What she was, Lugh thought, was socially awkward. She was precocious in her understanding of giants and in mobilizing her folk to fight them. She was sweet and, it seemed at times, flirtatious by turns with him. She knew him, knew of his extremely long life, understood to some extent what that meant, could hold her own despite his experience, and yet Oatey seemed totally awkward in the rest of her life.
He found her fascinating. He found her frightening.
Lugh rubbed the tethered divination bones around his neck. Again he wondered about those bones. Did the Norfolk woman, Von, protect her kin with their guidance and not him primarily? Could bits of bone be more than their substance? Of course, he used them for guidance.
With a jolt Lugh realised that in truth he did depend on them. What madness? He trusted their directed randomness when he was unsure, likely when decisions were the most critical. What could he do but shake his head, was his life no more than a string of accidents and this of Oatey Moss just the latest of centuries worth.
Lugh sighed, she had been inconsolable, weeping from embarrassment for leaving him, at least she had represented that as her reason for her tears. He had held her while her tears drenched him, stroked her hair through wracking sobs, and layed beside her in confusion when she drifted off to sleep.
Finally, he too had slept. He hadn’t sensed her leaving, so it was alone again that he woke in her room full of books, abandoned, still not knowing her or even the way out of this infernal warren. Oatey Moss was frustrating like Von had never been.
He drew off his bones and unstrung them from their cord. They were old, yellowed, and polished by his chest where they rode, and the by the years. He knew the marks well, but their original intent he could not guess, had never even thought to imagine. Perhaps Von had her revenge after all.
Perhaps by these she knew him, after he had fled, reading his heart where they lay, and then she must have hated what she saw there. “Oh bones of Von. . .” He caressed them with familiarity, like a talisman of self, though they were no such thing. These had been given him and they had shaped him by accident or by intent, for twice a hundred years and more. The urge came to throw them away, but it was the feeling of a moment only and he pressed them between his palms and whispered them, “Tell me true, do you serve me?”
Lugh breathed his life on them like an incantation and released them upon the bed. They fell, he read, one mark first, and three marks. . .” His stomach lurched, he felt a moment of sickness, but then he saw, and with a rush was relieved, “. . . gods be good, two marked, so yes.”
How important was it to know if he could trust his most trusted councilors, these bones? He was alarmed when a mad titter slipped out unbidden. Was he mad? No, he meant to wonder if he was mad to trust the bones, surely, “Oh bones. . .” He cursed himself for weak foolishness. “One and Two and Three can’t tell me what I don’t know to ask.”
Lugh pressed bones and cupped hands against his forehead, though his mind was empty, but fearful. Tension built in him. He should throw, how else to know? But what to know? He felt himself casting without a question, his body doing without thought. Can I trust her? It came to his mind as the bones spilled. There was rustling he heard, someone coming.
“I thought we might need some breakfast. I hope I found things you like.” Oatey said in a bright happy voice as she swept back into his world.
Lugh glanced and thought he saw a three and maybe another before he scooped up his divination bones. “I wondered where you’d got to.” He said with casualness that he knew for a lie.