Lugh slowed down as he approached the others who were sitting by the fire eating berries and listening to Angus play the lyre. But his heart was still racing and his smile seemed wider than his face.
“Welcome, Oh Shining One! Where have you been?” grinned Dermot.
“I can’t wait to tell you. You won’t believe this.“
“Could it be bigger news than what Maponos and Bran have brought home to us today—there are trails that lead to human dwellings,” Eocho blurted out.
“And we are going to explore them tomorrow!” interrupted Maponos.
Bran had been sleeping quietly by the fire. He looked up, sighed, and went back to sleep.
Nehalennia was dressing Nematona hair into tresses. Flidais was embroidering and intricate pattern with invisible thread on an invisible cloth while Fionn lay next to her looking up at the stars.
BéChuille was in the middle of a heated chess game with Ogme, which she must have been winning because she was leaning back on her seat looking smugly down her nose at Ogme. She was engaged with a tiny bird she had in her hand that she kept changing into other small animals: Now a bird, now a mouse, now a brown snake, and now a chipmunk.
Lugh smiled at all of his friends.
“Yes, there is more—much, much more!”
Even Mider and Airmid looked up from their paper work at this declaration.
“Well, are you curious to know what it is?”
“No, we’re practicing standing with our mouths open,” Ogme teased sarcastically. “Of course! What happened?”
“I met a human woman and she explained…”
“A woman! A human woman? Oh, that explains everything!” They all spoke at once: Where? How did it happen? What did she look like?
Dermot jumped up and came directly before Lugh to get a closer to look into his eyes. “Yes, he’s been attacked by a woman, all right. You can tell. His eyes are all glazed over and his heart is between his knees. I am calling for immediate medical assistance.”
They all laughed.
“Maybe so! She is very pretty,” Lugh could not keep from beaming. “I am going to see her tomorrow to learn more.”
“Oh, this love sickness could go on for days! Give the man a drink!” Lugh was made to sit down and plied with berry wine.
Nantosuetta rushed over, and made fun, playing as if he was lovesick and required medical care, putting his feet up, feeling his head and checking his heart. At last she made her diagnosis:
“Love has stricken him in the form of a woman and he may never return to his original state of mind!”
Angus sang spiritedly:
Love has stricken him
In the heart, Love
The art of
Be she fair or
Be she dark
This man may never recover
From the spark
“OK, all of you! Do you want to hear my story?” They laughed and nodded in agreement. Lugh had just opened his mouth to explain, when through the forest and down the path, came four men—beasts—beings—it is hard to describe what the Fomorian had become. They certainly did not look like Fomorian anymore. Their red faces had been shined pink, their hair was clean and combed, their teeth had been restored—goodness knows what spell that took—and they wore tunics and leggings with sandals just like the Elven men.
There was a silence as they approached. “What happened? Lugh spoke under his breath to Eocho.
“Don’t worry, they have been transformed.” Eocho grinned.
“Transformed? Is this of their free will?” Lugh was incredulous.
“Yes—be quiet and listen,” Eocho smiled. Despite their metamorphoses, even Eocho was hesitant to criticize Fomorian past behavior and appearance on a peaceful evening. Even if the Fomorian looked good, they probably still had the fiery spirit. One mistake might make for some rather violent entertainment.
Lugh stood. “Good evening, Gentlemen.”
“Good evening,” they each nodded in reply.
Grim cleared his throat and spoke very politely, “Clearly, you were in the middle of an animated explanation of some kind. Don’t let us interrupt.” And they all pulled up a stump or a chair that had been made of the beach logs, gathered a handful of berries, ready to listen carefully.
If the woman had not been enough, Lugh was certain that this ending had made the whole day a dream—it was surely impossible that the Fomorian were sitting quietly listening to his story. He stuttered a bit until Eocho punched him in the stomach with a hard elbow and he began to speak freely.
“The humans are a race eight billion strong.”
Everyone began to talk at once; No one knew how many seven billion was, this was an inconceivable number. They chattered away; were they fierce? Where were they?
Lugh tried to explain. “Eight billion would be more than the number of grains of sand you can hold in your hand.”
Each member was in shock at the idea of eight billion of them and so Lugh paused to let it sink in. They repeated the number again, several grasping the sand and pouring it out again onto nature’s floor.
“They all live on this planet here—Earth—and they call themselves the race of Mankind.”
“But where are they—I have not seen a single one!” They all began to chatter again.
Lugh interrupted. “They live in a city. I will go there and see…”
“Clearly, with these numbers we cannot conquer them in the usual manner.” Segomo began to worry how he might ever face this many warriors at once.
“Clearly…” the Fomorian nodded at each other in agreement, pressing the wrinkles out of their tunics.
“I don’t know all of the details, I need to learn more,” Lugh explained.
“Clearly, a very complex problem…” Mider supposed.
Lugh went on over the interruptions, “This human race has naturally sought to survive using the resources of Nature. But as their population has grown, it seems they have not grown much in mind or magic, because they have used their resources without replenishment.”
“They have no magic…no way to replenish…” a clattering of voices.
“The woman I met is trying to do something to improve the situation. I have pledged myself to help her.”
“You have pledged yourself to the enemy!?” Grim and Segomo both spoke at once, shocked.
“It sounds like they are an enemy to themselves,” said Angus.
“Right. For some reason they have chosen not to develop their harmony or balance with natural forces.”
“But that is not the worst of it, Lugh,” said Ogme. “If they destroy the planet they destroy our home as well.”
“Then we shall fly in time travel to a new location!” Maponos blurted out.
“All of our power…” BéChuille started…
“Comes from the Earth…” Nematona finished.
“She is right, Maponos. Earth is our home. You have not learned of your true powers yet so you may not realize it.” Lugh said softly. “We have no choice but to help them.”
“What you are saying is that there is no point to returning to Ireland. If what you say is true, then Ireland and even Tír na nÓg won’t last long in any case.” Dermot surmised.
“Perhaps Tír na nÓg may not be harmed, because it lies in another dimension …” Fionn spoke, trailing off.
Ogme summed it up in a few words. “Eventually, even Tír na nÓg would fade. It seems obvious that as Nature’s power fades, it would die too.”
There was a long silence before Lugh spoke again. “I did not come with this news to make you all black-faced and sorry. I tell you, I am going with the woman tomorrow and we are going to find the details, determine who is the enemy and who is causing the loss of magic power. Then we can resolve it!”
The thought of having an actual enemy to fight clearly cheered up the Fomorian quite readily. Anyone likes a game to play and so the others looked a bit lighter, too.
“Let me tell you more about this tomorrow, my friends. For now, Let’s enjoy the evening and the wine.”
Cry for happiness
Maybe it will make you feel better
Sing out in joyousness
It will make the change
Are we children of the sun
The moon the stars
Who are our friends?
Could they be
Those we have met today?
And so they slept there under the stars, each dreaming what to do in the coming days of adventure.