Historical setting: 589 C.E. when Gaul was forest
I know Christianity runs on rumor too often, but this rumor of pagan human sacrifice has some credence. There have been findings. I ask the druid what is their intention.
He answers after an uncomfortably long pause for shared grins with Guldilyn.
“My boy Ezra, our gods would be repulsed if we fed them Christians.”
Guldilyn intrudes, “What burns on our altars are the gifts of our labors. Our tribe hunts the beasts of the forests, and Druid Largin makes ale. But both of our peoples are suffering from need for more people. Christians take from us. We can take from them. And apparently you owe Druid Largin a maiden. What use he may have for a young man, I have no idea. He can’t breed humans with one fertile male when he has no young maidens. I think he just took your friend Thole to spite us. He says it is justice. I think he is looking for trouble.”
“Is Thole well?” I ask Druid Largin.
Again, he draws his lips to make a grin or a scowl and takes a seething moment to answer, “He is fine. He is just fine. Indeed, he is very, very fine.”
“May I speak to him?”
“I doubt it.”
Guldilyn asks it of the druid, “What have you done with that flaming haired lad?”
Largin answers, “Let me tell the storytellers a story, though you may have heard it. It comes as legend from the forest beyond the Vosges.
“Once there was a fair maiden. She had a wide imagination for beauty, and one day she met a frog. In her mind he was the most beautiful thing she had ever seen. She kissed the frog, and immediately everyone saw that he was indeed a handsome man and a most beloved creature.”
I have no idea how that story explains Thole, but it does have a Christian theme flowing deep beneath it, the theme of accepting the outcast.
Guldilyn asks, “Whatever does that have to do with the young man, Thole? You have no maidens, and he is hardly a frog.”
The longer he stalls for time the more anxious I am for Thole’s safety.
The druid speaks, “So let me offer you a clear and straight forward explanation.”
“About twenty-one years ago to the day, I looked over these people and thought…”
(Continues Tuesday, January 11, 2022)