This is a story of creation and freedom. But, as always, there is a cost, for this is also a story about fear and oppression. It all started long ago, before any of us were born, when the new religion was first starting to take over the world.
In a small fishing village, there lived a young girl named Morgana. The village where she lived was a wonderful blend of people who lived in harmony with one another and with nature. However, with the good usually comes the bad, and this place was not exception. Some people, Morgana's parents included, did things purely for their own gain. These people did not care who they hurt so long as they got what they wanted.
Morgana learned a lot about magic as she grew up. Her parents taught her all they knew in the hopes that she would become a powerful sorceress and take over the crown. Her parents dreams would not be completely fulfilled as Nanny MacLean, the village healer was also teaching Morgana.
Nanny MacLean taught Morgana about the good side of magic. She taught her how to heal and help others. The healer showed Morgana a different world, filled with love, light and hope. She showed her a life her parents never knew.
The years went by and Morgana grew older and wiser. When she had been taught all her teachers knew, Morgana decided it was time for her to leave. She wanted to learn more and felt in order to do that, she would need to find people who knew what she did not.
So, with a sad good-bye, she left Nanny MacLean and set off to quell her thirst for knowledge.
As has happened many times throughout the years, a new religion had started and was slowly beginning to get known and spread out. Temples were built. Clerics came and went.
In Morgana's hometown, a new cleric was appointed to the temple. Joseph Matthews managed to convert many of the town folk to the new religion.
As people stopped using magic, the stigma and fear surrounding it grew. Those who started worshiping the new gods were taught to believe that their old ones were evil. They were taught that this evil was there to destroy them and keep them from eternal life in the after world.
The new religion was slowly tightening the hold it had on the known world. As a testament to this fact, the Royal family converted from the old ways. When they converted, the Royal family told all of their servants that they would have to convert as well, or seek other employment. Most of the servants were willing to comply, however there was a small amount that chose to leave.
Before converting, the Royal Family had a mage. They trusted this mage with everything. He was their healer, bodyguard, friend and adviser. But magic went against the new religion's teachings. Damian had been the Royal mage for years and the king offered to create several new positions at court if Damian would covert. However, Damian could not bear the thought of living without magic and left when he was told of the family's plan to convert.
Damian stayed with old friends going from house to house and village to village. He tried to keep the magic alive in the country, however more and more people were denouncing the old ways.
After several years away, Morgana returned home to find out that many things had changed. Walking through town she could tell that things were different. People were scared and timid when they use to be courageous and strong. They were withdrawn where they use to be outspoken, and quiet where they use to be talkative and full of laughter.
By asking around, Morgana found out that the changes had to do with the new cleric. The only way to find out more, would be to find and talk to him. Deciding to try the most obvious place, Morgana went to the temple first.
Joseph was not at the temple, however Silas, an old man whom Morgana knew from her childhood, was tending to the flowers and gardens. When he saw Morgana, Silas walked over.
"You'll be looking for father Matthews," Silas said. "He's gone home for the day."
Morgana smiled, "Thank you."
Silas touched her arm as she turned to leave. "Be careful Morgana. These are dark times. Keep your secrets safe." With that said, Silas walked away to finish tending the gardens.
Mouthing another silent thank-you, Morgana turned down the road towards the cleric's lodgings. When she got there, Morgana knocked. She hoped she would know the words she would need to say. After a few minutes, an attractive young man opened the door.
"Father Matthews?" Morgana asked, thinking she had gotten the wrong house.
"That is I," replied the man. "Who might you be?"
"Forgive me father," Morgana started while trying to compose herself. "I am Morgana Robertson. I grew up in this town but have spent the past few years away. I arrived back in town the other day and heard there was a new cleric. I wished to introduce myself as soon as possible."
"It is always good to see a fresh face and I hope you will join us in the temple soon."
"I will try as best I can." Morgana took a deep breath before continuing. "I was also hoping you might be able to help me. It seems that since I've been away, the town has become filled with fear. When I ask what they are afraid of, I am told that you hold all the answers."
"The townspeople are afraid of the evil that is left in the town. Most have turned away from their old, sinful ways, however a few of the people refuse to. But do not worry my child, for we have a plan to rid us of this evil." Joseph's eyes began to glaze over and he smiled a far off smile. "Yes, we will be getting rid of the sinful ones very soon."
Morgana asked, "And what is this plan you speak of?"
"You will find out in time, dear one. Now I must beg leave of you. My supper will turn cold soon. It was very nice to meet you Morgana. I will save a place in the temple for you."
"It was a pleasure to meet you as well Father Matthews." Morgana turned and walked back towards Nanny MacLean's cottage where she was staying. On the way to the cottage, Morgana wondered what she would do next.
When she arrived, Morgana felt that she needed to know more about what was going on. She decided that, since no one would openly tell her, she would use one of her parents' tricks for eavesdropping. Before doing anything, Morgana asked all who were watching over her for forgiveness. She got out a black bowl and filled it with water. Morgana then got out a small vile of frog blood. She took the stopper out of the vile and let a drop fall into the water, changing it into a seeing glass.
At first, Morgana let the images slip from place to place, only staying in each spot for a moment or two. Most of what they showed were of no use and gave little information. Some of the conversations were helpful, they told her that people believed the old ways to be evil and that people were taking what the clerics told them as the one and only truth. Suddenly the image stopped on two strange men dressed in red and black.
~"It is settled then," said the man on the right. "We will send messages to the clergy telling them that they are sanctioned to eradicate the evil in their area by any means necessary."
The other man looked thoughtful for a moment. "We should also include a list of methods that have proved to be useful in the past. And we should think about sending trained witch hunters to the areas which are the worst afflicted. This way the priest can concentrate on converting people rather than catching people."~
Morgana felt she had heard enough. She didn't know what methods the church would use but she knew it wouldn't be good. Morgana knew that she needed to act soon and warn as many as she could. The only problem was, who needed warning and who could she trust.
Morgana needed to find Nanny MacLean. Because she knew everyone's secrets, Nanny MacLean was the only one who knew all those who still practiced magic and all those who feared it. She would know what had to be done.
Nanny MacLean walked through the door just as Morgana was about to leave. Without checking that now one else could hear, Morgana told her everything about what she heard and saw.
Nanny put a comforting arm around Morgana's shoulders. "Don't worry little one, I will warn the others. You need to worry about what you can do to protect them."
Morgana looked confused. "What I can do to protect them? I don't even know the first place to start. And I know that I can't do it on my own."
A voice spoke up from the doorway. "That is why I'm here." It was a middle aged man with a slight build who looked as if he had been through a hurricane.
"Yes, yes, that is why I asked you to come." Nanny MacLean gestured the man forward. "Morgana, this is Damian. Both of you are very gifted and I'm sure if you work together, you can find a solution." Nanny walked over to her work table and picked up a small bag. "Now if you will excuse me, Mrs Green's youngest one is ill and I have to tend to her."
After Nanny MacLean left, Damian looked at Morgana. "We had best start working. There is a lot we have to do and not much time to do it in." Those words started the very long and very tedious process of finding out what they were going to do.
They came up with a lot of ideas, although some were rejected as being too drastic or too unrealistic.
When Damian came up with a plan to teach the clergy magic, Morgana pointed out that the clergy would never consent. Morgana said they should just destroy the new religion but Damian mentioned that it would prove the new religion right about them.
In the end, they had two small groups of ideas. The first group they would start right away.
The first idea was for magical 'dummy' spots to confuse the witch hunters. The next was for hidden rooms that only trusted ones knew about. These rooms would hide the things related to the old ways that the new religion didn't approve of. The last item on this list was for people to pretend to convert and just show up at the temple occasionally.
The second list, they would only use if desperate. It included building a fortified magic town and not letting the new religion in. Another plan was that if people were caught, someone with a boat would offer to 'drown' them but instead take them to safety in another town. Morgana and Damian hoped that they wouldn't need to use these plans but they didn't yet know the full strength against them. Over the next few days, the plans were polished up and told to the others.
While this was going on, a witch hunter came to the village. Harold was trained by the temple specifically to find and eradicate witches. Although not very good at spotting mages, Harold persecuted enough people to capture the attention of the top clergy.
He spent his first two days in the village getting the lay of the land and getting to know the people. Harold made a list of those who might be magic users and decided to keep a close watch on them.
What with not attending the gatherings at the temple and their work trying to save magic, Morgana and Damian were soon at the top of Harold's list. Every so often, he would catch one or the other doing something suspicious, such as saying hello to an animal or tapping a fence post several times in the same place. But that wasn't yet enough as Harold was new in the village and Morgana and Damian were obviously respected and well liked. He needed to catch them doing obvious magic in order to prosecute them.
Then, the unthinkable happened, the people on Harold's list started attending the temple. They were converting. At least, that's what they wanted Harold to think. It was all part of the plan. But some didn't want to follow the plan, they felt they could keep themselves safe without compromising their beliefs. Harold started watching these people even more closely.
He noticed that they all seemed to disappear at certain times of the day though where to and for what purpose eluded him. Harold also noticed that they, and others in the village, would stay clear of certain areas. These areas felt particularly evil to him. He felt sure that these areas were traps set by the witches. So sure, in fact, that he asked Father Matthews to warn the congregation about them and added that he would keep looking in case more traps appeared.
After a week, Harold felt he had enough evidence to prosecute some of the witches. His first victims were Mr and Mrs MacNeill and Emily Green. Harold was accusing them of witchcraft and of setting the traps. His proof was that they do not attend the temple, they were seen in the areas of the traps and they grow plants which cannot be used for practical purposes. With all this said to the village people and the fact that the victims did not deny using magic, Father Matthews condemned the three witches to death by fire.
Several people spoke up to say they would take the witches out in their boats to drown them, however, Harold said fire was more cleansing. Only fire can truly destroy evil.
Everyone in town was told to come to the bonfires. Harold said that those who didn't show up were most likely witches themselves. Those that truly believed in the new religion, came to cheer the witches' deaths. Those who did not believe, sent silent prayers to their gods and goddesses. Prayers that the three would feel little pain and reap great joys in the afterlife and beyond. For their credit, the three set to be burnt showed little outward fear except for tears running down their cheeks. They knew that they had done nothing besides follow their beliefs and do what they felt was right. They were the first of many to be burnt in that village and not all used magic.
Harold's next targets were Morgana and Damian, but they were proving tricky to get evidence on. They seemed like good people. They followed the new religion but there was something about them that Harold didn't like.
Damian and Morgana were busy trying to find somewhere safe to create a magic town. It was proving very difficult as the new religion was everywhere. They were searching high and low but could not find an answer. Everyday was growing more and more dangerous. They had to be extra careful. Harold was constantly following them. In the end, their answer was as simple, sweet and innocent as a little child. Two children actually, Isabelle Green and Anna O'Reilly.
Morgana was looking after the girls as their families had lost members to the witch hunt and were still trying to cope. It had been a rainy night and there were puddles everywhere. Morgana let the girls play in the mud while she weeded the garden. When the weeding was finished, she walked over to the girls. They were taking handfuls of clay and putting into the middle of a large puddle.
"May I ask what it is you are doing?" Morgana questioned the girls.
Isabelle looked up at her. "Making an island."
"It's easy," added Anna. "All you need is earth and water."
Isabelle nodded her agreement. "But it keeps going mushy splat."
Morgana smiled when she saw that their island kept sinking. She spotted the bucket of stones that she used for potted plants. "Why don't you try using stones?" she asked.
The girls looked at her as if an island made out of stones was a very silly idea. Morgana went and got the bucket. She took a handful of stones and mixed it with the clay and placed it where the girls island was. The concoction held its shape better than the clay itself. Seeing this, the girls eagerly went about making their island out of clay and stones.
When the girls had gone home for the night, Morgana told Damian about the idea the girls had given her, to create a magic island. Damian agreed that the idea was good and even knew how they might go about it.
"It's the same method the Royal family used to create their summer castle on the north shore," he explained. "The method has been passed down through the ages. All we need is clay and rock to shape the island, a bowl of water, angelica, bay, pine and a few drops of blood."
"That we can do, but what type of blood do you need?" asked Morgana.
"Human. We'll use mine."
Morgana went around the room collecting the ingredients Damian had asked for. She placed them on the table while Damian closed the curtains.
"First we need to make a model and name the island. We'll use the clay and stones to make the model and we'll carve the name into the base," Damian said matter of factly.
"Can we call it Innis Seun?" Morgana asked. "When I was travelling, I heard of this island where magic was first created. It sank into the sea a long time ago."
Damian smiled. "That does seem a fitting name."
They created a model of the island and carved the name Innis Seun into it. The next step was to add the herbs into the water. First the angelica, to start the process. The bay was next to keep it safe and strong. Finally, the pine was added for security and to ground the spell.
Damian made a small cut in his finger and used it to stir the water. Slowly it changed from water and herbs to a dark, choppy ocean.
"Morgana, can you place Innis Seun in the bowl?"
She did as asked and while she was placing the island in the water, Morgana could feel the wind against her hands.
"Next we add another drop of blood to cement the island in the sea." Damian started to put his hand above the bowl when Morgana stopped him.
"Let me," she said. "After all, it's my island too." She made a small cut on her hand and let the blood fall into the bowl. Almost instantly, the island started to grow. It didn't grow any larger but trees, lakes, mountains and rivers began to appear.
"And there it is," Damian said, "Innis Seun. Now we only have to worry about getting people there safely. We can transport them by boat but we have to be careful."
"There may be another way." Morgana went over to the bookshelf where she had stored some of the books her parents left her. She picked up a tattered looking journal. "This is my mother's old journal. There is a travelling spell in here that she used to sneak out when she was younger. All you need is a mirror and the right words." Looking through the journal, she found the page with the spell on it. On the top of the page in the right hand corner, she wrote the words Innis Seun.
Nanny MacLean, who was sleeping, rolled over and Morgana and Damian were reminded of how late it was. Both decided it would be best to sleep now and start transporting people in the morning. When she went to clean up, Morgana found that the bowl was empty. She wiped the bowl out, cleaned off the tables and blew out the lamps and went to bed.
The next morning, Damian and Morgana explained to Nanny MacLean about Innis Seun. They told her that they were going to start transporting people as soon as possible. Damian would take people by boat and Morgana would use the travelling spell. That way, they could go twice as fast. Damian would start helping Morgana once the boat captains knew where the island was. Once their village was safe, they would move on to other towns. The aim was to move as quickly as possible before many others could get hurt.
While Nanny MacLean was learning about Innis Seun, Harold was compiling a list of Morgana and Damian's witchy actions. All he had on them was that they act strangely, they mourned everyone who died and they helped take care of the children from the witches' families. He needed more. He needed to catch them in the act. He needed for them to mess up.
Over the next few days, Harold got what he wanted. Damian would go out in fishing boats with about ten other people and come back with only the captain. Morgana would visit households and then no one would see those families again. The Greens, O'Reillys and Smiths were first, but soon almost a third of the village and surrounding areas had disappeared. Yet, Morgana and Damian were still there.
Harold went to Father Matthews and they decided they had enough evidence to catch, torture and burn Morgana and Damian for witchcraft. Bringing the strongest men in the village, they made their way over to Nanny MacLean's where both Damian and Morgana lived.
They knocked on the door.
They knocked again.
Still no answer.
They broke down the door.
There was no one there.
The clothes, books and bed sheets were gone. It looked as if no one lived there at all.
They broke into the houses of the missing people in case Morgana and Damian were hiding. At every house it was the same. No people. No clothes. Nothing.
Damian and Morgana had left to save the other towns. Nanny MacLean and the others were making a new start on Innis Seun.
If you're wondering if Innis Seun really is a safe place for magic, I'll let you in on a little secret. Part of the protection that was set was that only those who wish no harm towards magic, its users and its creatures can find Innis Seun. All others just float on past.