A Beltane Gift Anywhere the Sun Shines

Have you checked out the amazing box set from the Crazy Lady Authors, Anywhere the Sun Shines?

It's a multi-author, multigenre set that includes not only my mystical contemporary romance, Waiting a Lifetime, but also a wonderful tale from my friend and fellow authoress Divine, Holly Barbo, author of The Sage Seed Chronicles, Sunstone, and her most resent release, Tendrils, an anthology of her short stories (including this one). Holly creates worlds better than anyone I know in the genre of science fiction for her novels, and anything that piques her interest for short stories. 

Enjoy this excerpt from A Beltane Gift (Seriously, if you love mystery and Vikings, this is your story!) 

A Beltane Gift
1291 A.D.
The day was high summer with an onshore breeze ruffling the waters of Loch Sunart. Leda watched as several strong men hauled a small boat out of the water. Muscles strained as the ship resisted the pull of the ropes as if it didnt want to leave its buoyant home. She knew it was time and turned her head to scan the progress on the moor. A boat-sized hole had been dug to rest the vessel in. Teams of men from the village maneuvered the dragon boat onto skids and fought the graceful craft up to where the low moors began. With every available hand on the ropes, the ship was lowered into the ground until only the short, carved dragon on the prow looked over the grassland to the shore.
Once the small ship was nestled into the ground, more of their friends came, placing Ledas husbands body on a prepared berth. Items meaningful to his life were set around him in easy reach should he need them in the afterlife. This burial was a supreme honor but still the tears trickled down her lined face and dropped onto the funerary objects. As the gathered crowd paid their last respects, several foxes were heard yipping in the low hills. As one, everyone turned in the direction of the sound. There, on a cairn farther up the slope, was a family of the rust-colored creatures raising their voices to the wind. Leda smiled and made a small bow to the animals. Laughter was heard around the boat as comments were made about the tribute. In this lighter atmosphere, everyone pitched in and began to fill the craft with dirt and stones.

Present Day: Scotland, Ardnamunchan Peninsula

Mari stood on the hillock overlooking the archeological site. The tang of salt flavored the breeze from the sea as she tucked a recalcitrant strand of red hair behind her ear. Raising her face to the early summer sun, she closed her eyes and breathed deep. It was a beautiful place. She and her team of university students had been working the dig for two summer seasons and it was becoming more interesting every day. The old Viking boat had rotted away centuries ago, but the shape of it and the man entombed inside, under dirt and rocks, had left tantalizing bits of the glory they once were.
The dig camp had just been set up three weeks ago when the weather had moderated and the land became less soggy. Tomorrow was the eve of Mayday and at the moment the sun was setting over the Ardnamunchan Peninsula bathing the low moors and grasslands with a touch of gold. As the light changed to rose, she heard a fox bark off to her right. Scanning the area, she looked for the wild creature, wondering if it was the one they had seen before. The fox was on the rise a short distance away atop a cairn said to hold the remains of the Viking Muchdragon MacRi Lochlunn.
{later in the story}
Glancing over at the dig, she could almost visualize the scene when the small ship stood proudly in its wild Viking beauty. The smoke from the fire swirled high and drifted across the keyboard of her laptop before settling on the excavation. There it collected into a grey mist roughly the size and shape of a boat. Mari rubbed her sleeve across her eyes and squinted hard into the smoky apparitionbut it was gone. Just a trick of firelight, she muttered.
A half hour later, the young woman closed the lid of her computer and laid it on the log. It was time to put out the fire and call it a day. Tomorrow they needed to squeeze a full day of work into three-quarter of the time they usually had. She reached for the bucket of sand to smother the fire and was startled by a red fox sitting just on the edge of the firelight. Her lips quivered into a grin of pleasure. Such a curious creature!
The fox had been to the camp before. He was particularly fond of scraps from their sandwiches and the occasional chip. They had admired his beauty and wildness. Not trying to tame him, they were charmed by his cautious observation of the doings of the site. They called him Ruadh which was Gaelic for red-haired and wild. With a silent flick of his bushy tail, he vanished into the deep shadows before Mari could take another breath.
On Maris last visit to the village, she had told Fergus Maclain of the fox. Hed raised a bushy eyebrow as he listened.
"Ach, Lass. Ye ken ta be wary. Tis tha time o' Beltane an tha veil 'tween our realm an tha other is verra, verra thin. Keep me informed o' anything unusual. As elder I need ta be aware so as ta protect folks hereaboutan ye as well.
 

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