A portal closed for 2,000 years.
An ancient religion twisted by modern greed.
A love that crosses the centuries.
An ancient druid pendant shows archaeologist Janet visions of Roman soldier Trajan. The visions are of danger, death, and love — but are they a promise or a curse?
Her fiancé Daman hurts and abandons her before the wedding, her beloved museum is ransacked, and a robed man vanishes before her eyes. Haunted by visions of a time she knows long gone, Janet teeters on the edge of a breakdown.
In the shadow of Hadrian’s Wall and 2,000 years back in time, Janet’s past and present collide. Daman has vowed to drive the invaders from the shores of Britain, and march his barbarian hordes to Rome. Trajan swears vengeance against the man who threatens both his loves — Janet and the Empire.
Time is running out — for everyone.
The pendant was solid gold, with a stylised oak tree and some symbols and dots she recognised as Ogham, the ancient language of the area. She frowned, turning it over in her hands.
It felt hot, and the heat pulsed through her until she felt dizzy, as if she was standing on the edge of a precipice. She held onto the cabinet as the museum faded around her.
Then she fell into a grey void.
There was a smell of forest earth, long undisturbed, centuries of leaf mould, of the secret growing business of trees. Quiescence. A sense of time. A time long ago, ruled by gods long forgotten. But not far away—distance didn’t register. Somewhere nearby—close to her home and Hadrian’s Wall. Where she had grown up and where the stone and earth were part of her.
The void split into shadows as the peace was shattered.
Danger. Around her the grey void echoed with screams of hatred and of death that pounded in her ears. She was in a battlefield, surrounded by the misty shapes of men as they bellowed in agony, and she choked as the smell of blood smothered her. A tall shadow filled her vision. Right in front of her a shadowy figure raised a sword, and she cried out and fell to her knees.
Death and danger.
The grey void vanished, and Janet opened her eyes. She shook her head. It had been the impression of a moment, but death, danger, and love seemed intertwined in a way she could neither explain nor fathom.
Today I introduce Branwen, a secondary character from my time travel action adventure romance series Druid’s Portal. She appears at pivotal times throughout the series, as her town, Pons Aelius (now modern day Newcastle in the UK) is a nexus in time around the area of Hadrian’s Wall. She is a Celtic woman, running the local bath house, with six grown children. She knows both the main characters — Janet, the modern day archaeologist back in time to Roman Britain, and Trajan, the Roman soldier who will struggle between his duty to the Roman Empire and his love for Janet.
Branwen is bustling around the small kitchen, and brushes flour off her hands before smiling in welcome.
Interviewer: Welcome to Ink & Magick. I’m your friendly neighborhood witch. What kind of spell can I get for you today?
Spells? I can’t be meddling with spells. It’s bad enough that my youngest son is a Druid, and let me tell you it gets him into deep trouble. I fear for his life, and pray he finds a good woman to give him some healthy interests in life. You should go and see Nyssa in the northern village, she knows about spells I am told.
Interviewer: How do you feel about the Romans?
Well, it’s been a hundred years or more since they invaded and built that wall, so we are used to them — my two boys Brack and Quintus have joined the Roman army and they will be citizens of the Roman Empire in 25 years, so that is a great thing. They also brought many new foods with them, they do love their food, the Romans. Apples, spices, herbs, olives, wine and dried fruits — although I can’t take that fishy sauce garum.
I know a lot of my Northern cousins still hate the Romans, but I have a business to run, and it looks like they are here to stay.
Interviewer: I heard that you rescued Janet and gave her a job at the bath house. How is she settling in?
Well, she is pretty enough, the soldiers bet on how loud she will squeal when they pat her behind, and I think she enjoys the attention. I imagine she will tire of it, my goodness, I have seen enough nude men to last me a lifetime. She is a bit of a puzzle, some of the things she says.
Interviewer: Goodness, what sort of things?
She has the fort commander Trajan Aurelius interested in her, but she pushes him away. She needs to learn life is short, and when you find a good man you need to grab him!
Sometimes she sounds like a learned teacher with stories from foreign places, although some simple day to day items seem to fascinate her. I saw her sketching soldier’s sandals the other day, as if anyone in their right mind is interested in smelly old sandals.
Interviewer: Oooh, some good gossip! Trajan is interested in Janet? What is he like?
He is a good man, despite being a Roman to his sandals. My boys are always talking about him. He needs to find himself a woman and settle down instead of putting himself in danger and getting into fights. You can be too fond of duty, in my opinion, but it would take a strong woman to change Trajan’s mind.
Is that all the questions? I have a pie in the oven — Branwen sniffs — there, I have work to do, I can’t stay here gossiping all day. She bustles off, following the appetising aroma of baking.
Cindy Tomamichel is a writer of action adventure novels, some with a touch of romance. The heroines don’t wait to be rescued, and the heroes earn that title the hard way.
Her first book Druid’s Portal: The First Journey, a time travel romance in Roman Britain near Hadrian’s Wall, was published with Soul Mate publishing. She also has a number of short stories and poems published in various anthologies such as Quantum Soul and Rhetoric Askew.