The huts are gone. The green lawn beside the stream holds only an echo of their fallen carcasses. Their fires sleep forever in shadow. Voices whisper only in the wind.
Stones line the way, guiding reluctant feet towards the hidden valley and the stark, skeletal rowans of winter. The land wears an ancient garment of bronze and the wind howls…
I see you.
I called, and you have come.
The time is now.
I know you fear what you will find and the veils you will part. I see it in your eyes… in your footsteps… in the tilt of your head. Wind in hair the colour of faded bracken, beside you he who sees the world with the eyes of the heart, while you see with eyes aflame.
I know your name… though you do not.
Not yet, little sister.
They contain the power of bringing into being; the power of making.
Mine was never spoken, after my choosing. And after the flames only one remained to hold it safe; he could not speak it, his voice ever given to the gods except in service. We never spoke, never whiled away the winter darkness… our voices touched only to serve the seeing. Yet he saw me as clearly as I see you now, a mirror of destiny across the bridge of time… An empty vessel of the gods.
Yes, closer still… Come. It is all in the finding. Even though you do not understand what it is you seek here. Not yet. That will come. Yes.
Here they laid my bones, clean and white, marked with earth, laid under earth, not given to the flames. That was their gift to me… to those who went before. Those whose souls’ gift I carried. They laid me under earth and under stone, beside the cool waters in the quiet place.
He waited in silence until his ending, an ending of his willing. My name was on his lips at the last.
You can hear it still, whispered on the wind…
From Doomsday: The Ætheling Thing ~ Stuart France & Sue Vincent
It is a place we know well… we have spent a good deal of time with the stones, hut circles and burial cairns of Barbrook, listening for the whispers on the wind…
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