Oak left the great hall to go take care of some chores for Skathach while the knights went to visit the mystics… Strolling through the festive crowds, he noticed that people seemed to pause what they were doing for a moment and briefly watch him. There were whispers and gasps as news of his latest warnings reached the people. Some spoke disbelief in his words. There were ramblings about being untrustworthy. He has been traveling with knights aligned with the church of the light. Murmurings also circulated stating how Oak said sacrilegious things about Cernunnos. Someone mentioned that his visions were confirmed by the faction leaders. Pilgrims who have been to Rhiannon’s pool before shared stories of Oak, the strange elfin cunning man, seer and warrior. No matter what they thought of him, they nodded respectfully as he passed.
A little elfling girl ran up to Oak and handed him a barleycorn necklace before running back to her parents. At least they are not fearful of me this time, he thought. He put on the necklace and teared up at the pure innocence of the exchange before making his way to the Wise woman’s hut.
Outside the hut, a small group of humans were waiting for a chance to ask about what the gods may have in store for them and their families. Since Skathach would not be back for some time, Oak decided to indulge them. Most asked advice on love or family quarrels, things that did not really involve a necessity of divination. This was a good thing. He was taught not to abuse his gifts and did not want to give the gods reason to be mad at him. He threw the bones for a couple of folks wanting to know if loved ones with the Fianna were safe. He was glad to report that the war band he looked into was to return to them at Samhain. He wondered if he too would meet up with his warband and his bonded brother, Hemlock, since they were out searching for the swords as well. He got lost in his thoughts and took a moment to gather himself. He went to the door to welcome the next traveler with questions and saw that more and more people started gathering outside the hut. Word of the warnings had spread and there were many wanting to know how they would fair with the upcoming storms and battles. Oak knew that he had to get out.
Looking for a way to escape, he grabbed Skathach’s red, pointy hat of invisibility off the chair and left the hut. He apologized to folks and told them he had other matters to attend to, but people wanted answers and so they continued to follow him while shouting their questions to him. Using a trick of stealth, he quickly ducked behind a tree and threw on the hat. Once invisible, he was able to make his quiet egress. Oak suppressed his laughter knowing that he just added to more of his Cunning Man mysteries.
He kept the hat on until he was safe inside his parent’s house. His father, Ash, was busy weaving something, but put it aside when he noticed Oak. Oak gathered some ropes and invited him to wander into the woods behind the family grove in hopes to trap an animal to sacrifice. Ash was not about to pass up this opportunity to spend time with his eldest son. They went out, set traps and shared stories of their war bands, family history and then discussed the issues Oak had written home about.
Oak mentioned how odd it was that out in the world he felt older and confident. He also pointed out that around his grandfather, he felt like a child still.
Ash laughed, and replied that he felt that way around his father, too.
In a couple hours, they heard the sounds of a wild boar sharpening her tusks on a nearby tree. The hunt was on. They trapped the animal and brought it back to the family grove.
A place just beyond his parents house that had trees and plants representing his family around the perimeter. His father helped him set up his rite by starting a fire in the central fire pit. Oak painted ritual symbols on his arms, legs, face and torso. Ash helped paint the symbols on Oak’s back before needing to return to make sure Oak’s grandfather’s house was in order.
Oak turned to the tree planted on the day of his birth. His life force remained connected with this Oak tree so, as he has done at other points when he needed to connect with Nature, he called to its spirit. He asked the spirit to join him in his quest to speak with Cernunnos . The elf considered and hoped that linking spirit, earth, plant and animal together would create a strong enough call to be heard by the god.
He placed a headdress with antlers on his head before he called the corners. He tossed some sweet grass mixture on the fire and breathed in the smoke. Oak then invited the elements and spirits to join in his circle. He made dedication of the boar and thanked its spirit for its sacrifice before plunging his knife into the beasts’ heart. The blood spilled onto the ground as the elf chanted. When the boar completely bled out, Oak searched for some sort of acknowledgement that his prayers were heard, but there was nothing.
“Cernunnos, I know rites are not usually performed in your name at this time but I wish to show my dedication and love for you. Please hear my call … I am so afraid of my recent visions … I am scared that I will lose you. I fear that the unbalance caused by a corrupt faith will lead you to have no choice but to abandon your people… and abandon me… Please tell me what I can do to help you. I beg of you to please let me be of assistance and guide me towards a solution.”
Oak begged and pleaded for Cernunnos to speak with him but the call went unanswered… He gave everything he could and it left him emotional and worn. Feeling defeated he ripped the corn necklace off his neck and threw it into the fire pit. He thanked the elements and the spirits before closing his circle. Turning to the house, he heard his family inside. His mother and his brother started to perform a song. He wanted to join them and feel the support of his loving family but did not want to admit that his efforts seemed not to work. He climbed high up into his tree. Cuddled by the tree spirit that shares his life force. he cried himself to sleep listening to his mother sing in the distance.