Elven World: Return of the Danann
Bechuille stared at the ceiling and let out a frustrated sigh. All eyes around the table looked up, curious to see if her temper would grow hotter. She glared at Lugh with eyebrows raised. “Let me get this straight. We’re going to free the Otherworld from this curse by battling the Fomorian on the Hill of Tara Earth. The Upper World of Earth?”
Lugh winced, sour from the lemon he’d been tasting and the conversation’s turn for the worse. “OK, maybe it sounds crazy to you … but it will work.”
Bechuille’s and ruby earrings danced through the tresses of her thick, auburn hair and her fiery beauty matched her disposition. Tiny gasps from around the table accompanied her every move. Each face slowly stopped chewing and stared. Bechuille glared at them all then looked down her nose and squinted an eye at Lugh. She knew him since was a child prince, and they were as close as any brother and sister could be. She could hardly take him seriously. But then again, it might be fun. ... So she challenged him, “You actually plan to do this in the Upper World… of Earth?” She went on with a bit of a bite in her voice and just the tiniest laugh at the idea: Lugh could not possibly understand the consequences of such a battle. “And you plan to do this completely against Council orders? And you plan to do it tomorrow?”
You would think that a man so skilled as Lugh might be proud or stern or even arrogant. Instead, he was a quiet one, very shy… and very mellow. Luckily he’d found that smiling seemed to work the best with people when he couldn’t possibly explain anything. So Lugh was always smiling, very relaxed and accepting the foibles of others. He could be often found dream-sailing (pleasure time travel out of the physical body), which gave him great wisdom, it seems, like a philosopher or a teacher.
Everyone called him Lugh of the Longarm because he was so skilled with bow and arrow, not to mention carpentry, fishing and poetry. All was well for him, except when he was rushed, like now. It was times like these Lugh’s words tumbled over themselves and made clumsy mistakes, like he was walking into walls and tripping into streams or nipping his fingers. He tried to explain his plans to Bechuille, “Yes, well, right, but, uh…. Look, we simply go to the Hill of Tara, conquer the Fomorian in battle while it is nighttime and we possess the power of flight in the Earthly dimension. The Fomorian, even with their flaming tongues, cannot reach us. They will tire, we will win and that will be that.”
BeChuille rolled her eyes at the ceiling. He had to do better than that.
Fortunately, Ogma interrupted Lugh’s stammering with his resonant voice. The rich and tender sound cooled the nerves of everyone present. His crystal eyes shown brightly beneath his long hair and furrowed brow - Ogma, the eloquent, whose every word was carefully chosen, expressed what they all knew in their hearts. “The Council forbids flight on Earth, Lugh, because the human race is blind to us and there has been so much confusion about our presence. Whether it is day or night, the Council has decided the penalty for showing ourselves in the Upper World, is banishment. You know this, Lugh.”
Now, Angus interrupted the conversation between them by gently stroking his lyre and humming a song. He’d found that music solved more problems than words. Besides, Angus’ honey-lipped songs and boyish demeanor could charm anyone. He knew it, too, and wasn’t short on mischief. “I could convince the Council to let us go to Earth for one day...” he looked up with his deep brown eyes, underneath that deep brown curl that fell in the center of his forehead. He smiled mischievously at Bechuille, and sang; “Hey, hey, hey… do, do, doooo, hmmm... Blame it on the Fomorian… Otherworld’s loss of magic … is no longer tragic… because we blame it on the Fomorian…. Just convince the Council, and just this once we’ll… go to Earth for a day… hey, hey, hey…” His song caught the breeze like a lullaby for the Warriors of Right and Sisters of Illusion who sat at the round table.
The drain of magic power from the Earth’s Otherworld of Elven and magical people had become the concern in everyone’s hearts, in their minds and on their lips, in every Elven home, since the flowers had begun to die and the spring waters began turning grey. Magical people had been shrinking - some had reduced to less than half their size. The loss of magical powers in the Otherworld could upset the balance of the entire universe. Something had to be done, and everyone who watched knew it was time.
A cacophony of voices began, everyone responding at once to Lugh’s idea of traveling to Earth, facing the Fomorian and ending the curse on the Otherworld. Scota stood up be heard above the din. “Listen!” she called out, her golden tunic sparkling and topaz earrings dancing in yellow hair. She shimmered like the sun sparkling on a woodland stream. “I’ve mastered the magic to turn the negative into positive. If this loss of power could have been resolved within my ability, it would be done by now…. Not one of us can do it alone and even together it is a task…It is wise to take action now, and not wait. We will not become more sure with time…”
BeChuille’s chair fell to the earth with a furious crash. She snapped at Scota. “Rahh! I can’t believe you’re taking him seriously!” She turned to Lugh, determined to be stubborn raising her chin and pursing her lips. But she kept her eyes on the floor: it was true, she did not know what to do either, and BeChuille was not the type to admit it. She sighed and spoke to end the conversation. “I heard you. But the best I can do is to consider this whole matter an error in judgment. Yours.” She smiled insincerely, nodded at the others around the large table and fastened her cloak brooch, preparing to leave, even though her eyes never looked up from the table. Beneath those eyes, she held a thread of hope that somehow, an answer would come. Never before had the Elven people been faced with the insidious drain of magic power. It was a slow death and the Council had grown into a stupor over it. Nothing was being done and truthfully, she did not know what to do either.
Ogma penetrated the silence following her declaration. H also knew there were no immediate answers, Ogma was wise. He knew words had vibrations and could be used. He was well trained in swordsmanship and magic. His eyes wore the creases of many views into the suns of many worlds and the eyes of many women. And he knew that BeChuille was mad in frustration. “We don’t know the cause of this loss of power from the Otherworld…”
“Really?” Bechuille’s voice stung. “We have been searching for the ‘cause’ for more than 500 years! What makes you suddenly think…”
“…the Fomorian are not the cause?” now Micher, one of reason and fair judgment, spoke. His flaming red and most disheveled hair made him look so funny, but no one told him it made it hard not to laugh. Lips closed to hide the smiles at his appearance and attentive ears listened. Micher was stocky, not as tall as the others with thick muscular arms and legs and a voice that rose and fell as he smiled, which he did often. Now, however, he was angry. His voice rose like the growl of tumbling stones. “The Fomorian’s flaming tongues have burnt everything we hold dear in the Otherworld. No sooner do we create gardens and palaces than the Fomorian leave them in smoke and ashes with their fiery breath. Justice is deserved.”
As if he’d put out his hand to end the avalanche, Ogma spoke. “You are right.” His green eyes captured the soft light and turned it back upon them; crisp, clear and bright as moon on an icy lake. His tall, graceful physique, resonant voice and diplomatic words, quieted their whispers. “The Fomorian are far from blameless. We don’t know that rash actions are the answer.”
Fionn had been sitting crossed legged with eyes closed, listening to each side of the argument. His wild black hair and beard were set from his face, like a wildcat. His wolf eyes were hot and amber. One would never think of Fionn as handsome because his look was fierce. Yet the charisma of Fionn would melt the gaze of woman or man, Elven or of any race. He could be defined by the size of his army; half a million horned men, replete with sharpened hoofs and determination to uphold the traditions and ways of magic, who trusted and stood behind this word of leadership. Fionn lifted his chin. His eyes took the strength of his millions, but his compassion would protect them from a battle with so much unknown. “My army would be pressed to battle against the Council, who is compromised in ways I know not. Our families are already holding children slowly wilting. Our plants are dying grey from poisons that seep through the waters of our world. Our animals are suffering, weak and tired. I could not ask this of them.” Fionn closed his eyes. “The Fomorian are half human, their race has embraced the human, magnifying their stupidity and disconnection from their home. Grim has turned, aside from fire of his breath, the Fomorian race away from the magical realms. They are Fomorian no longer, lost and easily broken. I will go with you, Lugh.”
“As will I.” It was Dermot who spoke now, pushing back one sleek lock of his black hair, showing off the rose shaped mark on his forehead. “We have all known greater hardship than one day on the battlefield with the Fomorian. Freedom means nothing without the ability to go where we will and do as we wish. We are not free here, we are trapped in this curse, losing power as each moment passes, set here with rules from a Council claiming to protect us. From what? From the foolishness of humankind? From the wickedness of the Fomorian clan? Aren’t we then prisoners? These orders not visit the Earthly dimension have done nothing except prevent us from discovering the truth. If we battle in the Upper World, we will win, and the Fomorian will be leaderless. Below, their women will fold into our ways, our children will recover some of their loss. I do not know the human ways without standing before them. We cannot face the backwardness of humanity unless it is face to face. “
There was a long silence. Angus continued to strum his tune on his lyre.
Flidias spoke softly, ending the silence, “You are right, there is no question the Fomorian are weakened, but so are we. In the Upper World they are limited in magic in the daylight hours and so are we.” Her tender voice matched the delicate grace of her slender limbs. With deep brown eyes and braided locks about her face, and she moved with the grace of a doe. Her dark complexion looked almost iridescent against her earrings of blue saffire against her sea green tunic. “Meet them in the darker hours, just before the dawn. You will conquer them with ease, and minimal loss. We will come to your call. They will fight for pure pleasure of it. We will banish them from the Upper World and carry out our work there. Challenge them thus: the loser is banished from the Upper World. This will hold their leaders for a while. I do not know the response of the Council they are not so weak in magic. I also believe some of them can be turned to our cause.”
“There is no fear that would be worthy of a failure to try; there is among us none who do not know the future of our ways are lost unless we restore the Otherworld and restore the Elven ways on Earth once again. You forget, we were here on Earth almost 100 thousand moons ago. It was our home until the humans came with their closed hearts, wars and ignorance. You forget, do you - that we retired away from humanity and its foolishness. What has happened since?
Micher answered with his characteristic word of thoughtful reason; he was putting the pieces together in his mind: it was true, battle on the Upper World it was the only logical answer, despite the danger diplomacy would have allowed. “We know little and we can be responsible for nothing while we are subject to orders to prevent investigation from the Council, let alone resolution from any quarter.”
“Yes, I believe even the Fomorian pride would be puffed for a battle.” Said Ogma, “Present it to them as a contest, since the Fomorian are a warlike race. If they win they take the Upper World of Earth and we will prepare to move quickly, taking the animal races, plants and life forms to another Earth, never to fly in Earth’s sky again, never to enjoy our mountain and cavern homes here. If we win, all Earth above and below is open to us without Fomorian intervention. It will shatter their human connection and give us time.”
“Right.” Dermot was inspired: an outlaw’s contempt revealing itself in his sideways glance and mouth forming words in disgust. “I have faced them before in small skirmishes. The wretched Fomorian will damn the orders of the Council, since they revolt against all containment in the Otherworld. And they are rushing for battle at every occasion. Such a bored crowd is always up for a challenge. There is no question they will agree to this battle. Those of us in this room are the chosen ones for this battle for Earth, since we the integrity of our magic power and stature.”
Segomos, who had been quiet and brooding, the fur of his giant hands and feet protruding from his boots and his breath was hot with overconsumption of wine and cakes. Lumbering Segomos barely fit sideways through the Elven portals of the Otherworld, but his gentle statement of the oblivious obvious was known by all to lighten the load of solemnity. “Such a battle would change the course of Earth. And our dimension, too.”
“That’s right, the sound that holds the placement of these anchoring points of the wicked who poison and harm will be let loose by the very act of battle,” Scota pressed. “This change on Earth may end the disintegration of our world. It may restore our dimension and turn our graying world back to vibrant color. It may also save humanity, though this is far from my concern.”
“Humanity is expendable,” Fionn stated flatly. Dermot nodded in agreement.
“Do you wish to remain here forever, your powers dwindling as each year passes?” Eocho was so angry he reared up from his seat as a horse. Eocho the master of animals spoke so furiously his words rose and fell like hooves against the table. “Have you not seen the great Manannan, god of sea and waterways, growing smaller each year, turning greyer, being worn? What is the cause of this? If our world is a mirror of Earth’s plant and animal life, we are at risk.
“We know little of the causes that may be present in humankind… we don’t know how if we do not face them; if they are as slow and detached as rumors have told, then we are at great risk not to breech the orders of the Council, and return to Earth. Do you not end each day in frustration? Do you wish to fly again freely in the skies of Earth’s atmosphere and be present in the teardrops of her rain? Do you not wish to feel the sun touch your skin and her water’s song fill your heart? Do you not wish to see our fellows the bear, the heron and the eagle, once again? I no longer care for my life. The horses we left to the wild, your horse, Lugh, Nair, she still lives, she waits for you in the Upper World. She is suffering and she would let them take her life for you, Lugh, if it meant her life was even part of breaking down these walls between our worlds and bringing our ways for the one last chance to save Earth. There is no sacrifice of any one of us too great to make sure we win this chance.”
Heads around the table bowed and nodded, knowing every word Eocho spoke was the feeling they had held and only whispered as a passing apprehension as the Otherworld turned cold and greyer with each season and their dreams filled with suffering of the races of the Upper world the bear, fox, snake, tiger, elephant, oak, salmon and dolphin.
BeChuille softened and as she did so, her beauty nestled in her beautiful shape and her lips parted in a wide smile. “You know the penalty for showing ourselves on Hill of Tara for such a battle, is banishment…complete exile from the Otherworld, the land of forever youth.”
Ogma’s eyes were steadfast as he looked into each face at the table in turn. “The penalty for failing to live is slow death.”
“I would rather be free to fly for one night than to live an eternity without the power that made me,” spoke Flidais.
“I agree,” said Scota, “I cannot change anything effectively while I am trapped here, and my abilities are also trapped. There is no reason to stay.”
Bechuille undid her brooch and cloak. “A cause and a reason for your madness was all I needed. There is no need for formal vote; we are agreed. We go, and with all my heart, Lugh, I go too, just before the dawn.”
“Let it be done!” Lugh’s eyes brightened, hope lifted him as he anticipated flight in the starlight of Earth. “We will fight on the Hill of Tara, Upper World, Earth, before dawn. The winner will earn the right to presence in the Upper World of Earth, the face banishment from the Otherworldly dimension. Let no magical race, whether Elven or Fomorian, be the loser for revolting against orders of confinement of the Council. Let none be afraid in the face of the source of the cruelties set upon our kind; our strength will restore our dimension and our ways to Earth.”
Angus’ lyre filled the room. He sang:
Freedom to chase the earth’s blue skies
Freedom as we lift and fly
Freedom as we touch upon the ground
Freedom will surround us give us grace
Freedom to put out our hand to our kin and race
Above and below, known and unknowable
We face the truth,
we face our own madness
In the eyes of our enemy
And turn it into gold
Show us the way
Chapter One: Elven World, Restoration of the Elven World, T.E. Pelton, Tara, 2008, 2012, 2013