Author's notes: The first part of this story takes place in ancient Ireland and represents a past life of: Jim Ellison, Blair Sandburg,
Simon Banks, Megan Connor and Alex Barnes - At the conclusion of the first part we are once again in the present and
approximately one month after their return from South America.
In writing the part of the story taking place in Ireland I used my own family history and family names....Jim Ellison's Irish name belonged to a great grandfather and I was named after my Grandmothers maiden name of Ellison...the E was simply changed to an "A" to create an existing girl's name...The coincidence was too much and this story was born.
I use a few celtic words and phrases but have provided a list with spelling, pronounciation, and when applicable, meaning...including character names...Please find said list below:
Blair = Eoin (Owen) which means = Gracious gift of God
Jim = Eamonn (Amon) which actually means = Blessed Protection
Simon = Naoise (Neesha) which means "One Choice"
Megan = Morrigan (Morgan)
Alex = Laetes (Latees) a roman name
PLACES AND PHRASES:
Tara = Residence of the Overkings of Ireland
Erin = Chief seat of the Druids
Calbair Con Ri = site of soltice celebration
Faith (pronounced "faw") a druid prophet
Feth Fiada = a spell for creating mists
Cenad = chant used to fortell the future (bit of coincidence? Cenad? Senad?)
Ta gra agam duit = I love you
Aghra mochroi = Love of my heart
A chuisle mochroi (cushla macree) = one of the most beautiful endearments and to be said only of a great love, it means, "Pulse
of My Heart"
Ancient Ireland in the time of the druids
Dawn had come, the sky was clear, the air crisp. The lone rider surveyed the meadow below. A beautiful mist swirled low to the ground, enveloping the grassland in its beauty.
To anyone else, the movement of the mist would seem normal, but to Eamonn's eye, the surge and eddy of the low clouds had a distinct pattern. These were not the mists of nature, but the creation of man.
Eamonn sent his sight through the moist veil and could now distinguish a caravan traveling cautiously within its folds.
A frown marred the rider's handsome features. This caravan moved west but in a strange formation. No single file here, but rather they traveled in two circular patterns, creating what could only be called a protective ring. The men in the outer circle were warriors and dressed much like Eamonn himself...leather breeches, shirt and vest and their weaponry...the riders of the inner circle were dressed in white robes....
Eamonn concentrated his vision on the object of the protection....a boy.
Druids protecting a boy? Who was this child?
Focusing once again on the boy, Eamonn noted he too wore the leather breeches, but no shirt, only a vest. Eamonn could see the clan tattoo encircling the boy's right wrist and on each bicep, a circlet of two thin silver bands, a silver animal design trapped within the two bands. The animal represented in the right circlet was a wolf but the animal design on the left circlet was unclear...it appeared to be a large cat of some kind.
Eamonn could not see the boy's face for he wore his hair longer than was usual and the curls whipping about successfully hid the boy's features.
As Eamonn continued to watch, he felt a strange pressure building in his chest, a pull, a need...to join the caravan...to join the guardians of this boy. As he was about to urge his mount down the hill, something caught his eye.
Movement. To the north of the caravan.
Warriors. Heavily armed. Roman. The same mists now protecting the caravan also protected the warriors.
The pressure Eamonn had experienced before now quadrupled...he had to protect.
Kicking in his heels he galloped down the slope.
A war cry pierced the early morning air and the warriors ran swiftly toward the circle...and the boy.
The men of the outer circle heard the war cry and could now see the advancing menace. They immediately turned their horses to meet the warriors head on. One guardian, larger than the others, moved his horse up to the boy, grabbed his reins and forged ahead, removing the boy from the battle about to surround them.
Roman warriors met guardians, the sound of metal striking metal....
Eamonn was almost upon the battle when he noticed two warriors break off from the main horde and charge after the boy.
Eamonn quickly changed direction and raced after them. As he closed the gap he reached down, unsheathed his dirk from its legging strap and with incredible speed and miraculous accuracy, he hurled it toward the closest rider. The dirk found its mark and the Roman went down.
The other warrior glanced back, saw his fallen comrade, saw Eamonn, and kicked his horse to greater speed. Eamonn did the same.
The guard who had taken the boy from the heat of the battle checked back and realized that the Roman would soon catch them, the boy's horse being no match for the Roman's steed. He returned the reins to his charge, yelled a command and turned to face the warrior.
NO! Eamonn's mind screamed. It was a trap. Eamonn could see what others could not and he now spied another man. On horseback, several yards in front of the boy. He waited. He did not need to move...the boy was coming to him. The man sat tall in the saddle, his bearing spoke of wealth and power. He wore a black hooded cloak and as Eamonn rode frantically to intercept the boy he saw the hood fall back and reveal long, straight, white-blonde hair.
Eamonn had drawn up to the large guardian who was engaged in mortal combat with the other Roman. There was nothing he could do here, his job was the boy. He had to reach the boy before the man in black.
He was closing the distance, praying he would succeed, when the boy glanced back, saw Eamonn and pulled up on the reins!
Amazingly, the boy turned his horse and galloped straight back toward Eamonn!
A bow was discharged, the arrow burying itself in the boy's horse. Rider and animal went down, the boy tucking, curling and rolling up to his feet. Eamonn came abreast, the boy reached up one arm, Eamonn connected and swung the boy back and up onto his horse.
The man in black ahead, the raging battle behind. Eamonn chose the battle. He reined in his horse, turned and rode back.
It was a good decision. The battle was almost over and the Romans were being soundly defeated...the few still remaining on horseback were retreating. The guardian who had turned to fight now stood over the body, his sword buried to the hilt in the chest of the Roman.
Eamonn glanced back. The man in black remained in place, heedless of the losing battle, watching Eamonn and the boy.
Eamonn's eyes locked onto the other man's and he felt a surge of heat race through his body.... Eamonn almost lost his seat, the heat and shock was so intense. Only the firm hold of the boy kept him steady.
The man in black broke the gaze first and disappeared into the forest.
As Eamonn pulled up to the guardians, he noted five Romans dead on the ground but not one guardian.
Druids and guardians, swords still drawn, moved forward as Eamonn lowered the boy to the ground. The boy did not run to his people, instead he took a protective stance in front of his new guardian.
The large guard had caught up with them and now stepped forward. The boy stopped his movement with a raised hand and turned to face Eamonn. And Eamonn found himself facing not a boy, but a young man of maybe 17 or 18 summers. The face that stared up at him was beautiful. Full lips, broad forehead, strong, high cheekbones, eyes a slightly darker blue than Eamonn's, but with a depth and maturity beyond his years.
"I am Eoin. We are grateful for your intervention."
Eoin's voice was beautiful as well, low, melodic, it drew the older man from his horse to stand at his side.
"I am Eamonn. Of Inishowen."
"You have many questions, Eamonn. Perhaps you travel in our direction? We would welcome your company and I would be happy to satisfy your curiosity."
Eamonn was in fact, traveling to Tara. In the opposite direction from the one the caravan was going. But looking into those eyes...he could only nod.
The large guardian stepped forward now, clearly angry and Eamonn was astounded to find the guardian was a woman.
"Eoin, you know nothing of this man, we dare not...."
Once again the young man staved off any action or words with his raised hand.
"What I know, Morrigan, is he entered a battle that was not his, risked his life for me and he sees that which you and I cannot. I trust him."
Eamonn was staggered. This boy knew. He knew of his curse.
"Eamonn, we would be honored if you would travel with us?"
Eamonn could not refuse. He nodded his agreement. The guardian called Morrigan turned to remount and one tall white-robed man came forward. This druid was unlike any Eamonn had ever seen. He was tall and his skin was a dark shade never seen by Eamonn.
"I am Naoise. I thank you for saving Eoin and I welcome your presence."
Naoise addressed the others.
"We must move on, we have much ground to cover before nightfall."
Eoin turned to his new protector, eyebrow raised in question. Eamonn did not hesitate. He swung up on his horse and extended his hand down to Eoin who grabbed his wrist and once again swung up behind the older man.
The caravan once again moved forward, creating the protective circles, this time around Eamonn. As he urged his horse ahead, he could discern mutterings coming from his "passenger". He glanced back and saw Eoin's hands creating complicated designs in the air with his fingers as a pale light flowed from his fingertips, tracing the beautiful designs. Eamonn was not a stranger to the ways of druid magic and he knew he was witnessing the Feth Fiada, or the calling of the cloak of invisibility. And Eoin was apparently very adept. Slowly the beautiful mists returned to once again hide the travelers.
The caravan traveled through the rest of the day, conversation being impossible, as their path was uphill, the road rough and dangerous.
Throughout their journey, Eamonn found his mind taken up with all that he had seen and he found himself unable to accept that the young man behind him could be a druid. And yet, the magic. Only the most adept could call forth the Feth Fiada...and how had Eoin known of his curse?
Eoin wore not the robes of the druids nor the pendants that proclaimed their status. His only adornment; the circlets and two round metal rings in his left ear. But the power he wielded was very real.
At one point the path became rocky and uneven and Eoin's right arm came around Eamonn's waist to steady himself. Eamonn felt a warmth travel through his body. A warmth that stunned him. The feeling was stronger even than that which he had experienced when his eyes locked with the man in black. It was not a feeling he disliked, but he felt strangely uncomfortable.
Eoin was a man, Eamonn was a man and older by tenfold. He pushed the warmth away, denying it's very existence.
At dusk the order was given to halt and make camp.
Eamonn left Eoin with Naoise and traveled several yards upwind and made his camp.
He was just sitting down to eat when he "heard" Eoin. He already knew the "sound" of him, the scent of him. Moments later, the young man appeared through the brush.
Eamonn stood and started to explain.
"I do. You must camp thus to protect us. May I join you? I promised to answer your many questions."
"Please, sit by the fire."
The two men sat, side by side, letting the warmth of the fire and their comfortable silence relax them after the days events.
Finally Eamonn could contain himself no longer.
"I have so many questions, I do not know where to begin."
"Let me tell you what I can and if you have other thoughts, share them. Fair?"
Eamonn smiled, Eoin was a born talker, much like his own brother.
"We travel from Erin to Calbair Con Ri for the summer solstice. The druids will be initiating a new "Faith".
"So they believe."
"But they are wrong? You are not a Faith?"
"I am Faith, but my destiny lies elsewhere. This I have seen. I will not be initiated. The men who attacked were Romans, you gathered as much, I am sure. They were led by Laetes, who has dabbled in the black arts and believes that if he can possess me, he can possess great power. He is wrong. His time is not now."
"How did you know of my curse? Did you see me in a cenad?"
"Curse? You believe your gift to be a curse?"
"It is. I have lost my family, my clan. They were afraid of me, certain that I was possessed. I travel alone...there is much pain and confusion, sometimes I know not what is real and what is evil. Yes, I believe I am cursed. And you have not answered me, how did you know?"
"Yes, I saw you. In a cenad. I saw greatness for you. Your gift can unite our land and ward off the new invaders. You can make history."
Eamonn laughed. The laugh was harsh.
"Eoin, I am a freak, I can unite nothing, make nothing. And you? If you are not destined for Calbair Con Ri, what is your destiny?"
"Not what. Who. You are my destiny. I can help you with your gift. We can make a difference for our land, our home. Do you know what your name means? "Eamonn." It means Blessed Protection. That is you."
Eamonn lurched to his feet, stepping back, arms raised as if to ward off Eoin's words.
"I am no one's destiny, certainly not yours. You are Faith, I am nothing."
Eoin looked up at the man, their eyes locking.
"Our destinies are linked. Deny that if you must, but it will not change the truth. We are bound, you and I. If not in this life, than in another, or another, or another."
"And if I refuse this destiny? What of you?"
Eoin was silent, his head going back to the fire. But finally he answered, his voice low, almost a whisper.
"There are always other paths, Eamonn."
This seemed to relax the older man. He took his place back at the fire.
"Eoin, I can not deny a connection between us, I felt it the moment I laid eyes on you. But can I accept such a destiny for myself? No. The Gods would laugh."
Eoin picked up a stick and began to poke the fire.
"Eamonn, have you ever been in love?"
The older man was not surprised at the abrupt change of topic. Eoin was smart and clever and a piece of misdirection would serve to calm Eamonn.
"Yes, once. But she was matched to another."
"Do not be. It was for the best."
For awhile both were silent, watching the flames, each deep in the myriad of their own thoughts.
"Eamonn, you let your fears decide your fate."
"As do most men, Eoin."
"No, most men use their fears to forge their fate. Fear can be your greatest asset."
Eamonn felt the intense gaze of Eoin and a heat began in his chest and traveled to his groin. Suddenly he had to touch Eoin.
An urge as old as creation pulled him forward until his face was inches from Eoin's. Eoin's hands came up, one on each side of Eamonn's face and he brought his head down, their lips just touching. Eamonn's senses exploded in heat, his arms pulling the young man up, both men standing, bodies melded together. Taste, smell, touch....all warred for dominance. Eamonn's hands began to travel down the strong back coming to rest on the curve of Eoin's ass. He pulled the body in deeper and felt a hardness against his thigh.
Hardness? A man. He'd been kissing a man! NO! Eamonn jerked back as if struck. He pushed Eoin away, disgust and horror waging a battle across his features.
"Stand away!" he hissed.
"Stand away, I say!"
Eoin reached out a tentative hand, worry etched on his face. Eamonn stumbled back and away.
"What is it? What is wrong?"
"What are you? Eamonn whispered.
"I am a man, just as you...nothing more."
"And what else? Did you use a druid spell on me? To force me to want your body, to do your bidding?"
Eoin stepped closer.
"Eamonn, this is not you speaking, it is your fear. Our outside shell counts for little, it is the mind, the deeds...the soul that counts."
"NO! It is wrong. ALL teachings tell us this."
"So you would ignore all that you are, all that you feel, you would deny us?"
"There is no us, and yes, I deny "you" if this is what you represent."
"Than you deny yourself." Eoin gazed at Eamonn, but saw nothing of the man from his visions, nothing of the man he'd spent the day with. This man was so deeply withdrawn that Eoin could not reach him. He turned and walked away. But his heart and soul remained.
"Eoin?" Naoise spoke softly in case his charge was sleeping.
"Are you all right?"
"I have known you, cared for you since you were orphaned at six...I know when you lie."
Naoise lowered himself to the ground behind Eoin's head, crossed his legs, reached under the young man and lifted him toward his legs so that his head now rested in his lap. Eoin sighed as long, dark fingers began to massage his temple.
"Naoise, he denied...who he is."
"You will help him see."
"No. He denied - us. Me."
The big man's hands stopped.
"There is nothing I can do. His fears are greater than his truths."
"Your vision, the second one? It will not come to pass?"
"You. I. No one can stop it."
"You could be wrong."
"I have been wrong before?"
Naoise bent at the waist and wrapped his arms around the young man who was as a son to him. He rested his cheek on Eoin's forehead.
"When Eoin? When?"
"There is time, there is time." Eoin lied.
Eamonn slept fitfully, dreams unlike any before his constant companion...he saw a man, him, yet not...his face was painted, what little clothing he wore unfamiliar to Eamonn...the man was running, chasing something...a wolf? He carried a strange bow and arrow and finally fired...the bow struck and the wolf fell. But the wolf was Eoin, and not. He saw a man...Laetes...arms open to accept Eoin? Eamonn? And at some point Laetes became a woman...in black with a ring of fire around her head.
Eamonn awoke to the sounds of the guardians breaking camp. He stood, trying to shake off the disturbing dreams. He went into the brush to relieve himself than broke up his own camp. He walked his horse to Eoin's camp and tied it to a tree and went in search of Eoin.
Eamonn spotted him across the camp, talking with Naoise. Eoin looked up, caught his eye and began to walk to him, hope in his face. Someone yelled, Eamonn and Eoin turned as one and both saw Laetes at the same moment.
He stood at the edge of the clearing, a crossbow aimed at Eamonn. Their eyes locked once again and this time Eamonn saw his death, stretched out before him, for all time, life after life after life. He made no move to save himself.
But Eoin did. He launched himself through the space separating him from Eamonn just as Laetes fired.
Eyes watched in frozen horror and disbelief as the deadly arrow flew and Eoin placed himself between death and Eamonn.
Time froze as Eamonn and Eoin stared at each other. Then slowly, Eoin fell forward, into Eamonn's arms; the arrow imbedded deep in his back.
Eamonn wrapped his arms around the still form and went down to the ground, holding Eoin close to his body. The camp came alive as guardians and druids rushed forward...Morrigan moving swiftly to Laetes but Naoise beating her. When he saw his "son" fall, he had reached under his robe, pulled his knife and let it fly...it struck Laetes in the heart.
Eamonn sat, holding Eoin, calling him, begging him. They were soon surrounded and Naoise knelt opposite, reaching out to bury his hand in Eoin's curls.
Eamonn raised frightened eyes to Naoise.
"Please, help him, can't you help him?"
Naoise shook his head, his tears flowing freely.
"You denied him, you denied yourself. He knew he would pay the price. Only as one, can you defeat your fears..." The words were choked out.
Slowly Eoin's eyes opened, blinked and focused on Eamonn. One bloodied hand came up and gently touched Eamonn's cheek.
"Eoin, don't leave...stay."
"They call me home, Eamonn. I am not afraid. We will meet again. You are my destiny. Please? Remember me? Through time, remember me?"
"Swear it, Eamonn, swear it."
Eoin searched his beloved's eyes, looking for the truth and finding none. He closed his eyes against the tears of eternal lonliness, but a whispered phrase spoken in his ear gave him hope.
"A ghra Mochroi." Eamonn whispered. Love of my heart.
Eoin managed to whisper his own promise, "Ta gra agam duit, Achuisle Mchroi." I love you, pulse of my heart. The beautiful blue eyes closed and Eoin took his last breath.