Please keep in mind that I am not a native Irish Gaelic speaker, nor do I live in Ireland. I have researched the Irish Gaelic language as well as the Dublin accent, but I am not fluent by any means. Moreover, this story is not meant to be 100% historically accurate but I do wish to respectfully and tastefully portray this culture and era. I do not mean in any way to disrespect the native culture of Ireland. Therefore, if you notice any major linguistic, cultural, or historical errors, please comment or send me a private message and I will fix them. Thank you.
Athena Everleigh is a curious lass living in a village on the outskirts of Dublin, Ireland in 1905. Nearing her sixteenth birthday, she faces a choice: to either live the life her mother prepared for her, full of magic, forests, ancient tales, and shapeshifting—or to become the rising Dublin socialite her father wants her to be. It is not until she begins working in a castle for a mysterious man—Sir Claudius—that the answer becomes clear. But, he has a past all his own. And it is up to Athena to unravel it.
Part I - The Everleighs
Athena Everleigh never once accorded with the social graces of her family in Dublin, nor did she want to. Although her prominent father, Mr. Everleigh, encouraged her as a child to move in with her aunts and uncles and cousins, she delightfully argued to remain with her mother —in a small rural town on the coast of Ireland.
The town itself was not so far removed from Dublin, but the residing commoners were. Mr. Everleigh had agreed to live there when arrested by the natural charms of his wife, Mrs. Everleigh —who declared never to move from her hometown. Although not as radiant as some other Englishwomen he had courted while in London, there was some mysterious and earth-like grace about Mrs. Everleigh that reeled him closer to her.
Mr. Everleigh begged his London family to move to the small coastal town, as it apparently provided "fresh air" and "delightful countryside to gaze upon". However, upon arrival, his sister, brother-in-law, nieces, and nephews, all decided to remain in the bustling city, what with its blossoming social sphere. Mr. Everleigh concurred, as he longed for Dublin, too.
It was the talk of the small town when prized Isolde Ó Broin became Isolde Byrne, then Mrs. Charles Everleigh. It was a pity for such a distinctly Irish lass to bear the name of an Englishwoman. A year later, more whispers arose when Mr. and Mrs. Everleigh revealed the name of their firstborn: Athena. As fond as Mr. Everleigh was of Greek and Roman mythology, his family in Dublin expected —though not altogether liked —the name Athena. But no one in the coastal town knew of his adoration of the Greek Goddess of wisdom and finesse during war; and Mrs. Everleigh seemed to like whatever Mr. Everleigh liked.
And it was partially due to this name —this odd, foreign-sounding name —that Athena did not belong in that coastal town of her mother's family either. She was curious and observant because her mother took her for long walks outside—during which, she taught Athena about various types of flowers and their healing powers, as well as what each color of the sky meant. She was also keen and intelligent because her father taught her to read—unlike most children of the town.
The Everleighs continued to have more and more children —an even dispersal of boys and girls. Mr. Everleigh had wanted to give them more Greek and Roman names, but after observing how Athena had been bullied so by the other children of the town, decided against it. Instead, he gave them local names.
There was nothing for Mr. Everleigh to do in town besides finding a trade. Of course, there were social gatherings, but not ones he wished to partake in, as they were entirely separate from the ones in London. And as the years dragged on, his wife grew colder and colder towards him —not that her beauty or charm had diminished but rather her fondness for him had, if there ever had been any fondness at all. Mr. Everleigh detested life and living alongside his wife.
The only thing that gave him any rest of mind was knowing that his daughter, Miss Athena Everleigh, was growing to be a fine young lass. Never the most beautiful nor most popular girl of the town, but the brightest and certainly the most interesting. Boys danced with her not because they fancied her or wanted her for a wife, but because she would talk about the most intriguing and delightfully confusing things. Although she had been teased relentlessly as a young child, at one point in the prime of her girlhood, all townspeople ceased muttering about her oddness. They instead spoke of how one day a lad would fall madly in love with her and her not in love at all. Then debates would ensue as to whether she would turn him away or toy with him for years on end —almost as her mother had so many years ago with Mr Everliegh.
But there was one key detail about Athena and her mother which no one in the small coastal town —not even Mr. Everleigh —knew about. There were skeptics, of course, but that was only because the Irish were once greatly superstitious people. And at the turn of the 20th century, the number of believers, skeptics, and traditional people began to be outnumbered by the people who had been given a new name.