In my dreams I found myself walking along the edge of an ancient forest, not far behind my small white wolf, Blar. I had learned a great deal with her help in our time together and I valued her experience as well as her presence as I made my way along the perimeter of the unknown forest. The trees had trunks that were at least ten feet in diameter and stretched toward the sky like graceful ballet dancers standing forever captured in a single pose. They reminded me of the pictures I had seen of the great redwoods in California, but something told me that I wasn’t even in my own world, much less somewhere on the West Coast.
In the little over three months since my last seeking I had gained enough knowledge of walking in dreams that I could now voyage out on my own. I’d been cautious with my new freedom, wanting to ensure that I didn’t put myself into undo danger if I could help it. I wasn’t sure that I’d consciously brought myself here, wherever here was, but the beauty of the place made me feel safe enough to do a little exploring.
I could see the pink and orange hues on the horizon that signaled the coming of the dawn and I found delight in the feeling that everything was fresh and clean with the coming of the new day. I could see rabbits and squirrels playing from where I stood along the edge of the tree line and birds were greeting each other with merry calls in the treetops while others drifted toward the sea that was visible along the edge of the cliffs to my right.
I glanced down at myself and found that I was wearing a long, blue silk dress with delicate embroidery sprinkled on the fabric. I felt as if I’d stepped out of a King Arthur story, the dress was so beautiful. I spread my fingers along one sleeve and my eyes closed in delight at the touch of the soft fabric.
Time seemed to speed up as Blar and I walked along the edge of the forest, until an hour passed in an instance. In no time at all the sky before us was the blazing with the red of sundown that stretched out over the large expanse of water that was visible over the cliffs. Time seemed to stand still and the world grew quiet.
Without a word, Blar turned and moved toward the edge of the cliff that was only thirty feet away. I turned to follow her and as I did I heard the sound of waves hitting the base of the cliffs in the distance. She stopped about ten feet from the edge, as did I when joined her there.
The sunset colored the entire area so that the white stones beneath my feet appeared blood red. When I looked down at them, I realized that it was in fact not just the light making the stones appear red. There was actual blood at my feet, and all along the edge of the cliff, stretching for yards in either direction and to the edge of the cliff itself. Blar’s little white feet were stained with the substance, as was the hem of my beautiful dress.
The perfection of the scene now destroyed, I lifted my skirt so that it no longer touched the ground as I looked down at Blar with concern in my eyes. “What has happened?” I asked as I looked about to see if anyone was around us. I could find no obvious source for the blood and all the animal sounds from the forest had disappeared.
“A battle will be fought here,” she replied and as she did, the ghosted images of discarded weapons and bodies began to fade in and out among the stones before us. They never totally solidified in the misty evening light, but they were visible enough that I could make out the twisted and bloody bodies, as they lay discarded like dolls. They wore two distinct sets of uniforms, one red and the other black, that appeared to have also come from the days of Arthur Pendragon, just as my dress had. It looked like the casualties were even for both armies on the field and it was obvious that the death toll was high.
Swords, pikes and knives littered the ground among the bodies, symbolizing that the battle had been fought with much violence and barbarism. In keeping with the clothing, the weapons were medieval in style, with gleaming blades that were covered in blood and hilts that showed wear that spoke of men who lived, and this time died, with their use.
“Will be fought here?” I asked dazedly as I looked around in confusion. “But it looks like the battle was fought long ago. I don’t understand.”
“In this place, in this time, many things are different from what you know,” Blar said. “The battle for the Cliffs of Garelan will be fought here, but you must not be. Come, we should go.” She turned then and made her way back toward the forest, walking around and jumping over the bodies that came and went from sight as she moved.
“Then why am I here now?” I called out, not moving from where I stood. “Why am I not supposed to be here? And where are the Cliffs of Garelan?” I demanded. “I’ve never heard of them.”
Blar stopped and turned to look up at me over her shoulder. “If you are here, then they are dead.”
I didn’t understand. “The warriors? Of course they’re dead, they’re all around us.” I waved my arms around for effect as I spoke.
Then, like a light bulb going on in my head, I remembered what Blar was referring to. Gwrhyr had said something about the Cliffs of Garelan when we were talking about Mac’s destiny. We had been in the kitchen after I had arrived in Ireland to find that Mac and Uncle Angus had returned from the dead. Gwrhyr had just introduced himself to me and he talked as if he were delivering a prophecy of some kind. I remembered thinking how odd his words were at the time, but I hadn’t put any of the references together. Now I was beginning to understand.
“Not them,” Blar answered softly, “They will live or die as the gods will.” She turned again and looked toward the trees. “Them.”
I looked in the direction the wolf was indicating and in the depths of the forest I could just make out a circle of stones with a small group of people standing inside of them. Somehow I knew that I couldn’t really see the circle from where I was standing now, but that the wolf was showing it to me.
I began to whisper to myself as I started to walk toward the circle. “This has something to do with Mac, doesn’t it?” I remembered again how Gwrhyr had mentioned something about the Cliffs of Garelan running red. “And the seeker… something about the seeker.” I began to run toward the circle, determined to find some answers to questions I hadn’t even begun to form in my mind yet. This had something to do with Mac and I was resolute to find out what.
I couldn’t see what the people in the circle looked like or what they were wearing, they were too far away. I was able to discern that there were a couple of women, both wearing long gowns, but I couldn’t see what the men are wearing.
As I ran, the vision through the trees faded away, leaving only darkness and tree trunks. Blar was running ahead of me, but when I caught up with her, she dropped her pace to stay even with me as I continued to run. As we moved closer to the forest I was again reminded of how large the trees were, but I could see that there wasn’t much undergrowth beneath them.
Blar and I were just entering the forest when a man stepped from behind a tree as I ran by and grabbed me around the waist, pulling me back against his chest.
“Whoa, girl. Such haste is not wise here in the forest.” His voice was deep, rough, yet kind. He was holding me gently against him, preventing me from running on even as I struggled to get to the circle. “There are evil things abroad tonight, even in dreams.”
There was something about his tone that put me at ease. Something that was almost familiar, but I couldn’t place from where I had heard it before. I could only think of getting to the people in the circle so I might learn something to help Mac. If he was supposed to be involved in a battle of some kind I was going to learn all I could to help him. It would kill Eliza is anything else happened to him and I was determined to not let that happen.
“Did you see them?” I asked, reaching out toward the spot where the circle and its inhabitants had been. I was still trying to pull away from the newcomer, but I wasn’t being very effective. “They might know something. I have to find them.”
“They’ll wait,” he said. “They’re not there just yet.”
Blar had stopped nearby and now she came forward to sniff at the man who still held me against his chest. I ceased my struggles, expecting her to growl at the stranger, but I was surprised when she looked up at him as if he was her new best friend and spoke. “Greetings, Worldwalker,” she said, her tongue lolling out one side of her mouth with pleasure.
The man spoke to her, but it was in a language I didn’t understand and I craned my head to try to get a look at him since he still hadn’t let me go. Apparently Blar knew the language and it was obvious by her reaction that she approved.
“Not there?” I asked myself absently responding to his last comment that I understood. I was hoping to get another glimpse of the people in the circle so I moved my gaze back to the spot where the circle had been. “Do you know who they were?” I asked.
“It is not yet clear,” he said as he slowly dropped his arms from around me and I turned to face him. “I expect the apprentice to be among them, and—” He stopped abruptly when his eyes fell on my face for the first time, and he took a sharply indrawn breath. “You, if the Fates are kind,” he finished quietly; his features were gentle and filled with longing.
Now that I could actually see him I noticed that he was dressed in a long tunic with pants and boots that were all in browns so that he could easily blend into the forest. His hair was long, just past his shoulders, and brown as well and his eyes were a soft blue that reminded me of a clear stream that ran along the back of my Dad’s property where I used to fish as a kid. His eyes were beautiful and seemed to want to pull me into him. They were haunting in a sense and they seemed to hold his heart for me to view for its worthiness. I had to admit that I liked what I saw in spite of myself.
His cheeks were rough with what looked like a day or two’s growth of beard and judging by the weapons that he carried, he was a walking medieval arsenal. A bow was slung over one shoulder and a heavy sword and dirk hung at his belt. I could see a full quiver of arrows poking out over his right shoulder and what looked like another long knife stuck out from the back of his belt.
“Me?” I asked, looking once gain toward where the circle had been. “I’m supposed to be with them?” He hadn’t made any move to hurt me, so for the moment I decided that I would trust him and maybe I could learn something to tell Mac.
The circle was still gone from my sight and when I turned back to him again I found his hand lingering in the air between us, reaching for my face. He seemed to catch himself and let it fall again before he spoke. “I can but hope,” he said in the low voice that left me feeling warm in my stomach.
The almost hungry way that he looked at me was beginning to make me a little excited and uncomfortable at the same time. “Who are you?” I asked in a whisper, my brow creasing with the question.
I found myself wondering what he thought about the blood on the hem of my dress and if my hair looked all right. I had never felt this kind of attraction to anyone so quickly and I didn’t know if it was my true feelings or if I was being manipulated in some way. Actually I didn’t care at the moment. The way he was looking at me felt nice and I didn’t want the moment to end.
“I have been known by many names in many places.” His voice was so deep and throaty that it was almost hard to hear him. He looked down a Blar with a smile. “Your guide calls me Worldwalker, but you may call me what you will.”
“You must have a name,” I replied insistently, my voice almost mirroring his in a whisper as I had eyes only for him for the moment and I stepped closer to him. Was he real? Then I remembered how he had held me against him and I knew he must be. “Are you asleep as well or do you walk the dream world awake?”
“There are times I would walk the dream world awake, but for now I do so only in dreams.” He smiled at me for the first time and it transformed his entire face, making him even more handsome. “Soon I will be free to go where I will once more.”
I felt my brow crease slightly again in confusion. “Free? You are bound somewhere?”
“In a sense.” He looked toward where the circle of stones had been visible through the trees. “But I will not be here much longer, if all goes well. I will return to my own world and my own destiny.”
My eyes followed his as I stepped closer to him again. “Is that what they are doing? Setting you free? Will I help?” It was so strange. He seemed so familiar to me that I felt an instant desire to help him if I could. I lifted my hand and, as if on cue, he took it and laid it on his chest, covering it with his own battle scarred one with a tenderness that tugged at my heart.
“What will happen is not yet clear, but I have hopes that all will go as the Fates have instructed,” he said, his eyes moving over my face like a lovers caress, leaving goose bumps on my skin. “I know not if you will be here, when the seeker is found, when the seed is sown, when the Cliffs of Garelan run red.” He stopped to frown. “I hope that you do not see the cliffs so. If you do, all will be lost.”
“I saw them red before you found me, and no, I didn’t like what I saw.” I fell silent then, unsure of what to say as I looked at our hands as they still lay clasped on his chest. I could feel the energy between the two of us, but I couldn’t explain it or what it meant. I knew that Eliza would think I was crazy for trusting this stranger so quickly and I had to admit that I wasn’t entirely sure why I was. After the way I had hurt Brian, the last thing I wanted was another relationship, not like there could be one with this man in my dreams, no matter what kind of a connection I felt with him. Brian’s face came to my mind and I knew that I couldn’t allow myself to hurt anyone like I had him ever again. The guilt was too much.
“You saw a reflection of what will be,” the mystery man said. His gaze was intense, as if he knew somehow everything about me, and that he wanted to know more.
I decided that what I needed to do was clear my head and try to think about information that Mac might need for the moment. “The cliffs, a seeker… it is exactly the same as Gwrhyr told me that day about Mac’s destiny, but what does it all mean?” I asked. “I think I know the seeker, but what you said sounds like a prophecy and sometimes they aren’t what they first appear to be.”
I took another step closer to him and placed my hand over his. “If you are trapped somewhere I will do what I can to release you, but I need to know how to get here in the real world where I can bring others to help.”
A smile touched his lips. “I am not trapped, Corrinemackenzie, but the apprentice must free me. He chafes at what the Fates have planned for him. He must follow them, as you must if you would find me. Seek the Fates. Sprite will know where to find them.”
I found myself smiling at him wryly. “So this is all part of Mac’s destiny, hmm? Oh, he hates putting stock in destiny, but he always does the right thing. And I will be with him when he does,” I told him determinedly.
He lifted my hand to his mouth then and kissed my palm tenderly. “I will not fear your magick, mo chroí,” he whispered. “Please do not fear me.”
I knew Gaelic so I understood that he had called me ‘my heart’ and the personal meaning of his comment made me smile, blush actually. “I probably should fear you, but for some reason I don’t,” I told him. But there was something about what he had just said that made me think of Brian and the many arguments we had about my magick during our relationship. I stilled suddenly, his words about not being afraid of my magick striking an odd cord in the back of my mind. “Why did you say that?” I asked suspiciously.
His expression wasn’t one of guilt, but he did seem a bit uncomfortable as his eyes met mine boldly. “Your beauty makes me forget once more that others cannot see the future as I do,” he said as he dropped my hands and moved back. “I must go. It is not safe for us to be together, not yet.” He looked again toward where the circle had been, and a sad look passed over his face. “I fear I have lost him to my own foolishness.”
His eyes meet mine again imploringly. “Ask your father to forgive me. I but meant to show him the seriousness of hiding from his destiny.”
I put up a hand to stop him. “Wait. You’ve talked to Mac? What happened? Why isn’t it safe to be here? I don’t understand.”
“The seeker must be sought, the seed must be sown, and blood must gather in the gray circle. If he does not follow his destiny, he will lose all he holds dear.” He looked at me sadly and said, “You must go, Corrine. She must not find you here.”
“She? She who?” I reached for this strange man again, gripping his arm tightly as I kept my voice light. “I’m not ready to leave just yet and besides, you still haven’t given me your name.”
He leaned very close and kissed my cheek near my ear, and whispered something I didn’t understand. Then he stepped back again and looked at the wolf. “Blar Sidheach, take her home.”
As if taking a que, Blar threw her head back and howled, the sound waking me instantly so that I sat up in bed, and a single word echoing through my mind.
He had given me his name, but he hadn’t told me who the woman he had spoken of was. I punched the bed in frustration and looked at the clock to see what time it was.
Knowing it was late didn’t change my intention as I got out of bed and went for the phone to call Mac and Eliza. Unless I missed my guess, Mac was meeting Joel tonight as well and so was Siofra.
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