"You didn't have to cut the wind."
The words greet the Witch when she opens the cottage door to the morning.
"You could have knocked," she answers. The Witch isn't exactly surprised to see him sitting there on the stone wall considering the calling cards he had left the night before. Nor is she surprised to smell the tang of salt in the air along with vague impressions of ships at anchor just beyond the trees of the forest.
"I did knock."
Well, there is no use denying it, for she knows as well as he that there was an earlier knocking at her door.
The night before, the Witch remembers walking into the green wood in the hour between dusk and dawn until the path she followed brought her to the Sidhe mound. In the span of an eye blinking, she was beneath the mound and in the presence of the Forest Lords.
Standing on a moss green carpet beneath the brown roof of roots sparkling with the souls of the tree spirits, the Witch watched as a fox snuffed around her feet.
"You've changed." The Witch smiles at the fox, recognising her tour guide of Caer Glas in his wilder guise.
Giving a grin, the fox returns to his rooting. The Witch looks more closely at her feet. She sees that the fox is nosing around a nest looking for eggs. For a fleeting moment, the Witch thinks to shoo him away, but stops herself. This is the nature of the wilds and if the Forest Lords did not wish this trespass, it would not occur. The fox lifts his head, jaws clamped around an egg, and gives the Witch a stretched grin of farewell.
"Your friend has found his treasure." In this realm of deep green light, it is not difficult to know the truths the Forest Lord speaks. "Just as it is time you find yours."
The Witch looks long and hard at the Forest Lord. There is some thing familiar about him that dances on the edge of her perception. Finally, as she realises that she is about to cross the boundary into rudeness, the Witch nods. She bends down to the nest which is now filled with soft, downy bundles of feathers, and lifts out a chick.
"A wise choice." The Forest Lord bows to the Witch once. In a twinkling, he is beside her, his hand on her elbow to guide her from the mound - for the black pullet the Witch holds is now the size of a three year child. Silky soft feathers shining with the colours of midnight spill over her arms, tickling her skin as she walks home.
"It was a wise choice." The dark-haired man echoes the words of the Forest Lord.
The Witch looks long and hard at him. "I should have known."
As the man rises from his seat upon the stone wall, she can see hints of the Forest Lord in his garb. In place of his emerald, azure, and pearl raiment, he is dressed in dappled browns and subdued blues and golds that speak to the Witch of well waters, springs, and forest streams; not estuaries and bays, but, perhaps, the ocean after a storm has ridden by. His hair is longer than she remembers, so that it must be tied back now and not merely pushed back over his ears. And, she realises, he is clean shaven.
"Do you like it?" He runs his hand over his shaven face, "Or do you prefer the beard?"
"It's all the same to me." The Witch shrugs. She can feel his exasperation. Close on the heels of the feeling she can hear the word "Women
" in her mind. The Witch smiles, pleased that she could, at least slightly, upset him as his appearance has disrupted her life.
Well, that is not entirely true. There is no damage from his sudden reappearance, save for her cracked composure. His gaze follows hers as she looks around the cottage and its holdings. The woods are intact, save for a few stray branches that were claimed by the winds, and her garden fared well through the night's heavy rains.
"Where is the pullet I gave you?" His eyes sparkle in mischief as he asks.
"It shelters in the stable during the night. I could saddle it and ride it as a pony, or build a hut on its back." The Witch smiles as the dark-haired man laughs. Her eyes narrow and she looks shrewdly at him, "I suppose that I can grow feathers and fly if I eat the crimson eggs?"
Her answer is a look that reads, There's only one way to find out.
"Perhaps I shall, then."
"Good." The dark-haired man is pleased with this answer. "Fly up and out of the well that you are imprisoning yourself within."
"I see no well." Her stubbornness matches his sincerity. He speaks of wells and she finds that the words that lie deep in her thoughts bubble up into the light of day. "And what is wrong with finding a stream and following it to its source? It is more steady and reliable than following you, for you do not pause in your stride when I cannot keep up."
"I do pause then, foolish child. That is when you need to stop and look deep within Tobar Segais to find the wisdom I am bringing to you." He lifts her face so that she must look into his eyes. "Five streams of wisdom there are. Follow them all in season."
"Like Bóinn? She drowned for the love of looking into your eyes."
"How can you drown a goddess?" Especially one of Inspiration?
"But I am not a goddess."
"No, but in you mingles the blood of the Red Tree and the White. This is the virtue that will bring you to Mag Mell, not isolation."
"You strike hard bargains, Son of Lir."
"Only with the worthy." The dark-haired man releases the Witch and with a grin, he produces a crimson egg. "Now, how about breakfast."
Image Source: Shadow's Return by Michael Komarck
.This entry is mirrored from http://ashtoreth.dreamwidth.org/237592.html.