|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: 72,661 - 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|
"Here it is. We have arrived at the border of the Forest of Dubros – what remains of it, that is," Emrys stated.
"It's not very big," Finn said. "More like a rundown grove than anything else."
The group of trees didn't appear to extend much beyond an acre. It was surrounded on three sides by pastures, and the fourth side butted up against the rising slope of the mountain. The undergrowth looked gray and tangled, and the autumn weather turned all the leaves to rusty browns. The trees themselves grew huge and wide – a good indicator of their considerable age; and the thickness of the branches kept out what little sunlight the clouds let through, making the inner sanctum of the forest dark and mysterious.
"As I said, this is what remains of the Forest," Emrys sighed. "Searbhán is fiercely protective of this space, as it houses his rowan trees. We must enter here with caution. It is best not to stir the ire of an ogre."
He turned towards Ms. Honora, took one of her hands in both of his, and spoke gently to her, "Perhaps, Ms. Honora, it would be best for you to wait out here. Since the time of his bout with Diarmuid, Searbhán has not been overly fond of humans."
Ms. Honora gulped with some difficulty, and then nodded slowly. Fear and weariness filled her features, turning her mouth downward into a frown, and making her chin tremble. She glanced at Molly, and then looked back at the fae, as if in silent question.
"Have no fear for Molly. She will be under my protection the entire time." Emrys guided her to an old tree stump, where she could sit comfortably until their return.
"If this ogre fellow is so dangerous, wouldn't it be better if Molly and I waited out here, too? I mean, you can just give Molly the sword to keep us safe, and we'll let you go get this cloak yoke. No need for us all to risk it." To tell the truth, Finn didn't like the look of the woods. The atmosphere felt too unnatural for him.
"Molly is not in need of the sword just yet. I rather think the danger to you both will be minimal; and I believe a meeting such as this is exactly what you need, young Finn."
"But it just seems more sensible for us to keep Ms. Honora company, rather than to leave her here all alone – "
"Don't bother, young man," Ms. Honora stopped him. "There's no use in trying to talk sense into anyone anymore. It just falls on deaf ears. Both the plain and the pointy."
Well, so much for an attempt at chivalry, Finn thought, and made a grimace that displayed as much to his companions.
The blonde being walked into the Forest, followed closely by Molly. Finn felt the creeps rise along his back, but, since Emrys still carried the sword, and because he didn't want to look like a coward in front of that brat of a girl, he followed them into the trees.
They walked slowly and in complete silence. Finn didn't like the pace or the quiet, so he stepped a little faster in an effort to pull up the speed. In order to break the hush he asked, "So, if what your saying is true about evil otherworldly snakes coming back to Ireland – and I'm not saying I believe you – at all – then why is it you need a couple of kids to fight them off? I mean, they're from your world, aren't they? So, why can't you take care of the whole mess yourself?"
"That is a reasonable question, young Finn," Emrys relied, "and I have an answer to match it. You see, the nathair are the creatures of Donn Tétscorach, Lord of the Underworld. Even if he does not care for them himself – and I can assure you that he does not – they are his subjects, and are, therefore, under his protection. If I were to go up against them, it might bring on the wrath of their lord, who will see it as a challenge to his authority, and as a question regarding his ability to perform his duty in maintaining them.
"A conflict between Lord Donn and myself would draw the attention of others amongst the land of Faery, and give them excuse to wage war. I do not want to be responsible for starting such a war, especially not with the mortal realm as a battlefield. However, if a mortal defends its own realm against the invasion of the nathair, Lord Donn should pay little heed; just as he did the first time they surfaced in Ireland."
"Okay. Well, that's twisted," Finn said.
"Makes perfect sense to me," Molly interjected, which resulted in a scowl from the boy. She continued, "but there is something I don't quite understand."
"Oh, well, now that makes perfect sense to me," Finn knew he was being petty, but she just made him so mad.
Much to Molly's credit, she ignored him. "Emrys, you said that Padraig and Oilill spread shamrocks all over Ireland to ward off the nathair. If that's the case, then how come these things are coming back now? Have they become immune to the shamrocks?"
"No, Molly. Not immune. But you need only to look around you for the answer to your question," Emrys replied.
"What do you mean?" asked Finn before he remembered to appear disinterested.
"How many shamrocks did you see in the fields and pastures today, lad? If you had taken note, you would have realized that they are disappearing in vast quantities."
"But why?" Molly and Finn now walked side by side in front of Emrys, battling for the lead.
"It is with much sorrow on my part that I must admit: it is the fault of mankind. Between the spread of cement for urban expansion, the use of weed killers to rid lawns of all that is not grass, and the employment of insecticides and pesticides to enhance crops – which have simultaneously killed off so many of the plants' pollinators – the land's shamrock defenses are steadily dwindling."
Finn thought about it. It was a hard pill to swallow, that the path to modern advancement might have cleared the way for new (or, rather, old) troubles. What Emrys said did make sense – or it would make sense, if Finn believed in the whole supernatural Faery-land idea in the first place. "So, what about the – "
Without warning, Finn found the ground being pulled away from his feet. He felt a rush of air, and discerned nothing solid about him for which to steady himself. The sudden sensation might have made him scream if he hadn't sucked in a shocked breath at that moment. Molly, however, did scream, as she, too, was swooped up into the air.
They found themselves in much closer proximity than either of them would have liked, even had they gotten along. Swinging from a single net of thick woven rope, limbs dangling, and the earth excessively far below them, Finn and Molly's bodies were pressed together in an awkward manner, with Molly's elbow thrust into Finn's abdomen, and Finn's nose pressed against her shoulder.
"Get off me," Molly yelled and tried to push her elbow even further into his stomach.
"Get off you? You get off me," Finn shouted back, twisting his neck at an odd angle so he could breath.
Emrys looked up at them, arms crossed over his chest, "Did I not warn you to be cautious?"
"I was being cautious," Molly stated. "It was him who wasn't watching where he was going."
She elbowed him again, and the net swung back and forth as they tried to push each other away.
"Chim, cho, chum, chortal, I smell the blood of a worthless mortal."
Finn and Molly froze. "What was that?" the girl whispered upon hearing the rough, deep disembodied voice echo through the trees.
"Tip, top, toe, tupper, looks like I'll be having human for supper."
Well, that didn't sound very reassuring. Finn managed to pull his head from behind Molly's back, and stuck it through the net. They looked about frantically for the owner of the voice, but couldn't even tell from which direction it came. Emrys turned towards a nearby tree and raised a bemused brow, so the teens turned their gaze in the same direction.
While they watched, the tree trunk started to vibrate as though tiny liquid waves were spreading out from within its center. And then, where there was nothing a moment before, a mammoth of a creature now stood leaning against the tree with a black cloak draped over his arm. He must have measured nearly eight feet tall. He had a wide mass of muscle and earthy colored skin, and his modest clothes consisted of a loose pair of pants and a belted tunic. His enormous feet were bare.
The face, though. It the face was what made the creature so fearsome. His nose stuck out, long and bulbous and was pierced through the middle with a bulky gold ring. His jaw melted into his neck so that one didn't know where his chin ended and his chest began. His ears were pointed and the tuff of dark hair on his head looked as if it had never before seen a comb. But the worst feature of all was the thing that stared unblinking and steady at the intruders who were caught in his net. It was one massive green eye that sat in the middle of his forehead.
And his expression? Well, they couldn't tell if he was snarling or smirking. Either way, he didn't appear overly friendly.
The hefty creature straightened himself from the tree and stepped up to his captives. He eyed them up and down, and then sniffed.
Emrys took this moment to clear his throat.
The ogre looked around and then down. Upon spotting Emrys, he let out a chuckle. "Emrys, seanchara. Why, so long, it 's been."
"Indeed, mo chara, many mortal years have passed since I last called on you. I do apologize for it," Emrys bowed in greeting.
"Ah, well," Searbhán replied, "you're here now." He bowed back. "And look, I can even provide you with a fine meal tonight."
Emrys glanced at the children with an amused smile, and returned his eyes to Searbhán. "I am afraid I must deprive you of your prey today, mo chara."
"Is that so?" Searbhán raised his eyebrow.
"I am afraid it is. You see the girl there?" The ogre looked into the net. Molly went rigid at the attention. Finn, aiming to keep that large eye from settling back on him, shirked himself away, and hid his face behind her back, once more.
"I do see her," the ogre replied.
"Her name is Molly McGillpatrick. She is my kin. The last of my mortal clan, in fact." Emrys explained.
"No! Is that so? Truly? The daughter of Cerwyn, Lilith and Oilill, that one?" He examined closer.
"It is true," Emrys confirmed.
"Why Emrys, she's a wee beauty, she is," Searbhán exclaimed.
"Thank you," Emrys beamed in agreement. "And I must tell you that the boy there – "
"Aye?" The ogre leaned behind Molly to peer in expectation at his other captive. Finn did not enjoy being the focus of interest.
"He," Emrys continued, "is the grandson of Lady Orlaith Miach."
"Well, I'll be," the ogre looked surprised. He took a long sniff of the teens. "Now that you mention it, I must say, I do smell the blood of the fae in their veins." He sighed. "Well, that spoils my dinner."
Was it more out of curiosity or out of fright that Molly asked, "Are you really a cannibal, then?"
"What? A cannibal?" Searbhán's eye went wide. "Ack. Never, lass. I'd not think of consuming another of my own kind. Such barbarism, that is. You, however, are a different species all together." The ogre sighed. "But I must suppose that I am not to dine on the kin of fae royalty . . . even if you do smell quite delicious." At that, he chuckled.
With a quick movement of the ogre's wrist, the net was released from the heights. Molly and Finn plummeted downwards, but their impact was made light as Searbhán caught the rope when they were not more then a foot from the ground. He set them down gently.
Finn and Molly huffed from the spike in their adrenaline, and worked to untangle themselves from the net. They managed to stand themselves up after a moment of struggling against one another, and then, stepped away as soon as they were free.
Finn took in the ogre once more, starting at his giant feet and working his gaze up to the strange eye. The creature looked even more colossal from this new angle. He took a step back and said to Emrys, "Okay, well, I think I believe you now, so – ahh – I'll just go."
"Not so fast, grandson of Lady Orlaith," Searbhán said. "Let me have a look at you. I've heard such reports about you over the past several years that my curiosity must, now, be satisfied."
"Huh? Wha–wha– You've heard about me?" Finn questioned. Who would want to hear about him?
"Aye. Glic has told me of you on many occasions," the ogre answered.
"Glic? Who's Glic?" Now, the boy was just confused.
"What? You mean you don't know?" Searbhán looked surprised. "Why, he's your brownie, lad."
"My brownie?" Finn felt beyond puzzled by this conversation, and had to remind himself that it was more important to get out of this place than it was to appease his bewilderment.
Searbhán laughed. "Don't tell me you've had a brownie living in your home, under your very nose your whole life, and you didn't even know it?"
"Whist," Molly and Finn heard a sound from behind them. They turned, but no one – nothing – was there.
Finn turned back around. "I – I don't know what you're talking about," and, quite frankly, he was annoyed that the big ugly being dared to laugh at him for it.
"Come now, who do you think keeps things tidy in your house? And cooks your meals?" Searbhán put it to him. "Surely, not your Grandfather."
"You can't be serious," Finn challenged.
"Oh, can I not?" Searbhán sniffed again. "Why not ask Glic about it yourself, as it appears he's come here with you."
At that, they heard a frustrated grumble. The knapsack, which had been unceremoniously dropped by Finn's feet, began to move. A moment later, a head, not much larger than a cricket ball, popped out of the top of it. The expression on the tiny greenish-gray face looked irritated.
"What'd you go and talk about me to him for?" a small, high-pitched voice shouted out from underneath a long, pointed hooknose.
"I beg your pardon, Glic, I'd not realized that the boy didn't know of you," Searbhán responded.
"Well, wasn't it obvious when he questioned you about it? Huh?"
"Well, when you put it like that, I suppose you're right." The ogre looked apologetic.
"What's wrong with him?" Molly whispered to Emrys.
"He is a brownie, a solitary faery. They are not really very fond of attention," Emrys told her.
"That's right. I don't like attention! So, stop talking about me," Glic shouted and waved a tiny fist at them before disappearing back into the knapsack.
Finn looked down at the bag with wide-eyed amazement. He felt more and more freaked by the events of the last twenty-four hours. All this was getting too surreal-like.
"Well, that was a pleasant greeting. He's usually so friendly when he comes to call. Err, well, at least, a might friendlier than that, anyway. Oh, bother," Searbhán shrugged. "Best to leave it alone, I suppose. Please follow me, if you will, and we'll sit down for a visit. Been awhile, it has, since I've enjoyed some company."
The ogre turned to walk down a path that Finn and Molly were certain was not there before. Molly and Emrys began to follow, but Finn only stared at his knapsack. He couldn't pick it up, not with that thing inside of it.
Molly looked back and noticed this. She let out an exasperated groan, shook her head and returned to pick up the knapsack. "Come on. Keep up."
When she nudged him, Finn moved forward and tailed the group towards another part of the wood. He couldn't explain why he continued on with them, since he was ready to run only a few short minutes ago; but it seemed as though a spark of recognition had just ignited somewhere deep inside his brain, and without warning, the mysteries he hadn't bothered to ponder in years were beginning to solve themselves. He suddenly needed to know more, to find the answers he thought he already knew. Maybe his life wasn't exactly what it appeared to be all these years. Perhaps, it wasn't all sad and boring, after all.
In any case, he'd be damned if he didn't try to find out more.
 Seanchara, Gaelic for old friend.
 Mo chara, Gaelic for my friend.