Child of Moss, part 18 (20)

Lugh stalked off into the night.  His mind was a-whirl with thoughts, with memories that he’d shaded with pleasantness only days ago, the pleasure of Von, hopes that she might at least remember him well.  But all such thoughts were ashes.  “They killed her.” Oatie had said and he had seen in her eyes that she even feared the same from him. 

Lugh didn’t even know for sure who “They” might be, but he felt guilt for it.  Guilt for his carelessness if nothing else.  Guilt for not knowing what had become of Von and for what had come of his good intention toward her.  I didn’t think you might be in danger, I only knew that I was.

Lugh heard movement behind him.  He had no desire to talk of it, only to think and be alone with this revelation.  He had long experience with running away, he realized, and so it was no hard thing for him to slip away from Oatie. 

I needed to remember, to sort out my life.  His hand went to the bones on the thong around his neck.  I only wanted good for you, but I did nothing to make it so.  Oh bones of Von, were you ever my friend or only a curse for what I’d done?

The night among the trees was dark, but the sky was full of stars.  Lugh looked to the heavens for answers, but the stars had none.  He walked silently in the night seeking a place to think and await the dawn.  What had he done with the life that Von had given him, it seemed, at the cost of her’s?  Not much to tell.

There had been things to do.  Weyland’s kingdom under the Western Mountains had been endlessly fascinating.  Well, as endlessly fascinating as things got for a god with a short attention span.  I’d quite forgotten that when I fled the Norfolk by the Saffron River, I didn’t stop my running until I reached the Western Mountains and hid myself there.  Weyland had no more love for Lyr than did I, though Lyr wasn’t trying to kill the lord under the mountain.

I’d planned to return to Von, wanted to, expected it, planned that return, but always I put it off until there was no more reason, until Von would have looked more like my mother than a girl like Oatie.  And then, after leaving the mountain halls of Loki, after living among the tribes above the desert south, there was then no chance that she would even be alive at all. 

It wasn’t Lyr that tried to kill me then, no, a daliance in the Gallic south had nearly done for me.  The Cult of the Virgin turned those refugees of the Tuath wars into murderous monsters.  I blame the endless red day and I did not mind leaving all that behind. 

Why am I always blown from one place to another?  Weyland has his mines.  Lyr has claimed the East.  Most of my brothers and sisters live in the misty Islands of the Inner Sea.  Even Bridgit seems to have gone to ground somewhere.  I don’t hear about her moving around like I hear about my old travels.  Strange to hear the tales of your own wandering.

They, whoever They might have been, probably shieldmen of his brother, Lyr, but that was only a guess, They had killed her.  Small comfort, he was not there to defend her, he never went back even to learn that she’d died.  If not for him Von would have lived.  What to do with that realization?

Should he not simply run?  Lugh thought, turning the idea over in his mind much more than he would normally, it was a night for thinking.  Who knew if Lyr would kill him now?  And yet he ran, or at least it seemed for one reason or another, often the same one, he ran and kept running though a trail that Lyr might have followed was now hundreds of years old.  The running began with Lyr, but the habit of it was just that, a habit that had become him, not an action taken for any real reason.

Lugh drifted through a young forest that rose above their camp-site, feeling his way with his feet, arms out to tough the young trees, and eyes that grew ever more accustomed to the starry night. 

This of the Norfolk is good work, he thought, making of a barren land a garden.  Sadness washed over him, If only I had shared this with Von, seen this with her, would she even have come with me?  I wonder.

Lugh came to a prominence, a rocky projection where the land fell away all around him.  He looked up at the blaze of starlight.  Look there is the Stranger, down on the horizon the great dark moon hung.  He gazed at that great hole in the starry host.  Suddenly, Traveller set a glow on the horizon before leaping into the sky, shining in colors of blue and gold and red, as it tumbled into the starry night.  How many times have I seen you, and this time the most surprising of all?  Lugh laughed, where are you going old friend?  Why shouldn’t I come with you?  Oh, that’s right, I can’t fly.