Slowly Anne faded away. Judith and I were left standing outside the Castle grounds. The earlier dark winter storms had disappered and it was a serene image awash in spring sunlight and green grass that surrounded us. I looked at Judith. She appeared calm on the outside but I could feel her terror on the inside. Once again, I had dragged her into my vision of the past. I felt much guilt for that and tried to make amends. She hushed me and whispered, “Shhhh Eleanor, look around us…something is not right! I do not think we have left your visions behind us yet.” She stared out at the quiet, untouched lands around us and whispered something to herself about, “not being in Kansas anymore?”
I followed her view and saw the land as it had been once, so long ago. I closed my eyes and searched within myself for some understanding or meaning to this new puzzle. Something within spoke to me without words. I knew not whether it was my mind, my heart, my sould or some other unknown part of me that came to the surface, told me to tread cautiously and yet kept me calm. I knew that for Judith’s sake, I must not falter or sway. She was fearful, grasping my hand and holding her breath till I feared she might faint.
Trying to remain above my own fear took much of my energy. I grasped her hand tightly and brought her forward a step with me towards the castle. Her eyes were closed tightly, as though by closing her eyes thus, she could will herself back to where she should be. I could feel her entire being shaking well beyond just minor hand trembles. If I did not find a way of soothing her, I thought that I would have to deal with her falling faint to ground along with what ever other troubles I should have to endure. It took an enormous amount effort and concentration of my scattered thoughts to enter her mind, stem the dark fear and wrap her in some comfort of what little calm light I had to spare at the moment. I could only pray that it would work and she would be able to hold on to that light and deliver herself out of the darkness that threatened to take over her mind. I needed her thinking clearly and falling apart if we were to work our way through what ever had just happened to us.
As we stood there on the outskirts of the Castle together, hands clutched tight and eyes still closed, I could feel her fighting her own battle to ease her attack of panic. Her trembling hands quieted, she took a deep breath and reached forward to hug me. She whispered to me, “Eleanor, I have no idea what exactly has happened, and I don’t think you do either…but, what ever, we are in it together and I think it will take both of us to figure it out and get us out of it!”
I felt her growing stronger as we stood holding each other, “I fear Judith that you are quite right in your assumptions. I do not know what has happened… whether it be another vision that I’ve taken us to, another time slip has occurred and thrown us back to the past, or something else entirely which I have no understanding or knowledge of.” I held her close and went on, “All I know for this moment is that I am thankful to have you with me. I should not like to face this on my own again as I have done so often in the past.”
I let go of her and began to scan the countryside for any clues as to the time we were now in. As I did so, I gave Judith reassurance and an added reminder, “We shall face this together, but I need for you to maintain your stable and rational mind. Do not give way to the fear of the unknown else I may find myself following in your path and then who knows where we should end up? Certainly not the Kansas of which you muttered earlier.”
Judith smiled and gave a pained laugh at my attempts to find humor in this situation. She squeezed my hand and her eyes joined mine in searching the horizon. She commented, “I have to tell you that I really have no idea what we’re looking for. I guess it would help if I had seen this place as you have, over centuries of changes.”
I nodded my agreement and understanding, “Yes, I have seen this place in many different times. In each era, the landscape and the landmarks change even if ever so slightly.” I continued my search and added, “I am just trying to determine what time we might be in before we approach the Castle once more. I should like to be somewhat prepared before I enter there, for who we might encounter.”
Judith nodded, “Yes, that definitely makes some sense… better to be aware ahead of time of what viper pit we might be walking into.”
I had to laugh at that, “Yes, that would be a most appropriate description. In all of my previous experiences, I’ve found it most wise to take a few moments to survey my surroundings before taking any further steps. Although, in my experiences, I have always moved forward in time…never backwards other than in my visions or memories.”
Judith thought for a moment then spoke, “Well, then if it is a time slip, we have an advantage this time in having some knowledge of the past events and people. If it’s a vision or such, then it will just play out as it has before and you will see something you witnessed before but could not recall. So, the most serious concern for us is if it’s something completely different… and if that’s the case, we won’t know until we venture into it.”
I smiled softly at Judith, “You see, that is why I am thankful to have you with me. Your rational thoughts generally prevail over your fears and your common sense is much useful in keeping me grounded.”
For some longer moments I viewed our surroundings and the Castle. I had made a conclusion about our time, but was not quite happy about it. I sighed and turned back to Judith, “I fear that we have indeed stepped back to a place that would be considered a pit of vipers.”
Judith gave me a questioning look, “Well, get it over with and tell me just when we are, and how bad it could be.” She gave her own sigh of slight frustration.
“From the looks of the Castle with all of it’s towers intact, the entry gates well fortified the way they are…it is the way it was when I was here as a child, when the York Royalty resided here.” I let out a breath of frustration, “I am quite certain of the general time frame, but they resided here for quite some time on and off… some time more pleasant than others, so I can not, of course, be sure of which of those times we might be walking into.”
I expected Judith to be wary and concerned… her response was slightly different. She took a deep breath and surprised me with her comment, “Whew, Thank Heavens for that…”
I looked at her in some disbelief and dismay, “What ever do you mean? Do you have no idea what turbulence we could be approaching?”
She actually looked much relieved and then shared her reasonings, “I say Thank Heavens because I was remembering what Elizabeth mentioned to us about this Castle a much older and ancient Royal holding going back to Eleanor of Aquaitane and her sons. Let’s face it, it could have been far worse… we could have arrived here at the time of one of her sons, like say John? Personally, I prefer to take my chances with your Yorks than with some earlier rulers like John.” She sighed and shuddered in distaste.
I looked at her in some confusion at first then the understanding of what she had just presented hit me and I had to sudder along with her. “Yes, now that you mention it, there were far worse times to be placed in and I should not like to envision us having to survive in that court either.”
After some discussion of how best to make our entry, we began our walk towards the Castle gate. I was much distressed about having to arrive on foot. It would give us a very positive impression and we would be looked upon with some disapproval and disregard. I told Judith that we should stick by a story of having been thrown from our horses whilst out riding. I also advised her not to speak… let her distress take over, and hopefully the story would be believable.
We neared the gate and soon realized that no explanation should be needed. The gate was not guarded and the grounds appeared very eerily empty… truly not a good sign at any time. Upon entering, we looked around the entry yard and saw no one. Judith’s rational was sound as she commented that at least this way, no one saw us either. She stared at our surroundings in some awe. She tried to contain herself but did whisper to me, “This is amazing Eleanor, to see this not as a reconstruction, but as it really was.” She seemed fascinated by each small detail which I would never give a second glance or thought to such as the wash fountains on the walls.
Suddenly, she grabbed my arm and pointed my sight towards the tower. We held our breath as we saw two small boys playing up on the tower walkway. She whispered to me again, this time her words shaky through her slightly tremored breath, “Look, look at those boys… are they the same ones… the ghost boys?”
I was as shaken as she was. They were at a distance and I could not tell for sure. The only thing that I was sure of now was that if it were them, then I knew well the when that we arrived at. I shook my head, and tried to clear my thoughts before speaking back to her, “I can not be positive, it does look to be them. If it is them, then perhaps this is a vision that the boys are giving us of their last days… much as Anne gave us of hers.”