Prelude to a Gathering of Eagles: The Apostle, Part II

Crispus, a young man of Roman birth stayed with Patrick until the end. He looked after the old man and learned many things from him. More than anything, he longed to see the lands that Patrick had seen. From this elderly teacher, he learned the Anglican language and even wrote the last few missives that Patrick sent across the Great Sea. 
As he lay dying, Patrick said to Crispus. “If you go to the North young friend, take the scrolls with you. Any that you can bear to part with, leave with the young Prince William. He was greatly interested in them. He will ascend to the throne after his father. He will rule well, because he has a heart for God.” 
     A fortnight after Patrick joined his forefathers, Crispus boarded a sailing vessel to cross the Great Sea. He carried the precious scrolls in a large chest, which he had borne upon his own shoulders thus far. As the sun set and darkness descended, he stood on the deck and watched as the stars made their appearance. His soul swelled with the excitement of his journey. Something wonderful awaits.

     The Verani ran smooth and sleek as a mirror. An early morning mist lent an ethereal quality as Crispus looked over the vast basin. Strange sounds filled his ears as indigenous birds lifted their voices in concert. He sat down on a rock and closed his eyes.
     “Heavenly Father, I thank you. You have sent me to such a place, its wild beauty far surpasses anything I have ever seen. I pray that I will be ever vigilant in my calling, to feed the flock and further spread the message of the gospel of Christ. I thank you for your guidance and protection as I walk into the unknown.”
     A loud splash followed by an odd creaking noise, woke him from his morning meditation. An old wooden flatboat plied into view. It seemed too old and rickety to be navigable. The man who guided it was equally old and rickety, and as he approached, he grinned, revealing a mouth devoid of teeth except for one right in front. He seemed a jolly creature and Crispus warmed to him at once.

“Be ye a goin’ t’other side, man?”
“I am if you will take me.”
“Aye—fer a small sum. Have ye any animals ‘n such?”
“Just a pack mule.” Crispus pointed to a yew tree several feet away. “He’s tethered, yonder.” 
“Good. Takes two trips fer more ’n one animal. M’boat’s a bit skewy these days.”
Crispus arched his brows. This was going to take about as much faith as Peter walking on the water. He brought his mule forward and stepped carefully into the boat. The mule balked at first, but with the boatman’s help, he managed it. The old man cast off and then tossed a pole to Crispus. “I’d welcome a bit of help, be ye of a mind.”  
“I am happy to help.” If that will speed our journey. The leaky vessel seemed none too steady.
After a bit, the old man glanced back at Crispus. “Ye ain’t from around here, ere ye?”
Crispus shook his head. “I am not, good sir.” 
“Where ye goin’?”
“I am seeking a place to make a brief sojourn, until I get my bearings. Then I will continue to the coast.”
“Well, since ye be not from these parts, I will tell ye—ye’ll want to go west when ye reaches the far shore. Don’t ye go east to the rocks. 
‘Tis a cursed place.”
Crispus straightened. “Cursed?”
“Aye, allus has been.” He settled in, to rest a bit, while he told his tale. “Many years a family dwelt there, by name a Rogan, but they was a odd bunch. They met a bad end, they did. It’s a strange and mystical place, some say. Only ones at ever was able to stay there, was them Rogans.”
“It’s to the East, you say?”
“Aye, pressed up hard agin the Dolor Heights.” He removed his hat and mopped his brow with his forearm. “Ah, Dolor—now there’s another cursed place—though I hear tell things is better of late.” He grinned again. “Vah done smiled on them again, I reckon.”
As the meaning of the man’s words became clear, Crispus nodded his understanding. The man’s speech was a difficult to understand. Probably a different dialect of the same language Crispus had learned from Patrick. The occasional word thrown in was unmistakably of Hebrew origin, like the word for God, ‘Vah. Crispus squinted into the far horizon. These must be the ones of whom Patrick spoke! Or perhaps they were the ones descended from the Hebrews? The flatboat hit against the far shore. He steadied himself with the pole. 
The old man chuckled. “Ye done all right.”
  Crispus handed him a coin and nodded. “I did not catch your name.”
“I gave it not. ‘Tis Jeb—short for Jebuel—I be named fer some long ago, long forgotten pater.”
Ah, it is the Hebrew, then. “Well, good day Jebuel, and may God bless you.”
“And you, young gent. Mind what I say noo, get ye west.”
“Aye, sir,” Crispus said, but he fully intended to do just the opposite. He found the idea of a cursed piece of ground absolutely fascinating.

Prelude to A Gathering of Eagles: The Apostle, Part I

The Ancient Ones had all departed this world by the time Patrick died. He was the last of that number. Nearly 120 summers had passed since his birth. Patrick was not his real name, it was the name given him by an Anglican king. The people of the North could not get their tongues around the name Patrocles.
Patrick had struggled to learn the language and taught the northerners many things in return. He carried a gift to them from the land of his fathers—a message of truth—a life-giving message. He spoke to them of the Son of God and they eagerly accepted the truth of his message, for he possessed copies of letters received from the Ancients, documenting the truth of the events he taught. In turn, he was loved and revered by them. To this day, they still speak of him with respect. They call him “The Apostle.”
At the age of 110, he returned to his native Palestine from the northern kingdom, to live out his last days. Though wars and pestilence were widespread, he lived in virtual peace in the wilderness and told his stories to whoever stopped by to listen. Stories of barren lands and barbarous peoples, stories of life and love, recounted in a singsong voice. 

“They were a wondrous race,” he said. “They sang the psalms of the fathers, learned from a man called Jebuel, a son of David, who’d traveled there in days of old seeking refuge from the great dearth. He it was who first sang the songs to his children and they in turn sang them to their children. The songs spread throughout the kingdom.” He smiled as he leaned in close and pointed a gnarled finger at a child’s nose. “Imagine my great surprise when I came to understand their words, to hear a psalm of David being sung in an Anglican tongue. I was greatly encouraged. They believed in the Father, so of course, they must hear of the Son. I gave them my testimony.
“I told them: When I was a child, the Son of God walked upon the earth. He followed the paths of men and taught great truths. Many followed him, listening to every word that proceeded from his mouth. My mother sent me after him, to hear of his truthful sayings. I carried with me, a basket of loaves and fishes so that I would not get hungry. My mother knew I may be gone for some time, you see. There were many hundreds of men who traveled with us, who had not planned so well. There were women and children besides. 
“When the hour grew late, they were hungry, but they were far away from the town and there was no food. This is how much they loved the teachings of this man. They would not leave and give up their place, even for the sake of their bellies. He asked for food and I gave him mine. It was all I had, but I was willing to share. He blessed it and gave it to his men to divide among the many. How great was my surprise when it fed them all and there was somewhat left over.” He shook his head. “It was a miracle. But there were many in those days.”

Happy Holidays!

As promised, I have uploaded a major portion of the cover of A Gathering of Eaglesthe artist’s rendition of Prince William du Frain, in warrior garb. In A Gathering of Eagles, the prince is called into action and must travel a great distance in pursuit of an enemy who threatens all he holds dear. You’ll notice a portion of Jael’s face in the background, with her beautiful blue cape.

Thanks for stopping by. Have a wonderful holiday, enjoy your families and drop by again next week when I “sneak another Major peek” at the cover art for A Gathering of Eagles, the second Lady of the Haven novel!