Chapter Twenty-Four

Re-enforcing the Resolve

Molly expelled a groan of panic, and leaned over her aunt to perform CPR. The woman's lips were blue, and her chest inert; and Molly's efforts seemed to do nothing to alter that state. Even though her skills in first aid training were clearly lacking, Finn knew he could do no better. He just watched her with a numb hope prickling at the hairs atop his head. Emrys moved to his descendant's side and put a hand on her shoulders to stop her from further injuring Ms. Honora's ribs.

"Lot of good that'd do you," Glic yelled (yelling seemed to be the creature's only mode of speaking). "Don't you dense mups listen to anything your Faery elders tell you? . . Well? . . Huh? . . Oh, wise up, won't you, and dust off those useless noggins o' yours . . . The berries, you dopes. Use the berries."

Emrys raised an open palm in front of Molly's face, and on it, there were rowanberries. "I detect a faint heartbeat within her, Molly-cailin; and where there is yet life, the rowanberries can heal." The fae voiced his own words with a much more kindly tone than the brownie.

Molly stared at the berries for several seconds, and Finn thought that, perhaps, she wasn't comprehending what Emrys was implying. The boy considered taking the matter into his own hands before Molly sucked in a sharp breath, as if finally getting it. She grabbed the berries and began stuffing them into her aunt's mouth; but she was so agitated that she jammed the berries through the woman's teeth with a bit too much force. Finn lifted Ms. Honora's head up onto his lap in an attempt to prevent her from choking.

"How do we get her to swallow them," he dared ask.

Molly looked up at him and bit hard at her lower lip. After a short hesitation, she took her aunt's jaw in her hand, and tried to move it up and down to crush the berries. Some of the juice must have made it down Ms. Honora's throat, because she began to cough and sputter.

"No, no, no. Don't spit them out, Aunt Honora. Eat them. No. You need to eat them. They're medicine. They'll make you feel better."

It took several seconds for the woman to comply, but at last, she swallowed more of the berry flesh, and presently, her breathing increased into gasping. She started wringing her hands and twisting her face; and she opened her mouth as though she was trying to speak.

A minute more and her voice became audible. She searched with darting eyes until she found the face of her niece, and clasping the girl's hands in hers, she croaked out, "It was terrible, Molly. Terrible! That thing . . . it squeezed me and . . . and head first . . . down – and dark . . . and, oh . . . Molly . . . Molly . . . oh, my Molly . . . we can't let that happen . . . not ever again. Not to anyone else . . . Oh, we can't – we can't . . . can't let those things . . . oh no . . . we can't let them eat people. I understand. I know what he means now. Molly, Molly . . . we have to stop those nasty . . . those horrible . . . " The poor woman broke into tears, "Those . . . those . . . monsters."

"And that is exactly what we shall do, Ms. Honora," Emrys addressed her as he placed a soothing hand on her brow. "We will stop them all. But for now, I think rest is our best objective. For you most of all."

The fae rose to his feet and began stepping around his companions. He formed a wide circle as he walked, and scattered glowing spores along the ground. In the matter of a minute, they were enclosed within a ring of mushrooms where he promised they would remain safe for the night. Molly whispered the words "faery ring" into her aunt's ear and it seemed to sooth her.

When Emrys asked Finn to help him pile the nathair's remains in the center of the ring, the boy did so with no small amount of confusion; but when the fae lit a fire under that stack, Finn found himself feeling a little bit disconcerted about it. This was a flesh and blood monster less than an hour ago, and now it was being utilized as firewood? But it did burn just like wood, and it did keep them warm as the darkness cooled the air in the surrounding pastures. Soon enough, he let himself forget where their fuel came from, and brought his hands close to the flames to defrost his fingers.

Glic succeeded in making a rather delicious stew out of mushrooms and local herbs, and he even served it to them in bowls that he obtained from the seemingly bottomless knapsack.

Finn sipped at the soup with an 'mmm', and made to remark on the meal, but Emrys cut him short with a simple, "Eat up, lad."

Molly leaned towards the boy and whispered, "No praise. Brownies don't like to be acknowledged. Remember?"

Finn just shrugged, not sure why anyone would not want to be appreciated for their skills; but then, he realized that he had much to recall and still more to learn about the world of the 'Gentlefolk'.

Once the meal was over, they settled down to sleep on the miraculous layer of shamrocks. Their beds proved to be extremely comfortable, no rocks and no roots to poke into their backs. Yes, Finn found himself quite satisfied with their little camp under the stars.

He'd yet to turn his mind to the mystical appearance of those tiny green plants that were so poisonous to the nathair, and though he supposed that Emrys could explain the phenomenon to him if he asked, Finn didn't think himself quite ready to know for certain. If it were a natural occurrence that made the shamrocks spring to life, one which could be scientifically supported, then, Finn considered, he might feel himself a bit disappointed; but if it were some sort of magic, and one which might – somehow – have the slightest chance of being connected with him (a possibility he was all too inclined to suspect), well then that idea just outright scared him.

As Finn lay there by the fire with his chin propped up on his elbows, reasoning all this to himself, Emrys gave special attention to Ms. Honora's comfort. He took a seat by her side to offer security as her guardian through the night, and so as to assist her through whatever nightmares were sure to follow such an ordeal as being swallowed alive.

Finn cringed at the very notion of what that must have been like. He settled on his back to stare up at the sky, and watched the stars peek in and out between the clouds. The view calmed his thoughts, and he began to doze. He closed his eyes and let out a satisfied sigh, but before he drifted off, Finn overheard Molly speak in a low tone to Emrys.

"Finn did really well today. I hate to admit that, but if it weren't for him, I think Aunt Honora wouldn't be the only one digesting in the stomach of that nathair right now. I guess . . . I think we can trust him, after all."

"Indeed," the fae replied, "That lad has, without a doubt, proven his worth. He has impressed us all with his courage and his quickness. You can be certain that a great deal more lies in store for you; and so I believe he will be of considerable aid in these days to come. But you, Molly-cailin, must have a proper sleep first. Off you go now. A new day awaits you on the other side of your dreams, and you will require a full rest to greet it."

The edges of Finn's lips curled upwards, and something deep in his chest began to radiate warmth. Just as slumber was taking him away from the world for a while, he murmured to himself, "Courage and quickness. Imagine that. Guess I am ready for some adventure."

The End

A/N: This is the end of Book One of the McGillpatrick Legacy. I do have some plot intentions for the next book, one that may take the group further into the realm of Faery, but that plot has not been fully fleshed out. There will be a break in time before I begin posting the next story. Please bear with me, and know that I do appreciate that you have kept with me this far. Thank you so much!