The Awakening by Kim Sherwood - HTML preview
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He was a stranger in her village. Just passing though is what he had told her father. He was on a journey to find a rare plant called thistle mint that grew in the highlands to the north.
The healing power of this plant's roots would save his homeland from a sickness. The likes of one, no one of that time had seen before. But most believed it to be a curse from the evil Lord Drasken of that land from where he came.
Katelynn had come into the room as her father and the stranger sat talking. She had noticed him right away not only because he was a stranger, but also his silhouette from the hearth made him seem to have a glow about him. Her father had introduced him as Bryon the son of Stephen Chief of the village of Dunkeld. Katelynn‟s father Richard being the Chief of their village Glen Roy was with whom Bryon needed to speak. For it was through these lands he must travel to get to the Highlands where the plant grew.
"Please excuse me father,” she said, “ I came to see if you would like some wine."
"Aye” said Richard, “ That might satisfy this thirst.” Then he looked towards Bryon and asked "And you Bryon would you care to share in a drink of wine with me?"
Bryon looked up at Katelynn and smiled, "I would be honored sir."
As he started to look away he could not help but stare at the vision of beauty standing before him. Her hair was red as the flames of a roaring fire, her eyes as green as any emerald he had ever seen. Her skin looked so smooth and milky white. He immediately thought how it would feel to touch the softness of her skin and began to feel a stirring in his loins. She could feel his eyes upon her as she turned away to retrieve the flask of wine for them. She did not want Bryon or her father see her blushing. She could feel his eyes still watching her as she walked away.
That night as the people of the Glen Roy gathered around the communial bonfire, Richard spoke to them of things that Bryon had told him. He spoke of the sickness that was in Bryon's homeland of Dunkeld. The villagers began to whisper and grumble amongst themselves. Wondering if the stranger had brought the sickness with him to their village. Father told them how Lord Drasken had come to Bryon's village and demanded they give up their lands and Dunkeld and to swear loyalty to him but when Bryon's father refused. Lord Drasken said Dunkeld would be cursed with a sickness. That the people of Dunkeld would beg for him to take their lands so that he may take away the curse and their sons and daughters might live.
As Richard sat down Bryon stood up and said, " I have asked Richard if I may travel through these lands to get to the highlands where a plant called thistle mint grows that could help my people.
I also have asked if I could employ a guide, for I am not familiar with this part of the world and I would pay handsomely for such a guide."
The villagers sat around and talked amongst themselves for a while.
Then Eric a young lad stood and said, “ I will guide you to the Highlands for what you seek.”
Eric had other reasons for wanting to go on this journey with Bryon. He thought if he did this then Katelynn's father would know he was worthy to ask for Katelynn to be his wife. For he had loved Katelynn since they were children. Even though he had never let her know his true feelings.
As the festivities begun Bryon began to realize that the people of Glen Roy was a lot different than where he called home. Their customs of celebrating this night for one, but everything was so magical. The storytelling, the songs, the dancing and feasting. He had never seen anything like it before. They celebrated in his lands this day also but not the same as these people of the Northern Lands. It was as if they were part of the magic all around them.
He had heard tell of the people in these lands. That they were born with the magic in them and as he watched he began to wonder if the beautiful daughter of his host had put some magic to use for herself, for he could not quit looking at her and when she danced he felt a stir in his loins again. Katelynn saw he was watching her and began to make her movements more elaborate. She found herself trying to entice the young man to watch her. But they were not the only ones who noticed the way they were looking at each other. Eric noticed as well and he became very enraged.
“How dare this stranger come among them and try to steal the heart of his love,” Eric thought. As Eric watched he knew he would have to fight for Katelynn's love.
The festivities went on till very late. With the children tucked away in bed. And the elders of the village all slowly making there way as well, the younger ones stayed a little while longer to listen to Bryon tell of his homeland and how things are there. To Katelynn it sounded all so beautiful. The women of the courts in their finery and jewels. She could not even imagine what a silk dress was. But she knew it must be beautiful from the way Bryon's eyes lit up when he spoke of them.
That night as Katelynn lay awake on her cot she kept thinking of Bryon. She could not close her eyes without seeing his handsome face and his deep blue eyes. As she drifted off to sleep she was thinking of all the things he had spoke of. And she dreamed of them. But her dreams were not of all the beautiful things he spoke of there was something clouding them. She saw the evil Lord Drasken overlooking her people‟s lands, with lust in his eyes. Why was he here she thought. We have nothing that he wants. But if she had known what she had seen in her dreams was of things to come. She would have spoken to her father of them.
Katelynn was not the only one who was having a hard time going to sleep that night. Eric was lying on his cot trying to think of a way to keep Katelynn and Bryon from seeing too much of each other before it could be arranged for them to leave. But Eric knew that would be impossible. It was a small village and there were a lot of preparations to do before they could embark upon their journey. It was a four-day journey to the highlands where the thistle mint grew if weather permitted. They would be able to ride most of the way. But the last part of the journey they would have to walk the horses. Eric now wished he had not said he would guide the stranger to the Highlands. But he had and now he must find a way to keep Bryon from wanting to come back here after he had saved his homeland.