Lugh flew every night and it filled his soul with joy. For the first time in a long while, he felt he could really breathe. The cool, fresh air of the ocean was like sweet-tasting wine. He had no cares at all in this new, wonderful place. Though he still felt some regret over being banished, it would only haunt him briefly in his dreams and less and less as each day passed. Most of all he was grateful to be free—free to enjoy the earth, the animals, the flowers and these fantastic and enormous magical trees that grew up into the heavens.
“What I don’t understand is why we have not seen the Fomorian,” Mider queried.
‘What do you mean?”
“Well, if we were banished—wouldn’t they have been banished as well? After all, they were engaging in illegal warfare same as we were. Hey, maybe they are around here somewhere!”
Lugh answered back quickly, almost snapping at him. “Well we haven’t seen a trace of them. They must have ended up in a foreign place. Certainly, they would not be sent to the same location we were. There are plenty of places for the Fomorian to do their damage without creating a ruckus here.”
This seemed to answer Mider’s questions, but Lugh started to sink into his feeling of regret and turned away. He dared not let Mider or any of the others see these feelings. He didn’t want his friends feeling sad or angry that they’d been sent here, or encourage them to miss Ireland. There was no point in looking to the past that could not be changed. It was done. They were here and they needed to make the most of it.
But Lugh thought to himself that Mider was probably right. Besides, something seemed missing without the Fomorian, as troublesome as they were. He wondered what had happened to them.
It didn’t take much to forget about the fate of the Fomorian in the many pleasurable days and evenings that followed. They all enjoyed their friendship, the freshness of the forest life and excitement of exploring the new world.
Angus managed to restring his lyre using some of the invisibility thread he found in his pocket. It served well for strings. It looked like Angus was playing thin air but the music was just fine.
Mider convinced Ogme that chess was in order, so they fashioned a large board out of beach stones and pieces out of driftwood. It kept them occupied into the wee hours, playing in the bright moonlight.
Eocho healed fully. He practiced swordplay by parrying with Segomo, who benefited from it by overcoming his clumsiness. Segomo, being part giant, was not like the rest—he needed food of some sort. Though he got on well with nuts and berries most of the time, every once in while Lugh would find him passed out after a hearty meal of deer mice that he must’ve plucked up by their tails and swallowed whole.
Angus took on the role of teaching Maponos the ropes, heightening his skill in swordsmanship, disappearing at will and other skills. They often went adventuring—Bran at their side—exploring the forest by day and returning in the evenings with packs of nuts, seeds, berries and other samples for tasting.
Mider was cataloging the various herbs and plants of the forest for future use in potions. “You never know when we might need them,” Mider mentioned, mostly to himself, as he put them carefully into a cubby he’d fashioned, with one little place for each.
Dermot was, as usual, incorrigible in his pursuit of Scota and Flidais. It was a humorous sight to behold. Since they could metamorphose and he could not, he was continually fulfilling some unusual favor to get or remain in their good graces and prevent himself from being transformed.
BéChuille helped them trick Dermot into some funny positions. His amorous advances usually ended up with him putting his arms around a beach tree or kissing a chipmunk. Once he even found himself surrounded by some rather angry looking bucks. The Fae sat on fallen logs watching and laughing at him as he tried to convince the bucks it was purely by accident he had interrupted their slumber and would soon be leaving.
Despite the girls’ shenanigans, it seemed inevitable that Scota would fall in love with Dermot. And he was changing within her spell of love. He no longer spoke of his charms with other faery, nor struck an attitude to show off his physique. Instead, he directed his compliments to only Scota and took every possible advantage to get close to her. Scota, being so independent, would not fall for flattery. But you’d see her eyes sparkle and laugh at his antics. Somehow, they were enjoying each other.
Meanwhile, Fionn and Flidais became a couple. It seemed some invisible force held them together. One evening, the group made a bright fire on the sand as Angus played the lyre. Fionn and Flidais lighted on a stone after a romantic flight along the shoreline. They sat by themselves outside the circle of the others, kissing and holding hands.
BéChuille plopped herself down beside Lugh, looking sideways at Flidais then rolling her eyes, “I give up!”
Lugh laughed. “Fionn is incorrigible—totally unmanageable. Since we’ll never be able to control him, why try?” He looked over at the two lovebirds, lost in each other’s eyes. “In some ways I’m not sure we’d even want to.” Then Lugh jumped to BéChuille’s side, bowed on one knee before her and grasped her hand. He said playfully, “You must find it inspiring.” Lugh said and looked hopefully into her eyes.
“Oh, no! Not you too!” BéChuille stood up. Lugh fell over laughing.
Then Angus took her hand and bowed on one knee, “I’m much better looking…” BéChuille turned away and Angus fell away laughing. She stormed off looking over her shoulder to scold them both when she ran smack into the arms of Ogme.
“Ogme those … elves…those… oafs… arruggh!” BéChuille was furious, which, they all knew, could be kind of dangerous. If she didn’t change herself into something, she might just change someone else!
Ogme held her shoulders still, “Hang on, hang on, lady, what’s the trouble?”
“Lugh and Angus are just being… well, a tease. And I am getting tired of being teased. I am Tuatha dé Danann same as the rest of you. I am strong and I can protect myself….” She glared back at the others, looking as if she might do something drastic.
Ogme gently put her arms down and drew BéChuille closer to him. He put his hand on her chin and turned her face to his, looking deeply into her huge green eyes with all of his charms. Somehow BéChuille could not take her eyes away from his. And she distinctly began to feel the sensation of melting, too. Perhaps it wasn’t all that important, anyway, she thought. Dermot may be a flirt but Scota would just have to mind her own self. After all, she could hardly expect someone to keep track of her for the rest of her life.
Ogme could see through her, having known BéChuille for centuries. He had always adored her but never dared, like the others, to come too close to her. Had something changed her? He didn’t know, but he certainly wasn’t going to hesitate now. He took her hand. Surprised to find she did not resist, Ogme’s heart grew so large, its loud pumping might have caused it to burst right out of his breast. They walked away from the firelight hand in hand, her hair brushing against his face, her shoulder against his chest.
Angus nodded toward them, “Well, will you look at that!”
“You never know about women,” Lugh shrugged.
“Well, I thought I did, but then again, there’s nothing like their sweet surprises.” Angus nodded in agreement and kept on playing his lyre.
Lugh was thoughtful, “Yes, there are many women. I am thinking how nice it would be to find a partner, a friend…” he trailed off.
They lay quietly enjoying the warmth of the fire. Before too long, Lugh’s eyes closed and he was asleep.
In his dream, blood flowed in a river which he followed a long way to an open gorge. He looked down and suddenly he began falling through a long tunnel. He caught a branch and leapt onto a ledge and walked into the cave there. There was Brigit with her fire crystal and in the crystal was the woman with the brown hair. He reached out for her and she came closer, her soft hair falling across his face. Lugh smiled and enjoyed the warm glow of this beautiful woman.
The morning sun kissed his face and he woke.
He rubbed his eyes and stood. As he walked along the shore to clear his mind, he realized the only thing pestering him these days were the wren. They seemed to follow him everywhere! Each time he looked up they’d be right there, doing their circle dance above his head or sometimes the figure eights.
Lugh got tired of shooing them away and began to talk with them, pouring out his soul, expressing his thoughts, many of which he felt he could not share with the others. He must have looked funny walking along with four birds circling his head and waving his arms in apt description of his most intimate ideas.
“Why are we here? What have I come here to do? It cannot be that my fate is to be banished from Ireland. That’s not fate it’s punishment. And one I will not accept. One does not live his life according to what others have done to him, but creates life of his own choice.”
Lugh kicked up some sand and looked to the sky, “I never wanted to stay in Tír na nÓg forever anyway. Whatever the reason I am here it seems to be of my own choosing and even if it is not, I’ll make the best of it.”
One of the wrens stood on his outstretched hand. “What do you think I should do, little one? How can I have an adventure? Who in this world needs a hero like me?”
The little bird flew about and sang in response while the other three continued their dance even higher up in the air.
“Manannan said the Fomorian are not our enemy—if not the Fomorian, then who is…? Could it be the human people? It seems impossible, since they are so helpless with no magical skills.
“But I know very little about them. I have heard stories that some of them live in a grey world, that they are descendants of a technological race or machine race that crushes all Nature,” he spoke to the little wrens that flew about him.
“Yet I have been told they look just like we do. Their bodies are as natural as the sun or growing things. I can’t understand it. I do not understand how this could be, little bird, can you explain it to me?” Lugh pet the tiny bird on his finger and smiled at her. Then an idea struck him.
“I know! I know what I shall do!” He spoke to the little wren, “I shall search out this human being and ask of it, what are its intentions and determine then whether it is enemy or friend!”
Lugh was so happy to have come to this conclusion. He looked at the little bird and exclaimed, “You! You are so lovely. I love you, pretty little bird!” And he kissed her on top of her head.
At that moment, in the blink of an eye, the tiny wren became a beautiful young faery woman. She stood brilliantly in the sunlight, her arms outstretched.
Lugh had seen many amazing things, but this was perhaps the most beautiful sight of all. He was unable to move. The other wren flew to her and she brought each tiny bird to her lips and kissed it on the forehead.
As she did, the spell was lifted on each one and the wren turned into the most beautiful girls he’d ever seen. Tall and pretty and smiling, each had long gold or red or brown colored hair that covered their bodies like silken gowns. They were beyond joyous to be free from their charm. For a moment, they just smiled and laughed and lifted themselves slightly off the ground—but they did not fly away.
Instead, they floated over to Lugh who was unable to move his feet or his lips in any sort of response. “Thank you,” they each whispered in his ear. Since they had not spoken words in what had been hundreds of years, their voices were very quiet and very soft. They kissed him and ran off over the sand and rock, into the forest.
Lugh turned to look after them. His eyes were still wide open. After some time he put his hands on his hips and laughed out loud, “What do you know—Women!”