Queen of Oak: A Novel of Boudica Sneak Peek!


Just three days until the release of Queen of Oak! As fitting with the coming of Halloween, here is a sneak peek from a scene that takes place during the Samhain festival.

Samhain Sneak Peek

A trail led away from the village, beyond the pond, and deep into the woods. I had seen the cave-like shrine before but had never been inside. Gaheris said it was ancient, enduring there beyond anyone’s memories. If the legends were to be believed, Frog’s Hollow existed long before Oak Throne. And the shrine, or so Gaheris said, had once belonged to the ancient people of our land. We made our way down the path along a hillside until we reached the entrance. The skulls of Frog’s Hollow’s earliest members guarded the gateway. The skulls lined the arched gateway from the ground up, the eyeless bones staring out at any who would enter.

Bec set her entwined fingers on her forehead, motioning for me to do the same.

“Ancestors, I approach in the name of the Dark Lady, Andraste. With great reverence, Princess Boudica and I will pass into your sacred resting place. We offer you our love and respect in these thin hours before Samhain.”

My hands were pressed against my forehead, but my eyes were fixed on the skulls. I waited.

Bec lowered her hands then motioned for me to follow behind her.

I paused. “Are you sure?” I whispered. Thin places. Ula had taught me all about the thin places. On Samhain, the veil between our world and that of the Otherworld grew thin. We had no business in a cave.

“Andraste will guide us,” Bec said. Ducking, she went inside.

I hesitated a few moments, then followed her within.

Bec lit a small brazier, carrying it before her. Once we made our way through the entrance, the passage widened. Bodies lay on shelves cut into the walls. Between the ledges were skulls. They looked out at us, their black eyes wide. The air inside the cave was cool and damp. The sunlight faded behind us. Soon, only Bec’s orange flame lit the way. We made our way deep into the earth. Soon, we approached another doorway. Ducking low, Bec entered.

I followed her to find myself standing in a domed room. The cave widened here. While I expected the space to be filled with bodies, instead, I found a cauldron hanging over a cold fire. Turning, I looked around the room. The walls had been painted. Amongst the images there, I spotted Cernunnos seated with his cauldron on his lap, his horns extending into the sky, a crescent moon painted between his antlers. Images of animals—deer, hare, birds, frogs, horses, and a great serpent that was so large, its tail encompassed the entire room—decorated the walls around the horned god. On the other side on the ceiling was an image of the Great Mother in her celestial form, with stars in her hair.

Bec went to the cauldron and knelt.

She began whispering in a low voice, calling upon Andraste.

A chill washed over me, my skin prickling to goosebumps.

“What is this place?” I whispered.

“It is the oldest shrine to the gods in your lands, Princess,” Bec told me. “Older than the trees in the grove. Older than your oak around which the fort was built. Older than your menhir deep in the forest. Older than the seahenge. Older than them all. And closest to the Otherworld,” Bec replied, then set the fire under the cauldron to light.

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