Shadow Walkers Chapter #7

Only those with the courage to dare the impossible will ever learn to fly with Dragons. ~ Anonymous

As the fire burned low in his room, Michael shivered under the covers. Even with Cu Roi's warmth behind him, the young faerie's shoulders and back ached. He didn't want to, but he was going to have to get up and put another log on the hearth. He'd only been joking when he'd tried to con Faolán into pulling out a sack of potatoes from the pantry, but now he was miserable. He wished Mary Kate would come back like she had earlier in the stable. She'd know what to do to make it better.

They never believed him when he told them he'd seen Mary Kate. They just looked at him like he was either out of his head or just plain loony, but he did see her. She was as real looking to him as any of them were. That's why he never believed the lie, about the way she was supposed to have died. She had a head and she wasn't burnt up, like he'd heard the night when they'd carried Borias in, more dead than alive. It was a lie and he knew it.

If anyone had been out of his head, it was Borias. He'd been ranting and raving like a mad man when they'd brought him home, pleading for forgiveness, praying for death and begging to die. That had scared him as much as Mary Kate not coming back with them. It also made him mad. He'd called Borias, Caeoimhin and Faolán every filthy thing he'd ever heard them say.

It had made Caeoimhin angry and he'd pulled Michael over his knee and swatted him a couple good licks. Then he'd snapped at Michael, telling him to grow up, that Mary Kate was dead and she wasn't coming back. He'd ran out the door, as fast as his small legs could carry him, still crying that they were all liars. He was grown now and even though he knew the truth, it still it didn't make it any easier.

Michael shivered again and pushed the covers off with a groan, as he sat up. He grimaced when he put his stocking feet on the thick braided rug. Even through his heavy wool socks and the rug, he could feel the cold stones beneath it. Cu Roi shifted his weight, raising a huge, shaggy head to stare at the young faerie, when he stood up. On the dog's head a smaller orange one, peeked out of the black fur to see what was going on.

"Aww shite me," Michael moaned in dismay, looking into the empty wood box. He'd forgotten to fill it earlier and that meant he had to go down stairs. "Am I no the lucky buck?" he mumbled in disdain. "Now I can go get some more, in the dark, in the cold, all the while I get to freeze me arse off."

He flopped back down on the bed and reached for his boots. "I swear, I be goin' to move down to the first floor someday. A'least I be closer to the damned woodbox in the pantry then, but there be only one problem with that too. Them hellions would find a way to move me bed into the damned kitchen, and then I would be in there forever peelin' carrots and tatties."


It was dark here in this ancient place, away from the light of the small fire in the hearth. The only sound was the soft popping of the wood, as the log lost it's battle to survive the dying flames, that even now ate at it's heart, in an attempt to gain supremacy. Here near the far wall, where the shadows were the deepest, the watcher could observe unnoticed. Occasionally the silent figure heard the clear, soft words of a song, that was sung so quietly, human ears would have never heard it.

"Tis fifty long years since I saw the moon beaming,
On strong manly forms, on eyes with hope gleaming.
I see them again, sure, in all my sad dreaming
Glory O, Glory O, to the bold Fenian men."

That intrigued the watcher. There were only certain folk that had that type of ability. Elves, faerie, and some immortals, possessed it, but never humans and she was what, he wondered, watching her gazing up at one of the book shelves. Surely human, he reasoned to himself, for he felt nothing out of the ordinary about her. He tilted his head curiously, when she carefully raised her hand, to cradle her left arm that was in the sling.

"When I was a young girl, their marching and drilling,
Awoke in the glen side sounds awesome and thrilling.
They loved poor old Ireland, to die they were willing.
Glory O, Glory O, to the bold Fenian men."

"Some died on the glen side, some died near a stranger,
And wise men have told us their cause was a failure.
But they fought for old Ireland and never feared danger.
Glory O, Glory O, to the bold Fenian men."

He frowned at her last words and wondered if she could feel the danger closing in around her, around all of them. Since the night at the museum, it was getting closer with each passing day. Every hour brought death closer to her. All too soon it would try to reach out and claim her, only to damn her soul to an eternal nightmare, that she wouldn't be able to escape from this time if they failed her. If he failed her, he corrected himself.

He failed before and it had robbed him of his heart and soul, and almost his life. This time he'd fight back again, even though this young woman meant nothing to him. He'd cheat Death for her, even if it meant giving up his own life in return. He owed Mary Kate that much. He owed it to Michael, and to Faolán, and to Caeoimhin as well. It was why he was up now keeping watch to prevent another senseless death.

He had been in the Safe Room below the first floor, when he'd first seen her come down the steps on the monitor. At first he'd thought it was Mary Kate, thinking that Michael's fantasies were rubbing off on him. Then he'd scrubbed at his eyes and realized it was Netta. The thought brought a wry smile to his face. In elven the name meant, wee champion. No doubt the rest of them would lap that up, like a greedy cat with a saucer of cream if they'd hear him use it.

Well, he told himself, he probably deserved some of their ribbing. After all, she had come charging out with Faolán's sword in her hand to save him. It still aggravated him though, that she had punched him in the nose, but he knew deep down that he had that coming, because he'd lost his temper. Mostly he'd lost it, when he saw her out in the open in that white cotton night-rail she had on.

Why? The way the light had hit the cloth, showed him every soft, sweet curve of her body beneath it, and he didn't want to share that vision with the rest of them. That was another thing that had made him mad. He couldn't fathom why he felt the way he did. She was nothing like Mary Kate had been or ever would be for that matter.

Mary Kate could sooth a wounded soul with just a touch of her gentle hand. With that same hand, she was a deadly foe to creatures that roamed the night. The hellcat standing near the hearth, could do neither and never would. She gave a tiny jerk of her head, causing the flickering firelight to catch the red highlights in her dark hair. He had the strangest urge to reach out and feel it, to run his fingers through the strands, and see if it was as soft as it looked.

No. Not only no, but hell no, he cursed himself silently, as he backed farther away into the shadows. Never again. The creaking of a door caused his head to snap up, when she turned to defiantly face the intruder. He saw her relax and then he heard a familiar voice apologizing.

"I dinna mean to disturb ye, Lassie. I...I thought I heard singin' and I, well, I...umm..."

He didn't have to see Michael's face to know what he was thinking, or to see the disappointment in his eyes, when he found out the truth. He could hear it in the young faerie's voice. How many nights had Mary Kate sang him to sleep when he was small? How many nights had she held him in her arms and comforted Michael, while he was hurt and frightened? Those memories were bittersweet and they left a gaping hole where his own heart was.

"It's my fault," she answered apologetically. "I didn't know I was making a lot of noise. I'm sorry."

Michael shook his head. "No Lassie, ye weren't. Twas verra nice. Ye just sounded like... like someone I know...knew. She would sing me to sleep when I was a wee bairn."

Sadness touched her eyes and she started to reach for Michael, as if to give him comfort, but she stopped. Her fingertips hovered just mere inches away from his arm. "Your Mama?"

Whether Michael had seen the gesture or not, Borias saw it. He just didn't know why, she did what she did. For some reason, he didn't believe she was afraid of Michael. If she were, she wouldn't be standing that close to him. A recent memory surfaced and his eyebrows knitted in a frown. The same thing had happened at the hospital, the first time he'd met her.

"My Mither died when I was verra, verra small. I dinna really remember all that much about her. No, the lassie I be talkin' about, well she came along a wee bit later. Her name be Mary Kate and she, Bri, and Cam, and Fal well, they saved me life."

"Where was your Dad?"

"My Da? He passed no long a'fore my Mither," he shrugged. "He was a Scáth Siúlóir, like the rest of us here."

"A Scáth Siúlóir. What's that?' she asked finally, going to sit down in one of the large, comfortable overstuffed chairs in front of the hearth.

"It means Shadow Walker or Walkers. Either way be correct, I suppose," he answered sitting in the chair next to hers. "Fer hundreds of years the Scáth Siúlóir have walked in the shadows huntin' craitures, that haunt the land of the livin'. Tis said, they go back as far as when Nuada Lámhairgid the leader of the Tuatha de Danaan, died at the Second Battle of Magh Tuiredh."

"Ghouls ye see, they began springin' up all over after the dead were buried. That was when the first band of Scáth Siúlóir were put the dead back in their graves. There were rumors at the time that said, the Scáth Siúlóir were some of Nuada's bravest warriors, that had survived the battle."

Borias watched her curiously, half expecting her to call Michael a liar or a mad man, and run screaming from the room, but she did neither. Instead, she sat in rapt attention, listening to every word and only pausing long enough to ask a question now and then.

"Some even said, twas Ceithlenn the wife of Balor of the Fomorians herself, that called the dead to rise from their graves. She be what our kind call a black mage." Michael shook his head in thought. "A black mage...They can be verra dangerous ye see, a'cause they can sometimes command the dead to carry out their orders."

"Why would she do such a thing? I mean, I've read the story of the battle and all. And a really close friend of mine in Chicago, told me things about what he read about it. Why would Ceithlenn raise ghouls? What purpose would that serve? Was she trying to kill what was left of Nuada's warriors or what?"

"That would no have surprised me, Lassie," Michael answered, leaning back in the chair to try and get comfortable. "But the truth is, some of us believe she wanted Nuada's great sword, Claíomh Solais the Sword of Light. I suppose she figured if she had it, she could rule Ireland. I have also heard there were some warriors that she wanted, even though she was marrit to Balor," he answered. "But they turned a blind eye to her advances. They had their ladyloves, and they dinna want no part, of dippin' their wicks in that nasty candle wax."

Borias had to smile, when he heard her laughter at Michael's description of Ceithlenn's less than sterling virtues. "Ewwww! Man, that's really, really bad," she giggled, wiping her eyes. "Pops would have just said, old Ceithlenn was a bed banger."

"Is he yer Da, Lassie? He sounds a right humorus lad," Michael smiled back.

"Finn Mackenzie? He's one of my two very best friends. I think, he'd like to think he was my dad sometimes, when I get the chance to see him and Aine. She's his wife," she smiled fondly. "But in a way, I guess you could say he acts the same way as a dad, just like Aine acts like my mom, if I had one I suppose. My other friend, Bhug, she acts like a big sister. Then there's Finn and Aine's son, Tynan. Ty I mean. He's every bit a big a character as Finn," she giggled.

"Usually when I see all of them I get...Are you eating enough? Are you getting enough rest? How's the studies going? Have you met any nice guys? When are you going to move out of that bad neighborhood? It's dangerous there. Why don't you call more? Is your arm broke or something?" She looked at the cast on her arm and gave Michael a comical roll of her eyes. "Well Duh! I guess so," she giggled again, only this time when she finished, the humor faded from her eyes.

"Sometimes it's hell to be the youngest, ya know, but I don't know what I'd do without them. They're like a real family. They fight for you sometimes, when you can't fight for yourself, and they worry when you're not around. And they worry if they think you're keeping secrets from them."

Michael started to ask her what she meant about secrets, when a large black shape appeared in the door and she stood quickly, placing herself between him and the intruder. He turned his head to see around her and gave a soft chuckle. "Tis only Cu Roi, Lassie, come to see where I got off to. He will no hurt ye. I swear it."

Smiling, he motioned Cu Roi to come closer. "Come Laddie. Come meet our wee lassie. She be stayin' with us fer a bit." Michael had to bite his tongue to keep from laughing, when she continued to keep herself planted firmly between him and the creature. The animal that was every bit the size of a large, shaggy black calf, padded silently toward her. When Cu Roi stopped in front of her, he gave her a cursory sniff and stood there looking up with a pair of glowing red eyes.

"The wee rascal wants ye to pet him, Lassie," Michael grinned. "He be just a wee bit spoilt, that way."

Michael and Borias watched her hesitate, when she slowly reached out to the animal. She didn't get to pull her hand back, before Cu Roi's tongue darted out, running up her fingers and over the top of her hand. Michael, still a child at heart, laughed like one, when her eyes popped out and she squeaked in surprise.

"That be as good as Bri layin' on the ground today, covered in porridge and gettin' his yearly bath!"


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