Cooled, shaded and blessedly free of his cloud of midges, Lugh rose from the water of the little lake, refreshed. The mud felt good between his toes as he climbed up the bank, but it wouldn’t do to shove slimy feet in his good new boots. There was a large low stone that gave him a perfect seat to wash off his feet and dress.
Sitting upon the rock and looking out on the little spring fed oval of deep blue water, Lugh had the feeling that he had been here before. It was not deja vu, rather he realized that this was the spot, the very rock, that he and Von had come to so many years ago. The trees were taller, or different, Lugh realized that in so much time there may have grown more than one generation. For all he knew wild-fire or simple decay may have wiped that forest away completely and a new one grown several times since.
The rock was different, aged but not erased, still the lake was the lake that they had known together. Likely it was the steep sides and the depth that swallowed the trees and reed that might have choked another forest lake. This place endured by chance, not magic, or by the magic of chance.
Lugh sat and pondered life, What magic had linked he and Von, chance or something more? Remembering was bitter sweet. She had loved him, how fortunate for him that Von had touched his life and was it chance that brought them and chance that drove them apart?
That bit of sweetness had ended too soon in his long life. Or would he have spoiled it like this latest of Findabair and Gormflaith? Perhaps he would have found some flaw in Von that would have driven him to destroy what had been good. Like he had with Findabair who was dear, a fragile flower, but too clingy and stifling after the initial excitement of weedling his way past her natural defensiveness to possess the unpossessable.
Gormflaith, on the other hand, was all brass and even more narcissistic than people thought him. She was angry that he was still attracted to Findabair, viewing it as a slight. She was pride in every line, and she had some reason to believe herself that remarkable, only being with one so self impressed quickly made him want for gentle Findabair.
Lugh looked out over the blue of the lake and remembered, regretted, “Oh Von, what shall I do?” He clutched the bones at the end of the thong around his neck. He sighed heavily, “Shall I go on north oh bones?”
Lugh unstrung the bones from the thong and pressed them between his palms, “Tell me true bones, shall I continue north? Lugh cast the bones and looked. “Two, and two, and two. On north it is.” He said a bit sadly. Lugh gathered his things and turning his back on the little lake, walked into the trees.
The bones had urged him on, but Lugh soon had to wonder if the bones were working for him or for the midges. The pests returned with a vengeance after the cool of the lake was forgotten and the heat of the day began to tell on him. He sweated and struggled along as the forest thinned to admit the cruel sun. The trees, seedlings really, were close packed and the ground was uneven and dusty.
The small trees impeded him, whip-sawing at him, and then they were gone. Lugh stepped out onto dry dusty ground and there before him was a little hill with a great spreading oak growing from its flank. The shade of it seemed to him the most beautiful thing he’d seen in a long time, it hadn’t taken long for his trek to erase the pretty lake from his mind.
He rushed toward it, there was more green beneath the sheltering branches. When he came to the hill, Lugh began to walk up the side and then he stopped. Strange, though the midges had deserted him, he felt ill. Perhaps this island of cool shade in the midst of arid plain wasn’t empty. Perhaps the owner of this wouldn’t be welcoming. I am being a fool again.
Lugh slid his sword free of its scabbard, and instead of charging up the hill, he cautiously walked around the base, low to the ground. The feeling did not leave him, a feeling of unease, a sickness in the pit of his stomach, but as he climbed into the cool shade beneath the old oak tree and there was no threat that he could find his mind eased if not his stomach. It is the heat and this long dry walk and nothing more, he thought.
Reaching the top of the hill a freshening breeze stirred and Lugh felt foolish for his unease. He could look down from beneath the tree and see the heat of the sun, the dust, and he wanted none of it. Time for some fish and a drink and a little rest here beneath this friendly tree. Lugh stroked the bones where they lay beneath his shirt, Thank you oh bones of my friend Von, for you have done me good service.