The next morning Riona awoke to the now familiar soreness of her body that always followed a vision. It was so early in the morning the Orkney men had yet to rise. Their sleeping bodies stirred with breath in their beds as Riona delicately slipped from under her blankets and met Morgause at the hearth where she was making the morning porridge.
The older woman turned to face her, tenderly brushing an errant strand from Riona's face. "We're running low on a few things, would you like to forage with me today?"
Riona nodded, and Morgause gave a soft smile, handing her a small bowl of porridge with which to break her fast. The women ate their simple meal in a comfortable silence, then Morgause eased the fire down to warm embers and they softly left the house, woven baskets in hand.
It was a grey day. Morning mists still blanketed the small valley in foggy damp. Riona took in a deep breath, the chill air stirring her blood. Together, the women moved silently over the ground, not wanting to break the sacred stillness with speech.
They arrived at a clump of bushes near the edge of the farm. The branches were heavy with luscious looking berries, dark and tempting. Riona popped one into her mouth for good measure and giggled when Morgause shot her a reproving look. Then the older woman did the same, and they laughed together. The sudden sound sent a flock of birds into the air with noisy protest.
As they passed the treeline, Morgause stopped to pry an aging mushroom from the grasp of a tree root. Riona kneeled, glanced about, looking for herbs.
Her fingers had just clasped around a clump of featherfew when Morgause spoke. "About that fit you had yesterday..."
Riona's stomach gave a flip. She quickly righted herself and drew one arm across her chest like a shield.
Morgause stood, dusting her hands against her apron. She caught Riona's expression and waved her hand dismissively. "Fret not."
Riona relaxed only slightly.
Morgause studied her for a moment and then began walking again. "What do you see when you are in such a state?" Morgause added another handful of herbs to her basket.
Riona's brow drew together in worry as she answered. "The future."
Morgause stopped on the game trail they had been following and turned to fix Riona in a wide stare. "In truth?" she asked quietly.
Riona nodded solemnly. "I have yet to see something that did not come to pass."
Morgause hesitated. "You..." she took a breath, "You were shouting Gawain's name. What did you see?"
Riona could tell from her expression that Morgause was not sure she wanted an answer.
"Gawain was in King Artorious' court in Camalann," Riona fixed her eyes to the ground, "with his brothers and another I did not recognize. They seemed happy and content but—"
Riona met Morgause's gaze. "At their feet sprang a river of blood."
Morgause's face paled and a candle of terror kindled in the depths of her green eyes.
Riona fumbled for the next words. "I ammn't a witch! I cannot control these visions; I do not know from where they come, I swear it. Please—"
Morgause set her basket down and held her hands up to Riona's face. Her calloused fingers twined in Riona's hair, pulling it away from her face in a low bun. Morgause sighed, her eyes flickering over Riona's features. "Riona...do you take after your mother?"
Riona stopped her frantic speech to shake her head. The woman was gazing at her with a desperate expression. Chills wormed over Riona's skin. There was something Morgause was trying to suss out and Riona had no answers.
YOU ARE READING
The Hawthorn ThroneFantasy
[Editors' Choice] A century and a half have passed following the Roman withdrawal from the British Isles, abandoning the accursed place to its plethora of chiefs and warlords. In the Kingdom of Elmet, a boy named Artorious, heir of Uther Pendragon...