Ayrien and Tune rode their way,
swiftly as a flying arrow, to find the village in a complete mess. People were running
everywhere, children were crying for attention and from fear, men were shouting commands
and suggestions. After observing for a few seconds, they could see that the massive
activity is somewhat centered in one place - The druid's house. As druid houses tend to
be, it was the central house of the village, and therefore, the closest to the fire. Right
now, however, it wasn't only close to it - it was in fire.
One terribly loud voice, heard clearly above all the mess, had frozen Ayrien's
blood: a baby was crying
from inside the burning house! She leapt from her horse in
one jump and thrown the reins to Tune, hoping he will understand what he is supposed to do
with them. A watching eye could not follow her unbelievingly fast run - the alert girl was
not slowed even by the massive crowd that was spread all over.
She arrived to find the scene she had
feared from. A few people were standing in positions around the torn-out door, holding wet
blankets and buckets of water, ready to help a person that was obviously inside - trying
to save the infant from a horrible death. She knew exactly who was inside, and that was
what frightened her so much - just in front of the door a magnificent clock was thrown,
its golden, delicate decorations reflecting the red fire, flickering
Her father was in.
"Why didn't ya stopped him, ya fool!" She shouted at Drach Taru, her step
uncle, who was standing there with a great bucket full to its top, ready to wet the out
comers. "He's an old man! He can't go rescuing people like this anymore! It's too
dangerous for him
he will be hurt! Can't you see it? He will surely be hurt!" A
terrible, long sound of a coughing man came from inside the house, louder even then the
roaring fire, as to approve her accusations.
"You know yer father, Ayri" He tried to calm her, approaching her like to
a little child, reminding her why she could never get along with him. "He
can't be stopped in time like this, can't he? Now be a good gal and step aside, we'll have
to help him when he'll get himself out, won't we?"
Ayrien was furious. She was about to release her sharp tongue and answer him the
way he deserves to be answered, when another cough was sound, louder and longer then
before. "No, we wont. we have to help him NOW!" she cried. In one angry jump she
grabbed a wet blanket from a surprised man that was standing there and leaped into the
"Ayrien!" a broken voice was heard, and the men still waiting outside the
broken door turned to see Tune running toward there as well
but unlike the previous
one to run there, he was stopped by his master - Finn.
"Hold it right there, lad." The cool voice and strong hand prevented Tune
from following the girl into the fire.
" For a brief moment he struggled to release
himself, but not more than that - strong as his love to the new met girl may be, he was
bound to the Fianna and their leader in much greater bounds. And besides that, Finn hadn't
became lord of the Fianna without developing a grasp strong enough to restrain his too
"There are already too much people in that house, looking one for each other.
You'll do no good in there. And as much as I understood, yer lassie can take care of
As he was speaking, the 'lassie' was out, holding the baby - who was no longer
crying, since he fainted out. "Ayrien!" he called her again, leaping out from
Finn's loosen grip - but he was too late. Before she could even notice him she was back
in, searching for her father. A deep silence fell on, disturbed only by the roaring
If the sound of the coughing frightened Ayrien, the silence pushed her far beyond
fear. She should have already heard something - a coughing, the heavy breathing of a men
surrounded by so much smoke, something
Tears - from the dark smoke and the darker fear - blinded her eyes. "Make a
sound, father, help me
" her voice broke, as she had noticed his figure on the
other side of the living room, lying still under a burning rafter. She was there in a
blink of an eye, almost hit by a falling beam herself. She was relieved to find, in closer
examination, that the rafter was loosely laid on his right foot, which could be easily
pulled out of there, even by her. But then a frozen hand grasped her heart - if he could
be released so easily, why was he lying like that?
Ayrien moved the rafter and tried to help him wake up - no use. He was completely
fainted. With a force she never knew is found in her she lifted him by the arm pit,
dragging him through the room that was so short just a moment ago, and now seemed
Finally, after a time that seemed like forever, she reached the door, and collapsed
there to the sound of cheers and clapping of the entire village.
not very far from there, Morena was walking to and fro, more then confused. She heard
something terrible - too terrible to be true - and she didn't know what to do
was desperate for advice, but couldn't dare saying anything. If anyone would know
she couldn't think about the consequences. It will surely hurt her family, hurt her, not
to mention the entire village!
Deep in her heart, she knew she SHOULD tell, but she couldnt bring herself to
do so, especially because she know who the person she should tell it to is - her hated
step cousin, Ayrien. Since Ayrien's father was chosen to lead the village instead of
Morena's father, Drach, a hidden hostility lied between the two step brothers' families.
"Sean Taru may be the elder", claimed Drach's family, "But he is not a real
son to Taru! An adopted child, his roots unknown, can not inherit the place of the
family!". Angry as they were, however, the villagers were with the Druid in that
decision - they liked the good hearted charismatic Sean better then the harsh Drach. There
where nothing Drach's family could do
and he was destined to sit at his house and
watch his elder step brother as he gains more and more respect and glory - the glory HE
deserved, not this rootless adopted that stole his place! And Morena
destined to watch her father, which once was a big, strong man, fading like this day after
Even if she wasn't the daughter of the one who stole her father's place, Morena
doubted if she could like her step cousin, Ayrien - she was so snobbish, and selfish,
And this is the one person she should go and tell a secret so terrible it will
shake the village upside down and forever disgrace her family
no, she can't, she
Doubting and confused, wandering in the dark, Morena developed a mere hope it was
no more then a practical joke - a twisted, wicked, evil one, but only a practical joke.
She could find no other explanation
that just can't be the truth!
Ayrien was suddenly awake, breathing
the sweat air of an early dawn.
"She's awake!" a joyful voice was the first thing she have heard, before
even opening her eyes. "Hey Druid, come over hear! She's awake!"
" she heard the old druid's voice near her, probably
examining his bag of medical plants. She smelled something - with a very sharp, fresh
smell - and suddenly she felt strong enough to open her eyes. After blinking a few times
because of the blinding sun's light, she could see a handsome man stooping over her. Tune
Tune was his name, something in her said.
"Where am I?" She wondered when she saw she's not home. She was lying on
the hard ground
"You're in the village's center, Dear." Dear? The young man called her
was he her boyfriend? Her lover? Ayrien could not remember
"But why am I here?" She asked, trying to get a grasp in reality.
There was a moment of silence
"Should we tell her, Druid?" Tell
her? What are they afraid to tell her? What could possibly happened to cause her lying
here, on the ground, in the middle of the village, after clearly being out of conscious?
Looking around her, she finally noticed the black ruins of what once was the Druid's
and suddenly, a brief painful memory of every thing that happened last night
invaded her confused mind.
Her eyes widened in fear, and then - "My father! Where is my father?"
Was they afraid to tell her that?
Both Tune and the Druid could see the
memories reflecting in her eyes. "He is right there", the Druid finally
answered, pointing on another lying body, wrapped in blankets and cloaks, not far from
where she was lying. Before the druid managed to tell her she shouldn't get up so soon,
she was beside him, petting his old, sleeping face with a delicate hand.
She called him softly, as trying to wake him from a night's sleep. Surprisingly
enough, he did awake. "Ayrien? Where are you, my sweet child?"
His eyes were wide open, but he obviously could see nothing. Almost in tears, she
answered "I'm here, father, right beside you"
" his searching hand found hers, and clutched it as trying
to gain a hold on this world. "I can't see y--" a rough coughing stopped him in
the middle of the sentence. Gently but firmly she tapped on his back, and he spitted - to
her complete terror, he spitted blood.
"Do something!" she cried, helplessly, toward the druid. Slowly and
sadly, the druid nodded his head. "He was like that all night", he said.
"We had tried everything. "I'm afraid that
I'm afraid that
put a comforting hand on her shoulder. "I'm afraid there is no hope for him".
Angrily, Ayrien shook off his hand. "That's not true!" she yelled, and then
turned to her father again, whispering. "That's not true
that's not true
won't let ya! I won't let ya die
" She held him, petting him like a sick baby.
"There is no hope for me any more, child. I can feel it". Taru was
talking very quietly, but his voice was heard clearly in the silence that took over the
place. "I can feel
the other world
"Don't talk, father
it's hard for you
burst out of Ayrien's eyes, leaving her as blind as her dying father.
"I must, my dear
must. Let it be known that
is leaving this
world, and that his place
is to be
" Ayrien recognized the ceremonial words and tried to
protest, but she was too choked by her tears. "By
" As the last word left his lips, Taru's head
fell down on Ayrien's arm, his eyes closing peacefully.
Ayrien could not mind the
uncomfortable hard ground, the people watching, freezing air, not even her reputation -
she just held the dead body in her arms, crying silently, only the rough shaking of her
body revealing the tragedy that just happened.