Dorcha woke to find herself alone, alone in her bedroom. Everything was in its proper place, yet there were startling differences that warned her something was not quite right. The room was filled with literally hundreds of candles … candles and tinkling laughter.

The woman was afraid, yet not, despite the weirdness. Stubborn determination had her clambering to her feet and heading to the door. Her years of training was coming to the fore. Nobody was going to mess with her, weird spirits or no.
For those creatures had to be some form of spirit entity. There could be no other explanation. It was the only one that fit. But why would they be testing her?

Determined to find the answers, the seeker aspect of Dorcha, told her to look for the source of the laughter. But when she got to the doorway her determination faltered, for the door led out into a darkened downward sloping corridor of golden sandstone. It was something that she would have expected to find in one of the temple lands of which her father had spoken often before he crossed over.

“You are a warrior, and lady … be brave, wretched female!” Dorcha muttered fiercely under her breath.
The thirst for knowledge that motivated her in her own world would not let her stop now, for in this realm she was just that … a Seeker. Strange instinct told her that this corridor only led to one place, and it was a place that she had to find. So Dorcha pushed herself onwards into the blackness. For some reason she felt that a candle would only slow her down and that would delay any answers that she was to find. That would not do, not at all.

As the darkness increased Dorcha was forced to place her hand on the wall for balance and guidance; and that was all she had to do. There was nothing else in the corridor except her and the laughter. The floor was smooth under her feet, and the wall was smooth under her hand. Dorcha’s confidence grew.

The laughter though, was proving to be elusive. It seemed to come from all directions. It came and went like the wind. One minute it was loud and close by, the next it was soft and distant. The only pattern that Dorcha could determine was the laughter’s constancy; it never faded completely, it was always there.

Suddenly, Dorcha stopped. There were markings on the wall under her hand, a startling contrast to the prior smoothness. Carefully, she turned to face the wall, her hands tracing over the intricate engravings in the sandstone. A wave of familiarity, of ‘knowing’, swept through her. She knew the symbols.

Dorcha laughed wryly in the complete darkness. How strange it felt to recognise the symbols, yet have absolutely no idea what they meant.
But the patterns held her captivated. The warrior’s calloused fingers crept up the wall to the highest symbol and began to lightly follow the spiralling path over each one. Words flashed in her mind as her fingers danced.

Life … Love … Hope … Dreams … Passion … Subconscious … Learning … Acceptance … Peace …
Being a child of the Goddess, all were words that Dorcha was familiar with in a spiritual sense, just as she was familiar with the patterns. And all at once, she knew. Each symbol meant a word; each symbol corresponded with the word that had floated into her mind when her fingers touched the engraved spirals.

And with that knowledge the fear left her, replaced by a mounting excitement and anticipation. There was nothing in this place of which she should be afraid. Dorcha knew in her heart that she was in some sort of temple, or school, and that fit with the words of her examiners. Schools, temples, and tests all went hand in hand. Didn’t they?

Whether it was the banishing of her fear, or the completion of her tracing the pattern on the wall that unlocked the hidden door, Dorcha would never know. Yet within seconds of her hand leaving the wall the symbols began to glow and a doorway began to form, a doorway that led into a room filled with heat, redness and vibrant electricity. The room was alive.

Without thought or question, Dorcha walked through …
… and into a room that was dominated by a large steel altar which glowed red in the eerie blood glow. Although Dorcha had no idea why she was so very sure that this was its true purpose. It held her eyes and drew her closer, closer to touch the smooth surface. The metal was warm, and felt like silken flat of her sword’s blade under the tips of her fingers.

Entranced, Dorcha let her hand continue to glide over the surface, while her feet walked a path down the altar’s length. Around the narrow end she walked then gracefully she began to walk up the other side, not slowing her measured tread until she felt a sudden pulsing under the surface of the metal.

Dorcha stood at her husband, and lord’s side, together they stared out through the open window into a sky that was vast and beautiful. Stars, thousands of stars dotted the indigo darkness, so many pinpoints of crystal light. The woman smiled. To be here at her lover’s side in the castle that was so newly their own filled her with serene joy. Nothing could have made the evening more perfect.

“I love you,” Dorcha whispered to her love as she reached up to touch his cheek in gentle salute.
Paidrach smiled in return, the curving of his full lips creating those much-loved tiny creases to form at the corners of his eyes. “I love you too, sweet mistress … Would you care to go back downstairs now? … Tis starting to cool up here!”
Paidrach was right. It was starting to get cold even within the shelter of the tower room …
“What is that?”
“What?” Dorcha asked, startled by the sudden question.
“Out there … Look! Just above the horizon … Is that a storm?”
A frown marred the strong face; Lord Paidrach’s green eyes were filled with curiosity, and something else. Fear? Dorcha pulled her eyes away from him and looked to where he pointed.

“Goddess!” Dorcha breathed in awe. “If that is a storm then it is moving awfully fast!”
Across the grassy flatlands, just above the western horizon the sky swirled with clouds and light. Brilliant flashes of blue and violet streaked through clouds that tumbled over each other like waves coming in on an empty beach. At the speed they were travelling the storm would be upon them within a handful of minutes. Already the wind was starting to pick up, and the giant oak trees below were starting to tap a rhythm upon the stone walls of the keep.

“Let’s go below … ” Dorcha said softly as she started to turn away from the window. She might be warrior trained, but truth be known, she was rather terrified of storms, and this one looked like it would be nothing less than wild.
The hair on the nape of Dorcha’s neck went up at the whispered word. It had not been Paidrach that spoke.
Slowly she turned back to her husband, her eyes widened with shock and dismay as she discovered him still standing, but with eyes closed in slumber.

“Paidrach?” Dorcha queried and reached out to shake him.
Her lord did not answer. Her husband simply swayed gently, his eyes remaining closed, his breathing slow and steady.
And the storm was now directly above the keep. The sky roiled and swirled in chaotic light and sound.

Do not be afraid … we do not mean harm … No harm!
“Who is there? Who speaks?” No matter how hard Dorcha tried she could not keep the edge of fear from creeping into her voice.

All at once the sky flared even brighter. The colors began to take on form. They began to coalesce before her wide and frightened eyes. Still spinning and tumbling the light started to look more like … more like those strange, clear sea creature that were frequently washed up on the sandy shores of her island home?

The lights looked like large transparent jellyfish, a cluster of them that danced among the clouds.
“Who are you? What have you done to my husband? What do you want of me?” The questions rushed out one after the other.

We are … And we come to test you
Test? The question echoed in Dorcha’s mind as everything around her faded to black.

Dorcha’s breath caught in her throat as she laid her hand flat against the warm shiny metal. The pulsing reminded her of a heartbeat. 

At once the seeker was taken by a heated wetness akin to desire. It flared within her loins, and filled her soul with a longing to merge and meld with this beat. Dorcha wanted to feel it pulsing within her. It called to her sensual nature, making her throw her head back and moan lowly as her hand flexed atop the altar.

Her hand pushed against the heartbeat, her fingers flexed then curled, flexed then curled as she was swept along by the feelings that the heartbeat evoked.
Bring me to you … Pull me close
Instinctively, Dorcha pushed harder against the metal. With a longing fuelled by passion and determination she sent her own spirit coursing down into the metal. She let her desire for answers tear through the final barrier that had prevented her from melding with the insistent, sensual beat.

Once through that barrier her hand flexed and curled against the power that resided within the altar. Images, sensations, and emotions; people that she knew and loved, her children, her familiars, her lover; feelings of love when she gave birth to her children, of passion’s bond that she had with Paidrach, feelings of sorrow at the death of her familiar, feelings of pain over her father’s continual rejection, feelings of uncontrollable rage over injustices and slights both real and imagined.

Everything that was Dorcha was exposed and held up for scrutiny. The images forced her to recognise that she knew not a lot, forced her to see that she had flaws, which needed to be accepted and used in her favor. Instead of her allowing them to work against her. There were wounds that needed to be reopened so that they could heal, and grudges that needed to be forgiven so that she could grow.

Dorcha began to weep with pain, recognition, and acceptance. But despite the pain she would not, could not stop herself from pulling the heartbeat closer. She craved to feel it closer, needed to see the source of such power.
And all at once it was there before her, in her, with her, around her …

Dorcha straightened; her hand now held another hand … a woman’s hand.

“Who are you?” Dorcha asked as her eyes swept over the striking, and completely naked woman that stood before her.
The woman was slim and tall, yet no taller than Dorcha. Her hair was a deep red brown, her skin also cast with the same hue. However, it was her eyes that captured and held Dorcha’s attention. They were simply stunning. Eyes of the brightest emerald stared back at her. Eyes edged with sapphire, and flecked with gold, eyes that were framed by black lashes. They were simply the most beautiful eyes that Dorcha had ever seen.

“Who are you?” Dorcha asked again, suddenly aware of the other woman’s silence.
But the woman simply smiled and leant forward to place a gentle kiss on Dorcha’s brow and lips.
You have passed the test, the jubilant mindvoice sounded … and everything faded to black
Dorcha woke to find herself in a room lit by thousands of candles. The room danced with their soothing, golden glow. It was a glow that was echoed by the peace that the Seeker felt within. For the first time in years the woman felt completely whole, and accepted herself for what she was. Imperfect, yet willing to learn and grow in effort to bring herself one step closer with each lesson.

The only sadness was that Paidrach was not at her side. Yet she understood the why of this also. He was not prepared yet to accept some things fully. Paidrach was ten steps behind her on this path that was her faith. He asked questions, and he was ever willing to learn more to understand further, but when it came to believing in a higher power he lacked confidence.

He was simply not ready. But still Dorcha smiled, for she knew it would not be long before he was at her side in this realm just as he was in theirs.
Are you ready, dear one?
Dorcha’s smile grew larger. “I am!”
Then come to me … let us talk
The Seeker rose to her feet and walked out through the only exit she could see. The doorway led into a much larger room. With walls and floors made of carved sandstone, and like the other lit by thousands of candles, this room had one glaring difference. One of the four walls was made of clear, flawless crystal. Floor to ceiling, the crystal ran from one end of the room to the other.

And outside the room a storm raged.
Lightening flashed in and out of several tornados that twisted across the sky. Yet inside the safety of the room the storm could not be heard or felt. This room, like the other, was a place of peace, and could not be touched by the troubles and strife that raged in Dorcha’s world.

“Welcome, sweet Dorcha!” The mindvoice spoke. Yet the words were not in her head this time. The words came from behind her.

Dorcha turned and found herself standing before the most beautiful man that she had ever seen. He had to be the twin of the woman, except he was clothed in robes of blue, violet, and jade. Goddess, he was gorgeous. Those eyes, so like the woman’s, made her feel naked.

Suddenly Dorcha blushed and looked down just to make sure that she was clothed. To her chagrin and relief, she discovered that she was wearing robes identical to his
At her thought, the man smiled and pulled her close. With gentle lips he placed a kiss on her brow and lips just as the woman had when her test had ended.

“Who are you?” Dorcha asked when the man pulled away. His kisses left her feeling loved. There was nothing sexual in her feelings for this man. He simply made her feel safe, cherished, and respected.

“I have no name, dear one … I will be blessed with whatever name you bestow. I am … no, we are … your teachers, your guardians, your guides, your friends. We are part of you, yet separate, we are children of the Mother sent here to watch over you, and walk at your side.”
“But why?” Dorcha asked, a little mystified as to why she was worthy of such an honor.

“Tis no honor bestowed, dear one!” the beautiful man said sweetly. “You have a gift of empathy that allows us to speak with you, allows our energies to merge. You are awakening, Dorcha. Your years of training in both warcraft and seeking give you the discipline required to ascend. The test was to see if you could use your gift to find us. You succeeded, so now instead of watching you through the veil that separates the living and the dead, we can walk at your side … and make sure that no harm comes to you as you further your knowledge of your gift …”

With his words, others appeared until they numbered four. The woman was there, along with another man, the beautiful man, and herself. Dorcha could see the harmony in their number.
“So what do I do now?” Dorcha asked, suddenly a little uncertain.

You learn!, the three spoke as one again in her mind. You must use your gift to help your people heal. You have that ability, that gift. Your empathy allows you to see truth and lie, it will help you to find wounds that fester, old resentments, and hate … and it will help you to find a way to make the wounded see, and heal.

At once, Dorcha knew that their time together was at an end. The storm outside had abated, and a new dawn was painting the eastern horizon.

“When will I see you again?” The seeker asked softly.
We will be with you always, dear one … There will be times when we shall gather here in this temple that our love has created, and times when you will simply feel our kiss on your brow … Never doubt that we are with you …
Slowly the three faded …
… we are with you always …
For a third time all faded to darkness.

Dorcha woke with a start, momentarily confused as to her whereabouts until she felt a hard male arm curl around her abdomen. Paidrach mumbled softly in his sleep as he pulled her body back against his own.

Dorcha smiled sleepily. The dawn’s glow was starting to chase the night’s darkness from the room. Yet wrapped in the memory of her dream, and the warmth of her lover’s arm, the seeker remained. A new cycle had begun, and the first lesson was …
… stillness.

Highly Sensitive Person