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Woman of the Secret Shadow
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III. Escape

Meanwhile, Gaergath was approaching adulthood.

One day a woman showed up at the house in which he had been consigned, his mother fearing that he would invade her garden and either poison himself, be driven mad by the music, or learn her arts to his detriment and hers.

“Nana?” he said, as she entered the house, but as he got a good look at her, he knew she was not his mother, even though she was identical as to form, features, and hair. She wore a simple white gown and a grey-green cloak on her shoulders, and the purity and beauty of her face fairly staggered him.

“Aye, my son,” she said with a glimmering smile, “I am indeed your mother.”

The boy stared at her, shaking his dark head. “Nay. Nice try. But I know better. ‘Tis not possible.”

“But it is,” she said smiling at his feeble attempt at cockiness. “She had me imprisoned, you see, and I escaped her. And you are safe with me, and she can never come between us again. For she has now become the prisoner…in a prison of her own making. She is now in the invisible box she used to dream of, and she will never escape it.”

“None told me she had a twin,” he said, shaking his head once more.

“No twin am I,” the lady insisted. “My name is Cúronel, which you may call me if you like, but I had rather you call me Mother. I am the part of her that was good and pure and uncorrupted. When she succumbed utterly to the evil side of herself, ‘twas then I was able to make my escape and take the form you see before you, after scores of years in that body.”

He was stricken speechless, looking her up and down. She smiled with a world of love and tenderness, such as he had never seen even in the most affectionate of nurses. And she approached him and touched his cheek with her fingertips, and when he did not recoil, she leaned forward and kissed his forehead.

“My beautiful, beautiful boy,” she whispered. “How like your father you look…but you shall not be like him in any other way. I shall see to that. You are mine, and none of his. Now and for all time.”

She came and she stayed, and there was no other nurse. She worked her magic and healing arts for the good of others, and she and Gaergath were happy together for many years.

Until Celirwen heard of it.


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