Doug is feeling fuzzy, a warmth envelopes him but as his thoughts clear he feels cold. It is dark, he is laying down. The floor is cold, hard and vibrating. As his thoughts become cognisant he realises he is in the back of a van. He realises his hands and feet are tied, he looks around, occasionally light flickers through the rear window giving him glimpses of the interior. One such flicker shows he is not alone. The other figure laying on the floor he thinks is Ashley, his wife.
“Ash are you alright”? He asks frantically.
She does not answer, Doug cannot hear her breathing, he strains to hear over the noise of the engine, the tyres on the road and his own heart. He struggles against his bonds he hears the van slow and the gear change to lower gears. He rolls as the van takes a sharp turn. A lower gear is selected and the rocking of the floor tells Doug they are on at best, a farm track or an uneven road. He is aware of several more sharp turns before the van stops, Doug listens and breathes a sigh of relief as he is able to hear Ashley’s breathing now the engine has stopped.
Two voices and laughter. The van rocks and Doug hears and feels two doors slam shut. Then silence until the back doors open.
“He’s awake”. Said one voice.
“Good we won’t have to carry him”. The other replied.
Doug feels someone grab his leg and pull.
“Right, you will stand up and I will cut your legs free, any funny business and you both will suffer, do you understand”?
“Yes” said Doug nervously.
His legs are freed and he is pushed in a direction to his right. It is dark, he cannot see where he is going and the ground is uneven, he fell over several times before he got to where they wanted him to be. Each time he fell he is dragged roughly to his feet without a word.
Doug is taken to the edge of the woods, a rope is tied tightly around his wrists, adding to his discomfort. He feels rather than sees someone doing something on the other end. The man left without a word, Doug can hear sounds of other vehicles arriving. His thoughts turned to his wife.
He found he is now attached to a sturdy steel pole that seemed to be driven deep into the ground, about six feet standing above ground. Had his hands been bound in front of him he may have been able to lift the loop over the end and free himself, with his hands behind his back that is impossible.
“I must help her”, he thinks. He tried gripping the pole, it’s girth prevented him. He heard distant voices, car doors closing.
He pulled against his tether, hoping to loosen the stake, but with his wrists bound behind them the pain is too great, even so he tried but the loose dry stony ground gave him no purchase. He ran at the pole, he thinks he feels movement, he knew he feels pain. The impact and the pain caused him to fall, he sobbed at the futility of it.
The clouds cleared briefly, although it is only a half moon the light allowed him to see his surroundings. More importantly it allowed him to see the end of the rope tethering him to the pole. A noose had been slipped over the pole, it is not knotted, it is spliced. There is no way he would be able to separate it. It is too loose to use the rope to grip it and tied as he is, he also cannot lift the loop to give himself more leverage to give any hope of widening the hole. He then looked for a sharp stone, hoping to cut the rope a cloud dispelled that hope.
He sees light. Flickering flames. First one, then more. Seven in all. They move around, seemingly arranging in a formation. Then he hears chanting. And the lights began to move.
The distant chants fuel his anger, the thoughts of Ashley’s plight fuel his resolve. The moon takes pity on him and shines again.
He finds a stick, it gives him an idea. He takes the stick to the pole and inserts it into the noose. He thinks that if he could twist it he may be able to tighten it enough to let him move the pole.
Easy if you have you hands in front of you, nigh on impossible when they are behind you.
He can still hear the chants, they are moving away from him, he looks for the moving lights he catches glimpses through the trees. He has to find a way to get free, a way to help Ashley. He tries again to make the stick twist the noose. He fails again, but he notices the stick has been split from the tree, one end is tapered with the grain. He wondered whether he can stick it in the ground and tighten the noose by running around the pole.
He gets it in the ground, he tries his idea, the noose slips uselessly around.
Doug is frantic, he runs against the pole again and again hurting himself as he desperately continues, trying to free himself by repeating the futile attempts. Tearing his flesh at the extreme of his bonds, beating, bruising and breaking himself at the centre, the post.
Lost in rage, he doesn’t notice that the rope has fallen inside the gap between the post and the stick. Lost in pain he is unaware he is circling the pole. Loss of blood aiding his confusion and full of frustration and desperation he does not notice the rope shortening as he wraps it around the pole, his orbits spiralling him to the centre.
“Can no not Ash have to help her, hells teeth”.His said in his mind, the sounds are a little different. Gutteral grunts add themselves to his poorly formed and strained words.
Anyone hearing him would have heard something like.
“Khern ... Non ... nuh ... nnn ... asssh ... Help ... er”.
“Esh ... tee-Ah ... er”.
The ancient Briton’s did not have a heaven or hell, their dead were thought to go to the Summer lands, the Saxons and the Norse surmised they ended up at Valhalla or Volkfangr depending on their prowess as a warrior.
The horned god and his wife sit enjoying the sun and some mead. Rabbits and fauns frolick around them.
“I feel a hunt coming on, what do you fancy, boar, bear, deer? Maybe something a little more exotic”? He smiles as the faun that has strayed near overhears and understands before running off as fast as his hooves will carry him.
Then the god he looks at his wife, his face full of surprise. “Did I really hear that?” He doesn’t need to ask, he feels the pull.
As he stands to answer the call his wife also begins to rise. “It seems I am also wanted.”
Taking each other by the hand they step. The step takes them to a hill.
Standing on the hill they look down and survey the events that had and are continuing to unfold.
It is said time has no meaning for Gods, This is not exactly true. Time has meaning but mankind hasn’t yet learned either the concept of meaning, nor of time and they are way, way out on the concept of Gods. They have began to get the basic concept of space and have made a complete balls up of trying to understand economics.
Two Gods watch the events from before their calling, before their arrival, they see Doug as he is taken from the van and tethered. They feel his anguish, his torment and his helplessness, they know he feels those things. Not for himself, but because he is unable to aid his beloved. They watch the congregating predators as they arrive, they watch them first strip then don white robes. They watch as they light torches and pull the helpless girl from the metal wagon. They watch with distaste as they strip her and lift her onto their shoulders. They laugh when they hear the chants and see them get into a formation for the procession.
They are appalled when they see the focus of the “coven’s” idea of a sabbat.
“Latin, why aren’t they chanting in Latin? They usually chant in latin. Fuck me, latin is bad enough but what the fuck are they saying? Have they have no idea”? chuckles Oestara
“Their grammar and enunciation is terrible even for what is total bollocks”. Laughed Cernnunos. “Not to mention their bastardisation of the names of those who they are pretending to venerate”.
“Percy Phone” giggled Oestara “I can’t wait to tell Persephone (Per sef fanny). It’s about time She and Hades came for a feast. These mortals don’t even try any more, do they”?
“Not so much. Anyway my love, it seems someone has asked properly”. He crooks his arm for her to grasp and asked. “Shall we”?
Oestara takes his arm and they step forward and that step brings them in front of a bleeding mortal. He has little blood left to bleed, and little life left to live before he would no longer appreciate the concept of mortal, but experience it. Experiencing it in the manner a lump of dead flesh can experience anything.
“Have strength Doug,”. Assures Oestara. “If she is truly worthy of your love, no harm will befall her.”
Doug feels his despair leave him at the sound of her voice. His beaten, bloodless, battered body seems to gain renewed vigour, just from the being near those now standing with him. He turns his head upwards to see the speaker. The sight of her reassures him. There is no golden glow around her, no aura, none of the rumoured signs of otherworld entities, but her presence brings him comfort, security, he feels safe knowing she is there.
“Come it is time”. A deep male voice erupts behind Doug.
Doug starts and finds he is able to bring his hands around. He turns to the other voice as he stands. The sight of Cernnunos brings terror to any that he has displeasure with. Doug has not dis-pleasured the god so feels no such fear, if anything her gains strength just by being in his presence. Doug sees the figure towering in front of him, standing a good nine feet tall, with horns that add more than another two. His skin, hair and fur an indeterminate colour, either reds or greens, Doug’s eyes and brain will not or can not settle on a colour, the same is true of Oestara but she is white, pink, brown and almost black, Red avoids all but her lips. She is just beauty incarnate.
The each bend down and take his hands before stepping forward.
As they grasp his hands Doug is amazed, his mind connects with theirs. He sees as much of what had been and what is and will come, as his feeble human brain can accept. Senses he has no word for, intrude on his consciousness, visions of occurrences so removed from his existence bombarded his very being and yet he finds he can do nothing but accept the experience.
In one step they are now deep in the woods, standing outside an old building looking in. Doug looks into the building, not through a window, but through the walls. He can see the walls, they are not transparent, he can see them, solid stone, two feet thick, but he can see, not through them, but past them, it is if they were not there. In a second he knows it is an old early Saxon church. He knows, it lay in the thick woods, almost forgotten by time, almost forgotten by man, yet now he remembers it being built on the site of the henge that stood before it...
He knows, it had originally lay in an open field at the bottom of a large hill, small by modern standards it would hold only twenty people at most. Built from stones that once stood in a ring at the same site. Stones that were once held sacred. Stones, that had they not been cannibalised would later have been pronounced cursed. Not from knowledge or experience, but from the fickle nature of man.
Had they not been so desecrated, would now be thought to have a huge historical significance.
Now nature is engulfing the building built from those stones, reclaiming it. Now striving to hide it in dense woodland. Masking it with centuries of decay and any vegetation that can exist in the dark, damp habitat. Even the hill has moved, creeping outwards, shifting it’s mass, ready to encompass it.
Once, it had been re-consecrated to the god of the christians, but under Norman rule a new bigger church had been built a mile away, in the village, the old one de-consecrated, abandoned and left to ruin.
Few then held onto the old ways, the old gods, but enough to return the site it’s true name. It became again known to all as Cern’s Ledge, over the centuries now has changed to Cern’s lodge.
Those that held their beliefs in the ways of the wise had to become secretive and in the thirteenth century, a wrongful interpretation from the christan fables, “Suffer not a poisoner to live”, became “suffer not a witch to live”, and the pope issued a bull, an order for all when found, to be put to death, then tried and pronounced guilty.
The few became less, they did not pass on their knowledge. Witch no longer meaning wise, but evil old crone.
Centuries passed and a new quest for knowledge began to surface, what was once called weictz or wise, now given a new name, they called it science.
At first science was mostly limited to those that were rich enough to be able to think and question. The church fought back, but the world had already began changing, the iron grip of the catholic tyrannical dictatorship began to succumb to the reformation in the sixteenth century. The church split, breaking free from the bloody inhumane rule of popes and cardinals, the protestant church was born. Offering, and somewhat achieving, for some, a new better way of worship.
Over half century before this schism, the printing press was invented. Books became cheaper and more numerous, a consequence of this was, more people were allowed to, and able to, learn to read.
The next few centuries, there were many other splits, both in the churches and the sciences, some try to blend the two, coming up with odd ideas that served neither. Others began to search for the old ways, the way of the wise.
One such cult arose, loosely based on the rumours of the old religion, but the truth of the old way was lost. It will never return. This religion they call Wicca, they thought they knew the old ways, the names of the old gods, many tried to use their “knowledge” to call to the old ones. Their trouble was they mixed the myths of different lands, different lore, rendering once powerful sigels impotent. A five pointed star will achieve nothing in the British Isles, salt is only for your food here, but willow, yew and certain waters can, if used correctly, perform miracles within these shores.
The old ones watched at times, from time to time they hear their calls and occasionally they walk the earth. Mankind had turned it’s back on them, in turn they have withdrawn themselves, choosing not to be involved, not to interfere unless mankind learns once again to call them by correct names and in the correct manner.
Ashley is on a flat stone, it looks like an alter. Naked, and tied by her arms and legs to four posts driven into the floor. Her bonds holding her limbs outstretched, her sex exposed and accessible. Seven flaming torches, held by seven of the robed figures. Two either side of her head, one at the extreme of each of her limbs and one between her feet. She looks terrified, and then she doesn’t, briefly a serenity seems to come over her. Briefly that serenity is replaced by resignation. Then it is replaced by another feeling, that is the feeling that decides her fate.