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A Dragon Rises|
A Dragon Rises
Author: Michael Calabrese
Category: Pagan Sword & Sorcery Level: All
It is the time of Erwyllian, the ancient Lord Druid of Brython - a time of magic and Gods who rise from myth to walk in the world of men. It is the time of Teg, a young warrior chosen by the Gods to unite his people against the Saxon invaders - and given an impossible task: to be the new Riothamus . . . to fill the shoes of Arthur.
A Dragon Rises is an altered history. It’s sixth century Britain, some 30 years after the death of Arthur (he probably died in 511AD) , and the Pagan Celts win - against the Saxon invader and druid ways triumph over the domination of Rome. The Old Gods promise a rebirth of the land and the people and appear in public for thousands to see. It is a story of conflict, magic, faith and the historic political and religious issues of the day.
Years of travel - to know the land and the feel of the West Country and research – went into the weaving of history and myth to make the cloth of this story – a blending fact and mystery into a tale of the successor to Arthur.
A Sample Passage
There were days when the love of all the Gods lay across the land. This was one of them. Their path wound its way through deep woods. No scrub grew here. Great oaks, elm and larch spread huge limbs up to the sky. The canopy rose high above the forest floor casting soft blue shadows, and brilliant fingers of light painted the trees in dusted shafts of golden air.
Rhundalan rode quietly, tasting the smell of the living woods. Even the soft clopping of horse hooves made a contented sound. He was at the head of a line of horsemen, moving single file through the trees. Ten warriors and two journeymen harpers rode behind him - welcome company on a ride through Saxon lands.
Rhundalan looked deep into the woods. Had he ever seen so green a place before? It was just mid June, yet the land was full of more color and life than any high summer he'd ever known. There could be no doubting it, the hand of the Goddess lay over the land. Only a fool would deny the fruits of faith. All was as Great Cernunnos had promised, at Samhain.
They rode through a hundred miles of territory, staying to Brython lands when they could, avoiding Saxons when they couldn't. Wherever they went, it was the same. The lands of the faithful, who kept to ancient ways, were in full bloom. Fields which had languished for years were in heavy yield where Samhain's fires found their spark. Farms where Christians worked the land did poorly, even when they were right next to those who made proper offerings.
Christian priests offered salvation in the world to come for those who would pay the tithe and bend their knees in fear of damnation. They measured the power of the Dead God by the weight of the gold they collected and the numbers of yoked souls. The Roman bishops screamed heresy and sent soldiers to punish those who did not believe as they did or refused the tithe.
The Gods offered the salvation of life itself, in this living world. It was not heresy to deny the power of the living Gods, it was stupidity! Men had only to look and believe what their eyes found in front of them.
The path turned through the trees and led them to a small stream where cold water splashed over the rocks. Rhundalan brought his horse to a halt and let the beast lower his head to drink with the others. Waiting for the horse to take his fill, he noticed a tiny movement in the water. A small wooden statue floated, carried by the flowing water to the spirit who inhabited this stream. Rhundalan squinted to make out the carved offering. The form of a child had been cut into the wood, one leg was shorter than the other, its foot twisted inward. A moment later a second carving floated by - the child with two even legs, feet straight.
These were prayer symbols. Someone, probably a young mother, had made these offerings to the God for a healing. The first figure showed the malady and the reason for the prayer. The second showed the God what outcome was hoped for.
Rhundalan watched the figures float downstream and added his own silent prayer and good wishes. Somewhere upstream he knew, a young woman made her way through the trees back to her village, heart full of hope. He could do no more for her here, by the water. But once clear of the forest he would find Erwyllian and there, his work might save her life and her child's. Rhundalan pulled the reins gently and pressed his knee to the horse's flank.
They rode the path through most of the day, before coming to a great sprawling meadow. The sun followed its course toward the west, where the hills rose until the land turned from green to smoky blue in the distance. Ten miles to the east, the rolling meadows sloped down to the wetlands which surrounded The Wash, the notch where the sea cut into the coast and the mouths of a thousand streams turned the land to marsh.
They rode toward the river Sloa and the ford which ran near great burial mounds, where ancient people laid their dead. The long barrows dotted the land, rising high above the plain, each with deep chalk ditches dug along its sides. No one knew who raised these high hills. They marked the resting places of kings from a time when men prayed to the sky in their stone circles and the Old Ones were new.
Author's Notes: About the Author
Michael Calabrese has been writing throughout his professional life. A long-time Pagan and once a Bard to his Grove, he now takes a new path - as storyteller. A historian by schooling and avocation, research and myth come together here. This book started as a short story. One night at 3am he found himself with 150 pages of copy and notes. A month later – he landed in London beginning the first of many trips through Britain’s magical West Country. Michael is a Companion of Chalice Well, Glastonbury, UK.
Where To Buy: A Dragon Rises is available from AuthorHouse at the web site given below. It can be ordered at Borders, Barnes & Noble and Amazon.com
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