Sinbad threw his duffel down on the disreputable hammock that was hanging in his cramped quarters. He couldn’t believe that this ship called this a cabin, he could stand in the middle and touch opposite ends of the wall without extending his arms to their full length. Still Fin’s Prayer was the only ship that was heading to Ira, and he would have ridden in a leaky crate to follow Bryn. The young captain had learned from a dock rat, after gracing the kid’s palm with a couple of dinars, that a young woman matching Bryn’s description had paid for passage to Ira on the Midnight Run. Sinbad had then found the dock master’s assistant, a man named Roland, and asked him to find a ship on which to follow her. The small ferret faced man had, after Sinbad had parted with two more dinars, directed him to the ship he was on now, adding that the captain was a man that didn’t ask questions as long as a body had the money. The young captain had snorted at that, it was the most polite description of a smuggler he had ever heard. Still the captain had agreed to take him and beggars couldn’t be choosers. Sinbad gingerly lowered himself into the questionable hammock hoping the thing wouldn’t break on him. It was supriseingly strong so he let his full weight stretch the fabric taut, as he lay awake and starred at the ceiling. The young captain was still hurt by Bryn’s desertion last night, more than he was comfortable with. After Maeve, Sinbad had vowed not to let any woman get to close, not to let anyone in. That is why Bryn scared him so much, she had done what the port girls could only dream of doing, she had found a crack in his carefully constructed wall that housed the tender emotions he thought he didn’t need. He didn’t know if he loved her, wasn’t sure if he was capable of love, but he did know that he cared for her, and was going to find her no matter what it cost him.
The rolling hills of Emerald green stretched out beyond the port city of Galway as Bryn hugged herself against the cool crisp air. The temperature was noticeable lower here as opposed to the medeterian conditions of Morocco. The young magic holder drew the long sleeved yellow jacket tighter around her shoulders silently thanking the merchant who had given her such a good deal on the item of clothing. The chill she felt wasn’t all from the weather however; it was from the way this place made her feel. The moment Bryn had stepped off the boat the young witch couldn’t shake the idea that she knew this city. The feeling had grown stronger as she picked her way through the various stalls of venders hocking their wares, and had practically bowled her over when she had entered a tavern by the name of Grady’s. Still no one seemed to recognize her and it they did they weren’t saying so. Grady was the reason the young witch was now standing there starring at the road ahead of her trying to muster the courage to walk down it. The rotund tavern owner had said that only one man by the name of Donavan had ever come to Galway on a regular basis. Grady had said the man was a sailor that used to hire himself out on the merchant ships until he got injured on a voyage. After the accident the tavern owner had then told her that he then spent more of his time drowning his troubles in the bottom of an ale mug. Bryn had asked him if this man he had spoken of had lived around Galway and the owner said that he hadn’t. He said that he had heard Donavan say that he was from Athlone, which was about a two-week trek into the interior on the river Shannon. That was why Bryn now stood on the dirt road leading to Athlone seriously thinking about turning and running back to the Nomad. The young dark haired sorceress right on the heels of this thought chided herself, took a deep breath, and took her first step on the road to the past.
Sinbad cursed as yet another tavern owner told him same thing he had heard for the past week and half, every time he asked about Bryn. “Young girl, yellow dress, petite, dark hair and eyes, yeah I seen that lass in her, ‘twas quite a pretty lass, she was. I’m sorry laddy you just missed the wee girl, she went through town, oh about a day or so ago.” That was how it went day in, day out, he was starting to wondered if he was the brunt of some kind of cosmic joke. The young captain sighed and ran his hands through his hair, it was always like that, no matter how fast he traveled to reach a town she was always a day ahead of him. He cursed in frustration, it had been almost six weeks since he had bid farewell to Doubar on the docks of Tangier, and he was still no closer to catching up with Bryn. She must have been pushing herself from the break of dawn until well into the night to stay so far ahead of him. Sinbad sighed and trudged on down the road, at least he knew were she was headed thanks to the friendly sailors at the port of Galway. He cursed again and kicked a rock as he went to relieve his tension, it only added to his anger, he felt like entering into a screaming contest with the unseen forces of nature.
“Now laddy that sounded like it hurt,” an old man said. Sinbad whirled at the words, spinning on his heels and drew his sword. On a rock a few feet away from the sailor sat an old man, who had just appeared before the young captain out of thin air. He had to be the most ancient and frail creature Sinbad had ever seen, with a long white bread, scraggly hair, and beggars rags covering him from head to toe. “Only a woman could drive a man to do something so foolish,” the ancient creature continued starring off into space.
“Who are you, and where did you come from,” Sinbad said not lowering his guard.
“Now laddy you have nothing to fear from me,” the old man said waving his right hand in front of his sightless eyes. “As you can see I don’t pose much of a threat to anyone, not anymore,” he added wistfully.
“Your blind,” the young captain said stating the obvious.
“Oh you’re a smart you are,” the old man cackled sarcastically, “I see now why the wee folks figured you could use a hand,” he added a grin on his leather face.
“Wee folk?” Sinbad questioned no where near ready to trust this man.
“Aye are ya dense or something, the wee folk, the fey,” the old man explained like he was speaking to a particularly dense child. “You Captain Sinbad and the young lass Bryn are connected,” the old man added in a knowing tone of voice. “Yes connected, and if you don’t reach her quick then all hope will be lost…lost.”
Sinbad snapped and went up to the old man and placed the blade at his throat, “Where is she old man or by Allah I swear gut you like a pig,” the young captain growled in menace.
The blind man calmly replied, “If you kill me Lad then you ‘twill be too late to save the lass. I am here to help ya and if ya don’t be listening to me the girl will die,” he added his voice echoing with the convection of his words.
Sinbad still didn’t trust this mysterious stranger but he lowered his sword. After all the man knew his and Bryn’s names, which was odd in it self since he wasn’t know this far north.
“I’m listening,” Sinbad said coming to a decision to see what the stranger had to say.
The strange old man gave him another knowing grin. “Your master Dim Dim once told you that everything happens for a reason, and this is no different. The young lass is needed by her people but in order to help she must remember everything. That is where you come in my young Captain.”
“I don’t understand, why now,” Sinbad said puzzled, “and what must I do,” he added willing to do anything to help Bryn.
“The past is seldom an easy thing to face as you yourself know,” the old man replied gravely, “and the lass is in for some painful revelations. She is going to need your strength to help her complete her journey, whether she knows it or not.
“I have to reach her to help her and she is too far ahead of me,” Sinbad answered in despair. This stranger was adding to the feeling of dread that had seized the young captain, the further into the interior he walked. Bryn was heading into trouble and his time to save her was running out.
“Here,” the old blind man said and flipped a coin in the captain’s general direction. Sinbad caught it and looked up expectantly at the stranger, “What’s this,” he asked.
“That lad is your passage to Athlone. Go to the river’s edge, there you will find a maiden. Be warned sailor to guard your heart with what it holds most dear or she will become that which is most dear. If you are able to protect yourself in this way, then you will have passed the test. Show her the coin then and she will take you to Athlone in time to save the lass,” the strange blind man finished fervently.
“I will,” the captain replied and turned to go to the river’s edge. Sinbad had walked a few steps when the man’s voice came to him again, but this time it sounded far away. “Heed my warning sailor, or all is lost…lost.” The young captain turned his head to reply only to find the old man gone. Sinbad found himself all alone on the dusty road to Athlone wondering just what in the name of Allah he had gotten himself into.
Sinbad picked up yet another stone and sent it skipping across the river’s sparkling blue surface. He had been sitting by this river for almost an hour and he was becoming more and more anxious as the minutes passed. Bryn was getting further away from him the longer he waited. The young captain was starting to wonder if his instincts had failed him this time, maybe he shouldn’t have trusted the old blind man. The captain of the Nomad sighed and dug around in his pocket for the strange coin the old man had given him. He turned it over and over with his fingers examining each side for perhaps the hundredth time in the past hour. It was like no coin he had ever seen. It was made of pure gold, had the picture of a stunningly beautiful woman on the face side, and the picture of an island on the back. It had an almost mystical feel about it, like it was older than the beginning of time, but it shown with the glint only newly minted money possessed. Sinbad was so intent on the study of the coin that he didn’t see the enchanting young woman rise out of the water and float towards him.
“You seek someone sailor,” the woman said startling Sinbad out of his thoughts. Sinbad looked up and fell backwards off the rock he was sitting on in shock. A very beautiful and very naked woman stood before him, her strait golden hair flowing down her back.
“I…I yes, that is I’m looking for a friend,” he stuttered and trying not to stare at the enchanting creature before him.
“Ah a friend is it, does she have a name,” the woman asked in a purr. Sinbad felt her musical voice flow over him like a caress and all of a sudden he couldn’t quite remember what he was doing here.
“A name?” he questioned dumbly, “yes she has a name it’s…it’s…um…” Sinbad shook his head to clear it. What was his friend’s name? He shook his head again and wondered just what the hell was wrong with him; it was like a cloud had passed over his mind.
The strange woman smiled and took the opportunity to lower herself down on the ground next to were the captain had fallen. She then absentmindedly started to unbutton his shirt, slipping her free hand inside the fabric folds, and tangling her figures in the scattering of hair on his chest.
“She must not be that good of a friend if you can’t even remember her name,” the blond replied in a sultry voice. “Perhaps you would rather stay here with me and…talk for awhile.” Her seductive smile and the way her body drew closer to him telling the captain exactly what she meant by talk.
“I…that is…” he started to say but she silenced him with a kiss, her tongue seeking entry through his parted lips. Sinbad fond himself drowning in a wave of passion the likes of which he had never known and with each wave went another part of his memory. As he continued to kiss this enchanting creature he still couldn’t quite escape from the niggling at the back of his mind that telling him he had to find someone…someone important.
“This is your lucky day sailor,” she purred after breaking the kiss and started a line of kisses along his jaw. Sinbad closed his eyes in confusion as the woman started mouthing a path down toward his neck. “Lucky,” he thought, and on the heels of this thought was “for luck.” The woman was continuing to please him but Sinbad’s attention has sifted and all of a sudden he found himself back in a village. Something was wrong…he had to go stop it, and then she was there…her dark hair gleaming in the sun as she kissed him on the check for luck. The young captain then saw himself dragging her into his arms and kissing her properly. “Bryn,” he yelled his eyes snapping open as mind cleared. Sinbad pulled away just in time to prevent the beautiful woman from sinking the two very long fangs, which had appeared in her mouth, into his unprotected throat. The young captain jumped up stumbling a little as he fumbled for his sword hilt. After two unsuccessful attempts he managed to grasp it and pulled it free of it’s scabbard. Sinbad then brandished the sword expertly in front of him, completely on guard, and with his mind clear.
“All right who, or what, are you,” he said, his voice filled with menace and his blue eyes wary.
The strange woman snarled in reply her fangs gleaming in the setting sun. She then slowly rose to her feet and snapped her fingers causing a long formfitting white gown to appear on her body.
“I am Tiranya, queen of the Leanan-Sidhe (Lan-awn-shee) and you insolent mortal were to be my dinner,” the dangerous blond haired beauty said in eerie calm. She met the captain’s eyes with her own blue one’s. They were as cold as ice.
Sinbad’s eyes narrowed as he replied sardonically, “I’m sorry to ruin your plans.”
“So am I,” the sidhe replied, “you would have made a wonderful immortal,” she added with a lustful gleam in her eyes and a lick of her full lips.
The young captain looked on the sidhe with disgust, he then remember the coin the old blind man had given him and used his free hand to pull it from his side pocket. He held it up and asked, “Do you know this coin?”
The queen of the sidhe hissed and visibly recoiled. “Where did you get that,” she hissed in fear as she shielded her eyes from the coin's brilliance.
“From a friend,” he countered smoothly his hard-set face not changing expression.
“You lie mortal,” she hissed, “only those blessed by the fey can carry that coin,” she said keeping her distance from him now.
“Why do you fear it,” he asked wondering why this coin held such menace for the fey demon.
“Because I am an outcast form the realm of the fey, to touch that coin would mean death,” she said and then added, “it also neutralizes my powers so that I cannot get away.”
“Then you have to do as I say,” the young captain concluded in understanding.
“Yes,” she spat not happy with the idea, but resigned to her fate.
“Good, then I want you to get me to Athlone,” Sinbad said his mind filled with once again finding Bryn.
“Only if you promise to release me when we get there,” the sidhe bargained not wanting this mortal to know just how much control he had over her.
“Agreed,” Sinbad said having no desire to make this creature his slave. At her disbelieving look he added solemnly, “You have my word.” The sidhe looked deep into the sailor eyes and apparently found the sincerity she was looking for as she replied, “Then we are off to Athlone.” Tiranya then turned toward the river and using the only power the coin allowed her to summon a boat from the depths of the river. Her and the captain then boarded, a swift unnatural wind filling the sails, carrying them to Athlone and Bryn.
Bryn stood on a the top of a rolling green hill overlooking the village of Athlone, frozen in place by her inner demons as the sun sunk lower it the distant horizon. Bryn had found that the closer she had gotten to Athlone the more open her mind had become to her past. She still didn’t remember anything tangible, mostly emotions and flashes. The young witch was having mixed feelings about her slowly opening subconscious because of the nature of some of the memories. The past few nights had brought both happiness and pain as some of her past bloomed before her. The one night she would never forget though was the day she saw her mother. It still brought tears of joy to her eyes as she remembered the kindly woman with dark hair and blue eyes. She had been about five years old in the memory. Her mother was picking flowers in the field and Bryn had remembered that she had been out amongst the flowers looking for the faerie folk that her mother said lived in that particular field. She had remembered her mother’s mockly indignant face when she had come back to her covered in dirt, carrying a hand full of clovers. The memory made her chuckle a little as she remembered the excuse she had given. She had been looking for a four-leaf clover to bring her luck in her search for the little people. Bryn’s smile faded as she remembered the other part of the memory. This was were her mind still shut her out, the good memories had been coming more often, but the bad…she could only know of the bad through remembered feelings. They were usual feelings of fear, pain…and guilt. The guilt was the one that troubled her the most for it made her wonder what she had done so wrong to feel guilty about. Bryn shook herself out of her thoughts, took a deep breath and pasted a smile on her face. She was about to walk into the village that had been her childhood home hoping that Sinbad and the crew had been right about her…hoping she wasn’t evil.
From the shadows of the near bye woods a man dressed in green watched the young dark haired sorceress head toward her destiny. He smiled in delight and mischief as he thought of the reward Finvarra would give for the little element girl. Robin Goodfellow smiled again in a child’s delight as he turned on cloven hoofs to disappear back into the woods. All in good time little element girl, all in good time, he thought and broke into a lively tune on his panpipe.
Bryn walked through the streets of the village of Athlone taking in all that was to be seen. She knew this place she thought happily. It was odd, every which way she turned a memory would flash. Her and her mother buying food and supplies form the vendors, her and her mother talking to different people on the street just passing the day away. What was strange though was that it was always her and her mother. She had yet to remember the man who was her father, the one that Nolen spoke of in such loathing. The young witch was so lost in her thoughts that she didn’t watch were she was going, and ran right into a very ample middle age woman, knocking them both to the ground. The tall plump woman laughed very good naturedlly as Bryn apologized profusely.
“Oh I so sorry, I should have been watching were I was going,” Bryn apologized getting up and offer the woman her hand.
“‘Tis all right lass,” the older woman said taking Bryn’s hand and letting her help her. The woman still hadn’t looked at Bryn. “I should been minding my own way I…” the woman trailed off and her eyes widened as she looked at Bryn. A large grin had been on the young witch’s face until she noticed this woman’s expression. Her green eyes were wide and her red hair was flying away form the knot she had kept it in. “By the Gods,” she exclaimed tears of joy started to flow down her face. “Bryn,” she choked out through her thick voice, “Is…is that you little one.”
Bryn in her excitement grabbed the woman by her shoulders a little tightly and exclaimed excitedly, “You…you know me?”
The woman gripped Bryn’s shoulder’s in the same way, “Of…Of course little one,” she said in confusion. “It is me Lonnie, I was your mother’s best friend, you used to call me aunt Lonnie, practically lived at my house you did. Don’t you remember me?” she asked her confusion peeking through her Gaelic Brogue.
Bryn’s face took on a pained expression, “I’m sorry but no, I…I don’t remember anyone,” she confessed not wanting to hurt this woman who seemed to be genuinely fond of her.
“Lass what happen to you then, it’s been years…years,” Lonnie asked stunned and placing her hands on the young woman’s face just to make sure she was indeed real.
“I told you I don’t know Lonnie,” Bryn said hesitantly trying the name out on her lips. “There was a storm, I know that now, and then I awoke on an island wiped of my memory. For a long time now I have had only known my name, until…”
Lonnie thoroughly caught up in the young witch’s story prompted, “until what.”
“Until Tangier, until I met my grandfather, oh Lonnie I want so desperately to remember everything, can you help me,” Bryn pleaded with the older woman.
Lonnie’s eyes widened as she digested this information and her face took on a sorrowful expression. “Then you don’t remember…and he didn’t tell…” she said pained, her voice trailing before she could finish. “Damn Nolen and his unthinking ways,” Lonnie cursed. The plump woman then grasped the young witch’s arm staring to pull her off the street. Bryn watched in confusion as the Lonnie cast a furtive glance around like she was afraid of being seen.
“Come child,” she said urgently, “We have to get you off the street before someone else recognizes you.” Lonnie added pulling Bryn toward a nearby alley. Lonnie wasn’t fast enough though, and as she turned her head she saw a large group of angry looking people heading their way. The mob was armed with stones and clubs of various sizes. Lonnie put herself between the mob and Bryn without a second thought and yelled, “Run Child Run,”
Bryn didn’t move couldn’t as the mob approached her, all she could think was that Scratch had been telling the truth.
Sinbad had kept his end of the bargain and set the sidhe free when they reached the edge of Athlone. The minute he disembarked off the boat Trianya vanished, smiling her thanks. She had also vowed that him, and his children would from this day fourth be immune to the magic of her clan. He thanked her quickly with a smile thinking that you never know when that will come in handy. The young captain then focused his attention on the town below and headed toward it at a dead run hoping he was in time.
The crowd drew closer and Bryn, although thankful that Lonnie wanted to protect her, stepped in front of the woman facing down the mob. The young witch wasn’t a coward and she wasn’t about to start behaving like one, even in the face of this…whatever this was. Bryn stood her ground as the group drew closer, tense and ready for whatever they happened to throw at her. The crowd stopped in a few feet in front of her anger and hatred flowing from them in waves causing the empath to reel from the onslaught to her senses. The average built man with gray hair seemed to be their leader. He was wearing the robes of a druid priest as he stepped forward to address her.
“Demon you are not welcome here,” the man said his venom flowing over Bryn in waves.
Bryn gasped in pain, the man’s intense hatred for her hitting her like a physical blow. The young witch clucked her stomach in an attempt to lessen the agony. She took two or three calming breaths, mentally separating her self from the mob. She then attempted what was probably the most idiotic thing she had ever done; she tried to reason with them. She was about to speak, try to appeal to the undecided elements, when Lonnie spoke instead.
“Xavier you have no right to be calling anyone demon, you hypocritical bastard,” Lonnie spat her intense hatred of the man lacing her words.
“Silence woman,” the priest roared, “It figure’s that you would protect this witch. She killed her own mother for gods sake, Gods rest her pure soul,” he concluded his voice sounding sincere.
“You are the demon Xavier, the lass is one of the purest souls to walk the face of this world,” Lonnie shot back not about to be silenced. “And you should all be ashamed of your selves,” the plump woman added addressing the crowd. As Lonnie spoke a few of the townspeople started to look a little uncomfortable, but for the most part the plump woman’s words had fallen on deaf ears. Xavier’s proclamation had already had its desired affect, the priest’s band of followers becoming even more agitated. Cries of witch, demon, and other cruder titles were flung at the unsuspecting empath until Xavier waved his hand for silence. A cruel smile curved the priest lips; he was obviously enjoying being the ringleader of this little circus.
Bryn, in the mean time, was numb from the shock of Xavier’s revelation. The young witch’s beautiful dark eyes had a hollow, dull look to them. She was no longer listening to the cries of the crowd because Xavier’s words had been the catalyst; the final stimulant needed to open the floodgates on her buried past. Suddenly Bryn grasped her head in pain, it had begun, her mind had opened and the memories were crashing down on top of her. Bryn felt her entire being recoil from the intense pain and loss. She vaguely felt Lonnie there supporting her as she tried to weather the storm. Bryn’s mind was reacting violently, trying in vain to repress a lifetime of painful memories. It was because of the young empath’s preoccupation with her own emotional turmoil that she failed to pick up on the feeling of a wrongness she would have normal picked up from the priest.
“Lonnie is this true,” she asked the one woman who she felt she could trust at the moment. Here voice was that of a child seeking comfort for a grievous wrong beyond her control. “No little one,” she replied softly, “you ‘twere barely seven, there was no way you could have known…” Lonnie said unable to finish.
Bryn’s eyes widened, “known what,” she choked afraid to hear the answer.
Lonnie locked eyes with Bryn and started to say, “That…” but Xavier cut her off.
“No Lonnie,” he said savagely knowing that what the woman would say would sway the crowd from it’s purpose. “No more of your lies, she is a demon, touched by the sidhe (shee) and this time she must not live,” he screamed maniacally. Bryn never saw the first rock coming as it hit her across her right cheek splitting it open. She went down on her knees and when she looked up her eyes were glowing yellow. Lonnie gasped when she saw the young witch’s eyes and started shaking her head in a mouthing no. Bryn felt her heart fall as the fear flowed into her from the plump woman. Just then another rock went flying as the crowd recovered from it’s own shock. The rock was headed right for Lonnie's head.