This week is a free week so no prompt to consider. Talking of freedom, today America has taken a step back from it. I cannot believe that Donald Trump won the Presidential election. I'm not going to go into any detail on this I just have to say that I'm one step further on the path of losing faith in all of humanity.
Anyway, on to the flash
“What have you done to my son?” King Aleric’s roar startles me, but is nothing compared to the terror I feel at the blank expression in the eyes of my love. Something within me screams in pain as our bond is severed. Somehow, the scream echoes into the room, and it isn’t until my mother wraps her arms around me and presses my head to her breast that I realize I have given voice to it.
“How could you do this?” she sobs.
“Put up your sword,” the Druid says calmly. “Until I release him, your son will remain a mindless shell, so if you wish have him whole and sane, put up your sword and stand out of my way.”
“Please, Aleric,” my father says, “put away your sword. This is not a time to fight, but to talk; to find a way around this.”
“Talk then,” the Druid says. “When you have finished, come to Cave of the Winds. I will perform the ritual there at sunrise. Come.” He commands Castien who follows as he moves toward the door. Aleric blocks him.
“You will not take my son. I don’t know what you’ve done to him and the only reason your body still retains your head is because I might need you to restore him. Make no mistake, I will ensure you pay for this. When The Kingdom takes Coedwen, your head will be the first to decorate the stakes in my castle.”
I shiver, my blood running cold at the thought of war. “Please don’t let him do this,” I plead to my father who shakes his head helplessly.
“I forbid it.” Both my father and I freeze with shock as my mother gently disentangles herself from my clinging arms and rises to her feet. I have never seen her look so angry.
“You forbid it? In what capacity? I am not bound by your authority as queen.”
“No, but you are bound by my authority as The Great Mother.”
My father and the Druid gasp. I’m too shocked. I didn’t know Mother is the Great Mother. It’s not a title often bestowed on a queen, but Mother was not supposed to have been queen. She must have taken the oath of a priestess before her bonding to Father. I never knew. I wrack my brain to remember if I have noticed her absence on fasting and feast days. Perhaps. Could it be on all those occasions in the past when I have asked Father “Where’s Mother?” and he said “She’s about somewhere”, what he really meant was “She’s secluded in the grotto communing with The Great Mother”? Have I truly woken? Surely this must be nothing but a fever dream.
“You would invoke Her here? For this?”
“You speak as if the love of a mother for her child, of a father for his son, or of two young people whose spirits have bonded, is of no great import.”
“Love? Love counts for nothing. It has no value.”
“Kai, stop this, I beg of you. Have you changed so much? Forgotten so soon? Allis would weep to see you now.”
“How dare you speak her name?” the Druid roared. “Where were you when she was taken? Where was your precious Goddess when her life bled out at my feet? Love means nothing. Love makes us weak. I refuse to acknowledge you. I refuse to bow to the authority of your cold mistress. The Cave of Winds at Sunset. The ritual will be performed whether you are there or not.”
The Druid makes a sweeping motion with his staff and Aleric stumbles to the side as if someone had shoved him. Without pausing the Druid sweeps from the room with Castien following mindlessly. No one is able to move until he has disappeared into the corridor. Then, when Aleric tries to follow, his path is blocked by frightened and apologetic, but steadfast healers.
Mother collapses into Father’s arms, weeping. “Oh my love, what has he become? What have we done?”
Father strokes her hair. “I had no idea he’d become so bitter. We should not have postponed our trip for so long.”
Castien’s father continues to yell and threaten but I can’t listen any longer. I curl as small as I can, and cradle my hands close to my body. For once, I relish the pain as it distracts me from the pain in my heart, which is worse. My love is gone. He believes me to have lured him here with false promises and betrayed him. How many times have I sworn my faithfulness when he doubted, unable to let himself believe? He was right. I was not to be trusted. I was faithless. At the first test of our love, I failed.
I was not aware of weeping, until my mother’s hand, stroking my hair, sooths me to take control of my sobs.
“I…I betrayed him. I failed to protect him, and I promised I would. I swore I would keep him safe. I believed it, Mother. I believed there was nothing that could stand between us. I never foresaw this.”
“Be easy child. It will come right. The Great Mother does not abandon her children. She does not steer them this far wrong.”
“Father knew.” Sudden clarity bursts on me like scalding acid.
“I don’t understand.”
“On the journey here, he told me there was something strange about Castien. I didn’t think anything of it. I didn’t think at all. I believed nothing could come between us, could challenge our love. If I had known….”
“If you had known you would still have fallen in love with him, but it would have ripped out your heart.”
“It has ripped out my heart. He hates me, and with good cause. I have failed him.”
Mother kisses me. “You have failed no one. Come, rise and we shall go together to consult with The Great Mother. She will show us the way.”
Now go check out the rest of the flashers this week