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In Search of Lady Clare
by David Dinning

Category: Romance/Historical Fiction
Description: In search for Lady Clare is a love story that deals with soul mates, fate, and destiny. It takes place in two different time periods; 1688-1707 and the present. The historical story and contemporary one fuel each other. With an underlining story about Derry Ireland its history and how that history still haunts Ireland today. It begins with John's ghost looking at his dead body. He is taken to the Isle of Woman by CAER IBORMEITH, goddess of dreams and sleep. There with the aid of BRIGHID the exalted one, he is given a second chance to be with his beloved Clare. He is reborn in Chicago with no memory of Clare. Just after his forty-fifth birthday he attends a costume party by his friend Kevin who unveils a 17thcentury painting he bought in England of a woman being carried away. This painting is of Clare and he begins to have dreams of her. Bits and pieces of his past life start coming back to him. Those dreams begin to completely control his life. He has trouble concentrating and starts to space out with increasing frequency. His friend and doctor Kevin talks him into seeing a past life therapist. At the therapist's office, he is successfully regressed to his past life in Ireland when he first saw Clare, however, he also suffers a mild seizure during the session. In his day to day life Ireland keeps popping up. His mother has moved there. At his mother's coaxing, Kevin talks John into going to Ireland. To find his dream girl or kill the ghost. The Search for Lady Clare is on. In Ireland, Clare, a beautiful woman who seems to drift in and out of relationships starts to have dreams. Dreams she had when she was a child. Castle Burt is always in those dreams. Castle Burt is where John and Clare first meet in their past lives, against the backdrop of the Siege of Derry and troubles that follow are sub plots. Can these two star-crossed lovers and soul mates find their way back to each other again in the present?
eBook Publisher: Club Lighthouse Publishing USA LLC/Club Lighthouse Publishing, 2011 2011
eBookwise Release Date: May 2011


Available eBook Formats: OEBFF Format (IMP) [172 KB]
Words: 35353
Reading time: 101-141 min.

At 35,000 words, In search of Lady Clare, is a lovely story of patience -- waiting for love to find you. The author uses clean lines of grammar, and a poetic style reminiscent to that of 'Mists Of Avalon.' With the characters flitting back and forth in time, for readers who devour imagery, I recommend getting your teeth into this one. Descriptions hit well on all the senses, and encourage the reader to see the scenes and emotions through the main characters eyes. The author captures Irelands's mystical past well in his verse? Pauline Malley In search of Lady Clare by David Dinning is a story about the effect a lost love has on two lives. Set in the time of the siege of Derry and the modern day it explores the effect that an enforced separation has on the two main characters. It concentrates on the Male half, unusually and his search to reunite with his other half over the centuries. An exploration of some of the Celtic myths via the modern day dreams of John lead him to a past life specialist and eventually to Ireland. John's Life in Chicago is falling to pieces, until he decides to track down the source of his dreams and disturbed life. With the aid of an interfering mother [we all need one] He finds a resolution and ?well that would be telling too much. In search of Lady Clare is a touching tale of love over time. It brings in touches of Celtic mythology, the history of the first Jacobite rebellion in an unobtrusive but informative way. It details the charms of Ireland and some of its more modern myths and delights. A delightful tale with just the lightest hints of Platonic legend. A good read?Raoul Marsh

Derry, Ireland, December 31, 1707

JOHN STANDS AT THE window watching the blood red moon 'til it disappears behind the clouds. A gust of wind plays with a shutter, its worn frame bouncing against the outer wall. He looks back into the candlelit room. The whitewashed walls are covered in frost and are as cold as they look. For him that coldness is now gone, as is his pain. A fire burns in the fireplace, and shadows creep along the walls.

Why am I still here? He looks upon on his lifeless body lying on the floor by the bed and wonders. That weathered face with its painful look, the long scraggly hair and white beard. Was this really me? Those eyes, that glare. Did I see death coming? He can't remember. The room looks familiar. The hand carved black walnut armoire and bed, the gargoyles jeering from each of the four posts. Imposing figures all of them, the Green man, the Hound of Ulster, the Griffin and the Unclean Monkey, screaming. They were supposed to protect him from ending up in this realm.

Walking around looking at the tapestries hanging from the walls, hunt scenes all of them, he passes a mirror stops and looks. No reflection. John looks at the effulgent glow around him, and looks back into the mirror, nothing. So this is death.

Moving towards the hearth, the painting hanging above it calls to him. He knows the place. It's a village, Roquebrun, in the south of France; nestled away on a hill overlooking the River Orb, vineyards and orchards staged on the slopes. He remembers his father. He can see him drinking wine. Hear him pleading; John, stay with me. His father fell in love with the place, and a woman. His father is still there. He sent him the painting and a letter asking him to come back to France and to leave Ireland for good. That was twenty years ago. Why didn't I go?

He kneels at the fireplace and runs his hand through the fire like he did when he was young. Except now he doesn't get burned. He does it over and over again plunging into the red hot coals. He tries to catch the flames, hold them, but they pass through his hand. A cat hisses, and he turns his head. The cat's hair is standing on end; its eyes are aglow. Misty. He moves toward her but she scampers away.

The faint sound of harps and flutes reach his ears. Music is food for the soul, who was it that told me that? He steps through the wall and glides to the street below. The city is sleeping as he follows the sound down Bishop Street to the river Foyle. The music stops and a black swan swims toward him opening her wings wide, and in dazzling flash of brilliant light she transforms into Caer Ibormeith, goddess of dreams and sleep. She stands before him and holds out her hand. "John, come with me."

As he grabs her hand her wings unfold wide engulfing them in light. Beneath the waters they go, coming up on the other side. She opens her wings to reveal rolling fields of wild flowers for as far as the eye can see. The aroma of the sweet smelling flowers fills his senses, dancing with the wind, swaying, changing directions to the sound of birds singing. Shades of pink, purple, red, yellow, blue, and white, and on either side of those fields a forest of oak is in bloom. He feels the warmth of the sun again. The moon and sun share the same sky.

"Where are we... can the dead dream?" says John.

"This is Emain Ablach. You can't stay... You're betwixt and between."

"The Isle of Women. Why am I here? What do the Gods want with me?"

"We don't know if you're worthy of her. The Council of Three will decide."

He closes his eyes and tilts his head towards the sun. "Who?

She laughs, "Follow the white raven." Her voice sounds like an echo gliding on the wind.

He turns, but she's gone. Looking around at all the beauty, Is this heaven? It can't be hell.

A white raven flies overhead. He runs to keep up, feeling his heart pumping and the blood rushing through his veins, passing some deer grazing. They stop and look up for a moment as he races by. The raven disappears from sight. He stops, listening to the sound of a river flowing. Down the steep hill he descends to the river's edge. Splashing some water on his face and drinking. The water is cool and refreshing. Looking at his reflection in the water, he's young again. You, I know you.

The raven flies by him and lands on a rock between two small trees. He watches as the raven transforms into a beautiful woman with long flowing black hair and blue eyes. She is crying. The leaves wither and fall, and the tree dies from her pain. He too can feel her pain and wants to go to her.

Caer Ibormeith's voice rings out. "It's Branwen, the goddess of love and beauty. Good you can feel again, but where is your pain? Your heart has been set in stone and your soul will wander till you break that stone."

He walks towards Branwen. She looks at him, their eyes meet he stops. She transforms back into a raven and flies into the air. As she does, life returns once more to the trees. Buds appear, grow into green leaves and flower. He watches her fly down river just skimming the water. He follows until the raven is out of sight where the river makes a turn. The sound of flutes draws his attention. Across the river perch on a hill a woman sits on a throne. She is wearing a royal blue robe, a bronze breastplate, with a spear in her left hand and a crown of wild flowers on her head. John begins to cross the river.

"Don't go, that's Maeve. She will enslave you. Stay on this side of the river."

"Why do you not show yourself?"

"I'm here."

He turns around. It's Caer Ibormeith.

"Come sit beside me."

Flowers adorn her blonde hair. The white tunic stops at her ankles. He tries not to stare. "Who is this woman of whom I may not be worthy?"

"You turned off your heart and set it in stone. It is you who must say her name and break that stone. Maeve, has marked your soul and waits for it, she will try and sway you."

"I did not cross the river nor shall I."

"If they find you worthy then you will go back over and be reborn. You will not know of her, but the passion will burn in you. It will drive you, but you must reclaim your May Queen. You must break the spell and win her back. We will send messages to you to help you on your quest, through the people you will meet in your next life. But beware of Maeve. She will try to confuse you, get you to abandon your quest. So she may claim your soul."

"This woman, does she have black hair and sings like an angel?

"There is a crack in that stone. Go, walk until you see smoke then follow it."

She transforms back into a swan and flies away. He walks along the river's edge until Maeve's flutes are silent, passing all manner of wildlife along the way. They have no fear of him and he has no fear of them.

Seeing white smoke coming from the woods, he follows it into the dense forest. It blocks out the sun and is filled with the largest oak trees he's ever seen. Their strange and unusual shape gives each one a mystical quality. An owl perched on a branch watches as he passes. Rays of sunshine break through the canopy of trees and highlight a stone. John brushes off the stone to reveal carvings of two crescent moons, one on each side of the sun with an arrow pointing ahead. All the birds in the forest start to sing. The carvings begin to glow and the sound of women chanting fills the forest. He can't make out what they are saying. As he makes his way through the maze of trees, the sound of the chanting gets louder and louder until he can make out the words.

Brighid of the Threefold Flame

I call your name, I call your name

Brighid of the Threefold Flame

I call your name, I call your name

Flame of the Forge, Flame of Poetry, Flame of Healing

Burn in my heart

Flame of the Forge, Flame of Poetry, Flame of Healing

Burn in my heart

He knows the chant, it's from Treesong of Carbondale. His father took him to the shrine of Brighid at Faughart when he was young. Why is it I can only remember my father and the places he took me to? With every step the chant gets louder. Stopping at the opening in the trees he gazes through. To the right and left of a huge fire are nineteen maidens dressed in crimson habits. They are armed with swords and shields. Nine maidens on each side with one in front of the fire. Caer Ibormeith voice warns him. "The daughters of the flame... Do not look into their faces or speak to them! You must walk through the flames to the other side."

Brighid of the Threefold Flame

I call your name, I call your name

Brighid of the Threefold Flame

I call your name, I call your name

Flame of the Forge, Flame of Poetry, Flame of Healing

Burn in my heart

Flame of the Forge, Flame of Poetry, Flame of Healing

Burn in my heart

He looks out at the women. I'm dead, what can they do? Can I die from this realm too? As he steps out into the clearing, they all turn in unison and draw their swords. The chant continues, he can feel their eyes burning a hole through him. John walks on being careful not to look into their eyes, passing them two by two. They follow him. He can smell lavender which gives way to the scent of burning sapwood, a vanilla like aroma. The heat is intense. Sweat is pouring from him.

What am I doing? These flames are hot. Must I walk through hell? What sin have I committed? He keeps walking. The last maiden stops him with the point of her sword. She marks his forehead in ash with symbols of two crescent moons and the sun. The flames turn blue, the last maiden gives way and he walk through the flames. There in front of him are the three Brighid's in their thrones. All have flowing red hair and green eyes. Goddesses of fire, poetry, and healing. They stand up and walk towards him, as they do they begin to glow and merge into one. She stands before him.

"You seek the clear and pure one. It is for her sake that you get this chance....you failed her once."

She grabs his face and looks into his eyes and points to a pond of ice with her staff. The ice turns to water as clear as glass.

"View your wake. You will remember your past life."

Through the clear water they watch.

"Today is the third day of your wake John Dinning. You were a Lieutenant under Major Hamill during the siege of our Derry. Although you didn't really care for either the Dutchman or King James, circumstance found you inside the walls once the siege started, so the Dutchman was your master. The siege is still fresh in everyone's mind. In your later years you had become cold and hard. You didn't like most people and they didn't like you. It was the Williamite War that caused your pain and loss, it has been over with for eighteen years. Ireland is recovering from another European war laced in their religions. The winner, William of Orange, the Dutchman King of England dead some six years, so is Mary his Queen. The loser James died in exile in France. James was William's uncle and father in law. Their battle still goes on in the underworld along with their zealots. Derry, Ireland's Jerusalem and home to our sacred oaks, was a crucial part of that war. During the 105 day siege of Derry 8000 people died inside the walls, mostly from starvation and disease. Some of those that fought on both sides have come and paid their respect. The only ones left are the ones that will bury you and say a few words."

"Honest Darby, your oldest and dearest friend. Darby is the well dressed big burly man. His red hair and full beard are pleasing. He catered to both sides during the siege, a tobacco and whiskey merchant who hated both the Dutchman and James. He knew that it didn't matter who won. The Irish would still have an English master. Your loyal valet Edward is on hand, he is the small man who looks like he never did a hard day's work in this life. Alistair Cook the round portly Presbyterian minister and your friend who never met a meal he didn't like, and the grave digger, Hugh Murphy, is the young lankly lad."

John is bewildered as he looks on.

"Your wake and funeral is being held at what once was a small Presbyterian church just outside the city walls. The pews and alter were stripped from the place years ago and taken away to Anglican churches. That is your black oak coffin on top of the table in the center of the room. Watch and listen."

Darby, Edward, and Reverend Cook sit at a table in front of the room where a nearby turf fire burns in a makeshift fireplace. Incense burns, candles have been lit, and the windows are open. The afternoon sun shines through the haze of the smoke filled room. What's left of the food and wine are on a long table in the corner. Darby has the last jug of whiskey. Hugh stands by the fire warming his hands.

Hugh asks Darby. "Should I seal the coffin?"

Darby tells him. "Hold off and grab a tankard, there's still whiskey. Come have a seat with us.

Hugh walks over to the long table takes a tankard and what food he can find, and joins them. Darby pours Hugh some whiskey as Reverend Cook tells the men about William Hamill.

"It looks like the paymaster himself, an officer that served with Walker, will be going to Newgate Debtors Prison. The crown never paid him or the others."

Darby laughs, "You're a brilliant race, you Scotsmen. You have short memories too. What did you think the English were going to do with the likes of you?"

Hugh laughs and stomps his feet, and Edward smiles.

"It's poetic justice. The Episcopalian Bishop of Derry backs James and tells the lot of you that it's a sin to oppose him. Then runs away and you brilliant lads do the dirty work, poetic justice. You should have dragged the great and noble Walker from the Bishops' house and hung him for hiding beer, mum, and butter. "

Darby pours himself some more whiskey. "Here Lads drink up," he fills Hugh and Edward's tankards.

"I'm telling you it's the Pagan life for Darby. I told John that too. Christians my arse; killing yourselves over whose ring to kiss. You're all being used like pawns in a game, and it's the devil that's calling the tune. You see the problem with you people is you don't dance around the fire at midnight. You've lost contact with nature. None of you would make good pagans. The Good People are still about the place. There is still magic in the land. Hugh wouldn't you like to see a talking greyhound or befriend an enchanted eagle."

"That would be grand Darby."

"You see Reverend I have my first convert."

Reverend Cook looks at Darby with concern. "Darby, I'm telling you it's getting bad. They took away Adam Murray's horse. Adam Murray, the hero of the siege."

Darby gives the Reverend a disgusted look.

"This new Test Act, Darby they are closing our churches. They fine us a hundred pounds for administering the Sacrament. Our marriages are not recognized. We can't hold public office. We've been stripped of all power."

Darby takes a drink. "What happened to the Glorious Revolution? Did it turn on you? Calvinist Billy joined the righteous before he died. Are you feeling like a Catholic, Reverend? Three hundred years from now you fools will be celebrating your slavery with parades. You Scotts have a short memory, these are the English and you are surprised. You Presbyterians are the next to go, off to America and the other colonies. Take heart Reverend the devil may call on you again. You'll find another group to oppress. I hear America has a native population. They are pagans. You can save them, and if you can't save them by all means kill them. Although sooner or later the English will be at your heels there too. So off you go. "

"Darby, I'm looking to go myself. Did John ever talk about going to America?"

"No, it was the south of France for John, but he never made it. Although it sure sounded like he'd been, but all he had was the stories painted in his mind by his father. He was planning to go, Lady Clare and John off to France, never to be."

Edward raises his glass, "Here's to John."

They all lift their tankards. "To John."

Darby opens some of his private whiskey. "Just a wee bit more, for John."

"For John." They all chime in.

Edward looks at John lying in the coffin. "He was never the same after Lady Clare."

Edward shakes his head, "He eventually lost his will to live. Some people look at peace when they are dead. Almost like they're in a peaceful sleep. John looks like death, a shell."

Brighid's staff touches the water and it turns back to ice. She looks at John. His head is down drubbing the sides of his temple. "Clare...my Clare." He says over and over.

"John, look behind you."

He turns slowly and there beside a black oak coffin, his coffin, is a painting of Clare being carried off.

"When you see this painting it will trigger your memory and the time will be right for you to find her. If you love her enough you will find her. Now go, lay in your coffin and get up again. All this will be just a dream to you."

John does as he is commanded. He lies down in the coffin and then sits up and looks around the room. It's familiar to him. He sees Darby and the others. John looks back at his body lying in the coffin. He watches as Darby stands up and walks towards the coffin. 'Hugh, nail it shut."

Hugh finishes his drink, puts the lid on and starts to nail it shut. John looks on, watching him bang each nail in with heavy blows. Hugh walks out back and brings in two more men. Together they all carry John's coffin on their shoulders to the grave site and lower him into the ground. John follows and watches them.

The Reverend Cook says a few words from the Book of Common Prayer. "Forasmuch as it hath pleased Almighty God of this great mercy to take unto himself the soul of our dear brother, we therefore commit his body to the ground; earth, to earth, ashes to ashes, dust to dust; in sure and certain in hope of the resurrection to eternal life, though our vile body, that it may be like unto his glorious body, according to the mighty working, whereby he is able to subdue all things to himself."

"That's it" says John, "I've known you twenty years and that's all you can say. Darby say something."

Darby opens his whiskey flask; pours some into John's grave then takes a sip and says "You'll find Lady Clare somewhere out there, death will not stop you. She is your anam cara. Goodbye old friend."

John looks at Darby. I had blocked Lady Clare from my mind and now she comes charging back. He can see Clare singing at her ball. The dance, the two of them gliding across the floor. The garden at Burt Castle, the kiss, her lips, her eyes, that soft smile and her beautiful hair.

The dull thumping sound of dirt hitting the coffin brings John back from Clare.

He watches as Hugh and the other grave diggers fill in his grave. All leave except Darby and Edward. John walks over to Darby puts his hand on his shoulder and tells Darby to tell Edward to sell what he can of his clothes and that there is a pouch full of coins for him in my black riding boots.

Darby takes a seat on a stone bench and motions for Edward join him. "Sit down Edward." He takes a sip from his flask then passes it to Edward. "Sell what you can of John's clothes and there is a pouch for you in John's black riding boots. You served him well."

"Darby will you go to England and speak with Lady Clare?"

"No, I think not. I had a brother, Sean, who's been dead some ten years now. I found out just a year ago in May. For nine of those ten years he was still alive to me. He cheated death, by me not knowing. Lady Clare will know in time. "

John hears a voice calling to him. "John it's time. Come"

A glittering light dances around him. It gets bigger and bigger until it engulfs him. Images bombard him, the scenery changes over and over again. He tries to call out "Clare" no words just feelings, sadness, joy, pain, longing. Then nothing, no sound, no sight, no sense of anything. In that abyss he's trapped trying to find his way out, but he has no body, no arms, no legs, no hands or face, there is no movement, no time or space. Blurred colours come into view. Nebula after nebula moving at him, or him through it, faster and faster. He feels warmth. Sounds, a heartbeat, another heartbeat. He sleeps; time comes into play, hunger, movement. He sees light, and cries. The doctor hands him to the nurse. Birth has freed him, but where?

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