Tuatha's Children  

                                                                                 By Bert McKenzie 

                                                                                  Copyright 2011 

 

 

Chapter 1

"Uncle Alex."

"Yes, Roon."

"Had you to go to school when you were little?'

"Yes, Roon.  All kids have to go to school."

"Why?"

"So they can learn stuff like reading and writing and things."

"Uncle Alex."

"Yes, Roon."

"Have you ever seen a real griffin?"

"Not that I can remember."

"But Uncle Akuta said you saw one.  He said you and he were on a quest and
the two of you fought a griffin."

"Well that was a long time ago and I don't really remember that."

"Uncle Alex."

"Yes, Roon."

"Why are my ears different from yours?"

Alex sighed.  He had volunteered to baby-sit.  No.  He had been drafted to
baby-sit for Roon, the ward of the king while his guardians were in
conference.  Roon was a precocious 10 year old standing 4 foot tall with
dark brown hair that hung down over his pointed ears.  He had the thin
lanky body of most Tuathans, but his eyes were his most striking feature.
They were a shocking emerald color that held the look of a cool forest in
sunlight.  Roon's mother had been cousin to the king, but had died in child
birth.  His father had followed his mother soon afterward, dying of a
broken heart.  Roon was adopted by Robin, the king of Tuatha, and his human
consort.  Alex, also a human was a good friend of Scott, the king's
consort, and also the partner of one of the king's personal guards.  Since
he didn't have a lot to do in the affairs of state, he got saddled with the
job of watching the kids when everyone else quickly found something better
to do and Alex could barely keep up with them.  Roon could be a handful,
but when he and his best friend, Raven were together, they were more than a
match for just about anyone.  Fortunately today, Raven was grounded and had
to stay at home, helping his mother, so Alex only had one small boy to
contend with.

"Roon, I'm human.  You are Tuathan.  You have pointed ears like all
Tuathans.  I have rounded ears like all humans."

"Scott has ears like you too," the boy observed.  "He is human too, is he
not?"

Alex nodded.  "We're both human."

"So is that why Uncle Akuta and Robin married you and Scott instead of
girls?  Because you are humans?"

These were questions that Alex wasn't prepared to answer.  "No Roon.  Your
Uncle Akuta and Robin are reversals.  They like boys better than girls, so
they married me and Scott."

"Uncle Alex.  Am I a reversal?  I like boys better than girls.  I think
girls are yucky."  Roon easily slipped from Tuathan to English as he made
his pronouncement about girls.  "Yucky," was apparently a word that didn't
translate to Tuathan easily.

"Roon, you're too young to know.  If you still feel that way in a few
years, then we'll see."

"Raven is my best friend.  Can I marry him when I grow up?"

"Roon, I think you ought to wait till you're a little older.  And I think
you ought to ask Robin or Scott these questions."

"Raven's mom is a human," the boy said.

"Yes, I know."

"She is weird."

Alex frowned at his charge.  "Roon, that's not nice to say."

"Well she is.  She gets all upset if Raven has any fun.  She acts like she
thinks he is going to break or something.  Last week we went up to the
battlements and were walking along the high walls and she found out and she
had a cow!"

Alex laughed at the human expression.  "Roon, where did you learn that?
'Had a cow.'"

"That is what Scott says sometimes when Robin gets upset with him.  He
says, 'Gosh man, have not a cow.'"

Alex laughed again to hear the all too human expression spoken in the
language of Tuatha.  Some expressions just don't translate.  An exact
translation from Tuathan would be more like, "Give not birth to a milk
producing animal."  But Roon was bilingual along with his parents and
freely translated what Scott had said in English to the Tuathan equivalent.

There was a knock on the door and Alex opened it.  A small blond headed boy
with blue eyes and a round face stood looking up at him.  "Why, Raven.  I
thought you were grounded," Alex greeted him.

"I was," the boy answered shyly.  "Only my mom said she had enough of my
being grounded to last a lifetime and told me I should come over here and
pester you."

Alex rolled his eyes.  "I bet those were her exact words too."

"Yes sir."

"Well, I didn't sign on to watch both of you," Alex said as Roon squirmed
around behind him.  "If I let you go play do you promise not to get into
trouble?"

"Uncle Alex, what trouble could we get into?" Roon asked innocently.

"I don't even want to think about it.  Now go before I change my mind."
The two boys dashed out the door.  "But don't leave the tower!" Alex
shouted after them as they dashed down the stairs.

"Come on, I shall show you something cool," Roon said as he pulled Raven
down the grand staircase.

"What is it?" the other boy asked.  He wasn't quite as adventurous as Roon.
It may have been the over protectiveness of his human mother, or it might
have been because he was half human and half fairy, so he didn't quite have
the same sense of adventure as most of the other fairies.  But he went
along with his friend.  There were very few children in the palace of
Esbereth, so it seemed only natural that the two boys would be best
friends, being born only a few months apart.

The boys reached the great hall of the white tower and Roon led Raven
across the floor, ducking behind pillars and trying to remain unnoticed by
the comings and goings of many people with various bits of business.  The
two boys slowly circled the room, giggling and making a grand adventure of
not being seen.  They finally found a small door just beneath the grand
stairway and Roon looked about to make sure they weren't observed as he
opened it.  "Come on," he whispered and pulled his friend through the door,
closing it behind them.

"Where are we?" Raven asked, looking about.  They appeared to be in a well
kept and neatly trimmed garden.  There was a winding path of flagstones
with a few marble benches along the way.  The path seemed to wander between
high bushes just bursting with buds, ready to bloom as spring warmed the
land.

"This is the garden of remembrance," Roon told his friend.  "All the old
kings and queens are in here."

"A cemetery?  You brought me to the royal cemetery?"

"Yeah, it is really neat.  You can see the graves of all the old kings.
Most of them are not really here.  They are just stones that kind of say
who they were and stuff."  Roon began to walk down the winding pathway.

"Roon, this is creepy.  Let us go back and find something else for fun."

"No, it is really fantastic.  I want to show you what I found."

"What?" Raven asked petulantly.

"Well come on.  You have to see it."  He came back and grabbed his friend's
hand and pulled him on through the garden.  They walked along between
budding shrubs and beneath trellised arbors, following the path that led
between a number of stones with the names of the past kings, queens and
other royalty carved into them.  It was like the history books they had to
study, only carved in stone markers instead of written on the velum pages.
The boys wandered along the curved path and past centuries of Tuathan
heritage.

"This is kind of cool," Raven said as they walked down the path.

"This is lame," his friend replied.  "This is not what I wanted to show
you.  Come on."  Roon grabbed his friend's hand and pulled him rapidly
along.  The path seemed to end at a big stone sculpture.  It depicted one
of the early kings of Tuatha.  "Look what I found."  Roon pulled his friend
around the side of the statue and pointed.  Hidden behind the base was what
looked like the opening to a small cave.  It was just large enough to admit
the body of a thin boy the size of Roon, or Raven.

"Wow, is that the way into the tomb of this guy?" Raven asked in
astonishment.

"Yeah, probably," his friend answered back.  "It was covered with brush and
stuff.  I dropped the ball I was playing with in here and it rolled under
the bush, so I pulled it away to get at my ball and look what I found."

"Cool," Raven admired.  They stood and looked at the dark opening for a
bit.  "Well?" Raven finally asked, not knowing what Roon expected them to
do about the opening.

"Well, you want to go see what is inside?"

Raven, never the braver of the two hesitated.  "There are probably just the
ashes or bones of some old dead guy inside."

"Yeah, but what if there is more?  What if there is some kind of treasure?"
Roon had heard enough bedtime stories from Scott and Alex to think of great
adventures that ended in finding treasure.

"What need we with treasure?" Raven asked pragmatically.  "Your dads are
the king and consort of the land.  You can have anything you want.  And my
mom and dad would get me anything I want and if they could not, I could ask
your dad."

"It is not about the treasure," Roon answered.  "It is about the finding of
it.  It is about the adventure we have while we search for it.  Come on.
Are you scared?"  That did the trick.  Raven's mom was scared of everything
and seemed to always worry that he would be hurt.  In order to make up for
that, he would get into the most dangerous of situations, and always goaded
on by his friend Roon.  Raven immediately got down on his hands and knees
and crawled toward the cave opening.  "Wait," Roon called.  "I should go
first.  I'm the leader of this expedition."

"Why should you be the leader?" Raven asked.

"Because I am the one who found the tomb, and I am full blooded Tuathan.
You are only half."

Raven couldn't argue with that logic.  He also was secretly grateful that
he didn't have to be the one crawling into a dark, confined area first.
"Should not we have a torch or something?" he asked looking at the darkness
inside the hole.

"We cannot go back now.  Maybe we shall find a torch inside," Roon
suggested and got on his hands and knees to wiggle into the opening.  Once
he disappeared, his voice came back out.  "Come on, Raven.  It gets bigger
inside here."  Raven got down and crawled into the opening as well.  His
eyes weren't quite as sensitive as his friend's since he wasn't full
blooded fairy.  The darkness frightened him.  "It turns just up ahead
here," Roon said as he crawled on hands and knees.  Suddenly he screamed.

"Roon!  Roon!" Raven shouted, but nothing came back except his own voice
echoing off the stone.  His heart was hammering in his chest.  Should he
back out and go find help, or should he continue on and try to rescue his
friend?  But he didn't even know what trouble his friend had gotten into in
the dark.  "Roon!" he called again and began to slowly crawl forward.
Suddenly his hand reached out into nothing; there was no floor in front of
him and he toppled forward into a hole screaming just like his friend had.
But the hole didn't drop straight down.  It slanted sharply, creating a
smooth slide of polished rock on which he slid down into the darkness.  The
shaft twisted and turned round and round as if some giant had pushed a
corkscrew into the earth and created a spiral slide into the blackness.
Down and down he went, only to finally slow as the shaft seemed to level
off a bit, then suddenly he fell out of the shaft and dropped a few feet,
to land with a thump on top of his friend.

"Ow, get off me!" Roon complained as he shoved his companion.  Raven tried
to disentangle himself from his buddy and rolled to the side only to drop
another couple of feet to the floor of the cave.  They sat up and looked
around, finding themselves inside a dimly lit stone chamber.  Roon was
sprawled on a rock shelf, covered with furs and Raven sat on the floor
beside him.  The shaft from which they had dropped was directly above the
shelf.

"What is this place?" Raven asked.

"I know not," Roon answered.  But it looks like someone or something lives
here.  As they looked around they saw the cave was organized with a stone
fire circle in the center, the ceiling sloped so any smoke would find its
way back to the shaft over the stone shelf.  There were small wooden
benches and a low table with pots and jars on it, looking much like
someone's camp kitchen.  "Let us get out of here before whoever it belongs
to comes back."  He stood and headed toward the only source of light, a
narrow passageway through the rock to an outer chamber.  Raven immediately
got up from the floor and began to follow him.

They had just reached the opening to the cave, seeing the bright light of
the sunny day shining in from outside when the doorway darkened as a figure
stepped into the opening.  It was tall and shaggy, silhouetted against the
sun.  Roon and Raven both screamed and ran back into the cave, rushing to
the makeshift kitchen and trying to scramble up onto the bench, reaching
for the opening through which they had dropped.  But the opening was out of
their reach.  They could hear the creature coming into the room behind
them.

* * *

"Where did they go, Alex?" Scott demanded.

"I don't know.  I told them to stay in the tower."

"And you think they did?  They could be almost anywhere in the kingdom by
now."  Scott was angry with his friend, thinking Alex was terribly
irresponsible to just let the two young boys wander off.

"They wouldn't go far.  I trust them."

"You don't have an angry king and a hysterical human mother screaming at
you."  Scott remembered the last time he was supposed to look after the
kids and they disappeared.  They were found quickly enough but not before
he had an earful from Robin who had a similar earful from Raven's mother.
Scott knew he shouldn't have entrusted the boys to Alex, but he thought
Alex could handle Roon.  He had no idea that Raven would show up and that
Alex would just let them wander off.

"We'll find them.  I'm sure they are somewhere in the tower."

"Do you know how big this building is?" Scott asked.

"Okay, I'll get Akuta and Rood to help search.  I bet they can pull in the
rest of the tower guard."

"That's a wonderful idea.  When Robin asks where his guards are, I'll just
say they are looking for two lost boys.  He'll never have a clue who I
mean."

"You don't have to be so sarcastic," Alex replied, knowing full well that
Roon and Raven were the only children in the castle at the present.
Children were something of a rarity in Tuatha.

"Okay, you go find Akuta and Rood and I'll go find Robin and try to gently
break it to him that his son is missing...again."  The two men left the
chambers, heading in opposite directions.

* * *

Melcot and Rowana were riding across the plain together.  They had been out
surveying fields of flashweed growing in the damp low spots some way out
from the mountain pass.  As they came up over a hill they spotted two
isolated figures in the distance in middle of the plain.  "See you them?"
Melcot asked as he reined his horse to a stop.

"Two men out on the plain alone, walking.  That is odd," she replied.
"Perhaps we should go find out their business."  The two reined their
horses around and galloped down the shallow slope toward the distant pair.

"Hey, look," Willow said as he turned toward the sound of the approaching
horses.

"What?" his partner, Jeff asked, then turned to gaze in the direction his
young friend was pointing.  "I don't see anything."

"Out there, heading our way.  Don't you see them?"  Willow was surprised as
his friend.  Jefferson had always been able to see and hear things normal
humans couldn't.  But now, he seemed to be unaware of the two riders coming
their way.  They were a considerable distance away, but Willow could hear
the pounding of the horses' hooves, and see the two distinctly as they drew
nearer.

"Oh, now I see them," Jeff said.  He could just make out two people on
horseback in the far distance moving in their direction.  "How did you see
them so far away?" he asked in surprise.

"I just did," Willow replied.  "I heard them first."

"Amazing," his partner replied.  "I still don't hear them.  Well, it's
obvious they are coming our way, so we might as well wait and see what they
want."

It took a lot less time than Jeff would have expected for the two riders to
close the distance.  They finally crested a nearby hill and came down the
valley toward where the two men and been walking.  Jeff could see that it
was a man and woman.  The man was tall and blond, the woman shorter with
flaming red hair.  As they rode up, Jeff noted that their costuming
matched, both in white tunics that showed their bare legs, with flowing
capes of white and gold falling from their shoulders.  They had long
broadswords of a gleaming silver metal strapped to their sides.  The two
slowed their approach and came to a stop not far from the men.

Rowana looked them over and noted that the two travelers were wearing blue
jeans and t-shirts, attire that marked them as humans.  She gave a knowing
look to her husband sitting beside her on his horse.  "What are you about,
travelers?" she asked in Tuathan, but watched as the two just looked at
each other and shook their heads.

"They speak not our language," Melcot said.  "Can you speak to them in the
human tongue?  You know it better than I."

"Where go you, travelers?" Rowana asked in English.

"Hello," Jeff said, stepping forward.  "My friend and I came from a far
away land."

"I know this land," Rowana replied.  "Why are you here?"

"We came seeking his father," Jeff said, indicated Willow.  "His father was
from your world."

Melcot pulled his horse closer to the two and unsheathed his sword.  He
reached out with the blade and gently moved Willow's hair to look at one of
his hears.  They weren't pointed like a true Tuathan's but they weren't
exactly rounded like a human's.  "He may be half faerie," Melcot said to
his wife.  "His ears are very much the same as Raven's."  He referred to
the half breed boy living back in Esbereth.

"I think it best if you come with us to the palace," Rowana told the two
men.

"We would be glad to follow you," Jeff replied nervously.  He wasn't sure
if this was a good idea or not.  But they couldn't survive out here in the
middle of nowhere with no provisions.

Rowana lightly jumped down from her horse, then leaped up onto the back of
Melcot's steed.  "You may use my mount," she said, indicating her horse.
With a little difficulty, Jeff managed to jump up and climb onto the bare
back of Rowana's horse.  He then reached down and gave Willow a hand to
help him climb up behind him.  Once they were mounted, Melcot headed off in
a quick trot, with the two following behind on the borrowed horse.

 

 

 

 

 

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