Ash Moon Rising
(When you don’t equate death with stopping)
By Bronwyn of Llewelynn
man’s vision becomes the other’s grave
The full moon rose and
all who gazed up at its ashy face, believed it to be a herald for bad times.
Boadecia, Queen to the Iceni Celts, rode her mount like a band of Banshees was
on her tail, towards the west coast of her beloved land.
She had no time for superstition. She spurred her horse on even harder,
although the animal was heavily foaming around the mouth. Cramming a three-day
ride into one, through the land of the less than friendly Ordovician’s was
hazardous for her health, but she pressed on.
Roughly half a day’s ride away from
Boadecia’s location in the Black Hills, Centurion Dominic Peregrinus watched a
fresh Cohort of soldiers join his beloved IXth Legion. On the shores close to
Segontium, or Caernarvon as the Celts called it, the Romans assembled tents and
stockades and fed the new batch of warhorses. A large number of soldiers lined
up on the hills above, with their designated Centuries, and seemed to make ready
for war. It was indeed war, in the eyes of Governor Paulinius. He had given
Dominic a free hand in executing the last phase of dominating Britania Inferior
and their order of Druids.
Gordian of Ravenna headed up the hill to where
his commander was camped. After cleaning off some grime by swinging a few
handfuls of rainwater from a barrel over his sweaty head, Gordian grinned at the
guards and entered the commanding Centurion’s tent.
“Ave, my Liege. And a fine night it is for
dying too, if you are a Druid.” The bearded Roman said, saluting his
commander. He picked up a piece of cloth to dry his face and eagerly accepted
the tall beaker of watered-wine, offered by a slave.
“Right you are, Gordian.”
Dominic looked up from a table scattered with parchments and smiled
warmly at his right hand man. “It shouldn’t be much of an effort to take the
Isle of Mona, and have supper together afterwards.”
“My conclusion exactly, my Liege,” Gordian
replied, letting his stout frame drop on the only unoccupied chair. “When do
“ Patience, my eager warrior. The night is
still young and the air tepid.” Dominic rolled up a scroll and gently placed
it back in it’s casing. “Soon every Goddess fearing Celt will lie down in
the fields. As during every Beltaine, they will all mate like a pack of wild
bitches on heat, prostituting themselves for another good harvest this
autumn.” Dominic paused, a cold expression in his eyes, and then slammed his
hand flat on the table, “and that’s when we strike, my comrade.”
Gordian lifted his beaker and almost whispered
in awe, “To your genius vision, my Liege, to Paulinus Suetonius and to the
glory that is Rome.”
“Ave Caesar, for the expansion of his
Empire,” Dominic added, laughing. “Now, go and give the first five
Contuberia their orders to row to Mona. Wait for the moon to start it’s decent
and then do away with the Druids. I will sound the costal attack after I see the
island settlement burning.”
Gordian saluted and slowly walked out of the
tent backwards. “May Mars smile upon us tonight,” were his last words before
On the high walls of Caerdon mote, Donnal of the
Iceni and his army waited to see where the Romans would strike first. Spread
along the shoreline from the Street of Menai to Deva, clan kings positioned
their armies as defense. Across the waters on Mona,
Only a few candle marks’ ride away, Boadecia
watched the dark horizon begin to light up. A faint golden glow along the lower
hilltops turned the black of night a deep shade of blue. Her horse dropped from
under her at the small village of Colwyn Bay. There she waited impatiently for a
farmer to saddle
She goes her way
Around an enormous blazing fire at the peak of
the Tor, a foursome of blue robed women stood hand in hand, flanked by nine
women standing in a half circle. The four women in front let each other’s hand
go. One by one, they enclosed a knife in their left hand and drew blood.
Flinging the blood seeping from her palm into
the fire, Xena followed the example of the Priestesses, like she was told to do.
Rhiannon, Vivian and Nimue resumed a meditative
posture after offering their blood to the flames, while the women behind them
chanted to the Goddess.
Xena was having a hard time concentrating and
Rhiannon stopped the ritual a few times, just before the Warrior bailed on them
Giving Xena some of the herbs the maidens in
training used to help them slip onto a trance mixed with wine, Nimue helped her
relax and focus. There was no more time left to lose. “We will not let you go,
Xena. We become the fourth face of the Goddess together remember,” The
faerie-like voice and charming smile of the youthful High Priestess got through
the Warriors defenses. “No one works alone.”
“I invoke thee, Mother Of All, Crone, womb of
the earth and holder of all wisdom and life. Ceridwen, I invoke thee,” Vivian
sang to the flames and her body started to shake.
“I invoke thee, Daughter Of The Moon, huntress
of the skies and protector of child and animal. Rhiannon, I invoke thee,”
Rhiannon called upon the moon deity and her namesake. The redhead felt like she
was flying and this time no she entered the astral realm with ease.
Entering the astral dimension, Vivian looked at
her body, motionless by the fire and beckoned her sisters, Come to me,
“I invoke thee, Maiden of The Light, bringer
of dawn and creator of the seasons.
I invoke thee, Arhianrod,” Nimue’s voice
cried for the third form of the Goddess, just before her body collapsed. She saw
Rhiannon and Vivian essence already melting together and felt them pull her
“I invoke thee, Lady of the Night, obstructer
of life and destroyer of light. I invoke thee, I invoke thee,” Xena’s
powerful voice rang over the Tor. Her frame shook like a reed in a storm before
it hit the ground, as lifeless as death its self.
Resisting the pull of the other three women,
Xena looked down at her body and tried to will herself back into it.
“Xena.” The being that was the essence of
the three Priestesses called to her with a voice that touched the Warrior
profoundly. She could no longer resist joining them.
registered every move they made, like watching from a distance and being the
movement, all at the same time. It felt like flying through water, without
having to worry about breathing. The closer they moved to the edge of this
amazing realm, the quieter it became. A peace so profound enveloped her and all
fear she might have felt, vanished like the sun at the end of a long day.
With the harshness of a flint and tinder
striking in front of her eyes during the darkest of night, the quiet and calm
changed to a roaring fire and they moved into the heart of that very fire.
Xena caught a glimpse of what she and the
Priestesses had become. Out of the heart of the peaceful being they were, rose a
dark and horrid creature- with teeth and claws of a size no mortal’s
imagination could conjure. It was the fourth face of the Goddess, ready to take
back what she had given.
[|From the Annals by Tacitus]
On the shore of the island of Mona stood the
Britons and Celts akin, close embodied and prepared for action. Women were seen
running through the ranks in wild disorder; their apparel funeral; their hair
loose to the wind, in their hands flaming touches. Their whole appearance
resembling the frantic rage of the Furies. The Druids were ranged in order, with
hands uplifted, invoking the gods, and pouring forth horrible imprecations. The
novelty of the fight struck the Romans with awe and terror. They stood in stupid
amazement, as if their limbs were benumbed, riveted to one spot, a mark for the
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