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Part One


The land is vast and ancient, and has many faces. Once it was Gaul, center of the Celtic lands that stretched from Anatolia to Hibernia, linked by a common ancestry, a single speech, and by the machinations of its scholarly caste, the druidae.
Already, in the days of Our Lord, it had fragmented. Gauls spoke Latin, Gaels Celtic, and Galatians Greek. They all worshipped gods with different names. Only when they accepted Christianity was there a new commonality within the Celtic realm.
Now, eight centuries later, northern Gaul is called Francia, and is ruled by a coarse Germanic king. East is Burgundia, west the Occitain lands, and here is Provence, my own sunny country. All exist beneath the Frankish mantle.
But names and kingdoms are deceptive; beneath the differences beats an ancient heart, and the rhythmically surging blood of the land is not Germanic alone, but Roman, Greek, Phoenician, and Celtic. Here and there are currents of an earlier strain, too, a small dark-haired people sprung from the earth itself, from dirt, rock, and the waters of the sacred pools.
This is a tale of a woman of that old blood, a devotee of Ma, the most ancient goddess of mountain springs and forest pools, from whose name come words for breast, for female horse, and for mother. It is the tale of the last priestess of the most ancient faith, whom the unenlightened call a sorceress.

Otho, Bishop of Nemausus
The Sorceress's Tale 


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