A magical trip to Stonehenge lands a witch in the Otherworld where an ancient goddess is up to no good.
Glaistig the Scottish Gray Lady
In Scotch Broom, I present Glaistig as a vampire woman who has entered the Otherworld because she no longer wanted to live from the blood of humans. Within the magical realm, she can safely feed on the various magical creatures without killing them. Once I discovered her, I knew she had to be part of this story. While a vampire, she’s got a soft side that appeals to Rune. In other words, she’s not all bad; she’s just been fabled that way.
I discovered Glaistig at Monstropedia, a must-have link for paranormal and fantasy writers (http://www.monstropedia.org/index.php?title=Glaistig)
According to one legend the glaistig was once a mortal noblewoman, to whom a fairy nature had been given or who was cursed with the goat's legs and immortality, and since has been known as The Green (or Gray) Lady.
In most stories, the creature is described as a beautiful woman with dusky or gray skin and long blonde hair. Her lower half is that of a goat, usually disguised by a long, flowing green robe or dress.
In the diverse and changing traditions of the Highlands, the Glaistig was seen as both benevolent and malevolent towards humans. In one aspect she even takes the role of the Banshee, wailing at the death of important people.
The glaistig may take the form of a beautiful woman, especially one already known to the male victim; after offering sexual favors like a camp follower, she leaves her male victim with his throat cut, every drop of blood sucked from him. Other such tales have her casting stones in the path of travelers or throwing them off course.
In some variant stories the glaistig may be seen as benevolent, fond of children and a protector of old people. Libations of milk were poured for her, especially on selected stones; this veneration may be linked with older fertility customs. The glaistig has been described in some folklore as watching over children while their mothers milked the cows and fathers watched over the herds.
The glaistig frequented the lonely lochs and rivers in the Highlands of Scotland, such as Ardnacaillich, Donolly Castle, Loch Fyne, Crathes Castle and in Wales at Caerphilly.
Rune, Kat’s brother, is searching for his sister while Cailleach is searching for both Rune and Kat by sending one or more of her minions to find them. Glaistig’s job is to find Rune, determine whether or not he’s a vampire, and to bring the boy to the goddess.
As the sun eased down to hide behind a mountain range to the west, a movement to his left caught his attention. It looked like a tendril of smoke rising from the swamp. Since it was unlikely anything could burn in the bog, he watched the gray mist with interest. He notched up his vampire vision to watch. The smoky mist grew opaque then solid. A figure formed, but as if a statue made of granite, it was solid gray. Watching closely, Rune waited to see what this might be. He had studied all types of magical beings and couldn’t recall one like this.
The smoke woman, for he now recognized the shape as female, wafted toward him on the air. When it stopped a few feet away from him, it slowly gathered color from the moors. Heather green, water blue, dried grass yellow. The colors mixed and swirled and finally settled on the figure, giving her the approximate colors of a woman with blonde hair, a pale, gray face, and dazzling blue eyes staring at him in silence. She wore a long dress and cape, both the color of morning mist.
Rune ventured a greeting. “Hello?” The woman didn’t speak, but she moved again, this time circling him. Rune turned to keep her in his sight.
“I am Glaistig.” Her voice was as soft as the smoke from which she formed.
Without his vampire hearing, Rune wouldn’t have been able to hear the whisper. “Ahem. I’m Rune. Nice to meet you.” Rune wondered whether to offer his hand to shake and decided not to risk it. He’d heard some magical beings poisoned those who touched them.
The pale woman looked him up and down and then nodded slightly. “You are vampyr?”
“Um. Is that a problem?”
“Not at all. I am also.”
“Oh. I should have guessed. Night. Smoke. Oh! I remember who you are!” Rune snapped his fingers. “Glaistig, the Gray Lady. But you’re not a true vampire, are you?”
“It depends upon my mood and how a person treats me. If I meet a man on the road, and he tries to grab me, I dance away and let him follow. I lure him to my lair. Then, I take his blood. But if a man tips his hat and wishes me a good evening, I leave him with a smile.”
“That’s a relief. My name is Rune, and I’m here looking for my si—” Rune stopped and considered that if Glaistig was a vampire and thought he was too, he shouldn’t mention he had a witch sister. “Uh, a female friend. Have you seen a girl with black hair?”
“I have not, but Cailleach may be able to help you.” Something darker than the blackest shadow lumbered out of the night. Glaistig glanced at the giant coming up behind her. “It’s all right, Bodach. This man is a vampire.”
The giant halted by her side and glared down at Rune, who swallowed hard and craned his neck to look up at the ugly face on top of the nine-foot tall body. The giant sniffed. “As you say, Glaistig. We take him to Cailleach?”
“Yes, we do.” Turning to Rune, the Gray Lady beckoned with her index finger. “Come, Rune. We shall visit the goddess.”
“Well, that’s okay. I’ll just look over there,” Rune replied, pointing in the opposite direction of where Glaistig appeared to be headed.
Bodach took two long strides and grabbed Rune’s arm before he could react.
“Uh, since you put it that way.” He pulled his arm away from the giant and followed Glaistig.
The Gray Lady smiled at him. “I’m so happy you agree. Bodach is Cailleach’s very faithful servant. I doubt he would take no for an answer.”
Rune nodded glumly. It looked like he was stuck for now. Still, it might be a good thing. This Cailleach might be able to help find Kat. But why would being a vampire all of a sudden be a good thing? He could sense that if he had not been a vampire, Bodach the giant, would now be crushing his skull between his two gigantic hands. And who was this goddess Cailleach? The name didn’t ring any bells.
Rune followed Glaistig, with Bodach close on his heels. Over the thumps of Bodach’s heavy footsteps, he heard the skittering sound of a small animal in the grass as they walked away.