The fire crackled and popped, a shower of sparks shimmered toward the star filled sky. Rionnac sat up and looked at the dark haired amazon on the other side of the fire.
"That's the question you've been trying to ask all evening?", She said in a soft voice so as not to awaken the others. "Maicin, it's no big secret."
Rionnac stood and stretched, then used her gift to search the night. She felt nothing threatening in the area and made up her mind. "Let's walk down to the lake. I don't want to disturb the others."
The young amazon followed her down to the moonlit shore. They were able to see the camp but far enough not to be overheard.
"So why does she call you Pixie?" the curious scout asked again.
Soft laughter, "You are persistent. Sit down." Rionnac settled down in the grass, "My common name among the druid's who raised me is Dobharchu which means otter. I was so called for my love of water.....
~The Ilse of Skye~
"Jeslyn! Jeslyn she's back! She back!"
Jeslyn stood up frowning at the interruption and watched the young boy run up the hill. He found her standing near the stable, "She has come home." the childs face was flushed and he was panting.
"Calm your self down wee one. Now who is back." she asked. Looking up to see Mirra walking toward them.
" She's home and she's got someone with her. And she's dressed funny and the woman she's got has red hair, but she's real sick looking..." Mirra looked from the boy to Jeslyn shrugging her shoulders at the inquisitive look as the boy rattled on. "and she's got a really big sword that's curved..."
Mirra knelt down and turned the child to face her, "Now Colin tell me who is back. Their name."
" Ceolta's back of course." the child said as if repeating himself then renewed his description of her, oblivious to the stunned expressions on the two women.
Mirra stood, "Jeslyn I knew she would come home. I told you she was alright."
Jeslyn shook her head and began heading to the harbor, the boy running to keep up with her, mumbling under her breath, "Send the child out for a simple task and she vanishes for three summers. Not a word. If she doesn't have a..."
Her thought trailed off as she caught site of her daughter and the unconscious girl her daughter cradled lovingly against her. "Damnu air, that one won't see another turn of the moon. Why would my little one bring her here?' Then a chilling thought struck her, 'She knows. That's why she's come home. She knows and doesn't want to be alone when the girl dies."
"Jeslyn wait for me." came Mirra's annoyed voice dragging her back.
" Mirra..." Jeslyn started, but it was to late Mirra had seen the two. Mirra was as experienced a warrior as Jeslyn she too saw the signs of death. "Oh Jes....Why?"
"Come my mate, Ceolta needs us."
They walked down to the pair, "Ceolta! Thank Danu you are home. Jes was so worried. And who is this fey little darling?" Mirra's voice was light.
"Hello Mothers. This is Rionnac...I..I'm her guardian now." Looking down at the pale face, " The water crossing was a bit rough on her, I guess."
Mirra and Jeslyn exchange a look, "Welcome home little cub. Here let me take her you look as if you haven't gotten your landlegs back yet." Jeslyn took the frail form gently into her arms. 'I've swords that weigh more than this one.' She thought to herself, looking down at the little face as soft gray eyes slowly opened.
Puzzled and bewildered, Rionnac tried to lift her head to look around. She only succeeded in bringing back the awful feeling of lightheadedness and nausea. "Faol-com?" she called weakly.
Ceolta moved into sight, "Easy I'm right here. This is Jeslyn and Mirra, my mothers."
Jeslyn watched the pale face frown with concentration. Then seemingly satisfied the pale gray eyes closed and the little one relaxed against her.
'Well I'll be there's still a spark of life in you.' Jeslyn thought as she cradled the thin body closer. You just might surprise us yet.
"No little one I'll not teach you how to fight. Ceolta would have my hide if you got hurt." Jeslyn looked again toward the house wishing that Mirra would please come and get the little red-head.
"I don't want to be defenseless all my life!" Rionnac stated. She walked off into the woods wanting to be alone.
Mirra had watched most of the scene, swearing softly about stubborn mates and hard headed children. The little one wasn't merely alive she was healthy and had a strength of sprit Jeslyn and Ceolta both ignored. Mirra pulled on her hunting boots, it was time to teach the fey one something to keep her out of mischief.
Night had fallen, a full moon cast strange dancing shadows on the ground. Still Rionnac sat perched in the tree, her earliest lessons stealth and camouflage had returned. It served her well tonight, neither Ceolta nor Jeslyn had found her. She wanted to be alone.
Danu bless the child she was already better trained in stealth than some of the warriors who had left the island. This was going to be easier than she had hoped. Mirra used the shadows to sneak up on the crouched figure.
Rionnac jumped at the soft voice that came from nowhere, "Learn what is real first, my fey child. Then see what is hidden."
Mirra moved out of the shadows, "Come Faery-born, you've still much to learn."
~*~The next full moon~*~
"You heard me right." Mirra stated to the shocked pair, "Given half of one candlemark, neither of you could catch Rionnac."
"Now Mirra, my mate, I'll give you that she's come a long way since her arrival. But Ceolta is the best you've trained."
"She was the best but our sweet Ceol has never had any patience for sneaking about as she calls it."
Ceolta finally regained her wits enough to join into the growing debate, "And just when was someone going to tell me that Rionnac was being trained?"
Mirra looked at Ceolta with a blank look, "You didn't know? What did you think we were doing half the night for the last moon?"
Ceolta blushed and stammered, "I haven't been coming home till late. She's always asleep when I check on her."
Mirra and Jeslyn looked at one another, there could only be one reason for the blush on Ceolta. 'So I was right.' thought Mirra, 'My wild one feels a bit more than responsibility for they fey one.'
Jeslyn for her part was just stunned,'Now how did I miss this?' Perplexed she stood , "Very well Mirra a test then, tomorrow night is a full moon. If Rionnac can elude us from moonrise till sunrise. I'll agree to teach her to defend herself."Then looking at Ceolta, "And you Little Cub will help me."
"You did what?!?" Rionnac looked at Mirra with wide eyes."There is no way that I can do it."
"Yes you can, my fairy-born. Ceolta and Jeslyn are good but neither has the patience or quietness that you have." Mirra finished pulling on her soft boots. Then stood and handed the pacing girl a cloth bundle. "Here now, get dressed and trust yourself."
Dressed in the loose soft black tunic and pants, Rionnac stepped from the house. Ceolta and Jeslyn looked at her in surprise.
"Here now Little one, if you don't want to do this just tell us." Jeslyn spoke softly, "Don't let Mirra force you into anything."
Rionnac took a deep breath and slowly released it."I can do this." she spoke softly and smiled up at the taller woman.
"Aye. Then we begin." Jeslyn lit a stub of candle as Mirra and Rionnac drifted away.
"Mother this is foolish."
"Aye it is little cub. But if we didn't let them try, neither of us would have had a minutes peace." Jeslyn said in an amused voice. "We'll have them both back here within a candlemark and be putting this nonsense to rest."
The two split up Mirra vanished into the approaching moonrise. Rionnac swallowed her doubts and fears. She would do this. Gray eyes lifted to the horizon, "Danu help me." she whispered.
"Damnu air!! Where is that girl?" Ceolta scanned the trees again. It was nearer to sunrise than moonrise now. Mirra had been caught only a short time before. She and Jeslyn hadn't expected them to separate. Now they had wasted half the night chasing the pair. 'Phantoms on the wind.' She thought with surprising pride.
Ceolta smiled. Rionnac was changing every day now. No longer the pale and timid girl, that she had first met. A bright and playful sprit had been held in check by the poppy resin for far to long. Health had added a glow to her skin and hair. The gray eyes were sparkling now. "Curious as a litter of kittens and twice the trouble." She thought with a shake of her head.
Bringing her attention back to the present she searched around again. "Where is that little fox?"
Dawn brightened the sky as the small figure approached the house. She was bouncing with glee. She had done it. Opening the door she saw Mirra serving the two annoyed warriors breakfast.
"Where in the names of all the Gods have you been?" Ceolta fairly growled.
Jeslyn stood and walked toward the red-head. With a soft laugh she pulled a piece of hay from the younger girl's hair. "She's been right here all night, Little cub." Turning to Mirra she laughed harder. "She's not a fairy Dearest Heart. She's a mischievous little pixie, who spent the night warm and safely asleep in the hayloft."
"Pixie." Ceolta sighed. "That suits her."
Mirra hugged the smiling girl."Aye Pixie it is from now on."
"Well Maicin, that is how I got the name Pixie. Now let's get some sleep tomorrow is going to be a long day."
The walked back to the fire arms wrapped around each others waist. The night seemed so peaceful. Tomorrow would have challenges enough. For right now they took pleasure in the warm fellowship of one another. Once back, Pixie snuggled into her sleeping mate's arms.
The young scout sat awake for a few more minutes watching the sleeping couples. Looking up to the moon she cast her wishes to the wind once more.
When the time is right I want what they have." Then drifted off to sleep........
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