Lugh woke as he felt rough hands grab him and drag him up and away, his legs banged painfully against hard unseen things in the dark. Far worse was the pain in his head, blinding brightness of excrutiating agony that burst before his eyes while all else was as dark as night.
It seemed his captors knew some evil deviltry for causing pain where in every movement was calculated to cause him the worst possible discomfort. Lugh retched, bringing paroxysms of pain and his torturers made angry hootings, perhaps his vomit had found their feet, Lugh felt a tiny bit of pleasure deep beneath the agonies as they continued to shake him, his wounded head, and again bring forth his gorge. Lugh clung to the small victory as he passed mercifully from consciousness, hearing muffled voices, indistinct and far away.
Lugh was surprised to wake. He came to himself in a cool room, blind it seemed, but not as before. He realized there were bandages on his eyes. He could see some light through the swaddling and he could hear.
“Who is that?” a coarse growl came from nearby.
“Oh him? Nobody of import, this poor chap was badly burned, I could show you his face, but you’d not recognize him even if it were he you sought.” The wavery voice of an old man mused, “This poor fellow was learning the oak way here, but then a forgotten candle caught his bower afire and a beam landed on his head when it burned to the ground a few weeks ago.” The old man’s voice grew close, “See?” The sheet covering him pulled away slightly.
“He’s as red as a berry. . .”
“Indeed so, burned every hair off him and much of his skin, that bit is about as good as it gets, poor lad, No telling what will come of him, but he won’t be running any time soon. Shall I show you the face? It’s really quite gruesome.” The old man droned on, chatty and happy for an audience.
“No no, the fugitive isn’t a common fellow, he is a prince, or someone of note I suppose. The queen’s paramour some say, or a former friend.”
“Well, we refuse none who come, mind you, but none came to us last night.”
“. . . and this is the only other person besides your accolytes.”
“. . .And the teachers and sacrificers you met, and he too was among the students and may be again, though not likely.” the old man quavered as his voice began to fade as they left.
“We will search the grove then. . .”
The old man’s voice sharpened with authority and power, “Of a certainty, but you aught to go carefully, there are powers of which you know nothing, dangerous if offended.”
“This fellow may have turned himself into a white horse, some say, and fled with his chariot team when searchers were leaving the main gate.”
“Truly? Turned himself into a horse? Well, we had no white horses come to us either. . .”
Lugh smiled to himself, So, they think I turned into a horse. Was it Gol who spun that lie to explain how I escaped? I wonder. And Lugh drifted off to sleep content in the safety of his bandages.