Historical setting: 589 C.E. when Brittany was forest
“Auldouff? This is no deer. Couldn’t you see it was Ezra?”
“What? You mean, this isn’t a deer?” Auldouff is still holding the bloody arrow he just withdrew.
“No you idiot, it’s Ezra. How is it that you pulled the arrow, without even noticing it was Ezra you shot?”
“You can put him out of his suffering with your blade.”
“I can’t kill a man. He is looking right at me. We’ll suffer a Christian curse if he dies. Believe me Christian curses are far worse than any fairy pranks. Their underworld is Hell.”
“The Christians don’t know him. They won’t notice.”
“This is what we have to do. One of us should stay here to scare off the vultures and wolves, and the other should find the Christians.”
“I’ll go for the Christians because I can tell them it was simply an accident.”
“Be back by nightfall. These hills are surely haunted.”
Dear God, did you mean to send those Christians of Annegray into a place with a fearsome darkness? Please stay close. Waking and sleeping I don’t know of hours passing. Heinrique is using his blade to whittle a stick. He is sitting near but looking out across the hills. I can’t tell if the darkness that is settling in is my vision alone or if it is already dusk. A wolf howls from a distant hill and Heinrique pulls his fleece closer around his shoulders. I feel the chill of fever drawing my life and releasing it as though I no longer need warmth. I’m remembering now the child’s flute, the little practice tune that played for me in an earlier time and danced me back from death to life – the peaceful meadow of healing herbs where my children, each in their own way, were candles of love and kindness.
Awake I am again, and Auldouff returns breathless, having run ahead of the Christian monks he found.
“Heinrique! Good you are still here! I have to tell you the horrors of it! The howling banshee was right in my path. I saw her even in the daylight, I saw her. I told her we needed Christians to come, so she went away and sent them to follow me.” We hear the wolves howl. “Listen, she is keening for his death right now!”
“It’s only wolves, Auldouff. It’s alright now. And I see the Christians are coming.”
The darkness is on all of us.
(Continues Tuesday, March 1, 2022)