All afternoon they plodded forward, the ground rising steadily and growing rougher and scrubbier as they went. By the time the sun was dipping into the west they had reached the top of a narrow ridge high above the water. From here they had a clear view of the firth widening out into the open sea far to the north. To her left Eny could make out the white foam of the breakers. To her right, at the end of a long, gentle slope, lay a dark patch of woodland crowning a little hill overlooking the sea. In the sky there were no fewer than fifteen pairs of great black wings wheeling above their heads.
Brighid shot Eny an earnest look. “Can you run?”
“Yes,” she answered, sensing that the birds were circling lower.
“Good,” said Brighid. And with that she picked up her skirts and bounded down the incline like a deer. But before Eny could take a single step to follow, even as the sun touched the horizon, something like a multi-colored star came blazing out of the eastern sky and drove straight into the midst of the circling flock. In an instant the birds had scattered to the four winds, their distant cries fluttering down through the air amid their drifting feathers.
“What was that?” gasped Eny as she and Brighid plunged beneath the shadowy branches of the wood beside the sea.
“A ship.” Brighid leaned panting against a smooth-skinned tree. “One of the flying ships of the Tuatha De Danann.”
“Do you think they saw us?” asked Eny, casting off her Feth Fiada and loosening the bolg from her belt.
“No.” Brighid slipped her cloak over her head and ran her fingers through her hair. “No, I don’t believe that what we just witnessed had anything to do with us. Still, I ought to take back something I said to you yesterday.”
Eny unlaced her bag and emptied it of its contents. “What’s that?”
“She may be expecting you after all. I fear she is watching.”
“The Morrigu?” Eny glanced up. “Well, I don’t care if she is.”
“Don’t say that. You must proceed even more warily from this point forward. You must go with eyes wide open.”
“Because she is not one to keep her promises.”
Eny shrugged. “I can’t help that. I don’t have any other choice.”
* * * * *
(To be continued …)