Shadow Walkers - Chapter 5

Away, away, come away with me,
where the grass grows wild and the winds blow free.
Away, away, come away with me,
and I'll build you a home in the meadow. ~ The Waterboys

The tiny, orange speckled faerie dragon, crawled up onto the pile of peelings and gave a tiny yawn before it laid down, making Michael laugh. Picking him up gently, he laid the little creature on his arm. "Ye know, that be no the safest place to be, ye wee booger. Especially since ye be almost the same color as the peelin's. Ye dinna want to go out on the compost heap now do ye?"

When it scrunched up it's face, Michael laughed again. "No, I dinna suppose ye do. I know I would no like it, if they tossed me out with the garbage." He carefully slipped the tiny animal in his shirt pocket. "Now, ye behave and take yer nap in there where it be safe, Digby me fine lad and when I finish here, I will find ye a nice, fat, juicy bug to munch on."

With Digby safe out of harm's way, Michael began peeling carrots once more. Whittling them down to nubs would have been a better description. In all the time he'd spent on what he termed damned auld kitchen detention, he'd never got the hang of peeling anything. He'd rather be working out in the courtyard or even riding his horse for that matter. Even hunting at night in foggy graveyards or mist shrouded ruins, was more preferable than this, he groaned silently, while tossing a half dollar sized chunk of carrot into a bowl.

He should have known better than to take the bet. He was going to lose this one big time. He'd bet Faolán twenty pounds, that he'd have the carrots peeled in about forty-five minutes and here it was, going on two and a half hours later. He did console himself with the fact, that since they were small pieces, they wouldn't take half as long to cook, once he put them in with the potatoes, onions and mutton.

Another thought came to mind making him groan out loud. "Awww shite me. I knew there was somethin' I fergot to peel."

"Problem there, Pup?" came Faolán's amused chuckle from behind him.

Michael looked over his shoulder in aggravation. "Shut up ye pain in the arse, and lug that sack of tatties out of the pantry fer me, and grab a couple of onions while ye be in there."

"Tis no my job description," the sandy blond laughed walking past him.

"Come on, Fal," he urged. "Be a good lad and fetch it fer me. It be the least ye could do, seein' how ye already won twenty pounds off of me, aye?" He gave Faolán his best wounded look. "And ye know how me shoulders pain me when the weather starts to change."

"The weather hasna changed in over two weeks, ye wee deamon," Faolán grunted in return. "If I get them tatties, the next thing I know, ye will be wantin' me to peel them for ye."

Michael gave him a hopeful look. "Will ye?"

"Will I what?" he asked, reaching in a large tin on the counter, for a couple of shortbread biscuits.

"Peel them."

"Hell no," Faolán snorted around a mouthful of shortbread and handed Digby a small piece, when the tiny orange head poked up out of Michael's pocket. Happy, Digby disappeared back inside with his crunchy treat. "Yer the youngest. Ye peel them. Tis yer job, no mine. A'sides, I have more important things to do than sit about peelin' tatties."

"He be a turd, Digby me fine boyo," he mumbled under his breath, while he made a face at the carrots, before he looked up. "Like what? Stuffin' yer homely mug with shortbread?"

"Aye," he grinned. "That be one of them. The other is to go and see about our wee lassie." When Michael frowned at him, Faolán knew something was wrong. "What is it?"

"I took her a breakfast tray, while Cam had Bri in the surgery, and she told me to take it back, that she dinna feel like eatin'. She would no even open the door. I asked her if she wanted me to get Cam and she said, 'No'. What if she be sick, Fal? What then?"

"Did ye tell Cam, Mick?"

"No. He be with Bri, and I dinna want to say anythin' in front of him. I dinna think the auld sourpuss likes her much."

"I dinna know about that, Little Brither. Ye have to remember, she be the first one he has ever brought here to Maidin Realta Grianán, a'sides from Mary Kate that is."

A faraway look touched the young faerie's eyes. "I miss Mary Kate," he answered quietly, laying the knife down. "I have no seen her in a while. The last time I saw her, was when Bri fell halfway down the side of that mountain in Poland two years ago and broke his leg. She told me...she said, 'Michael me lamb, dinna give up on my ohtar just yet. Bri be tougher than he looks'."

Faolán knew the melancholies always hit Michael hardest when he thought of Mary Kate. She'd been the closest thing to a mother he and Faolán had at the time, and she'd helped take care of them to the best of her ability. To Caeoimhin she'd been a sister, listening to his dreams and wishes for the future, but to Borias she'd been more.

"Mick, ye dinna see her, Little Brither," Faolán soothed gently. "She died along time ago. Ye have to let her go. Let her rest in peace."

Michael pushed himself up, angrily shoving the chair back. "No! I saw her, Fal! I did! Whether ye or Cam or Bri believe me or no! I saw her! She was there at Gallagher's standin' next to Bri's bed! He was talkin' to her! Ye heard him!"

"Bri was out of his head with a fever, Little Brither. Mary Kate wasna there. She be dead and she willna come back. Ye have to let her go," was all he could get out, before Michael stormed outside slamming the door so hard, it opened back up.

"Dammit," he groaned heavily. "Here we go again." His eyes drifted to the table where a mound of carrot peelings sat next to the sad remains in the bowl. "Tis one way of gettin' out of peelin' tatties I suppose," he muttered.

Borias sat in the small study. In the background, a soft melody played about a young man, promising to build his bride a home in a meadow somewhere. Nursing three fingers of Glenmorangie, he stared at the gray model of a strigoi on the table in front of him. Promises unfulfilled, he thought. Hunters didn't take brides or husbands. The risk was too great. There was too much to loose. "Too damned much," he whispered before he took a drink.

The strigoi seemed to stare back defiantly at him. In life it was a hideous creature with it's ginger colored hair, dark blue fathomless eyes and gaping jaws. Thick, leathery bat-like wings attached to it's arms, gave it the power of flight and speed, enabling it to catch up to it's prey quickly, where with razor sharp claws and fangs, it ended the victim's race for life. If the victim was lucky it was a quick death. If not, well that was another story. When it came to strength, it could pick up a man his size and slam him through a stone wall, in no more than the blink of an eye.

That was what was going to show up here, because this was where she was hid out. This was where it would come to end that life force it searched for, and this was where it would die before it got the chance to. That much he promised himself, seeing Mary Kate in his mind, as she died in his arms.

"Stake me and burn me," she'd murmured that night. "Ye have to, Bri. Strike true. Tis the only way. Ye have to think of wee Michael and Faolán, and Caeoimhin. Think of yerself, my love. Finish it now. Give me peace. Let me know I will no harm any of ye."

He drained the glass and poured himself another drink. "Peace, Mary Kate?" Borias wondered aloud when anguish knotted in his throat.

Where was his peace after all that time? The pain was still there, still eating him alive. She had told him it wouldn't be murder, but the love he bore for her, that would strike the first blow of the mallet against the ash stake. That was the way she'd wanted him to look at it, but it wasn't what he saw then, or even now after two hundred and forty years.

He tried to wash the knot back down with the Scotch. Mary Kate had been his closest friend, his companion, his confidant and his confessor. Some times, she'd been his judge and jury. If she had lived, she'd have been his wife.

"Ye were no supposed to die, Mary Kate. Dhampirs are no supposed to die like that. No one should die like that. Ye should have stayed here with wee Mick that night dammit. Ye should no have followed us. Ye knew it was dangerous. Ye knew it, Mary Kate," he choked out, scrubbing a hand down his face.

"Why? Why did ye never listen? Why did ye have to be so damned fookin' stubborn, Woman? And now look. There be another wee, hardheaded female upstairs just like ye. She be a willful, spiteful wee hellion too. Ye should see my damned nose. That wee hellcat broke it she did, and blacked both me eyes. Then to make matters worse, yer precious lambs all thought it was funny as hell."

"I swear to the Goddess, tis a conspiracy Mary Kate. That's what it be, make no mistake about it. If I dinna know better, I would swear ye were sittin' around here someplace, laughin' that sweet, wee arse of yers off at me right now." The sad thing was, he wished she was still alive to do just that.

Borias didn't hear the soft laughter, as it floated out of the room, didn't even detect the presence that had laid a comforting hand on his shoulder. None of them ever did, except for Michael and he was down in the stables, hid out up in the loft with Digby. She'd given him the faerie dragon when he was very small.

He'd been so frightened of them all, she thought. He hadn't even spoke, he'd just cried in the beginning. The only other sounds he made, was when he'd wake up screaming from the memories, and night terrors that plagued his young soul. She couldn't give him back his wings, but she could give him back a small amount of his childhood and she had with her gift to him.

With Digby, he found he could once again not only love, but be loved in return. He learned to trust, and learned there were others that cared for him. "We be yer family now," she'd told him, as she held him cradled against her, "and we will always be there when ye need us, my wee precious lamb. Always."

It still brought a warm spot to her heart and tears to her eyes, when Digby snuffled his ear that night and made him giggle for the first time. Now it was time to go see her lamb again. He was a wee bit more stubborn now than he had been, but he was still that tender hearted child he had been and like Borias, she knew he still grieved for things that wasn't meant to be back then.

Maidin Realta Grianán .... Morning Star Lodge
dhampir...child of a vampire father and a human mother, with vampire powers but none of the weaknesses.

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