Manannán mac Lir has waited centuries for Maire, not all of it patiently. She is the last hope for his people as his faerie kingdom beneath the Irish sea begins an awful fade from existence.
The lightkeeper’s daughter doesn’t know what the Irish god of the sea could possibly want with her. All she knows is that she wants to go home… and yet, something in her heart longs for Manannán. Yearns to understand the why of it all, and the strange and magical turn her life has taken.
“Da!?” I cried, but I couldn’t move. It was like I was frozen to the spot.
“Gone, I’m afraid,” the voice was gentle, rich, and deep and held the cadence of a crashing wave upon the shore. I jumped and spun to see a man standing between me and the door, the only way out.
“What have ye done to ‘im?” I demanded, eyes wide, tears sliding down my cheeks.
“Oh, love, I know,” the strange man said and took a step toward me. I took a step back, my heel striking my da’s denim clad leg. I jumped and looked down, watching where I put my feet and when I looked up the man was suddenly there, right in front of me, deep eyes boring into mine.
“Who are ye!?” I cried. “How did you get in here?”
“It doesn’t matter right now, it’s time for us to go.”
“Go?” I demanded. “I’m not going anywhere with you!”
“Maire, please. There’s much I need to tell you, but not here, not now.”
“I don’t want to hear anything you have to say! Get away from me!” I leapt back over my da’s legs and went for the tower door, the only way I could think to go to get away.
“Maire,” his voice rumbled like thunder and I looked back over my shoulder as I dragged open the door.
He was advancing on me, his long hair sweeping behind him, easily down to his knees. His shoulders were so broad, I didn’t think he would be able to get through the doorway without turning sideways first, which was to my advantage. I ducked through and slammed the door, shooting the bolt and taking the first step.
There was a loud, hollow clang from the other side of it as he hit it. The sound tolling like a bell, echoing up the tower spire, causing the spiral steps to nearly vibrate and ring on their own in counterpoint. I swallowed and took the steps quickly, winding higher and higher in a tight spiral, growing dizzy with the pace as the door crashed open below me, swinging back into the wall as he called up angrily, “Maire!”
How does he know my name?
Manannán Mac Lir
“Didn’t go exactly according to plan, eh?” Briartach asked me from the doorway of my chamber.
I shook my head.
“I am unused to my plans being so thoroughly inept and failing so spectacularly,” I confessed.
“Ah, a taste of what it’s like to be yet a poor mortal man like me.” He grinned and it took the sting out of his words.
I smiled, nodded, and asked, “Drink?”
“Aye, if ye’ll have me at yer table.”
“Always, my friend.”
I poured us each a glass as he came to sit in the driftwood chair at my fire. I handed him his glass and sipped from my own so he would feel free to partake.
I joined him in the chair across from him, as he mused over the chessboard between us, the carved figures of land Fae on his side of the board, opposite my figures of Water Horse Knights and Kelpie Pawns.
“You think it’s may be time to tell her?” he asked and I sighed.
“Knowledge is power, old friend . . . do you think she is ready to come into that much magic already?”
“She may not be,” he said. “You’re right. But what of your people? Of your realm? I’d say it’s more than ready, wouldn’t you?”
“And therein lies the problem,” I murmured.
“What exactly are you afraid of, if I may be so bold, m’lord?”
“That the magic will overtake her,” I said staring into the fire in the hearth. “That I may lose her forever…”
Briartach leaned back in his seat and asked, aghast, “You would put her before your people?”
“I would have both,” I said sharply.
“Begging pardon, milord . . . I’m at a loss.”
“I understand,” I said. “It’s not like me to put myself before my realm. It never has been . . .” I hung my head and gave a mirthless chuckle. “The only thing that has made these long years without her bearable is the knowledge— nay, the thought, that we would somehow be reunited again. Now that possibility is before me, yet our home is on the very brink and I cannot bring myself to risk her loss all over again, only this time with the potential to never see or hold her again.”
Text Copyright © 2020 A.J. Downey DBA Timber Philips
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events, and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.
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