Tuatha's Children  

                                                                                 By Bert McKenzie 

                                                                                  Copyright 2011 



Chapter 2

"Who are you and why are you here?" the strange shaggy creature demanded in
a rusty voice.

Roon and Raven halted in their attempts to climb the wall.  "You speak
Tuathan?" Roon said as he looked at the shaggy creature.

"Of course I speak Tuathan.  What would you have me speak?" the creature
said.  As the boys looked at him, the realized it was a tall man dressed in
ragged clothes.  His hair was extremely long and unkempt.  Like most
Tuathans he didn't have a beard, but his long hair seemed to cover part of
his face just because of the mess it was in.

"What are you?" Raven asked timidly.

"What think you I am?" the man said.  "I am a man."  He stared at the two
boys for a time, then asked, haltingly, "Are you...are you children?"

Roon jumped down from the stone shelf and put his fists on his hips,
puffing out his chest.  "I am Roon, ward of the high king, and this is my
friend Raven."

"Ward of the high king," the shaggy man repeated slowly.  "Pleased to make
your acquaintance your grace," he said with a bow.  "I am Rayel and this is
my humble abode."

"Why live you here?" Roon asked looking at the man and then wandering
around the cave, now that he determined it wasn't some sort of dangerous

"This is close to my work," Rayel replied.

"Work?  What work?  And why have not we ever heard of you?"

"I imagine most people have forgotten me," the man said softly.  "I am
studying the fissures in these caves, trying to find doorways to another

"Cool," Raven said, fascinated by what the man was telling him.  Rayel
cocked his head at an odd angle when he heard the young boy speak.  "Cool"
was an English word, not Tuathan.  The man came over and grabbed Raven by
the hair, pulling it up and looking at his ears.  "Ow!" the boy screamed,
terrified by the stranger's reaction.

"Hey, let him go!" Roon shouted.

The stranger let the boy go and fell back onto the stone bench.  "You are
human!" he said in amazement.  "Where came you from?"

"We fell out of that hole."  Roon pointed to the hole in the ceiling of the

The man looked up in surprise.  "That is where I get my water when it
rains, and where the smoke goes from my fire.  I knew not that it actually
led anywhere.  Where came you from beyond the shaft?"

"We came from the palace of Esbereth.  We thought the cave we found was a
tomb.  It was hidden behind one of the old statues in the garden of

The man nodded as if he understood.  "Strange indeed," he mumbled.  "Well,
you cannot go back the way you came.  You shall have to make the trek with
me, up the long road.  We had better start now, as it is afternoon and it
will be quite a walk."  He grabbed a long staff leaning on the side of the
cave and began to head back toward the main opening.  The boys looked at
each other and shrugged, then began to follow him.  They went through the
outer cave and walked out into the shadows.  They looked up and saw they
were in a deep ravine between two tall stone walls.

"Where are we?" Raven asked.

"This be the ravine that protects Esbereth," Rayel said as he began to walk
along the bottom between the walls.  "High above us is the castle, and the
drawbridge.  Down the way a piece be a road that winds up the side of this
mountain and to a bridge that will take us out onto the plains of Morinar
and back to the main gate of the castle.

"So you live down here in that cave?" Roon asked.  "I think no one in the
castle knows you are down here."

"Oh there might be a few who know, but for the most part, I am forgotten,"
the man replied.

"So what look you for?" Raven asked.

"A way to get back to your world," the man replied.

"This is my world," Raven answered him.

"But you are human," Rayel replied.  "I saw your ears."

"I'm half human," Raven said.  "My mom is human, but my dad is Tuathan.
They met in the other world and came here.  They live in the palace."
After walking on for a bit Raven asked, "Why want you to find a way to the
human world?"

The man slowly answered, "I met a girl there and fell in love.  I too had a
son, but then I came back here by accident.  I could not get back to my
son.  I have been trying ever since."

"I bet my dad could get you back home," Roon said.  "Well, he is not my
real dad, but he might as well be.  He is the king and he can do anything.
Besides, he married a man from the human world."

"Married to a human man?  The king is a reversal?"  Rayel seemed surprised
at this turn of events.

"Yeah, everyone knows that," Raven said.  "Scott is the consort of the
king.  Roon has two dads unlike me with a dad and a mom."

"So want you to have me ask Robin to send you back to the human world?"
Roon asked.

"No," the man said gruffly.

"But I thought..."

"No, it must be a secret," the man said.  "No one must know I am trying to
get back there.  The gateways have been closed for many years.  If I
accomplish this, it must be performed in secret," he mumbled, partly to
himself and partly to the boys.  "There is the road that climbs upward.
Come along, we still have far to go."  They began to ascend the winding
road up out of the ravine and up the side of the Crystal Mountain.

* * *

As the horses crested the last of the low hills approaching the distant
mountains, Jeff and Willow saw flashes of bright color as if someone in the
mountains was flashing a rainbow searchlight in their direction.  "What is
that?" Jeff asked as the horses came to a stop at the top of the low hill.

"That is the palace of Esbereth," Rowana answered him.  "I fear there are
not many who speak your human language.  You may find it difficult to

The two fairies then urged their horses back to a trot and headed down the
gentle slope Toward what looked like a distant roadway, with the two
visitors following them.  As they drew closer the two visitors could make
out the palace in the distance.  Several tall towers each capped with what
looked like a faceted gemstone were surrounded by a wall of white stone.
In the distance it appeared like a jeweled crown sitting in the middle of a
mountain outcropping.  The beautiful castle disappeared behind the rocky
foothills as they drew close to the dirt road that followed the contours of
the hills that skirted the mountains.  Around early afternoon they entered
a rocky gorge with steep stone walls on either side.  The canyon twisted
and turned as it approached the mountains.  After a short ride the fairies
came to a halt and dismounted.  The two travelers did the same.  Rowana
reached into a small pack that she carried with her and pulled out several
strips of fabric.  She came to the two men and explained as she tied the
cloth blindfolds over their eyes.  "The towers of Esbereth have bright
reflective caps that send beams of light into the canyon we are just about
to enter.  The corridor of light is too bright for any eyes but ours.  As
humans or part humans you may be blinded.  It is a defense that keeps all
but Tuathans from approaching the palace during daylight.  We must even
blind our horses to lead them through the corridor of light.

Willow spoke up.  "What keeps the palace safe at night?"

"There is a drawbridge that can be raised," Rowana answered.

"What about a cloudy day?" Willow persisted.

"Follow us and keep silent," Melcot growled.  He apparently understood and
spoke enough English to be annoyed by the continual questions.

"How can we follow you when we can't see you?" Willow asked again.

"I will take your hands," Rowana answered.  "Melcot will lead the horses."

"But what about..."

"Willow," Jeff said to his partner.


"Shut up."

They could tell by the feel and sound of their footfalls when they had left
the stone corridor and crossed the wooden drawbridge.  When the their
pathway turned back to stone, Rowana removed the blindfolds and the two
guest finally beheld the palace of Esbereth from inside the surrounding
battlements.  There were several tall towers and many other lower buildings
all apparently constructed from the same matching white stone.  Narrow
cobblestone lanes wound around and through the various towers and
buildings.  The stone lanes were populated with many people going about
their business, walking here or there from building to building.  Melcot
remounted his horse and leading Rowana's steed, headed off to the stables
while Rowana took their guests up the lane toward a large tower building,
bigger than most of the others.  This tower looked as if it were capped
with a huge faceted diamond.  Willow and Jeff followed the girl, looking
curiously around at the apparently medieval castle life that surrounded
them.  They saw what appeared to be friendly, but very curious faces looked
back at them from all they met.

"This is the white tower," Rowana explained as they came to two huge,
ornately carved doors on the large building.  The doors were standing open
with guards at either side.  The girls stopped for a moment to speak with
the guards then indicated that her companions should follow her into the
building.  "This houses the palace guard, and is the home of the high
born," she explained.  "The crystal throne of Esbereth, the ruling seat of
all Tuatha is here."

Inside the building was a large round chamber with a vaulted ceiling and a
wide staircase at the end opposite the doors through which they had
entered.  They noted other doorways and corridors leading off from the
chamber as well, but Rowana lead them directly across to the wide
staircase.  "Excuse me, ma'am," Jeff said in his slight southern drawl,
"but where exactly are we going?"

"I am taking you to meet with Scott.  He is consort to the king and also a
man from your world.  He will know what is to become of you."

Willow and Jeff exchanged nervous glances as they ascended the staircase
behind her.

* * *

"I cannot locate them anywhere in the white tower," Rood reported as his
men began to rendezvous in the main hall.

Robin was obviously angry.  "Come along, Alex.  You shall help search since
you are the one who let them get away."  He took hold of Scott's hand and
pulled him along, indicating that Alex and the guard should follow him.
They walked through the tall, ornately carved doors to the white tower and
out into the afternoon sun of the castle courtyard.  "You," Robin indicated
Alex and Scott, "go search the battlements and check with the guards at the
gate to make sure they did not leave the palace.  You," he indicated a
number of the other guards, "Go question the other tower guards to see if
the boys might have wandered into anyone else's tower.  I know they are
quite fond of several of the merchant guild."

"Where go we, my lord?" Rood asked as he and Akuta stood alone while the
others made their way off on their assignments.

"We go to visit Raven's mother.  Akuta will explain how Alex let her son
wander off with mine."

"I was afraid of that," Rood said, shoving his friend along in front of
him.  Akuta walked as though a condemned man to the gallows.

* * *

"Here is the bridge," Rayel said as they finally came out of the winding
roadway to see a wooden bridge built across the ravine.  "Come along, it is
fast approaching nightfall."  The two boys followed the older man across
the wooden bridge as the sun slowly began to set in the west.  Roon had to
look over the side and see how far down the bottom of the gorge was, but
Raven carefully stayed in the center of the bridge, nervous about the
distance.  He had nearly passed out with fear when Roon goaded him into
climbing on the walls of the battlements overlooking the same perilous
drop.  They boy was frightened of heights, but he'd never back down from a
dare by his only friend.  "Come along," the adult urged them and quickly
crossed to the other side and began to follow the trail out of the stone
hills toward the grassy plains beyond.

They continued along the trail that skirted the foothill until they came
upon a walled opening in the cliffs.  "This is the pass," Rayel said and
guided the two boys into yet another ravine leading off from the plains
toward the castle.  The passageway was flanked by stone walls and wide
enough for several horses to ride abreast.  It wound back and forth between
the stone walls until finally opening out in a straight passage ending at a
sheer drop off.  The ravine was covered by a wooden drawbridge that led
from the stone passage into the castle.  As night began to deepen and the
stars made their first appearances, the drawbridge began to creek and moan
as the chains pulled it up, the edge swinging away from the path the boys
and their guide were on.

"It is too late," Roon said.  "They are raising the drawbridge for the

"In my day, they used to always leave it down," Rayel said.

"They have raised it at full darkness ever since the troll attack.  That
was before we were born," Raven replied.

"Yes, I think I remember something of that," Rayel answered.  "No matter,
we have to get into the palace.  They walked to the edge of the passageway
and Rayel cupped his hands to his lips and cried out.  "Whoo hoo, whoo

"Who goes there?" a voice shouted back from the battlements.

"Just an old man with two lost boys," Rayel shouted back, leaning heavily
on his staff.

"Two boys?" the voice came back from the battlements.  Almost immediately
the drawbridge began to descend again with clanking and rattling.  Rayel
stepped back from the edge of the chasm, and the wooden bridge dropped with
a load thunk right at his feet.

"Come on, across you go," the man said, shepherding the boys with his
staff.  They slowly crossed the wooden bridge, both thinking of the trouble
they might find on the other side.  As they came through the gate into the
castle, a large party was striding down the roadway toward them.  Once
inside the drawbridge began to clunk and rattle again as the chains pulled
it back up once more.

"This won't be good," Roon wind whispered to his friend and their guide.

"Just don't you tell any of them where you were," Rayel ordered gruffly.

Robin, Scott, Dannemel, Maggie and half the palace guard were about to
descend on the trio.  Maggie ran out and grabbed Raven, hugging him as
tears poured from her eyes.  "Well?" Robin said ominously.

"High king," Rayel said as he dropped down on one knee with the help of his
staff.  "I found these two boys wandering not far into the plain.  They
were enjoying the evening air and had no idea the lateness of the hour.  I
thought to guide them back to the castle."

Robin nodded toward the scruffy looking man.  "We are in your debt, sir."
He looked curiously at the man.  "May I inquire from whence came you and
what your business?"

"I am just a vagabond, a wandering traveler out to see the sights."  Rayel
kept his head down toward the ground, as if in deference to the high king.
The two boys looked back at the man, amazed at the lies he was telling.
They had never heard anyone lie before as it wasn't something that anyone
ever did in Tuatha.

"Then come, my friend," Robin said.  "We are about to break our fast with
an evening meal.  You are welcome at our table.  But perhaps you would like
a chance to rest and refresh yourself first."

"I have no suitable attire, my lord," Rayel replied, still looking down.

"No matter, I can find clothing for him.  Come with me," Rood said,
clapping an arm around the older man and leading him off toward the tower.

Meanwhile Robin and Scott turned to their ward.  "How did you get out of
the castle without the guards spotting you?" Scott demanded.  He and Alex
had already questioned the gate guards to be told the boys hadn't been seen
all afternoon.

"We...um...we were playing He Who Must Not Be Seen," Roon suggested.  It
was the Tuathan version of hide and seek, but with the slight twist of
magic to it.

"You won't be seen for quite a while," Scott told his young charge in
English.  "Your other father is about to lock you in the dungeon until you
come of age."  Roon just ducked his head and tried to act humble as he
followed the two men back up the roadway toward home.  Robin didn't say a
word to the boy, but wind whispered to his lover that he thought that was a
good idea.  Meanwhile Raven was dragged up the roadway struggling between
his two arguing parents.  Dannemel wanted to punish him but Maggie was so
grateful to have him home safe that all she wanted to do was to hug him.
The boy wasn't sure which would be the less of the two evils.  He didn't
want his father's wrath, but being smothered by his mother could be equally

Sometime later Robin and Scott were sitting down to their evening meal with
Roon.  There was a knock on the door and Scott opened it to find their
dinner guests waiting outside.  "Come in," he said politely, standing back
as Rood, Sharon, the captain of the guard's partner and court physician,
and Rayel, the newcomer stepped inside.  Rayel had bathed, trimmed his hair
and was dressed in a clean, new tunic provided by Rood.  He hardly looked
like the same scruffy man they had met at the gate.  Roon kept staring at
him, thinking he looked a lot younger now that he was cleaned up and his
hair had been washed and combed.  "Please sit down and share our meal,"
Scott offered.

Robin uncorked a bottle of mead and poured goblets full for the adults.
"Can I have a taste?" Roon asked, then dropped quickly into silence from a
stern look by the king.  He wasn't out of trouble yet and had forgotten how
angry Robin still was with him.

Scott and Robin passed a huge bowl of steaming vegetables cooked together
with rice and eggs.  "This is one of my favorite dishes," Robin said as he
helped himself to a generous portion.  "It is a human dish that my love has
introduced.  It is called 'flied lice,' in English," he said.

Scott and Sharon both broke into laughter.  "That's fried rice," Sharon
corrected the king.  "And it's actually an oriental dish."

Robin smiled and passed another platter.  "Well, perhaps you'll enjoy the
'crab gone wrong' and 'keg rolls.'"

Scott just shook his head.  "That's crab Rangoon and egg rolls.  They
aren't really authentic, just our Tuathan version of them.  In the human
world the crab Rangoon actually has crab meat in it, but these are just an
approximation of won tons with something like cream cheese and the egg
rolls are pretty close to an actual vegetarian egg roll."

"Well, they taste about as authentic as any I've had in Chinatown back
home," Sharon replied.  She was also from the human world,

"I am amazed, my lord," Rayel said as he looked at the people around the
table.  "I had no idea there were so many humans in our land."

"There are not that many," Rood replied.  "Just a small handful, five or
six here in the palace and one or two out in the countryside.  That is not
a large contingent when you compare them to the population of our world, or

"You must not have had much contact with anyone from the palace in a time,"
Robin said.  Since Scott came to be my consort, there has been much talk
across the land of human and Tuathan interaction."

"Is that wise, my lord?" Rayel asked.

"I think the few humans that have come here are representative of the
finest people from their world.  But we have certainly limited our contact
with the rest of their land.  We want not our people to be subjected to
their curiosity.  You know most in their world believe not our land even

"And it would be wise to keep it that way," Rood volunteered, glancing at
Roon.  The boy had often suggested he wanted to see the human world where
Scott and some of his other adult friends and come from.

"But tell us of your travels, my lord," Scott said, looking at their guest
and trying to change the subject."

"Oh, there is not much to tell," Rayel said, looking down at his plate.  "I
have wandered along solitary paths just enjoying the land as I might."

After a bit of uncomfortable silence, the evening meal devolved into
stories told about the troubles Roon often managed to get into.  Sharon and
Rood told several stories about their adventures, and Scott told a few
tales as well.  They all seemed to enjoy themselves, but noticed how silent
their guest kept.  Scott assumed it was due to his spending time traveling
alone.  He probably didn't have much contact with others.  After the food
was finished, Robin brought out fortune biscuits as he called them.  It was
another tradition borrowed from the human world.  He said that Roon and
Raven had been kept busy for a fortnight writing the fortunes on little
slips of paper to be baked in the biscuits.  They weren't exactly like the
fortune cookies from Chinatown, but they tasted delightful and everyone
laughed over their little fortunes.  Only Rayel seemed quiet when they
shared the results of their biscuits.  When encouraged to share his fortune
he read it aloud.  "You will soon achieve your goals and travel to a
distant land."

"Well that sounds like the perfect fortune for one who enjoys solitary
travel," Rood insisted and clapped him on the back.  The stranger just
nodded quietly and tucked the bit of paper into his tunic to take with him.

"The time grows late, my lord," Sharon said, rising from the table.  "I'm
sure young Roon will have to clear the dishes and wash them before you send
him to bed for the night."

"Yes, an excellent suggestion," Robin agreed and looked at the boy who
quickly looked down at the floor, not wanting to meet his foster father's

"Let us show you to a guest chamber where you can rest and meditate for the
night," Rood suggested as he placed a hand on Rayel's shoulder.  The man
nodded and followed the other two out of the king's chambers.

"Have I really to wash all these dishes?" Roon asked, looking forlorn at

The man smiled and pulled a cord to signal a servant.  "No, but the hour is
late.  You do have to go to bed."

"But I am not tired," Roon said, trying to stifle a yawn.

"When you turn thirteen, you'll probably never sleep again," Scott said as
he remembered his Tuathan anatomy, growth and development class he had
taken from some helpful former mothers.  "But until then you need your
rest.  That is the only way you will reach thirteen.  Now off the bed with
you.  March!"

The boy got up and hugged his human foster father, then went over and
tentatively hugged the king who was still a bit standoffish.  "Robin, I'm
sorry I caused all the problems by wandering off," he said.

The king looked sternly at him.  "You know not what dangers may have
befallen you outside the palace walls.  What were you thinking?  We were
only lucky that Rayel found you and brought you back here."

"I know," the boy admitted.

Robin leaned over and gave him a big hug and a kiss on the cheek.  "Now go
to bed so you can age faster and never have to sleep again."  The boy
smiled and ran off to his room.

Scott stepped over to the king and sat on his lap.  "And what about me?" he

"I'm afraid you'll always want to sleep.  So we might as well go to our
chamber and prepare you for that."

"What troubles you, lord?" Scott asked as he looked in his lover's eyes.
"I can see there is something bothering you."

"It is Rayel," the king replied.  "He refuses to meet my eyes when I have
asked him direct questions.  That isn't the Tuathan way.  If I knew no
better I would suspect him of telling falsehoods.  But Tuathans always tell
the truth because it is so easy to determine a falsehood."

"It is easy to determine if you can look the person in the eyes," Scott
replied.  "Do you think he has something to hide?"

"I know not what to think.  But I may ask Rood to befriend him and keep
close watch on him till he decides to move on.  It troubles me that he may
tell falsehoods yet found our children.  Then it may only be my
protectiveness where Roon is concerned."

"What about the state dinner you are planning for the morrow?" Scott asked
as they moved into their private room while two servants picked up the
dishes from the table in the dining area.

"Yes, I must think on that," Robin agreed.  "I shall go make some
arrangements while you sleep.  And I have an audience in the early morning
to discuss two travelers that Rowana and Melcot found wandering out on the
great plain.

"Well before you wander off to make your arrangement for the morrow, I
think you could spend some time making arrangements with me for the night,"
Scott said as he kissed his lover.

"Ah very well," Robin said wearily and began to remove his tunic.

"If it's such a chore..."Scott began, turning away, only to be grabbed from
behind as the king laughed at his lover's response.  He quickly removed his
clothes and began to tug the garments off his human lover as well, tossing
him onto the reclining platform and jumping on top of him.






                                                                    Back      Main     Next

                                                                       Discussion Forum