The Heimurinn Chronicles
Aisling Nic’Branna is every bit a child of the birch trees of Cran’soir Forest. She grew tall and wispy with the seedlings, and was as pale as their bark, despite living amongst them as far as back she remembers. Her hair, however, grew long and dark as a Midwinter night while she learned to move like the falling leaves. Her eyes, one blue, one green, had grown wild with the Forest.
Aisling has always felt as kin to the creatures there. Even from a young age, animals were attracted to her. Her mother always said she had a gift with them and it was the reason they lived safe amongst the trees of Cran’soir Forest. Not even the wolves bothered them.
Aisling was named for how she was found. The witch Branna had a dream on Midwinter of the path she found her on, and gathered her even before the infant woke. Having lost her child, Branna saw this as a sign from the stars. Even before she could walk, Aisling had a gift with animals. Birds wouldn’t shy and squirrels would play around her. She taught Aisling about herbs and plants and the passages through the trees. Even though her daughter was not blood, the two grew to look alike, though Aisling had the wild heart of the forest in her and wandered wherever she pleased.
The girl’s life was quiet and safe. They met few strangers over the years, and found fewer villains. Aisling was content to live out her years in their little homestead, with her creatures. But a visitor on Midwinter told her that was not her path. A strange woman, who looks impossibly young, but wizened with age, came to their hut during the night. Her mother, a kind woman by nature, brought the woman out of the cold, inviting her to stay the night. The woman was gratious and stayed by the fire until Branna returned to her bed.
Aisling, however, stayed, watching the woman closely. Her black hair was shaggy from neglect, with a plethora of feathers tied to matting strands. Green tattoos wrapped and twisted around her skin, covering much of her. So preoccupied was Aisling with the woman’s figure, that she didn’t notice her speaking. The woman’s voice was calm yet full of urgency. She told Aisling to go to Lismorg to help the clan there. Aisling balked at her words, confused that this woman was indeed talking to her. She told the stranger that she knew very little of Lismorg, let alone that she was someone who could help with whatever it was they needed; she was only a herbalist’s daughter. The woman chuckled knowingly, said she knew who she was, and reiterated that she should go to Lismorg. Peturbed, Aisling left the woman alone and returned to her room.
The next morning, the stranger was gone when mother and daughter woke. There was no trace of her being there, even the chair she used had been returned to its original place. Aisling kept her conversation with the woman a secret, feeling it wasn’t anything of importance, that the woman had obviously gotten the wrong person. Soon, the encounter drifted from her mind and her life returned to normal.
Several weeks later, Aisling begun having strange dreams. Visions of the woman disturbed her sleep for days at a time before subsiding, only to return sooner than before. By Midsummer, after another bout of these dreams, she asked for her mother’s advice. Branna heavily believed in the power of dreams, and was both distraught and delighted by these occurrances; though Branna knew that this meant it was time for her daughter to leave on her own. Aisling was reluctant to leave her home, her woods, behind, but the urgency of the dreams, the pull towards Lismorg, grew stronger each night.
Mother and daughter bid each other good-bye in the last days on summer.