The phone rang only once before Eliza answered, sounding only slightly sleepy. “Hello?” she said softly, making me think that she was already awake, but that she didn’t want to disturb Mac.
“Sorry to call so late,” I said, mimicking her low tone. “Is Mac asleep?”
“If you call it that,” she replied wryly. “What’s wrong?”
“Why do you say that?” I asked, referring to her first comment.
She sighed heavily. “Corrine, its 2:30 in the morning. I don’t think you called to chat.” I heard her move and knew she was trying really hard not to wake him, which was probably a good thing since it probably meant he wasn’t finished talking to Joel yet. “Besides, Mac’s all restless, it’s not like him. What’s wrong?”
“I just had a really odd dream and I think Mac is, too.”
“That would explain the thrashing about,” she said dryly then her voice turned serious. “Is he in danger? Should I wake him?”
“No, don’t wake him,” I told her quickly. “Maybe he will learn more than I did. Did you have any strange dreams tonight?”
“No more than usual, not that I remember. Are you sure I shouldn’t wake him?” she had become really protective of him lately, which of course seemed pretty normal considering the fact that he had died twice already.
“No he’ll be alright. He’s being looked after, as best as I can tell,” I told her, remembering Joel and how warm his lips had been on my cheek. I blinked suddenly to bring myself back to the conversation I was supposed to be having and put all thoughts of a romantic nature aside. “Where’s Gwrhyr? Whatever this is all about has something to do with Mac’s destiny, I think, and since the wolf is supposed to be the teacher…”
I could hear a bit more movement. “He’s here, sleeping next to Eddie.” Then I heard a door shut softly, and Eliza started to talk a little louder. “What’s going on, Corrine? What about his destiny?”
“I’m not totally sure what’s going on,” I started. “I was dreaming and I found myself on these cliffs that Blar said were the Cliffs of Garelan. I remembered Gwrhyr mentioning something about them when he was telling me about Mac’s destiny so I’m thinking something is linked here. There were signs of a battle that may or may not have been fought there that kept flashing in and out.
“Anyway, in the forest near the cliffs we saw some people in a circle and they were performing some kind of ritual. Before I could get close enough to identify anyone, they had disappeared and I ran into someone, a man. There was something about him that made me instinctively know that I could trust him. That he wouldn’t do anything to hurt me. He said that he had talked to Mac, and Siofra, too. I think he’s being held somehow and that he’s involved with Mac’s destiny. I just want to talk to him and Siofra to see what they learned.”
“Did he say what Mac is supposed to do? Or why you and Siofra would be involved?”
Even though she couldn’t see me I shook my head in answer. “I’m not sure. He can see the future I think. Blar called him Worldwalker, whatever that means. Has Mac told you anything about what he’s supposed to be doing?”
“I don’t think he knows much. He’s done a lot of reading, but not come up with anything. Mostly cryptic stuff.”
I knew that this news would only make her nervous for him so I tried to be as reassuring as possible. “All right. Just have him call me then in the morning, or whatever.”
“Are you okay?” she asked. “You sound out of it.”
“It was all just a little too real, and I’m wondering what’s going on, what’s happening.”
“He didn’t hurt you, did he?”
“Uh-uh,” I assured her, a slight smile in my voice. “Do me a favor. When Mac wakes up, tell him that he apologizes if he offended him.”
She hesitated. “I will.”
“You know, Mac. If it’s involving destiny, the hackles go up. I don’t know exactly what happened, but he said that he may have offended him.”
“I’ll tell him, and I’ll have him call you.”
“Okay. Sorry I woke you.”
“I was awake.”
We said our goodbyes then and hung up. I was too worried about what had just happened to even think about going back to sleep. I went to my journal and wrote down everything that I could remember of the dream. I described the forest, the cliffs and sea, even the animals that I had seen and heard. I also included the beautiful dress that I had worn.
And Joel. I wrote down everything about him, too. What he had told me, how he had moved. What his clothes looked like, even how he smelled. I described how his lips had felt on first my palm and then later when he had kissed my cheek and I stopped long enough to lift my fingertips to my cheek, imagining that I could still feel them there.
I knew it was insane to think this way. That I shouldn’t fall into what could easily be a trap sent to ensnare some or all of my family. I couldn’t help but think that there was reason to believe Joel. Reason to trust him. Reason to think what I had read in his eyes was truth. That he was and honest man and that he might need our help.
I knew that I couldn’t allow my thoughts to center purely on Joel. I had to set my mind to think of things that might help us first get to him and then set him free. He had mentioned the Fates so I turned my thoughts to them and jotted down what I could remember learning of them.
The most popular story of the Fates came from the Greeks. They were three women, much like the Maiden, Mother and Crone. One was the weaver, spinning the threads that were the lives of men and women. One was the arbitrator of how those lives turned out. And finally, the last of them was responsible for cutting the life threads at the correct time, with a pair of scissors that were dull with age.
I didn’t know what the Fates could help us with, but I was sure that Siofra might have some answers. Joel had said that ‘Sprite’ would know how to find them and that was the name that Mac and Uncle Angus had always called her since she had been a child. I picked up the phone again and took the chance that she would be awake after having her dream as well.
“Hello?” she answered.
“Siofra, its Corrine.”
“Corrine, are you all right, it’s-”
“I know it’s late,” I interrupted her. “I’m sorry, but there seems to be some dreaming going on tonight.”
Her tone went dry and she replied, “Let me guess. Cryptic annoying guy?”
I had to smile. Even in the middle of the night she had the ability to come off sounding like a pampered princess. It was funny. “Well, he was cryptic, but he wasn’t annoying,” I commented, pushing the memories of his lips on my skin to the back of my mind yet again.
“Was his name Worldwalker by any chance?” she asked.
I heard movement in the background and wondered if Glenn was awake as well. She wasn’t talking in hushed tones like Eliza had been, so I figured either she wasn’t in the bedroom with him in the first place, or that he was awake, too. Her response answered my question. “We both had a dream of him.”
“You and Glenn both?”
I went over to the couch and cuddled up in a corner with my feet tucked under me. “Looks like Mac did, too,” I told her.
Her voice sounded surprised. “What did he say?”
“I don’t know, I haven’t talk to him yet, but when I called I talked to Eliza and he’s in the middle of it now and he’s thrashing around a lot. I didn’t want her to wake him. I figured we should let him have the dream and learn what he needs to learn from it. What do you guys have going on tomorrow?”
Siofra thought a moment. “I don’t think anything.”
“Should we meet on the island?”
“Let’s see what Mac and Eliza have to say,” she suggested, the idea making sense.
“I told her to have Mac call when he woke up,” I went on. There really wasn’t any sense on jumping on this too quickly since Mac was still in his dream. I had to remember to hold myself back when dealing with my family. Just because I was worried about a man that I had only seen for about ten minutes, and that in a dream, didn’t mean that any of them would feel the same need that I felt to help Joel. If they knew that I felt so passionate about saving him, they would all think I had lost my mind.
“What did he say in yours?” Siofra asked, pulling my thoughts back to the conversation I was supposed to be having with her.
“He talked about the same things that Gwrhyr talked about shortly after Mac returned,” I told her, Joel’s face instantly coming to my mind again, “the Cliffs of Garelan being red with blood, something about seeking the seeker, and something about sowing the seeds. He said something about seeking the Fates.”
“He said I’d know how to find them.”
“Do you?” I asked, a littler more eager than I would have liked.
“I don’t know, I’m gonna try something,” she said, obviously thinking about something. “See what I can come up with. I have an idea, I’ll see if it works.”
“Has Mac said anything to you about this whole destiny thing?”
Her voice was thoughtful when she responded, but it wasn’t to answer my question. “He kept talking about a ‘she’ who was also in the forest, and that she was more beautiful than he thought she would be. The seeker must be sought, the seed must be sown, and the captive must be set free. Then he said that if she was at the battle on the cliffs, all would be lost. He’s in service to someone and he cannot leave that world and he cannot harm her.” She paused, then added quickly, “The other ‘she’ must be you.”
Siofra’s last comment set off butterflies in my belly. “I assume the captive is him,” I put out quickly.
I would have to be a fool to try to deny the attraction that I had felt between Joel and myself, but I surely didn’t want to discuss the idea with anyone just yet, especially Siofra. It was true that she and I had been getting along much better in the past year or so, but Siofra wasn’t the one I wanted to take on as a confidant, now or maybe never. That space was reserved for Eliza and no one would ever take her place in my life.
“I overheard him speaking to her before I talked to him,” Siofra was saying. “I saw them.” She went on to describe a woman with long dark hair and eyes to match, who wore a very fine dress. Disappointed that I hadn’t seen her myself, I assumed that she must be the woman that Joel had spoken of who would have been so life threatening for me to meet. I found myself wondering what was so dangerous about her. What kind of powers did she have? What kind of hold did she have over him? Siofra’s description didn’t remind me of either of the women that I had briefly seen in the stone circle, but then again I didn’t really see them long enough to get a good look anyhow.
“They were arguing,” Siofra finished.
“So how are you going to try contacting the Fates?” I asked, eager to get some answers and ready to push the conversation in another direction so that she didn’t start thinking about Joel talking about some beautiful girl again.
Siofra thought a moment. “I don’t know. I’m gonna try dream walking, maybe find their whereabouts.”
“Can I meet you somewhere and go with you?” I asked her.
She seemed to think about it for a minute, then relented. We arranged to meet at Glenn’s cabin in the mountains as soon as we fell asleep and I moved back to my bed, hoping I fell asleep quickly.
About an hour later I found myself standing alone in the dream world version of Glenn’s cabin. I was daydreaming of Joel when Blar materialized by my side to look at me in disapproval at the thoughts going through my mind. I was half temped to try to look for him again, but I didn’t know when Siofra would show up and I didn’t want to her worry about me. The temptation was strong, however, and when I looked down at myself, I found that I was wearing the same dress I had on in my first dream, minus blood on the hem of course.
Siofra materialized before I had a chance to change what I wore, her wolf avatar, Princess, by her side. “What’s up with the dress?” she asked, her nose wrinkling in dislike. She was dressed more appropriately, of course, in a pair of jeans and sweater and I was embarrassed that she had caught me like I was.
I looked down at myself and pretended to be startled by my appearance, fearing that she saw right through my act. “Sorry,” I said as I changed my clothing to a pair of jeans and a shirt to match her attire. “Where to?”
I was relieved that my aunt didn’t push the subject of my original appearance as she launched into her idea. She thought that if we held hands and stated our need to speak to the Fates that maybe we would be able to find them. She knew that there were many versions of the Fates from the different pantheons of the world, but maybe by being together we could find the right ones we needed.
I agreed that the idea was a sound one, so we turned so that we were facing each other and clasped hands tightly. I closed my eyes and thought of what Joel had said, that the Fates would know how to find him. As I concentrated, I began to feel things shifting around me as we went to a different location in the dream world and I felt myself smile.
When I opened my eyes, I saw a large blue-green, doublewide trailer on concrete blocks that set on a small hill in a middle-sized yard. The driveway was taken up with an old Chevy truck that was also up on cinder blocks, as if it were waiting for someone to get around to fixing it. The yard was littered with toys and huge piles of dog poop of all things. A children’s wading pool was in center of the yard and surprisingly untouched by the shabbiness that was so apparent in the rest of its surroundings. There was a satellite dish on the roof of the trailer and the property was bound on three sides by ancient sycamore trees that reached high into the sky like centurions on watch.
Close to the trailer was an immaculately kept herb garden that also looked out of place in the trashy yard. Rows of what appeared to be rosemary, sage and thyme were neatly laid out in a way that said whoever planted them also knew how to use them properly.
Who could possibly live here?
“Do you think we got the right place?” Siofra asked, clearly as surprised as I was.
“Given that I don’t go looking for the Fates every day,” I replied, letting the sentence hang. “This isn’t the cleanest of accommodations.”
We started to move toward the house when Siofra put her hand on my arm to stop me suddenly. “Eeew, watch your step, you don’t want to be taking that home.”
I looked down at the ground and couldn’t believe how big the pile of doggie doo-doo was that I was about to step in before she had stopped me. “That’s gotta be one-”
“Big dog,” Siofra finished in bewilderment. She looked at Princess, who had stayed close to her as we started toward the house and she commented wryly. “Princess will need a bath.”
I stifled a giggle behind one hand and pointed toward the trailer with the other. “Okay, let’s go knock on the door.”
We started to make our way forward again and had just passed the wading pool when Siofra stopped to look into it and seemed to become mesmerized by what she saw.
“What is it?” I asked, eager to get to the house to find out who lived there. When Siofra didn’t answer me, I went to look for myself and saw that a scene was being played out in the water of the pool. I saw a line of huge, ancient trees like the ones I had been standing among in my earlier dream and I ducked my head to get a better look. Then the view rushed along the edge of the cliffs as if a bird were flying by it quickly, until it came to a large stone castle that was perched on an outcropping of solid rock. The ground was red here too, but I saw no bodies or any other signs that a battle had been fought there.
Suddenly a ball hit the water, breaking the vision into a thousand rippling waves. I looked up and found an old lady standing not too far away, glaring at Siofra and myself, her face twisted as if she were peeved. She was old and gray, and wore clothes that might have been fashionable about fifty years ago, but could now be used as Halloween customs. She stood with the aid of a walker, and was leaning on it heavily as she glowered at us.
“I’ve had about enough of this,” she commented in a rather nasty voice.
Siofra looked slightly abashed at the woman as she glanced at me quickly, then back at the other woman. “I’m sorry, I’m-”
“We’re looking for the Fates,” I said, maybe a little too quickly, but I didn’t feel like waiting for her to spout off again and send us away. “Have we come to the right place?”
The old woman huffed. “The same as your father, you are. If you would seek us, come in the waking world.”
Siofra spoke up. “Can you tell us how to find you in the real world, please?”
I glanced around for some kind of landmark that might be an indicator of where we were, where the Fates apparently lived. Next to the road I saw a mailbox that had a set of numbers and ‘The Fates’ written on it in large, white script on the black box.
The old woman cackled at her. “Use your noggin, girl. How would you find anyone in the waking world?”
I watched as Siofra crossed her arms over her chest and asked incredulously, “You’re in the phone book?” My aunt only had so much patience and it was quickly running out by the looks of things. I only hoped that she held her temper long enough to get us a location.
“Try it and see,” the old woman said. Then she turned her walker around and started to move toward the house again. “For now, be gone.”
And just like that I was awake again and in bed, safe and sound. I found myself thinking silently that I was getting sick and tired of people shoving me out of my own dreams as I got up from bed again and went to find the Salem phone book. I looked up ‘Fates’ in the white pages, but came up empty handed. I even went to the yellow pages and tried looking up anything related that I could think of. Physics, morticians, day care. I came up with nothing.
Finally, the phone rang. I figured it was either Siofra or Mac.
It was Siofra. “I got the address,” she gushed when I had the phone to my ear.
I was relieved. “I was gonna say I came up empty.”
“Why don’t we meet here tomorrow instead of at the island?” she suggested. “I’ll call your Dad now and have them come here.”
I hesitated for a second. Even though Eliza had never told me anything, I had gotten the feeling that something had happened to her in Nashville during the time she was staying with Glenn and Siofra. I was pretty sure that whatever it was had provoked her to want to move from the city to begin with. I wasn’t comfortable with her being in a place where she felt like she was on pins and needles, any more than I was comfortable with her coming here. But I knew that we would be safe as long as we stayed in Glenn and Siofra’s house so I didn’t voice a concern. “Okay.”
“Why don’t you get some sleep and be here at eight?” Siofra said.
“I can do that,” I confirmed.
“I’ll see you when you get here,” she said, and then hung up.
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