Sunday 23 March 2014

Celtx Fiction Winner: The Bed

The following story by Kelli Lowry won joint 1st place in the fourth week of our 2014 Celtx Competition. The theme was Hexes.

The Bed by Kelli Lowry

She was recently employed at an antique store on the waterfront and found that taking care of the furniture was slightly overwhelming in a nerve-wracking sort of way because some of it was so old.

Being left to lock up for the first time made her feel as if she had a great responsibility. After all, one headboard on an antique bed was priced at forty thousand dollars, and that was just the tip of the iceberg in terms of items and prices, each documented with histories that appeared to be cursed or hexed, none of which she actually believed. In spite of that, it was of utmost importance that she do everything correctly. Everything from straightening the bed covers displayed on the antique beds to dusting the matched oak hand carved sideboard and cupboard that was being sold as a set to the Royal Maundy money from 1678 to setting the alarm as she left the premises to close the shop for the night.

Recalling one last thing she needed to do, she headed to the back of the shop and went up the stairs to the display window to straighten the curtains framing the large window. Walking past the one bed which fascinated her since the first time she walked in, she could have sworn she heard someone calling her name. She'd long since locked the door to complete her responsibilities for the night, so she knew she was alone.

And yet…there it was again when she stopped to listen. Noticing something different about the intricate carvings on the bed, she moved closer to look. What had once appeared as a harmless and bucolic scene was now a grotesque and perverse tableau.

Sitting down on the side of the bed, she leaned closer for a look. The depraved and deviant acts which were being depicted were anything but heart-warming. If anything, more like blood curdling and bone-chilling. Feeling as if something wanted to pull her closer, compel her closer to the mattress, she sat and leaned closer to the headboard.

Abruptly, an uncontrollable exhaustion overpowered her. Lying her head down on the finely woven cotton pillowcase, she closed her eyes, losing consciousness.

Her breathing slowed as her body slowly melted into the mattress, her soul absorbing into the scenery carved into the wood to become a part of it. 


This winner has not submitted a biography.

Saturday 22 March 2014

Celtx Fiction Winner: Alzada’s Pole

The following story by Allen Hartley won joint 1st place in the fourth week of our 2014 Celtx Competition. The theme was Hexes.

Alzada’s Pole

Alzada’s Pole by Allen Hartley

Alzada rose and moved to the center of the balcony. He removed the obsidian from his pocket and placed it in his left hand. Extending his arms, he vibrated the rune Nauđ raising the energies of the stone. The stone began to vibrate in his hand as it absorbed all the negative energies surrounding he and his companions.

When all the negative energies had been absorbed, the stone transformed them to positive energies, imbuing them upon the souls of Alzada and his companions. Afterwards, the stone lie quiescent in his hand. It was now clear what Alzada must do. Returning the stone to his pocket, he produced his scepter. Starting with a low, soft cadence, he sang one of Thoth’s Runic songs of creation. As he continued his song, his scepter, soul, and the elements surrounding him began to vibrate sympathetically.

As the energies continued to build, he summoned the elements. Using the sacred runes and the energies of his soul, he fashioned a large pole from Jet.  Raising the energy levels further, he caused the Star of Ishtar to form at the top of the pole. Drawing the memories of Roxthanea from his soul, he emblazed the pole with her name in runes. Manipulating the elements, he shaped them into eight Moonstones. He emblazed each one with a rune representing an aspect of Roxthanea. The Moonstones were suspended from the Star of Ishtar by fine golden threads.  He inscribed the rune Eykur on the lower half of the pole unifying and binding all the runes together.

Speaking words of power known only to the Brotherhood, he energized the pole and the Star of Ishtar using his scepter.  Feeling drained, he returned to his seat beneath the columns and entered a deep meditative state.

Moraxthia and Nesfereta joined him under the columns as they silently examined the pole.

Sensing he had returned from his meditations, she asked, “What is this pole? Why does it have such intense energy projections?”

Alzada rose and motioned for his companions to follow him. After positioning Moraxthia behind the pole, Nesfereta on the right side, he took his place on the left side.

Looking at his companions, he instructed, “Join hands.”

Powerful energies surged between the companions as they joined their hands and souls. His companions noticed Alzada seemed to grasp something in front of the pole. He motioned for Nesfereta to reach out and grasp the energies at the front of the pole. As he reached blindly towards the area Alzada had indicated, he contacted an intense energy source. Probing the source, he detected Roxthanea’s energies. Suddenly, something grasped his hand causing the energy levels of the companions to leap by quantum magnitudes.

Alzada smiled and explained, “This pole and its knowledge are a gift from Thoth.  From its energies, we’ll balance the energies of our group. Like the runes, it has a positive and negative aspect. All things must be balanced. The eight pointed Star of Ishtar and its orientation enhance the energies of the pole and represent a balance in all things. The runes emblazed on the Moonstones represent the aspects of Roxthanea’s soul and are bound together by the energies of Eykur.”

He continued, “Drawing from the rune Nauđ we strengthen our souls to carry on with a seemly impossible task.  Especially, with the loss of Roxthanea. The rune Gjöf represents her sacrifice for her companions that was freely given. Úr was used to draw Roxthanea’s imprints from my soul. Combined with the rune Bjarkan, her energy imprints were used to create an energy body. Þurs transforms the energies into a tangible form. Ár cycles the energies and organizes them, while Sól activates the energy body. Eykur bonds and seals the energies to the tangible form and then bonds them to her companions. It also binds the thoughtform to my will.”

As he finished speaking Roxthanea appeared.

Bowing to Alzada, she proclaimed, “Noble Enki of the Brotherhood, your servant and companion await your direction.”

Alzada nodded and answered, “You are welcome among friends great protector. We have missed you and look forward to completing our tasking.”

Alzada stepped forward and instructed Moraxthia to retrieve their samples. Projecting words of power, she caused a distortion to form in front of the companions. Sensing Jakathorb’s companions near the samples, Moraxthia mentally projected words of power at the Star of Ishtar. Flaring up, it sent a massive energy bolt through the distortion reducing Jakathorb’s companions to cosmic dust. Moraxthia scattered their ashes with energies from the rune Ár.

Concerned, Alzada asked, “Is there a problem?”

Smiling, she replied, “No problem. I’ve got everything under control.”


Allen Hartley has always been fascinated with ancient cultures and societies. He has spent decades researching the subject matter and focusing on Runic scripts. In 2002 he settled in North Idaho with his wife and son. While his current employment requires extensive travel, it also allowed him to publish his first book, Secrets of the Soul (2012). This was followed by Mists of Dawn (2013) and Boundaries of Time, due out in 2014. His latest release, Nature’s Palette – Waterscapes, is a non-fictional, joint project with his wife Vanessa, who has been a great source of help in refining his ideas. Find him at Amethyst Rain Publishing.

Friday 21 March 2014

Celtx Poetry Winner: Yule Procession

The following poem by Allen Hartley won 1st place in the third week of our 2014 Celtx Competition. The theme was Rituals.

A Yule Procession by Allen Hartley

Winter’s might, gripped this longest night 
The Tawny Owl softly calls, as snowflakes fall 
The Blackbird is calling all, to acknowledge, the intercessor between the worlds 
The animals pass in review, before the golden hue, of his eyes 
As the procession was in recession, Brighid’s companion leaped 
To sleep, by the embers of the Yule fire 
No desire to rise, until satisfied 
Sol had released the land, from Winter’s might 

Note: The Irish Goddess, Brighid’s companion is a cat.


Allen Hartley has always been fascinated with ancient cultures and societies. He has spent decades researching the subject matter and focusing on Runic scripts. In 2002 he settled in North Idaho with his wife and son. While his current employment requires extensive travel, it also allowed him to publish his first book, Secrets of the Soul (2012). This was followed by Mists of Dawn (2013) and Boundaries of Time, due out in 2014. His latest release, Nature’s Palette – Waterscapes, is a non-fictional, joint project with his wife Vanessa, who has been a great source of help in refining his ideas. Find him at Amethyst Rain Publishing.

Thursday 20 March 2014

Celtx Poetry Winner: At Night in the Woods

The following poem by Jeff Martin won 2nd place in the third week of our 2014 Celtx Competition. The theme was Rituals.

At Night in the Woods by Jeff Martin

There’s a deafening silence 
At night in the woods. 
I peer out at the trees 
From under my hood. 
Owls are hooting and 
Insects are humming 
While I walk in the silence 
Of those understood.

Casting a circle 
With a finger outstretched
Over the ferns and
Discarded vignettes 
Of much larger branches
That the trees have abandoned, 
I called for the blessings of 
Fire and Water. 
Air did I call on, as well as the 
Earth which made for me a platform 
Where I could do my work. 

There were not but broken 
Glass shards in my vision 
When I meditated on my past. 
My present wasn’t fitting 
So I looked into the future 
And I saw in the reflection of 
My child’s eyes a divinity
For which I have long quested. 
Picking up the fractals of a 
Former life, I paused and right 
Before me appeared the Horned One. 
He snorted fire and

I came to my senses in a start. 
The crackle of branches just outside 
The circle where I sat 
Were made by a large buck. 
He sat and stared at me, silently 
For what, I still know not.


Jeff Martin is a writer of poetry and fiction, student, musician, father and avid reader. From an early age, Jeff has been drawn to the written word and has been dabbling throughout the creative arts for the majority of his life. Writing has matured into one of his most cherished passions and he is currently working on a young adult fantasy novel and a collaborative anthology on mythology. Jeff runs a blog and corresponding Facebook page that feature short stories and poetry from himself and other authors.

Wednesday 19 March 2014

Celtx Poetry Winner: The Ancient Altar Stone

The following poem by Diane Narraway won 3rd place in the third week of our 2014 Celtx Competition. The theme was Rituals.

The Ancient Altar Stone by Diane Narraway

Let me paint a picture, 
Of an ancient altar stone, 
And a long forgotten shaman 
Dressed in hide and bone. 

Whose piercing eyes see everything, 
Behind his painted skin, 
And the darkest fire burning 
Is the soul that lies within. 

Lord of his own dance 
In the misty morning light, 
Surrounded by his clansmen 
On that most sacred site. 

Whilst lying naked on the altar 
Lies the chosen one, 
Whose blood will be the offering, 
At the rising of the sun. 

Oh! How great would be the honour 
To be that sacrificial lamb, 
And give yourself so freely 
For the benefit of the clan. 

And when the darkness closes in, 
The next breath will be the last 
As to the sound of beating drums 
The blood runs thick and fast. 

To honour mother Earth 
As the sun begins to rise, 
The shamans staff is raised up high, 
Amidst the tribal cries. 

While the drums beat ever louder, 
To the rhythm of the heart. 
Then when he taps his staff three times, 
The celebrations truly start. 

But all that now remains 
Of that divine rite, 
Lies beyond the veils of time 
Upon that ancient site.


Diane Narraway began writing poetry at junior school and has always enjoyed writing.  These days she is the editor and chairwoman of Dolmen Grove Chronicles, which affords her the chance to write on a variety of topics ranging from reviews to short stories. She is also involved in several other writing projects including a pagan children’s book and, of course, more poetry, which she would like to get published as an anthology in the not-too-distant future. You can find Dolmen Grove on Facebook here and here.

Sunday 16 March 2014

Celtx Fiction Winner: I Once Was King

The following story by Lidia Adaman Tremblay won joint 1st place in the second week of our 2014 Celtx Competition. The theme was Sabbats.

I Once Was King by Lidia Adaman Tremblay

I once was King, that is a fact, for a King I was upon Mayday eve. A little bean decided my fate, that bean being hidden in a very delicious dish of blueberry crumble. The dish was upon the table laid out with a great feast, so great the very table groaned beneath the crocks and pots, and plates and bowls of yummy foods upon it!Also hidden in that dish was even a smaller pea. 

A pea for the Queen
A bean for the King 
And so the fates would decide. 

Mary found the pea, and became May Queen. She shrieked her joy for all to hear! But when the bean found me, she shrieked all the louder, and immediately abdicated her throne. 

“I will not be Queen if she is King”, she pronounced. 

A new queen had to be found, and while the hunt went on, I sat down. I sat down upon a throne-like chair and surveyed my Kingdom and all the people therein. 

“Are you left alone?” Lord Glen inquired. This Lord was a bard, skilled in voice and verse, drum and step of dance. 

“No indeed”, I responded royally. “I sit here upon my throne-like chair and survey my Kingdom”. 

“How is it that you will be King?” asked another subject, “for being a woman, I hear tell it is hard to be King.” 

But I knew what I would answer. “I shall get in touch with my masculine self”, said I, and immediately began to eat upon a banana – a very masculine fruit indeed! 

Thus I surveyed my kingdom from my throne, and greeted the subjects who sought audience with me, their King. Tributes of love, and hearty congratulations were heaped unto me, but all looked at the empty throne beside me, the throne upon which the May Queen remained absent. In spite of the joy, an undercurrent of sorrow was felt. 

But joy and gladness were also strong. With ready hands and willing hearts, the folk did work, and the Maypole was erected yonder, and all the subjects gathered around it, but still, alas, no May Queen was found. The ribbons were also hung; ah, so brightly they hung, from that upright Maypole. In blue, and green and purple and gold, in red and silver did they descend and flutter in the warm evening breeze. The children laughed and clapped their hands to see such wonder in their land! And the gentle folk, my subjects, arrayed themselves about the Maypole, but still, no May Queen was to be found. 

And then a beauteous Maiden stepped forth, so radiantly stepped forth and proclaimed, “I shall be proud to be your May Queen.” 

Lady Penny did then did become our Queen, and was brought before the populace thronged by her feet. With grace and beauty, she did us all proud and gave honour with her proclamation. She who would have been Queen did also do homage, for Mary was of gentle heart and spirit. 

Great rejoicing then abounded throughout the Kingdom!! The May Queen was crowned with flowers upon her head. The May King was crowned with ivy upon his (her!) head. And together they led the rejoicing gentles about the mighty Maypole - weaving man and woman, weaving ribbon upon ribbon, dancing over and under until all the ribbons wove themselves tightly about that Mighty Maypole! 

Ah such joy and laughter was not to be contained, but carried forth unto more dancing, but now about a brightly lit Sacred Fire. The King and Queen of May stood before the Sacred Fire and did it homage as the multitudes began jumping over the Sacred Fire, leaping high, in single strides, the happy couples they did jump, and so did the Kingdom of the May Queen and King was rid of all that was negative and harmful. 

Thus now ends the story of the time when Penny was Queen and I was King. And all because of a little bean. 

Yes, it was very, very good to be Beltane King!!


Since retiring, Lidia Adaman Tremblay has been able to devote her time to writing. She has also been a costume designer, pianist, office administrator, graphic designer, and background actor in movies. She believes that being a mother and grandmother does wonders to stimulate her creative processes, as well as being a 2nd degree Alexandrian High Priestess, deeply involved in The Red Tent Movement for women in Canada. She has written and self-published several books, both fiction and non-fiction. You can fine her on Facebook, on Twitter, on YouTube and via her online store.

Saturday 15 March 2014

Celtx Fiction Winner: Changing of the Ladies

The following story by Rayvyn Willowsong won joint 1st place in the second week of our 2014 Celtx Competition. The theme was Sabbats.

Changing of the Ladies by Rayvyn Willowsong

From among leafless trees still wrapped in the folds of winter’s icy embrace, the Crone watches with joy and longing as a group of the Great Mother’s daughters and sons gather to celebrate the coming of spring. Gone is the soberness that winter brings with it as they laugh and talk among themselves, moving towards the center of a field that lays across from her woods. Though she cannot hear what they say, she knows they exchange stories of the happenings of the months before, some happy, some sad. She feels a pull from a time long ago that urges her to go and join them, a time when her hair was not the silver and white of snow but the color of tree bark and freshly turned soil. She resists the pull, knowing that her time has come to a close and it is another’s time to emerge. Though this thought fills her with joy, there is a hint of bitter-sweetness, for once, long ago, this was her time, her season, and her memories bring with them happiness, but also a yearning for days long gone.

The sound of music brings the Crone from the edge of her memories and she watches as the men and women, dressed in greens, yellows and other pastel colors, gather around a large altar, placing offerings of brightly painted eggs and baskets of flowers upon its surface. All the while a young girl uses wildflowers to trace a large circle around the altar and other celebrants. Once the circle is complete a man and woman approach the altar, each lifting a bowl in the four directions, starting with north, their voices calling out to each direction to bless the bowls contents. Once the blessings are obtained the bowls are placed in the center of the altar, surrounded by all the other offerings.

She watches as the High Priestess and Priest of the group, the man and woman who had previously held the bowls, start to chant, the others joining till the valley is filled with their voices, calling to the Great Mother to accept their offerings and bestow her blessings upon bowls. The Crone has no need to see what is in them. She knows they both contain seeds that will be sown in the coming days. Infused with energies they had received from the four directions and the Great Mother’s blessing, the Crone knows the seeds will grow and prosper, rewarding these sons and daughters for their faith and loyalty.

As the ritual reaches its peak, movement from deep within the forest draws the Crones attention away from the celebrations, her wise and gentle eyes knowing exactly where to look as a young woman emerges from behind a barren tree. Her long flowing hair is the color of morning sun, and falls nearly to her knees. Throughout her hair, small flower buds have been woven, and atop her head rests a crown of newly bloomed wild flowers. Her eyes are the bright green of new leaves and her lips are the pale pink of primrose. As the Maiden makes her way through the sleeping trees, the Crone notices the stirring of the once hibernating animals, some proving brave enough to follow in the beautiful woman’s wake, and smiles in open welcome as she comes to stand next to her elder. The Maiden returns the Crone’s smile, taking her hand before turning her attention to the people across the field.

They stand hand in hand as a power grows around them. It is the power of the Great Mother and it swirls through the air, bringing with it the scent of flowers, fresh rain and damp earth. It is time for spring. Both feel the pull of the ritual, urging, begging spring to come and take the place of winter, but only one can answer. With the passing of winter to spring, the Crones duties are done, and it is time for the Maiden to take her place in the Great Cycle. As the ritual draws to a close, the circle of flowers is broken, releasing all the energy that had been gathered inside, causing the pull to strengthen. It is time. The Maiden looks lovingly over at the Crone, knowing that someday it will be her turn to watch a new Maiden usher in spring. She bends down and places a gentle kiss on the Crones wrinkled cheek before turning towards the valley. She takes one step, then another, making her way from the skeletal forest, across the valley to where the ritual had just taken place, and in her wake life springs anew, green grass and flowers flowing from the ground where her feet have touched. Spring has come at last.


Rayvyn Willowsong currently lives in central Iowa with her fiance and two cats. She's been a practicing solitary pagan since she was thirteen, and openly bisexual since sixteen. She's always had a passion for reading, which has fostered her passion for writing. When not reading or writing, she can usually be found crocheting or doing bead work on her bead loom. You can find her on Facebook.

Friday 14 March 2014

Celtx Fiction Winner: An Invitation from the Fair Folk

The following story by Shawnee Luke won joint 2nd place in the second week of our 2014 Celtx Competition. The theme was Sabbats.

An Invitation from the Fair Folk by Shawnee Luke

Esther O’Neil emptied the contents of this nights pillbox into her palm. Once she’d finished her medication, she stood and stared out through her bedroom window. At nine o’clock at night, the streetlights were on and she could see where they gave way to the desert beyond. Once considered a party town, Palm Springs was now fairly quiet. The perfect place for a woman such as herself to retire and enjoy the dry air. Her arthritis had made it a necessity, even if it meant leaving behind her adult children and her coven. 

With a twinge of pain, she remembered that tonight was Beltane. It was her favorite sabbath, and this was the first time she would have nobody to celebrate with. She tried to imagine for a moment her former coven mates giggling at inappropriate jokes before the ritual began. The idea of not being there herself became almost as unbearable as the physical discomfort. She glanced once more at the sky above before making her way back to bed. As she closed her eyes, she prayed to her Goddess that sleep would replace pain sooner rather than later.

“Esther! Wake up!” The voice that spoke through the darkness of sleep sounded melodic and soothing, like tubular bells. As sweet as the sound was, there was an urgency to it that forced her to open her eyes. Above her was a full moon surrounded by a sea of stars. Only then did she realize that she now lay in a bed of cool grass. There were new scents now too. The scents of pine and heather seemed to mix with the aroma of a campfire, though she could not feel it’s heat. pine and heather seemed to mix with the aroma of a campfire, though she could not feel it’s heat. From somewhere far off, the sound of drums echoed through the night air. Most peculiar of all, her pain was gone. 

There was a tug on her arm, coupled with a more excited “Get up now. We’re going to be late!” 

As Esther turned her head, she found herself looking into the angular but beautiful visage of a young man. He was lean, no taller than she and hairless except for the auburn curls on his head. But his violet eyes betrayed the maturity of adulthood and perhaps far beyond. Effortlessly, he pulled her to her feet. And, as she looked down at herself, Esther realized that her body was naked and young again. 

She didn’t ask where they were going as she was led down a path flanked by trees and lit by what seemed to be fireflies. And she didn’t ask why when she stared into one of those lights and saw a tiny, winged women smiling back at her. In truth, she didn’t have time to ask much at all. For just as quickly, the path opened up to a great scene. In front of her, nude and beautiful couples danced around a bonfire before taking turns leaping over its flames. It was here that her companion pulled her close and swung her around to join the dance. 

There was an herbal smell to him that filled her senses and intoxicated her as she lay her head so close to his slender chest. The drums around her seemed to vibrate through her body and into her soul itself, mingling with the sounds of song, laughter and flirtations. All around her, into her soul itself, mingling with the sounds of song, laughter and flirtations. All around her, faces smiled and slender figures bowed in greeting before disappearing into a blur as her companion whisked her away. From somewhere to her left, a goblet was held up to her and he pulled her possessively close to warn “Take no food or drink here, my love.” 

They had stopped before the bonfire when a whisper slithered through the crowd. It took a few beats of the drum before Esther realized they were all saying her name. The sound became greater, first soft and then raising into a crescendo. As it reached it’s height, her companion let go of all but her hand and gripped firmly. “Are you ready?” he asked. 

When she nodded, the raced her forward and they leapt. For a moment, flames licked her legs and smoke filled her vision. It seemed then that time stood still and the sounds of the drums gave way to two heartbeats, joined just assuredly as their hands. Her own heart seemed heavy as they came down on the other side and the moment was over. 

Cheers erupted around them and she turned to face to face her companion. Leaning in, she began to whisper “Tha-”

“Never thank.” He warned before closing the gap between them. As their lips met, her head swam and darkness claimed her. 

Her iPhone vibrated rudely on the nightstand beside her. “Hey Peg. Missed you, too. No. Just watched television and went to bed early. Glad you all had fun.”


Shawnee Luke lives in the Antelope Valley of Southern California. She is an avid reader of science fiction and is currently working on a werewolf book. While she has nothing published yet, she is writing with the support of her husband of twelve years, her son, her two stepchildren, five cats, and her dog.

Thursday 13 March 2014

Celtx Fiction Winner: The Lambing

The following story by Lucy Drake won joint 2nd place in the second week of our 2014 Celtx Competition. The theme was Sabbats.

The Lambing by Lucy Drake

The stinging sleet was blowing sideways. It stung the face and chilled the fingers to the bone. The sky was February grey. In the distance the she could hear the ewe. It was labouring loudly. Tiny white feet were already showing. Wiping the wet from her face she walked slowly towards the ewe. Distracted and upset the ewe barely notice her presence. She ran her hand over the slick sweetly pungent wool. The ewe calmed some. Just having someone there, sending the message with her touch It will be alright, you are not alone was often enough for some frightened new mothers. The sheep shuddered and a nose appeared. The ewe panted more heavily and the head was almost out. Speaking softly old words that had no meaning but meant everything , the woman knelt one knee onto the soft wet grass. Then in one swift motion the little grey lamb landed heavily on the grass. The woman didn’t pick it up but waited. It wasn’t moving, no breath just yet. The ewe hadn’t moved. It still heaved and sighed. More feet started to show. The woman sighed. She began to rub the lamb on the ground. Her numb hands becoming slick with warm wet life and blood. The lamb shivered. She tried to make him stand but he couldn’t even open his eyes. Taking off her scarf she wrapped the limp body and placed him inside her coat. The next lamb had turned quickly and was born more quickly. Just as grey and lifeless she waited for the ewe to turn, and lick them into life. She didn’t. All the afterbirth came quickly too. It was clean and had no infection. The ewe turned and looked at the grey wet thing on the ground. The woman rubbed the afterbirth on the ewe’s nose. She snorted and turned away.


She picked up the other lifeless grey body and placed it inside her coat. She turned, walking into the bitter wind towards the dark grey smudge in the distance. The pungent smell began to rise from the bodies inside her coat. Singing old lullabies softly under her breath she put her numb feet on after the other until she reached her stone steps. As she opened the door a waves of warmth and silence embraced her. The wind no longer singing in her ears her own voice singing sounded strange to her. The oven was still warm from the wood she had placed carefully placed before she had gone outside. The old applewood made the room smell sweet. The little bodies she placed on an old towel and she wrapped them together. She placed them into the oven leaving the door open. She took off her coat and put the kettle on. When her fingers began to feel fully she found a small stump of a candle in the draw by the sink. She lit it with a match from a large, scruffy box from the same draw. The room was then filled with light and dancing shadows. She placed the candle on small saucer that had long since lost it’s cup. The slick from her hands was drying but she smeared what she could in a circle around the lip of the saucer and then washed her hands in the sink. The kettle began to whistle starting her back to the room. She dried her hands and made herself tea. She moved back to the oven and waited. The tea was strong and sweet and warmed all the way down her throat. A shadow came to the door. An ancient dog stood there, his tail thumping against the door frame. He sniffed and groaned and he came and lay by the open oven door. Suddenly the lambs began to cry. Their tiny voices urgent and insistent. The woman smiled and reached into the oven and took out the grey twin lambs. The old dog wrapped his body around them and licked them clean. The woman found two bottles and made up some milk. Kneeling again she feed the lambs together, their tails wagging excitedly as they butted to get more milk, though it didn’t come any faster. When they were feed she found an old chair and settled down, boots still on and just rested her eyes. She woke to the smell of cooking.

“Can you spare sometime today to go to the stone?”

He nodded and kissed the top of her head.

At the standing stone the wind still whipped wickedly but the sleet was holding off. Nearby the woman and man buried the bundle full of gifts carefully saying little until they were done. Stamping their feet they chatted about what was to come over the next week and headed back to the warmth of the kitchen.


This winner has not submitted a biography.

Wednesday 12 March 2014

Celtx Fiction Winner: Harvest Night

The following story by Diandra Linnemann won joint 3rd place in the second week of our 2014 Celtx Competition. The theme was Sabbats.

Harvest Night by Diandra Linnemann

There was nothing to be done about it. The car was dead. And from what they could see, not a soul for miles. 

Stella looked out over the land. Only days ago, these fields had obviously been heavy and golden with grain. Now the earth lay dry, covered with yellow stubble, like the cheeks of a blond sleeping giant. Every now and then, an island of wheat stood interwoven with wild plants, cornflowers and bleeding poppy. She had read about it in her books, the old folks sometimes left some of their harvest for the animals. Kind of a modern sacrifice. In the distance she spotted a clump of trees, green and dusty from days of heat and nights without rain. 

She heard Kevin slam the hood of the car closed. He knew as much about cars as she knew about brain surgery. “We had best settle down in the car for the night. We could cuddle, you know, to keep warm.” She did not look back at him, but she smiled. He was like a brother for her, an irresponsible, always joking little brother. And she never knew whether he was still flirting with her or not. 

The sun, unrelenting during the day, now raced for the horizon. It would be dark in a matter of minutes, and cold would follow in the shadows. With a sigh she turned back to the car. They had sandwiches and a few bottles of lukewarm coke in the trunk, and a night in the car probably would not kill them. 

They talked and joked and ate, and when the stars were climbing into the sky Kevin dozed off. Only Stella was not tired. Quietly she got out of the car, wrapping her sweater around her body to keep warm. The night air smelled of summer and dreams and promises, and somewhere beneath there was something... more, like the taste that lingers in your mouth after eating high quality dark chocolate. She saw bats flitting about, and something bigger that might be a bird. 

With small, determined steps she crossed the empty fields. The light of the stars was clear and cold. No moon was seen in the sky. 

A man was standing between the left-over grain. His face was hidden in the shadows. He was incredibly tall and on his head he wore a crown woven from straw. Stella thought she might be dreaming. She stopped a few arms’ length from him. 

“I see your mother has not told you about me”, he stated. His voice was the whisper of summer wind between corn leaves. “You are from ancient blood. My Lady and I have been waiting for you to find you path.” 

“I know exactly where I am going”, Stella replied. Or maybe the words were only in her head. It did not matter. 

The man in the field held out a hand to her. “I am about to depart to the underworld. All alone. Don’t you think I deserve a kiss?” 

“Get yourself drunk at a bar, there should be plenty of kissing for the likes of you.” Stella smiled to take the sting out of her words. “My mother never said a word, but Grandpa told me about you. He brought the memories with him when he crossed the ocean. I never thought he brought his Gods as well.” 

“So you know who I am.” 

“And I know where you are headed. You will return, and it does not matter whether I bend the knee or not.” With that, she stepped forward, closed her eyes and kissed him on the cheek. 

He smelled of fresh soil, dark and rich and of decay. “You will follow me”, he whispered. And when she opened her eyes he was gone. 

The night was still dark, and far away Stella could see the car. An owl hooted in the distance, twice. A shadow twisted and turned in the seats. Kevin was dreaming. 

She threw her head back and drew in the richness of the night. Tomorrow they would reach their town, spend a few days with their parents and then return to their books and studies. Her path lay before her, solid like a bridge made from stone. She knew where she would be in forty years, and long after that. 

The night was too beautiful. Stella turned away from the car and started walking towards the trees. Maybe she could still catch up with the crowned guy. 

When Kevin woke up in the morning, he knew something was different, but he could not remember what it was. He had been tired, that much he knew, and now he started the car and resumed his trip. He felt strangely alone, and happy all the same.


Diandra Linnemann, born in 1982, is a witch, a writer and a translator, currently residing in the former capital of Germany. She likes her coffee and her cats. Among her published stories are The Sacred Dance in Taboo by Ishtar Press (2012), A Night's Work and Bloody Bones in 31 Nights of Halloween by Rainstorm Press, Emerald in Thieves and Scoundrels by Absolute Xpress, and her self-published and translated urban fantasy novel All Souls' Children. Find her here and here, and on Facebook

Tuesday 11 March 2014

Celtx Fiction Winner: The Quail Goddess

The following story by Diana Read won joint 3rd place in the second week of our 2014 Celtx Competition. The theme was Sabbats.

The Quail Goddess by Diana Read

“Come along, darlings, it’s time for dinner.”

To human ears the remark would have sounded like “Chirp-chirp,” but the ten children of Mrs. Theodosia Quail immediately awoke from their afternoon nap on this autumn day and scurried after her.

“Bob-WHITE, Bob-WHITE,” Theodosia’s husband, Aloysius Quail, called. By this he meant, “After dinner, we’re joining a covey and making for that thicket of huisache over there. That’s where we’ll spend the night.”

All ten chicks cheeped assent and followed Theodosia. Aloysius, always impatient, had already finished dinner and was now scouting the route to the thicket.

Overhead the South Texas sky glinted with a harsh gray light; the terrain below was as brown as the quail foraging on it for weed seeds, roots, and anything else they could find.

“Eat your insects, children,” Theodosia reminded her chicks. “They’ll make you grow up big and strong.”

At last everyone was ready to leave. Dust was shaken off wings, feathers were smoothed with beaks, and toes scraped clean. Theodosia, Aloysius, and the chicks joined the covey moving slowly toward the sheltering huisache.

“Don’t like the look of that sky,” Aloysius whispered to Theo as they settled themselves for the night. “Too bright.”

“You’re such a worry-wart,” Theo said. “Everything’s going to be fine. Now hush, they’re all asleep except Paprika and Parsifal.”

Two hours later Theodosia woke suddenly with a premonition of danger. In the distance she could see a party of humans and a dog approaching.

“Chirrup-chirrup,” she said. “Children, there are predators on the scene—get ready to fly!”

The hunting party of three men and a dog strode briskly through the metallic afternoon light.

“I like hunting,” Leopold Spottiswoode said. “This is the first time I’ve ever hunted quail, though. What else do you have on the ranch, Willis?”

“White-tailed deer,” Willis, the guide, said. “Wild turkey.” He looked up at the sky, frowned, then squinted at the sacahuista grassland stretching before them.

“Wild turkey,” Rufus Meany said. “Makes me think of bourbon. Some of that would go good with pan-fried quail, country gravy, and biscuits for dinner tonight.”

“What about quail in rose petal sauce?” Spottiswoode said. “That would be good too.”

“Hell, no,” Meany said, with dark memories of a film in which the ingestion of that very dish had driven people into a sexual frenzy. “Don’t hold with that fancy stuff.”

“Don’t like the look of that sky,” Willis said. “Could be a blue norther on the way.”

“Never known a blue norther to hit at the end of October,” Meany said. “Don’t be stupid.”

“You’re the one who’s stupid,” Spottiswoode said. “A blue norther can hit on the last day of October or the last day of February.”

Brutus, the English pointer, suddenly stood still and sniffed the air.

“He’s scented the quail,” Willis said. “All right, when I give Brutus the signal, the quail will fly up so you can shoot ‘em. Here, boy!”

At that moment Theodosia invoked the Quail Goddess.

“Oh, Asteria, Goddess of falling stars and prophecy, of night and the realm of the dead; you, Goddess, who fled from Zeus by transforming yourself into a quail and diving into the sea to escape him; Asteria, Quail Goddess, I invoke you at Samhain, when the veil parts between the worlds. Help us escape from the hunters, Quail Goddess!”

The sky turned blue-black, the air temperature dropped thirty degrees, and rain pelted the parched earth. The quail hiding under the huisache were invisible in the unnatural darkness.

Brutus barked, Willis swore, and Meany shot Spottiswoode in the face.

Accidentally, of course.


D.M. Read is a writer living in the Mid-Atlantic region of the United States. Herb gardening, reading, and cooking are among her interests. She is about to publish The Deer at Lammas Tide: Nine Sabbat Tales with Smashwords. D.M. Read enjoys writing about everyday Witches whose lives are touched by magick.