The air wet with a gentle mist that wasn’t quite rain or snow covered the ground. In the soft darkness, the veil split. The night’s slumber disturbed with a cataclysmic flash of light where shadows receded and returned once more. A primal force rocked the land on its plates but didn’t scar the earth. In its wake, a blue-faced hag remained motionless and surveyed her surroundings. Her age was time itself. She closed her eyes and listened. The night gave off subtle sounds of tiny insects and the breeze through the trees, but nothing more. She knelt in the meadow, rubbed the glistening blood from her hands, and relished the feel of fresh grass beneath her feet. She rose and crept toward the loch, confident she wasn’t followed.
Arawn didn’t make her escape easy. After eons of loneliness, she sought to experience life as her creation did. She thought she’d found that in Arawn, but somehow he tricked her. She never sensed he was a god. The Unseelie King, no less. She was a fool, but now free from him, and she would not return. He can’t find her here. This isle was her place of power on earth. Here she restored herself and maintained the cycle.
The smell of singed earth lingered in the air, and primordial energy surged through her. With a wave of her hand, an electric charge ripped down the beach. The sand felt deliciously velvet between her toes, and water danced across her feet at the loch’s edge. The darkness deepened as it struggled to keep hold of the night, but dawn always got its way. The first glimmer blossomed orange and gold across the sky. This was her favorite moment, the time between night and day, death, and renewal. Raw energy enveloped her as she waded into the bubbling surf and slipped below the surface. She plunged into its depths and drank the mystic waters. They transformed her once again to the fair maid, her beauty renewed, the cycle maintained.
King Vipoig rode south with his men toward the Bay of Laig. His journey on the isle was at an end. They’d been there too long already, and he wished for a swift return home. The New Year was upon them. Ostara, his favorite season of new beginnings and the festivities began tonight. They rushed to the shore until the night sky turned to day in a brilliant flash that seared their eyes. The land rumbled and quaked beneath horses’ hooves. They halted, allowed their eyes to adjust, and surveyed the area.
“To the East, my lord,” One of Vipoig’s men pointed. They altered course toward the blazing vegetation that burnt in the distance.
They arrived at the bank in time to witness a vision emerge from the churning water. Her alabaster shoulders crested the surface, and inch by inch, she rose from the surging surf. The king, mesmerized, ordered his men to stay as he went ahead alone. He moved toward the water’s edge and the ethereal woman of the loch. Her ginger hair cascaded over her in rusty waves. His breath quickened to match the rapid beat emanating from his chest. They stood inches from each other. The phosphorescent gleam in her ice-blue eyes captivated him. Yet, tension seeped through him as he studied her. The woman’s skin and eyes glowed with preternatural power, but he was helpless. Transfixed, unable to move. She’d bewitched him. He struggled to regain control of his limbs. His grip on his sword hilt tightened, but he couldn’t do much else. The siren’s hypnotized me. He watched the corner of her mouth upturn and her eyebrow cock as if she knew his thoughts.
The maiden studied the handsome man standing before her, both drawn to and suspicious of him. Is it another one of Arawn’s tricks, or is he a mere mortal? The lady of the loch pondered the thought as her eyes roamed over his body. She took in every curved muscle and chiseled line. She sensed nothing godly about him. His broad shoulders, chest, and muscular form were pleasing to look at. Yet his aura showed an air of power and strength few mortals carried with such ease. There is power in this one, and he’s as beautiful as a god, but Arawn wears many skins. He duped me once, not again. She intensified her hold on the man and gravitated closer. The air sizzled when she slid her hand across his chest and gazed into his eyes. She continued her caress down the side of his body. In a swift motion, she pulled a dagger from its sheath at his waist and sliced a thin line across his forearm. His blood runs red, not a god. Good.
Vipoig pulled back from the strange woman and unsheathed his sword part of the way in defense. Perplex at her ability to get his dagger from him before he could move. “You cut me! What are you doing, lass?”
“It was necessary. I had to check,” the maiden studied the man, and an unfamiliar feeling surged inside her. Being alone for so long, she almost forgot what attraction felt like.
“Check what exactly?” he asked, confused by and drawn to the woman. His wits and his heart battled for control.
“Your blood,” she said as she moved closer. She reached up, grazed his cheek with light fingers, and admired the curious feeling. His eyes closed at her touch, and she sensed his heart quicken. His skin was soft and rough. She slid her hand behind his neck, pulled him toward her, and pressed her lips to his. She felt a flutter move through her. Very curious.
Vipoig responded, unable to resist her touch or her lips on his. His hand slid across her flawless skin to the small of her back. He seized her in a firm embrace. The longer they touched, the stronger the reverberation increased between them. He caressed her back, loving the feel of her bare skin. His eyes shot open, and he pulled away. A cursory glance at the lines of her body revealed she wasn’t wearing any clothes. He removed his cloak and wrapped her in it with an urgent need to protect her.
“Ye dinna have a stitch on. What are ya doin’ out here all alone and kissin’ men you’ve only met?”
She moved to speak, but he wasn’t finished yet.
“For that matter, who are ya lass?” Vipoig crossed his arm across his broad chest and cocked an eyebrow. His giant frame towered over her, but her imposing nature radiated everywhere around him. Like the lass had no need for his protection. The alluring smirk she gave him as she gazed into his eyes made him weak.
“I was curious, mortal,” she shrugged and moved toward him again.
Viopoig placed his hands on her shoulders to keep her at arm’s length. He grappled with her words and an intense desire that hid behind his thick woolen lèine-chròich. He made a subtle adjustment to the tunic to make sure he was the only one aware of his attraction. The woman’s an enigma. He didn’t know if she would stab him or kiss him again. She’d already done both.
“Mortal? Who are you?” He fought to keep focused on her, even if everything else didn’t want to cooperate.
“My name is Cailleah,” she said. “And you king, what do they call you?”
Finally, a name. At least we’re getting somewhere. “Viopoig,” he said.
“I have no desire to harm you, but I do wish you to take me with you.”
“You do now? And why should I do that?” He replied.
“Because I wish it,” she said.
His lip curled at her brazen orders. At that moment, caught in the siren’s eyes, he fell in love with her. That was the way all men of his line fell in love as if struck by lightning.
To be continued…
[You can also find Ostara Rising published here with Coffee House Writers]
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