A charge bolted up her spine and clamped her jaw shut. Cackles echoed in her ears as she was then transported through a crevice and into a tunnel of light. She had experienced this before in the raven’s mind, but had always leapt out before entering the dark portal inside the rainbow arch. This time, the force was so strong, she could not escape.
Bracing herself to burst through the dark gateway, she was surprised finding herself bouncing off its flexible surface and somersaulting several times. After stabilizing herself, she floated up the multicolored arch and studied the flashing life-threads on the fluid surface. Each thread connected, then disconnected with others.
The raven explained in a man’s baritone voice, “This is the transitional barrier between the mortal world and Otherworld. It is called the Wall of Lives. It is here where nature’s forces coalesce and time stands still—past, present, and future merging into one.”
As Catrin drew closer to the wall, she could see moments of everyone’s life project on each respective life-thread. She asked the raven, “What is this?”
“In the spiritual realm, you can harvest universal truths from past, present, and future,” the raven explained. “You are like an Ancient Oak that anchors its roots into the earth’s womb to nourish the leaves that capture truth’s light. Each living thing is a life-thread that weaves in and out a fluid tapestry from birth to death. As you can see, every person has a unique colored thread that joins others to conjoin everyone’s fates.”
A brilliant light flashed before Catrin’s eyes. Full of wonderment, she asked. “What was that?”
The raven cawed with delight. “At each birth, a bright light flashes on the wall whenever a soul reincarnates into its next form—fish, bird, animal, human. It is here Ancient Druids could see the future. Only a few humans are chosen by the gods and goddesses to have this gift. You are one of them. Born with the raven spirit, you can hover between the white spiritual realm and black earthly existence.”
Awestruck, Catrin asked, “Have I always had this ability?”
“Yes,” the raven answered. “But you were too afraid to acknowledge it. Forces such as these often manifest when you are besieged with hate, rage, and fear.”
Catrin now realized her dreams and foreboding visions were flashes of moments that she had seen on the Wall of Lives. Many of these images were surreal and she did not know how to interpret them. She asked, “What good is it to prophesy if I cannot change the future?”
The raven lifted its beak and cawed, “Study the past and tell me what you see.”
Catrin studied the life-threads of a coppery haired woman and a dark haired girl, their lustrous life-threads weaving and joining each other. She concentrated on the life-thread of the woman whose features were similar to Marrock’s. At one point, a white-robed man was tying the wrist of King Amren as a young man to the woman, a radiant adolescent, at a wedding ceremony. At the next twist in the life-thread, the woman was giving birth to a baby boy.
But the last image on the life-thread struck horror into Catrin.
Before a towering bonfire, the stately woman fell on her knees and raised her arms to the blood moon—the image Catrin had seen before the Romans landed. The woman never flinched when the king chopped off her head with a longsword.
Repulsed, Catrin looked away, a taste of bile in her mouth.
The raven shrieked, “You cannot escape the past! Look again and tell me what you see.”
Turning her eyes to the Wall of Lives again, Catrin observed something odd. The woman’s life-thread did not end at the portal leading into the Otherworld, but whipped back and entangled with the gray thread of the diminutive, dark haired girl. Their images then blurred on the adjoining thread that slithered back and forth like a striped serpent over a black sea. It was heading toward Catrin’s life-thread at the point where she saw herself on the fiery pyre where Marcellus had placed her. She struggled to understand why she flew out of the flames as a scorched, black raven. A foreboding chill feathered down her back.
She asked the raven, “What does this mean?”
The bird’s silence screamed to her soul. The white raven that Marcellus had placed on the pyre had scorched black in the fire. She quavered. “What have I become?”
The raven crooned, “Look backward and you will understand as you fly forward.”
Puzzled, Catrin again examined the thread-lines of the woman and girl. The truth finally dawned on her like a rising sun.
Rhan never died. She and Agrona are one and the same. The eidolon hiding behind Agrona’s eyes is Rhan. If Rhan can possess Agrona, she can also take control of me!
Catrin shuddered. “What does Agrona want from me?”
“She wants to reset Rhan’s curse by having you burn in Apollo’s flames,” the raven said with grated voice.
Catrin gasped. “Do you mean Marcellus is Apollo?”
“Yes,” the raven resoundingly replied. “Every decision you make from now on can change how the life-threads will weave into the tapestry. Be forewarned, the time a person dies can only be determined by the gods.”
“Rhan defied death when she possessed Agrona,” Catrin retorted.
The raven replied in a thundering voice. “At what cost?”
Everything then silenced and the Wall of Lives tumbled into a waterfall that transformed into flames.
Waking from her vision, Catrin found herself astride a horse near a farm field, her head leaned against Cynwrig.
He touched her forehead and gasped, “She is on fire.”
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