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Katie O'NeillQuest of the Four Jewels
By Jill Joyce Smith
AuthorHouseCopyright © 2011 Jill Joyce Smith
All right reserved.
Chapter One"I don't know, something just doesn't feel right," Katie said.
"I know what you mean; the ground around here is horrible! I'm sitting on another rock," came the reply.
Two teenagers sat on a blanket under a tree, just trying to relax. Finals were over now and they had just graduated from their town's high school a couple of weeks ago. It was a Sunday, church had just gotten out and the two had walked up to the meadow, behind the building to sit beneath their tree as they had done a hundred times before. It wasn't really their tree; but they considered it to be ever since they carved their names in it when they were children. They had gone to this same church all of their lives and were now contemplating, daydreaming really, about what to do next. It was a beautiful summer day and the birds were singing all around them. It reminded them of their childhood when they would come up here to run and play.
"I'm not talking about the rocks that you always seem to find, Jonathan, I'm talking about them." She tilted her head toward the people who were still congregating around the church yard. "All of our lives we have been coming to this church listening to the same 'fire and brimstone' crap," Katie stated angrily. "There must be more to it than that."
Katie O'Neill and her family settled in this small town when she was just a baby. Unfortunately, one night when she was just twelve, she was at a friend's sleep over party when her house and everything inside of it perished in a fire. She was left with nothing of her own except the few clothes on her back and an old necklace her mother had given her, which she keeps very close to her heart. Jonathan was her very best friend. He and his family had taken her in and they had become very dear to her. She was deeply grateful to have them in her life. But that was six years ago and she had grown into a beautiful young lady with fair skin, long silky black hair and eyes of blue. Tall and lean, she was good at everything she tried. She played soccer, volleyball and basketball and also did well in school, graduating with honors. She loved to read but her true talent was in the arts. She was a skilled artist and she hoped to someday make a living using the gifts God has given her.
"Yeah, I know what you mean. I remember having to go to Sunday School with old Mrs. Peterson and being scared to death every time she started talking about Revelations and how we'd all end up in Hell and only the righteous would be living after God had purged the Earth." He threw his hands in the air and made a monster-like noise with a ferocious looking scowl on his face.
"I really don't think that is something you should tell children," he replied, shivering as though he was still scared. Jonathan had a flare for the theatrics. Katie feigned a smile as she shook her head slightly, but she wasn't in a joking mood.
"They all talk of loving your neighbor and preach the 'good book' on Sunday but any other day they are just a bunch of hypocrites!" she said with feeling. "I heard that Jake Tyler got caught peeping in on Mrs. Lark the other day and Tony Leonard has a lawsuit against Jack West and ..."
"Hey wait, aren't they neighbors?" Jonathan interrupted.
"Exactly! They are all a bunch of frauds!" Katie answered with a scowl. "My point is I don't feel that this is how it was meant to be. I wish I knew the truth, the way God intended it to be, I mean ..." Her voice started to fade. "There must be something else to it all."
Jonathan knew her well enough to know that she was burdened with these thoughts. Katie took her faith seriously and was uneasy with her doubts. He wrapped his arm around her neck and let her lean on him as they sat under the tree. The weight of her head gave him a secure, content feeling. He secretly wished this moment would never end. He loved the way that her cheek glowed in the sunlight and the way her thick lashes lazily batted up and down as she sighed. He had fallen in love with her the first time he'd laid eyes upon her. He was just five then. They were both entering Kindergarten, but even then he knew there was something different about her. When they got older she was very kind to him even when the other kids were teasing him about his bad complexion. But that too was ancient history. Jonathan grew to be a very handsome young man, blonde with hazel eyes and a toned, well-defined build.
"Katie, I wish we could both know the truth, the way God meant it to be," Jonathan finally told her with heaviness in his heart. He leaned his head gently upon hers and gave her a sympathetic squeeze. The sunlight was bright and the noises in the distance were fading. They sat there for what seemed like hours with eyes closed soaking up the day's heat. Suddenly they heard a tremendous crack. They both bolted upright and tried to open their eyes but the light was so bright, too bright. They thought they were witnessing an explosion of some kind. But how-and why? They were the only two on the lonely hillside; the congregation had long since gone and there was nobody around for miles.
Finally the light dimmed enough so they could open their eyes. To their amazement, a beautiful, fair-haired woman wearing a crown stood before them, gazing upon them lovingly. She was surrounded by a bright white light, which was dimming now so they didn't have to squint quite as much. Jonathan squeezed Katie's hand tightly as he blinked his eyes in doubt. He wasn't sure what to do, or if she was seeing what he thought he was seeing. But Katie, feeling very calm and almost euphoric, got to her feet and pulled him gently with her toward the woman, not wanting to take her eyes off of the beautiful stranger. To Jonathan it seemed as though she was mesmerized by the apparition. The woman before them had on robes of blue and green with a deep purple cape. Her crown was made of gold and was bejeweled with rubies, emeralds and sapphires.
"I am Dana, Mother Goddess of the Tuatha De Danann. I have heard your wish and it is my aspiration to show you how people were meant to live, in harmony with nature as well as each other," she stated in a firm yet clear voice. The two teenagers looked at each other then looked back at the Goddess, in disbelief. She spoke once more, "Why do you not believe your own eyes? You've asked to know the truth and I have come to show you the way. Come take my hand."
They started to walk toward Her, both of them feeling the love and warmth that she emanated. They reached for Her hands and as their palms touched Hers, they again heard a loud crack and had to close their eyes. The light that engulfed them was so bright. Suddenly they felt as though they were floating through the air, but before they knew it they had hit the ground with a halting thud. They had hit hard and both had fallen due to the unexpected stop. They looked around them as they stood up again, brushing themselves off. It was absolutely breath-taking, rolling green hills with rows of rock separated fields upon fields of clear meadows.
"Where are we?" Katie asked Dana.
"I have brought you to my homeland. You have the privilege to be in Ireland in the year 357 B.C.," She answered.
"What?!" Jonathan exclaimed. "Is that possible?"
"Anything is possible if you will it to be so," Dana replied. "I have brought you to this period for a purpose that will be revealed at a later time. But for now get to know the way of my people. They care for the land and keep the Lord and Lady alive in their hearts."
"But what about our clothes?" Katie wondered. "I'm sure we'll look out of place." She looked at Jonathan with a worried look.
"Do not worry of such trifling matters, all is as it should be," Dana answered. And with that said she raised her arm and in an instant their clothes had changed to authentic Irish garments. Jonathan had on a long red tunic that reached just above his knee and was cinched with a black leather belt that was knotted on one side. His legs were covered with tan pants and he had shoes that seemed to be strapped on with leather thongs that laced all the way up to his knees, cinching the pants tightly to his calves. He also wore a black-and-red checked sash that went around one shoulder and fastened under the opposite arm with a brass pin. He looked down at himself and winced like he was in pain.
"You look so dashing!" Katie exclaimed.
"Oh please don't let any of the guys at home see me like this!" Jonathan pleaded as he looked up to the sky as if praying. Katie chuckled. But then she realized she too was dressed differently, but she loved it. She started to twirl and twirl in her long blue dress of linen. She also had a sash of a blue-checked pattern draped over her shoulder but hers was cinched with a beautiful brooch which seemed very familiar to her. She stopped moving now and gazed at the pin.
"It is a design very special to my people," the Goddess explained, looking adoringly at Katie.
"It is just exquisite!" Katie exclaimed. "Look Jonathan, isn't it gorgeous!" She paused momentarily. "Somehow it looks vaguely familiar to me," she said slowly, "but I guess that is impossible." The brooch was made of gold that was tied into never-ending knots and was decorated with jewels.
"This brooch has been an ancient talisman of our clan for centuries," Dana said to them.
"I love it, it is beautiful! But ..." Katie just realized what the Goddess had said. "What do you mean our clan?" she questioned.
"Katie you too are of Irish blood, are you not? Your ancestors are from my Island. We are both from the same clan Katie," Dana explained.
Katie's eyes got as big as saucers and her mouth hung open. She was taking it in gradually but then she spoke.
"I knew my grandparents came to America from Ireland in the 1800,s but I had no idea my ancestors went that far back," she said slowly, deep in thought. Dana put a hand on Katie's shoulder to give her comfort. She knew Katie was thinking of her departed parents now—and of the time that was taken from them.
"What about my family, our family," Jonathan said as he glanced at Katie and then back to Dana. "Won't they miss us? They'll think we are missing or worse, we can't put them through that!"
"Please do not show concern. To them you will be gone all of but a day. They will hardly miss you," Dana assured him. "If ever you should wish to go back home, just call my name and I will be there to grant your desire."
"Thank you," he said to her looking straight into her eyes. "I didn't know that it could be that easy."
"I would like you both to follow the path through that knoll," she said tilting her head toward the right. "Do not be afraid, the path leads to the cottage of my High Priestess. She and her daughter will be there to welcome you."
"What about speaking with them? Will they know English?" Katie asked.
"I will make it so you will understand them and they you. It will be fine," Dana explained. "Be off on your way now and remember all is as it should be. Blessed be my children." They heard another loud crack and She evaporated into the air.
Chapter TwoThe two started down the winding dirt path, quietly listening to their own thoughts, then finally Jonathan asked her.
"So what is happening here, what do you think She brought us here for? I mean, really, 'revealed to us at a later time'? You can't just pull people from their own time and land them into a whole other world can you? Without even so much as an explanation!"
"Calm down Jonathan and apparently She can!" Katie stated firmly. "Anyway we should look at this as a grand adventure. I don't think that Dana would let anything happen to us. For some reason I get a feeling that I can trust Her completely. And She is right, this is a privilege! Can you imagine how many historians would jump at a chance like this one?! There is practically nothing in the archives about pre-Celtic Ireland. The people here relied on stories to keep their history alive. No written words were ever put down on paper until almost a thousand years from now!"
"You know I used to think you read too much but now I have a feeling I'm going to be glad you did," Jonathan told her with a smile. They kept stumbling down the rocky terrain, one in front of the other. The path was only as wide as a foot trail and had tall grasses on both sides of it.
"Ouch!" Jonathan exclaimed as he lifted his foot trying to balance on the other and, not doing such a good job at it, he stumbled and fell to the ground.
"What happened?" Katie asked.
"These shoes aren't very thick! I can feel every rock I step on!" Jonathan complained.
"Oh you and your rocks," Katie said chuckling, shaking her head side to side as she helped him get back on to his feet.
"Well, I can see you are just loving this," Jonathan determined.
"Jonathan, I never like to see you get hurt!" Katie said with a grin. "You know that, don't you?" she said sheepishly. And then let out a loud giggle!
"Aha! I knew it! You are having a good time aren't you?" Jonathan asked.
Then as if she were going to explode, Katie gasped, "I think it's marvelous, don't you? I mean look around you! I've never seen land like this before and I've never felt so free!" she exclaimed as she turned and twirled her dress around once more. Then she stopped and with a curious look on her face. She looked toward the sky, and taken aback with her own thoughts she told him, "I feel like I've come home."
They traveled for quite some time, passing a distant tree here and there but always following the path as the Goddess had told them. Up and down hills of green and winding through huge rocks that stuck up out of the ground and towered over them. Every time they passed one they felt a great reverence for these huge standing stones, knowing that they were probably thousands of years old, even in this time. A little while later they came to a tiny foot bridge made of rope which expanded over a somewhat broad river.
"We aren't going over that are we?!" Jonathan exclaimed.
"It doesn't look very sturdy does it?" Katie replied with a worried tone in her voice. "Well, lets have a go at it shall we?"
"Ladies first," Jonathan said with a grin.
"Yeah, you think so do you? Get going," she retorted, nodding her head toward the bridge. Jonathan stared at the river awhile with a worried look.
"Oh, go ahead, Dana told us to come this way so it must be all right to cross," Katie said assuredly.
He started to walk across and discovered that the bridge was quite wobbly and swayed more and more with each step he took. He looked back at Katie and shouted to her over the noise of the river, "You wait there until I get to the other side. And then you can start to come across."
Katie nodded as he went on as slowly as possible, checking each plank before he put all his weight down upon it. After what seemed like hours to him he was finally on the other side.
"It's okay, come on across!" he shouted to her. Katie started to walk the foot bridge very carefully. She was a little past halfway when she put her foot down onto one of the planks and it split in half. It took her by surprise, and before she knew it her right leg was dangling through the hole in the bridge and she was hanging by the rope railing. Within seconds and without thinking of his own safety, Jonathan came running up the bridge and caught her by the elbow, pulling her up to safety. He guided her the rest of the way until they reached the other side. They fell to the ground from the adrenaline rush they had just experienced.
"Oh my gosh, that was so scary! Thank you so much for rescuing me!" She hugged him tightly around the neck.
"Not a problem," he said to her as he held her tightly. "You never have to worry as long as I'm around." He took in deep breaths as he thought to himself 'Dear God don't let anything happen to her!' Almost afraid to think about it he brushed the fear from his mind.
They continued on, a bit more carefully than before, and about a mile further down they saw a huge mound surfacing above ground level off in the distance.
"And what is that!?" Jonathan wondered aloud. "Do you know?" he asked as he turned to look at Katie.
"Well, I think that is some kind of burial mound. I've read about them, Ireland has quite a few of them. I think they are also used for holy places to worship at." They stared at the huge mound for a few minutes with awe.
"It's massive!" Jonathan exclaimed and then they started on their way once more. About another half a mile the foot path ended and they came to a clearing.
Excerpted from Katie O'Neill by Jill Joyce Smith Copyright © 2011 by Jill Joyce Smith. Excerpted by permission of AuthorHouse. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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