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The Field of Cairns



 
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Edward Brollachan

On the southwest side of the Isle of Skye in the Inner Hebrides of Scotland is an inlet known as Loch Brittle. The Loch runs northeast into the glacial valley or glen of the Brittle River and is bordered to the west by the Brittle Forest, and to the east by the Black Cuillins, a mountain ridge of steep, rough scramble peaks, or munros.

At the head of the Loch, where the river pours into the sea is the ancient village of Glenbrittle. While the valley is isolated and rugged, there are prehistoric stone circle rings, indicating the presence of a people going back for over 2000 years. To the north the Brittle River is fed in part by the Fairy Pools, and from Glenbrittle heading due east, it is a mile hike to the foothills of the munros of Sgrr Dearg, Sgurr Alasdair, and between the two, deep in the ridge, is Sgrr MhicChoinnich. There are many canyons and chasms on the ridges, and one in particular, on the southern side of Sgrr MhicChoinnich, leads through the ridge to a series of high glenns deep in the range.

In that chasm in the heart of Sgrr MhicChoinnich, is a solitary cairn, a stacked heap of stones that are a marker or landmark. No one knows how old this monument is, but the significance is that it marks the approximate location of a secret refuge, known as Uaimh Teine Gorm - the Cave of Blue Fire, also called The Refuge. The entrance is a face of solid granite to the north of the cairn, and it is an enchanted portal. Only those of Clan Brollachan may enter, and only by a secret phrase.

At the portal stands a tall, dark figure. Edward Brollachan, the sole, remaining member of his clan, stands before the hidden portal and utters the phrase in ancient Goidelic. The granite wall shimmers in the clouded sunlight and he walks into the wall, vanishing from the chasm.
January 01, 2019 08:03 am

Edward Brollachan

Inside, the floor drops away in a series of rough hewn steps, worn smooth by two millennia of bare and booted feet. Light from an indeterminate source illuminates the cave tunnel, and after four score steps opens into a huge chamber deep in the heart of the mountain. Now the source of light can bee seen; dozens of blue flamed sconces of an ancient design, wrought in iron, lining the walls of the chamber and disappearing into the darkness of a hidden ceiling.

Across from the foyer are a series of four chambers with arched entrances, one of them walled off by hand placed stones. Edward goes to the open chamber to the right of the walled off chamber, a bed chamber, and finds a tall woman in complete repose. She appears to be asleep, but she does not breathe, nor does she have a pulse because she does not have a heart; it had been torn from her body at her turning some years before, and only the power of vampirism had allowed her to survive the ordeal. He had become friends with her, then later her lover and finally had wed her in the Broken Chapel. Over the next two years, they had been inseparable, hunting together, running his coven, and battling unseen enemies that had tried to bring them down. They had finally fled the Realm, coming to Scotland to remove themselves from the Realm.

Her name is Ransom and she is his wife of Unholy Union.

But now, she is still and it cannot be determined if she is Undead or dead. She does not respond to Edwards attention, nor his voice or scent. It has been so since his return to the Realm, two years after their departure.

Edward sits at her side for hours, as still as a statue. Hours become days, and still she does not move. She appears to have gone beyond and he is powerless to bring her back. Finally, he rises from the side of the bed and goes back into the great chamber
January 01, 2019 08:06 am

Edward Brollachan

Standing before the walled off alcove next to Ransoms, Edward begins to pull out stones, starting at the top. After an hour, there is a pile of stones, all heavier than a human could move by themselves. But he is not human, not for centuries now. He is a powerful and ancient vampire, with the genes of Scottish brollachan ghosts mixed into his dark, cool blood.

Inside the second bed chamber lays another woman, also tall but blonde. She, too, is still, unbreathing and pulseless. She also appears to be merely asleep, but he knows she will not awaken. Years, centuries ago she had been a lycan, from an ancient Roman line. Edward had encountered her six years ago, wreaking havoc in London. He had stalked the predator, not realizing she was from closer to his time, until he confronted the creature she transformed into, a Walcyrge from sixteen centuries ago.

A fierce battle had ensued, and he had barely defeated the huge creature, who had then transformed back into the form of her genesis; a regal woman of Roman heritage. Dying as her lycan blood tried to heal her immortal wounds, she had spoken to Edward in an ancient tongue no longer spoken and he knew she was from his own time. He turned her, to save her. Then he wed her, and took her to Scotland, where they learned of one anothers past. Alas, the turning of a lycan to vampire was too much for her, and she fell into a torpor from which she never awoke. Edward had sealed her into the bedchamber of his parents.

Her name is Licea Corvus, and she had been his companion and wife.
January 01, 2019 08:08 am

Edward Brollachan

The two women were now ghosts in his Ancestral Home. He had one final act of fealty for both of these women who had been so dear to him.

Two days after disassembling the wall into Liceas chamber, Edward had gathered all the stones from the wall and taken them out of the Refuge to a small glen to the east and north of the Refuge cairn. It was only 300 meters from the Refuge entrance, but steep and perilous. However, the small glen was a beautiful meadow of grass and heather. It looked out over the eastern fall line of the Black Cuillins ridge to Loch Coruisk, a mile and a half away and 1000 feet below the glen.

There were many, many other stones here on the entrance to the meadow, all ancient stones from the excavation of the Refuge from a time lost in the past. These stones, from the heart of the magical mountain, had their own mystical qualities, or so it said in ancient scrolls Edward had found in the Refuge. There were several cairns similar to cairn outside the entrance to Uaimh Teine Gorm, some smaller and some larger. They were mostly monuments, dedicated to his ancestors. A few were tombs, containing the desiccated remains of his forefathers.


Some of the loose stones would now serve a new purpose.
January 03, 2019 05:23 am

Edward Brollachan

For the next week, he worked non stop, through day and night, sorting through stones, carrying them to the overlook at the eastern edge of the meadow. He laid foundations, sealed with clay from the chasm where deep springs bubbled from the mountain. He then built half walls, arcing inwards but stopping before completing the vaults.

Returning to the Refuge, he went down to the forge deep below the main chamber. Edward took a half day to heat the fire pits that had lain dormant for decades, until the ovens glowed with the heat required to smelt raw siderite into iron. He worked the smelter blooms for two days until he had produced raw wrought iron to forge two identical beirs. For the next three days the sound of steel on iron rang out throughout the Refuge as he beat the iron into submission on the great anvil of his father.

His final labour was to make two caskets from aged Australian Ironwood he had found in one of the upper storage alcoves. This took another four days. The final two days were occupied by hand carrying the two beirs and two caskets to the incomplete vaults. He then closed the caskets and completed the vaults, sans the bodies of the women who would rest there.

For nearly three weeks he had laboured to prepare a place of repose for the two women who had been his companions, and who had both in their own way, given him hope to rediscover the spark of humanity buried so deep in his dark countenance. Edward rested for one day, standing frozen on the hidden parapets of the roof of the Refuge, looking to the east, to the view that Ransom and Licea would become a part of for eternity.
January 06, 2019 05:30 am

Edward Brollachan

It was cold in Scotland, near freezing. As the sun set, scudding clouds moved quickly overhead with the wind and a promise of snow. Edward faced eastward, looking out over the glen below where the completed cairn vaults awaited their occupants. He wore his trews like a hooded cape, and the wind whipped the fringes of the tartan around his face. But he did not notice the wind, nor the cold, nor the scene below; he was deep within his memories, sorting through those of Licea and Ransom, recalling every detail, every sensation, every moment of the brief time spent with them, brief because that time compared to his Unlife ~was~ brief.

Licea, tall and regal, almost haughty in her demeanor; but never with him. She had been his first chylde in centuries, reluctant but at the same time grateful to him for saving her life that he had nearly taken.

"...I am now in your debt."

But the debt had been his, for she brought to him a window to his past. This was the reason he had saved her, to have someone, a companion who might understand the nature of his being and his great age. And with such a companion, perhaps they could both rediscover the humanity with them both that was dissolving with the passage of time.

Alas, the turning had not taken, and she had fallen into an eternal sleep that he believed she would not awaken from, neither alive, dead, nor undead. Edward had entombed her in the bed chamber of his parents, on the very bed he had been turned upon sixteen centuries ago.

He had resumed a solitary Unlife, serving with Julian Montgomery before opening his own coven.


Then Ransom had come into his Unlife.

Ransom and Edward had been friends, nearly casual acquaintances, but always on congenial terms. He had come upon her, wandering aimlessly in the frozen streets of Moscow, and had brought her back to New York to his coven. The friendship had deepened and finally blossomed, much to the surprise of both of them, into a passionate Undead romance, culminating in their Unholy Union. Through their passion for one another, they were discovering their hidden humanity, achieving grace from the horrors of the monsters they were capable of being. Ransom was an unusual vampire in that she had retained many of her human characteristics, including a deep sense of empathy and the ability to emote. They healed one another until unseen forces led them to flee the Realm to the hidden fortress of the Refuge. One night, Ransom had slipped into a sleep that she, too, like Licea, did not awaken from. Edward, struck once more by sudden solitude, had returned to the Realm to seek solace from an eternity of loneliness.

He stood now, resting from the labours of compassion for the two women who had given him the most hope, the hope to be human again.
January 08, 2019 07:03 pm

Edward Brollachan

As the night wanes and promise of dawn is hinted to the east, Edward returns to the Great Chamber of the Refuge. He heads back down towards the forge, stopping at the cave waterfall to clean the soil of his labours from his body in the icy water. Then he returns to the Great Chamber, and dresses in his finest great kilt and trews, with a black silk tunic. He went barefooted as a sign of mourning, and wore at his side a bronze Celtic antennae sword.

Edward first went to Ransom, passing his hands over her. Tendrils of mist appeared from his fingertips, enveloping her in a blanket of opaque fog. Back and forth he passed his hands, wrapping her in the brollachan mist, like a cocoon. When he was satisfied, he left Ransom and went to Licea, and repeated the ritual, until she, too, was swathed in the thick blanket of opaque fog. Edward then backed away, into the Great Chamber of the Refuge and stood in the center of the great room where he could see both women, covered in the misty cloud of brollachan apparition. He raised a hand toward each one, and threads of mist emerged from his fingertips, seeking and finding and merging with the ghostly cocoons of both of his beloved women. The same mist rose from his bare feet to cover him, swirling around him until he, too, was covered in the blanket of brollachan mist, then all three of them vanished from the Refuge.
January 13, 2019 01:28 pm

Edward Brollachan

In the field of cairns, between the two stone vaults, a column of mist rose from the ground, swirling and twisting and churning upon itself, with tendrils connecting the column to the two cairns. The column formed the shape of a man, then Edward stood alone, the bodies of his vampire wives entombed in the individual vaults. He stood silent and still for several moments, then spoke softly, to himself and to the women on either side of him.

Licea agus Ransom ... Mo neo-bhsmhorachd gu crch aon latha. 'S dcha air mo limh fhn. Air an latha sin, ch mi thu a-rithist.

There were no other words for him to say. He removed two dried Scottish thistles from his sporran, and crushed them, one on each vault, then stood quietly once again between the cairns, the newest in the field of cairns.

Once again, mist rose from his bare feet, enveloping him in a cloudy, swirling haze, then tumbled to the ground. He was gone.

January 19, 2019 09:00 am
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