The Split Rock
Chapter Nine - The Guiding Lights
THE LAST RAYS of the sun cast a long shadow from the white domed roof of the kiln as they came over the hill. People were gathered in small groups some sitting, others standing, talking quietly, glancing nervously in the direction of the Alt.
Sean and his mother stood on a hillock a little away from the crowd. He could not see his father anywhere.
"Mother, what do they use that for?"
"The kiln? It's where the men crush limestone. Then they burn it to make a kind of mud to bind the stones in their houses together. They also paint the outside to make it dry from the rain."
Ghostly shadows criss-crossed the ground as people moved around in the light of a rising full moon. Everybody spoke in hushed tones not wanting to be heard above the placid waves rolling onto the stony shoreline far below.An owl hooted in the distance. As if it were a signal the kiln started to glow. The crowd moved back to where Sean and his mother stood. Lights spiralled into the air then swept around the edge of the people.
Voices cried out in fear, a man started to run but the lights blocked his path.
"Do not fear!" Tige's clear voice carried over the milling people, "They are the guiding lights, they will show us the safe way into the Alt! Come follow me."
Uncertainty turned to quiet obedience as they picked up their bundles and started walking down the hillside toward the Alt.The lights darted from one side to the other, herding them into a single file.
Piotal sat down, her son beside her. A pink light slowly approached them. It hovered in front of Sean's mother, moving up and down as if carried by the breeze. Sean smiled. This was the fairy who had talked to him in Tir-Na-Ną-og.
His mother put out her hand and the light came to rest on it. "Hail to you my mother."
"Daughter, you look tired, but well. Sean, hail to you, you now know who I am?"
Sean's eyes sparkled. "Indeed I do! You are my Grandmother!"
A tinkle of bells heralded the king as he hovered near them."No Sean, she is the Queen!"
Sean's face fell. "I'm sorry, I didn't mean..."
"He is only teasing you. You may call me Grandmother, because to you, that is what I am."
"Come," the king said quietly, "We must go with the others. Walk a little way with us, Sean."
Coarse grass rustled around Sean's legs as they made their way down the hill. The smell of salt grew stronger as they came closer to the sea.
"Be careful here my son, it is a long way down."
They stood at the edge of a cliff and far below the sea glistened silver-green. A roar filled the air as waves surged into a large opening in the cliff face.
"That is the Alt," his mother said close to his ear, "that is where we must go."
He looked down, fear rising in his throat."But mother! you'll drown!"
Bells tinkled behind him. "Would I let any harm befall my daughter?"
Sean dragged his eyes away from the sea and shook his head.
His mother leaned forward and kissed his cheek. "Go now. Return to Melo, for you are his witness. Remember, you are a Shanahee."
Sean watched them as they made their way through the long grass. They disappeared from view and he was alone. The only sound was that of waves racing up into the Alt.
Wiping away a tear Sean went back the way they had come.
"Why so sad my little friend?" Melo asked as Sean walked into the field.
He looked up at the Giant.
"Everything is happening so fast Melo. I've met you and Fairies and you talk of Leprechauns and people say I'm a Shanahee and my mother and father have gone down into the ground where the sea is raging and there's another Giant coming to kill you and - and I'm scared!"
Melo smiled. "Do not be afraid my little friend, for I am here. Come, come to my pocket and rest for you must be tired."
Sean did as he was bid. He snuggled down into the Giant's pocket.
"Where are we going?"
Melo looked at the mountains for some moments. "We must go and meet the Giant who wishes to do us harm. Get some rest a cara, for tomorrow I will need your help in defeating the one they call Tharoc."
To be continued
© John W. Kelly