Sunday, February 21, 2016
Into the Light, and Back Again
Maybe he was dreaming. At least he thought he might be. It was hard to know for sure based on the experiences of the past several weeks. His body felt pounds lighter, and when he looked down, his cabin was just a minuscule dot in the landscape. For sure he was up, and it was down, and all rather pleasant, this floating about with his face pointed towards the sun. There wasn't an ounce of emotion in him that registered fight or flight, and so he relaxed, relishing the moment of complete peaceful freedom, until the first tug broke his reverie.
The movement was sharp and quick, jerking him down towards the ground. Beckett's first instinct was to resist, to pull in the opposite direction back towards the open sky and sun, but there came the conscious realization that he was now physically tethered to something below. A glance at what he knew to be his left foot showed a twisted rope, two ply strong, securely wrapped around his ankle, keeping him from moving upward. An absurd thought came to him that he was not unlike the giant balloons that were part of the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade, set free to float above New York city with the knowledge that someone else was guiding the journey. Before he could register any type of counter response, there was another strong yank that dragged him further downward, and with it a searing pain somewhere in his chest area. He pulled back with all he had, desperate to find the peace and freedom of a few seconds before. But it was no use. With a powerful heave, he was flung back into the bleeding body on the ground, and then he thought no more.
It was the smell that woke him. The heady mix of a lilac and vanilla oil that Maureen used
to tame her curls into submission, and he knew the body curled next to him was his wife. The Ridre Dubh ordered his brain to crack one heavy lid open, verifying what his sense of smell had already deduced. He was in their bed in the cabin, Maureen sound asleep with one arm flung over his chest. He tried to piece the events together, but every thought was painted with the knowledge that he hurt like hell. As far as he could tell, there wasn't a part on him that didn't throb or ache at the thought of being moved. He could hear the deep, even breathing of heavy snoring somewhere to the left of the bed, surely male, and guessed it might be Kevin, asleep on the antique chaise, though he didn't risk a wave of pain by shifting his head to look.
The light in the room was the golden pink of dusk, and he assumed it was probably early evening. Bits of the day began to filter through his head like frames in a movie, and he worked at organizing them in some logical order. Morning. His run. The dead spider. Maureen's terrified face. Owen chanting some type of spell. The fight in the rain. A sword sticking out of his own chest. The man's head rolling in the mud. The strain of trying to make sense of it all made his head pound, and he contemplated whether or not he could actually make it out of the bed to fetch some pain killers.
Before he could shift one foot, the Fairy Queen appeared at his bedside in human size, decked out in plush purple velvet despite the sweltering summer temperatures. She lay a cool hand against his aching head, and the throbbing in his temple halted, though the rest of him cried out in unfair protest.
"Rest easy, Sir Knight, and do not stir. It will take some time before you regain your
strength. There is no need to force the time table."
His tongue was dry and heavy in his mouth making it difficult to form words. "Owen. Dead. Body?"
"Yes. Creator be praised, Owen no longer walks among the living. Do not over tax yourself with worries. We have burnt his mortal remains in the Fay tradition, and his ashes will be returned to his first home to lie with those of his mother."
Beckett shifted a lone hand to run his fingers through Maureen's hair. She sighed, but did not awaken, falling into the rhythmic breathing of deep sleep. "She...okay?"
The fairy smiled, her lips turned up in what could only be called maternal pride. "Aye. More than fine. She slumbers in peaceful exhaustion. As does her brother. It is they who saved your life, Ridre Dubh. To them you owe a debt of gratitude."
Tiny shards of his dream came back to him. The floating and then the pulling. The rope.
He struggled to connect the words. "Dead? Floating?"
"Not dead, Sir Knight. But somewhere in-between. Your Lady and her brother pulled you back, though you fought them most aggressively."
She sat herself on the edge of the bed, folding her hands in her lap. "White magic. Together they are quite gifted, I am proud to say, though my Caoimhin (Kevin) suffers great angst over his participation. I'm afraid he is not reconciled to his birthright"
Though it was difficult to wrap his head around the idea that "magic" had saved his life, it was Kevin's participation in it that shocked him the most. He'd known the man for nearly three years, and if he was certain of anything, it was his brother-in-laws complete faith in the tenets of his vocation. For him to use "other-worldly" practices against the teaching he held so dear, moved him in ways he could not describe.
Because the Knight had not worked at closing off his mind, she could read his thoughts and answered him back telepathically. "Aye, Mortal Prince. They care for you deeply. The Creator has blessed you with their presence in your life. See that you do not waste the gift, as love freely given is stronger than any magic."
Annoyed at her intrusion into his head, with a lecture to boot, he mentally pushed her out, slamming the door on his thoughts, and making his temples throb even more. She giggled at his temper, and continued out loud. "Very well, my Knight, I will let you wallow alone in your self doubt. Know that I speak for all my people when I thank you for your service to us. Owen was evil, and you have spared us much misfortune. For that we are very grateful."
It was getting more and more difficult to keep his eyes open, and each word sapped physical strength to form, but he refused to let her back into his mind. "Others? How?"
"Your companions are well, though haunted by today's events. Thus is the way of ordinary mortals, though I am impressed by their unwavering loyalty. That is uncommon among your kind. Worry not, my Prince. I have seen to their rest. They will slumber peacefully, and will awaken with a renewed sense of well being. It is not my wish for them to suffer needlessly."
Next to him, Maureen stirred again, and pulled herself closer. Beckett could feel himself beginning to doze in between conversation, and his last conscious thought was about the future.
She laughed softly. "That, my dear Knight, is a question better left for a stronger you. Rest is what you most need. All shall be safe as you slumber. This I promise you." She put a hand over his eyes, and though he wanted to ask her more, he found himself sinking into the empty darkness of oblivious sleep.
The night was warm and drowsy, the song of crickets a peaceful lullaby to the encroaching night. The Fairy queen stretched out across a spider web hammock spun between two branches of the large pine, and watched the full moon play hide and seek between the clouds, more content than she could remember being in a very long time. Owen was gone, and with him the ever present reminder of her bad decisions, as well as his very real threat to future plans.
She snapped her fingers, and the familiar goblet appeared in her hands. This moment in time deserved a toast like no other, and it was a shame to drink alone. Though she found his scolding lectures tiresome, she mentally called for the Lord Warrior, wanting to share her victory with someone who would understand, and in a blink of an eye, he was standing under the pine.
"You called, my Lady Queen?"
"Aye, Lord Cu Chulainn. I feel the need to celebrate this most auspicious day. What say you to a walk in the woods?"
"If it pleases you, my Queen, so let us walk, though I hesitate to claim a celebration just yet."
She appeared next to him in human size, standing only an inch or two shorter than he. "Do not rain on my happiness, Lord Warrior. Today has surely been a victory, and I have little desire to hear your weary tales of woe. Can we not just bask in our accomplished before you bear down on me with your litany of concerns?"
"As you wish, my Queen. Though I can not help wonder how you will convince your people to accept all this."
"My people will accept what I tell them because I am their Queen. They require no other explanation."
He took her arm in his, and they began to walk into the woods surrounding the cabin. "That might have been true in the past, Lady Maeve. But the younger Fay are not like their elders. They do not easily accept fact without proof, and in that way, they are not much different from their mortal counterparts. They will want assurance that the Knight and his Lady are who you say they are."
She flushed with anger. "The prophesies should be proof enough."
"But we both know that they are not. The young put no stock in the old ways.
To them, the scrolls are ancient legends of days gone past, not a road map to the future. They will not accept your word alone that the Mortal Prince and your own Lady offspring hold the key to Fay power. They will need proof."
"Then I will provide such proof as is necessary. Do not question my conviction, Lord Warrior. I will see the houses of Morgan and Merlin united again under my rule. Whatever it takes."
"I'm afraid, Dear One, that the Ridre Dubh will not come easily to your way of thinking. In that he is like his famous ancestor, stubborn and full of pride, with a heart not easily softened. Me thinks you will have a good fight on your hands."
"Leave the Mortal Prince to me, Cu Chulainn. I am Morgan bred and born. Surely I know the way to a Merlin's soul, as did those who came before me." She stopped and kissed him, the moon casting a shadow directly upon them, her eyes glowing an unusual shade of jade green. "Now, my love, let us attend to more pleasant things, for the night is entirely too beautiful to dwell upon the negative." And with that, she took him by the hand and led him into the darkened woods.
Copyright Victoria T. Rocus 2016
All Rights Reserved