Lugh rolled over and felt something wet and cold upon his cheek but he was so deeply asleep that his face just sank down further into the earth. His limbs felt heavy—so heavy—as though it were impossible to lift them or move them at all.
Four tiny grey-colored wrens flew above him in a kind of a dance, making circles and figure eights over his head, waiting for him to open his eyes.
The Tuatha dé Danann Warriors of Right slumbered peacefully. The enormously tall redwood trees shielded them from the morning sun, allowing only tiny rays of light to play upon their faces.
Dermot, the Lover, was (as usual) sleeping in a heavenly bliss—oblivious of what had gone on or what was going on around him. His lovely face with the heart shaped lips and the rose-shaped mark on his forehead was cradled in two cup-shaped hands. Perhaps he was dreaming of the future, since this position could tell the future. If he was, then it must be a very bright future indeed, because Dermot was smiling.
Mider lay completely prone with both his legs and arms askew as if he had been dropped as an already motionless body onto the soft brown earth. He could not feel the fern that bent over and tickled him on the lips as he lingered in the darkness of his mind. He was dreaming of presenting his latest idea in great detail to a very appreciative audience. It didn’t look like he’d wake up anytime soon.
Poor Angus had tangled his fingers in the strings of his lyre, breaking most of them. Clearly it was an attempt to hold onto his only precious possession as he was thrown through the winds of time and space. His lips were formed in a smile—he must have been dreaming of playing a beautiful song before a circle of lovely maidens who looked at him adoringly (a common dream for Angus.)
The wind was cool and gentle, certainly not the expected chill on this unusual morning in the forest. Squirrels, chipmunks and deer mice were bopping—climbing the tree trunks, playing and foraging for bits to eat. Several of the deer mice were quite bold and approached the Elven men, touching their shoes and shirts with tiny whiskered noses, hoping to find a little tidbit.
Ogme usually carried a bread stick in his inside pocket, along with torn bits of papers with his ideas and poems that struck him suddenly that he’d jot off and stuff in there. A shiny grey squirrel approached for a closer look but the wrens flew over and the squirrel scuttled away.
Segomo was, of course, snoring—and loudly, as usual. There would be a long period of silence in which the chipmunks would draw near, curious to see if they could climb atop his brawny belly as a lookout. But a loud snort from Segomo’s open mouth as he lay sprawled on the forest floor—followed by a battery of smaller (but no less noisy) snorts—sent them rushing away.
Fionn stirred, his eyes flickered and his right hand twitched. He was dreaming of waking up. And his dramatic dream was fitting of a poet-outlaw: he’d stand up, take hold of his weapon and face whomever or whatever had sent them here, ready for a fight to the death.
Eocho lay on his side. The wound that had brought him to death had been completely repaired. His bright green legging was torn open, revealing a long scar. But he was not bleeding anymore. He was whole and very much alive. It was as if the light that had repaired him was continuing its work across his whole body, bringing him relief and tranquility from the trauma of death.
Maponos…Maponos! Whatever was he doing here? Well, it was only to be expected. He had tagged along with the Warriors of Right for many years. He must have run into their circle just before the time travel. Being too young to join the Warriors, he hoped to learn something and join in when he’d a bit more size to him. A peaceful boy, he slept curled all up in a ball, cradled in the arms of Mother Nature as the wind blew the leaves into a sort of a bed for him. His twitching nose wiggled in harmony with the wind blowing over him. A leaf landed upon his black hair and tickled his ear. He smiled a bit and snuggled more deeply into his position.
Bran was the only one awake so far. He’d already experienced his share of time and space travel and he was used to it. Yet Bran could not speak because, some time ago, he’d been transfigured into the form of a dog—a charm he felt he could not undo. So, he lay there patiently with his head on his paws, waiting for the others to wake up and hoping they would do so before this day was too far along. Bran often thought he was too old for adventures and that he had seen enough already. But, he thought to himself, this one might be different. This one might matter. “Oh, here I am, letting my imagination run away with me,” he criticized himself. At the same moment, he knew, deep inside, that there was something different about this time and place. He was glad, however it came to be, that he’d come along.
The wrens were eager to see the Warriors wake. They flew in their figure eights above Dermot, trying to make sure he’d be the first one to open his eyes and see them. Alas, he simply rolled over and smiled—but failed to open his eyes. A bit of sunlight danced on his face from the movement of the leaves overhead, but it did not disturb him.
The wrens approached Ogme, landing at various places upon him, nudging him gently and fluttering their wings. At last Ogme stirred, scrunching up his eyes against the light and scratching his head. He looked up at the heavenly ceiling of tree branches and blinked again and again. Suddenly he jumped up—unaware of the stiffness in his limbs, which he cursed and then blurted out, “We’ve landed!” He looked around at his sleeping friends and rubbed his eyes again to make sure he was really seeing right. He stumbled over to Lugh, tripping on a fallen branch. “Lugh! Lugh” he shook him. “Wake up now. We’re here!”
Lugh stood up suddenly though he was not fully awake, either. He pulled out his sword and began a sort of half-sleepwalking-dance. “Wake up! Wake up! We’re here!” he cried out. He was clearly not himself yet: He was hopping about on one foot with the other held high in the air. He tripped over Angus, who sat up grumbling.
“What… What!” Angus looked around then hollered with wide eyes open in surprise. His hands were all tangled up in the lyre, so he was unable to decide whether to wrest himself from the lyre or to reach for his sword. So of course he tried to do both at once. This made for a humorous sight of him looking a bit like he was wrestling with himself. He fell to the ground and rolled into Segomo, who opened his eyes with a loud snort!
“Who dares to wake me!” the half-giant thundered. Which of course was so loud that the rest of them stirred, if they were not already moving by that time.
Eocho opened his eyes and touched his leg and then opened his eyes even wider, realizing he was there, he was not in pain and he was alive.
Mider jumped up sleepwalking and began his ritual of checking to ensure the camp was safe from—whatever could it be—since there was no one watching them except some mildly interested squirrels. He began walking around in circles! Very methodical circles, too, of course, each step taken one after the next, very deliberately. Finally he walked right over Dermot—the action that finally got Dermot moving.
Still sleeping himself, Dermot began to dance around with an imaginary partner until, (fortunately or unfortunately) he ran into Mider. They began to dance with each other!
Well, this was just too much for Bran to watch—all of his friends bumbling about as if they had no brains. He began to bark and loudly too, nipping at their ankles and trying to wake them.
Lugh came to. He called out to Ogme who came to and they woke the rest by standing straight in front of their faces and shouting “boo!” which brought them right up to the present.
They each stood silently for a moment and looked around.
Finally, Ogme spoke “Where are we?”
No one answered because no one knew.
Angus sat against a tree and fiddled with his lyre, looking a bit dismayed and frustrated that the strings were all broken. “Well, wherever we are, it’s certainly not Ireland.”
Segomo was looking straight up at the leafy forest ceiling, walking backwards, talking to himself. “These… these are trees? Oh my, they are giants. You cannot see the tops!” He tapped his sword against a tremendous tree trunk. He wondered if they were alive and would suddenly bow down and lift him up in an elf-versus-tree battle. But there was only stillness and the quiet rustle of leaves far above them.
Mider came up, matter-of-factly stepping through a wave of fern and moss-covered branches. “Never seen, never known anything like this in Ireland or in Tír na nÓg! They are trees, that’s for certain. Why, this is probably a holy place!”
“It is probably the home of some giant—maybe the Fomorian,” Segomo spoke up, “or more likely their ancestors. I have heard they are so great in size you cannot see the tops of their heads, which are so high they block out the sun…”
“Doubtful, Segomo.” Mider looked contemplative. “These trees are certainly the stuff of which legends are made, but they are not the home of a giant. We have traveled to another part of earth, lads, an uninhabited part.”
“Earth!” Angus rose at last. “We have time-traveled to another part of Earth! Who would have thought! It seemed certain that we’d end up in the heavens or perhaps in the stars….”
“Perhaps, but it is not so. At least not as far as I can tell.” Mider opened his long cloak revealing a map of the earth drawn in white ink on the inside of his left lapel. “Ireland is… here. And we are…here.” He pointed first to the island of Ireland and then slid his finger across his chest and the landmass of North America, stopping near the top left corner of it.
“Too far from home for anyone to know our business…” Lugh shrugged, feeling relief wash over him again. He was so thankful to be freed from the confines of Tír na nÓg, and grateful to be out of the hands of the Council, with all of his friends alive and safe. He felt the drips of sun that managed to fall through the canopy of leaves, and took a deep breath. Maybe they did not know where they were, exactly, but they were safe.
“And too far away for anyone to know our pleasures….” Dermot chimed in, beaming. Obviously he was thinking about chasing the Fae all over the forest and capturing them, too. Yet, it wouldn’t be too long before Dermot realized he was in a strange place—without a following of beautiful Fae to keep his company. In Dermot’s eyes, beautiful maidens abundantly lived in the forests amongst the trees and they all loved him. So, he imagined, they must live here, too!
Eocho and Fionn came up at that moment. Lugh was so pleased to see Eocho was healed. “Eocho! You are well! And alive!” He smiled and threw his arms around his friend in a hearty embrace.
“That I am, and better than ever before. Say, it looks as though there is a light out that direction….” And so, the Warriors of Right traveled toward what they thought was an opening or clearing where they’d find a sunnier place.
The animals of the forest began to speak to them as if to guide their way. There was a “chick-chick-chick” which was fairly constant and a scurry of smaller animals. They heard a kind of a bark or cry and saw a large fat owl with spotted chest feathers fly over them, as if she had a message to deliver.
Bran lifted his ears and began to bark while facing in a certain direction. He recognized something and was anxious to move them all in the direction he commanded, following the owl.
Lugh voiced what they all knew already, “We must follow Bran.” And they did. The earth was covered with thick green mossy growth and plants of several sorts, large ferns that seemed to come alive and wave as they moved gently beneath the trees, and as they climbed over fallen limbs.
Elven recognize everything by its sound or vibration and they live exactly within nature’s rhythm. So there was no tension and no sense of fear among the forest’s animals. The forest embraced them as though they had lived there forever.
The barking cry came again as the owl flew circles over a single spot and then landed high in a tree. Yet another cry came, this one muffled and sounded‑‑like the cry of a faery!
Ogme pushed aside the huge fern, “There’s someone in there, somewhere!”
Segomo put his hand to his ear to hear the cry again and stormed off in the direction of it, with the others following the path his great body made through the lower canopy of the forest.
“BéChuille!” He called out when he saw her. The others followed, everyone calling out her name. Segomo lifted her up and held her in the air. There was a cacophony of voices as they all said their greetings at once, “BéChuille! Of course it is you!” “Are you hurt at all?” “I am so glad you came, too!”
“Put me down now, Segomo. I’m fine!” She looked a little miffed. But as he lowered her to her feet, she smiled, “I didn’t know where you landed or if you had!” BéChuille was not one for showing much affection but her eyes were sparkling; perhaps even a few tears spilled just from happiness and relief to have found her friends at last.
She brushed her long red hair from her eyes and felt for her belt, “Yes!” she thought. Her charms and weapons still hung from the usual places draping over her hips. Her leggings were untorn.
Maponos could see she was all right and bubbled over with excitement, “We’re looking for a clearing of sorts, come with us!” he shouted. He started off followed by Segomo and Fionn.
“No, wait! If I am here, Scota and Flidais must also be here!”
“You are right, BéChuille,” Mider surmised. “We were all banished for fighting the Fomorian.”
Lugh wished he could take BéChuille’s arm but dared not. BéChuille was just the kind to transform herself if he got too close. She’d always been this way, since they were children. He remembered trying to kiss her once when they were playing. Her response was to whirl into a ball of twirling mud. He knew she hadn’t lost her charms, so he came no closer.
“I’ll find them!” Fionn called out and set off in his own direction.
“No, I will!” cried Dermot.
Eocho and Segomo rolled their eyes. Of course Fionn and Dermot could perceive the presence of a faery from afar.
“We’ll go together.” Eocho said firmly.
Segomo plucked up Dermot and Fionn by their collars and set them back down in a new direction, leaving each a bit snuffed but none the worse. They formed a kind of fan with the nine of them spreading out so they could comb the area and find the Fae.
The tiny wrens appeared again over Lugh’s head doing their dance and getting in his way. “Shoo then, you, go—find your own home!” He waved in the air hoping to deter them. So the wrens hovered over above Bran who was steadfastly moving in a clear direction. Lugh followed Bran to a tiny clearing in the forest. And there they were, laughing and chatting away lively as ever. They looked like a speck against the background of a gigantic redwood tree.
“I found them!” Lugh called back to the others as he approached the lovely Fae.
As the others entered the tiny clearing underneath the tree, Scota and Flidais spoke in unison, “Where have you been? We’ve been waiting for ages!”
“Where were we?! We’ve been searching for you!” Ogme laughed.
Typical for faery, they seemed to have no care in the world. They were astoundingly beautiful, these two; Scota with her long yellow hair and bright green eyes, and Flidais with her white skin, smooth brown hair and large brown eyes. They were braiding their hair into little tresses and tucking flowers in between the folds. Their tunics were made of some sort of soft white material draped over a thick rope belt, making them look especially lovely.
Angus always treated them like he was their older brother, Ogme was disinterested in admiring them, Mider was far too busy and Segomo was a bit afraid to come near them for fear of crushing them. But Dermot, Fionn and, yes, even Eocho, were constantly mesmerized by their good looks, so much so, they often lost the ability to concentrate in the presence of them. They stopped and stared dreamily.
“There you are! “ BéChuille ran up, looking as if she might swallow her sisters in friendly kisses. At last they shared their greetings and she turned to Lugh, “Where to now?”
Lugh was about to answer when Maponos came running into the tiny clearing. “Look! Lugh, what I have found!” He held a piece of wood in his hand. The stick was very light grey and very smooth.
Mider came over to examine it, turning it over. “It is from the ocean. There is an ocean nearby!” The thought of the ocean filled them all with great joy. None of them had seen the ocean since they passed to Tír na nÓg, and just the mention of it made them want to fly.
“It must be this way!” Maponos jumped and sped off with Bran right beside him.
Though they did not mention their happiness at the thought of such freedom as the wide ocean, the Elven men lifted themselves up so they ran through the forest barely touching the ground at all. Scota and Flidais turned to white doves and BéChuille into a speckled grey dove and off they went together in the direction of the sea.