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As The Door Softly Opens Itself

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onto the darkling twilight, the dumpy little crone hears a soft whicker and an even softer sigh. Setting aside Mistress Hekitty, who was trying without success to nurse in the crook of the little crone's elbow (being a determined sort of cat, and not quite ready to wean at only a year and a half old), she steps to the doorway in time to see Westlin Wind slide from her weary roan mare. Opening her arms, she gatheres the equally weary girl into her arms and smooths her rumpled hair back from her face.~

Ah, then, A lanna, ye've come home again, have you? It's only the two of us just now, almost as it was in the very beginning, so many long years ago. Well...Us and yon pussycats and the odd (verra odd) Rattie or two. Come in, then, and be verra verra welcome indeed. I've water on the boil, and the pot all hotted for the brewing. I can add two measures of tea as well as one, and I've a new blend here that will add heart to the body, and bone to the soul, and you've a look as if ye could use both, and sorely. Come then...

~With a whisper and a nod, she calls a shadow from the side of the cottage, and the tired mare is stripped of her gear, and follows willingly to the rear of the cottage, where a shed stands ready with clear, cool water and fragrant hay. This is, after all, Shadowchase House, and the Shadows and Shades there are the Crone's to command, tho tis seldom indeed that she does so where others might see it. However, this is her own Gaoth an Iar, home again, and if she canna be trusted, there is naught to be trusted left in this world.

Leading the reeling-tired girl (and for all she is a woman grown, to the Crone she is and always will be nobbut the young girl the Crone first knew) into the cottage, she keeps up a soft murmuring whose words have no meaning but whose tone is universal. She seats her tired visitor in a deep old wingbacked chair drawn up before the fire and tends to the tea with deft hands that belie her age. Setting the tea tray, she carries it to the sitting area, and curls up on the worn but oh so comfortable sofa beside the chair.

They sit for a while in silence, sipping the rich brew, taking comfort from fire and tea and each other's company. Finally, the little Crone breaks the silence.~

So, A lanna, did ye want to speak of it, or no? Tis all up to you, and no feelings bruised however.

~Westie lifts eyes that brim to the little Crone, and whispers, "Oh, Aunty Ban, it's all gone awry. And I don't know where to start now!" Somehow, she is out of the chair, and onto the sofa, burrowing in for comfort. The Crone's arms enfold her as a mother's might, and she rocks and sings an old, old song in a voice that is still true and sweet~


Oh ro soon shall I see them;
Oh he ro see them oh see them.
Oh ro soon shall I see them the
mist covered mountains of home.

There shall I visit the place of my birth
And they'll give me a welcome the warmest on earth
All so loving and kind full of music and mirth,
In the sweet sounding language of home.

Oh ro soon shall I see them;
Oh he ro see them oh see them.
Oh ro soon shall I see them the
mist covered mountains of home.

There shall I gaze on the mountains again,
On the fields and the woods and the burns and the glens,
Away 'mong the corries beyond human ken
In the haunts of the deer I will roam

Oh ro soon shall I see them;
Oh he ro see them oh see them.
Oh ro soon shall I see them the
mist covered mountains of home.

Hail to the mountains with summits of blue,
To the glens with their meadows of sunshine and dew.
To the women and men ever constant and true,
Ever ready to welcome one home.
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