The night air pulsed and crackled with mystical enchantment as Alainn O’Brien soared through the star-filled sky. She rode upon the horse that had mysteriously transformed into a winged-creature capable of flight during this magical time of Samhain. The enormous golden moon hung low in the sky, illuminating the surroundings below. Alainn inhaled the unusual yet comfortingly familiar scent upon the air, the enticing smell of pure and powerful magic.
She glanced far below at the wonderment of the night as they glided past the rolling hills, gentle valleys, and craggy cliffs, all clearly evident by the light of the bright autumn moon. She was awed by the moonlight glistening upon the calm sea, and she reveled in the beauty and the bewitching magic all around her.
The creature simply flew on and Alainn was both unaware and uncaring of how much time had passed as they continued their enchanting magical flight. Her long blonde unbound hair was tossed about in the wind as they ascended. Though they were now far above the land, the air remained unusually warm. The shrill sound of a night owl calling out from somewhere below finally pulled her from her trance-like state. She was startled by a voice.
“Where is it you would desire to go to this night, young Alainn?”
“You are capable of speech?” Alainn replied to the horse in disbelief.
“You seem perfectly willing to accept that I have magically produced wings and am now able to fly, yet find it difficult to believe I can speak?”
“Well I did sense from the first time I set eyes upon you that you possessed magical abilities, but I admit they far surpass what I afore believed was possible here in the human realm.”
“But it is Samhain, so much is possible in all realms. But, now you must tell me where are we off to this night? You summoned me to you so I would presume it was not simply to enlist me in escaping your husband.”
“It was not my intent to escape Killian… we simply require some time apart… I needed to be distanced from what our marriage has become…” She softly lamented.
“Ah, well there must be something you desire to see or do on this most magical of nights?” The creature kindly attempted to distract her from her sorrow.
Alainn remained deep in thought, but did not reply.
“Shall we simply soar aimlessly the entire night with no purpose, then?”
“Must we have a purpose? Can we not simply enjoy the beauty and tranquility of this night?”
“If that is your wish, Alainn, it can certainly be so, but you have spent many weeks distanced from magic? I witnessed you informing your husband you would no longer keep your powers concealed. Do you have no inclination toward employing your magical abilities or visiting mystical realms? And though it would appear peaceful up here in the night sky so removed from the earth, all is not tranquil, I assure you.”
“Do you speak of the number of restless spirits?”
“Well, although horses, especially mystical horses bridge the gap between spirits and the living, there’s little to be done about the restless spirits, particularly this night when they run amuck. However, there are others who perhaps require your magical assistance tonight, Alainn. If you truly intend to embrace your powerful capabilities once more, you need to allow yourself to sharpen your senses and reclaim your many supernatural abilities. You have turned from them for far too long.”
He was correct for she had valiantly attempted to ignore or deaden her magical abilities for many weeks now. She believed they had been largely responsible for the loss of her wee son who had died so soon after his birth, but they’d also been the reason she’d been able to save her husband, Killian’s life. Therefore, she was much conflicted on how she felt regarding her supernatural powers as of late.
She had parted ways with Killian, earlier this night. She would never have believed there’d come a time when she would purposely choose to be apart from him, for always her heart’s truest desire had been to share her life with him. But there was much broken between them since they’d lost their newborn son. They barely spoke, never touched. Being together seemed a stark and constant reminder of all they’d been through… all they’d lost.
She had told Killian she was leaving with the intention of finally embracing her powers, turning toward her supernatural abilities; for throughout her life something or someone always prevented her from embracing her magic. She intended to develop her powers, to learn what could be accomplished by way of magic, and how she might better control her many unusual and too often, unpredictable abilities.
She had also assured Killian she would not return to Castle O’Donnel, would never consider going back to him until he saw to it that Ciara was gone. She was the loathsome woman who’d possibly been responsible for Alainn being given a potent mixture of herbs known to cause women to miscarry… the very woman whom had once spent time in Killian’s bed. She was not only promiscuous and untrustworthy, but it was almost certain she possessed dark magical abilities and was possibly affiliated with the demon who had been pursuing Alainn for some time. She dwelled upon the horrid woman, the demon, as well as the thought of being parted indefinitely from her husband, the man she’d loved since they were children. Even though their marriage and all between them now appeared dismal at best, her heart ached at the notion.
The animal intuitively sensed her change of mood. He recognized her uncertainty and her melancholia. He purposely lurched forward and then dove quickly downward. Alainn attempted to hold tight to his golden mane, but was caught unaware and soon tumbled off and began falling. She gasped and called out to the creature.
“Is it your intent to see me fall to my death?” she asked, her heart pounding as she continued to plummet at a perilously swift speed. The horse flew downward as well and looked directly into her eyes.
“Is not death something you have much considered in these past weeks?” he said in a factual manner without a trace of accusation.
“Perhaps, fleetingly, it seemed an easier path, but it is not my wish now,” she frantically whispered.
“You’ll not fall to your death, Alainn. You are able to purposely slow yourself by way of your magic.”
She instinctively held her arms out, palms flat. She allowed herself to grow calmer and was pleased to see the animal had been correct. She was much relieved she had stopped her swift descent.
“Now you must fly Alainn!” the magical horse encouraged her.
“Fly? A person cannot simply fly!” She distinctly remarked.
“A horse cannot simply fly either, but tonight, when magic abounds, all things are possible. You are a witch, and I assure you, this night on Samhain, on the anniversary of the day of your birth, you will be capable of flight.”
Alainn stared skeptically at the animal, but as she fell now more gently toward the ground, she willed herself to stop entirely. Now suspended in midair, she gradually moved upward, higher and higher. She was actually flying. She smiled in spite of herself. Ever since she’d been a small child she’d been capable of flight in her dreams and she’d always felt an undeniably great desire to soar freely. She continued grinning and actually giggled aloud as she deftly flew through the night air. Her laughter felt entirely foreign and the sound startled her. She couldn’t begin to recall the last time she’d laughed. It had been many, many weeks, since before they’d lost their precious baby.
As soon as the somber thought entered her mind, her heart constricted and her breath caught in her throat. She sensed herself losing her concentration and immediately began to spiral downward. The horse flew beneath her and aptly caught her upon his back.
“When your troubles are fewer and your heart less heavily burdened, you’ll manage this feat another time.”
Alainn nodded, thankful for the horse’s perceptiveness. She was pulled from her thoughts by the sound of tiny shrill voices below.
“Fairies,” she whispered.
“Aye,” the animal concurred.
“I suppose it has been some time since I’ve gone to a fairy glade,” she said with a trace of excitement in her voice.
She espied the perfect magical circle below, the numerous tiny lights and the unmistakable mystical glow. They descended upon the glade and Alainn viewed the many beautiful and captivating creatures surrounding them. She had been capable of entering fairy realms since she was a small child. She was aware most fairies had lived for thousands and thousands of years. It was believed fairies were upon the earth long before humans came into existence. The number of fairies and fairy glades had grown considerably for fairies were often immortal unless they encountered flames most especially to their wings, or murder by way of a dark magical creature or a wicked fairy.
As she dismounted, tiny orbed creatures and delicate winged fairies landed near to her; some touched her and she was soon encircled in their soothing pleasant glow. She felt their empathetic healing warmth and smiled appreciatively, much relieved at how unusually light her heart felt at that precise moment.
Not only was the glade filled with fairies, sprites, elves, gnomes, and the like, Alainn noticed how many mystical animal creatures were here as well. There were unusually immense white stags with magnificent golden horns, and tiny silver hinds surely no bigger than a squirrel. There were deer that hopped and rabbits that flew. The glade held unusual creatures both beautiful and incomprehensible. It was as though an entire forest of woodland birds and animals had been charmed by a magical spell that had pulled them into a whirlwind and when they were released they were oddly fused together disproportionately concocted, as though by unsettled gods with much time on their hands and an odd sense of humor.
Alainn shook her head and smiled at the peculiarity of the many sights. She glanced toward the nearby water and saw it was fairly teeming with water spirits, animals she presumed must be kelpies and mer-people. She had never actually met a mermaid or merman before and felt undeniably intrigued.
As she approached the water, she saw several of the mer-people sitting upon the rocks. She’d certainly never seen these creatures within a fairy glade before and had always been of the understanding they only dwelled within the salty waters of an ocean or sea.
She was further startled for they appeared to be summoning her. She had, of course, heard much of the reputation of mer-people and how they were at times infamous for their often wicked way of beckoning humans to their deaths by calling to them with their captivating beauty and enchanting voices. She hesitated in drawing nearer, allowing the stories she’d heard to influence her thoughts. But she soon reasoned there were surely equally many unpleasant and untrue story told of witches as well. She was further surprised when they actually called her by name.
“Alainn, you must come oblige us, we are much in need of your assistance this night.”
“Me?” she asked clearly uncertain.
“Aye, it is said you are surely the most powerful of all magical beings this night.”
Alainn glanced about, staring at the fairies, the mystical animals, and magical creatures and then down at herself. She feared they were gravely mistaken, yet they remained insistent.
“Did you not free the thirteen hellhounds and the four druid dragons?” a beguiling young mermaid with long red hair, called to her from her place upon the rocks.
“Aye, but ’twas in the realm of the gods, not here on earth.” Alainn revealed, unaware anyone knew of her adventures during her time with the gods.
“Nonetheless,” said an imposingly large merman with a deep voice that resonated across the water and caused the waves to suddenly become turbulent, “you once freed magical beings imprisoned by the gods.”
“Aye, and apparently the aftereffects are still being felt in that realm. The gods are even now at war and much unrest has ensued.”
“So if given the choice again, if you had the chance to free the beasts once more, you’d decide differently?”
“Yes… no… I’m not certain. I don’t believe the hellhounds or the dragons deserved to be imprisoned indefinitely, perhaps not at all but, in truth, I hadn’t thought it would cause such serious consequences when I freed them.”
“We have someone in need of your assistance in that regard as well, Alainn. There is a young mermaid being held captive in an underwater cavern by Mac Lir!” the merman offered.
“Mac Lir, the infamous Celtic God of the sea?” she asked dubiously.
“Aye, he’s held her there for over a decade now, simply because he finds her beautiful.”
“Has he harmed her, or is he after taking her as his wife?”
“We have been assured he has not harmed her, but he’ll not allow us to see for ourselves. He keeps her simply so that he might look upon her beauty should he feel so inclined to do so.”
“Well, ’tis sorry I am that one of your own is being held by a god for a lengthy time, and for such an absurd reason. But I cannot see what I am to do about it. I’ve no desire to rile any other gods, most especially one that has been connected with both the Fomorians and The Tuatha De Danann. I’m also not capable of breathing beneath the water so I don’t believe I’d be of much assistance to you.”
“But this night Mac Lir is much detained as he ferries the souls of the dead to the afterlife. With so many souls walking the earth he shall surely have no time to go to the underwater cavern.”
“I do understand your unenviable predicament, and if ever a night would be advantageous to accomplish rescuing the mermaid, sure tonight may very well be the one, but do you dare to presume he simply leaves her unattended, or unfettered?”
“No, she is allegedly attended by four darkly charmed Kelpies, and bound by the magical seaweed Mac Lir procured from the furthest depths of the deepest ocean.”
“Well, ’tis far more likely the lot of you would have a greater chance at freeing your mermaid than me. Since I have not lived near the sea until only recently, I know very little of kelpies, darkly charmed or otherwise, and I’ve certainly never been anywhere near the deepest ocean.”
“But it is said you possess unprecedented magical abilities and you have connections to the gods.”
“I assure you the gods find no favor with me; as I afore mentioned they find themselves in the midst of a brutal war because of my actions in their realm. The Fomorians were much displeased with me and have once more challenged the gods who were in favor of the beasts being freed. Besides, I have scarcely used my magic in the the past months. I am uncertain what abilities I retain. In truth, what may be considerably more worrisome; I do not know if I am able to control my powers once they are unleashed.”
“Enbarr has said you were capable of flight this night. It is believed you are able to do much more with your magic.”
“Enbarr?” Alainn wasn’t certain who they were referring to, but reasoned only the horse she’d named Lightning knew of this night’s events. She glanced over to see the magical white horse now appeared to be nuzzling a unicorn. Her eyes grew wide in amazement, and she blinked several times, for till now she had believed unicorns, too, only existed in myth.
She tried to recall all that she’d learned of Celtic mythical creatures and gods and where she had heard the name Enbarr before. Realization dawned and she shook her head.
“Enbarr is Lugh’s horse,” Alainn confusedly queried.
“Aye,” the merman answered.
“He is capable of flight and of traveling above and beneath the water?” she continued.
The merman nodded.
“You wish to have him take me to the underwater cavern?”
The mer-people all nodded with much exuberance at the possibility Alainn might soon be swayed.
End of Excerpt