Of Savage Lust, and a Pact with the Goat God of the Witches
Éabhla scurried through the dense brush, mud and tears staining her cheeks. The gurgle of the nearby river Shannon could be heard rolling against it banks. Her body shook with fear, which slowly began to turn to rage. Her sister had been burned at the stake not more than two hours prior, and she was still in a deep state of shock. Times had been rough since their parents had walked the Low Road, and she and her sister had been forced to rely on prostitution to afford food. Connaught was not an easy place to make a living, as most others were also poor. They did what they had to do to survive though. Their luck took an even worse turn when a jealous wife accused them of witchcraft. The arrests and trials had been swift. There had really been no hope of true justice. She could still hear in her own mind the screams of her sister from her dank cell as the flames had consumed her flesh. She had prayed to the old gods, begging for help, crumpling into a sobbing heap on the pile of filthy hay on the dirt floor while she waited for them to load fresh faggots of kindling and wood around the stake.
She did not know who the cloaked and hooded woman was that unlocked her cell, and in fact she did not even see her enter the stone walled hut serving as her place of detention. She had entered the torch lit room quiet as a wraith. All three guards had fallen fast asleep, but only seconds earlier had been boasting and laughing about the executions in progress. It was surreal. As the door swung open the woman reached in and lifted her up gently by the arm and whispered in her ear, “Child, I have come to free you from your bonds and give you choices. Your sister now walks the Low Road, but it is not yet your time. Morrigan is not yet ready to cut your thread and call you home. If you wish security make your way to Kildare, the sisterhood will take you in and you will be safe. They will indoctrinate you and you will become a keeper of the flame. If you seek vengeance though, head to the river with all due haste. The choice is yours… make it wisely.”
Éabhla had no doubt where she would go. After exiting the doorway she sprinted to the nearby tree line, her tattered skirts flying about her. When she glanced back there was no sign of her savior. She headed toward the river, branches scratching her skin in her rush to get there.
She crouched near an old gnarled Oak Tree, her ears straining for any sign that she had been pursued. She expected to hear the sharp cries of villagers and see wan halos of torchlight in the mists, but there was nothing. She could feel a presence though, but her determination to avenge her sister squashed any fear trying to creep into her heart. After a long period of time a low guttural voice from the darkness startled her. “Child, you walk in darkness and you have called upon the old gods in your despair… what is it you seek?” She replied softly, her eyes straining to see who spoke to her. “I was told to come to the river if I wished vengeance.” After a few short moments the voice again carried through the darkness. “The Mother always offers choices child. You chose to come to the river. Do you forgo your other choice?” Éabhla straightened her back and stated simply “I do.” There was a chuckle that sounded reminiscent of rolling thunder many miles away. “Are you willing to make sacrifice for the vengeance you are seeking?” She bit her lip and said flatly “I am.”
A very large shadow drifted from the lee side of a nearby boulder where the speaker had been concealed. Éabhla’s heart skipped a beat in her chest when she realized the huge man had the head of a massive goat. He was no man at all. He was Cernunnos, God of Witches. As he approached she could smell the acrid odor of his skin and see the feral glow of eyes reflecting weak moonlight making its way through thin wisps of fog. Her legs became weak. She was enamored with his overwhelming physical presence, with the way he moved, the sound of his voice. Before she knew what she was doing she was casting her skirts aside and guiding his gigantic phallus to her entry. They rutted, oblivious to the world, and he whispered secrets to her. Secrets of poppets and curses, mysteries concerning herbs, bindings for demons and other Lesser Powers, and lore of all kinds. She was unmindful of the world, lost in pleasure and pain… and the secrets kept coming. In between grunts and squeals she offered herself, body and soul, into his service for the rest of her life. After what seemed to be ages he grunted and filled her with his seed, a flow her small body could not contain, and her cup did run over. The Goat God of the Witches rolled her over, gently patted her belly, and softly said in his throaty voice, “New life has been created to replace one that has been lost, and you now have the knowledge and power to avenge a wrong if you choose to do so. You are now truly that which you and your sister were accused of and punished for.”
Less than a month later the judges presiding over the trial of Éabhla and her sister had taken their own lives… all of them. Some experienced sudden and strange illness, some had lost their minds degenerating into incoherent babbling of witches and demons, and a few just ended their existence with no apparent reason at all.