Winter – Chapter 21 – 05

            Marin saw it first, the figure silhouetted against the darkness and the wind and blowing snow.  Thom knew because she tensed next to him, her head jerking to one side as she struggled to get a better look at whoever—whatever—it was. 
            He looked where she looked and swallowed hard.
            “Did you kill them all?  The raiders?” he breathed, barely audible over the wind.
            “No,” she said.  “But if that’s one of them, I’m going to kill them with my bare hands, one way or another.”  She took a slow step forward.  Thom went with her.
            The figure drew closer, became more distinct.
            Gods and monsters, Thom thought.  It’s a woman.
            She reminded him of the Morrigan—she shot shivers up and down his spine like the Celtic death goddess had.  The figure that began to slowly fade into view was small and slender, her body cloaked in fine but tattered robes of gray and blue.  Her black hair hung in a waves across her shoulders, braids framing her face.  Bright gray eyes reflected what little light there was, seeming to glow from the dark shadows surrounding them.  It was as if she’d smudged the hollows around her eyes with charcoal, if only to emphasize the paleness of the gray on white.  Her skin was the same color as the snow driving from the sky, catching in her coal black hair and melting oh-so-slowly.  She stepped toward them, barefoot in the snow, taking one step, then another.  She stopped a few feet from them as he and Marin drew to a stop.
            Blue-black lips parted and she spoke, her voice the sound of ice shattering against itself—beautiful, musical, and jarring all at once.
            “Had we known what wonders those principes illegitimi Hibernia mysticum would eventually spawn, we might have held out for that woman to finally die instead of settling for the elder.”
            Thom felt Marin stiffen.  Their fingers laced together and he squeezed her hand tightly.
            What the hell is she talking about?  He kept his expression carefully blank.  If this woman was their enemy, there was no reason to let her know she had the upper hand.
            The woman’s hands, small and delicate like a child’s, disappeared into her long, wide and ragged sleeves.  From one sleeve, clutched in one small fist, she drew forth a tarnished silver chain with an equally tarnished medallion.  Thom sucked in a breath.
            It’s almost identical to the one that Teague gave to Kira.
            He could see it clearly, despite the darkness, despite the snow and wind that stung his eyes and made them tear.  He could see the blade, the leaf, the flame and the star.  His heart crept up into his throat and he swallowed, stomach twisting.  “Bloody hell,” he breathed.
            “Who are you?”  Marin asked, her voice a whisper, barely louder than his.
            The woman-child smiled.  “A mother, a child, a sister, a daughter.  Winter.  Death.  The sunset and the moonrise.”
            “Riddles,” Marin said, the word a bullet of ice.
            The woman laughed.  “Fire!  You get it from them, I know it.  He was the same when you pushed.  I loved it.  I loved every moment I was with him.  Pity I had to share.”  Her eyes dropped.  “Pity he was lost.”
            “Oh gods and monsters,” Marin whispered, hand spasming around Thom’s.  “Seamus.  You’re talking about Seamus.”
            “Bright, too, aren’t you, auguratrix?  Yes.  Mei lumen cordis.”  She stepped closer.  It got colder, but the wind seemed to calm, and the snow seemed to ease around them, the nearer she came.  Her eyes were like the moon, glowing in the darkness.
            Thom tried not to shiver, his heart thudding painfully hard inside the cage of his ribs.
            “I loved him,” she said simply.  “And we lost him.  My sister…ah well.  A story for another night.”  Her eyes closed for a moment and all light seemed to vanish from the world.  Marin’s hand crushed his.
            Hold it together, Mar.  Please, hold it together.  If you fly off the handle, I’m going to go spiraling after you.  Keep it together.
            “Our get is coming.  Our lineage is coming.  Hers will, too, though I know not when.  I know not whether they come for good or for ill.  It is a thing I cannot know.  I can only hope.”
            “W-what are you talking about?”  Marin asked.
            She opened her eyes.  “The many times son of my son is coming.  The many times sons of Seamus of the Áes Dána are coming.  They are coming to you without knowing why.
            “What you do when they arrive is up to you, but I warn you: if you cross them, not even the Wanderer or a princess of Avalon will be able to save you.”

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This entry was posted in Book 2 and 3, Chapter 21, Story, Winter, Year One. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Winter – Chapter 21 – 05

  1. Antonious says:

    Why do I get the feeling that a mistake with this “woman” would have consequences that would make Vammatar, Cariocecus and the rest like puppies chewing your best shoes.

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