Once the girls, Hec and Loki were in their room with the door closed, Hec turned on Loki and spat, “What are you doing here? I hoped I’d never have to see you again in this lifetime. These children don’t need your brand of trouble.”
“Oh, come now, Hecate, I’m not that bad, and you know you missed me.” He wrapped his beautiful tail around Hec and hugged her.”
“Get off me, you fool,” she said, but there was laughter in her voice. “Seriously, these children are in real danger, and they don’t need your tricks.”
“Hecate, I am a changed fox. I have been through Hell and back. How do you think I got this silver tail? Besides, the Lady sent me.”
“What?” gasped Hec. “Why on earth would She do that?”
“I told you; I have changed, and these children need my kind of magic.”
Penelope said, “Hec said there was a reason you were called Loki. What is it?”
“I was named after Loki, the Trickster God, and I must say, until recently, I lived up to my name, as Hecate can attest to.”
The girls looked at Hec, the questions in their eyes.
Grumpily, Hec said, “He was always playing tricks on the rest of us. Spiking our food with salt, putting frogs in our beds, things like that. But some of his tricks were dangerous, and one of us got badly hurt, He was banned from our community.”
“Yes, and I’m not proud of it. Any tricks I play now will be on Marcus. I swear to do my best to protect all of you.”
“You’d better live up to that promise, or you will regret it, I promise you,” said Hec.
By this time, the girls were thoroughly worn out, and could hardly keep their eyes open.
“I’ve had it for one day,” said Penelope, yawning widely. “I’m going to bed.” The others agreed, and no sooner were they washed, in their pajamas, and heads on pillows, they were sound asleep.
Glaring at Loki, Hec climbed onto Penelope’s bed, and curled up protectively next to her. Sighing, Loki curled up next to Gillian, wrapping his tail over her, and also fell asleep.
Both Gillian and Rowena slept fitfully, nervous about the morrow and what that would bring.
Too soon, it seemed, they were awoken by Matilda entering the room, carrying the robes for Gillian and Rowena.
“Come on, girls, rise and shine. Important day today. Breakfast first, then time to get ready for the ritual.”
She laid the robes at the end of the girls’ beds and went out.
“Come on, girls, no lollygagging. Sun’s over the yardarm, and it’s breakfast time,” said Hec, stretching her not inconsiderable bulk, before jumping off the bed. “Come on, Loki, no laying about in this household.”
Grumbling, Loki stretched and jumped off the bed, saying, “Darling Hec, you never change; always the bossy curmudgeon. And I say this with all affection.”
Sleepily, the girls rose and went to wash and dress, and then they all headed down to the dining room. As usual, Hec had to be fed first, and Gillian put some down for Loki.
“Why thank you, my dear, very considerate of you,” he said, as he dug in just as enthusiastically as Hec. As they were eating, the adults came in, served themselves, then sat at the table.
Gwyddion said, “Don’t be nervous. This is more of a formality than anything. Once the Circle is drawn, the Bonding should just happen. It is similar to Bonding with your Familiar. We do it in Circle on the off chance something does happen, so any problem is contained within it.”
Penelope and Prudence looked at the other girls reassuringly. “Ours just happened. At least you know what is going to happen; we didn’t!” said Penelope.
“As soon as you are finished,” said Matilda, go on up and change. Morna will come and get you when we are ready. And don’t forget to keep your feet bare.”
The girls finished up, put their dishes on the sideboard, and headed up to change, followed by Hec and Loki.
“Gillian gets the green robe, and Rowena the blue, as she is Soul Bond,” said Prudence.
The four changed quickly, leaving their feet bare as instructed, then sat waiting impatiently for Morna. In a few minutes, the door opened, and in strode Morna puffing furiously on her pipe.
“Good. You are ready. Come on. No loitering.” With that, she strode back out again, stomping down the stairs, and the girls hurried to keep up, Hec wheezing and complaining all the while.
“We will meet in the Great Hall, as is usual for these things,” said Morna, throwing the heavy doors double open. The girls gazed around in wonder, seeing hundreds of candles burning around the room, the Altar in the centre. The others were there in their robes red, brown, black, and Gwyddion’s cobalt and silver. Even Eleanor was there, in a green robe. Seeing the looks of surprise, Gwyddion said, “It’s about time we stopped excluding non magic parents from important things like this. If they mean enough to us that we get married, it’s only right that they be included in their magical children’s’ lives. Anyone object?” looking around the Circle.
“Jolly well time,” said Humphrey. “Dorcas and I approve wholeheartedly, as long as Eleanor has sworn the Vow of Secrecy.”
“She has done so,” said Sylvana. “I was witness.”
“All well and good, then,” said Humphrey, and Rowena’s parents nodded.
“Now,” said Gwyddion, “if you are all ready, we shall begin.”
At that moment the doors flew open, and in strode the Lady, ignoring the gasps from everyone.
“My Lady,” said Gwyddion, “this is just a Soul Bond ritual. What brings you here and out of the Garden?”
“It is more than just a ritual, Gwyddion. All four girls will be connected from today on. This has never happened before, and hopefully, will never need to again. I would give the girls a Blessing, and a gift, if you are willing.”
“But of course,” said Gwyddion. “We are honoured by Your Presence, while lamenting the need for it. Please join us.” Once the Lady was in place, Sylvana drew the Circle, three times around for the three aspects of the Lady; Maiden, Mother, and Crone. All could feel the Circle snap into place, almost audible in its strength.
Gwyddion began the ritual. “We are gathered here to witness the Soul Bonding of Gillian and Rowena. Both of you come and stand in front of the Altar and face each other. Rowena, hold out your hands, palms up. Gillian, place your palms on Rowena’s facing down.”
Both girls gasped and swayed as they felt the Soul Bond awaken. Gillian said, “I can feel Rowena in my head. It’s amazing!” The girls grinned at each other and looked at Gwyddion.
“All have witnessed the awakening of this Bond. Let none try to break it, upon pain of death.” He placed a hand on each girl’s head, and said, “you are joined, may you always be a part of each other’s Soul. Loki, step forward and stand between the two girls. Loki did so, and Gwyddion said, “place your right hands on Loki’s head, and the joining is complete.
Rowena said, “now I can feel Loki too!”
Smiling, Gwyddion stepped back and nodded at the Lady. She stepped forward and said, “Penelope and Prudence, please join Gillian and Rowena. Now stand in a Circle, with each of you facing a direction. Prudence, and Rowena, hold your hands out to the side, palms up. Penelope and Gillian, place your palms in theirs facing down. This I give to you, that you all be connected on a psychic level. You will face dangers where you must be silent, and this Bond will allow you to communicate.” The girls stared awed at the Lady as they felt the Power start to move through them. The Lady nodded, and said, “Penelope, Gillian, I have a gift for each of you.” As She spoke, She drew two small daggers from Her robe, and gave one to each of them. “As long as you carry these daggers, no lasting harm shall come to you or your Soul Bonds. Take great care of them.”
Nodding silently, the girls looked at the daggers. Their workmanship was exquisite. The pommels were silver, inlaid with sapphires, the blade carbon steel etched with protective runes.
“Thank you, Lady,” the girls said. “We will take great care of them,” said Penelope.
Nodding, the Lady placed a hand on each of their heads, one at a time, and gave them Her blessing.
“I don’t normally interfere in the affairs of humans, but Marcus has upset the Balance with his actions. That Balance must be restored, and Marcus stopped. Therefore, I have done as much as I can.” Nodding, She stepped back into the Circle.
“Thank you, Lady,” said Gwyddion, bowing. “Your gifts and Blessing are beyond price. Sylvana, will you close down the Circle, please?”
She did so, and the atmosphere slowly returned to normal. Still stunned, the girls just stared at each other, suddenly realizing they were exhausted, and hungry! Matilda heard their stomachs grumbling and laughed.
“Come on all, time for dinner.”
“Dinner? But we haven’t had lunch,” said Penelope.
“Time runs differently when we are between the Worlds. It is six o’clock!”
“What! And Hec hasn’t complained that she’s starving to death? That’s a first,” laughed Penelope.
©Susan McCaskill, 2015