“You’ll never have to be alone again. I promise.”
“Really?” Morgana muttered, in a tiny voice. Morgause gave her a reassuring nod in response. The witch placed an arm around her, pulling her sister close to her side.
“Really,” she replied. “People like us are never alone, Morgana. Not really. I’ll teach you how to see that.”
“What do you mean?”
“You’ll see. Come on. I have something to show you.”
Morgana nodded, leaning into the embrace. With their arms still around each other, the two continued their walk to the centre of the clearing. Dozens of fireflies followed after them as they walked. The sounds of chanting and laughter echoed out from everywhere. As they walked, Morgause cheerfully commented on the campfires around them, describing every single coven they passed.
“That’s Kip’s group,” she smiled, pointing to their left. “They’ve come here from the south of Mercia. The coven next to him are Bella’s witches, though I don’t see her around right now. I’ll introduce you later. They’re a little problematic, but all of them are fantastic dancers-”
But Morgana had seen something on the other side of the glade that interested her more.
“Wait. Is that a Peteran priest?”
Morgause quickly glanced over in the direction that she was looking. As soon as she realised who her sister was talking about, a smile spread on her lips.
“Oh, them?” she replied cheerily. “Yes. Derek and Ian aren’t blessed with magick, but they’ve been coming to these events for years. They’re from Henford. Apparently, the their church acts as somewhat of a refuge for people with magick.”
“A church that accepts magick?” Morgana asked, dumbfounded. “Within Albion? How is that possible?”
Morgause let out a chuckle at her confusion.
“You’ll have to ask them for the details. I don’t know the specifics of it myself. But you know, not every place in Albion is run by the Jaco—“
At that moment, their conversation was interrupted. Morgana could see two children running up to them, stopping in front and cutting off their path. The budding witch recognised them instantly. Those were the druid children that she’d met in Murkwood. The ones from Emrys’s group. The two of them ran right up to Morgause, giggling and looking up at her with eyes that gleamed with excitement.
Morgana blinked. For a second, she was convinced that she’d misheard.
But Morgause did not correct them. Morgana looked back in surprise as her sister placed her hands behind her back, smiling down at the two miniature druids.
“Hello, Henry. Cicely,” she spoke. “It’s been a while. Have you been well?”
“We’re fine-” Henry started, but he immediately got cut off by the girl next to him.
“Priestess, did you know?! Did you know?!” she yelled excitedly. “Henry can do magick now! Without the grown-ups getting angry! He did the ritual!”
“I did!” Henry chimed in, placing a hand on his chest. “It felt all fuzzy and tingly inside, and now I’m a grown-up, too! And Emrys said that you would teach us spirit magick-“
“Oh? Did he, now?” Morgause replied, looking down on them with a single raised eyebrow. Henry nodded vigorously, doubling down on the lie.
“He did! He said we could do all the magick now! Honest!”
“Really? Are you sure he said that?” Morgause insisted. “Be honest, now. You wouldn’t lie to a Priestess, would you?”
Morgana watched as, under Morgause’s gaze, their eager faces quickly turned to shame.
“…Okay, we lied. Sorry.”
Morgause chuckled. Her serious expression vanished like leaves picked up by the wind.
“That’s all right. Congratulations, Henry. If Emrys agrees with it, then I can teach you a few things tonight.”
“YES! Thank you, Priestess!”
By now, Morgana was completely lost. She looked back at her sister, trying hard to catch the witch’s eye.
“Morgause?” she asked. “What is going on?”
Morgause returned her gaze, looking back at her with a small expression of guilt on her face.
“Ah. Right,” she said. “I forgot to explain. Our coven… we have a special role during gatherings like this.”
“Special role? What do you mean?”
“Most covens don’t have High Priests or Priestesses to guide them,” Morgause explained. “Not anymore. We used to, but… It’s not uncommon for an experienced witch to let themselves be caught in order to save the rest of their coven. A lot of solitary practitioners come to these events, too. And with Albion persecuting us left and right… well, there aren’t a lot of witches left that can lead others,” she concluded sadly. “Our coven knows that. We’re also more experienced than most people here. So, just for tonight, we take on that role.”
“You do?” Morgana asked, surprise. Morgause gave her a single nod in response.
“Yes. You can too, one day. If you want to.”
Morgana had not expected that. It took her completely by surprise. As her sister’s words sunk in, the budding witch turned away from Morgause, glancing at the crowd of people around her. There were dozens and dozens of them. She’d been so overwhelmed by their numbers that she hadn’t noticed before. But she did now. The looks that they were giving Morgause – no, the looks that they were giving her – they were like a flock looking towards it shepherd.
She… wasn’t sure how to feel about that.
Morgana had not been raised to lead. She’d been trained to work from the shadows, supporting her brother and undermining his enemies wherever she could. That was her role. That was her birthright. Naturally it came with its own kind of power, and over the years, she had learned to perfect it like an art form. She’d relished in it… but Morgana had never been given a chance for anything else.
I could… lead?
Morgana glanced around, suddenly seeing the many covens that were gathered around her in a very different light.
“What do we… do?”
Morgause’s smile widened. For a second, the budding witch could swear that she saw a glimmer of pride reflected in her eyes. Morgause continued pulling her along, explaining to her as they went.
“It’s simple,” she smiled. “We heal the sick. We guide those who need it and lead them in rituals and ceremonies. We provide protection. Tonight, we greet the ones that are far away.”
“There are more of us?”
Morgause simply chuckled in return.
“There are so many more.”
By now, the two were almost at the centre of the glade. Morgana could feel the tips of her fingers start tingling. The feeling slowly spread through her arm, getting stronger the closer they got to the circle. She’d never felt something like this before. It wasn’t an unpleasant sensation. It almost felt like she was casting magick, or grounding herself… but on a scale that was much more powerful. Confused, she called out to her sister.
“You’ll see,” Morgause replied, avoiding the question as she pulled her along. “Trust me. It’s much more fun as a surprise.”
If it were any other person, Morgana would have protested long ago. She would have stopped moving entirely and demanded answers from them right at that moment. But not with Morgause. By now, Morgana had gotten a pretty good grasp on the kind of personality that her sister possessed. The almost childlike joy that she took in surprising those around her. She didn’t need to push. Morgause had already promised her answers, after all. After the night was over.
Besides, Morgana trusted her completely.
“Come on,” the Priestess said, suddenly looking giddy. “We’re almost there. At the inner circle.”
“A nexus,” she replied. “The heart of the glade. You see, I’ve been coming here since I was five years old. We’ve been meeting here every year for decades. But in all these years, there’s one thing that we’ve never been able to do. Not even with all of us. We’ve never been able to reach. Spirit doesn’t call to us like it calls to you.”
“But you can,” she continued, looking back at her. “I know you can. You’ll reach further than all of us.”
Morgana had no idea what she meant. But by now, it didn’t matter. She simply listened, trailing behind Morgause with a smile. The budding witch could feel herself easing into a strange, tranquil sort of trance. She could feel the magick around them, the spirit that enveloped them all. Morgana felt oddly at peace. Oddly connected. The closer to the centre of the glade she walked, the stronger that feeling became. The stronger her senses began to feel, and the more she could suddenly notice.
Morgana felt the warmth of her sister’s hand pulling her along. She could feel the strength and vigour of her spirit, wild and free, like a dancing bird in mid-air. It was a strange, wonderful sensation. She’d never connected with another person so strongly, not even when she was casting with Merlin. But, in a way… it felt natural. It felt right. Morgana slowly lost track of the rest of her surroundings as the experience pulled her in. She focused only on that, suddenly needing nothing else but that connection—
Until they crossed into the glade’s inner circle.
Morgana’s breath got stuck in her throat. She could feel a sudden, enormous surge of magick, rushing into her body like a waterfall and hitting all of her senses at once. She couldn’t hear. She couldn’t feel. Morgana was temporarily blinded, being overwhelmed by so many sensations at once that she almost lost track of herself-
Before being pulled through by Morgause. The barrage of magick ended. Her senses slowly returned to her. Morgana blinked, her eyes needing several seconds to start working again. For a moment, the world around her was a moving, blindingly white blur. The budding witch squinted, blinking furiously to regain her vision.
But the scene in front of her wouldn’t go away. And she suddenly realised.
It wasn’t a trick of the eyes at all.
What she saw around her… was real.
All around her, stretching around the edges of the inner circle, Morgana could see the same sight. A blinding white light, separated into strands of energy. They were in perpetual motion. She could see them splitting apart and weaving together, moving back and forth like the tides. She’d never seen something like this before. The web enveloped them all, covering the inner circle like a cocoon. As Morgana looked up, struck speechless, she could feel all of the hairs on her body stand upright. The power coming from the web around them was overwhelming.
“Wh… what is this?”
“You can see it?” Morgause smiled, turning back to face her. The budding witch raised a single eyebrow in response.
“Of course I can. It’s very hard to miss something like… wait, you can’t?”
Morgause shook her head at her in response.
“No. None of us can. We can feel it, but other than Muiri, none of us here is powerful enough to see its presence.”
Morgana broke eye contact, once again glancing up at the shimmering web of light that stretched out above her. She couldn’t imagine not being able to see it. Its movements were almost hypnotic. The budding witch found herself having trouble looking away. There was something familiar about the sight around her. Something that drew her in, luring her towards it like a moth to a flame.
Something that called out to her.
“What is it?” she muttered.
Morgause spread her arms, gesturing at the cocoon of energy around them.
“It’s a nexus,” she explained. “You are standing in the heart of the glade. Sábháel is an ancient place of power that has been protected by our people for generations. That’s what you see around you, Morgana.”
Morgause aimed her gaze skyward.
“Spirit,” she smiled. “In its purest form.”
At Morgana’s stunned, baffled silence, the Priestess took a step towards her.
“This is what I wanted you to see,” she spoke. “Do you understand? We are all connected, Morgana. Everything that lives in this world. No matter its shape or form. No matter where we are. We are all one. We’re all connected through this,” she continued, looking back up at the sky. “Through spirit. Through magick. Tonight exists to remind us of that.”
“Can you feel it? The spirit around us calling out to you?”
“Like… how the earth calls to Monoroe?” Morgana asked. The Priestess gave her an affirmative nod in response.
“Exactly like that,” she replied. “Surely you’ve realised by now. It calls to you more strongly than it calls to anyone here. Embrace it.”
Morgana hesitated. She could feel the spirit around her, seeping out from nature itself. The urge to reach out, to ground herself and absorb it, was overwhelming. She wanted to. More than anything.
But the budding witch could tell. The sense of power that came from this place – from this circle – was unlike anything she’d ever wielded in her life. Morgana didn’t know what to do.
Morgause could see the hesitation in her sister’s eyes. The conflict that simmered just beneath the surface. The Priestess took another step forward, gently taking Morgana’s hand into hers.
“It’s all right,” she said softly. “It won’t harm you, Morgana. Not here. Not tonight. Trust me. Reach out without fear and see where it takes you. I know you can.”
I know you can.
She believed in her.
It was all the motivation that Morgana needed.
Morgana took a deep breath. She closed her eyes, withdrawing into herself and focusing on her surroundings. She could feel the enormous power around her, her limbs tingling with energy as the massive amount of spirit poured into her. The girl immediately lost track of her own senses.
But that was all right. She knew that she didn’t have to see in order to feel the life that flowed around her. The flowers that grew at her feet. The trees stretching out high above her head, reaching for the sky. The grass, swaying gently in the wind. Morgana focused, instinctively reaching out to the different life forms around her—
And found more than she’d ever found in the past. Morgana instantly felt Muiri’s presence touching hers. She could sense the druid’s spirit mingling with her own. It connected with her, revealing the gentle nature of its owner. Morgana was surprised by the warmth of it. Muiri’s presence felt soft and comforting, like a gentle hug from an old friend.
“I… I can sense her,” Morgana gasped, amazed. Morgause nodded at her in response.
“You can sense all of them. If you want. If you’re strong enough. Tonight, every one of us is connected.”
Morgana didn’t know why… but she knew that it was true. As she looked at the web around her, she could feel a strange, growing sense of longing, an inexplicable hunger that rose up from the depths of her stomach. Morgana wanted to reach more. She wanted to connect more, feel more – she wanted to know everything.
She wanted to belong.
The Priestess smiled.
“Go on,” she said. “You want to see, don’t you?”
More than anything.
“Then reach out,” Morgause spoke. “Follow the Goddess. See where it leads – see how many of us there really are. You’ll never feel alone again, Morgana.”
“And you’ll reach further than anyone.”
On instinct, Morgana extended her arm towards the swirling web behind her. She could feel the same rush of magick pouring into her body as last time, cutting off her own senses and threatening to overwhelm her- but she powered through, taking deep breaths as she reached out…
What came back with her… felt almost like a little heartbeat. A small pulse of life, drawn to her spirit and filling her with a warmth unlike any she’d ever experienced. Pulsing and bending to her will. Morgana was entranced, looking down at the small ball of spirit with intense fascination.
No.. that wasn’t quite right. It wasn’t… new. As the witch looked down, entranced, she finally realised. It had always been there for her. It had always been with her. She’d just never realised what it was. What it truly was.
She finally… realised.
She finally understood.
Finally knew what is was.
She’d never been alone. Not really. As the night progressed, Morgause had said that to her, over and over again.
Now, Morgana finally knew what it meant.
That night… the witch could sense them all.
She could feel the presence of Muiri and the other witches, dancing around the inner circle. She could sense their spirit adding to the magnificent whole that was Sábháel.
But it didn’t stop there. Morgana could sense them all. The other covens. The solitary witches, mingling and chanting together at the edges of the glade. She could sense all of them. All of their spirits, bright and vibrant with hope. Filled with dread at what the morning would bring. Consumed by worry over what lay outside of the glade’s protection. Morgana could sense their joy, their anger, their fear and longing, filling her mind and soul as if they were her own.
She could see it all.
She wanted to see more.
We are all connected, Morgana. Everything that lives in this world.
No matter the shape or form.
No matter where we are.
We are all one.
We’re all connected through spirit. Through magick.
Tonight exists to remind us of that.
She could finally see. Morgana leaned forward, blind to her own surroundings as she was completely taken in by the fantastical scenes before her. Landscapes that she’d never seen. Cultures that she’d never encountered. Magick that she’d never witnessed.
She could see it all.
And, even there… Morgana wasn’t alone.
Morgana smiled. She knew that they could see her, just as clearly as she could see them. Morgana didn’t know who they were. She didn’t know which part of the earth they called home, or what kind of people were around them, or what kind of life they had lived until this point. She didn’t know where the future would take them after this day.
But she didn’t need to. Morgana didn’t need anything else.
The witch could tell.
They were the same.
They were all one.
Instinct took over. Nothing else mattered. Morgana reached out, losing all contact with herself as she reached into the void…
She could see their smiles. The witch could sense their joy, overflowing in her chest as if it were her very own.
It was her own.
It finally felt right.
She finally felt…
Thank you, @Mercuryfoam, @feroshgirl, @SnuffyBucket, @Snowbnuuy, for providing me with pictures to use. And thank you all for connecting with me through this story. It means more to me than you’ll ever know. 💖