The Kindred Dance

The Kindred Dance

A Story by Cari Lynn Vaughn
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A tragic love story set in ancient Ireland

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100AD

 

       Where the emerald green grass rolled on endlessly over the undulating, windswept hill, two star-crossed lovers were born.  They were born miles apart, but both along the sparkling blue sea.   Some said that they must have had the blood of the ancient Tuatha De Dannon running through their veins.  For both Florina and Caspanor shared a love that was truly magical and legendary. 

        The Romans had reached the shores of the land they called Hibernia, but had not yet conquered it.   It would be the Scottish Picts, not the Roman Legions that would overrun the land later known as Ireland. 

         It was during this turbulent time that a baby girl named Florina was born.  Her father was a bard and her mother a young fiery priestess.   Florina grew up healthy and strong in hills, running free and wild.   She was aptly named, for she was a child of the land and loved the beautiful trees and flowers that grew there.   Her father left when she was young to travel and spread his stories of the ancient times to the people.  He spent many years wandering alone, but he returned to his wife and child eventually. 

         Florina did not know what to think when her father returned to her life at age twelve.  He stayed for a while, teaching her how to strum the harp he carried and weaving such magnificent tales of adventure and romance.   He told her of the Tuatha de Danann, the Goddess Danu, Finn MacCool and Brian Boru.  The Tuatha de Danann had been the first people in Ireland.  Then people from Gaul sailed to their land, battled the God-like race and won.  The Tuatha De Danann disappeared, leaving the land to the natives of Gaul.  However, it wasn’t long before the reach of the Roman Empire found them.  

        Her father Ulster was about to leave again, when Florina begged to go with him.  She wanted to travel and see what he saw.  Reluctantly, her mother let her go.   Thus began many days of walking and many nights of sleeping on the cold, hard ground.   Truly, Florina did not mind.  

        During this time, a young boy named Caspanor fled his home in the Northeastern most parts of Ireland.  A ship carrying Scottish Picts landed and attacked the village he lived in.  His father put him on a horse and sent him far away from the fighting.   He followed the steep winding road until it led him to the Castle at Carrick.  There, he found refuge with King Ir and his small army.  

        It wasn’t long after Caspanor found his way to Carrick, that Ulster and Florina arrived there as well.  They were greeted by King Ir and asked to perform for the court at the dinner feast.   Ulster agreed and was led to his guest quarters so that he could freshen up.  Florina was given a room next to her father’s room.  They spent the afternoon resting and then a servant came to fetch them for dinner.

        The dinning hall was long with a very high ceiling. A fire roared in the huge fireplaces at either end of the hall.   Food was piled high on the table for all to enjoy.  Florina had never seen so much food in all her life.   Back home they ate very plainly and sometimes didn’t even have enough to eat.  

        That night as her father strummed his harp and told his tales, Florina found herself noticing a handsome young man staring at her.   It was none other than the boy Caspanor.  He was just fifteen and full of curiosity.  He’d never seen such a beautiful girl before and could not help but keep his eyes on her most of the night. 

        He tried to gather the courage to speak to her, but his courage failed him that night.  It wasn’t until he saw Florina wandering through the courtyard the next day that he found himself able to approach her.  

        “Hello,” he said.  “Beautiful day out.”

        Florina turned to see who’d spoken.  “Yes,” she answered.  “Quite nice.”

        “What brings you to Carrick?” he asked walking with her toward the garden. 

        “My father is the Bard Ulster.  What brings you here?”

        “My father sent me away when our village was attacked.  He thought I’d be safe here.”

        “I am sorry to hear that about your village.”

        They stopped by a rose bush and he plucked one of the roses off the bush.  “For you,” he said smiling.  “Though your beauty far outshines the rose’s beauty.”

        Florina blushed.  “My, you are quiet the poet yourself.  Thank you.”

        They walked all afternoon, talking over their lives and their dreams.  It wasn’t until it was nearly dinner time that they parted ways.  

        Caspanor returned to his room, where a servant came get him.  He was taken before King Ir and asked if he would be willing to fight to defend Castle Carrick from Picts and Romans should the need arise.  Caspanor agreed to go through training and swear an oath to the King when he’d finished.  

        At dinner that night, Caspanor sat next to Florina. As they ate, he told her about training to be a warrior.  That was when Florina realized that she could not allow herself to fall in love with a warrior.  She was deeply afraid that if she gave her heart to Caspanor, that he’d be killed and she’d be heartbroken.  Instead of telling him this, she began to tell him of how strongly she detested violence of any kind. 

       “But bloodshed is a fact of life.  Would you rather we roll over and let our enemies slaughter us?  My father sent me away only because I did not know how to fight.  If I’d know how, I would have stayed by his side and defended him.  This is my chance to become a stronger, better protector.  Do you not think that strength and knowledge is important to survival?”

        “There is a difference between fighting for you life and seeking out fights in order to win a war,” she argued.

         “Sometimes the best chance of winning against the enemy is to meet him head on.  The element of surprise and the use of strategy can prevent many innocent lives from being lost in the long run.”

          Florina didn’t know how to argue because she had no logic for her overwhelming feelings and fears. Instead of fighting with him, she remained cold and distant throughout the rest of the dinner.  When the night was over, she returned to her room and Caspanor returned to his room.  

         He began his training the next day.  Florina watched him from the balcony overlooking the court yard.  Admittedly, she found him attractive and she longed to be close to him, but she kept her distance.  That afternoon her father gathered up supplies and they left. 

         Ulster and Florina were miles away when the Romans attacked the Castle at Carrick a few days later.  Though Caspanor had not been trained long at all, he knew enough to defend himself bravely.   Despite his brilliant display of courage, Caspanor was captured.  He was taken on a boat across the sea to a Roman fortress and made to work for them as a slave.  He spent years tending to their horses and learning their ways of war in his spare time.  Years passed and he grew up to be an excellent swordsman and archer. 

         Eventually the fort was abandoned by the Romans and the slaves were freed.  Some of the returned back to their homeland, but Caspanor remained at the fort.   By some twist of fate, Florina found her way to the same fort.   This time her arrival was not so pleasant.  Instead, Florina was taken from her father during the night.  Some men took her and sold her to the fortress to act as their slave. 

         When Florina was shoved into the kitchen and told to cook, she refused and demanded to know where her father was.  No one would tell her where she was or where her father was.  The lady in charge of the kitchen was named Ronan and she was not used to being disobeyed.  When Florina continued to refuse to work, Ronan beat her.  She grabbed her by her arm and drug her over to the hearth.  Florina screamed and then led to Ronan hitting her repeatedly.  Florina held up her arms to try and protect herself, but she ended up taking several severe punches to the face and the stomach before she was left alone in front of the fire.  

      The others scurried around her, doing their jobs and trying to avoid a beating themselves.  Caspanor normally did not pass through the kitchen, but on this day, he found himself looking for a friend down there.  He never met up with his friend Donel, but he did stumble upon Florina lying on the floor.  He recognized her immediately and bent down to see if she was still alive.

       Florina was still breathing, but unconscious.  Caspanor picked her up and carried her upstairs to the physician.  Brock was an excellent healer who had learned from both the Druids and the Romans about health.  Caspanor laid her down on the bed and begged Brock to do something about the injured girl.

       Brock set about cleaning her wounds and working to wake her up.  She remained unconscious for about an hour after Caspanor found her.  Eventually, she woke up though and was surprised to see a taller, stronger and handsomer Caspanor before her.  He had stayed with her, hoping to talk to her.

        “What happened?” he asked when her eyes first fluttered open.

        “Ronan beat me.”

        “Why? What are you even doing here? Where is your father?”

        “I don’t know.  I was sleeping beneath a grove of trees with him last night and then today I woke up here.  I guess some men stole me away and sold me Ronan as a slave.”

        “I can’t believe they would do such a thing.  I was a slave here once myself, but once the Romans left, I was freed.  I stayed on because I had nowhere else to go.  Why would make slaves of their own people?  It doesn’t make any sense.”

         “Sense or not, I was not asked to help in the kitchen.  They were forsing me to work and I refused.  That made Ronan more than a little angry I do believe.”

         “No, she does not like to be crossed.  I shall have to speak to her about buying slaves labor though.  That is just not right.”

         “My father will be worried sick about me.  Help me find my father please,” Florina begged.

         “I will go and look for him, but you need to stay here and rest.”

         Florina swallowed and nodded. 

         Caspanor kissed her forehead and then left her side to find her father.  He saddled up in the stable and road out of the fortress.  It did not take him but a few hours to discover the grove of trees and a bewildered Ulster still waiting there for his daughter to return.  He wasn’t sure if she’d runaway or been stolen away.  He was trying to figure out what to do next when Caspanor rode up to his campsite.  

         “Caspanor? Could that be you?” he asked in surprise.

         “Yes, it is.  I know where Florina is.  She is back at Fort Cathel.  Some men stole her in the night and sold her a woman in our Fort.  I found her badly beaten this morning on the kitchen floor.”

          “Poor Florina.  Is she all right?”

          “Yes, she will heal quickly the physician says.  Now hop on the back of my horse and I will take you to her,” Caspanor commanded.

      Without another word, Ulster did as he was asked.  Once on Caspanor’s horse they road hard and fast back to Fort Cathel.  Caspanor stabled the horse and then took Ulster up to the room where his daughter Florina lay.

      “Florina!” he called kneeling beside her bed.  “Are you all right?  I am so sorry I did not protect you.”

       “Twas not your fault,” she said taking his hand.  “And I will be fine.”

       Florina and Ulster spent several days in the Fort while Florina healed.   During that time Caspanor arranged for a boat to them back to their homeland.  Caspanor asked if he could come with them and Ulster agreed.  It wasn’t long before they were on the boat, sailing for home all together.   During this time, Florina and Caspanor grew closer.  They spent hours talking and getting to know one another.  By the time they landed upon the shore it was as if they were the oldest and best of friends.   There was something between the two of them, some bond that neither one of them could explain, but they knew it was there.  

      They held up at the Castle Carrick once again, helping rebuild the place.  It was there, during those long, summer days that Bronwyn taught Florina.  Bronwyn was trained in the magic arts.  She knew about herbs, nature and all matters of health.   When Bronwyn wasn’t having her collect plants from the forest or mixing up potions, Florina also took lessons in archery and sword fighting from Caspanor.  

      By autumn, Caspanor had proven himself as the strongest and cleverest warrior at Carrick Counsel.  He was called before the first snow fall to meet with the High King Ainfean at Danga.  Sadly, Florina bid goodbye to her dearest friend.  She watched his horse gallop over the hills toward the setting sun.    Tears warmed her cool cheeks as she saw him disappear.  It was then that she knew she loved Caspanor, for she already missed him and feared for his life.  If only she had told him how she felt before he’d left.  But it was too late.

      Autumn turned to winter and the snow covered the lands as did a thick blanket of cold.   Florina would often wander the battlements, hoping to see Caspanor riding back to Castle Carrick and back to her.   She would return, disappointed and shivering with cold.   When the air warmed and the snows thawed, Florina begged her father to let her go to Castle Danga to be with Caspanor.  He was going to take the journey with her, but then he was called by the King to perform at the Princess’s wedding.  

        “I am old enough to travel alone,” she said.   “Perhaps after the wedding you can come and join me.”

        “Perhaps you can wait until after the wedding to go,” Ulster said.

        “I have to go now.  I should have gone before the snows fell.  I love him.”

        After seeing the look in his daughter’s eye, he knew there was no stopping her.  He agreed to go, but only if she chose a companion to accompany her.  Florina agreed and the companion was chosen.   Florina and her handmaid Sorcha set out for the castle at Danga the next day.

        They rode over the hills, inland.  Danga was further than they anticipated and they found night falling on them long before they arrived at their destination.   Sorcha suggested that they ask whoever lived in the hut before them for shelter.  Florina was reluctant to ask, but it was getting cold out and she was hungry.  So they knocked upon the door.

        Dara and her husband Casey greeted them at the door.  When Florina explained who they were and what they needed, they were invited inside.  Dara poured cups of hot tea for them and gave them a bit of bread to eat.   She apologized for not having any stew left to share with them. 

       “Who did you say your fellow was?” Casey asked as they ate.

       “Caspanor.”

      “Captain Caspanor?  I heard that he was killed during an attack.”
      Tears stung Florina’s eyes.  “Let us hope that you are mistaken” she said.

      “Yes, let us hope so,” he replied, sorry to be the bearer of such sad news.

      Dara was able to provide them with furs and a place by hearth to sleep for the night.   There, Florina tossed and turned.  Her heart was full of fear.  She thought that perhaps if Caspanor was dead then there was no reason for her to live.  He had become her life and she wished she’d told him sooner.  Now he might never know.

      In the morning they ate breakfast and thanked Dara and Casey for their hospitality.  Soon they were back on the road on their way to Danga once again.  Late that afternoon, they arrived at the central castle known as Danga.  It was perched atop of a tall hill so that it could overlook the surrounding areas.   It was like a great round tower with smaller towers around it.

      Once inside the walls, Florina asked to speak to Caspanor.   The man told her the same thing that Casey had told her the night before.  Captain Caspanor had been lost in battle.  Florina then demanded to speak to someone who might know the details of Caspanor’s life and last battle.   The guard took her to Lord Loran, who sat in the great hall at the center of the castle.

       “Sir, I am here for Caspanor, but your guard told me he was lost in battle.  Is this true?” she asked.

       “I am afraid so.  Captain Caspanor was a brave man and he will be missed.  How do you know him?”

       “We were friends at Castle Carrick,” she explained.

        “I would be happy to have you as a guest here as long as you like.  What is your name?”

        “Florina,” she replied.   

        “Florina, why don’t I have my servant show you to your room. We can talk more tonight at dinner.”
        Florina nodded and a servant came to take her and Sorcha to their rooms.  They were made quite comfortable amid the blue and green décor.  Everything was large and open, even the wardrobe that held the most magnificent of dresses.  Before they knew it, it was dinner time.  Florina changed into the fresh gown that was laid out for her and found her way to the dinning hall.  There, she sat next to Lord Lorcan.  As she ate the feast before her, Lorcan explained how he’d recruited Caspanor and how he’d proven himself to be more than capable.  He advanced in the ranks quite quickly, but at the end of their first battle with the Romans, he simply disappeared.  It was assumed that the Romans had either killed him. 

       Despite her grief, Florina remained calm and courteous.  It was not until she returned to her room that night that she allowed herself to dissolve into sobbing.  Even though Caspanor was nowhere to be found, Florina decided to remain at Danga.   There she grew to know Lord Lorcan and the life that Caspanor had lived before he was gone.  

       One night Lord Lorcan invited Florina to a dance.  She accepted and was given a beautiful gown to wear for the occasion.  Although Lorcan kept her to himself most the night, Florina did take time to notice a group of women dancing by themselves.  They moved as if they had a partner, but they did not have one.

        “What are they doing?” she asked

        “They are doing the Kindred Dance,” Lord Lorcan replied.  He ran his hand through his thick black hair.  

         “What is the Kindred Dance?”

         “It is done by the women who have lost someone they love�"a father, a husband or son.   They do the dance to honor them and keep their spirit with them always.   See how the mimic the moves of the other dancers?  They act as if they do have partner even when they do not.   Some have been known to call it the Shadow Dance as well, but that doesn’t capture the spirit of what they are doing.  They do the dance to feel close to their lost loved one.”

           “May I dance for Caspanor?” Florina asked.

           Lord Lorcan said nothing, so Florina joined the other women in their elaborate Kindred Dance.  Lord Lorcan watched, intoxicated by Florina’s beauty and grace.  At the end of the night, he asked Florina to be his bride.  He was nearly twice as old as Florina, but his first wife had died in childbirth. The young and strong Florina would be the perfect woman to give him heirs he reasoned.  

         When he proposed, Florina’s first instinct was to say no.  But she reasoned that Caspanor was dead and that she would be mad to wait for him.  Besides, Lord Lorcan was tall, dark and handsome.  She’d be a fool not to marry him she told herself.  So, Florina agreed to marry Lord Lorcan.   A message was sent to Castle Carrick summoning Ulster to his daughter’s side for the marriage ceremony.   He arrived a week later. 

          Lord Lorcan and Lady Florina married in the presence of their friends, family and the court that very summer.   Brilliant hues of red, orange and blue splashed the sky as they began their celebration at dusk.   After the ceremony, Lady Florina excused herself to her room.  There she cried long and hard, for she wished nothing more than to have Caspanor for her husband.  She was certain he was the only for her and felt utterly lost with out him.  Though Lord Lorcan was kind to her, she knew she could never be in love with him.   It broke her heart to know that she could not return his love and that Caspanor would never know the depth of her love for him.  She returned to the celebration after it had grown dark and after she’d calmed herself down.

       Only a few months into their marriage, Florina announced that she was with child.  Lord Lorcan could not have been more thrilled about the child on the way.   It was her handmade Sorcha and the midwife Alise that delivered her baby girl when it came time.   Lorcan and Florina named her Bridgett.   Two years later Florina had another girl Oisin.    Finally, a son was born to them two years after that and they named him Darcie.  The three of them grew up wild and strong, running through the hills of the midlands. 

        On a hunt with his father, Darcie discovered a wolf pup that had been abandoned.  He felt sorry for the thing, so he took it in and brought it in.   From then on, the family had a loyal friend and protector named Mira. 

       One day, a strange man was brought onto the castle grounds.  He was dirty and dressed in rags.  His hair was long, as was his beard.  When Cathir, the healer found him and he looked like a beggar.  Once the man’s wounds were tended to, he regained consciousness.  It was then he claimed to be someone much more important.  The court allowed him to rest, heal and then clean up before he appeared to the King to tell him who he was.    As it turned out, the man was none other that Caspanor himself. 

       Florina rushed from her husband’s side to embrace her long lost love.  She restrained herself from covering him with kisses.   The king welcomed him back after he heard the story of how Captain Caspanor was captured and a slave of the Romans.  He had been their slave for nearly nine years, when he finally found a way to escape.  It took him a long time to reach Danga once again, but he’d finally made it.  And he was more than a little surprised to find Florina there, married to the Lord of the Castle no less.  

       Caspanor feasted with them that night and was given his old room back.  Florina stole into his room when she thought Lord Lorcan was fast asleep.   She knocked lightly on the door and Caspanor called come in.   She entered and came to sit on the edge of his bed to speak with him.

        “There is something I’ve been waiting nearly ten years to tell you,” she said.

        “What is it my darling Florina?” he asked sitting next to her.

        “I was in love with you.  I am still in love with you.  I regret not telling you before you left Carrick for Danga.  I came as soon as the snows thawed, but by then it was too late.  Everyone said you were dead.”

        “Is that why you married Lord Lorcan?”

        “Aye.”

        “Do you love him?”

        “Not like I love you,” she said sadly.

        Then Caspanor tilted her chin up and placed a passionate kiss upon her soft lips.  He’d been aching to do that for ten years as well.   After they pulled apart Caspanor said, “Let’s runaway together.  We can go back to Castle Carrick or wherever you want.”

        “I cannot.  I have three children here  that I have come to love more than life itself.”

        “Then bring them with us.”
        “What will I tell Lord Lorcan?”

       “I do not know, but I will think of something,” Caspanor said gently.  He kissed her again.  “All I know is that I lost you once and I do not intend to do it again.”

       Florina cried in Caspanor’s arms over her torn emotions.  She felt loyal to Lord Lorcan an did not wish to hurt him, but she was not happy with him.  She knew that Caspanor was the one for her.  Had she known he was alive she would have never married Lorcan.  

       The next day Florina approached Lord Lorcan about taking a trip to Castle Carrick.  She told him it had been years since she’d been there and was wondering how her friends at that court were doing.   Lord Lorcan gave her leave to take the children to Carrick, but he suspected that something was not right.  He asked a servant, who was also his b*****d son Beay, to follow his wife and children and report back to him about the true nature of their visit.

       Caspanor led the way on his horse toward the Castle of Carrick and Florina was right behind him.  Her children were behind her and several of her servants were behind the children.  The servant that Lorcan had sent was far enough behind them that they could not see him, so they did not know he was there.  They stopped for the night to rest at an inn.   That night Caspanor and Florina lay together for the first time.

        The next day proved to be a chilly autumn day, but they rode onward. They pulled their cloaks close around them and kept their heads down.  Before night fell on the second night, they had arrived back at Castle Carrick.  King Ir greeted them warmly and immediately gave them food and a place to rest.  

       For the next few days the servant watched in the shadows as Florina and Caspanor walked and held hands.  The two of them made up for lost time, stealing kisses when they thought no one was looking.   When he had seen enough, the servant returned to Danga and reported his findings back to Lord Lorcan.  Lord Lorcan then had a horse saddled up and rode all through the night to reach Castle Carrick himself.  He intended to confront his wife and her lover and then reclaim his wife.

         Lord Lorcan found them in the court yard when he arrived and confronted them immediately.  “How dare you betray me like this?” he demanded to know.

       “My lord, I am sorry.  I did not do this to dishonor you.  I was in love with Caspanor before we even met.”

        “That does not excuse your behavior.  You are my wife.  Not his,” Lorcan said drawing his sword.  

        “She thought I was dead,” Caspanor protested.

        “As we all did.  You should have stayed dead,” Lorcan said.  “Now draw!”

        Caspanor drew his sword, but said, “I do not wish to fight you.”
        “That doesn’t matter,” Lorcan said thrusting forward.

        The two of them clashed swords.  They danced around each other for a few moments, their swords meeting with each blow delivered.  Lord Lorcan managed to disarm Caspanor and then ran his sword through him.  Caspanor dropped to the ground, blood blossoming across his tunic from his fatal wound.

        Florina dropped down to her knees and then took Caspanor in her arms.  Looking up at Lord Lorcan, Florina said, “I never loved you and now…Now that you murdered my one true love, I hate you.  I would not return with you for anything in this world.  Go.  Go away and never show your face to me again.”

       Lorcan was temped to drag Florina up by her hair and drag her away, but he left her alone to say goodbye to Caspanor instead.   He walked into the castle to see his children and speak to the King.

       “I love you,” Caspanor said.

       “I love you too,” Florina cried, tears rolling down her cheeks.  Gently she leaned over placed a kiss first on his forehead and then on his lips.   Caspanor’s eyes closed and his last breath escaped from his lips.  He was gone.  “I’m sorry,” Florina cried.    “Hopefully we will meet again in another life,” she told him.   She remained with Caspanor, crying, for a while before her handmaid Sorcha came to take her away.

      

Epilogue

       Florina and the children remained at Castle Carrick the rest of their days.  Lord Lorcan returned to his Castle at Danga never to see his wife or children again.   His own son renounced him and all lands and titles that he would have rightfully inherited.  Instead, King Ir gave him lands and titles within Carrick.   Bridgit and Osirin grew up strong and beautiful.  They married the King’s sons and became leaders of their kingdom along side their husbands.  

       Florina kept Caspanor’s memory alive by performing the Kindred Dance.  She danced the Kindred Dance alone and at court gatherings.  She never remarried and never took another lover.  She died many years later still grieving for Caspanor.   Upon her death bed, she found relief that she might finally be with kindred spirit once again either in the afterlife or in another life.  

© 2012 Cari Lynn Vaughn


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Wow, this was really good. I had hoped they would both survive, but it is a beautiful story. Well done.

Posted 12 Years Ago



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Added on April 19, 2012
Last Updated on April 19, 2012
Tags: Tragedy, Castles, Romance, Lords, Ladies, Bards

Author

Cari Lynn Vaughn
Cari Lynn Vaughn

Mt Vernon, MO



About
Writing is not a hobby or career, but a way of life and way of looking at things. I've been writing seriously since I was 9 years old when I wrote, produced and starred in a play called "The Muggin.. more..

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