"Sleep my babe, on my bosom,
Harm will never find you;
Mother's arms will hold you safely,
Mother's heart is always true.
As you sleep there's naught to fright,
Naught to stir you from your rest;
Close your eyes, my little child,
Sleep now on your mother's breast."
Riona's fingers twisted the stems of a bunch of Feverfew together with twine. She stood upon a wooden stool and reached her hands up to the crossbeams of the Orkney home, hanging the plants to dry.
As she stepped down, Morgause spoke. "What are those beings that we encountered, Riona?" The older woman was gazing at her with an inquisitive steady stare. "Are they Fae?"
Riona swallowed thickly. "Yes."
Morgause seemed to consider this for a moment. "And your mother she...did she ever say--"
"That her lover was a druid?"
"Yes. Yes, she did."
"The druid mentioned someone named Emrys."
"My mother never told me their name," Riona responded quietly.
"Why did that other druid want to kill you?" Morgause pivoted quickly.
Riona picked up a mushroom and began to clean it, giving her an excuse to break Morgause's gaze. "I really don't know, I swear it."
The older woman was silent for a long time as she began the task of chopping vegetables for the evening stew that would linger over the hearth fire all day.
"What a riddle," Morgause sighed. The click of her knife against the table was mingled with gentle sniffs as she began to cry softly.
Riona dropped her task and moved to Morgause's side.
"Oh, I'm alright, child." Morgause brushed the glistening tears from her cheeks with the palm of her hand. "I just wish I had had more time with her."
"I as well," said Riona, tears now stung her own eyes.
Morgause started slightly. "How selfish of me!" She gripped Riona in a tight hug. "Here I am moaning about the childhood I spent with her, and you've lost your own mother."
Riona and Morgause stood in each other's arms for a long while, until each of them had recovered enough to continue their tasks.
"What was she like as a mother?" Morgause asked as she scooped the first of summer's turnips and carrots into a pot.
Riona stood still for a moment, remembering. "Hard and gentle at the same time. She expected independence and strength from me but did not demand I was invincible and offered help when needed."
Morgause nodded knowingly.
"She never seemed to mind the judgment of our village that we were best kept at arm's length. So neither did I. She could have been so bitter—"
"Bitterness was not Nimue's strong suit," said Morgause with a small smile.
"No." Riona smiled at a memory that lapped at her thoughts like a wave. "What was she like as a sister?"
"Much the same," Morgause responded, "perhaps a bit more carefree in her youth."
There were raised voices outside, and both women turned to the door in unison. Morgause slowly approached and cracked it open. She waved Riona over. Her knees shaking, Riona followed and peeked through the opening. Gawain had one arm raised in front of him, brandishing a pitchfork in the other. Riona peered just a bit further to see who he was arguing with. She gasped and threw open the door, practically tearing it from its leather hinges.
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The Hawthorn Throne (Book 1, The Blood Of Emrys Duology)Fantasy
Aidan and Riona, an outcast and a witch, must survive the dark ages and unravel the threads of two kingdoms tied together by prophecy and blood. ***** In the Kingdom of Elmet, a b...