania bit her lip; her Latin was very poor. She stammered, ‘I sum Anglicus.’ She could only remember bits and drabs; she’d hated it at school. Her heart hammered; that sword in his hand looked real.
‘Anglicus? Angle?’ he frowned at Forestyne. ‘That is Saxon; it appears she is an Angle.’ I must speak German to her.
Devlin frowned; she must be hostile, she certainly looked it. He said sternly, ‘Wie heissen sie?
Tania shook her head, angering him further. Oh, was that German, she still didn’t understand. As he roared at her, she cried out, then stumbled over her words. ‘Err – pereo … oh hell, I don’t bloody know.’
Forestyne muttered, ‘her Latin is atrocious, and her German worse, but she is so afraid of us, both of them are lost and need help.’
‘If they are Angles, then they are enemies,’ snapped Devlin. ‘They expect me to help an Angle – an invader?’
Tania whispered to Clara, ‘damn maniacs. They’re re-enacting the dark ages.’ Raising her voice, she said, ‘you bastards, we’ve nearly drowned in a well, been washed up in this pool and all you can do is play silly games. For God’s sake, we’ll find our own way.’
Yet as she spoke, Devlin leapt forward, grabbing her wrists, calling out to Ansgar. ‘Ropes – bring the ropes we’ll take them, prisoner.’ Enraged, Lily sprang at Devlin, only to find her teeth bouncing off his chain mail hauberk.
Ansgar frowned. ‘I suggest we treat them gently, as the forest maiden said, they could well be sprites or magical beings, a goddess even. Methinks we should treat them with tenderness. She is the fair one with the colours of the rainbow in her hair. She is small of stature, barely taller than I, she must be a fairy or sprite; tis unwise to offend them. Look, she carries the Celtic runes tattooed on her arm – Druids.’
‘Beware Ansgar, you speak like a heretic.’
‘I am a heretic, you buffoon. Fiend’s teeth, I’m a pagan.’
Devlin drew himself up in the saddle. ‘And I am a Christian Knight, see the Blessed Virgin carved into my shield. Forget it not. ‘
‘Huh, beware, for the Druids have spies everywhere.’ The gnome knight pointed to a squirrel, seated with its hands folded over its white furry bib. ‘See how Lord Squirrel sits and listens to your words.’ He paused, looking up through the verdant branches of the trees overhead. ‘Lookup through the leaves; a raven. Offend the Druids at your peril. They will drink your blood from your skull this very night.’
Devlin paled; he could not avoid the truth of the gnome’s warning.
‘Be that as it may, tie them up.’
‘Hmm, that is all I will do until we get them to safety.’
Forestyne jumped back as the white bear leapt at Ansgar, his teeth long and vicious. As Ansgar tried to fight it off, the dark-haired devil ran, shouting, trying to tear the beast away from Ansgar’s throat.
‘Lily stop it, now – for once bloody well obey me, stop it.’
Tania looked up to see Devlin holding his lance high, ready to plunge it into Lily’s body. Crying out, Tania threw herself over Lily, begging the knight not to kill her.
Devlin paused, his pagan fears now taking over. Forestyne said breathlessly, ‘The bear is a sacred animal of the Celts. You will anger the Horned God; beware, he will rip off your head in the instant.
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This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and events are either products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events, locales or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.
Copyright © Katy Walters
All rights reserved
Don’t worry if you miss any chapters, since you will find links to other posted chapters here: