Family Christmas meal

The table with only the three youngest kids. That’s me with a fork in my mouth.

I come from a large family. Let me size it up for you. I’m kid number 10 of 11. My parents have 29 grandkids. While my mom’s family is small (she has only 4 siblings), my father’s family is immense. He has 16 siblings and almost all of them had at least 2 kids. To say I had many cousins doesn’t do it justice. We live in the same province as my dad’s family, so we visited each other often.

At my family’s peak, we had 12 people living in a small (think very small) home. Mom was an excellent cook, and everything was made from scratch. We were a boisterous bunch, and we weren’t forced to eat in silence. By the time I got into double digits, some of my older siblings were married and had kids of their own.

My siblings, their spouses and their kids came to my parents’ home for Christmas day. That meant the kitchen table was always full and we filled the living room and flowed into the hall and closets to find a place to eat when the eating time came.

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This is part of a series of posts I’m writing to introduce characters from the Castle Keepers epic fantasy series. This week, it’s Beathas of Ailsa.

Beathas of Ailsa

In short: Hauflin, female, in her mid-90s, magic-maiden, living at Moon Meadow

Family and Teen Years

Little is known about this magic-maiden and so far, nothing has been revealed about her family or younger years. She arrived at Moon Meadow when Bronwyn was just a boy. She made a home there in a small cottage on the top of a hill surrounded by lush gardens and several waterfalls feeding into a large pool. Before the series ends, much more will be revealed.

Where I Found Her Name

Magic-maiden BeathasBeathas was one of those Scottish names that appealed to me. When I read the meaning, having great wisdom, I knew this was the perfect name for this mysterious magic-maiden.

Ailsa was another Scottish/Viking/Gaelic name that appealed to me. It “originates from the language of the Vikings who named a Scottish island in the Firth of Clyde, Alfsigesey (meaning Alfsigr, or Elf Victory). As a result, it’s meaning has evolved to “supernatural victory”.

Hauflins have a tradition of naming daughter’s first with an original name and then their mother’s (meeme’s) name. With this in mind, Beathas’ mother’s name was Ailsa. Isla’s mother’s name is Maura (Isla of Maura).

Boys are given an original first name and their father’s (das’) surname. Liam Jenkin’s father’s last name was Jenkin, and Liam would give all his sons the same surname. Isla of Maura’s daughters would be given an original name and ‘of Isla’ would be added to the end as a ‘surname’ (for example: Dianna of Isla).

History in Real Life

Beathas was not part of the original story, though there were a few magic-maidens who provided information and magic items to the original group. These people were brought together in one character named Beathas.

Role in Novels

Shadows in the Stone: Although Beathas is mentioned many times, characters visit her cottage at Moon Meadow and we feel her presence, she doesn’t actually show up in this book. By the end, we have a good sense of who she is because of those who know her – Bronwyn, Alaura and Isla – and their impressions of their shared experiences.

Scattered Stones: Beathas has two small but vital scenes in this novel.

Waterfall magical mystic

Beyond the Myst: And there lay the mystery. Beathas does not appear in this novel.

Revelation Stones: She appears in one scene, gives Isla an item that helps her and she is thought about several times.

Healing Stones: This novel will be written in January, and I believe Beathas has at least one scene. Until it’s written, I don’t know anything else.

Others: I feel Beathas will be around for several more novels, providing guidance, magic items and the stubborn in-your-face facts some characters need to hear. And let’s not forget the ear-pulling to get someone’s attention. Honestly, I have no idea where her and Bronwyn’s relationship came from. It’s a mystery, but gosh I love their interactions.

A snippet of a scene with them together in Revelation Stones.

“Remove your clothing save your shirt and trousers.”

Bronwyn eyed Beathas. It sounded like an order. When he opened his mouth to protest, she stopped him.

“Do it now. We don’t have time for petty debates. You must obey immediately without question if we’re to save Alaura.”

He stood and removed his cloak and vest, tossing them on a nearby chair.

“Everything,” Beathas said firmly. “Boots, socks, sword, daggers, belts. Remove it all.”

Was this necessary? Or did she want to disarm him? When he was done, she inspected him.

“You wear a singlet. Remove your outer shirt.” When he made a face, she frowned at him. “I’d have you strip to your shorts if you weren’t ridiculously bashful.”

He gulped. She knew too well the old Bronwyn, the young man who had never loved a woman. He didn’t wear shorts, so he’d keep on his trousers. “Is this—?”

It is. You’ll thank me later.”

He unbuttoned his shirt and added it to the pile. “What am I to do?”

“As you are told without hesitation.” She motioned him towards the bed. “Lay beside her. It will save us from picking you up off the floor.”

He prepared to comment, but her expression left no room for doubt. He climbed onto the bed and settled beside Alaura. When he moved to grasp her hand, Beathas swatted him away.

“You’re not prepared.” She continued to stir the contents of the bowl. “Reserve your strength. You’ll need it.”

He nursed his baby finger, the one that had taken the brunt of the attack. He had never known Beathas to be so forceful. She had always been a sweet woman who had offered him gumdrops when he came to visit with his dad many years ago.

This is part of a series of posts I’m writing to introduce characters from the Castle Keepers epic fantasy series. This week, it’s Tam Mulryan.

Tam Mulryan

In short: Dwarf, male, dark blue eyes, dark brown hair to shoulders, shaggy beard covers half his face, youngest of his kinfolk, born at Glen Tosh

Family and Teen Years

Tam is the son of Lillias and Conall Mulryan of Glen Tosh. He was born and grew up in that city by the ocean with a large family. I believe he has ten siblings; he is the youngest. His early years were spent working around Glen Tosh, mostly for his dad who owns a shipping company. Bitten by the bug to travel, he and his sister, Kellyn, set out to see the Land of Ath-o’Lea, eventually settling at Maskil, where their oldest brother Laird was a lord.

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This is part of a series of posts I’m writing to introduce characters from the Castle Keepers epic fantasy series. This week, it’s Maisie Darrow.

Maisie Darrow

In short: Dwarf, female, born Rhunestone Castle on The Headlands of Mar, living at Maskil, mate to Gavin Darrow, maiden name Kintale, owns and operates Forest Bakery and Herbs Shop with mate, six children (3 boys, 3 girls): Calder, Molly, Joris, Loran, Rhiannon and Bronwyn, several grandchildren.

Family and Teen Years

Not much has been revealed about Maisie’s parents and siblings, but I feel there is a big story to tell there. She named her youngest son after her brother, Bronwyn. She and Gaven met in Glen Tosh, fell in love and united there. Soon after, they moved to Maskil where they set up their shop and raised a family.

Like all mums, she’s protective of her flock. Although she was busy with her shop, she paid special attention to her children, attention that will be revealed in later novels. Now that they are adults, she’s still an intricate part of their lives, particularly Bronwyn’s. She doesn’t hesitate to give motherly advice, and she also knows how to wheedle information from him as can be seen when he returns to Maskil after being gone a long time.

He swallowed hard. His mum had a way of getting him to talk and here in the bedroom, after his waking, was when she usually weaselled the truth from his lips. To protect Alaura, he couldn’t tell anyone where she was or that he had made contact with her. But here, under his mum’s scrutiny, he found it impossible to hide anything.

Her motherly advice on love appears now and again. Here she is giving it to Bronwyn in Scattered Stones:

“You get only one chance, you know.” She leant back and breathed deeply. “It’s why I pursued your dad. As bashful and tenacious as he was, I knew him to be the one. It was far from painless, but you can’t forsake those who touch your heart like no other.”

Her greatest joy comes from her family and like all mothers, she loves to feed them:

His mum gazed around the table. She enjoyed this most of all: gathering the family for the evening ration. It was the time to share their lives, the joys and the disappointments. She had often said it was the occasion to renew the family bond and for each to gather strength to carry on. He believed that now. One day he wanted to bring his family to the table and continue the tradition. When his mum’s eyes met his, he smiled. She returned the smile and a peaceful expression eased the lines in her cheeks.kitchen

Where I Found her Name

Would you believe from our miniature donkey? That’s right; our donkey’s name is Maisie.

History in Real Life

Maisie was not a part of the original story. However, by the time I revised that story written during my teen years, I was a mother. Through Maisie, I was able to guide Bronwyn in life.

I’ve been told that one thing that sets my epic fantasy stories apart from others is the family aspect. Most of the heroes in fantasy novels are orphans, and if not orphaned, they are estranged from their family, many not knowing who their parents are.

I can only assume the importance I place on family overflowed into my stories. It’s about time a hero had a loving, caring mum who’s there to patch up broken arms, make him cookies and to give unwanted motherly advice. After all, there are often only two women in a man’s life that can get him to do things he doesn’t want to do: his mum and his mate. Bronwyn needs both these women.

My interest in genealogy also played a part, and is why the Darrow and Mulryan family tree will be explored in the Castle Keepers series.

Role in Novels

Maisie pops in and out of the story in every novel, except perhaps in Revelation Stones. She’s there when a mum is needed. As I mentioned above, I believe Maisie has a wonderful story to tell, and this will be told in a future novel.