M3 Gerraint: Kidnapped, part 2 of 3

A few days later, Uwaine found Gerraint on the southern wall, watching the snow flurries.  Winter’s last gasp blustered before the spring, the mud, and the rains came that would keep things muddy for a long time.

“I am sure she is thinking of you, too,” Uwaine said.

“Eh?”  Gerraint did not really listen.

“Enid,” Uwaine said.  “I am sure she is missing you, too.”

“Eh?  Yes, yes.”  Gerraint looked up.  “But I was thinking, Urien is going to try again, only I can’t imagine when or how.”

“Oh,” Uwaine said no more and raised his gloved hand to catch a flake or two.  He understood.  Gerraint did not want to have to kill the man.

“But now, the Lady of the Lake has closed down that path.  And Manannan has made his position clear, where else has he to go?”  Gerraint wondered out loud.

“He went to Iona,” Uwaine reminded him.

“No real help there,” Gerraint told him.  “The druids have the reputation, but Avalon and the treasures are just as cut off from them as they are from any mortal men.”

“Surry?”  Uwaine tried again.

Gerraint shook his head.  “He doesn’t have the key, and no little one will ever help him.”

Uwaine nodded.  “I understand, but you said there are other forces at work here, far more powerful and dangerous than your little ones.”

“Yes.”  Gerraint spoke softly.  “And that is what has me worried.”

After that, Gerraint began to push until they left that place and headed south.  With every mile, he pushed them harder.  They spent the night with any number of Lords and Chiefs in the North, the Midlands and Leogria, though they found neither sign nor word of Urien in his home.  Pelenor also appeared mysteriously absent from his home, and Gerraint’s worry began to turn serious.  He pushed everyone after that so they rode like they were trying to catch Kai’s courier.

They turned, neither South to Gwillim’s brother Thomas, nor West to Arthur and Caerleon.  Something seemed dreadfully wrong and Gerraint could feel it in his gut.  They were still three days out, in the Summer Country, when Bedivere found them.  The Lady Rhiannon came with him.

“They’ve taken Enid and Guimier!”  Bedivere shouted, though he was right with them.  “I failed you.”  He dropped to his knees and put his face in his hands.

The Lady put a gentle hand on his head.  “Courage,” she said.  “The story is not ended.”  She looked at Gerraint.  “I failed also,” she said.  “I placed my protection around them which was not my place to do.  The old man and his companion would never hurt them, but the Raven is no gentleman.”  She paused before she finished.  “Do not make me fail twice by telling you where they have gone.”

“Tara,” Gerraint said.  He did not guess.  The Lady said nothing, but looked to the ground and faded from sight until she was no longer there.

“Where did she go?”  Gwillim asked and looked around the trees.

“Tara?”  Uwaine asked.

“Ireland,” Gerraint said.  “The old, now deserted home of the Gods.”

“I would not give us a sneeze of a chance of crossing that island,” Trevor said.

“No, but Urien has likely worked things out with the druids.  They will probably have no trouble.”

“But, hey,” Gwillim objected.  “What can the druids do?  The Irish may be pirates and scoundrels, but at least they are Christian scoundrels since Patrick.”

“Not entirely,” Gerraint said.  “Like here, the old ways are just a scratch beneath the surface.”  And he remembered the book about how Celtic Christianity and the Irish in particular saved civilization, and he became more determined than ever to make sure the old ways did not reassert themselves.  “Damn Merlin,” he added, under his breath.

“How long?”  Uwaine asked.

“They’ve been gone a week,” Bedivere said.  “I would have been after them, with troops, but they took to the water and would have been too hard to track at sea.  I thought it best to wait for your return since word came that you had survived your trials in the North.”

“Good choice,” Gerraint said.  He paced, thinking hard.  He was with Trevor as far as it went.  He could not imagine crossing all of those miles to the heart of Ireland in one piece.

“Surry?”  Uwaine tried once again like he read Gerraint’s mind; but that door led through Avalon to the continent.  He needed to catch them at Tara before they crossed over, if possible, and as soon as possible.

“Where’s Arthur?” he asked.

“Cadbury,” Bedivere answered.

“Lady Gwynyvar’s penchant is to visit that fort in the spring.”  Gwillim said off-handedly.

Gerraint merely nodded and mounted.  The others followed as he set the course for Cadbury, and rode at a terrific pace.

“No.”  Arthur was not being negative.  But he was the Pendragon and they had to respect his decision in such matters.  Arthur could not imagine any way to Tara other than fighting their way in, and that would have required a full-scale invasion of Ireland.  “The Irish have been quelled and relatively quiet for many years now.  The chiefs on the Welsh coast have taken their places there to maintain the shaky peace.  I’ll not ask them to break their oaths now by invading the island, even if we had hope of victory, which is hardly guaranteed.”

Gerraint stood by the window.  Lancelot argued for the fight.  He threw his glove to the table, but he had finished arguing.

“I cannot believe my old friend has become such a doddering fool,” Peredur said for about the tenth time.

“No fool,” Uwaine interjected.  He understood the treasures were real and that there was real power in those artifacts, and now he felt he understood some of Gerraint’s fanaticism about making sure they stayed buried.  Even if he did not understand all of the ramifications Gerraint spoke about, he could see that no good would come from bringing such things back into the world of men.

“Glastonbury,” Gerraint said at last.

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