In the morning, they set out for Cavan on foot, the van having been repossessed in the night. Moira had to carry Mother most of the way, but she did not mind because the cat was warm. After a short way, Moira cinched up her jacket, partially unzipped it and the cat was content to ride against her belly like a baby and peek out now and then to see where they were going.
Mickey walked close to Moira the whole way, and Michaela never left his side. At first Moira thought Michaela’s attention to Mickey was because of what was following her, but after a while she realized it was where Michaela wanted to be. The others were content to follow behind with Prickles bringing up the rear; except for Ignatius who lead them by some supposed secret elf paths which he said would get them to Cavan much quicker than the normal roads; and Pumpkin who rode on Moira’s shoulder when she wasn’t flitting off to check out a leaf or smell a plant which, after a while, all looked alike to Moira.
“Lady, the magic you displayed was amazing.” Mickey spent a good part of the way praising her. He could not say enough, but after the first few heady minutes, for Moira, it was more than enough. “You just swatted away his traps like they were no more than flies. Swat, swat! I can do a little magic, but nothing like what you showed.”
Moira smiled, wanly. “Grandma says it isn’t magic, exactly. It is more a matter of the blood, and natural like walking or breathing, though some of it is more like learning to ride a bicycle or even higher mathematics. You know, some of it isn’t so easy.” She tried to explain more than once, but Mickey was just too amazed to hear her.
“And the way these people follow you. Why, I never heard of elves and fairies and a hobgoblin no less doing what any person told them to do.”
“You forgot the ogre,” Michaela pointed out quietly in case the ogre overheard.
“The ogre!” Mickey shouted and Michaela turned red. “How could I forget the ogre? It is all too amazing, I tell you. Amazing!”
Moira called for an early lunch in the hope that Mickey would take a break to fill his mouth with some food. Mother got down and disappeared behind a tree. Moira thought nothing of it until Ellean spoke sharply.
“Quiet. I hear something.” Everyone got still and quiet for a few seconds before Macreedy spoke.
“I hear it too.”
“I’ve been hearing it for some time,” Ignatius put in. “I did not say anything though because I didn’t want to worry anyone.”
Moira looked at Michaela. Her grandmother had explained something of the gift that this strictly mortal woman had but it did not make much sense until she began to see it in action. Michaela looked full of hope and she looked into the trees as if she saw something no one else could see.
“It sounds like a hammer.”
“A very little hammer, like a tinker’s hammer.”
“But not on tin or any metal, I think.
“Hard to tell.” Ignatius looked up. “It stopped.”
“I never heard it,” Mickey admitted. Moira did not either, but she looked at Pumpkin and Pumpkin’s eyes looked very big for such a little fairy.
After a minute, Mother came strolling back from the woods as if she did not have a care in the world. She was followed by a little man who could not have been much over two feet tall. The man had a carpet bag in his hand and came to a sudden halt as Mother settled down at Moira’s feet. He dropped the bag which made a great thud on the hard ground as he stared for a minute at the collection of faces.
“Sure an’ that will be enough of that.” The little man muttered, picked up his bag and turned.
“Hold it right there.” Moira shouted. Michaela looked at her, pleading in her eyes that she not let the little man get away. The little man ignored Moira for two steps before his feet stuck fast to the turf, glued to the ground.
“Hey!” The man protested, but he was not going anywhere. He mumbled over his feet, but it did not help. He tried some golden dust, but it still did not help. Finally, he tried his most forlorn face and pointed it in Moira’s direction and on any mortal it would have been effective, but Moira was fuming at the moment so she hardly noticed.
“Your name?” Moira asked, but it sounded like a command. The little man was shaken by Moira’s tone and immediately began to spout.
“Mickey O’Casey O’Riley O’Toole, Seanessy Hennesy Kerry O’—“
“—O’Fool.” Moira interrupted. She figure it out. “Mickey, this is your father. Michaela, this is the other half. Little man, this is your son and he wants to get married, so be nice, and after that you better get in line.”
“My little Mickey wants to marry? Where has the time gone? Sure an’ maybe someday there can be a grand-Mickey?” The Leprechaun, which he was, found his feet move easily in Mickey and Michaela’s direction, but Moira barely heard or noticed. She picked up Mother the cat and wandered off into the woods where she could shout.
“Grandmother! Grandmother!” There was no answer. “I’m not a complete idiot. I get it!” she twirled around once in case her grandmother decided to come from a different direction. She let herself float up above the tree tops for a good look around. “Grandmother!” That was where Pumpkin found her.
“Lady. I don’t think the cat likes to be up so high.” Mother’s face stuck out of the opening in Moira’s jacket and looked down at the ground as if trying to figure out if she could jump and survive the fall. Moira brought them quickly back to earth where the cat scrambled free and raced back to the others. Moira put her hand to her face.
“What’s wrong?” Pumpkin fluttered slowly back and forth like a pendulum. She felt Moira’s upset and was worried.
“So the evil Brannigan reunited with his evil mother. Now Mickey senior and Mickey junior get reunited. Pumpkin, if we find your long, lost mother I am really going to be upset.”
Pumpkin stopped moving. She hovered and put her hands to her hips. “I am sure your grandmother just wants you to know that you are not alone. She loves her son and she loves you, too. I can tell. Fairies are very empathic, you know.”
Moira’s jaw dropped just a little.
“Besides. I don’t think your grandmother is controlling the way things work out. Everyone has to make their own decisions about that sort of thing, including you. I think she just wants you to give your father a fair chance. Maybe it won’t work out, but maybe it will.” Pumpkin shrugged.
Moira said nothing for a minute while a sly grin formed on her face. “Get big,” she said at last. Pumpkin complied but did not understand. She was surprise when Moira hugged her. “I think you are older than you act, sometimes.”
“I know.” Pumpkin pulled back and spoke in all seriousness. “Sometimes I almost act mature.” She made a face. “Don’t tell the others. Ignatius might start calling me human or something.”
Moira indicate that her lips were closed, Pumpkin got little again and they returned to the others. They started out right away and shortly came to the inn at Cavan. Michaela roomed with Ellean and Moira. They brought in a cot which Moira insisted on taking. She knew she would not spend much time in the room, and while Michaela was still uncertain about being left in a room alone with an elf and a fairy, they were both very nice. Besides, Ellean wanted to talk about Macreedy and Mickey who got a room with his father, and Michaela thought she could do that.
Moira was ready when she was called to the cliff top with the crashing waves down below. Her grandmother had two beach chairs set up with a little table between and an umbrella overhead. Moira sat and waited, but finally she was the first to speak.
“No lessons tonight?”
Danna shook her head, but her mouth spoke differently. “What would you learn?”
“I don’t know, but it hardly seems as if I have learned much. I mean, how much can we cover in two nights?”
“Your father can teach you many things if you want to learn them,” Danna said. “You met the Hibernians and see how people, when they hear about you, they may praise or blame you, regardless. Anyway people, once touched, tend not to forget. You have learned something about your blood and with Mister Brannigan and Madam Elizabeth you got a good idea of what it might mean to misuse it. You have also learned what it means to have the Little Ones depend on you. Like children sometimes, don’t you think?”
“I’m not the motherly type.” Moira still felt some anger from the afternoon.
“Yes, but you gave Pumpkin a hug all on your own, and she almost sounded wise.”
“I didn’t say I didn’t care about them.”
“But that is all that matters in any relationship.” Danna shifted the angle of the umbrella as the moon rose. “Don’t want you to get moon burn. You have plenty of freckles. Just the right amount for your red hair an green eyes I would say.”
“Grandma! You’re as loony as your Little Ones.”
They sat in the silence of the night and listened to the sea for a long while before Danna broke the silence again. “You must never be afraid to ask.”
“Will you tell me about my father?”
“Not even his name.” Danna shook her head. “You must make up your own mind as Pumpkin said. But I will tell you this. I will love you, regardless.”
Moira nodded. She was glad to hear that. She was surprised to think how important that was to her. Danna was family, and Moira had no other family. Not really. She had an uncle who was a priest. She had a crazy aunt in Dublin, and some equally crazy cousins. She supposed they shunned her for the most part because she was a fatherless child.
Moira found herself in bed, one more comfortable than any cot ought to be. She knew she needed sleep before the morning, but she could not sleep. Not just yet.
When the morning came, the troop followed elf routes again to Tara and arrived mid-afternoon. The walk was mostly in silence except for yawns from the ogre and Pumpkin’s commentary that with all the feeding, Prickles would probably hibernate for the next six months or more.
Moira saw him from a distance. He just stood there, patiently waiting. As she drew close, she saw the gray hair and was surprised once again. She had not imagined a so-called god would have gray hair. When she was twenty paces away, she stopped. He made no move. He might have tried to smile, but Moira thought he looked too nervous. Still, he waited. It was entirely up to her what she would do. She knew what she would do. She ran to him, threw her arms around him, and cried while he held her, smoothed her hair and said between his own tears, “Hush. Everything will be alright.”
Danna gave up the cat form, not that anyone was surprised. She turned to her little ones. “Take care of her. Take care of them both, and guard the way to Tara. This is the work you must all do.” Then she vanished and reappeared on the University grounds in America.
She did not immediately trade places with Glen because she knew he would forget everything that happened, and for the moment she needed to retain her senses. After a time with her mind half a world away, she was satisfied that they would work everything out. “Okay,” she said it out loud before she went away and Glen came back into his own time and place.
Glen wondered briefly what he was doing in the woods. He seemed to recall something about walking with Sandra, but he was not sure. He was not sure of anything at the moment. He felt very confused.
He walked slowly back to his room, a single room with only a communal bathroom to remind him he was living in a dorm. He thought about the chapters he needed to read, but turned first to that bathroom. He found Sandra there, fresh from the shower, wrapped in a towel. He was startled. Apparently she was visiting some other guy in the dorm.
“Glen.” Sandra was equally startled. Her heart broke to see the look in Glen’s eyes as he slowly turned and walked away.
NOTE: To read this story from the beginning or to read any of the stories of the Traveler please click the tab “Traveler Tales” above. You can read the stories on the right independently, or just the Vordan story on the left, or the whole work in order as written. Your choice. Enjoy.