Tuesday 20 October 2020

October - the Halloween Month. Magic of Summer

October is a time of coming winter, of the fall of the leaf. In this excerpt in celebration of Halloween I touch upon magic plants of summer. 

This is taken from my novel "A Summer Bewitchment", the sequel to "The Snow Bride."


 Outside in the warm, still evening they walked arm in arm, both carrying panniers, and Elfrida shared what she knew of the stranger with Magnus. He in turn told her what he had learned of Rowena from the priest. It was, she thought, strangely companionable, but she wished they were speaking of less dark, mysterious matters.

“Valerian is a magic plant,” she explained, skirting carefully around a flowering elder bush. “It has many uses. One is as a lure. To seduce.”

“And the hare’s foot?” Magnus nodded to the elder bush as he stalked by, a grudging acknowledgement. “The rosemary I know from you is a guardian against evil spirits, so is that good?”

“Because he protects himself from demons and the like does not mean he is not evil himself.”

“Well spoken! The stranger’s mention of a Holy Mother?”

“The hare protects him from all danger. It is a creature of magic. The mother he reveres may be the Virgin, but he worships her in older ways.”

Magnus raised his black brows in silent inquiry.

“The wreath he leaves in thanks and sacrifice, of valerian and elder blossom, marigold, wild thyme and daisy, is made of flowers pleasing to the older gods. I have seen such posies left at ancient standing stones and statues, at rock carvings of the horned god.”

Her striding companion crossed himself. “Rowena is very pretty, so Father Jerome tells me.”

Elfrida nodded, unsurprised. “And docile, too?”

“Indeed. The priest claims they had no notion she might be in any way unhappy at being mewed up in a nunnery.” He scowled, his fingers tightening on his pannier.

“I have heard she is a kind, easy child, but I do not like it, either,” Elfrida admitted. “Would you be more sanguine if she was ill-favored?”

“Not a bit!” He glowered at her. “Do not think to test me, elfling, not this evening, at least. Even without your plan to go star-clad, I like these matters less and less. Do you know what family the Lady Astrid and Rowena are part of? The Gifford clan! Mighty and proud and wealthy.”

“So why do they ask us for help? Why wait five days to ask?”

“Indeed! The ride from Warren Bruer is less than a day, but with haste they could have raced here in hours.”

“So why not come sooner and then we can begin a search? Laggardly, then,” Elfrida observed. “Contradictory.”

“Snail slow, and I agree, contrary. And for the rest”—Magnus puffed out his cheeks—“to them I am a middling landowner and you, I am sorry to say, are utterly beneath notice, in their eyes. They should have far stronger allies than us to draw on.”

“Unless they fear those allies.”

“Do they seem frightened to you?”

Elfrida pointed to a vigorous thicket of hazel coppice and considered as they closed on the straight and slender hazel poles. “The lady is irked, certainly, but I sense no dread from her, only displeasure.”

“At the interruption onto her well-ordered life.”

Trailing a hand across the bright green leaves of the nearest hazel, Elfrida felt a raw sadness, a sense of unrequited loss. “Rowena seems an agreeable child, yet for all that unmissed. Were any of these girls missed?”

Blurb for "A Summer Bewitchment."

When a shadowy piper kidnaps seven beautiful girls, can a wounded knight and his witch save them? Will Sir Magnus and Elfrida find them in time, and at what cost to themselves?

Magnus, the battered crusader knight, and his witch-wife, Elfrida, are happily married but in secret turmoil. Elfrida dreads that her difference in rank with Magnus will undermine his love for her. Wounded and scarred, Magnus fears he will not be able to give Elfrida children.

Their fears are sharpened when high-born Lady Astrid appears at their manor and demands their help to find seven missing girls. The lady clearly regards peasant-born Elfrida as beneath her notice, but why has such a woman sought out Magnus, a country knight? Who does she really want to recover so badly?

In a scorching summer, Magnus and Elfrida search for the missing girls. Can they recover them in time? And will their own marriage be the same?

Genre: Fantasy, Historical

Length: 53,272 words

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#Escape into #Romance & #Magic with A SUMMER BEWITCHMENT (THE Knight & the Witch 2)

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“I am the troll king of this land and you owe me a forfeit.”

Elfrida glanced behind the shadowed figure who barred her way. He was alone, but then so was she.

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