A little tidbit that I never found a place for…
Once again, Rada stood knee-deep in snow beside a megalith and wondered if the power was worth the price. She looked into the snow-silent darkness and felt the energies underlying the Isle of the Mighty as they flowed through age-old channels in the land. Behind her, the British Branch headquarters complex squatted in the now, the gardens nothing more than lumps under a blanket of white. A slight rise of land hid the lights from Rada’s sight, leaving her alone in the cold. Or perhaps not as alone as she thought, Rada realized as she heard someone shuffling towards the standing stone. A mean little smile appeared on Rada’s face and she eased towards the stone, her dark coat blending into the dark gray rock.
Sergeant John Andrews, or Lone Tree as he preferred to think of himself, almost missed the sacred stone in the darkness. Rada heard him catch himself and turn. Then she smelled burning grass and realized that he’d brought some kind of incense to the rock. Not smart, she growled silently. Logres agreed, and Rada felt the Power stir briefly as it commanded her to drive off the interloper. Logres gained nothing from the human’s misguided attempt at worship and power access. Rada’s smile grew into a toothy snarl as she opened her shields, drawing on all the energy available to her on this longest night of the year.
Rada and the true pagans in the unit had a tacit agreement. She ignored their occasional borrowing of plants for their rituals and they either kept their winter solstice and quarter-day observances indoors in winter or checked with her first. Andrews, however, only played at being pagan. He purportedly belonged to a group of Earth-worshipping, vaguely Native American practitioners that Rada could find no trace of. None of the British or other American pagans thought much of his “rituals.” He in turn brushed off the locals as being out-of-touch with real pagan practices. Rada ignored the entire matter unless it interfered with her own duties, like it did now.
Before Anderson could touch the stone with his “smudge,” Rada appeared. She pulled energy out of the air and land, shaping it through her gifts and reaching for his mind. “Stop,” she commanded, quiet but stern. The man blinked and turned towards her voice, planning to tell her off for interrupting his solstice rituals. Instead he saw a tall, dark figure rising out of the night to loom over him. “This is not your place or land. Begone.” Anderson felt more than heard Rada’s voice, and he started babbling, utterly confused. Whatever he’d expected, an encounter with the seemingly supernatural was not it, and he dropped his bundle of herbs and trotted back towards the headquarters building. Rada kicked snow over the burning grass to make absolutely certain that the fire died out.
Interruption over, Rada returned to her meditations. Her awareness spread, from her own body to the energies of the grounds around the headquarters, to the county around, and farther, to the edges of Britain where the cold sea waged eternal war against the land. The Winter Guardian, Rada Ni Drako reveled in the forces available to her this night. The world slept, dreaming of light and heat. Rada dismissed those dreams, thrilling to the death-dealing power of cold and darkness. Ice split rock, water quenched the very fires of the earth, and even the sun could not stir the hard-frozen landscape this year. The harsh winter brought misery to humans and other animals but gave Rada even more power, through Logres. She was the chaos of swirling, snow-laden wind, she danced in the fury of the storm, she delighted in the beauty of ice-laden trees and bushes, in the purity of the snow-silent night. Cold wisdom, detached from the fire of passion or raw anger, helped her shape the energy to her and Logres’ own uses.
And yet, that winter energy kept her from her beloved and her friends, drove her out into the killing cold. Logres gave its tool access to energy, but Logres also bound her to the land, trapping her on the Isle of the Mighty from the autumn equinox until the spring. It saw through her eyes, acted through her hands, and cared nothing for her desires or dreams. Twice Logres had almost killed its tool and Rada held no illusions as to what it would do if its needs required. She’d warned Rahoul Khan and James McKendrick before him: they might need to kill her to stop Logres if it came to that. And yet Joschka envied her?
Rada shook her head in her hood and wondered if any of the other Powers were as amoral as Logres. Perhaps it was the creature’s age. It seemed to be the oldest and most power-full of the beings of its kind on Earth. Certainly Joschka, Helmut, and the woman from North America, what was her name? Kendall, that was it. They never spoke of anything on the scale of Logres’ power. Hell, the Drachenburg actively aided Joschka and his people when need arose, helping them protect themselves. Rada snorted, her breath steaming. She knew better than to ask Logres for help or advice. Logres, as cold as frozen fire, kept its own council and lived on its own terms, human, HalfDragon, and Wanderer’s desires be damned. Rada lowered her shields the rest of the way and lost herself in the energy of the solstice night, twirling in the snow, drinking in the cold.
Far to the east, Joschka relaxed into his chair in the library of Schloß Hohen-Drachenburg. He closed his eyes and reached through the House towards the Power of the Drachenburg. It responded and Joschka opened his mind to it, showing the Power what he had learned and seen. It took the information and Joschka sensed a reply, in the form of a hint about storms. Once again he wished that he could speak directly to the Drachenburg as Rada spoke to Logres. But he’d come to the Power via adoption and marriage, not through blood and training. And without a Gräfin to help finish the connection, reaching the Power was even more difficult. Joschka could not feel the health of the land as Magda had, and once again he wished it were otherwise.
He sensed amusement from the Power and House both and wondered what they found funny. Joschka considered calling Rada and asking her opinion, but checked himself when he felt a vague warning and unease from the Power. He remembered: not on the winter solstice. Rada was literally not herself this night, and it might well be Logres that answered Joschka’s phone call. He crossed himself and returned to his book.
(C) 2017 Alma T. C. Boykin All Rights Reserved