How this year has changed the world! Erwyllian thought. And indeed the world was a different place. One year since Cernunnos, the great God of the forest showed himself. One year since the Gods had spoken. With war in the land, hardship and terrible loss, hope still ran strong and deep in the people. Now, that hope was standing, in the form of a bony old man before the altar.
Half a year ago, he'd stood here, on this hill by Caer yn Arvon's walls and called the Gods to make a king. The place still vibrated with the power of that night. Adding this night's magic would only increase the feeling of power on the hill. It was a time of magic and faith; a time to bend yet another knot in the cord that ties men and the world together.
Even Christians knew the power this night brought to men's hearts. Hallow's Eve or All Soul's Night they called it - anything, as long as the word "Samhain" did not cross clean Christian lips. Erwyllian smiled at their folly. Did they understand? No. They never would and never could! To abandon hope in this life and pray for redemption in the next was their way. All is lost except for the way of the Christ! And woe and death to those who did not bend their knee before the cross! The Christians would see power this night and know it for the truth. Everyone would!
Erwyllian opened his eyes and looked to the west. The last glow of red left the sky, leaving the stars to shine brightly over the land. Gathered around him at the summit were Maelgwn and his court, Teg and Nisien. The year had changed Teg, as it had changed the world. He was now a grown warrior, sure of his arms, his heart and mind.
The lord bard stood further down the hillside, surrounded by a knot of foster boys who had come of age and were given their torcs. One was talented in his schooling and would be sent up the hill to walk the holly branch around fire-circle and lay it over the flame at the altar to mark the passing of another year.
It was a solemn night; a night for contemplation of the year's deeds, its rights and its wrongs. It was a time when men felt the need to make amends and set things straight, as they should be.
Tonight The Veil was thin and the passage eased into the world beyond. The dead rode the dark wind, mixing with the spirits of all things that live and so - with time, all things that die. It was a night of completion, the circle of life, the cycle of time, all come home to roost, to rest through winter's darkness, to wait for rebirth in the light of spring.
For all that, Erwyllian found himself hard pressed not to laugh out loud. The joy of it! The boundless, exploding surge of living filled his arms and legs with a strength beyond youth. His thin, bony hands stretched up into the great arch of the sky. Flesh mattered so little now. In time he would be done with it and his withered frame would be set under stones that had known him in life.
He opened himself to the power that drove the world and was filled to bursting. Up through his feet, rushing into his lungs, pulsing in his ears and veins, the elementals beat with a life of their own. It came so easily to him now. Once, this was a labor, a forging of will and discipline. Now, he crossed The Veil as a man rises to his wife in the morning. A lifetime of dreams couldn't have made this night happen!
Feeling the power build, his head swirling over the world, he reached his mind out to the Priestess, knowing in his heart that she was there for him - waiting, suspecting nothing of what this night would bring. His mind's eye sought her out, ignoring the long miles to the White Well.
He smiled at finding her, already kneeling at her pool. Erwyllian looked into her face. The softness of youth was gone. The face of her spirit showed the mark of a woman of magic - a magic that took its payment from all who followed the path.
Moiwrynn knelt back, seating herself on her heels. Her hair, washed and un-plaited hung free, covering her small frame to the waist. She felt something pull at her inside - a gentle tug deep in her chest. She gazed into the pool, and focused immediately as the Sight came, as if the Path had been cleared. Did such things happen? She guessed it a Sending and not her Sight alone that called her to look into the water. She began to breathe deeply, feeling a growing power with each heave of her ribs.
It seemed she knelt there for hours, drawing in the force of the living world. Tonight, even that felt different. She felt a part of something greater. As a river was built of many streams, so Moiwrynn added her gifts to the greater flow sweeping the world.
She gazed into the water, finding the greater darkness there on this darkest of nights. In the seas which girdled the world, the ocean tides began to shift. In the flat mirror of the pool she saw broken abbey walls below the Tor. Why did the Goddess show her things already done? She puzzled. But this was what the Great Mother wanted her to see, so she would look. Huge roots twisted and turned through large broken stones which once made the abbey. Her eye ran along a thick root and she followed it into the earth, this time without fear.
No Old Ones waited for her below. There was no light, but she needed none. She seemed suspended, hanging in the air in the middle of a great cavern. Above her head the great roots twined through the earth. Here and there she saw squares of stone jutting down in the darkness, showing where their ends were dug into the ground above her. She knew them to be the tall stone crosses carved by the Christians and realized that she must be seeing many miles in distance as her eye passed each stone. Beside each stone root of the dead god, a thick living root twined the earth. It was then that she felt the rush of power and understanding came to her.
Erwyllian's image came into view. His face and body shifting before her eyes, from ancient man to vigorous youth, middle-aged, to a man in prime, then a babe, and back to the wizened old man again. He looked a blend of all that Erwyllian was now, and had been, fading back and forth. She'd only to look upon him, and she knew what was to be done. She opened her power to his and felt the Goddess' pleasure as she yielded to the greater strength standing before her.
Within her mind, Moiwrynn saw both the deep caverns under ground and the world above - a world grown silent, the winds quieted, the seas still as her glassy pool, flat and sm