|The McGillpatrick Legacy
Author: kvm PM
While in Ireland tracking down distant relatives, Molly stumbles onto an ancestry that is tightly woven into the land's folklore. But there is more to the lineage than sixty-three generations of lovers, heroes and survivors. There is a legacy that may thrust Molly into battle against an evil that dates back to the days of Celtic gods, faeries and druids.Rated: Fiction K+ - English - Fantasy/Adventure - Chapters: 24 - Words: 69,971 - Reviews: 6 - Favs: 13 - Follows: 12 - Updated: 03-29-13 - Published: 07-29-12 - Status: Complete - id: 3045912
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
A New Tour Guide
"But what are we supposed to do?" Aunt Honora cried.
"That, madam, is your problem, not mine," Seamus O'Brien declared as he rooted through the bags in the luggage compartment of the bus, and pulled out the two that were tagged for Aunt Honora and Molly. He tossed them onto the black pavement and headed for the coach doors.
"You can't just dump us off in the middle of Ireland –"
"It's Northern Ireland, to be exact," Mr. O'Brien corrected the woman, but took no pains to look at her as he climbed the bus steps.
"Okay, Northern Ireland. Whatever. It's your duty as a tour guide – no – as an Irishman – to get us back to Dublin. We have to make our return flight in two days. You wouldn't strand two helpless women in a foreign country just because of a misunderstanding – and a ridiculous, presumptuous one at that – " Aunt Honora tried to haul her suitcase unto the first step, but Mr. O'Brien blocked her path with his foot.
"A misunderstanding?" he screamed, and started to pull at what little hair he had on the top of his head in a display of anger. "A misunderstanding! Madam, that 'misunderstanding' is costing this tour company a great deal. Thanks to you, Lucky Tours is no longer permitted to bring our customers back to the Belleek Pottery Factory. That is a huge loss to our program showcase. And what's more, the factory is sending us the bill for the damages. A bill for thousands of pieces of handmade china!"
"I can't believe you're still trying to blame us for that." Aunt Honora already tried to explain what happened; but since she didn't understand the incident herself, her excuses only came across in a manner that made her look as though she was fabricating stories, and absurd stories at that.
"Not only am I blaming you," Mr. O'Brien's expression suddenly changed from stark raving mad into a cool sneer, "I'll be forwarding that bill directly to you."
With that he shut the door of the bus and drove off. A few people stared at Aunt Honora and Molly from the back of the bus. One or two of them waved and smiled, but even those few favors were only done with contempt.
The abandoned woman stood in the middle of the drive in front of the Belleek Pottery Factory, and gaped in shock while the bus turned a corner in the road, and could no longer be seen. She stood there another minute longer (Molly was too afraid to rouse her from her stupor) until another tour bus drove up the lane and honked its horn in warning that she should get out of the way. The woman jumped, grabbed her suitcase and ran from the bus's path.
Molly followed her aunt to the side of the drive, and watched as she propped the suitcase up in the grass. Aunt Honora sat down on the black bag, supported her elbows on her legs, cupped her face in her hands and began to cry loudly.
Oh, no. It was bad enough that they were thrown out of the factory and the tour for an accident that Molly couldn't have prevented, but now Aunt Honora's heart appeared even more broken than ever. Yes, if anyone were to blame, it was Molly, but she didn't personally cause the circumstances that led them to this. What could she have done? What could she do now?
She knew that, as soon as Aunt Honora cried herself out, she would be come angry. And that anger could only be directed towards Molly. The girl sat down on her own suitcase, and waited for the brunt of it. She would willingly take the tongue-lashing, if only her aunt would dry her tears.
Before Aunt Honora had her cry out, Molly felt a touch upon her shoulder. It was the warmth and pressure of a supportive hand. She looked up to see who that hand belonged to, and found Emrys standing beside her, bending towards her stooped frame and smiling sympathetically.
Molly communicated back to the fae by giving him a sorrowful and questioning expression, as if to say: "What will we do now?" Emrys patted her arm, then rose up to his full height, and cleared his throat to get Aunt Honora's attention.
Aunt Honora looked up, and nearly teetered off the perch of her suitcase as she did so. When she corrected her balance, she inhaled an audible breath, and simply stared at the familiar un-human creature in front of her. Her mouth started to move up and down after a moment of gaping, but no sounds managed to come out of her throat.
"Ms. Honora," Emrys bowed to her. "Allow me to apologize for the state in which my confrontation with the nathair has left you. I come forth now to guarantee you that you are not stranded and without a chaperone. I am taking it upon myself to ensure the safety of you and your niece during your time in Ireland."
Aunt Honora's lips tried to shape words, but the only sound that came out of her mouth were unintelligible sputters. Still, Molly counted that as progress towards the return of her aunt's wits.
While her Auntie-O struggled to grasp her new situation, Molly took a moment to ask, "Emrys, what do you mean: na-thair? Is that what you call that snake?"
Emrys turned to her, and replied, "Nathair are legless, slithering reptilian creatures of the faery realm. You might refer to them as snakes, but they are not quite so. These are some of the most sinister subjects of Lord Donn, Ruler of the Underworld. But even he holds them in very little regard, caring not for their mischievous ways. I am sorry to say that they are the very beasts which play into your ancestry, Molly; and they are now playing into your future, as well."
"Oh," she said. "I see." But, of course, she didn't quite see. Not yet.
"Underworld? S-s-snakes? What – what is going on?" Aunt Honora's voiced finally came around. "Who are you?"
"I am Emrys Gwennin," the fae bowed again. "Son of Bodb Derg, King of the Munster Sidhe; grandson of Eochaid Ollathair, High King of the Tuatha Dé Danann; and younger brother of Iorwyn Tearlach, King of Bally Cnoc under the County of Carlow, within the Province of Leinster."
Aunt Honora raised her eyebrows in disbelief. Or was it bewilderment?
"You're . . . all that?" Molly asked. She knew he was the younger brother of a faery king, but . . . wow, what a lineage. Even if she didn't understand the half of his connections, they sounded really important.
"I am," he replied.
"Impressive," she stated, and then added a thought that suddenly came to her mind, "Guess it's no wonder why people have surnames now. It's a lot easier to introduce yourself as McGillpatrick or O'Kelly or Smith or something, rather than having to repeat all that."
Emrys laughed his beautiful laugh; and Aunt Honora groaned her pitiful groan. The poor woman looked frazzled and confused.
"Ms. Honora," Emrys held out his hand to help her rise from her seat. "If you will allow me to shoulder your burden, I will guide you away without further ado from this place of distress, and lead you onto a more reliable path."
He picked up Aunt Honora's suitcase and strode towards the narrow road that led to a bridge over the River Erne. The woman followed him in dazed wonder, not just because he carried away her suitcase as he went, but also because she held the unearthly creature in some sort of stupefied awe.
Molly followed up the rear, grinning at her ancestor's ability to bend her inflexible aunt towards his bidding with so little effort.
Much to Aunt Honora's chagrin (or, at least, it would be if she ever came out of her silly state of trance), Emrys didn't deposit them into a hotel when it was time to stop for the night. As the dusk settled in they found themselves in a wood, thick with a carpet of ivy, a blanket of fallen leaves, a host of moss-covered boulders and an army of tall trees. The golden fae came to a sudden stop at the side of a fallen hawthorn trunk, on which he indicated Aunt Honora and Molly should sit.
"This is the perfect spot," he declared, and set about arranging a campfire. It was a simple task of piling up dried twigs and dead tree branches, and then (this part thrilled Molly to no end, and shocked Aunt Honora to further fright) blowing into it twice to produce a billowing smoke. Undoubtedly, this fae had the breath of both ice and fire.
When a warm blaze was going, Emrys moved several feet away from the pit. Molly watched as he reached his graceful hand into a small satchel of some foreign earthy-like material – interesting, she never observed him to carry that bag before – and began to walk the perimeter, shaking his hands out in front of him as though he was scattering seed. But it wasn't seed he sowed. It was a fine shimmery dust, almost like glitter, except that it glowed on its own, rather than from the reflection of light on its surface.
By the time he finished, Molly could see a perfect ring of mushrooms growing around them with unnatural speed. They looked just as lovely and as perfectly placed as the ones she encountered the other day in the meadow.
"This faery ring will protect us for the night. Do not roam out of it until dawn. We do not know what is lurking in the dark, and now that the nathair have shown themselves, I am certain that they will be searching us out." Emrys took a place by the fire, sitting on a low gray rock, and looking as regal as a king.
He speared a few of the mushrooms, which he had retrieved from the faery ring, and propped them over the fire to roast. Molly never ate mushrooms before, but the smell was divine. It made her mouth water like crazy and her stomach growl in eagerness. Aunt Honora sat in her place on the fallen log and watched Emrys as he readied their dinner. She hadn't said a word since they started walking, and Molly was beginning to worry. Her aunt never seemed so dazed and unaware of herself as she now was.
"Ms. Honora." Emrys handed her a stick of skewered mushrooms. She took it and began to eat with mechanical slowness. Three or four bites in, and she shook her head as though waking herself from a dream. She looked at a half eaten mushroom, and then moved her gaze to Emrys.
"You!" she cried. "What did you do to me?"
"I beg your pardon," Emrys appeared sincerely offended.
"You – you drugged me, didn't you?" Aunt Honora accused. Molly looked on in surprise.
"I did nothing of the sort," Emrys returned with quiet dignity. "Some humans display odd reactions during their initial encounter with a member of the fae. You, it would seem, have decided to cope by going into a kind of dreamlike state – for which I thank you, as it has made it easier to lead you on our journey. But let me make it clear to you that, if I have done anything to affect your state of being, it is only that I have just now set you free from your own mindlessness by offering you the victuals of Faery."
Aunt Honora's eyebrows knit together in confusion.
"Ms. Honora, please rest assured that I will never bring you to harm. I have made it my vow to protect you, just as I have sworn to protect our Molly-cailin." Emrys stated this with such evenness and honesty in his tone that the aunt could not fail to believe him.
"But – but what is going on?" she pleaded. Her ignorance in the situation, of course, could only lead to her fear.
"I shall be happy to alleviate your anxieties, good woman, by relating to you an abridgement of what I have told Molly thus far about her ancestors," Emrys replied, "and then I will continue with that tale in order to explain the McGillpatricks' importance to the nathair."
Aunt Honora said nothing. She took another bite of mushroom, and gave the ancient being her full attention. Molly was amazed with the woman's willingness to hear the fae out.
With that, Emrys began his account of Cerwyn, and quickly swept his small audience up into his narrative.