As the druidesses scraped moss from her horns and hooves, Una realized she hated the Waking. From the shrill wail of the pipes which cut her from hibernation, she hardly had time to stretch and relieve herself before the druidesses came. The crown of woven twigs and throne of branches they brought prickled like fleas. As they carried her up into the highlands, the sun blanketed light on her still sleep-blurred eyes, and the winter-heavy wind sickled through her. The people awaited in the circle of standing stones on the rocky shore of Loch Glinnon. There they ululating wailed songs as she arrived. Una dutifully waved to them. They didn’t know any better, the druidesses least of all. They set her down closest to the lit hearth in the center of the henge. The warmth was welcome, until they brandished curved knives and began to rake clean her horns and hooves.
As moss was thrown into the hearth, the archdruidess stepped forth to proclaim something to the crowd. The words were too familiar to Una to register, but the villagers fell quiet. The archdruidess approached Una then, bowing her head and holding out a deep urn of milk. Una accepted it and raised it to her lips to drink. Then she’d walk, skyclad, to the Loch with winter still in the air, and pretend to enchant the water. As she’d done for decades. As Mum had done for centuries. As Mum had planned.
So Una gave the urn back.
The archdruidess looked up. The lesser druidesses exchanged uncertain glances. Head by head, the crowd began to uneasily shift and chatter. “Horned Goddess,” the archdruidess finally asked, “Is something amiss?”
“No,” Una answered. “I simply don’t want to do this.”
“But…” The woman fumbled for words. “The earth must wake, Horned Goddess.”
“Yes.” Una nodded slowly. “I just woke, too.”
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