RP The Woman in the Orchard, The Locket in the House


I have lived to see the ashes of ages. I have seen eras gone and forgotten.

I was there when the First Saint came to our forgotten isle, long after the Sons of Adam had returned to it for good. He taught to them the words of their true Father, and not of An Daghdha. We made peace with the Son, and we retreated to Tír na nÓg. Away from the death and the change of the world.

I watched as the North-Man came to the isle full of fury and greed, and I watched as they were repelled in kind again and again until their children's children; fancying themselves great knights and conquerors of men; finally carved their piece of the great jewel at the edge of the earth.

It was then that I brought failure and insult to The Caillech, and so much of what I remembered was lost to the mists of memory. It only comes to me now in moments of clarity, when I am able to hear the songs sung from Across the River. Yet they always escape me now, gone in the fogs of my mind as I remain bound to this earth. Tied to a small silver locket with an iron chain, passed from father to son, mother to daughter.

Yet I remained to see the Great Hunger grip the land, and my brethren forgot the tongue we taught to them as it was stripped away by the invaders. Many fled, yet my keepers remained stalwart. Their uncles died, two sisters died, and many babes did not survive the winter. And the laughter of Éire was diminished, never again to be as loud as it once was. Even The Morrígan wept for the children of Éire. We all wept.

I watched as they rose, like the Son once did, one Eastertide and fight for the land that we gave to them. Many died, and the anger was not diminished, and freedom was not yet claimed. I watched as a great and terrible war gripped the lands of men and tore their kingdoms apart. I saw the soldiers return home, carrying the weight of the dead with them. That was all I saw before I was stolen away, to go farther west than I knew west to go.

I was whisked away in a little girl's pocket, one of many trinkets and heirlooms the family smuggled away in hopes of a new life. They had scrapped together just enough money to flee to some new place that promised freedom and security, I, for one, clawed and screamed against the bonds that dragged me away from my home. Even as they boarded the ship, I could feel the light of Danu fading away. I cried, and I wept, for my home now faded away into the fog. And I was brought away, stolen by the fear and wants that were not my own, across the sea. Much farther than even Saint Brendan the Navigator ever went.

The little girl, Aisling, wept with me. She mumbled prayers in Our Tongue through sobs, and her mother tried to comfort her with stories of heroes and great explorers who would travel far and find happiness still. Aisling took comfort in her mother's words, I did not, but I did take comfort in the girl's prayers. She knew I was around, I think, she would always leave a portion of her porridge untouched, and I would always take it.

The voyage was just over a week and a terrible one, though I didn’t see much. It was like my vision was clouded, the whole thing a distant memory yet happening right then. I remember our beds, crammed in with a thousand or more others, all fleeing the isle. No walls to separate our family from the others, yet despite the wailing of children and the howling of the sea, it was deathly quiet. Oh, and how the sea howled at us, it was if Manannán mac Lir himself was stirring a maelstrom in rage at one of the fair folk being whisked away from home.

When we arrived, I could barely breathe, this place stank something fierce. A foul and hellish odour like sulphur and corpses. The filthiness of man all washed into one large dungheap. I couldn’t hear, see, nor even open my eyes. It was all a whirlwind of too much of everything, so much I barely noticed when the locket exchanged hands.

I heard Aisling beg her mother and father to keep me, but they wouldn’t have it, they needed the money. In another time I would have cursed their name, but the girl deserved none of that, and I was so diminished. With the last sparkle of light that I could muster, I kissed a blessing into her brow. She would have a good husband, good children, and would come into wealth in due time. Her children would remember where they came from, and practice their mother tongue. I offered my own prayer through Saint Patrick to see it through.

So I slept, slept as I was carried across this new land. The air became hotter, and more damp. My hair frizzed and fluffed up from it all. I huffed, and wondered whose pocket I was in now. She didn’t take me out until we arrived at the destination, a large white house at the centre of rows and rows of apple and peach trees. I only got a small look at it before I was stuffed away again, the next thing I knew I was placed on a mannequin in a rather large bedroom.

Oh, lovely, I was in the house of a lady. I tried to hear what the servants were saying, but they spoke odd, it was the Angles languages I think, but it drawled on with larger vowels, and twanged on certain words. I couldn’t understand anything. But I looked around at the gowns and lace and jewellery and figured I must have been traded to a servant and given as a gift.

For the first time in a while, I made myself corporeal, taking the opportunity to stretch out my wings and arms. I sniffed, this place smelled different. Not of the fanciful ancient magics of forests I knew, but of a different spirit. Where had I ended up? Spain? No, Spain smelled different.

Fortunately, someone in the home seemed to have manners, as there was a cup of cream left out next to the bed. I sipped at it gleefully, and it reminded me of home. Suddenly, as I was lookout out the window at unfamiliar trees and breathing air that soured my mouth. I wept, my tears dropped onto the windowsill and sparkled like starlight. I drank the rest of the cream in one gulp.