“Come on, “Maria took Lugh’s hand, “I have to go. I have to deliver those papers.” She was pulling him out of his thoughts, “Have a look around. There’s a trolley.” She pointed up the street. “There is a park up the street. I’ll meet you there in about an hour.” She rushed off. She was a bit concerned he’d become lost, but he wouldn’t be hard to find in this crowd. He stood out.
Lugh stood on the sidewalk. How would he work among these people? They were rushing along so fast. He stopped a woman briefly. “Excuse me, could you tell me where the trolley is?”
She looked at him with a hint of contempt as if he must be the stupidest person on Earth. Indeed he felt he was, especially when she said, “Turn around. It’s behind you.”
Lugh turned just as the trolley stopped in front of him. The driver was yelling, “What is going on back there? You can’t do that!” She paused and took a deep breath, “I will say it nicely. You get off this trolley, all of you, and don’t come back!”
There was a flurry of arms, legs, bright colored fabrics blowing in the wind, then several men and women dressed in black and gray business suits exited, glaring back in disgust as if someone had just spit on them.
“Sorry, sorry. Didn’t mean to bother you. We were just leaving!”
“Just go! No free rides!” And they were ejected, one after the next: Scota and Dermot, Flidais and Fionn, Ogme and BéChuille, Nantosuetta and Angus, Nematona and Eocho, Maponos, Nehalennia and finally Segomo who popped out with a burst since he could barely fit through the door in the first place.
They were all walking backwards and waving in apology, “Sorry, so sorry about that.” The trolley driver took another deep breath and tried to relax about the situation. Bran strode out onto the sidewalk as if he hadn’t a care in the world.
“How did he get in here? There are no dogs on the trolley!” The trolley driver tried to maintain her composure. After all, she was a company representative. But things are getting crazy when dogs start appearing out of nowhere. She looked around, dumbfounded. “I have absolutely no idea how they got in here.”
The passengers sat stunned in disbelief. One girl with long black hair, thick silver chains around her neck and a delicate ring through her left nostril, turned on her knees in her seat to watch them go. “How did they do that?” she whispered to herself.
“Oh, Lugh, Hi! We kind of missed our aim.” BéChuille readjusted her outfit. She was so incredibly beautiful in comparison to the darkly dressed people walking along the street that Lugh could only smile at her.
“Hey, yeah, sorry,” Ogme said, “I could not hold them back. I figured it would be better if we came along. You know, in case anything happens.”
“Oh say the truth, Ogme! You wanted to come just like the rest of us.” Fionn blurted. “Let’s check this place out!”
Lugh gave up the idea of trying to keep them away and smiled at them all. “Hey, where are Mider and Airmid? What about the Fomorian?”
“Oh, Mider and Airmid are finishing their herb listing project. “ Eocho answered.
“The Fomorian,” Angus interrupted, “cannot travel like we do. They wanted to come but they are too heavy.”
BéChuille rolled her eyes to the sky and shrugged in exasperation. “The truth is we have absolutely no control over them, Lugh. I can’t say what they’re going to do. But they do seem to be in a much better mood these days.”
Well, at least that was a hopeful thought. Lugh could not imagine what would happen if the Fomorian were let loose on this city. Maybe they were better looking and had developed some manners, but you could never tell.
“There’s so much to see, let’s look around!” Maponos, as usual, was so excited; he looked like he might leave his skin at any moment.
“Head that way,” Lugh pointed in the direction of the park Maria had mentioned. “There’s a park up that way.” None of them knew what a “park” was but they set along in that way stopping every few moments to look in the windows, point up to the top of tall buildings in amazement and wonder about this civilization.
Ogme walked in step with Lugh. “What have you learned so far?”
“Not too much. This civilization is dying. They have lost all, if they ever had any, respect for the Earth. Their natural resources are nearly gone.”
“Who is causing the trouble?”
“I don’t know. I do not know if it is a single person or a group. Maria seems to think it is just their innate stupidity.”
“Where is Maria?” BéChuille put her face between them.
“She is delivering some papers nearby. She is going to meet me up at a park not too far from here.”
“Oh, that’s good. We’ll leave you two alone.” BéChuille smiled.
“BéChuille, things are a bit different here.”
“No, Lugh, the people look the same as we do.” She pointed to a group of young men and women standing on the street corner. Their hair standing up or flowing in all directions was colored brightly in red, pink, green and yellow. The girls were dressed in patterned tunics over fluorescent leggings or long dresses that dragged in the street over black, laced boots. “I can see that some of them look more confused than others,” she nodded to indicate the passersby in the dark suits. “Maybe we’re different in many ways. But in many ways we are the same.”
“Doubtless, there must be something we have in common,” Ogme agreed.
They walked up to the commons area where groups of people were standing and some were talking with each other. Several were talking to metal objects they were holding to their ears. Several carried large paper packages.
Fionn approached one of the men holding the metal object, as if he might greet him. But as he approached, he suddenly stopped short, threw his hands to his head and began crying out, “What is that?” What is it?” He stumbled backward into Segomo’s chest.
Segomo picked him up lightly and placed him on a stone chair, “Fionn’s been hit.” Segomo looked up as if he were going to attack the man in the grey outfit talking to the metal object. He strode toward him and Lugh ran between them. He knew Segomo had the patience of a flea and the strength to crush the man just like one.
“Hold on a minute, Segomo.”
“He was attacked—didn’t you see it?”
“Yes I know, but you do not know if it was a weapon. He does not hold it like a weapon. He is not confronting you in battle. Hang on!” But, by this time, Segomo was on fire and would not back down. He pushed Lugh out of the way and headed toward the man.
BéChuille lifted her finger and changed Segomo into a blonde thick, furry dog, which startled him so much he stopped in his tracks for a moment. “Forgive me later, Segomo,” she said.
Segomo gathered his wits, as best he could as a dog, and proceeded toward the man, barking loudly. The man put a finger in his ear, turned the other way and kept on talking to the metal object. Segomo drew nearer and started to run. Bran cut him off and the two began to argue with each other in the middle of the commons, barking loudly. Segomo tried to jump beyond him and Bran blocked him, managing to keep him at bay.
BéChuille was unable to wield a spell at Segomo to change him into something easier to control without also hitting Bran. She stood trying her aim.
A policeman stiffly approached Lugh and Ogme. “No dogs without leashes. In fact there’s no dogs at all. But if you don’t get your dog on a leash in the next 30 seconds I am going to ticket you.” He proceeded to pull out a wad of papers and started writing things down on it.
Eocho approached the policeman and caught his eye, “Can I help?”
As the policeman looked up, the pen he was using floated into the air. The policeman’s eyes bulged out watching his pen float around and he began to reach for it. It floated farther and farther away and he began to chase it. “You are going to get a ticket young man. A big, fat ticket…” he said, as he grasped for his pen.
A young man skateboarding by the melee caused by the two dogs got caught in BéChuille’s spell, turning at once into a pig, and began to run about the commons snorting.
A woman carrying so many packages she could hardly see, ran into the pig, dropped her packages and began to scream.
People began to gather around to see what all the hullabaloo was all about.
The policeman approached, “You need a leash for those dogs—now!”
“Yes, yes of course. What’s a leash?” Lugh said hurriedly.
The policemen looked at him as if he had fallen from the sky. “A leash goes around their neck—to keep your dogs under control…?”
“Oh yes, right…”
Scota and Flidais strode over to Bran and Segomo and froze them in their tracks. Nantosuetta approached with Nehalennia and Nematona. With BéChuille, the Fae formed a circle holding hands. Then lifted them high into the air all at once throwing a field of grace on the entire commons area. Every living being stopped all motion except the six Faery women.
While everyone stood in perfect stillness, BéChuille approached the man holding the metal object to his ear and plucked it from his hand. She held it out far from her face. “It is producing a violent energy. No wonder all of this trouble!” She threw it high into the air and it disappeared.
Then she walked to the woman who had run into the pig and stood her up, placing the packages in her hands in the same manner as they were before.
She approached the pig and changed him back, leaving him on the ground as if he had tripped on his skateboard and was sitting where he’d fallen.
Then she approached Segomo and Bran. “You two are to do exactly as I say. One move in the wrong direction and you are both mice in my pocket. And as for you Bran, that will make your current charm last even longer, so don’t test me.”
She restored Segomo and turned to Nehalennia. “You are responsible. Keep a hold of him until we know more.”
She formed a “leash” for Bran that looked like rhinestone-studded leather. She altered her dress to appear a bit more like the other women she’d seen with short skirts. Hers was bright orange with a matching sweater and boots. She approached the policeman with the flying pen, stuffed it neatly back in his pocket with his pad, fluffed her long hair and snapped her fingers. Motion was restored.
“You were saying…?” She looked up at the policeman, smiling.
“Oh, yes, I was saying, uh, what was I saying, uh…”
“We’re new here.”
“Oh yes, Uh, I was saying, welcome to Portland, the City of Roses.”
“Why thank you!” She smiled and turned to Angus, “Do me a favor, play something nice…” she whispered.
Angus did so and Flidais began to sing gently.
Lugh sat down on the bench with a sigh.
Ogme sat beside him. “Did she tell you anything else?”
“No, not really. Except that if I work with them I might be able to find some answers. “
The man across the way who had been talking on his cell phone looked at his hand in amazement since it was gone.
“I don’t know if you want to do that, Lugh. We have no idea what kinds of things they have hidden. It seems there are some unknown or unseen sorts of poisons. It might be very dangerous for you.”
The man was still looking for his cell phone checking all around where he’d stood to see if he’d dropped it on the ground.
“I know, “ Lugh replied “but I will have to guard myself against them as best I can. Maria can advise me.”
“I need to meet this woman,” Ogme smiled.
The man across the way became a bit frantic at the disappearance of his cell phone and started stopping passersby asking them if they had seen what happened.
“Yes, you do. But she does not know anything about us. I don’t know what she thinks of me just yet. I guess she thinks I am dimwitted. We should not frighten her away.”
The man across the way became so frantic he started throwing his hands into the air and talking to himself. The policeman approached, very calm and friendly, and asked him what was the trouble. The man began to explain in a heated fashion, moving his arms with frustrated motions and stamping his feet.
“At first I thought the problem was simple, deal with the Fomorian and walk again upon the Earth in the Upper World. This has become much more complicated.”
“Well you are getting your wish, Lugh. We know now that the Fomorian are far from our enemy. And we walk freely upon the Earth in the Upper World.”
“Yes, but this was not what I had in mind.”
“You’re right, though. We cannot go on as we have been, letting the human race ruin the world. Whatever the reason or the cause for it.”
The man with the lost cell phone was dumbfounded: now looking up at the sky, on the soles of his shoes, behind the planter. The policeman was shaking his head and writing a ticket on him.
“I don’t know if we’re going to be able to fix this, Ogme. They might be crazy on top of not knowing what they are doing.” Lugh nodded at the man bereft of his cell phone and laughed.
“Yeah, you might be right.”
Maria stood atop the stairs and waved. Lugh caught her eye and held up his hand to her. She came running down the stairs toward him.
Greeting him, she kissed him on the cheek. “There you are! I wasn’t sure if you’d find the right place!”
“Yes, I am glad you are here.” The others gathered around staring at her. “Oh… I would like you to meet some of my friends.” And he introduced them all. She giggled a bit as the Elven men kissed her hands and looked up into her eyes.
When she met BéChuille, it was an instant friendship. The Fae gathered around her and commented on her beauty, as girls often do to show there is no sense of jealousy. Maria complimented them in return for their lovely outfits, “You are so stylish,” she smiled in earnest. “Have you been to Portland before?”
“No, this is our first time.” They chimed in.
“Why, then I must show you around. Come on let’s go!” And the group walked out of the common area into the city.
Scota and Flidais chatted nonstop with Maria. Lugh’s apprehensions about her meeting his friends began to fade.
BéChuille walked in pace with Lugh and whispered, “She’s beautiful, Lugh. I can see why you love her.”
“BéChuille, I just met her! Love is, uh, well it is not, uh, well, we do not know their customs in romance.”
“Oh, I am sure they are the same as ours. We have known many human women over the years. I promise you, they love the same as we do. And she is in love with you.”
“The problem is that they live their lives in a different way. They must eat, sleep and drink, Lugh, to be healthy. To accomplish this, they must have money.”
“What is it?”
“They exchange with others for food and drink and beautiful items of value. They do not make them from the air as we do. Has she told you what she needs from you?”
“Well, yes, uh, I mean, well, no. Well, I don’t know, BéChuille! I have told her I would help her in her efforts to bring about a better life for her people.”
“You told her that?”
“Yes! What’s wrong?”
“She must think you are crazy!”
“No,” Lugh was a bit abashed. “I think she thinks I am dimwitted. Otherwise, why would I know so little of her people and her world? She does not know where we have come from. And I am a little concerned that we might confuse her if we tell her the truth.”
“Don’t worry, we won’t confuse her. Or if we do, we know how to handle it. We are women, Fae or Human. On most matters it does not matter. We understand each other.
“Oh, right, of course you do.” Lugh really had no idea what she was talking about, but he understood that BéChuille knew what she was doing.
“Tonight we will prepare you for a new life with her. For now, just have fun!” And with that BéChuille took him by the hand, walked up to Maria, and joined her hand with his.
They strode toward the park as a group, arm-in-arm, stopping to gaze at picture windows, and saying hello to somewhat surprised passersby.
Children were playing in the park with a flying disc. “Oh, I love this game,” Flidais exclaimed and materialized a flying disc of her own. She began to play with Fionn and Maponos, with Bran jumping high for a catch.
“Your friends are very nice,” Maria smiled as she sat on the edge of the fountain beside Lugh. “They seem so… skillful and resourceful.”
“Yes, they are.” Lugh put his hands around her face and drew her in for a kiss.
When at last he opened his eyes, his friends were standing about staring at him and smiling. But there were more than Elven and Fae—the Fomorian giants and witches each stood with a mortal man or woman on his arm. They were all dressed in shiny tight black leather outfits. Lugh’s mouth dropped open in surprise.
“Hey, Lugh. Sorry we missed you earlier.” Grim was grinning widely, possibly for the first time in his life. “We have been enjoying ourselves here in the great city. How about you?”