Brianna

Coming in 2022!

Set in 1661, Brianna’s faith is such that when she prays for people they are healed.  Stories about her miraculous healings put her under the eye of The Witch Hunter Black Wolf, and a chase across England begins!

Book cover by Maria Pagtalunan mariachristinepagtalunan@gmail.com

The Heart of it…

Brianna and her mother, Rhiannon, have received the gift of faith from God. Their lives are dedicated to serving God and bringing hope to the people of England and Wales. In a time that was suspicious of everything they are soon, incorrectly, branded as witches.

Filled with faith all her life Brianna will reach a crossroads in her life, when she will begin to question why God has set her apart from others.

Flowing through Brianna’s story is the question of why not everyone is healed, and why some have more faith than others. Laden with bible verses and having God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit as core to the story, this is definitely a book for Christians.

I am currently still writing, but hoping to publish onto Amazon by May or June 2022.

Here is the opening and the prologue (please note editing has not been completed yet).

Story Setting

THE RESTORATION 1660 – 1666

Charles II arrived back in London on his 30th birthday, after already living an eventful life.  During the English Civil War, at the age of fifteen, he fled England to live with his mother’s cousin, Louis XIV King of France.  After Oliver Cromwell’s death, he offered all he could, to whoever he could, to ensure his placement on the Throne of England.  He offered a pardon to everyone involved with his father’s, Charles I, execution, except for the fifty-nine men who signed his father’s death warrant.  Tolerant forgiveness stretches only so far after all.

At first, the people rejoiced, for life under the harsh whip of Oliver Cromwell had seen poverty and unrest rise due his strict religious policies.

Cromwell, a Puritan, believed that everyone should lead their lives according to what was written in the Bible, convinced that if you worked hard you got to Heaven.  Cromwell closed theaters believing them to be pointless enjoyment.  He also closed many inns, pushing people to lose their only income.  If boys played football on Sundays, they could be whipped.  Women caught doing unnecessary work on the Holy Day would be put in stocks.  If caught swearing you received a fine, if you repeated the offense you were sent to prison.  Even going for a walk on Sundays carried a hefty fine.  Cromwell believed women should dress in a special manner and makeup was completely banned.  But he is probably best remembered for being the man who banned Christmas.  In June 1647, Parliament passed an ordinance banning Christmas, Easter and Whitsun festivities, services and celebrations, including festivities in the home, with fines for non-compliance.  Soldiers, under orders, went around the streets and took by force any food being cooked for Christmas celebrations.  It is fair to say, that by the time of his death in 1658, he was truly hated by the people.  Not yet sixty, his life was cut short when he caught a fever.  His war strategies, beliefs and determination left a stamp on English history that split many a family.  Had he been tyrant or savior?

So when Charles II was put on the throne the people rejoiced!

However, their joy was relatively short-lived, for although he had been raised a Catholic, Charles II gaily enjoyed his days encouraging fornication and general depravity, everything that Cromwell had fought so hard to eradicate.  Such extravagance cost money, and soon new taxes rained down upon people who could ill-afford them.  And so England continued to fall into dark days of oppression.  The end of the Civil War might have stopped the killing, but it left behind a bitter land.  Soldiers, who survived, returned to their homes to poverty and hardship, the war having depleted both money and spirit from good, honest, God-fearing folk. 

Amongst other things, the new king had promised that a tolerant religious settlement would be sought.  Despite Charles’s promise to accept Presbyterians into the Anglican fold, as detailed in the Worcester House Declaration, enthusiasts from both left and right wrecked every compromise. 

The bishops returned to Parliament, a new prayer book was authorized, and repressive acts passed to compel conformity.  Town governors were put out of their places, and nearly one-fifth of all clergymen became deprived of their livings.  Authority in the localities was now firmly in the hands of the gentry.

The Conventicle Act (1664), barred Nonconformists (Dissenters) from holding separate church services, and the Five Mile Act, prohibited dispossessed ministers from even visiting their former congregations.

The Great Plague of London (1664–66), and the Great Fire of London (1666), were interpreted as divine judgments against a sinful king and nation.

Hardship brings either the worst or the best out of people.  Many looked to God to deliver them, while others forged ahead determined to create their own fortunes.  From 1640 Britain was the most dominant slave trader, transporting Africans to America.  Forging ahead with foreign enterprises Britain reaped in wealth from other countries.  These seekers of wealth and fame did not care for the sorrow they created, nor did they share the wealth when they returned.  Instead, the gap between the rich and the poor deepened, as did resentment and the wide-spread belief that England was slipping further and further away from God.

Weaving its way through civil war, religious fanatics and decadent kings was an abhorrent evil that was driving terror into everyday folk, the upsurge of witch hunters.  In 1604, King James I made an amendment to the Witchcraft Act, to include anyone who made a pact with Satan.  This meant the first half of the 17th century became a time filled with fear of the unknown, and the possibility that someone misunderstanding you or what you did, could lead you to the ducking chair or burning stake, whether innocent or not.  The rich made merry, while oppression crushed the poor and drove them to fear everyone and everything.      

Into this dark time of sorrows and ungodly acts, two women walked, bringing with them the Word of God and hope.  Their names were Rhiannon and Brianna.

Prologue

ONCE UPON A TIME, LONG, LONG AGO in a land called Cymru there lived the most beautiful woman the world had ever seen – Rhiannon, daughter of Simeon the Fair and his beloved wife Estella.  Some, who lived in fear and far from God, called her mother Estella a witch, for rumors of her magic had spread throughout the valleys.

Rhiannon’s life started full of blessings and rich comfort.  Married at sixteen to Aeron the Valiant, Rhiannon traveled to his kingdom across the seas to Ogygia, where they lived for several years in love and peace.  In the year of our Lord 1644, to add to their joy, a daughter was given.  They named her Brianna the Gracilis, due to her tiny size.  All was well with life, until one fateful day when Aeron was thrown from his horse and fell down a cliff to meet his most untimely and bloody death.

The people of Ogygia immediately turned upon Rhiannon, claiming her witchcraft had caused the horse to rear.  For legend claims that Rhiannon had inherited her mother’s blessing, but those who saw her miracles accused her of weaving magic.  Crowds ranted outside the manor walls, that God had judged her practices evil, and wrought His anger upon their young lord causing his death.

One true friend to Aeron, who knew his lord had loved his lady true, whisked both mother and child away before the villagers could tie them to the stake they hastened to build.  In a day full of eerie fog and salty tears, he bore them safely across the water, rowing them back to her homeland of Cymru.

Once her foot touched the shore, the friend wished her well and abandoned them to their fate, his duty to his former lord complete, his conscience now clear.  For unbeknown to any but him, the man was sure it was his sudden shout that had driven his lord’s horse to startle by cliff’s edge.

Rhiannon thought to return to her parent’s manor, but upon the path home she learned the place was no more.  Kings men from England had heard rumors of Estella’s magic, and had burned both folk and buildings to the ground.  Witch Hunter’s, appointed by mysterious envoys, reputed to be the hand of first King James I, and then later King Charles I, flooded the land like cockroaches, scurrying into every nook and cranny searching out anyone who could be called witch or devil worshiper.  Their austere black attire was alone enough to strike fear wherever they ventured.  Riding upon huge black stallions (reputedly bequeathed by the king’s purse) the men raced from town to village with killing intent, their hounds ever before them.  All eagerly seeking the heavy purse each town’s magistrate would pay them, for finding, torturing and ultimately killing anyone considered to be a witch.

And so a game of hide-and-seek began… which mother and daughter would have to master well to avoid the hangman’s noose, ducking chair or worst of all – the burning stake.   For though the names of witch hunters changed over time; the fervor of killing witches remained.  Careful not to show their power to any but true believers, they trod the lesser used paths and spent most of their time in solitude, bar the animals that often flocked to them.

Years passed and the baby girl grew into a fine beauty in the image of her mother.  Despite their nomadic lifestyle and lack of permanent friends both so-called ‘witches’ were content and happy.  Yet the land was full of grief, from Civil War widows and misplaced and forgotten soldiers, to the purging of Catholics and the closure of theaters, Oliver Cromwell had created a contention amongst the people that was slow to fade. 

And what did the people genuinely think about King Charles II?  Now on the throne, most commoners, (who had rejoiced at his coronation) muttered under their breath and spat when his name was mentioned, their savior he was not!

ʑʑʑʑʑ

In the year of our Lord 1664, Brianna acknowledged her twentieth year not with merriment, but with grave earnestness.

For in the last full moon just gone, they had run across a path the current witch hunters follow.  Now all had changed.  Urgency crawled under their skin.  Their feet became blistered and swollen from running.  It was a time that marked change, for they acutely perceived that death chased at their heels, for the Black Wolf was on their trail.

Chapter 1

AUTUMN, FLUSHED WITH a mix of warm and brisk winds, beckoned to Brianna’s soul.  Winter was cruel, but for now vibrant colors sprayed the land with beauty and the gay abandonment of one last party, before closing up against the freeze of wintertime.

Turbulence bubbled within her chest as she raced across the bracken-filled moorlands.  Contradictory emotions and thoughts made the pulse in her temple beat with painful thuds.  To run without clogs or sack-bound feet nurtured a feeling of freedom, while all the time the chains of confusion manifested thorns within her soul.  Her muscles, used to daily labor and periods of long walking, were strong and carried her swiftly.  Free!  Her life before her was full of promise and dreams, was that not true?  Mama was wrong!  God would surely not take her mother’s life before the following spring!

It must be said that Mama’s previous visions had all come true, but she must have misunderstood this message from God.  He wouldn’t allow wicked men to slay His faithful child… would he?

The remnants of any joy subsided.  Brianna’s steps slowed.  Above, dark clouds gathered, heavy and menacing, pregnant with rain.  She hitched up her heavy skirts, and danced across the stepping-stones of the stream in her bare feet.  The stone’s cold seeped through her soles, chilling her body, distressing her mind.

“It can’t be true!” she cried to the skies, when she reached the other side.

She waited for an answer, none came.

Tears of frustration poured from the corners of her eyes, she wiped them away in anger, knocking back her long, raven black hair.  Without pins or hat her velvety tresses tumbled freely around her heart-shaped face.

“We are your servants, Lord.  Please, do not hand us over to evildoers.”

The rustle of wind racing through bracken was her only answer.

In a rare moment of self-pity, Brianna gave in to tears and sorrow.  Crouched on the ground, hugging her knees tight to her body, she wept.  It went against everything she believed, everything she had been taught, but the thought of living without mama was too painful, too raw.

Words from the Holy Book float through her muddled mind.

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil:  for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me. (1)

Fast followed by… 

Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for He hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee. (2)

Comfort, as an embrace of affection, penetrates Brianna’s distress.  The Lord would never leave nor forsake her or mama, for His word is yea and amen! 

Mama always told her… fear is the doorway through which Satan walks in.  Fear is the stealer of peace, and that crippling hindrance which births doubt.  She would not succumb.  Through His strength, she would overcome.

Brianna rose, stood straight and reached for the heavens with outspread arms and countenance emanating hope.  Rain, slow only for a moment before passing into downpour, splashes against her upturned face.

Heartbeat thuds, skips and misses!

With the shock and jolt of a heavy-beat drum, hatred for the Black Wolf had just knocked upon her heart’s door demanding entrance, as it was prone to do these days with increasing frequency.  She fought harder than ever before to block its entrance.