She seldom saw the same people of the village twice, but had managed to watch the Druid girl, Alyssa. To her complete surprise, Matthew of Lancaster started making regular visits.
Grainna prided herself on changing strategies when the need arose. And it was time she started procuring help in her quest. The winter solstice was coming fast, but she wouldn’t wait until then if a Druid virgin crossed her path again. She had learned her lesson with Tara.
Alyssa could be a virgin. Although not as powerful as the MacCoinnich’s, she was more accessible than the daughter, Myra. Lancaster’s attention would make getting her blood effortless.
She staged herself outside the girl’s home and waited for Lancaster to emerge.
Leaning on her cane, she walked directly in his path. “I’m so sorry,” she pleaded when he tripped over her frame. “I’ve barely the sight to see, forgive me, sir.”
“’Tis quite all right, no harm done.” Matthew dusted off his shirt.
“Ye’re so kind, Sir Knight, so very kind.”
Grainna waved her hand in front of his eyes, catching his gaze and settling it on her ruby necklace.
Slowly, she moved the pendent until she saw his eyes flicker. “Yes, ye are so kind, Sir Lancaster.
Would ye help a poor woman such as me to my home? ‘Tisn’t far.” She slipped a smile, innocent and pure onto her face, his mind opened for her to possess.
“Ahhh yes, there are many beautiful birds near my home. So many different species. Ye could watch them all day and never see the same two twice.”
“Oh, how wonderful. I do like our feathered friends.”
She took his arm as he led her to his horse.
So easy, she smiled. So very easy.
In the thick of the woods they took to a faster speed. By nightfall, she had him sitting in the one room cottage abandoned long ago. It was deep in the forest where few traveled, making discovery nearly impossible.
With a small amount of her magical potion, she liquefied his mind, molding him to her needs. Once sleep took over, she finished what she had started, and by morning, he was like the men of the future.
She circled the small hobble with the same protective spell she used in her youth. Only this time she placed the same protection around several other dwellings she had come across in an effort to keep her identity secret from the Ancients.
As much as she hated her weakness, she jumped at any noise, big or small which came in the night.
Now that she had someone to do her bidding, she wouldn’t have to leave as often.
Victory was close and tasted bittersweet. The Ancients had cursed her once, and according to Druid law, could not do so twice.
Without the threat of them descending on her again, she would wreak havoc over the land, relishing with great pleasure in the revenge she would take on the MacCoinnich’s…starting with Tara. No, she wouldn’t kill her. She’d keep her alive long enough to witness her husband’s death. Even then, she might let her live so she could feel the grief of a Druid wed woman left without her love.
A vindictive grin in the form of a thin line pulled at her lips. With her powers restored, Grainna would end them all.
Myra’s planned departure was less than a week away. Nerves were jumbled and everyone was ill-tempered. Because of the unknown threat, no one outside the family had been told Myra was leaving. A plan was in place to keep her absence undetected until long after the winter solstice. By then, with any luck, Lora would know when she was coming back.
And the charade could be dropped.
Tara coached Myra about how to approach her sister. She gave her intimate details of their youth so Lizzy would believe her enough to listen to her story.
Tara had written a very long letter to Lizzy explaining where she was and how she had gotten there. Hopefully, it would open the door for Myra.
“Her biggest concern will be for Simon. She’ll need to trust you, or she’ll never let you in.”
“How will I get to your sister?”
They didn’t know where the stones would take Myra. There was no guarantee she’d be dropped in the same place where Duncan and Fin had been. The stones answered to a higher power. Time travel wasn’t an exact science. It was impossible to know exactly where Myra would end up.
Tara walked with Myra outside the Keep walls and over the hills. The sun shone, but the air held the chill of the coming winter. Both women wore heavy cloaks over their wool gowns.
“The only thing I think will work is finding help from someone of authority, the police, hospital, something. You need to fake amnesia.” Tara reached down, picked up a flat rock from the ground.
“What is amnesia?”
“Pretend you have no memory.”
“No memory? How could I do that?”
“Well, if the police pick you up, tell them you don’t remember anything except waking up wherever it is you end up.” Tara went on. “Tell them your head hurts and that you think you fell. They’ll probably take you to a hospital, run tests.”
“A hospital is where they treat the sick?”
“But I won’t be sick. Won’t they be able to tell?”
“Maybe.” Tara tossed the stone, reached for another.
“I don’t like to lie.”
Tara laughed. “Well, get use to it, sister. You’ll be lying through your teeth the whole time your there.”
“Couldn’t I tell the truth?”
“They’d lock you up so fast your head would spin clean off your shoulders. Or worse, someone would believe you and use the stones for something horrible. Then how would you get back?”
Myra let out a long sigh. “I’m so worried. I’m trying to be brave on the outside so everyone will think I’m strong.” A sob tore from the back of her throat. “But I’m not, Tara. I’m not strong like you.”
Tara reached for her and let the tears come.
When Myra cried out in anguish Tara pulled away.
“Now you listen here. You’re one of the strongest women I know. You have learned so much about my time in only a few short weeks. You’re ready for this, Myra, ready to go to the future, meet my sister, and stay long enough for the danger to pass.” Tara wiped her cheeks with her hand. “And you’re going to eat great food and meet so many types of people your head will want to explode.” Her nervous laugh suffered a smile from Myra. “And the technology will make you crazy! You’ll love it.”
“Are you sure?”
“I am, Myra. Everything will work out. Tell whoever finds you Lizzy’s name. Once they find my sister, the rest will be easy. Make sure Lizzy tells Cassy everything. I don’t want Cassy spending her life thinking she caused my death.”