Though she had only been in the castle once, Megge remembered well the stairway that led to her mother’s lodging where the King kept her always close. The Seeker followed the child up a long stone stairwell then down a carpeted hallway to a room with double doors. She glanced constantly behind to reassure herself they were not being followed and stood vigil with her staff at the ready as Megge tried the key in the door with the lock.
“Mama!” she cried as the door swung open. “Mama, are you there?” Edwena looked up as her daughter and a stranger burst into the room.
The room was in a distressing state.The floor was covered with ash from the now-cold hearth. Pieces of thread from Edwena’s work littered the floor around her. Crumbs of food were scattered here and there being collected by tiny mice. Stone walls and large windows radiated the chilled weather of the approaching storm. Edwena was dressed in several layers of clothing against the cold, a veil covering her long hair. The Seeker was surprised to see how calm she looked sitting amongst the debris and needle work, a basket of yarn at her side. In the window hung several embroidered medallions of pentacles like the one suspended by magick over the garden gate, symbols of the material wealth of the kingdom. The Seeker’s admiration for the woman grew as she realized she’d chosen poverty and servanthood over material comfort and wealth. She had chosen to stay true to her values and her faith.
“Praise be!” Edwena whispered, rising from her stool, the unfinished embroidery falling by the wayside. She drew her daughter into her arms. “I knew you would come. I knew the Creator would help you find a way.” She looked at the Seeker and smiled. “And who is your friend, Megge?”
As quickly as possible, Megge explained how Camus had found her living alone in the village, found the chest of gold, and that the Seeker had then found them both. “And now Camus is downstairs with the King. I fear for his safety.”
“Yes, we must go,” said the Seeker, peering down the hallway for guards. “I will see you both to the garden gate then return to the castle to find Camus.” And with that she led the pair back down the hallway and stone steps to the door of the small hall. They would have to sneak by quietly to reach the castle entrance.
Inside the room they could hear the King bellowing in anger at the uncooperative Camus. Each time a guard hit him, Camus would moan and cry out, but he spoke not a word about his King. Once more the righteous anger rose up inside the Seeker and her old patterns began to emerge. Without considering the consequences she lept forward to go to his aid, when suddenly there stood before the door a beautiful Angel. She was dressed in a gown of muted earth, a red scarf draped over one arm holding a golden chalice, a blue over the other holding a silver chalice. She stood with one foot in a pond and the other on the land, and the Seeker realized she was seeing a vision.
The Angel spoke not a word but continually poured Living Water from one chalice to another, the drops spilling from the cup sparkling with a new substance. She looked at the Seeker, her expression questioning. But the Seeker knew what lesson this was. The red scarf and gold cup represented her power to intervene — her ability to run into the fray without consideration, her anger taking control. The blue scarf and silver cup symbolized the path of knowledge, the hunger to learn to balance her reaction just as the scales of her heart had been balance. And from the combination of the two emotions, the anger and the desire to follow the Creator’s law, came the justice that would prevail in the end.
“Choose,” said the Angel as she poured the water.
“I choose Temperance.” And the Seeker backed away from the door pushing the others behind her to safety. When she looked back, the Angel was gone, and into her place rode a magnificent Knight on his massive steed. The feathers on his helmet glowed as fire, and he sat the beast without a saddle upon a deep red blanket, the color of the kingdom. The Seeker had no doubt who this Knight was. This was Aelfraed, true King of the realm.
The King charged into the room his wand glowing with magick that fell in puddles beneath the stallion’s feet. Pointing the wand in turn at each man holding Camus, the spell of protection knocked them away and the guards fled the castle. Camus dropped to the floor clutching he chest.
Aelfraed turned to his brother, Dwennon. “I could easily kill you now, brother, but it is not death you deserve but justice for the wrong you have perpetrated on this kingdom and my peoples.”
The rest of what the King said was lost to the Seeker as she hurried Edwena and Megge out the door. She would see them safely to the garden gate then return to find and help Camus, and to hear of the impostor’s fate.
© Cheryl D. Carter
Picture Credit — personal (see also www.aeclectic.net)