Hallow Rising



 


Preamble




Halhegan village was one of several lying in the shadow of the mighty Halvern Hills. Other settlements had preceded them, layer upon layer for thousands of years. The hills had watched them come and go like the seasons, blooming and declining, turn upon turn, leaving no more than traces in the soil. There would be no decline this time. The human race had found its pace and was ever expanding; filling the earth with a number that not even natural calamity could counter.

Halhegan comprised of a modest manor house, a coaching inn, a small church, its adjoining cemetery, and a growing collection of modest houses. A jumble of peasant cottages huddled on its outskirts.

Halhegan means hallowed or holy and most people, those who gave it thought at all, assumed the name of the village came about because of the Christian church and its consecrated cemetery. They were wrong. Older deities had been worshipped at vanished altars long before the Christian usurper stamped his insistent, jealous presence upon the land, greedily absorbing the holy places and customs of the old ones, taking them for his own.

Yes. Halhegan had been a hallowed place long before Christianity, long before any organised religion, long before human life existed in its present dull, confining form.
 
Few now knew it, but Halhegan and the surrounding area were saturated with ley lines, the energy source of the ancient ones. They were buried deep and secret within the earth, undetectable to most ordinary senses. Only those touched with the increasingly rare gift of old magic could feel this mysterious energy pulsating through the lush green-brown earth and in the very fabric of the buildings that stood upon it. It waxed strong in Halhegan’s manor house, which the Fairfax family had owned for generations, or variations of it as building techniques and fashions changed over time.
 
The energy also waxed strong in a lone house three miles to the west of Halhegan village. The house was built of solemn grey stone that looked dull and cold in daylight, but which glowed soft silver by moonlight. It was the dwelling place of the pastor who attended to Halhegan church and the spiritual needs of its steadily growing flock. Though not its name the house was referred to as the ‘parsonage’ in respect of the man dwelling within its walls, but the Church did not own it or the land it stood on, and nor did it own the pastor. He was his own man and the house belonged to him, every last stone of it. He preferred the solitude of this outlying house to living in the claustrophobic centre of the village where everyone knew your business or sought to know it.

There were rumours about the Fairfax family concerning their loyalty to the prevailing Christian faith. It was whispered they paid lip service to it from prudent necessity, but not heart service. On the quiet they were loyal devotees of more ancient gods and had connections with magic. The name of the manor house, it was claimed, bore testimony to this. It was officially documented as Fairfax Manor, as one might expect, but was generally known as Wilkie’s Manor out of regard for some mysterious far distant benefactor who had been adept at powerful magic.

There were rumours too about the parson, with whisperings about unconventional and clandestine services carried out by him.