Spoiler warning! Don’t read these if you haven’t yet read The Sixth Labyrinth!
“You’re hurting my ears, child. Where have you been?”
“Walking by the bay.”
“I wish you’d come back before dark, Sophie.”
“Because of the selkie?”
Eleanor laughed. “Because I don’t want you getting lost, or falling and hurting yourself.”
“Auntie, listen to me!”
“I saw it!”
“The selkie! It came out of the water and turned into a man.”
“Ah, well, it must have been a selkie then. What did he look like?”
“He was old. His hair was white. Long, like a king’s. He was tall.”
“And what did he do?” Eleanor pushed her great-niece into a chair and brought her a slice of orange marmalade cake.
“He went over to that old blackhouse by the bay.”
“Aye. He was greeting, Auntie!”
“Was he? And what did you do?”
“I watched and didn’t make a sound.”
“Aye, thank you. Olivia Ramsay says it’s bad luck to go to the beach at the full moon.”
“That’s a well-worn tale meant to get children home before dark.”
“She said anyone who does it is cursed. She said only fools walk on Glenelg’s beach during the full moon.”
“Olivia Ramsay has an imagination.”
“She said the selkie is her da’s brother.”
“So Curran Ramsay has a selkie brother, does he?”
“She says the selkie cries for the human girl he loved and lost.”
“Is that so?”
“Auntie, I don’t want to go home.”
“You must. If you never went home, your mam and da would miss you and be sad.”
“Like the selkie?”
“Aye. Like the selkie.”
“Why is it sad? Did it really lose its true love?”
“How would I know?”
“You know everything.”
“Oh, child, I wish I did.”
“You do know, though. I can tell. You look sad, too.”
“I can pity those who suffer, even when they might deserve it.”
The first of September became the traditional date for holding an annual charity fundraiser at Kilgarry for the orphan project, as the weather was generally beautiful and the Michaelmas daisies were in bloom. It soon became the social event throughout the surrounding Highland counties, drawing Curran’s wealthy friends and associates from Glasgow, Edinburgh, and even as far as London. Every year the guest list grew, until Glenelg had to build a new inn to accommodate those who couldn’t fit into Kilgarry. Extra help was hired from Fort William and Mallaig to assist with cooking, cleaning, and serving; musicians were brought in for the evening balls and dances, and the manor house nearly burst its seams with so many people.
The first of September 1883 cooperated with warm sunlight and gentle breezes. Pavilions and tables were set up around Kilgarry’s pond, near the old oak. Guests wandered in and out of the gardens, enjoying lemonade, tea, and whisky, and there was a great deal of food for anyone who was hungry, as well as horseback riding, hunting, fishing, archery, and of course the ballroom was in great demand every night. The ferryman was kept busy transporting explorers to Skye for sightseeing, and for the most intrepid, there was mountain climbing. Interspersed with all the entertainment were the speeches, promises, and donations.
Morrigan, Eleanor, and Diorbhail sat together upon cushioned chairs beneath the oak, a table between them holding lemonade and cakes.
“You haven’t taken your eyes off Mr. Abernathy,” Morrigan said to Eleanor, only half teasing. “Are you going to marry him and leave us?”
With one of her signature snorts, she replied, “The most he’ll get from me is a night or two. He is rather handsome.”
“Eleanor!” Morrigan pretended shock then giggled with Diorbhail at the midwife’s brazen ways, but a moment later, she winced and rubbed the side of her stomach.
As usual, Eleanor didn’t miss it, and questioned with raised eyebrows.
“It’s fine,” Morrigan said. “Just my bones being stretched. I remember this from Olivia and Eirene.”
“It won’t be long now,” said Diorbhail. “We’ll have another wee lass to spoil.”
“I do think Curran might want a son. Can you arrange that?”
“No,” Diorbhail said with a wide smile. “You’ll only ever have girls. Girls and more girls. If you were having all the babies, the world would die out for lack of boys.”
At that moment wee Seaghan ran up to them, nearly falling as he hadn’t quite mastered running yet, and placed his fists on Morrigan’s knees. His right hand was stuffed with daisies, and he turned up his face, seeking approval.
“Are these for me?” she asked, taking them.
He nodded. She picked him up and placed him on her lap. “You’re a grand lad,” she said, kissing his cheek, and he nestled in as best he could against her.
To think what might have become of him, if he hadn’t been found two years ago in that awful place in London, barely six weeks old, sold by his father. Now he lived at Kilgarry, and had twenty other orphans for playmates, along with the local children, and since he’d had no name, he was called Seaghan in honor of Morrigan’s father, even though hearing it made her suffer his loss all over again.
Seaghan’s body was found, stuffed under a pile of rocks, a week after the events on Mingulay. Someone had murdered him with a knife, and a local man went missing right after, but he was never found, and the investigation languished. Right when Morrigan learned she had a true father, he was taken from her; not being able to speak to him as his child remained an unrelenting anguish and regret.
Soon Sophie joined them. Eleanor’s great-niece was a little lady, at ten. She and Olivia were the same age and the best of friends, though very different, with Olivia being a wild boyish child who, more often than not, could be found in the branches of the oak rather than sitting demurely beneath it. Sophie came to Glenelg every summer at her own insistence to stay with her aunt. She never wanted to go home to Edinburgh, though she loved her mother and father, and often wept for missing them. Her dream of a perfect world was one in which her papa agreed to move to Glenelg.
She perched on the edge of a chair and sipped tea.
“What is it?” Eleanor asked, in her usual perceptive way.
The girl didn’t answer immediately, but pursed her lips and frowned.
“Well?” Eleanor pressed.
“Livvy’s telling that story again,” the child said in her soft Edinburgh brogue.
“Which one?” Morrigan asked. Olivia loved making up tales. She was turning into Kilgarry’s own seanchaidh.
Sophie would only say that she wasn’t supposed to tell, but she hated the story because Livvy always refused to give her a part in it.
“Where have those lasses gone off to?” Diorbhail asked then. “I haven’t seen any of them in an hour.”
It was true. There was no sign of the local girls. “We’d best find them,” Morrigan said, “before they get up to mischief, if they haven’t already.”
Sophie wanted to stay, have cake, and admire the pretty dresses, so the three cronies left Seaghan with her and went off in search of the missing girls. They weren’t at the pond, nor the walled garden, or the gazebo. Guests stopped them to chat and ask after Morrigan’s health as she neared her ninth month of pregnancy, hampering their search. Lily found them and reported happily that Sir John Beechforth had promised to donate a building in Soho that had been in his family, unused, for years. She whispered that the old sot hadn’t been able to take his eyes off her bosoms, so she credited them for the prize.
Eventually, the three took note of a striped pavilion set some distance away from the others, and Diorbhail remembered that Olivia had asked Kyle and Logan to erect it for her and her friends.
They couldn’t see the children as they walked up, but heard a flurry of female chatter, and paused outside the pavilion to listen.
“How many sisters do you have?”
Morrigan recognized the voice of Rachel’s daughter, Jean.
“I don’t know,” she heard Olivia reply. “Lots.”
“Am I there?” This was asked by Eirene, Olivia’s younger sister.
“Of course you’re there,” Olivia said impatiently. “I told you already. The new sister will be there too. All my sisters will be there, all, from the first.”
“But how, if they’re dead?” This was Jean again. Though she was only nine months older than Olivia, she often expressed disdain for what she called the younger girl’s silliness.
Olivia huffed. “The lady says they’ll come back to life and we’ll be together.”
“People don’t come back to life,” Jean said.
“My sisters will. The lady promised.”
“How can they be your sisters? Your mam’s only had the two of you.”
“I want to dream of my other sisters!” Eirene said plaintively.
“Maybe you’re not old enough,” Olivia said. “I only started having the dream two months ago.”
“Tell us their names again,” Jean asked. She sounded disbelieving, like she thought she might catch Olivia in a mistake and prove the tale was make-believe.
Olivia gave a sigh and Morrigan heard a whimper, probably from Violet’s baby, Grace. Olivia loved that child, and was always running off with her.
As she began to speak, a large eagle landed on a nearby rowan branch. It made no sound but cocked its head and leveled the women with a fierce stare.
“There’s Romy and Claire and Evie. There’s… oh aye, Rosabel. And the ones with the unco names— Xanthe and Pasithea. And Iphiboë. And Alecto. And the new baby. The lady said her name will be Willow.”
Morrigan had sagged against Diorbhail as Olivia spoke the first three names. Her legs felt too weak to support her.
“Alecto,” Diorbhail whispered.
Morrigan took in a breath and straightened. The three women regarded each other, their eyes shining, and reached out, placing their hands on each other’s shoulders, creating a perfect circle.
The jeweler frowned upon seeing the items. He spent a long time studying them with his magnifier, turning them over repeatedly.
“What is it, Philip?” Curran finally asked. “Are they sham? Stolen?”
“No, Mr. Ramsay. Well, I know nothing about any theft. I do not believe they are imitation. Excuse me, sir.”
He went through a curtain into the back and soon returned with another man, who also inspected the knife and necklace carefully.
They spoke together in low, rapid Greek. Curran understood only a few words, having lost most of the Greek he’d learned at university.
“Will one of you tell me what is so interesting?” he interrupted.
The two men exchanged glances. Philip, whose surname, Curran suddenly remembered, was Christopoulos, said, “I believe these are ancient, truly ancient, but I would like the opinion of an expert. There is a fellow connected to the new museum in Athens, the National Archaeological Museum. With your permission, I would like to take these items there for him to examine.”
“You want to take them to Athens? I don’t know. They belong to my wife. It took her years to agree to this appraisal.”
The men exchanged another glance.
“You aren’t telling me everything,” Curran said.
“How did she acquire these pieces, may I ask?”
“They were gifts.”
“From a collector, perhaps?”
“No. Just a man.”
Christopoulos stared at him, frowning deeply.
“They are stolen. Is that what you are not saying?”
“No, no, Mr. Ramsay. Please forgive me. It is odd, of course, how pieces of such antiquity could spend years in… your wife’s possession? These should be in a museum.”
“And you have now suggested that twice. What guarantee do I have, Philip, that they will be returned if you take them to Athens?”
The door at the front of the shop opened just then and Morrigan came in, flanked by Diorbhail.
“There you are.” Curran held out his hand.
She came forward, clasping his hand and smiling at the two men behind the counter. “We’re finished with our errands,” she said, and perused the knife and necklace. “Well? Is there a verdict?”
“Not really. These men want to take your antiquities to Athens.”
Morrigan did not react as he’d thought she would. She blinked, but her smile didn’t falter. “They are wonderful, aren’t they?” she said.
“Yes, Lady Eilginn,” Philip said. “In fact, they are astonishing.”
The other man came out from behind the counter. “I am Spiro Michelakis, Mrs. Ramsay,” he said. Philip sounded like a native Londoner, but Spiro’s Greek accent was pronounced.
She held out her hand and he took it briefly. “May I tell you about our new museum in Athens?” he asked.
“There’s a new museum? I would be very interested,” she replied, and the two walked over to another counter, where he brought out several cases as he spoke to her.
“Mr. Ramsay, sir,” Philip said, “Greece has a moral right to her artifacts.”
“You are certain these are Greek.”
“The meander on the necklace suggests it might be Cretan. There have been other items found there with this pattern.”
“Does that mean something to you, Mr. Ramsay?”
“How was the knife broken?”
“It was dropped. I suppose that hurts its value.”
“I suspect nothing could harm the value of these pieces.” He picked up the knife, very carefully, and ran his thumb over the sheared-off edge. “Obsidian,” he murmured. “The hilt is ivory.”
“My wife believes the figure is Athene.”
“Oh yes, no doubt of it. The owl and the aegis tell us this.” His eyes filled with tears.
“Philip?” Curran said. “What have I done?”
“Oh, sir, it’s just that… look here. You can see the tool marks. I feel certain I am holding something in my hands that was created thousands of years ago, in my country, by men just like me, perhaps. Artisans. I feel them, you see, in my flesh. I feel I am looking through their eyes as they carve this image. I can almost smell their forge fires.”
Curran didn’t know what to say. It was odd, for he too sometimes saw flashes of things when he held the necklace and the knife.
“Is your wife knowledgeable about our history?” Philip asked.
“Very much so.”
Morrigan returned to his side. “Curran, I have an idea. You know how Livvy has always wanted to see an excavation. Let’s gather up the weans and go with these gentlemen to Athens and see their museum for ourselves.”
“We can take the lasses to see Schliemann’s Troy and his other excavations, at Mycenae, and Tiryns.”
“I would be honored to escort you to Crete,” Spiro said as he joined them. “Sixteen years ago, part of a building was dug up beneath a mound there, and many of our antiquarians believe this is the actual palace of Knossos— the legendary place named in Homer’s Odyssey! And as I was just telling your wife, sir, I am most intrigued by the pattern on your necklace, for it matches the pattern on coins that have been discovered nearby.”
Morrigan’s excitement was clear to see, as was Diorbhail’s. Curran felt excitement rise inside him as well, almost as though he was contemplating going home.
His wife was looking at him in that way she had, communicating without words.
He realized he was nodding.
So be it. They would embark on a new pilgrimage— this time with their children.
To celebrate a consequential birthday and the release of this book that has taken so many years to complete, I’m discounting The Sixth Labyrinth for the last week of its pre-order period and a week after. It will go live on April 8, 2016: now through April 15, you can get it for $2.99 (regularly $4.99). Links to pre-order are below the graphic.
Worry not: all of you who have already pre-ordered it will get it for this special price!
Barnes & Noble won’t allow us to set up a pre-order, but Nook readers will still get The Sixth Labyrinth at its sale price after it goes live, through April 15th. HERE is my author page, which will have The Sixth Labyrinth as soon as it’s released. Mark your calendars!
Thank you to my readers!
The Sixth Labyrinth
Arriving in 2 weeks!
Finis… or in other words, The End. A sublime combination of words I was beginning to doubt I would ever be able to type, but all edits have at last come to “The End.” It took so much longer than I expected, but I do believe I made the right choice to go through The Sixth Labyrinth one last time. I feel certain this will result in a smoother, more pleasant read.
Thank you to my beta readers… my editor… my copy editors… the cover image artist… and my Gaelic speakers. This was a Team Effort that was years upon years (upon years) in the making.
Cover talk: As soon as I saw this image by Eve Ventrue, I knew it was perfect. It was Chrysaleon, in every way. Angry, somber, and defiant, after three millennia of being reincarnated, forced to suffer the loss of the woman he loves, over and over again. He is deeply scarred, and I think that shows in every inch of this face.
The image is unfinished: Chrysaleon, too, is unfinished.
But this story is not just Chrysaleon’s. It is Aridela’s. It is Menoetius’s. And it is Selene’s and Themiste’s. All have reunited in 1870s Scotland.
The Sixth Labyrinth is Book Four in The Child of the Erinyes series.
Winter, 1853. Every home in the village of Glenelg is burned, the residents deported or left to starve.
Douglas Lawton refuses to put his family on the refugee ship, though his wife is in labor. She dies giving birth to a daughter whose paternity will always be questioned.
These mountains in the remote West Highlands of Scotland offer a backdrop to the continuing story of three lives linked through time. A silenced but enduring goddess has seen her place in the souls of humans systematically destroyed, but she bides her time. For Athene, thousands of years mean nothing.
Framed within the Clearances that ravaged the Highlands, one woman struggles with the restrictions placed upon her, and all women. Her buried psyche is that of a queen who possessed unlimited power, yet here, she is little more than a scullery maid.
For thousands of years two men have fought for the heart of Athene’s daughter. Will either triumph? What are the consequences of winning? Ancient prophecy is unfolding, leading our triad into the shadowed corridors of The Sixth Labyrinth.
Image via shutterstock
- Research for story of Tristan and Isolde taken from:
- Newman, Ernest. The Wagner Operas, 1949
- The world premiere of Tristan und Isolde was in Munich on June 10, 1865.
- Arnold, Matthew. Tristram and Iseult, 1852
- Auchincloss, Louis. Persons of Consequence: Queen Victoria & Her Circle, 1978
- Auerbach, Nina. Ellen Terry, Player in Her Time, 1987
- Bell, Ian. Dreams of Exile: Robert Louis Stevenson, a biography, 1992
- Bennett, Margaret. Scottish Customs from the Cradle to the Grave, 1992
- Bingham, Caroline. Beyond the Highland Line, 1991
- Brown, Jonathan & Ward, S.B. Village Life in England 1860-1940: A Photographic Record, 1985
- Buchman, Dian Dincin. Herbal Medicine, 1979
- Calder, Angus (Edited by). Robert Louis Stevenson, Selected Poems, 1998
- Cantlie, Hugh. Ancestral Castles of Scotland, 1992
- Carmichael, Alexander. Carmina Gadelica Hymns and Incantations (Collected in the Highlands and Islands of Scotland in the last century), 1992
- Cooper, Derek. Skye, 1970
- Davis, James & Hawke, S.D. London, 1990
- Ewing, Elizabeth. Everyday Dress 1650-1900, 1984
- Fenwick, Hubert. Scottish Baronial Houses, 1986
- Fostor, Vanda. A Visual History of Costume: the 19th Century, 1984
- Fraprie, Frank Roy. Castles and Keeps of Scotland, 1907
- Goldthorpe, Caroline. From Queen to Empress: Victorian Dress 1837-1877, 1988
- Gorsline, Douglas. What People Wore: A Visual History of Dress, 1974, c1952
- Gutman, Robert. Richard Wagner: The Man, His Mind, & His Music, 1972
- Hart, James D (Edited by). Robert Louis Stevenson: From Scotland to Silverado, 1966
- Hawkes, Jacquetta. Dawn of the Gods, 1968
- Hellman, George. The True Stevenson, 1925
- Hendry, J.F. The Penguin Book of Scottish Short Stories, 1970
- Hibbert, Christopher. The Horizon Book of Daily Life in Victorian England, 1975
- Hopman, Ellen Evert. A Druid’s Herbal for the Sacred Earth Year, 1995
- Hunnisett, Jean. Period Costume for Stage & Screen 1800-1909, 1988
- Jackson, Douglas. A Celtic Miscellany, 1951
- Jacobs, Joseph. Celtic Fairy Tales, 1923
- King, Neil. The Victorian Scene, 1985
- Knight, Alanna. Robert Louis Stevenson Treasury, 1985
- Laver, James. Modesty in Dress: An Inquiry into the Fundamentals of Fashion, 1969
- Lister, Margot. Costumes of Everyday Life: An Illustrated History of Working Clothes, from 900-1910, 1972
- Lochhead, Marion. Scottish Tales of Magic and Mystery, 1978
- MacGregor, Geddes. Scotland: an Intimate Portrait, 1980
- Mackie, J.D. A History of Scotland, 1964
- Mackinnon, Roderick. Gaelic, 1971
- Maclean, Charles. The Clan Almanac, 1990
- Mair, Craig. A Star for Seamen, 1978
- Maloney, Elbert S. Chapman Piloting: Seamanship & Small Boat Handling, 1991
- Markale, Jean. Women of the Celts, 1986
- Matthews, Caitlín and John. Ladies of the Lake, 1992
- Maurois, Andre. Disraeli, 1955
- Maxwell, Stuart & Hutchison, Robin. Scottish Costume 1550-1850, 1959 c1958
- McCutchan, Philip. Tall Ships: The Golden Age of Sail, 1976
- McKenna, Terence. Food of the Gods: The search for the Original Tree of Knowledge, 1992
- Moncreiffe and Hicks. The Highland Clans, 1967
- Murphy, Gardner & Kovach, Joseph K. Historical Introduction to Modern Psychology, 1972
- Nicholson, B.E. & Ary, S. & Gregory, M. The Oxford Book of Wildflowers, 1980, c1960
- Norwich, John Julius. Britain’s Heritage, 1983
- O’Brien Educational. Heroic Tales from the Ulster Clyde. 1976
- Pepper, Choral. Walks in Oscar Wilde’s London, 1992
- Plotz, Helen. Poems of Robert Louis Stevenson, 1973
- Prebble, John. Culloden, 1961
- Prebble, John. The Highland Clearances, 1963
- Prebble, John. The Lion in the North, 1971
- Rose, Phyllis. Parallel Lives: Five Victorian Marriages, 1983
- Ross, Anne. The Folklore of the Scottish Highlands, 1976
- Scott, Sir Walter. Manners, Customs, and History of the Highlanders of Scotland, 1893
- Sichel, Marion. History of Children’s Costume, 1983
- Smout, T.C. A History of the Scottish People 1560-1830
- Souden, David. The Victorian Village, 1991
- Swinglehurst, Edmund & Anderson, Janice. Scottish Walks and Legends, 1982
- Thompson, Dorothy. Queen Victoria: The Woman, The Monarchy, The People, 1990
- Tranter, Nigel. Tales & Traditions of Scottish Castles, 1982
- Warrack, Alexander, MA. (Compiled by) Chambers Scots Dictionary, 1911
- Warwick, Christopher. Two Centuries of Royal Weddings, 1980
- Waugh, Nora. Corsets and Crinolines, 1954
- Weintraub, Stanley. Whistler: A Biography, 1974
- Whipple, Addison Beecher Colvin. The Clipper Ships, 1980
- Wilson, A.N. Eminent Victorians, 1989
Book Five, The Sixth Labyrinth, is live and available at many sites. You can find purchase links in this post below or in the “Links to Purchase” tab.
Athene first clues in Aridela about what will happen in The Thinara King. Aridela doesn’t understand the message then, but she will, in time. Here’s what Athene tells her:
I have lived many lives since the beginning, and so shalt thou. I have been given many names and many faces. So shalt thou, and thou wilt follow me from reverence and worship into obscurity. In an unbroken line wilt thou return, my daughter. Thou shalt be called Eamhair of the sea, who brings them closer, and Shashi, sacrificed to deify man. Thy names are Caparina, Lilith and the sorrowful Morrigan, who drives them far apart. Thou wilt step upon the earth seven times, far into the veiled future. Seven labyrinths shalt thou wander, lost, and thou too wilt forget me. Suffering and despair shall be thy nourishment. Misery shall poison thy blood. Thou wilt breathe the air of slavery for as long as thou art blinded. For thou art the earth, blessed and eternal, yet thou shalt be pierced, defiled, broken, and wounded, even as I have been. Thou wilt generate inexhaustible adoration and contempt. Until these opposites are united, all will strangle within the void.
The Sixth Labyrinth
Book Five, The Child of the Erinyes series. A new myth from Ancient Greece.
Morrigan Lawton lives a lonely, wearying existence in a land that long ago turned its back on magic and myth.
Curran Ramsay enjoys every advantage and is loved by all who know him. Yet none of his successes can rid him of the sense that he is missing something, or someone. It haunts every moment, awake and in dreams.
Twenty years ago, the sea stole Aodhàn Mackinnon’s memories and nearly drowned him. Now a penniless fisherman, his heart reels from an agony he cannot quite remember–until the landowner’s new wife comes to Glenelg.
A silenced but enduring goddess has seen her place in the souls of mortals systematically destroyed.
But she bides her time.
For Athene, thousands of years mean nothing.
Ancient prophecy and the hand of a goddess propel the triad into the winding corridors of The Sixth Labyrinth.
The sea claims final possession,
and leaves nothing behind.
“The beautiful and mysterious cover of ‘The Moon casts a spell’ perfectly illustrates the events of this subtle book, the fourth episode of Rebecca Lochlann’s powerful love story, ‘The Child of the Erinyes’. Three lovers reincarnate, drawn together by the emotional tangle that binds them. Unfortunately, hatred sustains another protagonist who pursues the lovers across the centuries, bringing destruction and death.”
“Superbly written with compelling characters, this novella is my favorite, so far, in The Child of Erinyes series.”
The series skips a few thousand years to take up Aridela’s story in Victorian Scotland.
The Child of the Erinyes
Book Four, a Novella prequel introducing
Book Five, The Sixth Labyrinth
The Moon Casts a Spell dips into one of the triad’s seven lives, on the remote isle of Barra, in Scotland’s Outer Hebrides.
Set just before The Sixth Labyrinth begins, in the tumultuous Victorian years from the 1830s to 1853, The Moon Casts a Spell brings Athene’s triad together again as they work their way through the seven lives they are bound to experience.
This book is currently available in digital form only. Paperback coming.
Click HERE for the Multi-Region Amazon link
The Moon Casts a Spell is available everywhere. See “Links to Purchase” tab.
A tale of star-crossed love, of superstition and zealotry, as a goddess brings her ancient triad together again on the windswept isle of Barra, in Scotland’s Outer Hebrides.
The Chief of Clan MacNeil is forced to sell his ancestral island to John Gordon of Cluny, a mainlander. No one knows what to expect. Will life get better or worse? Will John Gordon take care of his tenants or evict them, like so many other landowners are doing?
* * * * *
Impetuous, irreverent, derided as Barra’s peculiar changeling, Lilith Kelso has little use for anyone but Daniel Carson, the orphan her mother has taken in. Everyone expects them to marry someday.
But then John Gordon buys the island. He sends his steward to collect rents and squeeze out profits.
The steward doesn’t come alone. He brings his son, and nothing will ever be the same.
Click HERE to read a sample at Amazon.
* * * * *
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The people living on Crete in the first three books of The Child of the Erinyes were great believers in omens, prophecies, signs, and portents from the gods. My imagining of Bronze Age Crete had hundreds of priestesses as well as priests, all of whom devoted themselves to pleasing the Immortals and drawing down good fortune. Animals were routinely sacrificed, for it was believed that the scent of blood and burned fat delighted the gods. Crete’s High Priestess, Themiste, who also held the impressive titles of Most Holy Minos, Moon-Being, Keeper of the Prophecies, and oracle, enjoyed a closer relationship to these deities than anyone else, and hence, more power. She used many methods of communing with them—serpent venom, poppy juice, poisonous laurel leaves, smoke emanating from fissures in the earth, and, perhaps most commonly, the sacred mushroom, known in the story as cara.
Which brings us to the next segment of the series, The Sixth Labyrinth, set in the Highlands of Victorian Scotland—another place where folklore and belief in “things unseen” remained strong until recent times. I’ve merged several key elements from the earlier story into this tale—one of the most important is the use of the sacred mushroom to achieve vision and expand clarity. It wasn’t at all hard to do, as the genus called Psilocybe semilanceata grows in abundance throughout the United Kingdom (and has been used for its hallucinatory effects since prehistoric times.) Psilocybe semilanceata, for those who don’t know, is a wild mushroom with psychedelic qualities. Happily for my purpose, this particular fungus, sometimes called Witch’s Cap or Liberty Cap, is one of the most potent of all the psilocybin mushrooms, and I’ve read that the title Liberty Cap comes from the Greek Phrygian cap, which I thought a nice, unexpected coincidence, as one of my ensemble originally hails from Phrygia.
Most of The Sixth Labyrinth protagonists retain no memories of their past lives other than brief images, echoes of voices, and snippets of dreams. These tantalizing, often disturbing impressions at times make them feel as though they’re going insane—a terrifying prospect in the era of Bedlam and other notorious asylums. Once they find each other, their piecemeal recollections grow more insistent, compelling several of them to set forth on a journey of enlightenment. Using the magical mushroom from ancient times, they release their fears, open their minds, and let in that which reality deems impossible. Each insight dredged from the subconscious changes the trajectory of their lives, and Earth’s history, just as it did in the Bronze Age.
In The Sixth Labyrinth, the oracle Themiste returns as a midwife and healer, Eleanor Graeme. She knows much of plant lore and the healing arts; she even has knowledge of then-modern science, thanks to a brother who studied medicine and psychiatry. She’s familiar with the properties of Psilocybe semilanceata, and collects as much as she can find every autumn, when it ripens in the fields. She dries it, stores it in jars, and has been known to use it from time to time. Eleanor is instrumental in helping to heal the damaged, fragmented memories of this small band of reincarnated souls.
Another pivotal character readers of the series might recognize from the Bronze Age is the Phrygian warrior, Selene. Life in The Sixth Labyrinth does not treat her kindly, yet she still manages to find, protect, and aid those she has always loved. The daughter of a wise woman near Cape Wrath, she comes to the group already cognizant of what can be achieved through the mushroom’s use. In fact she walks a very long way to find her comrades from the past, having used the mushroom to help her in her search.
One character has no need of a hallucinatory mushroom, or any other device. Because of a curse placed on him in the Bronze Age, he is doomed to retain memories of each and every one of his past lives. While it might be tempting to assume having knowledge gives him an advantage, that isn’t necessarily the case.
Different people had (and have) various reactions to psilocybin. Getting clear memories of our past lives might be asking a lot. But as stated by HowStuffWorks, “There can be a changed perception of one’s place in the universe and a feeling of communing with a higher power.” The supernatural link between my protagonists and Goddess Athene strengthens this ability.
I’m working quite hard on The Sixth Labyrinth, preparing it for a 2014 release. It is a sequel to In the Moon of Asterion, and the fourth book in The Child of the Erinyes series. The first three books are available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and iTunes. (Update: 2014 hasn’t happened. Hopefully The Sixth Labyrinth will find its way to bookshelves in early 2015.)
Photo: “Bust Attis CdM” by Jastrow (2006). Licensed under Public domain via Wikimedia Commons – http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Bust_Attis_CdM.jpg#mediaviewer/File:Bust_Attis_CdM.jpg
Photo: “Psilocybe.semilanceata.Alan” by Alan Rockefeller – Own work. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons – http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Psilocybe.semilanceata.Alan.jpg#mediaviewer/File:Psilocybe.semilanceata.Alan.jpg