Eny threw herself on her knees in the shallows of the stream and looked up into the big round eyes staring down at her from beneath the hat’s wide brim. Those eyes were not green and lurid, as she had expected, but dark and lovely. They glowed with quiet reassurance. The mouth, too, was supple, warm, and kind, and a sad smile sat lightly upon the lips as the light sits on a rippling stream. In the next instant the hat came off and an abundance of dusky hair flowed down over the soft, round shoulders. The figure threw its patchwork cloak aside, took Eny by the hand, and raised her to her feet.
“Brighid!” breathed Eny. “I thought you were—”
Brighid nodded. “I know what you thought.”
Eny frowned and cast an apprehensive glance over her shoulder. “Are Simon—I mean Ollamh Folla—and the others with you?”
Brighid shook her head. “I came alone. No one else knows. Ollamh has already set out in another direction. I knew I would find you here.”
“It matters not. What does matter is that I also know why you left the dun and what you mean to do.”
Eny pulled away and took a step back. “So you’ve come to take me back?”
“No.” Again the Danaan maiden extended her small white hand. “Walk with me now and let us talk. The sun is going and we must find a safe place to stop for the night.”
They set off across the level plain. To the north, beyond the russet waves of the undulating grassland, Eny could see the fading sunlight glinting like copper on the rocky ridge just below the steep Hill Forest. She remembered those heights well, for it was there that she and the Fir Bolg had paused in their desperate flight from the pursuing Fomorians.
It was with a bittersweet sense of longing mingled with revulsion that she recalled those early hours of her very first day in the Sidhe. Her mother had told her many tales of Faery over the years, but none of them, for all their thrills and delights, had prepared her for the joys and terrors of the thing itself.
Thinking of those stories, she couldn’t help wondering what her mom was doing now. She wondered whether her parents were together, whether her dad had called the FBI, whether Moira was desperate with worry, whether George would be tender and understanding or short-tempered and impatient with his wife. Despite her burning desire to help Morgan find his dad, Eny began to feel that she would give anything to go home and see her own mother and father again.
“I have something to say to you,” said Brighid as the sun dipped behind the hills and a chill breeze rose in the west, ruffling their hair and rustling the dry grasses at their feet. “The time has come, I think, to give you what is rightfully yours.”
Eny turned and studied the girl’s shining eyes and glowing cheek in the dim and fading light. And as she did, she was seized by a sudden inward vision of unsuspected glory. All at once she realized that her companion was something more than a simple Danaan servant—perhaps a person of even greater power and stature than Ollamh Folla himself.
“What do you mean?” said Eny—and her voice sounded small and thin in her own ears. “What could you possibly have that belongs to me?”
“Let me show you.” Brighid reached into the voluminous folds of her green robe and drew out something that looked like a bundle of shadow. She paused for a moment with the faint amber gleam of the west upon her smooth forehead. Then, holding a corner of the gray thing in each hand, she lifted it up and let it unfold. It dropped down before Eny’s eyes like a web of subtly shimmering dreams.
“You have heard the tale of Eithne, your precursor and forerunner?” asked Brighid.
“Yes. Long ago and far away,” Eny answered. “It was in the hut of Rury and Liber in Luimneach. I had been ill. It was a fuzzy, dreamy sort of time. Semeon told it to me.”
“Then you have heard of Eithne’s Feth Fiada?”
“It was a kind of cloak or robe, wasn’t it?”
“More than that. The Feth Fiada is a cloak of invisibility. It is the cloak the Tuatha De Danann wear when they wish to pass between the Sidhe and the Overworld.”
“I remember. Eithne lost hers, didn’t she?”
“She did. In Eire, beside the River Boyne, in the days of Saint Patrick. And the losing of it sealed her destiny, for it helped determine her decision to remain in your world and to embrace mortality. Thus it was that she became a saint among the people above ground.”
Eny nodded. “Well?”
“This is that same Feth Fiada,” said Brighid. “The Feth Fiada of Eithne herself. The people of Brugh na Boyne found it and brought it back to the Sidhe where the De Danann have kept it as a priceless treasure. And now it belongs to you as her successor and rightful heir.”
(To be continued …)