Maid of the Forest: Chapters 33, 34, & 35

Maid of the Forest: Chapters 33, 34, & 35

Here are the final three chapters of my enthralling fantasy romance novel, Maid of the Forest . Set mainly in a mystical Arthurian world, filled with mythical creatures, Goddesses, and magical powers, the reader is taken on a truly memorable journey.

Other Chapters

Don’t worry if you miss any chapters, since you will find links to other posted chapters here:

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Maid of the Forest – Forestyne: Chapters 33, 34 & 35

Chapter 33

The Banquet

The main hall was already filled as Devlin and his knights entered.  Forestyne stared in awe at the bunches of flaming rushes held in iron wrought sconces on the walls.  The central fire was built on a bed of stone, upon which huge logs flamed and hissed. The aroma of roasted meat filled the air as a wild boar rolled on an iron spit.  Forestyne looked up to the high table to see Adreva sitting on the right-hand side of King Vortigern, whilst his mistress, the lady Althea sat on the left. 

Their table was directly below that of the King and Queen and the advisors’ council with their wives. As Devlin explained that it was the Queen’s pleasure to choose her guests for the second table, he noticed food for the two top tables arrived on silver plates, whilst the people on the rest of the tables ate from carved wooden boards

Seated beside Gary, Tania leant over to look at the food, whispering, ‘I can’t believe anyone would eat all that. Thankfully Lily was allowed entrance to the dining hall along with the king’s hounds. Looking over, Tania saw the ladies share their silver plates, with their tiny pet dogs on their laps, who yapped excitedly, eating and licking voraciously. 

Forestyne cringed as she saw a beautiful Swan carried aloft on a sturdy frame; the delicate white feathers reinserted into roasted skin. But, her mouth watered at the sight of roast chickens, partridges, and whole hogs roasting on a massive spit in the centre of the hall. Numerous plates of fish and prawns were also displayed on a vast side table. The only birds missing were ravens, revered as the psychopomps leading the departed soul to the Upper Worlds. Also missing from the bounteous tables were the squirrels, the lords, and messengers for the Eternal Shadow of Death. It seemed that the royalty observed Christianity but clung to the old ways.

‘Come, my love, you must eat; you have survived on crusts and dried fish, so you must fortify yourself.’

Further down the table, Clara sat next to the mighty gnome, Prince Ansgar. Although this should be an evening of company, luscious food, and merriment, Tania caught the deep sadness in her friend’s face. She should be so happy; Ansgar loved her and had already proposed.  She tried to catch her attention, but on failing, resolved to speak with her after supper.

Whilst they ate, a harpist played the most vibrant tunes, interspersed with a lyre accompanied by drums.  Forestyne could scarcely speak over the music, let alone the hubbub of chatter and raucous laughter.

As servants cleared the plates to make way for dessert, a troupe of female dancers emerged from the side door. Tania gulped, trying to look composed as the ladies trooped to the centre floor, each wearing only a voile sheath draped around naked hips. Seeing her shocked look, Gary laughed, ‘Darling, it’s quite normal you’ll get used to it. They are superb dancers. She bit her lip as the drums started up a slow beat. ‘I don’t think so Gary, they’re topless, and they’re not wearing any knickers, not even a thong.’

Gary chortled. ‘Honestly, dearest, this is nothing to the orgies that take place later.’

‘Well, count me out. I don’t think Clara will be too pleased.’

Gary beamed. ‘Just kidding, sweetheart.’

Tania narrowed her eyes, from the sounds of it; he’d obviously been party to at least one of them.  His grin was too broad to believe otherwise.

As she took up her goblet, there was an almighty crash; people cried out and jumped to their feet as the massive doors to the hall burst open. Knights rode into the centre of the hall. The leading rider wearing a coronet addressed the King. ‘The Earl of Hunstead is besieged by the Picts.  The devils are at the front entrance. Some could possibly be on their way here.’

The King rose to his feet, his face grim. Looking around the hall, he raised his hand, bunching his fist. ‘To arms – to arms. We ride this very hour. Gather round, we must set out our plans. There is no time to waste..’

Guards hurried the ladies down a corridor to the secured Assembly Room. In the flurry of anxious chatter, Forestyne slipped into an archway; she had to be free to summon the wolves.

Only as the soldiers closed the massive wooden doors did Tania realize Forestyne was not with them. She turned worriedly to a guard. ‘A lady is missing; we must go back for her.’

The guard shook his head, pushing her back to the other women. Furious, she turned to Clara. ‘She’s not here, oh God, we must try to find her. I’ve told the guard, but the bloody man won’t listen. I don’t think he understands my rotten Latin anyway.’

With the vast doors now under heavy guard, Tania looked around the room at the narrow arrow slits for windows. ‘There’s no way we can get out of here. Let’s hope she’s with Devlin.’

Within half an hour, the King and his commanders planned their attack. A thousand soldiers would remain to guard the fort, the Black Warrior would lead in a frontal attack on the Earl’s besieged fortress, whilst the knights attacked on both sides.

Devlin’s first missive was to inform Forestyne and the other two women of the coming onslaught. He grimaced as Tania hurriedly told him of Forestyne’s disappearance. As he left them securely locked in and heavily guarded, he made his way back to the main hall and the king, his heart heavy, where was she? He swung round as he felt a slight touch on his sleeve.

‘Forestyne – oh my love, thank god, I was so worried.’

As he enfolded her in his arms, he said, ‘Why are you not with the ladies?’

‘My lord, I am with you.  I will summon my wolves and join you at the fort.’  Devlin grimaced.  ‘I forbid it – you will remain here at the castle.’ Forestyne beetled her brows, ‘My lord, you have no say in what I do. I go now to join my wolves at Lord Hunstead’s fort. We will rally the other packs throughout the forests. You cannot win this by arms alone. There are thousands of picts roaming the woods, and you have only a thousand or more soldiers under command.

Devlin gritted his teeth, trying to remain calm. ‘Forestyne, obey me; I am now your lord and master, you protector.’

‘Like hell you are, go now, we waste time and lives.’

‘I will keep you here, even if I have to tie you up.’

‘You have no power over me, my lord; I can dissolve right now before your eyes. Push me not to that, for I promise I will do so.’ She growled softly, lifting her lips enough for him to see the canine teeth lengthening.

Choking down his anger, he lifted her chin to gaze down into the dark depths of her eyes.

I love you more than life itself, Forestyne. Don’t do this to me. How can I go fight when I know you are in danger?’

‘Fear not Devlin, tis what I must do.  There is no way you can persuade me otherwise. I love you too, but I also have my own purposes and duties, the main one being to defend humans.’

He hung his head, his skin whitening. ‘So be it, then kiss me first.’

She went on tiptoe, putting her slender arms around his strong muscled neck, kissing him hard on the mouth. He drank in her fierce passion, feeling her canines lightly nip his lip.

Brushing away the blood with his finger, he looked down at her, ‘Come back to me, my love, come back.’

She looked at him for a long moment, then reaching up, touched his cheek.

Chapter 34

The Midnight Raid

Hearing the onslaught may well consist of thousands of Picts, Devlin listened carefully to Gary’s plans of attack, knowing him to be a brilliant strategist in warfare. Having been caught by surprise, amid their revels no less, they had no time to haul their catapults through the narrow roads. Instead, they must resort to hand combat.

Gary laid out a strategy of two ambushes to segregate the leading group. This would utterly confuse the Picts. They had little time, as the Picts were already fighting to gain entrance to Lord Hunstead’s fort. Devlin’s master at arms was to take three hundred foot soldiers to march at speed along the besieged fort’s main track. Seeing such a small army, the Picts would not use the full force or send runners messages to send for more men. Meanwhile, at the front entrances, the approaching soldiers would pretend fear and scatter.

Unbeknownst to them, Devlin’s troops’ main body would approach the fort from the back, creeping in stealth through the forest, and scale the fortified earthen levels to gain entry. When the Picts broke in the front entrance, they would be confronted with over a thousand of Vortigern’s troops waiting for them. 

As they advanced, Gary lifted his hand. ‘Did you hear that?’

Devlin looked around, ‘Nay, it’s the trees whispering to us.’

‘Oh, come on, you’re kidding.’ Gary looked at Devlin aghast.

‘Nay, tis true, the trees do protect humans; it’s just that we’ve forgotten how to listen. I only know of this since meeting my wife, who is one of the tree people. If you concentrate, you will hear the whispers. They are trying to warn us.’

Devlin lunged his horse to the edge of the track, ready to attack, when he saw flashes of silver fur streaking the trees. His heart leapt to his throat. Forestyne? He swallowed, turning back to Gary.

‘Seems the wolves have joined us.’

Gary hissed. ‘Damn it all, that’s all we need. The critters can attack, damn lethal.’

Devlin did not wish to disclose Forestyne’s secret or that some of those wolves were the tree people. He’d sworn an oath of secrecy to her and could not divulge even a hint of it. ‘‘Well, you never know, they may be on our side.’

Gary grimaced. ‘Well, let’s hope to God, it’s our lucky night. All we need now is an attack by wolves, the Picts outnumber us, we’d be done for man, done for.’

Devlin nodded grimly, hoping to God it was Forestyne and her magic at work. Still, even then, he prayed for her safety. He’d fallen deeply in love with her; she was not only his love, but she was also part of his soul. As Devlin urged his horse forward, he had a striking thought, one that took him by force. If they won this night, then he would disappear to the woods with her, for the first time, begin to lead a life of peace; find some sanctity for his soul, not the constant battle of courtly life.

But now the battle was before him; the flames roared from the top of crenelated towers as soldiers fought hand in hand with the Picts. He looked over to Gary. ‘Remember; we pull the soldiers out on your signal. May God be with you, my friend.’

Gary nodded, pulling down his visor.’ 

As he galloped forward with the foot soldiers running behind them, spears and hatchets raised, a group of wolves howled and raced in front of them towards the savages. The troops roared in relief as they saw their silver furred allies fighting by their side. Gary could hardly believe his eyes as he fought alongside the wolves who despatched the Picts in a fury of fangs and howls. At this moment, he truly believed in magic, believed in the oneness of nature, the inseparable unity of man, beast, and tree.

Devlin, Gary, and the troops whooped with furious joy as the Picts fled the scene, terrified of the wolves and the savagery of the soldiers. 

Seeing the main gates open before him, Devlin rode into the cheers of the knights and soldiers within.  Yet, he immediately realized something was terribly wrong. One of the knights rode up to him.’ ‘We were too late to save the Earl; they cut him to pieces. Bloody savages.’

Devlin swallowed hard, saddened. They did not get there in time to save the good Earl’s life. He also knew he had a grim task ahead of him, t’was he who would break the news to the Earl’s motherless young son. Yet even as he shook hands and clapped armoured mitts on shoulders, he looked at the groups of wolves now sitting panting on the side, some already slinking away to the trees. Which one was Forestyne?

Gary rode up to him. ‘You know that was breath-taking, never did I think to see wolves and man fighting to together. Come, my friend, you know more than you say. Share this magic with me.’

Devlin shook his head, I am sworn to secrecy, but yes, I will agree there is magic; it’s real. But now I must hie back to court and report to the King. He did not add he was anxious about Forestyne. As far as Gary was concerned, she was safe at the castle.

Entering the great hall of Vortigern’s castle fort, Devlin waved the sign of victory to the tense groups of servants and some of the guards waiting anxiously for news. With a heavy heart, he thumped on the door of the Earl of Hunstead’s young son’s bedroom.  The lad appeared immediately, his eyes puffy, as if from weeping. ‘My father?’

Devlin nodded grimly. Entering, he bade the boy take a chair and sat beside him. ‘Your father died bravely, Darine; I am now your protector until you are of age to rule your lands.’

Darine hung his head, tears tumbling down his young cheeks. Devlin allowed him to weep and then, pouring some wine into a goblet, bade him drink. ‘Come, this will fortify you; we will discuss more in the morning. But never fear lad, I will protect you and your estate.’

The boy rose to his feet and, going to Devlin, hugged him putting his head on his chest.  ‘I don’t want to talk about anything; I just want my father.’

Devlin held him, stroking the tousled curls. ‘I know lad, it hurts, but you have me; you are not alone.’

Opening the door to their apartment, he gasped as Forestyne rushed naked into his arms, the chain mail almost scraping her tender skin. Her dripping body from the bath smelt of roses.

‘My dearest girl. I need you.’  Grunting in between her fervid kisses, he took off his helmet and coif, he rasped, ‘help me with this damned hauberk.  Willingly she leapt up and pulled off the heavy chainmail and the padded undershirt beneath. As he ripped off the linen shirt, his desire rose to a fever pitch as she widened her naked thighs to pull off his leather boots, her bobbing breasts, sending him crazy, as she pulled down the heavy mail chausses.

Stroking the rippling sweat off the hard-packed muscles of his magnificent body, she giggled, ‘You stink like one of my wolves, come, a splash in the tub is needed.’

He scowled, the need of his iron rod far more significant than a bit of sweat, but to please her, he submitted.  He leapt in one jump into the bathing tub, the water splashing over the floor and on her. Laughing, she bent to pick up; the bathing cloth only to shriek as he lifted her onto his lap. ‘Well, my maiden, you may have your pleasure washing off my sweat. Whilst I find pleasure in your superb body.’

Chapter 35

Fare You Well

There was an air of gaiety as the friends sat down to a private banquet, the apartments festooned with greenery, bright ribbons, and aromatic rushes. It was a bittersweet moment as the friends would go their separate ways. 

Banging his golden spoon on the table for silence, Prince Ansgar rose to his feet. Clara gazed up at him with adoring eyes as he spake. ‘My dear friends, let us congratulate our Black Warrior, Sir Devlin. Not only is the heir to the Northern lands of Conterry, but our king has also awarded him the title of Duke of Winsmoor for his outstanding bravery.’

Devlin stood and bowed to the cheers of his friends, who thumped the table with their appreciation.

He held up his hand. ‘Thank you, but I say now I would not have won this battle without Gary’s brilliant strategy. This did not go unnoticed by our King; in gratitude, Gary now bears the title of Lord Geraint, Earl of Trenton, our noble Blue Warrior.

As they clapped and lifted their goblets, Tania slipped a chicken breast to Lily, who lay slavering under the bench. Leaning over to Clara, she whispered. ‘So are you going to live in the lower World?’

Clara shook her head. ‘Oh, its wonderful news Tani’ he said. He didn’t think I would be happy in the Lower World, a dark place of mountain ridges and live volcanoes. He said he prefers living here, so it suits both of us.’

‘Yes, but one day he will be King.’

‘He said they have a vast estate here in the Middle World. His brother will most probably inherit the Kingship whilst Ansgar sees to the estates here.’

‘Oh, that’s wonderful news; I’m so pleased for you.’

‘So we shall still see a lot of each other.’

Tania nodded. ‘But, Gary and I are still determined to find our way back to our own time. King Vortigern has given him a wonderful estate, and it’s so near to where the cottage will be in the future. Lily will love it there, with fields and the forests to run in. She loves the mud as well. I bet she’ll find the pond, from which we all emerged from the well.  Forestyne is well aware of it. Gary feels sure we will find the time portal.’

Clara frowned. ‘Oh, I shall miss you, Tani.’

‘And I will miss you terribly Tani, I have to make sure I keep Lily tied to me when we try to slip through the portal. Don’t you have any yearnings to go forward to our time?’

Clara shook her head. ‘No, I could never leave Ansgar, and I do love it here. I just feel I fit in.’

Leaning over, Gary said, ‘you never know, if we find the portal, we could visit each other.’

Devlin seeing the friends chatting, turned to Forestyne. ‘So my love, what think you of living on the Winsmoor Estate?’

‘It’s all I could wish for. It was such a surprise. I can see Moraig whenever I wish.’

Devlin grinned; he’d shown her the fortified castle and then, with a mischievous sparkle in his eye, said softly, ‘dearest, come I would like to ride with you.’

‘Now? Where? Forestyne looked at him, somewhat surprised.’

‘Hah, a mystery. Come, trust me.’

‘Devlin, don’t tease, tell me.’

He beamed. ‘Be patient, my love; you shall see very shortly.’

‘Well, I will bid the others goodbye.’

‘Yes, tell them we will meet them later.  Now let us ride.’

Coming to a narrow path through the forest, he said, ‘We shall have to go in a single file here, watch out the horses do not stumble on the twisted roots of the trees, this is the most ancient part of the forest. Following him carefully, Forestyne gazed in wonder at the scarlet bark of the Yew trees. ‘This is a place of wizardry, my lord, you tempt fate to come here.

‘Hah not with the most mighty sorceress of our time.’

She laughed. ‘Now you mock me, I am still training and will be for many years yet. Indeed, I have yet to visit the Great Hall Under the Moon.’

‘’Hmm, magic indeed. Look yonder’

He pointed to a clearing where the yew trees gave way to the slender birch.

Forestyne gasped. ‘Oh, upon my heart, I have never beheld such a magical abode. Pray, who lives here?’

‘Us, my love.’

Forestyne gazed at the cottage, at the sturdy oak beams, with the thatched roof sloping on one side almost to the ground.  The structure appeared to nestle in a display of tumbling roses and wildflowers. It even had apertures covered in the finest heavy velvet, framed in wooden doors that could be closed if necessary.

He grinned at her silence, at the look of longing on her beautiful face. He urged his horse across to her. ‘Tis yours, my love. I want nothing more than to reside here with you as my beloved wife, the woman of my heart.’

She gazed at him with wide eyes, the tears brimming like crystals about to tumble over her satin skin. ‘Oh Devlin, This is a dream, a dream brought to your dear heart by the Goddess of love, Ambrosia herself.’

‘Don’t let’s forget the Blessed Virgin Mary as well. This is your hideaway, my love, a place where you can spend time with the people of the trees, and your beloved pack, your wolves. Gathering her in his strong arms, he held her close, whispering in her ear. ‘So much privacy, so much space for love. What say you?’

Her eyes sparkled as she pulled back to look up into his beloved eyes. ‘My love, my heart, my life is yours.’

 He gazed down earnestly. ‘Darling, I must warn you there are dangerous times ahead. I have not forgotten my vow to your mother. I will win back the Kingdom of Llanmadoc, and you will take your rightful place on the throne as Queen Rhoslyn. She gazed at him, tears in her eyes. ‘Oh Devlin, my dear lord, I only want the forest; I have no need for castles. I—’

‘Darling, the castle at Llanmadoc is surrounded by a forest that goes down to the sea. You will be in your element.’ He hugged her, you may be as wild as you wish and still be Queen.’

‘And you shall be my king.’

‘Nay, I shall be your consort.  For you alone will be Queen.’

‘Nay, I insist you will be king, I will not agree to anything less.’

Devlin grinned kissing her hand. ‘So be it my forest sprite. I am forever bewitched by you.’

Delighted, she threw her arms around him, her love so great she burst into tears.


No part of this book may be stored, reproduced, or transmitted in any form or by any means without the express permission of the author.

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

Other Chapters

Don’t worry if you miss any chapters, since you will find links to other posted chapters here:

All Available Chapters!

Maid of the Forest: Chapters 31 & 32

Maid of the Forest: Chapters 31 & 32

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.

Other Chapters

Don’t worry if you miss any chapters, since you will find links to other posted chapters here:

All Available Chapters!

Maid of the Forest – Forestyne: Chapters 31 & 32

Chapter 31

Love of a Mother

‘My lady, I am at your service. Devlin bowed and walked over to Moraig, snatched from the Eternal Shadow of Death. Amazed at her recovery, he helped her rise from the ledge.  She now stood straight and tall, her body plump, her cheeks glowing, her dark hair a mass of waves and curls.

Smiling, she said, ‘I am aware you’re pledged to each other, t’was your destiny.’

Walking over to a carved wooden chest, she took out a velvet bag. Opening it, she handed Forestyne a chain of gold from which hung a faceted ruby. ‘Wear this always, next to your skin. Whenever you need me, dearest, just touch this stone; tis my link with you. I will come to you if you are in need. Remember, the bracelet of runes is embedded in your flesh. Through them, you are linked to the power of the Gods and goddesses. Call them if you have need.’ 

Forestyne bowed her head, the tears tumbling down her cheeks. ’But I don’t wish to leave here. I am a girl of the forest, I could not live anywhere else, I need the forest, the trees, the grass, the birds, the—’

‘Worry not, dearest, you will have the forest, Sir Devlin will see to that, be patient. Go join the Knights on their journey to the court of Vortigern. There this good knight will take you to your mother, the Princess Adreva. You are the image of her sweetheart. She will recognize you immediately, especially as she sees the ruby your wear around your neck and the bracelet embedded in your wrist.

Now to clothes, you cannot go wearing your course woolen tunics. Pray, go you to the chest, and bring forth the clothes.

Forestyne’s eyes widened as she saw the costly linen robes and surcoats of delicate wool. ‘These are too fine for me to wear. I would be frightened of tearing them; they are so delicate.

Moraig smiled, ‘Nay, they are strong enough.’ Turning to Devlin and the men, she said, ‘Do you go now and wait outside whilst Florestyne dons her new apparel.’

Devlin’s heart swelled with pride as Forestyne emerged from the hut. Her beauty was enhanced in a pale leaf green gown and gold surcoat, whilst a wimple of white voile, with a circlet of golden leaves, covered her head.  Over her arm, she carried a woven wool cloak edged with fur.

She dimpled, twirling around for him to see her in such finery, then handed him the cloak to put around her shoulders. He grinned as he closed the beautiful gold clasp. ‘Methinks, you will be a singular jewel at the court, my lady.’

Re-entering the hut, he found Moraig wearing a modest linen gown with a white wimple caught in a silver cord around her head. She beckoned for him to come forward. ‘Dear Sir Knight, I beg you, take care of my beloved child; she is now under your protection.’

‘Madame, methinks tis Forestyne who will be my protector.’

Moraig laughed, a rosy flush in her cheeks. ‘Aye, the wolves will never be far away. Now go both of you and take care.’

Forestyne kissed her on her forehead and then each cheek. ‘I go knowing that dear Drustan and Bricius will watch over you.  But never fear I’ll return soon.’

Moraig smiled, hiding the fear within her heart. There were dangerous times ahead.

Shadows gathered over the path, dimming the scarlet blood of the leaves as they set out. Devlin turned to her, ‘Dearest wife, we should not loiter on this path; I am sure the Picts will attack again if they see us. So let us ride hard and join our friends; only then are we safe.

Within hours, Devlin and Forestyne joined the cavalcade of knights, ladies, squires, soldiers, henchmen, monks, and cooks on the long trek to the fort.

Forestyne’s mouth dried. ‘Oh Devlin, there are so many; I am not used to large groups; I feel fear rising.’

‘Be calm; these are my friends and seek only to protect you.’

‘You say that, but have the two women told them I am a sorceress? Surely the good Christian knights would slay me?’

 ‘Nay, the two women, can barely speak our tongue; besides, they spent their time running away, twice no less.’

‘Yes, but you can only surmise.’

‘My love, there are those amongst us who only a few short years ago bowed to sorcery. I would not be surprised if some of them, ladies as well, still pray to the pagan gods, so never fear; besides, I would kill the first one to threaten you.’

‘Strong talk Sir, but you will not be with me all the time; an enemy would bide his time and strike when you are away from me. I could easily kill any attacker, but then I would have to flee to the depths of the forests; if I stayed, they would burn me as a witch for having such strength.’ ’

‘Darling, quell your fears. I will spread the word on pain of death no-one will touch or threaten you. Suffice to say no-one crosses the Black Knight, lest they wish to suffer a torturous death. I am sure the two women would not give you away.

Forestyne espied Tania with a knight at her side, his hair flickering with gold metallic lights under the gibbous moon, but the girl frowned and turned away.

Unaware of Forestyne’s friendly intent, Tania looked up at Gary, whispering, ‘that’s the girl from the forest. She’s done some strange things; honestly, I’m terrified of her.’

‘Like what?’

‘Oh well, she was mixing noxious herbs and singing to them. Treating them like they were alive, then dancing around a fire whilst her mother lay dying.’

Gary smiled. ‘She was most likely casting spells to bring her mother back from the dead. These people believe that nature is alive, even the soil beneath our feet has consciousness, as it is made up of dead leaves, rotting trees, and all that.’

‘Well, they are mad, she’s mad. Honestly, at one point, I thought she was changing into a wolf. She has a pack of them lying around the hut, and she was—’

‘Talking to them?’

‘Yeah, how do you know?’

‘Really Tani, be careful, if she was doing that, then she really is a witch or a sorceress – one powerful lady. Tread carefully, ‘

‘Oh, come on, Gary. Now you’re talking rubbish.’

Believe me, Tani; I’ve seen some strange things since I’ve been here. Once, I could have sworn, I saw a woman change into a wolf, but I was drunk at the time.’ His eyes narrowed.  ‘What else did you see?’

‘Nothing much; we were too busy planning our escape.’

‘Well, be careful. I see she’s with the Black Knight, and they seem mighty friendly. So don’t cross him; he may look harmless but believe me, he’ll behead you as soon as look at you.’

‘Oh, that’s gross, Gary. He’s a knight. I read knights championed women, protected them.’

‘Yes, as knights, they were lovers to the wives of the king or Chieftain. But even so, if the woman took another lover as well as him, then it was ….’ He drew his hand across his throat.

Tani laughed. ‘You’re kidding.’

‘I am not; look, I’ve already told you, they kill a woman if they think she’d been unfaithful. She may be only his lover, but to him, that is an immense duty. He will die to protect her, fight duels over her, give up his life for her, so he demands absolute faithfulness. Lover, he may be, but he has tremendous powers over her. I told you how the kings behave. The other week, the king of Somerset kidnapped the wife of the King of Thanet. As he was taking her back to his fort, the King sent his knights to bring her back. ‘Well, they found her, but she refused to go back him, so one of the knights calmly stepped forward and beheaded her.’

‘Oh my God, that poor woman. Didn’t anyone try to stop him?’

‘Of course not, they wouldn’t want their own heads chopped off, would they?’

‘What about the King, wouldn’t he want to kill the man who beheaded his wife?’

‘No, she’d shamed him by refusing to go back to him. He would have been seen as a coward if he took her back.’   

‘This is a strange savage world, Gary. I can’t see how a girl like her would want to be friends with us. We are too different. ‘

‘‘Darling, she’s a maiden of the forest. She is most probably afraid of you. Don’t forget the people of the Whispering Trees live in another world to us.

Tani looked over. ‘You see, she’s turned her back on me. Besides, we don’t speak the same language even. Look, I’ll be friendly, okay, but it’s going to take time.’


They would stop of an evening and make camp. The tents were of heavy canvas supported by poles for the knights and their ladies, whilst the rest of the caravan made do with tarpaulin hefted over branches. Soon fires were lit, and the hunted prey of the day roasting on spits over open fires. As the men jostled, played chess, or cleaned their weapons, Tania and Clara grew closer to the maid of the forest. Eventually, of an evening, she instructed them in the ancient Brythonic tongue and Latin.

On reaching the sturdily constructed wooden forts on the way, Forestyne would follow Devlin through surrounding hamlets to markets crowded with peasants, soldiers, and the occasional Knight.  Stallholders called out their wares, whilst people bartered, shouting even louder. The air was rich with the aromas of roasted game, meat pies, and freshly baked bread, some with added exotic spices.’

‘My love, those pies smell delicious. Would you care for something?’ he knew she would not eat meat, but he may tempt her with some bread for fruit. 

‘Oh yes, some of that fresh bread with herbs.  I’m starving.’ Her stomach rumbled; the food on the journey consisted of any game the soldiers hunted, dried salted fish, or stale bread.

Seated in front of Gary on his huge destrier, Tania exclaimed, ‘Honestly, it smells heavenly, my mouth is watering. Look over there. I didn’t realize they sold pies and cooked meats. Gosh, they look like sausages on that tray.’

‘Oh yes, they’re called Lucanian. The Romans loved them. The soldiers refused to travel without their bottles of fish sauce and those sausages. ’

‘So what’s in them?’

‘Umm – blood, meat, berries, herbs, spices.’

‘Wow, they smell delicious. Honestly, they’re like our takeaways but even tastier.’

‘Yes, the Romans are renowned for buying fresh bread, ready-made meat pies, and roasted meats. I’m really surprised.  Seems we haven’t changed much, have we? Sausages – takeaways.’ She turned beaming at Forestyne riding behind them. They were now fast becoming good friends.  On the long trek to the fort, the train of knights and their parties would stop of an evening and make camp. 

Forestyne’s eyes closed in ecstasy as she crunched down on the aromatic bread. It tasted heavenly even though it was brown and coarse, with poorly ground wheat and barley grains. 

Wiping his chin free of gravy, Devlin looked up at the huge fort towering above them. ‘I hope they provide fresh straw for our beds.’

‘I’ve heard that most beds in forts are infested, full of people’s leavings, mice, and even rats. Ugh, I shall sleep on my cloak on the floor. Forestyne shivered at the very thought of the filthy piles of straw and pallets.

‘Nay.’ Devlin laughed. ‘I will ensure you sleep on fresh straw and fur rugs, my sweet, never fear.’

After weaving through a milieu of peasant huts and tents for knights and soldiers, Forestyne exclaimed, ‘By the goddess, I never thought the fort to be so splendid.’ Even Devlin’s description did not prepare her for such grandeur. The horses had to climb up three levels of palisade fencing. Every few yards, two sentries wearing iron helmets, chainmail coifs, and thigh length haubergeons stood on guard holding spears, with a large bow and quiver full of arrows slung across their shoulders.

She murmured to Devlin, riding by her side. ‘They seemed prepared to do battle.’

‘Yea, they are always on guard; the Picts didn’t waste any time after the last Roman outpost to leave our land. They’ve come in their thousands to conquer and rule, but never fear, we now have four thousand knights and foot soldiers in the garrison.

Entering the fort itself, some ladies appeared beautifully apparelled.  On seeing Clara’s rainbow-coloured hair, they gave little shrieks of horror, hissing the word ‘maleficus,’ which Tania understood as ‘witch.’ But, a mature lady, spoke loudly, ‘attendite ad me.’ Immediately, they hushed, lowering their eyes, as she stepped forward, gracefully curtseyed, and introduced herself as the Lady Althea. ‘I am here to help you ladies befit the gaze of our king.’

Tania spoke hurriedly to Gary. ‘Lily, will you take care of her?’

He nodded, taking the long rein of the dog. ‘Fear not, Lily is safe with me. Many of the ladies of the court have pets, some even exotic.’

Biting her lip, Forestyne turned to Devlin, who gave an encouraging wave. ‘Go, my sweet; they will tend to your needs.’

The ladies showed them into a long narrow room heated by a central fire of logs, the smoke escaping through a small aperture in the roof. The windows were non-existent except for narrow arrow slits.

Forestyne was thrilled with the luxury of a hot tub lined with coarse linen. At the other end of the room, she heard Tania protesting but was too far away to hear her words. If it continued, she would have to get out of the tub and go and translate, but luckily, Tania grudgingly joined her and Clara.  Forestyne felt her body tense as the ladies, on seeing Clara’s tattoos on her forearm, stepped back crying out, ‘magicae – magicae.’

This time the Lady Althea frowned and crossed herself, ordering one of the ladies to send for Devlin.

Before his arrival, the ladies threw large linen towels over the three girls to protect their modesty.

Within minutes Devlin appeared, listening carefully to the Lady Althea’s fears. Nodding, he pursed his lips, ‘My lady, I apologize if this has upset you. These words are not for a lady’s eyes or delicate nature. Sadly, this young girl was captured by the Picts and held down by force whilst they destroyed her soul, tattooing those maleficent words on her tender flesh.’

‘Hah, Sir Knight, we must save the girl.’ She leant forward, her full breasts pushing against the low neck of her gown; indeed, he caught a glimpse of the violet aureoles and rosy tips of the nipples. Such was the way of the Court. Her jade eyes roamed over his lips, down to his groin. He straightened up, hoping his wilful rod did not respond. It appeared the lady had other ideas than saving Clara’s soul. The pink tip of her tongue appeared moistening her full bottom lip. With her back to the ladies, she fluttered graceful fingers down the low bodice, as if to tickle her nipple, her lips curled in an enticing smile.  Now deeply in love with Forestyne, he cursed inwardly; his rod was misbehaving.  He shifted in his chair and placed his chainmail mitts in his lap while fully aware of his discomfort. Lady Althea gazed at him, a whimsical look in her jade eyes. 

 ‘Err … yes, my lady tis my earnest desire to save her, for my new young wife loves her dearly.

Taunting him, she pushed her hips back, her bosoms almost falling out.  ‘Hah, but Sir, I do have need of your advice in the privacy of my chamber, tis not for the tender ears of the ladies.’

‘My apologies, dear lady, but the King and his Council await me. There is an erstwhile lord threatening battle.’ He wanted to turn away, to cut her flirtation short. She was both irritating and too seductive for any red-blooded man, not to be affected with her sexual wiles. But, she was the King’s favourite mistress; he dare not cross her now he had Forestyne to protect.

She bowed her graceful head, not at all disconcerted. ‘Your lance is strong, your thrust to the point Sir Knight., I am sure you will be swift to serve.’

 ‘Err – yes, my lady.’ This woman was trouble, a man-trap.

She arched her delicate eyebrows.  ‘Perhaps another time. But now, we must save the girl’s eternal soul. I shall call our healer monk; he will cut the offensive images from her tender flesh.’

Chapter 32

The Amorous Lady

Forestyne cringed hearing the sultry tones in Lady Althea’s voice.  Of course, Devlin was a great warrior, strong with the lance, his powerful thrust and accurate aim unerring. He never failed to score. Fortunately, she did not understand the true meaning of Lady Althea’s words. Yet the lady’s flirtatious manner was enough to raise the wolf in her. Breathing deeply, she battled down the urge.  T’was clear Lady Althea had a passion for Devlin. But she saw, he did not succumb to her charms, freely offered. The lady was truly blatant in her desire for her handsome young husband. To quell her anger, she cast her thoughts on Clara’s dilemma. Although a strange girl in her manner and appearance, she’d warmed to her innocent heart and sweet nature.

Yet, Forestyne feared for Clara, for there was no way to obliterate the runes; besides, they were revered in her own pagan world. Yet if Clara chose to remain with the Christian world, she would take action. Moraig and the Tree people would dissolve the runes, as only a powerful Sorcerer or Shaman could achieve that and then be at great danger to Clara’s body and soul. 

Devlin was glad to leave and also startled that he felt such fierce loyalty to his new wife. There was only one woman for him, and that was his sweet girl of the forest, well sweet enough until she turned wolf.   He winked at Forestyne, messaging not to worry; all would be well. She felt his strength pour through her, for she relied on his prowess in the Christian world.  Sighing, wishing she were with him, she lay back relaxing fully, inhaling the steam scented with rosemary and lavender, taking delight in the ladies gently washing and massaging her scalp and long locks.  She looked over to see a group of other courtly ladies fussing over a chest full of clothes arguing as to what would suit their guests. Although Tania tried to keep her own clothes, they would not hear of it, looking at her scandalized. As they didn’t understand her, they glared, putting their fists on their hips to show their disfavour until Tania was obliged to concede. ‘

Clara spoke up again when they showed her the wimple she would wear.   She refused, shaking her head furiously, but Lady Althea hissed. ‘Rex – eratus.’ She then drew her fingers over her neck, mimicking her throat being cut, speaking savagely, ‘occidere – sanguinem.’

Forestyne did not have to translate, for Clara understood the first two words, ‘King – angry.’ The other two words were explained in the lady’s example of her throat being slit. Gritting her teeth, she gave in.

Brimming with impatience, Forestyne wondered when Devlin would introduce her to her birth mother. Her heart pounded at the very thought of meeting the Lady Adreva. Would she recognize her, would she accept her as her daughter?  Pray God the gem would help identify her.

Forestyne found Devlin waiting for her outside the dressing room. His eyes lit up as he appraised her slender form, the pale blue silk of her gown edged with semiprecious gems, clinging to her slender curves, the rise and fall of her plump breasts. A silk wimple covered her glorious hair, but that was court dress, so they had to abide by it. Reaching into his pocket, he pulled out a long narrow case. ‘Here, my love. I wish for you to wear these, they will enhance your dazzling beauty.

Forestyne opened the case to see a heavy chain necklace of gold with glittering cabochons on either side of a dazzling sapphire. ‘Oh Devlin, I can’t, I might break it – lose it.’

‘Come now tis a sturdy clasp and most befitting my adorable wife. Tis, an heirloom from my blessed mother. She will be thrilled if you wear it. As I am away from my homeland for years, I carry it with me, waiting until I find the most precious girl to be my wife.’

She looked up to him; he rarely spoke of his family, except to say he adored his mother and loved and respected his father, a powerful chieftain from the North. He also had five siblings, three sisters and one brother. Forestyne slipped the ruby from Moraig into her bodice, keeping her promise to wear the powerful amulet next to her skin, never to take it off.

‘Brace yourself, my darling, I have arranged for you to meet your birth mother, it will be in private, only the three of us will be present. We are to meet in the chapel, which is some distance from the main hall and will be very private. ‘

Forestyne smiled, ‘There are always ears, my love.’

‘Huh, not here, for the walls are guarded with her hounds. They accept no bribes.’

Forestyne’s heart thumped in her chest, the blood rising to her head as Devlin ushered her into the small building. There were no windows, the only light being from the arrow slits in the walls. Straining her eyes in the dim light, she made out a figure seated on a high-backed carved chair. Her knees trembled as she walked nearer. Stopping as the lady rose to her feet, her arms outstretched.

‘Rhoslyn, my darling girl, my baby.’ The gentle voice broke. Running up to Forestyne, she held her tightly. Gulping, Forestyne stood almost paralyzed with fear and longing. Her slender mother was virtually the same height, with a wisp of golden hair escaping from her wimple. 

Devlin stood to one side, astonished; except for the difference in their ages, they could have been twins.

Holding her hand, Adreva let her to a chair. ‘Come sit with me, let us talk,’

Seated, still lost for words, Forestyne sat and took out the ruby. 


No part of this book may be stored, reproduced, or transmitted in any form or by any means without the express permission of the author.

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

Other Chapters

Don’t worry if you miss any chapters, since you will find links to other posted chapters here:

All Available Chapters!

Maid of the Forest: Chapters 29 & 30

Maid of the Forest: Chapters 29 & 30

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.

Other Chapters

Don’t worry if you miss any chapters, since you will find links to other posted chapters here:

All Available Chapters!

Maid of the Forest – Forestyne: Chapters 29 & 30

Chapter 29

A Strange Reality

Tania gazed at Gary, her eyes wide, horror-stricken. ‘Of course, this is real. I’m real, you’re real, the damn forest is real, but the people in it have gone mad.  I have to pinch myself to know I’m awake, but perhaps I’m dreaming I’m pinching myself.’

‘Tani listen, listen to what I have to say, then you’ll understand. Sweetheart, don’t get so upset. You’re not dreaming, neither are the people mad; they’re genuine.’

‘Genuine? How can you say that? Oh, God.’ She put her hands to her face, ‘I can’t bear it – can’t bear it.’

‘Babe, just listen, okay. I promise you’ll understand.’

She looked at him through her fingers and shuddered, but to his relief, she nodded.

Gathering her close to him, he stroked her hair. ‘I’ve been where you are now. So let me explain – listen. I went for two days without meeting anyone, just searching for the forest. It was never-ending, more trees, more bushes, streams, and ponds, a hut here and there, but no villages, no towns. Then I met a couple of guys dressed up as knights. So like you, I thought they were part of a film company or re-enactment group. I’m afraid to say I lost my rag again. I thought they were baiting me, just like the others. I was desperate, hungry, and worn out, let alone petrified of those ruddy wolves.   So I punched the next person who spoke double Dutch to me. It ended up in a brawl; I had my hands around his throat, throttling him when the other guy knocked me out with the hilt of his sword. When I came to, I found myself lying down by a fire surrounded by knights, squires, and guards. By that time, one knight was examining my watch and another, my mobile. They’d actually managed to tap up some photos. When they saw the video, it scared the life out of them. They dropped it and ran. Later, when I could understand what they were saying, they told me they thought the images were alive – fairies – evil fairies. They thought the faires etc., were trying to snare them and imprison them in the mobile. They thought I was either a wizard or a demon.’

‘Oh, Gary, it’s the same for us. They think we’re either witches or demons.’

He was glad Tani sounded more reasonable; she must have gone through hell and was still feeling it.  He had to help her before she did lose her mind.   ‘Yeah, I can understand that now. Anyway, there were a couple of monks, and one of them  tried to save me from a knight who was ready to run me through.’ He sat me down and, believe it or not, spoke to me in Welsh and old Cornish. Saved my life, I think.’

‘Welsh? Good lord. You know Tegwen is Welsh, and I’m half Welsh, half Irish.’

‘Thank God I’m Cornish. Not that I know much of the old Cornish tongue, but I get by.  Anyway, then came the shock. Speaking in Cornish, I managed to make the monk understand I was lost, that maybe I was on some film set. But then he put me right, he had no idea what a film was or a film set, so I didn’t pursue it. But I said to him, I felt everything was so strange that maybe I was suffering from concussion. But he didn’t understand that either.’

‘So what did you do?’

‘Well, he asked me for my birth date.’


‘Well, they map out what stars you were born under to find out your humours.’

‘Humours I’ve heard of them, but I don’t know what they are.’

‘They explained them as the four humours that make up our body, that rule our body and the state of our health.  They are blood, yellow bile, black bile, and phlegm with the four states of mind or personality, Sanguine, Choleric, Phlegmatic, and Melancholy. He explained they could find what humour was out of balance and then cure me of my madness.’

‘Oh my God, so what happened?’

‘I couldn’t say the date in Cornish, but I managed to scratch out the date in roman italics. That’s when the shit hit the fan. The monk shook his head and insisted it was 449AD. That was when I passed out, literally. I was weak from lack of food, let alone terrified. For the firsttime in my life, I was petrified. I honestly thought I’d gone mad. When I came round, they’d stripped me and dressed me in knight’s clothing.’

 ‘So what did you do?’

‘Well, I didn’t believe it, of course. When anyone tried to talk to me, I just went deeper into silence; I’d gone beyond arguing. We traveled for days through forests, fields, and villages, which were just a few shacks in a clearing scattered around a huge wooden fort. It was a little child that broke into my disbelief. He was the son of one of the knights, a perky little bugger, and cheeky. Anyway, I happened on him paddling in a stream trying to catch eels; he spoke only Latin. Children invariably tell the truth; they can be damned embarrassing at times. So I asked him what the date was, what year, what month. He looked up at me, then grinned. ‘Why don’t you know it?’

I said I’d been ill and lost track of time. So he just said July 449; the child didn’t hesitate. The monk was nowhere near, no-one to nudge him, but he said exactly the same date as the others.  So, I thanked him and then helped him catch some more eels. I let some time go by, and I said, ‘You didn’t tell me the right date did you? Come on, tell me the right date.’ You can have all these eels if you tell me. Your papa will be so proud of you.’  

He laughed, shouting out at the top of his voice, it’s 449 – 449 – 449. Then he splashed over the stones in the stream, chanting the date. I knew then he could not keep up a lie like that. I handed him the bucket of eels, and that was when I began to believe.  I had to accept it, I had to let go of the fantasy of film sets and re-enactments; this was my reality.’

Tani buried her face in her hands and wept. Drawing her to him, Gary stroked her tangled hair. ‘I know it’s a strange reality, sweetheart, but you’ve just got to accept it.’ 

‘I can’t – I can’t. But the same happened to us. We explored the tunnels in the cottage cellars and thought we were drowning when the water gushed out on us. When I regained consciousness, I was floundering in a pond with Clari, Lily, and a strange cat,’

‘So who were the knights you met?’

‘Well, I don’t really know; I couldn’t understand the language, except for a few Latin words. Even then, it didn’t make sense.’ 

‘Describe the knights to me.’

‘Why? What’s the point?’

‘I know some of the knights really well now, at least the ones at the court of King Vortigern.’

‘King what?’

‘King Vortigern, King of the Britons. He took over the South of England when the Romans left. He’s weak, and he’s done some stupid things, asking the Saxons, to help him fight the Picts – got himself and Albion – England that is, in a load to trouble. Anyway, first, describe the knights to me.’

‘Well, one is tall, black hair, well built and wears a black cloak; the other is short, and a gnome I think the knight called him Ansgar.’

‘Sir Devlin, the Black Knight.  You fell in with the elite; Ansgar is a prince of the Lower World, heir to the Kingdom of Irondragarth no less.’

‘And Sir Devlin?’

‘He’s the son of a mighty king, a chieftain from the highlands of the North.’

 ‘Ansgar is in love with Clari; he worships her.’

‘Oh, and what about her?’

‘She’s attracted to him. But she still thinks he’s acting it all out.’

Hmm, you’re going to have to put her right, Tani.  Ansgar is a powerful figure in these times, and Devlin also. No-one would dare cross the Black Knight.’

‘Well, he’s in love with a girl from the forest.

Gary grinned. ‘The knights are always in love with one woman or another. One thing is for certain here, sex plays a major role in court life.’

‘Oh no, I think this is serious; he’s absolutely besotted with her.’

‘The knights all have their fair ladies, who are mostly married.’

‘What d’you mean?’

‘Many women are betrothed at birth these times, or the marriage is arranged. The girl has no say as to who she will marry. She is there to deliver the heirs, and God help her if she disobeys.’

‘But you said they have affairs?’

‘Yes, once they’ve done their duty and delivered an heir and a spare, they are free to have affairs with the knights. The knight must play court to them, to provide the romance and excitement in their lives.’

‘You’re kidding.’

‘No, it’s true. As long as they are very discreet and don’t run away with the lover, the woman is free to dally with any knight that takes her fancy.’

‘Hmm, how romantic, but tragic too.’

‘Yes, so I think we should marry as soon as possible. You are beautiful and will soon catch the eye of an Earl or King.’

‘But you said they all marry at birth, or the marriages are arranged. Surely a King will be married.’

‘Yes, but he will set his wife aside if he wants another woman. It’s done all the time. Read Sir Thomas Mallory. He wrote Le Morte D’Arthur; it was all fiction and written in fourteen hundred and something, centuries after our time here. But you never know, we might end up in the Mallory tales and somewhat change the course of history. However, for us, it’s reality. ’

‘Yes, but is there a King Arthur now?’

‘Don’t know, I’ve heard murmurings of the coming of The Bear, and that’s a sign for Arthur, but you never know. Honestly, after what we’ve been through, I wouldn’t be surprised if Arthur appears wielding Excalibur.’

‘Honestly, don’t joke, Gary.’

‘I’m not, I’m serious; if a knight takes a fancy to you, they are just as likely to carry you off. You would be married within the day.’

‘Well, I would fight it; I’d just refuse.’

‘You wouldn’t have any choice. If you angered a knight or aroused his jealousy, he’s likely to cut your head off. Mallory wrote of it anyway.’

‘Oh, come on.’

‘No, I mean it. No-one will turn a hair to use a pun. So we must tie the knot here and now.’

‘And a knight won’t carry me off then?’

‘Less chance of it, but if he’s completely head over heels in love with you, he could still abduct you. It’s been done. Even a King’s wife isn’t safe. Last year one of the Kings lay siege to another’s fort, determined to steal away the Queen.’

‘So, what happened?’

‘He won, the King was killed, and the other King divorced his wife and married his prize.’

‘I thought you were talking about King Vortigern?’

‘Ah no, there are many kings of this age. There’s the King of Sussex, the King of Thanet, King of Kent; King of Somerset and so on.’

‘Oh, so it doesn’t seem worth marrying, does it?’

‘It’s a safeguard, Tani. Come on, we should marry today.’

‘In all of this, I have not heard you once say you love me. ‘

‘Of course, I love you; I wouldn’t ask you to marry me if I didn’t.’

‘It all seems rather cold to me, Gary. I’ve had the shock of finding you again, alive, but apart from that, you’ve been cold, so matter fact.’

‘Look, I love you; I’ve missed you, gone half crazy at the thought of never seeing you again.’

‘Show me. I want to feel your love.’

He grinned and grabbed her, his tongue exploring hers. She tugged at his hair as his tongue explored her lissom body.

She cried out, clinging to him, her full breasts hard against his muscled chest.

‘God Tani, I love you, every inch of you. Marry me, Tani, marry me.’ As his hands tugged at her top, she shuddered as his hands lifted her skirt, she gasped. ‘Yes, – yes.’

Chapter 30


Devlin gazed down at Forestyne, the fires in the eyes of the wolf now the fathomless waters of midnight, her sweet tender breasts quivering. Bending his head to her, he tentatively took her lips, aware that within the gentle depths lurked the savage. Gently he pressed down, easing that glorious mouth to open, to accept him. He groaned as her sweetness enveloped him, enticing him deeper. His hand found the soft full breast, larger than he anticipated inflaming him.

He heaved his body off her, whispering, ‘you are a virgin, and you must wait for your husband to be.’

She panted, clawing his hips, drawing him to her.  ‘You said you loved me, wanted to marry me, then marry me now.’

He moaned; his body, his heart, his mind all rose as one as he lifted her off him and then re-mounted her writhing body. Grunting with desire, he took them to a star-filled universe.

He gathered her to him, kissing the long sunlit waves covering them both, feeling her limbs quivering. Stroking a stray curl from her pale forehead, he whispered. ‘So, will you marry me?’

She smiled slowly, ‘yes, I will, Devlin. I will.’

He grinned, kissing those swollen lips. ‘Then tis done. We plighted our troth and are as one.’

‘Oh, Devlin, my lord, my husband.’

‘Aye, so when—’

He gasped, pulling away as two ravens screeched above them. He looked up to see the squirrel scrambling down the rough bark of the tree to their side. 

Forestyne leapt to her feet. Running, she cried out, ‘Moraig – Moraig.’

Within seconds, he followed, keeping pace as she flew down the track and into the clearing before the hut. To his surprise, Drustan and Bricius appeared, their faces grim.

Leaping into the hut, Forestyne went to Moraig, who sat up, her back straight, her arms reaching out to her.

‘Child, my sweet child.’

Forestyne felt warm arms enfold her, holding her close; she heard her stepmother’s heart beating strongly. Raising her head, she looked into the dark eyes. ‘You live –Tis not your wraith I hold?’

‘Nay child, Lord Squirrel bore a message sent by the Divine Eagle from the top of the World Tree.’

Forestyne waited, hardly daring to breathe, as Moraig said, ‘The Goddess Arianrhod declared there is need of me here on Middle Earth. People whisper of the Sign of the Bear. With it, there comes a time of great wars, a time when our fair Albion sinks beneath the waves of wrath. Devlin knelt beside Forestyne, speaking softly. ‘War? Albion? Besieged?’ Moraig turned her head to him. ‘You are needed, Sir Knight. Go you now, and take Forestyne with you. She and her wolves are worthy warriors.’

Forestyne cried out, ‘Nay, mother, I will stay with you, I cannot leave you alone, who will protect you?

Drustan spoke, from the entrance, his voice deep and calm. ‘The ravens spoke to us not minutes ago; they bade us come here to receive the news. Fear, not Forestyne, we will protect Moraig, the tree people look after their own. We shall keep back nine wolves, and the rest will be with you.’ Moraig took Forestyne’s hand. ‘Help me up. I have something for you both.’


No part of this book may be stored, reproduced, or transmitted in any form or by any means without the express permission of the author.

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

Other Chapters

Don’t worry if you miss any chapters, since you will find links to other posted chapters here:

All Available Chapters!

Maid of the Forest: Chapters 27 & 28

Maid of the Forest: Chapters 27 & 28

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.

Other Chapters

Don’t worry if you miss any chapters, since you will find links to other posted chapters here:

All Available Chapters!

Maid of the Forest – Forestyne: Chapters 27 & 28

Chapter 27

A Hidden Bower

She gritted her teeth as Gary led her through a coppice of silver birch trees, their slender lower boughs laced in luminescent leaves of the palest green. Tania paused, noting their utter delicacy as they appeared to float above the bed of the forest.

Taking off his cloak, Gary laid it over the grass.  ‘Come sit with me.’

Snapping to attention, Tania glared at him. ‘Who was that guy you were arguing with?’

‘Him? Lord Hunstead, son of the Earl of Westington.  I am escorting him to the Court of King Vortigern.’

‘Oh, for goodness sake, Gary, stop this and talk sense. You left me without a word – six months. Why – why? You broke my heart.’ 

Reaching for her, he tried to enfold her in his arms, but she sprung back, pushing him away. ‘Just talk – okay?’

He nodded. ‘Tani’ I got stuck in a time portal.  It happened so—’

‘Time portal?’ she lifted her eyes up to her forehead, ‘come off it, Gary. Don’t play games with me – how dare you.’

‘Tani, if you remember, I went to the cottage to measure up; we had a lot of renovating to do. So anyway, I decided I might as well check out the foundations first. I thought maybe we needed to fortify them before starting on the cottage itself.’

She bit her lip as he paused but said nothing.

‘Well, there were a lot more cellars than I thought. They were full of old carved chests, ancient armour, and weaponry.  It was fascinating, but then strange things started happening, the walls changed in height, the arches suddenly grew smaller, it was weird. I thought maybe it was the light, it was so murky down there, or maybe I’d got mixed up with them.’

Tania leant forward and clutched his hand. ‘It happened to us, too – go on.’

‘Anyway, I suddenly discovered what could have been the foundations of an old castle. I remembered the old stone wall by the pond, so I investigated and found they matched.

She frowned. ‘Tegwen never said anything about that.’

‘I know, but anyway, I went and got a spade and dug deep. I found traces of petrified wood planking about a foot down, leading to the cellars. They looked like the remains of an old wooden building.’ 

‘We didn’t see that, but I’m interrupting; carry on.’ Tania shivered; it was frightening; icicles crept over her skin.

‘I realized the old well was part of the cellar and the foundations. In fact, that well was part of an old privy, centuries old. It was as if stone walls were built on top of a great wooden hall or a fort, in a wood going back through time.’

‘So it was ancient – the dark ages?’ Tania frowned. ‘No, it couldn’t; the cottage was a few hundred years old, but not that kind of time.’

‘Could be, you know, maybe there’s always been a building there.’

’Hmm, it was a bit different for us. So what happened?’

‘I opted to check it out and discovered tunnels again.’ He paused.

Tania stiffened, ‘Oh my God you—’

‘I opened a small door to another tunnel when a gush of water slammed at me, and it all went black. I must have passed out or nearly drowned. I don’t know.’

‘That’s what happened to us.’

‘Really?’ He grimaced. ‘The next thing I knew, I was drowning. I heaved myself to the surface and kicked out swimming for the bank. I realized I was in the pond. But it was all changed; the trees, the bushes, were different; the water was so clear, there was no scum or moss on the surface. I just didn’t recognize where I was. Anyway, I managed to get out.  I looked around for the cottage, but couldn’t find it.   I doubled back and walked the other way, thinking I would get to the village, but it just didn’t exist, just this dense forest.’

Tania choked and grabbed him by the shoulders, laying her head on his chest. ‘Oh, Gary – Gary.’

He gripped her hand. ‘I was bloody petrified – thought I’d gone mad or was in some nightmare. After following this track for about half an hour, I met up with some people. I thought I’d wandered in on some film set. People were dressed in peasant clothes. You know, woolen tunics, barefooted with wild hair. I tried to talk to this guy, but he just spoke a load of gibberish.’

Tania gritted her teeth. ‘We thought it was a re-enactment camp. Anyway, go on.’

‘Where was I? Yeah, this guy, I told him I was serious. Pleaded with him to talk sense, but he kept on speaking garbage; I thought he was bloody rude or baiting me. So, I just lost it – punched him. He landed on his back, and I was just about to jump on him when the others grabbed my arms, and then they all started gabbling rubbish. Then they all backed away, and it was then I realized they were petrified of me. A couple of them pointed to my clothes.’ He paused, ‘Look, I’m doing all the talking here. What happened to you?’

She paused and bit her lip. Why didn’t Gary tell her he loved her? She wanted him to hold her close, kiss her, tell her he’d missed her. Where was his love, his passion? Tania lowered her eyes; maybe he needed just to tell her all that happened, before – before he showed her love – remorse. ‘No, carry on, then I’ll tell you what happened to us.’

He rose and paced the ground, his expression grim. Seeing the roots of an old birch straggling the path, he picked at it with his boot. ‘I couldn’t make any sense of them, so I thought maybe they were Danes or Swedes come over here to shoot a film. So I just left and followed the track. Anyway, I came across an old shack. I was surprised to see chickens and an old black pig snuffling around. I didn’t realize it was a boar then.’

‘Boars? I haven’t seen them, thank God.’

‘I thought maybe it was a woodsman’s hut.  There wasn’t a door, just a piece of sackcloth strung across. I called out, and an old guy came out with his wife hiding behind him. But they were also dressed up as peasants, so I thought maybe the film set was strung out over the forest.

 ‘Oh, God, you must have felt terrible.’

‘Yeah, but I also thought I was hallucinating. There was no other explanation. The whole place had changed, no cottages, villages, farms, just this dense forest. Then I heard the wolves howling.’

By now, Tania felt the tears brimming; she’d misjudged him. Maybe he was telling the truth. This wasn’t real, but she reached out to him and held his hand, only for him to take it away.

Feeling hurt, she moved back some paces. ‘It was almost the same for us. We met people right away, but they thought we were witches.  They didn’t understand us either.’ She told him of their capture and the viciousness of the Picts. She described the beheadings and how they believed the re-enactment group was a vicious cult. 

As she finished, her whole body trembled.  ‘We still haven’t found a village or even a farm or met anyone who’s not acting out.  The cult seems to have taken over the whole forest. It’s been terrifying. You’re the first normal person we’ve met. Oh, Gary, I need to go home.’

Gary shook his head. ‘Tania, you’ve got to brace yourself. There’s no re-enactment, no film set, no actors; this is for real. We’ve gone back in time.’

Tani jumped to her feet. ‘No, oh please, God, no.’

‘Yes, Tania, face it. This is real. You – me, the knights. The wolves, boars, and the bears live wild in the forest.’

Tania froze as she stood, clenching her hands, her voice trembling.  ‘I can’t believe it. It’s impossible. Oh my God, you’re mad, Gary, you’re mad. Or I am.’ 

Chapter 28

The Silver Grey

Devlin looked on, amazed as the huge silver grey leapt past him with the wolves following. Fear roared through his veins. God in heaven, she was the silver-grey who saved his life. Clenching his teeth, he let forth a mighty roar and sprinted after them, his sword swinging from left to right as he cleaved the Picts heads from their blue-painted bodies. Covered in blood, he wiped his forehead to see the wolves leaping ahead, ripping out throats, tearing flesh from limbs, as the fleeing Picts tried to escape.  Seeing the huge silver-grey shaking the body of a Pict in her treacherous jaws, Devlin gritted his teeth as an arc of bloodshot across his face. Yelling, he raced forward, as two Picts crept behind her, their axes swinging high. Hearing his cry, she turned around, taking off the arm of one of her assailants in one tearing chomp of her jaws. Another attacker fell back writhing on the ground, his leg hanging by bloodied sinews.  Advancing, with sword aloft, Devlin saw another pack of wolves emerge from the trees, plunging into the midst of the shrieking savages, biting and tearing amidst the agonized screams of their victims. 

Except for the groans of dying attackers, the forest returned to silence. Invigorated but still shocked, Devlin stood stock still as the big grey loped towards him and, bending its mighty head, nudged his waist affectionately. Another two stood to one side, pawing the ground whilst the rest of the pack disappeared into the trees.

Frenzied thoughts reeled through his head as Devlin bent to stroke the silver fur.  What in hell’s name happened there?  His heart hammered as the fur crackled beneath his touch. The wolf’s body shimmered, stretching, narrowing, changing, the fur melting, as the young lissom body of Forestyne appeared. He stepped back as her sweet voice issued forth. ‘Devlin, I never intend for you to witness this. But we were all in danger, and I would not allow them to desecrate the body of my beloved mother.’

He nodded, horror entrenched in his face. ‘I hope to wake up from this to realize it is a nightmare.’

‘Nay, you saw true Devlin. I understand if you wish to depart henceforth and never return.’

He bared his own teeth. ‘And just how do I do that when I am in love with you? When I wish to make you my wife? I intended to take you to the royal court, but now I fear I love a demon.’

She bowed her head, biting her lip; with small white teeth. ‘I cannot change Devlin. If anyone threatens my loved ones, I am compelled to take on one of my souls – the wolf.’

He looked at her with a piercing gaze. ‘And pray, what are the other souls?’

‘I have no wish to answer that; like enough, your human mind can only accept the wolf.’

‘So now we must dispose of the bodies of the Picts?’

She lifted her chin, ‘They are the captured prey of the wolves. We must leave.’

Devlin swept over the battleground to see the wolves tearing at the bodies and shook his head. How could he ignore the bestial side of this woman? Indeed he’d heard of demon lovers but put that down to pure fantasy. Now it was his living hell, his reality. He cringed at her words, knowing full well the wolves would devour their enemies. He heard a soft sob and turned to see her standing with head lowered.

‘My lord, I am all that you see and have seen; I understand if you can no longer wish to touch me, that your love died here in the jaws of the wolf.’

‘Forestyne, they say love conquers all, and maybe it will now be tested. I need time.’

She nodded. ‘I understand. Every time you kiss me, you will feel my fangs; as you stroke my skin, you will feel the fur. Pray leave us now, for it breaks my heart to see your rejection.’ 

He took a breath, gazing at her standing before him; her head hung low, her sweet face laced in misery. As the tears sparkled on her soft cheeks, he muttered, ‘Please don’t, don’t. I cannot bear to see the tears of a woman.  It tears at my heart, especially one whom I do so love with all my heart.’

‘You mean loved.’

‘Nay, love does not die in an instant. My head says I should reject you here and now, that I should despise the savagery of the wolf within you, but my heart will not listen; it sobs for you, for the love I yearned for.’

‘You say yearned as if it is in the past.’

‘Nay, just give me time, Forestyne – I need time.’

‘Love does not know time Devlin, feelings cannot be timed; there is no appointed time for true love.’ She paused, looking beyond him. He swung around to see Drustan and Bricius retreat silently through the trees. Delvin frowned; he could not comprehend how two such men, one crippled with age and the other with malformed bones, could turn into such lithe, treacherous wolves.

He turned to see Forestyne enter the hut. How did she cross such a distance? Indeed more and more, he saw the magic of this maid, one he thought to be a delicate sprite, now an angel and demon in one. He wished Ansgar was here; he longed to hear his dry remarks, his devotion to the ancient gods. He needed reassurance. What was clear was he could no longer question or chafe against the existence of the pagan gods of the tree people or his own Christian God brought to these isles from Rome.

Swiftly he covered the distance to the hut, and, pushing aside the sackcloth, went to Forestyne’s side. For now, he must centre his thoughts on the dying sorceress.  ‘How could she sleep through such a furious battle?’

Forestyne didn’t look at him as she answered in low soft tones. ‘Tis the mandrake and the henbane, they ensure she will have peace and be unaware of what is going on around her. If we lost the battle, the ravens would have taken her soul to the Upper World.’

‘But what of her body?’

‘Her body is ever one with the trees; she would melt into them, feeding nature.’

Devlin shivered; he far preferred St. Peter welcoming him through the golden gates of heaven. He frowned, was there a choice? He decided to spend more time praying and contemplating the Blessed Virgin. Maybe she would appear to him and his fellow knights as they went into battle against the Angles, Saxons, and the Picts.

Forestyne sighed, breaking through his thoughts. ‘We must not disturb her journey of dreams. ‘Come, let us walk awhile through the fields; sadly, the forest is no longer a haven of peace.’

Taking his hand, she led him down a path bestrewn with the gold-red leaves of winter.  Walking through a meadow of wild scented flowers, she murmured, ‘Let us rest and enjoy the sun, for full winter will soon be upon us.

Devlin nodded, and taking off his cape, laid it on the grasses. As he turned, he looked up to see spiraling silver lights on her golden hair, the slenderness of her figure with the high lifted breasts. He felt he would drown in such loveliness. At that moment, he realized he still loved her, with even more passion. It was not lust for her body but longing for her soul. Even though he witnessed the animal in her, the wolf’s fierce devotion to those it loved, he loved her. Even more so, as he tried to grasp the depth of this woman, tried to accept the savage soul abiding within such a tender one. A thought, a reasoning exploded in his mind, would he not kill for his beloved? Maybe not with fangs, but with a sword? The idea surprised and settled his mind. Yes, they were two warriors, one a female silver-grey wolf with fangs, he an avenging knight clothed in a black cape carrying a lethal sword.

As she lay down beside him on the cloak, he murmured. ‘I am in love with you, Forestyne, mind, body, and soul.’

She said nothing but gripped his hand.

Encouraged, he said, ‘let me show you, my love, no holding back. Indeed the revelation aroused the deepest feelings within me. You have forced me to search for my soul, to accept my heart, which does not listen to reason. Forestyne, if in your wolf form you were injured, I would nurture you back to health, praying you would not leave me, that you would not die.  So I know now I love all facets of you. Woman and wolf, for in my eyes, you are one whole woman, the woman I love.’

He heard a quiet sob and felt her soft lips on his. Kissing him gently, she murmured. ‘Then I am yours, my love, yours for eternity.’

As he held her close, the very thought of this tender maiden with the skin of silk and the savagery of the wolf aroused him to the torturing heights. He needed to taste her mouth, dive deep into her barbaric depths, to release his torturing needs; to accept and love the wild beast within this gentle maiden.


No part of this book may be stored, reproduced, or transmitted in any form or by any means without the express permission of the author.

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

Other Chapters

Don’t worry if you miss any chapters, since you will find links to other posted chapters here:

All Available Chapters!

Maid of the Forest: Chapters 25 & 26

Maid of the Forest: Chapters 25 & 26

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.

Other Chapters

Don’t worry if you miss any chapters, since you will find links to other posted chapters here:

All Available Chapters!

Maid of the Forest – Forestyne: Chapters 25 & 26

Chapter 25

A Heart in Anguish

Clara looked to see a group of knights emerging from the trees to form a semi-circle around the bear. One of them threw a spear, landing just by the bear’s feet. It was apparent they did not intend to harm the animal, as they encouraged him to leave speedily. Giving a thunderous bellow, the bear looked at the knights raising their spears and their horses tamping the ground and neighing. Falling to all fours, she shook her great head, snorting defiantly, and ran.

Ansgar, a huge smile on his broad face, lifted a hand to Clara. At least he didn’t look furious as he guided his destrier towards the tree, and in one sweep of his muscled arms, lifted Clara onto it. One of the knights pushed past him looking up at Tania. Holding up his arms, he spoke in Latin, ‘tis safe now, pray descend my lady.’

Not understanding his speech, Tania allowed him to grasp her limbs and lifted her to safety. She kissed her rescuer on the cheek and ran over to Lily, who jumped up at her in delight.  ‘Thank God, thank God you are safe.’ As she spoke, she looked up to see a couple of the knights looking on.   She had to make them understand the game was over. She needed to go home, needed to leave all this madness behind her.  She called up to Clara, now safely ensconced in Ansgar’s lap. ‘They’ve got to start speaking English to us, Clari. This has gone beyond.

One of the knights bowed to Tania offering his hand to help her up on the horse, but she shook her head. ‘Look, this has gone far enough; I don’t know what is happening, but we want out; we’re not part of any games.’

‘Yes, we’ve got nothing to do with re-enactments. Just cut out the Latin and listen to us.’ Clara said, presuming they were pretending not to understand her. ‘Please just take us to the nearest village or town, and we can find our own way back then.’

Swiftly, Tania’s rescuer rode up and caught her up in his arms, carrying her to his destrier. Kicking, she beat on his chainmail chest, crying to Lily to follow. It was no use fighting; these men had iron muscles clad in chainmail. She realized there was no point in trying to talk; they were determined to keep the play going.  As they turned on to a larger well-worn track through dense woods, they were hailed by another group of knights. Tania frowned; there were so many armoured knights with what she presumed to be squires and guards. It took a definitely large organization to stage such a vast re-enactment. Ahead, one of the knights shouted, galloping forward, waving his arm aloft.  As he approached, he lifted his helmet, yelling, ‘Tania – Tani.’

She knew that voice, but it couldn’t be; what on earth was going on? As the knight drew nearer, her heart almost leapt from her chest. No, no, it wasn’t possible. Was it some cruel trick?

He leapt from his horse and ran towards her. ‘Tania. Thank God – thank God.’

Stricken, Tania’s voice trembled, ‘Gary? Gary?’

‘Yes, it’s me.’ She saw the huge smile, tears falling from those dear grey eyes. Coming alongside, he reached over and held out his arms. The knight holding her grinned and lifted her over to him.  Safe within Gary’s arms, she tried to talk but found her mouth dry, her lips numb.

‘But where – where have you been?’ Fury raced through her body, causing her to shake.  ‘Don’t grin, you left me, you just left, you bastard.’

‘No – no, sweetheart, I—’

‘All these months, I thought you’d deserted me. I thought you were dead.’

‘Let me explain—’

‘You don’t have to explain anything, you piece of shit – you bastard.’

A couple of the knights chortled, others clapping their gloved hands as they caught the gist of her words, her rage.

‘I nearly died,’ she cried, thumping his chest. ‘I had a car accident, fought for my life in hospital, and mourned you.’ She glared at him, hitting him again. ‘All the time you’ve been playing silly games.  I’ll never forgive you – never. Let me down. I’d rather walk. I hate you – hate you.’

‘No, you don’t. Listen, Tania, you’re mixed up; I don’t blame you—’

‘Blame me? You should be shot; just let me down now.’

She tried to swing her legs over, struggling against his muscled body, the chain mail scraping her skin.’

‘Don’t – don’t sweetheart. Look calm down, let me ex—‘

‘Calm down? You miserable bugger. Just let me go.’  Yet beneath her rage, her heart was breaking. She’d trusted him; how could she have misjudged him? How could he desert her to play games? She swung around, trying to land a punch on his jaw but missed.

Seeing his horse become anxious, he reined it in. ‘Steady – steady Rameses – steady.’

‘Rameses? What’s this all about? I didn’t know you rode. You never told me?’

‘I didn’t; it was a necessity.  Look, Tania, I’m going to stop here; I’ll pick a spot in the trees where we can sit. We can talk.’

‘I don’t want to talk to you. There’s nothing to say. You left me – left me alone. Who is she – eh? Tell me, who is she?’


‘Don’t be clever with me. Where did you meet her? How long has it been going on?’

‘There’s no-one else, never will be, you’re the only one for me; for life.’

‘Oh, I see, for life? That’s why you left me? Don’t be so bloody stupid. Who is she?’This other woman?

‘Just be quiet for a minute. I need to speak to the Commander.’

‘Commander, stop it, stop this stupid game. If you have any decency left in you, you’ll let me go, or take me to the nearest bus stop.’

Taking no notice of her angry words, Gary rode to the group’s head and, reining in his horse, saluted a grand figure dressed in chainmail with a velvet Capernaum. He spoke in Latin or some version of it. From his voice and gestures, Tania understood that Gary was remonstrating with this so-called leader.  The Commander raised his arm, stopping the cavalcade of horses and knights with their retinues.  He listened patiently as Gary explained his dilemma.

Nodding and answering, he raised his arm, waving the train of knights on, leaving Gary to stand to one side.

Seeing she would be separated from her friend, Clara cried out, ‘Tani, don’t leave me please. Refuse – whatever he says, refuse. Don’t leave me.’

Tani shouted back. ‘I will catch you up, Clari, I promise. We just need to sort things out.’ She paused, muttering under her breath. ‘Before I kill him.’  

Watching the troupe disappearing down the winding track, Gary turned to Tania, and catching her chin, kissed her firmly, his lips hard on hers. ‘Don’t say another word until I have told you all.’ He took her hands, gazing into her eyes.

‘You expect me to be silent, shut up, whilst you talk? Well, you’ve got another thing coming.’ Raising her fist, she punched him on the chest only to cringe as the chain mail scraped her skin. ‘Ouch – that hurt.’ She exclaimed, sucking her knuckles’.

Gary watched her, his eyes full of remorse. ‘Darling, if you won’t let me speak, then I will have to gag you.’

‘You wouldn’t – you wouldn’t dare.’ 

‘I would; I know you are heartbroken, but let me explain.’ Searching her face, he murmured, ‘So which is it? You listen, or I’ll gag you?’

She grimaced, realizing he meant it, and he was strong enough to do it.  ‘Alright – I’ll listen to you – you bastard.’

Chapter 26


Devlin felt his skin grow cold. Had Forestyne been at the battle, was she the wolf that saved his life, the wolf that tore off the heads of the Picts? No, it wasn’t possible. She was no sorceress; she was too young, too sweet. If anything, she was a sprite, a sweet water fairy. Her stepmother was a sorceress, but this young girl was an innocent. He must insist she leave with him. ‘Pray Lady, tis a sorrowful time for you, and if I can be of any assistance, please—’

‘There is naught you can do fair Knight, but I thank you for your charity. Old Drustan, the man I care for, helped me prepare my mother’s resting place. Twas easy enough anyway, for we have a natural burial.’

‘Really?’ Pray, what is that?’

‘We came from the trees and to the trees we return. We will ensure one of my mother’s souls will enrich the tree. So we will place her within the belly of the trunk or at its roots.’

Devlin shivered. He’d heard of the ways of the tree people with four souls but never paid it much attention. It was a myth, known in ancient times when monsters and giant dragons roamed the earth.

Noting his consternation, Forestyne continued. ‘With the grace of the Spider Goddess Arianrhod, her spirit soul will journey to the Upper World.’

‘The Spider Goddess?’ Devlin’s skin grew cold. Trying to hide his shudder, he said, ‘You still worship her?’

‘Yes. But when it is time, I hope you will help Old Drustan in bearing my mother’s body to the Yew Tree. The Spider Goddess may deign to make an appearance, as Moraig is a renowned sorceress throughout the three worlds.’

Hiding his horror at the thought of meeting the fearsome spider, Devlin bowed. ‘Certainly my lady, I am honoured’ He wondered why there were no humans present to celebrate the sorceress’s journey to the Upper World.

Forestyne murmured. ‘The rites will be carried out as soon as my mother breathes her last breath. The tree people will stand guard until the new dawn.’ 

‘So you have informed them already?’

‘Oh no, the squirrels and the ravens will do that; they are the messengers and psychopomps who will guide her to the Upper World.’

Devlin nodded uneasily, hoping one of God’s angels was not nearby, to hear his traitorous agreement to such heresy.

‘Have you broken your fast this day, Sir?’

Devlin shook his head. ‘Nay, we have ridden hard to be with you.’

‘Then follow me; I have cooked barley, oats, and special herbs to revive you and your henchman.’

Calling to the guard, Devlin followed her to the side of the hut, where a cauldron hung over a small fire banked with stones.

As they ate, Devlin found the breakfast food as tasty as the meal of the previous day. ‘I must say this is quite delicious.’

‘Tis plain, but wholesome food, my good sir.’ Forestyne’s smile dimpled, lifting the sadness in her beautiful eyes. Yet she did not share the food, just sipping some fresh water from a wooden goblet.

As he finished the meal, an aged man with wild grey hair emerged from the forest, his gnarled face as solemn as the occasion.  He held an old carved stick as he hobbled forward on bony bent legs; his dark brown tunic tattered around the hem. His elderly son followed, stronger in stature, with a barrelled chest, limping from malformed bones in his legs. His whole body leant perilously to one side with each step.

‘Welcome, Drustan and Bricius; come eat; there is plenty left.’

Bricius beamed, taking one of the bowls. ‘Eee … thankee girl, me belly fair growls with hunger. 

‘Now pray excuse me, I must tend to Moraig.’

As Forestyne approached the simple hut, she heard two ravens’ caws as they flew over her head. Alighting at the door, they talked to her in rasping voices.  ‘Tis time, the Eternal Shadow awaits our beloved Moraig, the Great Sorceress of the three worlds.’

 Forestyne bowed reverently, feeling her heart flip as the squirrel appeared, peeking around the sackcloth.  Chittering, it said, ‘fear not, for I gave the message to the Great Eagle at the top of the World Tree. Tis time for me to lead her to the Upper World.

Nodding, Forestyne wiped the tears from her cheek, feeling Devlin’s strong hand take hers and lead her into the hut. Looking up into his eyes, she managed a slight nod before walking to the still form of Moraig. Bending, she listened for her breath, but there was nothing, not even the softest sigh.  Going to the cupboard, she took out a brush, clearing a path for her dead mother’s spirit form, to walk through the rushes. The two ravens flew up to Moraig to stand either side of her, whilst the squirrel leapt upon her still bosom.

Bowing, Forestyne took Devlin’s hand and led him from the hut. Walking nine paces away, she stood before the doorway; she began chanting, urging her mother on her great journey. Drustan and Bricius joined in, their deep tones blending with her mellow notes.

Fairest mother, to you I sing,

I bring you news of those who will guide you through the muse of death.

Who will fly with you through the Eternal Shadow

Open the doors of time, leaving it behind you.

For now, you enter Eternity.

Listen closely to lord Squirrel.

Follow him through the mists of The World Tree, 

Fly with the ravens to the great Eagle,

Discover the glory of the Upper World


Your soul is free,

To meet your Destiny.

She turned to look at Devlin, then Drustan and Bricius, ‘Tis time to serve her.’

Drustan and Bricius nodded, but Devlin frowned. ‘What did she mean?’

Seeing his confusion, she said, ‘I must collect fresh rosemary to surround our humble home. It refreshes the soul on its final journey.’

As she stepped to the edge of the trees, she turned, her nose twitching. ‘I smell humans – evil – danger.’

Catching a glimpse of a naked painted body gliding stealthily through the trees, Devlin grabbed his sword from its scabbard and leapt forward, pushing her towards Drustan and Bricius. ‘‘Picts – Picts – take her, Run – run for your lives.’

Howling at the top of her voice, Forestyne thrust him away, then, moving in a blur, disappeared into the hut. Once inside, she mouthed an incantation, immediately feeling her body on fire, her skin bristling.

Hearing gasps and soft growls, Devlin stepped towards the sackcloth and pulled it aside. He bellowed in horror as he saw a naked Forestyne morphing before him, her skin stretching, melting, patches of silver-grey fur sprouting. He saw fire flaring in her eyes as her mouth stretched, cracking open to reveal crimson jaws, her teeth growing into vicious incisors. His heart almost burst from his chest as he lifted his sword, ready to slay this vision from hell when a pack of wolves appeared. One leapt, its jaws clamping on his arm, as the others encircled him, their black lips lifting in snarls, the vicious fangs jutting from slavering jaws. He swallowed hard; how many could he kill before those fangs ripped him apart?


No part of this book may be stored, reproduced, or transmitted in any form or by any means without the express permission of the author.

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

Other Chapters

Don’t worry if you miss any chapters, since you will find links to other posted chapters here:

All Available Chapters!

Maid of the Forest: Chapters 23 & 24

Maid of the Forest: Chapters 23 & 24

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.

Other Chapters

Don’t worry if you miss any chapters, since you will find links to other posted chapters here:

All Available Chapters!

Maid of the Forest – Forestyne: Chapters 23 & 24

Chapter 23

Blessed Daughter

Adreva gasped and then clapped her hands. ‘The amulet, Moraig kept it all these years. It is powerful magic, my child, and has protected you all these years. Oh, that your blessed father could be with us, could see you. You are our first and only child. ‘

Forestyne cleared her throat, ‘For years, I believed Moraig to be my mother. T’was only some weeks, some days ago she revealed the truth of you. I always felt something was wrong, that—’ She choked, the tears tumbling down her cheeks’

Adreva leant over, taking her in her arms, ‘Moraig raised you well; I was forced to give you into her safekeeping. Vortigern slew many of the knights and ladies at the royal court, then … then killed your father.  Vortigern knew not of you, for we hid you well, in a crypt no less. No-one would think of searching the tombs.’

‘Moraig told me my father’s name was Cadeyrn.’

‘Yes, our Welsh King Cadeyrn, of Llandmadoc and the lands for many miles around. We named you after the charming coastal land lands of Rhosilli, our beautiful lovely Rhoslyn, our daughter.  He loved you so much, my darling and had great plans for you.’

Forestyne looked over to Devlin, ‘Mother, I don’t really know how to address you.’

‘Mama would sound heavenly coming from your precious lips. Just to think, after all these years, I hold my child in my arms. How I longed for you, Rhoslyn, all the days, the weeks, the years, you never left my mind or my heart.’

Forestyne frowned. ‘And Vortigern?’

‘He is kind to me. I did not, and could not love him. He came to realize that, but he has been good and kind to me except for his terrible jealousy. No knight may gaze upon me except to bid me a good day or good night. No man is allowed to talk with me.’

‘Have you any children?’

‘No, my love, I did not submit to him; I threatened him; I would take my life if he forced himself upon me. I bade him take a mistress for, until my dying day, I am wife to Cadeyrn, in life, and in death, there could be no other man for me. I lived only in the hope to see you again, to cuddle you and love you.’

‘Forestyne sobbed, holding her mother, whilst Devlin gulped, holding back his own tears.

As she tried to recover, tried to talk, Forestyne took Adreva’s hand, stroking the delicate fingers with tender love. ‘Mama, I have something to tell you.’

Adreva leant forward. ‘Take your time, sweetheart.’ She reached over and took off Forestyne’s wimple. ‘Let me stroke your hair, I oft have longed to do that, so many things I dreamt of, so many things I missed. But thank God I have you here now.’

Forestyne fumbled for the word. ‘Umm … Sir Devlin is my husband; we wed only five days ago, just before we traveled here.’

Adreva raised her hands in surprise, joy flooding her face. ‘Oh my darling, such news, I often dreamt of what your future husband would look like, and indeed you art fortunate, he is strong of mien and fair of face.’

Devlin’s heart raced as he came forward and knelt before her. ‘My Lady, I am forever in your debt for your grace.  I am proud to be the husband of your daughter, Princess Rhoslyn. I will do all in my power to protect her.’

‘Hah, how I wish you could take your place beside her as King of Llanmadoc but alas tis now in Vortigern’s power.  

Devlin took his sword from the scabbard and held it up before her. ‘Madam, my queen, I swear by the sword, in this chapel, this sacred abode, your daughter will take her rightful place on the throne of Llandmadoc. This is my undying vow.’

Adreva’s voice broke as she softly. ‘Pray God and the goddess, you sit beside her dear Sir Devlin, as her rightful husband and King.

Devlin smiled, so the Queen held to her pagan ways, which he knew would warm Forestyne’s heart.

Looking to Forestyne, Adreva said, ‘I know not how long we can talk here safely, so I will ask this, do you carry the power of the wolf?’

Forestyne’s eyes shone. ‘Yes, as a babe, I drank the milk of she-wolves. Moraig went through the initiation rites when I reached two and ten years.

Adreva smiled, patting her hand. ‘She kept her promise, for the blood of the wolves runs deep in our veins. See, the hounds are at ease with you. Normally, I would have to put my scent on you before they would allow you entrance. Oh my darling, how proud your father would be.  I truly believe he is now looking down upon you from the Upper World.’ A strong breeze swept through the small chapel as outside wolves howled in unison.

Devlin felt the hair on his neck rise. Being brought up in a northern king’s court, he had little knowledge of the magic and wizardry of pagan gods. He looked over to Forestyne as she raised her head, literally sniffing the air; she had a wild soul; would she feel trapped living in a fortress? 

Adreva sighed, ‘Ah, my daughter, if only we were free to roam with our kindred souls, to release our spirit of the wolf and race across the world.’

Forestyne nodded, ‘One day, Devlin will release you from this prison of cruelty, this prison of vice and lies. Together we can roam through forests, run through meadows of long grass and sweetly scented flowers, and delight in baying at a racing moon.’

 Devlin laughed, ‘I doubt I could keep up with you gentle ladies even with my faithful destrier.’

Adreva beamed. ‘Tis a wolf thing –but we soon return to our human bodies.’ She paused, frowning. ‘But now to a matter of life and death. Vortigern must never know you are my daughter, the lost princess; you would be in mortal danger.’

Forestyne nodded. ‘I am known to the knights as Forestyne, so he will not connect me.

‘Good; at the banquet to be held this night, I shall not acknowledge you. As you are so beautiful, the King may well summon you to the High Table.’  She turned to Devlin. ‘You must make sure you do not leave her alone. The knights carouse long into the night, but linger not with them, for the King is so lascivious he will surely steal along to your bed chamber whilst you drink with your knights.


As Forestyne struggled, she felt the blood rise to her head, a rush of warmth in her stomach, heat surge to her thighs.  Overcome with the strength of her desire, she melted against him.

Feeling her respond, he clasped the back of her head in his large hand as he kissed her tenderly; he heard her soft moan as she slumped against him. Lifting her easily, he strode to the trees, laying her down on green grass amongst the rainbow hues of wildflowers.

Her breath came fast and tight, as desire sizzled, tensing her muscles; was this magic? Was he casting a spell on her? Wrenching her head away from his captivating mouth, she gasped, ‘You have enchanted me.’

Groaning, he released her, laying his head on her panting breasts. ‘I want you, I cannot stop thinking of you; you invade my days and my dreams, when I awake when I dream tis always of you. Forgive me. My need is mighty, quarreling with my will.’

‘Then fight it, Sir Knight and release me, my mother lies sick – now tis, not the time or place. I cannot respond to your passion, not now, not yet.’ She stroked his rough waves of black hair, now soaking with desire. Sensing his hunger for her, she shifted beneath him. ‘Release me, Sir, release me.’

Gently, he lifted his weight from her and helped her to her feet.’

‘Let me love you Forestyne, I beg your tender heart to relent. I pray you to take away this pain, my love is so I can hardly bear it.’

‘Sir, just leave if you cannot rein in your craving. You are like a wild stallion.  Have you no thought of my distress? Tis, not the time nor place. My dearest mother is not long for this world, even as I pray for her not to leave me.’

‘Forgive me, I am driven by such wild desire; it fills me with shame that I added to your sorrow. Pray, forgive me. But remember this,  I will never leave you, sweet lady, how can I?   You have imprisoned my heart to you for all eternity.’

Bowing, he strode away; he had to control his passions. Fiends teeth, he’d behaved like a rabid dog. He must think. Clearly, she was prey to the invaders’ brutality who could overrun this small clearing in minutes. He dare not leave her alone again. Somehow he must persuade her to flee with him.

Taking a deep breath, he fought to quell his longing before returning to her.

Determined to persuade her, he sat leaning against the side of the hut. He’d exhausted every idea. He felt a shadow fall across him, her sweet scent of lavender wafting over him. Looking up, he saw she held out a wooden cup.  ‘Come, Sir, drink this; you have ridden hard throughout the night. This will help revive you.’  She did not add it would also deaden his lustful urges.

Not in the least suspicious of her intent, he gave a rueful smile and drank it down in one go. ‘Hmm, that tasted like honey.’

Satisfied, Forestyne offered her hand and helped him rise.

He managed a rueful smile as she led him to two wooden stools outside the modest hut.

‘Sir, pray tell me what of your friends and the two women?’

He grimaced. ‘Tis a long story, but in a few words, the ladies were abducted by marauding Picts. T’was rumoured the savages invaded some villages on the coast, but now it is evident they come further inland. Fortunately, Sir Ansgar and I came upon them in time and saved the ladies.’

‘Oh Sir Knight, how brave of you both.’ I saw you had the help of some fellow knights. The gods favoured you.’

Devlin took a step back. ‘You saw us? But how?’

‘Through my scrying bowl.’ She paused, t’was not wise to tell him more.

Devlin paused; here was an occasion where the pagan Gods showed their power using the old magic.  Clearing his throat, he said, ‘Your wolves also fought bravely; the savages were terrified of them, especially as the wolves fought alongside us knights.’

‘Yes, indeed, methinks one saved your life.’ She looked up at him, holding his gaze.

Startled, Devlin took a step back as he looked at the fire in the depths of those dark eyes. His mind flashed back to the same fire in the eyes of the silver wolf.  No, it wasn’t possible – never. He swallowed, denying his thoughts; he would be damned to hell if he believed for one moment this gentle maid was….

He felt a gentle touch on his arm. Heard her sweet voice, ‘but pray, where are Sir Ansgar and the ladies?’

Devlin frowned, shaking his head. ‘Alas, the ladies Tania and Clara escaped once again. I fear they believed I would take them to court to stand trial. But I had since changed my mind, especially as Sir Ansgar favours the lady, Clara. Yet unfortunately, I did not have time to tell them before they fled.

‘Oh dear Lord, now they are at the mercy of savages and wild animals. They know not how to talk to animals. May the Gods save them.’

Devlin was tempted to ask her to use her scrying bowl again, but the image of the silver wolf leapt to his mind. Was it she? Had Forestyne really seen his peril and materialized as the wolf? Was it her wolf tongue that healed his fatal wound, saved his life?

Chapter 24

A Meeting of Hearts

‘I didn’t know forests were so huge. Not one village, not one damn cottage anywhere.’ Oh God, what are we going to do?’

Tania’s legs trembled with exhaustion, falling to her knees; she looked at her hands and arms, the blood seeping from so many cuts and scratches. The bushes were almost impenetrable, the thorns, scalpel-sharp ‘Damn – damn, we’re utterly lost.’ She peered through the gloom, the dawn light hardly penetrating the darkness of trees, barely a foot between their gnarled trunks. Whining, Lily came up and licked her wounds. Tania stroked her soft head, ‘Oh Lily, you poor – poor girl, we’re lost again, and you are starving. Dammit, it all to hell.’

Clara pushed through winter bronze ferns, ‘I can hear running water; there’s a stream or something nearby. There’s bound to be a cottage or a farm. I mean, people do build their homes by water.’ Groaning, Tania got to her feet. ‘I’m parched; my throat is so dry.’ Grumbling, she rose to her feet to hear Clara scream.

‘Run – run.’

Tani took a few paces forward. ‘What’s the matter?’

She saw a huge shape lurching towards her. It took a few seconds to recognize it. ‘God, a bear, a bear.’ Crying out, she ran after Clara, ‘climb Clari, climb.’

Clara dashed to an ancient oak, with a huge cavity in its knotted trunk. Scrambling up, she reached for the lower branch hauling herself up with Tania close behind. Panting, she stretched to a higher one.

Tania looked down to see they were still near to the ground. The bear was almost upon them. She took a breath and jumped for her life to a branch above. The vicious claws of the bear barely missed her legs. She felt her fingers clutch the narrower boughs only for them to break off in her hands. Screaming, she fell backward, but Clara clutched her arm and clung on for sheer life. 

Scrabbling for a foothold, Tania clambered up again, gasping for breath. Terrified, they looked down into the open jaws of the bear. It roared as it grabbed the lower branches, trying to shake them loose. To Tania’s horror, she saw Lily snarling and biting at the bear’s feet.

‘Lily – Lily – go.’

She knew it was useless; Lily never listened to a word she said, never had, she had a mind of her own, and Tania had allowed her to have her own way. 

The bear stopped for a moment swiping at the dog, but Lily jumped nimbly out of the way before going into the attack again.

Tania looked down. ‘We’re only a foot above him.’ For God’s sake Lily,’ she shrieked, ‘Go – go away.’

 ‘Do bears climb trees?’ Clara gasped.’

‘I don’t know.’ Tani watched wide-eyed, praying they were high enough, as the bear clutched the trunk of the trees, scratching and leaping.

Clinging onto branches growing lower down from the vast trunk, they stopped to catch their breath.

Tania panted, ‘It can’t reach us from here.’

‘I’ve never heard of bears in a forest, at least not in England. Maybe it’s escaped from a zoo.’

‘Or stupid people who secretly bring them into the country. God, have they no sense.’

Huddled together clinging to the branch, they watched as Lily snapped at the bear. Tania screamed as it swiped at her brave dog, sending her flying, howling.

‘Oh no, please God no.’ To her relief, she saw Lily struggle to her feet. ‘Lily stay – sit – sit.’ To her horror, Lily went for the kill again. Tania sobbed, her brave little girl, her brave white retriever, please God, Lily, just run away. Tania vowed if they ever got home, she would have Lily trained. She’d never wanted to train her; she believed she should have as much freedom of choice as possible. She was a being, a dog who should be in the wild, a respected member of her pack. It was only humans that enslaved them. But now Tania was paying for her beliefs, she couldn’t save Lily’s life. 

The bear roared up at them, beating the trunk. Standing on its feet, it must have been over twelve feet tall. They were only two feet away from its claws.

‘Clari, we’ve got to climb higher.’

‘I can’t. I’ve never climbed a tree.’

‘You’ve got to.’

‘I don’t know, Tani.’

‘Come on, we’ve got to climb higher.’

‘It’s so angry.’

‘Maybe it‘s protecting its cubs, you never know.’

Clara looked up at the branches above. ‘What if I fall, I’ve had it.’

Tani nodded. ‘Maybe we should stay where we are.’

‘‘Let’s hope it gets hungry and goes away.’

‘It will come back.’

They looked down to see the bear pacing, then reaching for the lower branches and shaking them.

‘Thank God it’s an oak tree; it can’t push this one over.’

Mutely, they looked down, wondering how on earth they were going to escape. Tears rolled down Clara‘s face, ‘I just don’t know what’s happening; since we went down into the cellar, it’s been one nightmare. Re-enactment groups gone mad. People running around with painted blue bodies, bloody naked. Then knights charging around in armour. I haven’t seen one normal person since we found ourselves in the pond.

Tania touched her arm. ‘Look, it’s shaking its head, gone down on all fours. It’s turning away.’  She prayed Lily would give up attacking and stay.

‘Maybe it’s got bored, knows it can’t reach us.’

‘Let’s wait a little while to see it if it’s really gone.’  She shouted down to Lily, to be still. To her surprise, Lily obeyed, for once. Maybe she realized the bear had gone quiet, and perhaps it was no longer a threat to Tania or Clara. She would guard anyone Tania loved. 

Clara nodded. ‘Okay, let’s start praying.’

They remained still and mute for some minutes until, to their relief, the bear went on all fours and lumbered away. ‘Whew, thank God, it’s gone – gone.’

Tani looked around. ‘It’s really gone. I’ve got to get down to Lily. I can’t leave her alone down there.’

Clary shook her head. ‘I’d wait; it might be a female, maybe she’s gone to see if her cub is alright or something.’ 

‘No, come on, we’ve got to go now and run.’

‘I’m too scared to do that.’

‘You’ve got to Clari; otherwise, we could be stuck up here all day, all night.’

Clara nodded, breathing hard. ‘Okay, let’s do it.’

They crouched on the branch, listening intently, but for the hoot of an owl, the warbling of the wood pigeons, and the trill of the dawn birds, the forest remained silent.

Tania whispered, ‘It’s gone, you know, really gone.’

Clara nodded. ‘Okay, let’s do it.’

‘Now.’ Tania urged. ‘Come on – now.’ Tania took a deep breath and carefully put her foot down to the lower branch whilst clinging onto the one above. Feeling her heart thud, her foot reached to the lower branch to the ground when a fearsome growl split the air. Screaming, Tania clambered back up, ripping skin from her calves.

Desperately, they scrambled up to the perch and looked down into the small angry eyes of the bear.

Sobbing, they huddled together as the bear reached up, shaking the branches just below them, then roared as a spear flew towards her, bouncing off her shoulder.

Tania gasped, ‘Look, Clari, look.’ – knights.’


No part of this book may be stored, reproduced, or transmitted in any form or by any means without the express permission of the author.

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

Other Chapters

Don’t worry if you miss any chapters, since you will find links to other posted chapters here:

All Available Chapters!

Maid of the Forest: Chapters 21 & 22

Maid of the Forest: Chapters 21 & 22

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.

Other Chapters

Don’t worry if you miss any chapters, since you will find links to other posted chapters here:

All Available Chapters!

Maid of the Forest – Forestyne: Chapters 21 & 22

Chapter 21

To Dream

Silver birch and horse chestnuts gave shade to a sunlit glade as Devlin walked through the trees to his tryst with Forestyne.  The birds fluttered in the branches above, sweetly warbling. He felt the beat of his heart quicken as he saw her sitting on a tree trunk waiting for him. Shafts of light shimmered on the golden hair flowing over her shoulders to her thighs. He swallowed, taking in the lissom body, the curves filling out a simple white woolen tunic, the sides laced with pale blue ribbons. His fingers itched to undo them as he saw her soft bosom rise and fall. Unaware of him, she played with a bracelet on her slender arm. 

He saw her startled look as he entered through the trees, her delicate hand fluttering to her breast, her dark eyes widening in greeting.

She rose hesitantly, then with a brilliant smile, held out her arms.

 Startled, he woke to the rough jogging of his shoulder. Angered to be dragged from such a sweet tryst, he growled, glaring up at his usurper of dreams

‘What’s wrong? What’s happening?

‘Sir Knight, the prisoners have gone.’

‘Gone? Where?’

 ‘Sir, I know not; I didn’t see the going of them.’

‘But you were on guard; what happened, man?’

‘Sir, I went over to relieve Thomas, and we—’

‘You took your eyes off them. For God’s sake, man, I’ll have your hide for this.’

‘But Sir, they were sleeping, covered in their blankets. I thought all was well.’

‘God’s bones.’ Devlin threw off his cape and sprang to his feet, following the guard.

‘God’s teeth, man. I warned you they were two feisty women. Tis the second time they have escaped.’ He saw the ferns piled up to create a body shape. ‘They are cunning females.’

‘Sir, forgive me I—’

‘There’s no time for that; I shall deal with you later.’ He strode over to Ansgar, tucked up in his cape snoring peacefully. He swallowed in some trepidation. His friend would be furious to be awakened; they’d gone without sleep for some nights now. Gently he shook him awake, but Ansgar tried to ward off his hand even as Devlin persisted. ‘Wake up, man, wake up.’

‘Fiends teeth what—‘

‘They’ve bloody well escaped again. Come we—’

‘Escaped? Who?’

‘Tania, and Clara. Come rise, we must be off.’

‘Clara? Gone? But she kissed me, she – demon’s armpits/’ He sprang to his feet, pulling up his cape and grabbing his sword.

‘Come, we must plan this. Ansgar, you take a couple of the knights and their guards. ‘I fear I cannot come with you. I dare not leave Forestyne alone another night. The girl is unprotected and—’

‘She is a woman of the forest, she is well used to protecting herself, besides she has her wolves, that wild boar and—’

‘I must keep my word Ansgar.  I promised I would return on the morrow. I trow the girl is in danger; word would have spread. She is unprotected. Besides, she is nursing a very sick mother, and she needs my help. I vowed I would be there with her. I cannot gainsay my word.’

‘So what did she do before you came on the scene, heh?’

‘Argue not my friend, I pledged my word.’

 Ansgar pursed his lips. ‘Hmm, forgive me, Devlin, I was selfish; it’s just that Clara means the world to me; I am in love with her, there I have said it.’

‘Devlin frowned, ‘In love? With a heathen, a witch?’

‘Watch it – you are talking to a heathen.’

Devlin sighed. ‘O course, I apologize, old friend. But I cannot waste any more time, I must hie to the woman I love.’

Ansgar raised his eyebrows. ‘You confuse me, Devlin, one minute you’re branding her a witch, and in the next breath, you say you are in love with her.’ 

‘Aye, I know, but now is not the time to argue the matter. It is the middle of the night, but I will waste no more time; I must be on my way.’

‘But you have no guards, not even a squire?’

‘Tis no odds, I have my sword and my worthy steed. But let us go our own ways to find the witches.

Ansgar snarled, ‘I for one respect a witch. Indeed I would trust a witch with my very life.’

Seeing tempers rising, the guard stepped forward and bowed to Devlin.  ‘Sir Knight, allow me to go with you. I am ashamed at my laxity and would now offer my services.’

Ansgar grimaced. ‘I’d have your head if it were me.’

Devlin frowned. ‘Nay, I am grateful for your offer, man, but are you serf to another knight?’

‘I am a freeman, Sir, and choose to be at your side.’

Devlin frowned, ‘Nay, I must needs square this with the knight in question. Pray to lead me to him.’

They walked over to a slumbering form on the edge of the clearing. Speaking softly, the guard bent, shaking his master awake. ‘Sir Knight, forgive me—’

‘God’s bones, what is it?’

‘Sir, this knight has need of a guard, and I would offer to escort him through the forest this night.’

‘Huh?’ the man on the ground turned, screwing his eyes up. ‘Hah, Sir Devlin. You have need of him? So be it. Now go away and let me sleep.’ Grumbling, he turned on his side.

The guard bowed to Devlin. ‘Sir, I am at your command.’

Devlin nodded. ‘I am grateful for your support, man. Pray, what is your name?’

‘Thomas, Sir.’

‘Well, Thomas, go get your steed, for we ride this instant.’

Devlin saw the Ansgar approach.  ‘So you are decided to search for the lady Clara?’

‘Aye, when I find her, I will make my way to the castle.’

 ‘Very well, hopefully, we shall meet there. May your God be with you, my friend.’

Nodding, he strode off, whilst Devlin mounted his destrier and, followed by the guard, rode from the clearing. As he entered the wood, he gritted his teeth; twas just as well he rode before dawn. The forest crawled with the blue-skinned tattooed brutes. Forestyne was in danger of being attacked, raped, or her throat slit on the spot. His only assurance of her safety lay with her wolves, yet even then, against a horde of marauders, she stood no chance.  Now it was up to Ansgar and a few chivalrous knights to find the two women.

Chapter 22

Devlin’s heart rose on seeing Forestyne seated outside the cottage, her head bent over one of the wolves. Hearing his horses tamping, she looked up, a relieved smile on her lovely face.

‘Thank the Goddess Arianrhod, you are safe.’

‘I too am thankful you came to no harm.  I could not wait to see you again. Pray, tell me, how is your mother?’

She lowered her eyes. ‘She sleeps, but I fear the end is nigh. At least the goddess Carrawanna gave us another three days.  But I pray in that time my mother will change her mind and decide to stay with us. I know it is selfish of me, but I do love her so.’

‘So she has the power over her own life and death?’

‘Oh yes, my mother only accepts the wishes of the goddess, as she is needed in the upper world.  Now that I am trained in sorcery and shamanism, there is no reason to stay.’

‘But what of her love for you, have you both other family?’

‘Oh yes, the people of the Whispering Trees are our family. We live for each other, and our brethren, the animals, birds, insects, and plants.’

He nodded, remembering her singing and gathering when he first saw her. He understood her feelings. He, too, felt the wrench when he left his mother for the South.  Although he was fostered out to a neighbouring fort to train as a knight at seven years of age, his love for his mother did not dim. In fact, it grew stronger as lying on a pallet of straw miles away, he would sob himself to sleep, yearning for her tender embrace and soft words.  Neither time nor distance quelled his love for his beloved parents.

‘I understand your feelings full well. However, I fear tis time you decided to leave for a more dignified life within the castle walls.’

Her head shot up, her eyes narrowing. ‘Sir, have we not settled this? I am amazed at your stubbornness. I will never leave here. I have trained since a young child to be the sorceress for these people of the trees. I cannot break my vows or even stem the love I have for my people.  And yes, I too, am stubborn; I will fight to the bitter end to keep my mother alive.’

‘Have you no thought about your mother’s wishes? You cause her much distress on the eve of her death, think you not?’

Forestyne bit her lip, knowing the truth of his words, but she would not give in.

I cannot accept death; the only time would be if someone was in agony and begged to escape the pain. Otherwise, life is precious and not to be cast aside, even at the wishes of the greatest of goddesses. There I have said it.’ She looked around nervously, her face tensing, ‘Do not make me repeat those words as even now the ravens stir Lord Squirrel is bound to pick up the vibrations.

Her words and expression were so sincere Devlin felt a quiver in his stomach as he glanced at the surrounding bushes and into the trees. Then I respect your wishes but will warn you and your mother are in grave danger. The woods are teeming with savages, both Picts and Saxons.

Forestyne gently washed the blood from the wolf’s ear. ‘Then heed my words; I will make sure we are not harmed.’

Devlin sucked in his breath. ‘And how pray, will you achieve that?’

She looked straight up into his eyes. ‘I shall make our little place invisible. They will neither see nor smell us.’ She rose to her knees, saying softly. ‘Barnel, roll over for me.’ To Devlin’s astonishment, the great wolf whined and rolled over, showing its wounded underbelly.

Devlin winced to see the darkening blood staining the soft white fur. Dipping a clean rag in a cauldron of water from which wafted a mixture of herbs, she gently began washing the wounds.

‘I am amazed he allows you to do that. Is he wild or —‘

‘None of my family of wolves is wild, sir; they are natural to their habitat. They kill only for food for their pack and for those people of the trees who are ill and cannot hunt.’

‘You mean they hunt for humans?’

‘Yes, of course. We have lived in harmony with the wolves for eons and thus ensuring our mutual survival.’

Devlin went a few paces to tether his horse and then came back to stand over her, watching as she deftly cleaned and then placed fragrant unguents on the wounds. ‘You certainly have a gift with these animals.

 ‘Why thank you, but may I correct you? We are all animals, and I am proud to be classed amongst the wolves.’

Devlin decided to humour her. ‘So be it. But my lady, I beg you to reflect upon your safety. ‘Sir, we are safe here, and if necessary, will make the place invisible. So pray, when will you be leaving?’

 Devlin clenched his fists. Never had he met such a determined female. Was there no way of getting through to her besides flinging her across his horse?  He took a deep breath.

‘I cannot leave you. You have not witnessed the savagery of the invaders. Nor will I go into detail on how you would suffer at their hands if they captured you.  You are so beautiful, so fair of face and figure; you would be swept away in an instant, never to be seen again.’

‘So I would just chew on the henbane. I would die rather than be taken away from my forest home.’ 

He gritted his teeth, was there no way he could persuade her? Frustrated and angry, he snarled and, clutching her face, kissed her hard on the lips.


No part of this book may be stored, reproduced, or transmitted in any form or by any means without the express permission of the author.

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

Other Chapters

Don’t worry if you miss any chapters, since you will find links to other posted chapters here:

All Available Chapters!

Maid of the Forest: Chapters 19 & 20

Maid of the Forest: Chapters 19 & 20

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.

Other Chapters

Don’t worry if you miss any chapters, since you will find links to other posted chapters here:

All Available Chapters!

Maid of the Forest – Forestyne: Chapters 19 & 20

Chapter 19

The Chivalry of Knights

Hearing the thud of hooves behind her, Tania raised her head to see Devlin’s horse charge past, coming to a halt by the fire.  Immediately, the Picts were on their feet, raising their spears. Unperturbed, Devlin pointed to Clara and then Tania, shouting out in the old Briton tongue for them to release the women.

Tania held her breath. What was he saying? Would the blue-skinned brutes give in politely? Or would there be mock fighting? She wished the games to be over; her arms and shoulders ached unbearably, whilst her stomach rumbled with hunger.  Earlier, Clara attempted to bring her some roasted fowl, but the savages prevented her, angrily speaking and gesticulating.

Watching, she saw wolves leap past her and attack the Picts.  To her horror, one of them, a big grey, took a man to the ground, biting deep into his throat. Screaming and yelling, the Picts struggled to wrench their hatchets from their belts as more wolves fell on them, tearing flesh from bone. Amidst the screaming, Tania wept as she saw Ansgar charging toward her wielding his sword and, with one swipe, cut the ropes.  She dropped to the ground groaning with relief.  With a nod to her, he charged into the midst of the savages, instantly decapitating one. Tania shrieked, dear God, it was real, she couldn’t believe her eyes. The fighting was real, blood-red real. Running over to Lily, she untied her bringing her to safer ground. Clinging to her and Clara, she watched in horror as Devlin thundered forth his sword swinging aloft, butchering the Picts. ‘Clari, it’s real, oh God, what’s happening. Where are we? ‘

Clara sobbed, her head on Tania’s chest, trying to hide from the dreadful truth. This was no re-enactment; it was monstrous. ‘I  don’t know what’s happening, maybe we almost drowned, perhaps we didn’t come straight away, maybe we’ve been in a coma, maybe there’s been a war, but what the hell are soldiers doing dressed up as knights? Oh, God, what am I saying?  It’s insane. 

‘Both of us could not have been in a coma, Clari, and besides, we’ve got Lily here. I just hope Spectre’s okay.’

‘He’s most probably living wild in the forest by now. We’ve got to get away, let’s go – let’s go.’ Tania tugged on Clara’s arm.

Clara hung back.  ‘No, the knights are fighting for our lives. Don’t move, just stay right here. If we went into the woods, maybe one of those blue-skinned brutes would kill us.’ 

‘But we’ve got to escape Clari, now’s our chance.’

As Tania turned to watch the knights fighting, she saw more knights on horseback emerge from the forest, the moonlight glinting on their armour. Helmets down, they galloped into the fray, chopping down more Picts.  ‘Oh God, Clari, look, two of the knights are down.’

‘The other knights are hacking their way through to them. They are slaughtering the savages.’ Seeing a Pict scream, clutching a stump of one of his legs, Clara doubled up and vomited.

Tania gasped. ‘Oh my God, they’re slaughtering the savages.’

Wiping the vomit from her mouth, horrified, Clara could not avert her gaze; it was a battle to the death. If the Picts won, it would be their death as well. They may spare her, but they would kill Tania.

They watched as one of the knights cut a path through the Picts to Devlin and Ansgar fighting back to back. Their swords swung from side to side, cutting and killing, severed arms flying through the air, heads rolling on the ground as the wolves circled picking off the Picts.’

Devlin grunted, heading off yet another two brutes. ‘I have to get back to Forestyne. Damnit it to hell, there must be other groups destroying the villages.’ Yet as he spoke, a Pict leapt on his back, holding a dagger to his throat. Devlin felt the blade cut through the chain mail coif to his skin, felt the blade go deep as blood spurted. He saw Ansgar turn to fend him off, but it was too late. Was this how he was destined to meet his death? At that moment, a great silver wolf leapt on the Pict, seizing him by the throat, tearing off his head in its massive jaws. Howling, it turned to a shocked Devlin now lying on the ground and leapt to stand over him, its great head dipping towards the spouting blood. Horrified, Devlin saw the vicious fangs reach for the gaping wounds in his throat.  He was dying, but what the hell was it doing. Was the beast going to eat him alive? Petrified, he looked up into the eyes of the wolf, at red fires flaring deep in the dark brown pupils then sank into blackness.

Ansgar came charging over but stopped astonished, as he saw the wolf gently lick the edges of the wound. He watched stupefied as white vapour poured from its jaws, covering the ravaged flesh. Ansgar cried out to Cerrunos as he saw the vapour steam and sizzle on the deep wounds, saw the wolf’s head rise, saw the wounds close, and disappear, leaving pink flesh.

He almost cried with wonder and relief.  He’d witnessed great magic in the woods this night. Startled, he stepped back as the wolf nuzzled Devlin’s throat once more, then looked over to Ansgar growling softly.  Terrified, he looked at the fire deep within those dark eyes, at which point the beast bent its head to Devlin once more and licked his forehead and cheek before leaping away. 

Ansgar ran to Devlin to see him open his eyes as if awaking from the sweetest dreams. ‘Fiend’s teeth friend, never seen anything like that before. That bloody brute saved your life and then damn well licked your wound until it disappeared. God zounds, never heard of it before. You are bewitched Devlin; bewitched.’

Coughing now, Devlin croaked, ‘What are you talking about? That bloody wolf well nigh killed me.’

‘No, it didn’t; it saved your life man, I saw your torn flesh knit together under its tongue. It saved you, dear friend – saved you.’ He stopped as the aroma of roses, lavender, and a peculiar spice wafted up from Devlin’s neck. ‘I fain would not move you, but we must get away. Forestyne and her mother are unprotected. l fear the woods are crawling with Picts.’

‘Yes, let us pray to the gods she and her blessed mother are safe.’ Hearing feet running towards him, Ansgar turned wielding his axe, slicing a vicious Pict in two. ‘Huh, one less to hang.’

Tania gasped as two knights charged towards her. She turned to run, with Clara by her side, only to be scooped up in strong arms and flung across horses; they clung for dear life to the pommels of the saddles.

Seeing the savages run for the trees, half a dozen knights rode after them showing no mercy, as blue-dyed bodies fell under the horses’ hooves

Tania felt her rescuer lift her up into a sitting position as he rode back to the centre of the clearing. To her chagrin, she could not understand his words but was assured by his gentle tone and the soothing stroke of his chain mail mitts across her shoulders. She made no sound as he lowered her to the ground, allowing her to walk away. The knights now took command of the clearing, some alighting from their steeds and dragging tattooed bodies into the forest and then returning with more wood to feed the dying fire. 

Devlin, now feeling hale and hearty, mounted his horse looking around to see a knight raise his helmet and trot his horse forward, to clap him on the back in greeting. ‘Hail Black Knight. You did indeed put up a good fight against the alpha wolf; I am astounded it did not rip your throat out.  But the blessed Virgin put it to flight. We must be sure to give an account of it to the reverend bishop when we return to the fort. Other knights drew near all hailing the miracle of his escape and the wolf’s incredulous behaviour. A couple glowered, murmuring he was in league with the devil, yet most claimed it to be the protection of the Blessed Virgin. Embarrassed now, Devlin nodded and made quick his escape. Such adulation did not sit easily with him. Seeing Ansgar in the distance, he urged his horse forward.  To his relief, Tania appeared before him unscathed. ‘My lady, I hope you are not hurt?’

Tania looked up, her eyes showing her gratitude, stammering in Latin. ‘Gratis tibi.’ She wanted to apologize to explain, but she could only think of the words ‘to forgive.’ ‘Ignosce me,’

He smiled, patting her hand, wishing he could say more to comfort her. The blood and gore were not for a delicate lady’s eyes. He hoped that she did not take a fever after witnessing the horror of battle. He glanced over to see Ansgar help Clara down from the knight’s horse. The gnome bowed low before her, whereupon she bent forward, offering him her hand. Taking it, his chivalrous friend kissed it gently. The man was besotted. To Devlin’s surprise, the girl flung her arms around Ansgar, hugging him close to her bosom, as the knight gave a bashful smile.

Despite the gruesome horrors of the day, at the evening meal, the knights made merry. They cooked the meat left by the Picts and contributed fruits such as plums, pears, and dates. Many produced small leather bags filled with wine and mead.

Making gestures to Devlin, pointing to the meat, Tania managed to get some food for Lily.  Soon the air was filled with jokes and songs. One knight even produced a small harp playing various popular tunes whilst others of fine voice sang merrily.  Yet even with such levity, Tania felt her horror growing, watching the merry faces reddened by fire and wine. A couple even performed a courtly dance to the ribald remarks of the audience. One knight took the part of a mincing pouting lady. It didn’t seem possible these same knights decapitated their enemies. Either they were a load of psychopaths, or a war had started somewhere. But then no soldier would dress up in fancy dress. No, it was obvious it was two demented cults warring against each other.

Devlin turned to Ansgar, ‘The horses are too exhausted to ride back to Forestyne’s shack at this night, yet by God’s bones, we shall leave at first light.’

‘Worry not Devlin, she knows the forest and will have somewhere to hide if needs must.’

Devlin grimaced. ‘Ever the optimist Ansgar.  Come, let us take our rest, though I fear I shall not sleep a wink.’

Soon, the other knights began yawning and, with drunken mutterings, wrapped themselves in their voluminous capes. Resting their heads on the leather saddles, the men snored contentedly. Watching them covertly from the bank, Tania realized they had a perfect opportunity to slip away unnoticed.

Chapter 20

Ghouls and Goblins

Seeing Tania and Clara searching the grassy bank for somewhere to sleep, Devlin and Ansgar made their way towards them, carrying two blankets and Tania’s blue cape.   At first, Tania was wary and ready to fight off any advances, but she was touched to see the knights made them up a bed of moss and leaves covered with the blankets. 

Clara could tell from the look in Ansgar eyes’ that he wanted to hold her. She stepped forward and into his ready arms. Bending to him, she kissed him softly on the cheek. Grinning mischievously, he touched her chin and bowed again.

To her astonishment, his mere touch sent erotic feelings surging through her body.  There was something about this gentle knight that attracted her.  As they walked away, he turned, giving a wave and blowing a kiss.

Tania tutted, ‘Honestly, look at him, he’s like a big kid. He looks as if butter wouldn’t melt in his mouth but just think of what he did earlier. Decapitating heads, severing legs, running men through with that wicked sword of his. You should watch out, Clari.’

‘Come on, Tani, that guy saved your life and mine.  If it wasn’t for him and Devlin, they’d have hung you by now.’

Tania shuddered. ‘Honestly, Clari, you don’t mince your words. You’re right, they did save us, but that doesn’t mean we have to fall in love with them.  They’re murderers, vicious murderers.’

‘Well, I think Ansgar’s cute.’ To her astonishment on saying his name, feelings rippled to her stomach.

Seeing the knights settling down, many snoring, she whispered, ‘Now’s the chance to getaway.  We just have to let them all fall asleep, then we can slink off.’

Clara sighed. ‘Oh no, I feel guilty, they’ve tried to look after us, fought for us, made up our beds, and now we’re deserting them.’

‘Don’t lose sight of what’s really happening. Devlin and Ansgar kidnapped us, first, even thought of killing us. They forced us to go to that awful hut and then sleep with the pigs and the wolves. Don’t’ get into the Stockholm Syndrome.’

‘What’ d’you mean?’

‘Well, there was this group of Swedes who were held hostage during a bank robbery; they stayed in this bank vault for six days with them. The victims started feeling loyalty and sympathy for their abductors, even joined them. It’s quite common, it seems.’

Clara sniffed. ‘Well, I don’t know about that; it just seems so ungrateful; they did risk their lives to save us. And anyway I like Ansgar, he’s—

‘I can see you have a thing about him. But really Clari, we’ve got to get away; it’s all insane.’

‘Okay, okay. I do feel something for Ansgar, but I know what you mean.  I want to escape as much as you; I just wish I could take him with me or say goodbye even.’

‘Clari, for goodness sake, that’s not possible.’

‘I know, Tani, it’s stupid. But I can’t help it.  What about the wolves. Say we meet some in the forest. It seems there’s a lot of them in these woods, I’ve never heard of it before, but they are roaming wild, you know. Not all of them are friendly. I think those who led us were Forestyne’s. Back at the hut, I couldn’t understand what Ansgar and Devlin were talking about, but I guessed it was about magic, that she had some power over the wolves. But they disappeared, right after the battle, just slunk away; I think they’ve gone straight back to her. So if we do meet up with some wolves, we can’t count on them being very friendly.’ 

‘Well, they left Lily alone; the poor girl’s still tied up, though.’

‘At least the knights fed her a couple of them even took her for a short walk.’

 ‘Look, if we did meet up with the wolves, we could climb the nearest tree.’

 ‘You might, Tani, but I don’t think I could; you’re five feet eight inches, with super long legs and arms, but I’m four feet eleven. Besides, I’m terrified of heights.’

‘Oh, Clara, think about it. Something is so terribly wrong; I mean, look at these guys; they butchered the Picts and then sat around the fire singing and swigging it back. Something is terribly wrong.

‘I just don’t understand why we haven’t passed any houses or a farm even. But then I don’t know the district very well.’

‘There’s bound to be something soon, a pub even, or maybe we could be on the outskirts of a small town.’

‘We’ll knock up the first house or pub we find. We could phone the police from there.’  

‘Okay then, you’re on?’

‘Yes, I suppose so.’

Tania patted her shoulder. ‘Good girl.’

‘But we’ll have to wait for them to go to sleep as well.’

‘No, it’s best we go now. I see the guy who was guarding us has gone to talk to some guy on the other side of the fire.  Look, they’re chatting. This is our only chance.  We can untie Lily on the way without anyone noticing.’

‘Okay, but look, we’ll have to be as quiet as possible’ Clara pushed back the blanket.

‘I know, now don’t stand up, just slide away over this bank on your belly. Don’t attempt to stand until we’re past the trees. Plump the blanket up with the moss. I’ll count to ten, and then we move, okay?’

‘Yep, Okay,’

‘One more thing, if they do see us, just keep running, okay. Don’t stop or give up.  Keep running.’  Silently lifting off the blankets, they slid quietly away. 


No part of this book may be stored, reproduced, or transmitted in any form or by any means without the express permission of the author.

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

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Other Chapters

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Maid of the Forest: Chapters 17 & 18

Maid of the Forest: Chapters 17 & 18

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.

Other Chapters

Don’t worry if you miss any chapters, since you will find links to other posted chapters here:

All Available Chapters!

Maid of the Forest – Forestyne: Chapters 17 & 18

Chapter 17


Devlin watched Forestyne, her body wracked with sobs. Rising from the ledge, he walked to her and gazed down at the still figure on the pallet. He put an arm around her delicate shoulders. ‘I am so sorry – if there is anything I can do?’

She bent her head. ‘No, I have to wait for the Eternal Shadow to fade from our abode.’  She pointed to the shadows in the far corner.

He nodded; although he was now a Christian, he knew the old rites and rituals.  He looked over to Ansgar, still snoring heavily. His body tensed; where were the maidens? There was no sign of them.

‘My lady, forgive me, but pray, tell me, where are the prisoners?’

Shuddering, Forestyne shook her head.’ They had need of sleep; they are in the outhouse.’

Devlin growled, rushing to the sackcloth pulling it aside and peering out. ‘God’s bones, they have disappeared. We must go after them.’

‘But sir, I still have to tend to your wounds.’

‘Nay, they are of little consequence.’

‘But they could be infested.’

‘Nay, they are clean and are healing already.’ 

Forestyne knew he was lying but knew it was useless to argue he was intent on recapturing the women.’

‘Then allow me to cover them with some cleansing moss and bind them firmly.’

He frowned and tutted. ‘Oh very well, but first, I must awaken Prince Drunraig.’

Rushing over, he pulled on the snoring knight’s arm. ‘Drunraig, awake, awake.’

Snorting, the gnome grunted and opened an eye. ‘What is it?’

‘The maidens they have gone – run away.’


‘They are witches or sorceresses; we must go in pursuit. They must stand trial in court for their blasphemous acts.’

Drunraig scratched his unruly red hair. ‘Watch your tongue Sir Knight; you speak in front of a grieving sorceress, one whose mother was a revered and renowned sorceress and healer. They have both shown you such gracious hospitality, and you thank them thus?’ 

‘We have no time to argue, we must go after them, but I am loath to leave the lady Forestyne unprotected.’

‘Leave them be, Sir Knight. They have every right to practice sorcery.’ Devlin realized his companion addressed him formally. He was angered and ready for a row.

‘Have you no sense Ansgar, even if they are witches, they are still vulnerable women, and they could fall foul of vicious marauders. The devils would waste no time in ravishing them.

Ansgar almost fell off the ledge, reaching for his sword. ‘Sense? No sense? You accuse me of having no sense? How dare you, Sir Knight. Where are your manners? You will answer for that insult.’ As he went to draw his sword from the scabbard, Devlin gripped his arm.

‘Stay, Sir Knight. I—’

‘Unhand me, Sir, before I chop off yer bloody arm.’

‘Ansgar, my friend in arms, forgive me. I have a quick tongue. I meant no insult. Tis I who am senseless for upbraiding you thus.’

‘Hmm, so be it. Yet, you still insult my ways, Devlin. Sorcery is highly respected in my father’s kingdom. Begad, the wizards and sorcerers run the Lower World.’

‘I am mortified with my reckless tongue Ansgar.’ 

‘Hmm, I have a mind to cut it out, so – watch it. Just because you have gone off half-cocked after your soft son of God does not give you the right to insult my gods who are seen and heard when we need them. They do not remain silent, hiding up in some cloud, or locking their golden gates against us. Nay, they are right there with us, talking through our wizards and sorcerers, and even appearing, as needs must.’

Devlin raised his eyebrows but said nothing, his friend’s temper flamed fast and fierce, but then he always felt deep remorse afterward.

Forestyne lifted her head. ‘Aye, my beloved mother was and is still a sorceress journeying to the Upper World. How can you be so cold-hearted insulting her so?’

Devlin bit his lip; he was already smitten with Forestyne’s delicate beauty, with her intelligence and feisty ways. ‘Forgive me, gentle lady, t’was the last thing on my mind to hurt your precious heart in any way. I am sworn to protect and champion you, as is the way of a chivalrous knight. Forgive me.’

Seething, Forestyne glared at him. ‘I do not need your protection, my lord, besides you are scarcely older than myself.’

I will inform you I am two and twenty years and have travelled ocean, forest, and desert fighting for Albion’s safety.

‘You have everything to be proud of, but I too fought in tribal wars to protect the people of the Whispering Trees and survived to tell the tale. So please, do not presume to think you will become my protector. Besides, as you say, you constantly travel, and I, for one, will never leave this forest and my gods. It is my home.’

He swallowed his anger. ‘Tis time you cast aside your evil gods and bowed to the Christian God, who protects us all in His gracious. Love.’

Forestyne could scarce contain her anger. ‘Have you no respect? You may despise our gods, but pray, do not insult them in my presence lest I show my fangs.’ 

Devlin frowned; show her fangs, now that was weird. He answered drily, ‘Pagan talk indeed, I would soon chisel them down, so guard your words maiden, if you value your teeth.’

He did indeed despise the old gods and would seek to bring Forestyne to the arms of the Christian God and the Blessed Virgin. It would take time, but he would persevere.

Ansgar cut in. ‘Stop such driveling talk. Come, we must search for the maidens, tis getting dark already. The woods are crawling with savages.’ He turned to Forestyne, ‘Our king brought the Saxons over to fight the Picts, but the Picts are taking over; I fear the Saxons are also grabbing land for themselves.’ 

Ansgar growled, ‘Stupid King, has he no wits?’ He grunted, pulling on his chainmail coif. The fair-haired maid was a winsome little thing, and even though she had black paint running down her cheeks, she was quite lovely, her hair shining in the colours of the rainbow. Shrugging on his chainmail haubergeon, reaching almost to his knees, he sighed, ‘I miss my bloody squire, now I have to struggle with the chausses. I must acquire another boy when we reach the court.’

‘So you are intent on saving the lady Clara?’

Ansgar nodded. ‘Indeed, she must practice high magic to have such a beautiful Runic Cross on her tender forearm; mayhap she’s a druid princess.’ He intended to keep her for his own, take her back to the Lower Kingdom, his father would be well pleased with her magic.’ His brows furrowed, he was determined she would not attend some court on trial for sorcery; instead, he would take her to be his wife.

Devlin looked up to Forestyne, ‘Come let us not argue so bitterly. Forgive me if I angered you. Let us think of the maidens. We must go now, but I fear to leave you alone and unprotected.’

Mollified, with his apology, Forestyne waved her hands. ‘Fie sir, I have my wolves. Indeed I would suggest you take three of them with you, as I have the rest of the pack guarding me, my mother’s body, and myself.’

‘Tis very generous of you milady, but I fear we could not control them.’

‘Fear not, kind sir, for I will instruct them to serve and guard you both.’

Ansgar raised his eyebrows; she was indeed a powerful sorcerer if she could command the wolves.

Stomping off across the field, he saw the maidens’ tracks, but to his consternation, they led across the fields into dense woodland.

Forestyne turned to Devlin. ‘Sir, you must allow me to tend to those wounds. You do not want to lose an arm, do you?’

‘Lose my arm?’

‘Yes, sir, there are many insects in the forest that could infect your wounds; soon, they could be squirming with maggots if you do not tend to them.

‘Now you do have me afeared, so do your darnedest.’ 

To his surprise, Forestyne was swift in her purpose, both deft and tender in her administrations. Soon, he felt more at ease, and the pain much lessened. 

Ansgar returned, scowling. ‘Demon’s armpits, they have taken to the woods; t’will be difficult to track them through dense undergrowth and doubly difficult for our horses.’

Forestyne bit her lip and moved to where Tania and Clara sat earlier in the day. Peering into the corner, she espied Tania’s blue cloak. ‘Here, sir, the wolves will track them through the scent on this cape. Tis all they need.’

Ansgar took the cape. ‘Our gratitude, lady, but now come Devlin, we must make haste; the maidens are in grave danger.’

Devlin bowed to Forestyne before mounting his horse. He watched the wolves weave around her as she held the cape for them to sniff.  On her command, they whined, pawing the ground, before running off to the field on the edge of the forest. Forestyne then handed the cape to Devlin. ‘Here, good Sir, just in case the trace runs cold, this will freshen the scent.’  As the two knights sped after the wolves now streaking across the field, she prayed to the Spider Goddess Arianrhod, the knights would find the girls before they fell prey to the Picts.

Chapter 18

The Wolves

Thundering across the fields after the wolves, they spake not, their faces grim, it was nightfall; the maidens had a couple of hours start on them. Devlin grimaced as they reached the forest, ‘We shall have to dismount; these bushes are too dense for the horses. Ansgar’s horse reared as he attempted to ride through. Frustrated, he drew forth his sword, trying to hack his way through.

Devlin bit his lip, tis easier for us to lead the horses around them. There’s an opening further up.

Swearing and sweating in the heavy chain mail armour, they hacked and fought their way through thorny bushes, their horses protesting and kicking. They sighed with relief as reaching a less densely wooded area, they waded through ferns waist high, their verdant green leaves changing to winter bronze. The two knights saw the wolves sloping ahead. But for the fact Devlin knew they were in the lead, he would not have been aware of them, such was their stealth.

His thoughts sped to Forestyne, He’d only just met her, but already she haunted his thoughts, her image floating across his eyes.  They were so different in many aspects, yet she was like a magnet; he was drawn to her.  It did not matter that she chanted and danced to the pagan gods. Fascinated, he found her beautiful, intelligent, and wild, a true creature of the forest, and he had to admit, almost magical. She had an aura about her, an inner light that shone in her deep brown eyes and shimmered on her sun-kissed skin; skin he longed to touch, to stroke to feel beneath his. Yes, she was a true Celt, the pure Briton. He would not be surprised to learn she was a druid.

He smiled grimly; he would have to watch his step with her, for she would behead him in seconds if he crossed her. Such were the ways of ancient Celts. In fact, they considered it an honour for their victims. After beheading them, they would clean out the skull and use it for a drinking cup, thus imbibing the beheaded person’s spirit and knowledge. So maybe it was just as well he did not impress her too much either. Dangerous female, and yet he was utterly besotted with her.

His horse reared beneath him, almost throwing him to the ground. Snorting and neighing, Thunder danced away from the ferns; shocked, Devlin stopped to see five black adders nearly three feet in height rearing in front of him. ‘God’s bones, what—?

‘Nest of adders,’ shouted Ansgar. ‘Get away now; you have upset them.’

Devlin allowed the horse to take him to safety, as Ansgar bellowed. ‘Serve you right. You have angered the sorcerers, so they’ve put you in your place. Tis a sign, so be warned, my friend.

 ‘Nothing to do with it.’ Devlin scoffed but inwardly felt a current of fear ripple through his belly.

‘Hah, be mindful of your tongue in future, especially in the presence of sorcerers.’

Devlin frowned; surely, Forestyne did not put a pox on him? But, he knew if she was truly vexed, she would have told him outright, she did not have a vengeful fibre in her fair body

Following the lead, another hour sped by when Devlin saw the big grey furtively run up to him, flattening its ears, whining softly. His heart lurched as he caught up with Ansgar. ‘The grey has alerted me; we are methinks, very near.’

 ‘Pray God Cernunnos, our fair maidens are safe. I would hate to bury them here in this forest.’

As Devlin drew his horse to a halt, Ansgar came up to him, handing his reins to Devlin. ‘Do you hold my steed whilst I investigate?’

Devlin nodded, his heart pounding in his chest. Ansgar was by far the better spy, with his heightened senses, his hearing being as keen as a wolf’s, his sight in the night forest, that of an owl. He was also short of form and could move silently, his head not showing above the ferns and long grass.

Shocked, Devlin saw the shapes of at least half a dozen more wolves melting into the forest. Surely they’d only had three? But then he should not be surprised by the ways of the tree people. Forestyne most probably summoned other packs, such were her powers.  Again he realized he’d fallen prey to her pagan beliefs and spells. He chided himself; of course, she did not have that power; these were wolves familiar to this part of the forest, it had to be.

He frowned, t’was time he prayed to his own almighty God. He gently kissed the blood-red ruby embedded in the heart of the cross and prayed silently. Feeling reassured, he replaced it in the safety of his haubergeon,

He looked to see Ansgar return silently. ‘The Picts have them.’

‘Dear God, are they alive.’

 ‘Aye, but the tall, dark-haired one – Tania is hanging from a tree. I fear her shoulders are dislocated, for she moans in agony. Bloody savages.’

Devlin nodded. ‘What of the other one?’

‘Clara?’ Ansgar’s tone softened. ‘They are treating her like some goddess; they’d made her a throne of furs and put a crown of soft white feathers upon her head.’

‘Hmm, I wonder.’ Devlin mused; she is indeed different from any woman I have met.

‘Tis the tattoos, together with her strangeness. I see the black marks have disappeared from her fair cheeks. However, still, she has the glorious  colours of the rainbow in her hair, and she has the runic cross composed of runic letters, each ogham telling a tale.’

‘How many men?’

‘Hmm, I would guess thirty – not much more.’

Devlin fingered his sword.  ‘We are two, but with nine wolves.’


‘Yes, some more appeared just after you left.’

‘Huh, tis the sorceress’s doing, nine is the most powerful magic number. Tis the number used by the Sisters of the Wyrd, the spinners of our universe.’

 ‘Huh, so we’re back to those three crones, are we, the witches of the Celts?’

‘Watch your tongue, for they are governed by the Great Spider Goddess Arianrhod.’

‘Well, God bless all spiders and spinners, let us go hence.’ Snarling, Devlin pulled his mighty sword from the scabbard, guiding his horse forward with Ansgar bringing up the rear.

Quietly they reached the clearing to see the wolves almost invisible, shifting silently through the trees. Ansgar muttered, ‘Yes, I count nine of them here. They will be a force to be reckoned with; the Picts fear the wolves.’ 

Devlin muttered, ‘but I know not how to manage them.’

Ansgar chuckled softly.  ‘I think you have no fear there. Our fair sorceress is even now overlooking us.’

‘And how pray?’ Devlin scowled. ‘Now is not the time to play games, Ansgar.’

‘Nay, fear not, tis no game. She will have a scrying bowl filled with clear water, tis a mirror.’

‘So come now, Ansgar. A fair maiden cannot conduct a fight of knights.’

‘Nay? Then you do not know our sorcerers and witches.’

Devlin hissed. ‘We waste time on this fanciful nonsense.’

‘Agreed. I suspect the wolves will be in place, and we two must rush through those bushes.

Devlin snarled, ‘and how do you expect me to do that, mayhap my horse will sprout wings, and we shall fly over those bloody bushes.’

Ansgar grimaced, ‘We must fight from the horse; we will hold them off that way; they cannot surround us so easily.’

Devlin nodded, raising his sword, ‘First, we warn them. If they do not hand over the maidens, then we start killing.’

‘Struth, I cannot see them backing down. I say we snatch them and bolt.’

‘Hmm, sensible idea. So we must cut Tania down and rescue Clara, then ride for our lives.’

‘Hmm yes, in between killing Picts. May our Gods be with us.’

Devlin’s horse reared in excitement as he drew his mighty sword from the scabbard, raising it high.’

Galloping around the bushes, they came into the clearing, swords ready.


No part of this book may be stored, reproduced, or transmitted in any form or by any means without the express permission of the author.

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

Other Chapters

Don’t worry if you miss any chapters, since you will find links to other posted chapters here:

All Available Chapters!

Maid of the Forest: Chapters 15 & 16

Maid of the Forest: Chapters 15 & 16

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.

Other Chapters

Don’t worry if you miss any chapters, since you will find links to other posted chapters here:

All Available Chapters!

Maid of the Forest – Forestyne: Chapters 15 & 16

Chapter 15

AD 449: Ambush

Having boiled and mashed the healing herbs, Forestyne began chanting softly, not disturbing the sleeping knights. As she carefully lifted the mandrake from the woollen bag, she whispered, ‘my Leif Lord, I beg you give off thy healing powers. I pray you to stay the pain and ensure my beloved is wrapped in the velvet softness of your healing powers.’

The plant stirred, waving the green leaves and jerking greasy limbs, it spoke in rasping tones. . ‘I promised, did I not? Stop your dithering and get on with it. I have waited long enough. Get on with it, you wretched girl.’

Smiling, Forestyne took no notice of his abusive language, t’was just his way. Still, despite his rancour, he did indeed heal the dying, giving them such tender care as they journeyed to the Eternal Shadow.

Placing the plant in the boiling water, she winced, hearing his screams, but knew his painful death would be swift, as he would soon enter the Upper World of the Gods.

Stirring the mandrake in the water, she hummed a soothing song. But all she heard for her efforts were his dying cries. ‘Shut up – shut up, you stupid….’

She added some lavender and honeysuckle, as the stench from the healing herbs, let alone the mandrake, was enough to make the strongest stomach lose its contents.

She glanced over to the wooden ledges to see the two knights laying content in their slumbers. Good, sleep would help heal Sir Devlin’s wounds and restore his strength.  Resuming her soft chanting, she implored Lady Henbane to give her mother beautiful visions as she passed through to the embrace of the Lord of death. Forestyne watched the last weaving struggles of the plant. Then, stirring the herbs rapidly, she poured the liquid into a wooden goblet for another few minutes.

Rising, she went over to her mother and gently roused her. ‘Dearest mother, I have the potions ready. Is it still your desire to leave this Middle World?’

Her heart almost broke as her mother nodded. ‘Thank you, my darling. But first, if I had power over my destiny, then I would stay with you. But, I must honour the goddess Arianrhod.’

Biting her lip, the tears tumbled down Forestyne’s sweet face. ‘Oh mother, tis the hardest thing I do. I must live, knowing I helped you to die.’

Moraig rose and took Forestyne in her arms. ‘Tis the greatest gift you give me dear daughter mine, for I will pass into the Upper World to take my place amongst the spirit guides and healers. Even the gods and goddesses seek sorcery, healing, and advice. And you dearest will make my journey one of peace and wondrous dreams.’

Forestyne gripped her mother’s hand. ‘Please don’t leave me. I love you so. I know I am selfish, but please don’t leave me alone.’

As she sobbed on her mother’s failing chest, Devlin lifted his head to see her hand her mother a wooden goblet. His heart went out to her; she was a brave girl and would be strong enough to let her most beloved mother fill her destiny. At that moment, he realized he had tender feelings for this strange, strong-headed maiden; for the first time in his life, Devlin felt love for a woman, the woman for whom he’d sought for in many lands. And he’d found her in a humble shack in the forest.

Devlin heard Moraig’s faint whisper. ‘You know I must go sweetheart, but you are young and understand not the way of Fate. I pray you to listen to me; I promised your beloved father on the advent of my death to tell you the truth of your birth. My dearest, you are the beloved daughter of Lady Adreva and the mighty Cadeyrn, King of Llanmadoc, this place being on the Welsh coast. They were married and deeply in love.’

‘Are they still alive? What happened to them?’

‘Dearest, let me explain, King Vortigern, cast eyes upon your beautiful mother. He was fairly sick for the love of her and vowed to make her his own, so he went to war on your father. Sadly, your gallant father lost his life fighting for his wife, and you, his beloved baby daughter. On his deathbed, he begged me to steal away with you, for Vortigern was jealous of anyone your mother loved, even you., He would surely have put you to death.  Your father made me promise to care for you until the Bear king, also known as Arthur, appeared. 

Forestyne cried, unable to stem the fierce tears stinging her eyes and cheeks. Her chest heaved with sorrow and longing for the parents she never knew. ‘My mother? My father?’

‘Yes, I promised never to reveal the truth until I lay on my deathbed. Your birth name given to you by your mother and father is Rhoslyn Muriel Ann, named after Rhosilli, one of the estates owned by your father. The bracelet of gems I gave to you is an ancient family heirloom, fashioned as I told you by the ancient gnomes, the silversmiths of the Lower World. It is blessed by an ancient wizard, an immortal. They are from your father and are proof of your heritage. You are never to take off the bracelet Forestyne, as the Wanderer of the World prophesied the Bear king will appear soon who will recognize the bracelet. Tis through him, you will reclaim your kingdom.’

‘My kingdom? Oh dearest mother, I would forsake all, just to have you with me, for you truly loved me, cared for me. I remember you cuddling me in your arms when I could barely walk. You played and laughed with me as you cooked over the fire, stitching my clothes, making my dolls by rushlight. There is no price on the love you give to me.’

Moraig stroked the silken waves of Forestyne’s hair as she held her in her arms. ‘I will always be with you, my sweetheart. Just call me, and I will hear from the Upper World. Tis, only the curtain of mortal death that separates us, for our spirits, are immortal. Now tis time – pray to give me the goblet.’

Forestyne’s hands trembled as she obeyed, watching through a veil of tears as her step-mother drank the fatal portion. She felt she could not bear it, that she would not die with her mother. She knew she had to carry on, taking on the role of sorceress and healer for the tree people. Deep in despair, she held her close.

Chapter 16

The Clearing

Even though charcoal clouds sketched the night sky, Tania ran to the bank; she could see the water sparkling as if carpeted with falling stars. Slipping off her shoes, she waded into the stream, taking care not to slip on slippery rocks. ‘Clari, it’s okay, we can drink the water, it’s clear; I can see the stones on the bed.’

Clara ran to join her, kicking off her shoes, she leapt past Lily engrossed in snuffling the reeds. Cupping her hands, Clara gulped it down, almost choking. Shaking the droplets from her face, she beamed. ‘Oh God, I needed that; I was so dry, my throat was like sandpaper.’

Tania nodded. ‘My feet feel a lot better now.  As she bent once more to cup water, something caught her eye; she squinted; yes, there they were again, flashes of light in the woods. Immediately, she touched Clara’s arm; putting her fingers to her lips, she pointed to the trees. 

Clara stiffened, her heart hammering as she peered into the dense woods.  She heard Tania gasp when a sliver of silver swished in an arc, slicing through a blanket of darkness.

Tania’s heartbeat tripled, seeing a figure emerging from the bushes, carrying a spear aloft in one hand, the other holding a small square shield. His skin shone a startling shade of blue, the moonlight swooping over his naked body.  Her heart nearly leapt to her throat as more figures emerged. ‘Don’t move – don’t move.’ Tania whispered, grabbing Lily and making her lie down on the mud.

They watched in silence with bated breath as the figures came closer.

Clara almost choked as she saw their bodies covered in a mass of tattoos, ‘Oh God, they look like savages.’

‘Who are they?’

‘Hmm, must be part of the re-enactment; I think they’re Picts. I remember studying in upper school. They warred with the southern kings in the dark ages.’

Clara made to go forward to meet them, but Tania stayed her arm. ‘Let’s hope these are sane.’

She shrieked, as in that moment, a man leapt over the bank to her. She tried to run away, only as another covered in more tattoos leapt into the stream, seizing her arm. She heard a dreadful snarl as Lily attacked the brute, only for him to kick her aside, raising his axe. In desperation, Tania grasped his arm, shouting at Lily to go. But Lily snarled viciously, sinking her teeth into her attacker’s thigh. Struggling, as he heard Clara’s screams, as the brute pushed her head underwater.

Tania gasped; they were carrying the re-enactment game too far; this was serious. Crying out, she tried kicking him, but to no avail, it was like fighting granite; all she did was stub her toes. She saw her brave friend turn her head underwater, her hair streaming like reeds as she bit the creature in the leg. Yelling, he let her go and stumbled back, as Clara shot up through the water, arms raised. Shouting in a guttural language, the beast jabbed at her forearm. Speedily another savage plunged into the stream and hoisted Clara out, screaming, choking, and struggling. As he climbed to the bank, he lifted her arm aloft, showing his fellow players the tattooed runic cross.

Realizing they were excited about her tattoos. She kept quiet, suspecting they may not be players but part of some deranged cult. They were even more insane than the knights on the horses. Best to humour them, but what the hell was that language? Maybe they were just gabbling gobbly gook to give more atmosphere. As Tania’s captor dragged her out of the water, she saw another tie a rope around Lily’s neck, shouting to the others and pointing to her white fur.  It appeared they looked upon her as some prize. Tania’s captor hauled her up the bank to join them.

Tania shuddered, petrified, seeing the most ferocious animals tattooed all over the attackers’ bodies, along with snakes, flaming suns, and spiral designs.  They must be imitating the Picts. One man walked up to her and her captor, the tattoos on his manhood apparent, as he jabbered away. Both turned and began examining her, excited over her painted nails and toenails.  Petrified and furious, she snarled. ‘Come on. this has gone far enough, this is only a re-enactment, you’re hurting people.’

The man blatantly ignored her and began stroking her hair whilst his partner examined her scalp. She saw a group of them gather around her, staring as one of the men tore her top apart. Angrily she punched him on the chest, only for another to throw her to the ground and, with the help of two others, pulled off her jeans.

Ignoring her cries, they jabbered excitedly, examining the seams, the zips, and the buttons, looking in awe of her.  Yet maybe it wasn’t awe, as one held her down, another examined her from head to foot, whilst others shook their heads frowning. 

One stepped forward with proud bearing, taller and more muscled than the rest, with every inch of his body covered in tattoos, his only apparel being a crown of feathers. Thumping his spear on the ground, he glared, shouting gibberish at her attackers, whereupon the men bowed and backed away.  She glanced over to Clara, who remained fully dressed, whilst the men held her arm aloft, as if in reverence. Clara looked over, gently shaking her head, trying to give a message.  When she put her finger to her mouth, Tania realized she wanted her to remain silent.

She watched, fascinated but shivering with cold, as Clara shouted out loud, and pointed to the top rune of the cross and screamed, beating her chest. The men immediately groveled on the ground before her, whereupon Clara, wearing a vicious scowl on her face, strode pompously over to Tania and grabbed her hair. Turning her to face the savages, she whispered,  ‘just pretend you’re a slave or something. They’ll think we’re players as well.’ Clara muttered between her teeth.’

Tania immediately hung her head and stood very still. But to no avail, as the leader shook his spear and pointed to the woods. The men jumped up, and lifting her aloft over their heads, carried her to the trees.  Screaming, she resisted, only to see Clara striding after her snarling viciously at the savages.

After some minutes of stumbling through waist-high ferns, they arrived at a cleared spot in the forest. On the edge of a circular patch stood a huge oak tree, where their leader pointed to a low branch. She could not hold her terror in anymore and sobbed, thinking they were about to hang her. One of them climbed the tree and sat astride the branch as another threw the ropes to him. Immediately, she felt her arms almost wrenched out of their sockets as they hauled her up, her toes barely touching the ground. She saw her captors bow reverently to Clara and usher her to the side of a fire pit, on which roasted some wildfowl.

Clara bit her lip; what could she do? Obviously, she’d done the wrong thing trying to communicate that Tania was her slave; instead, they treated her as an enemy. But then, it was all one big game; they were re-enactors playing with history. She was not only puzzled but frightened; it was getting out of hand; Tania was suffering, almost hanging. She would dislocate her shoulders if she was not let down soon.  She had to do something and fast.

As Tania sobbed in the background, the men brought a pile of furs, laying them on the ground, and then beckoning Clara to sit. They gathered around her, kneeling and bowing their heads to the ground before looking up and smiling hesitantly as they gazed upon the runes on her arm. Yet no one sought to touch them; neither did they attempt to touch her; thankfully, she was still in her clothes.  For some reason, Lily had pride of place, even though tied to a post; they gave her a fur rug to lie on. Yet, she whined soulfully for Tania, refusing the bones offered by the savages. Their acting was incredible; they were so well-rehearsed.  But she could not get them to understand she was not part of the re-enactment group. She heard a slight rustling in the bushes and saw the men immersed in the runes, now pointing and chattering excitedly. She dare not look around but prayed someone would save them or explain to these nutters that she and Tania were not part of the group.


No part of this book may be stored, reproduced, or transmitted in any form or by any means without the express permission of the author.

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

Other Chapters

Don’t worry if you miss any chapters, since you will find links to other posted chapters here:

All Available Chapters!