Gerraint went back to the warming fire while Gwillim looked around the room. Gerraint felt sure that Gwillim had been completely taken in by the glamour that surrounded him, making the cave appear like the most lavish of manor houses, with great tapestries lining jewel encrusted walls, and even glass in the windows.
“A mighty fine home you have, my Lord, for one so deep in the wilderness and in the wilds of the North.” Gwillim also saw Macreedy as a plain noble chief rather than the elf he was. For that matter, Gerraint looked over and noted that Trevor’s discomfort came from being attended to by a half dozen most beautiful young women, and Trevor did not see them as elves at all. “Are you sure the Scots won’t find us here?” Gwillim finished on the practical note.
“The Scots won’t come here,” Macreedy reassured him. “In fact, would you like me to call the Slaugh to visit them in the night?” That question got directed to Gerraint.
“Heaven forbid,” Gerraint responded. “They have two deaths now to mourn and were just trying to defend themselves, even if they don’t know that revenge is never an answer. Let them be.”
“Very gracious of you, my Lord,” Macreedy said.
“Yes,” Gwillim added. “Especially since we just avoided being whipped half to death and thrust naked into the frozen wastes.”
Gerraint simply coughed, and there followed a moment of silence.
Macreedy stood and walked down to them. He slipped his arm around Uwaine’s shoulder and turned him toward another part of the cave. “You seem a man of wisdom. You hold your tongue well,” Macreedy said. Gerraint was simply not sure how far Uwaine got taken in by the glamour. “I suspect, though, you may just be hungry. What do you say we repair to the dining room? The feast is all prepared.”
“Food,” Gwillim shouted, but then remembered his manners. “With the lord of the house’s permission, of course.”
Macreedy stared hard at Gwillim for a moment. Some little ones could be sticklers for the most miniscule bits of propriety, but then he laughed. “Permission granted,” he said, and he waved to the ladies to make sure they did not let Trevor leave the fire. Instead, two of the women pushed passed the men and came back with a plate full of delights. They appeared to be thrilled with cutting and spoon feeding Trevor, and then wiping his chin with the softest elf cloth. They laughed merrily most of the while, and Trevor did not mind that at all.
“For you, my Lord, we killed the fatted calf,” Macreedy told Gerraint. Uwaine, who had glanced at Gerraint once or twice, looked fully at his lord when they came to their seats. Gerraint explained.
“The food of the light elves is normally very light and delicate, like gourmet food. Not much substance for flesh and blood. Macreedy is saying they cooked up some real food for us, and don’t worry, I have decided the food of the little ones will not affect you, Gwillim or Trevor to any harm. So, eat and enjoy.” That was all Uwaine needed to hear.
“Pork loins!” Gwillim shouted again in his excitement.
Gerraint certainly ate his fair share, but by then, his mind had turned once again to Cornwall, his home. He imagined poor Enid fretting away, with no word from him to hold on to, and sweet Guimier sleeping in his place beside her mother until he again could be with them. He stood, let the others remain seated, and stepped to the door. It opened without his thinking about it, though an invisible barrier remained in place so neither the wind nor cold could penetrate the cave. Outside, it started snowing again, completely obliterating their tracks.
As Gerraint looked out on the beauty of the white upon the northern forest, his heart began to sing, and his mouth whispered at first.
What child is this who laid to rest,
on Mary’s lap is sleeping?
Whom angels greet with anthems sweet;
While shepherds watch are keeping?
This, this is Christ the king
Whom shepherds guard and angels sing.
Haste, haste to bring him laud,
The babe, the son of Mary.
He let his voice trail off as he found the others gathered around his back. The elf maidens were all on their knees. Gwillim smiled with a serious smile. Even Trevor stood, staring at the beauty of the world outdoors.
“Must be Christmas,” Gerraint said, and turned to Macreedy, who had a tear in his eye, which would have aroused his great anger with anyone but Gerraint, his Lord. “Remember this word.” Gerraint told the elf, as he put his hand gently on the little one’s shoulder. “That the whole world might be saved through him.” Gerraint felt better and a little less alone. “Remind Manannan of this, will you, when his time of sorrow and dejection comes on him because of the monks. I worry about that boy. And as for us, I suppose a bit of sleep would not hurt.”
Having eaten, now exhaustion overtook the men. Gerraint could see it in Uwaine’s eyes.
“My Great Lord.” Macreedy nodded his head. He clapped and the elf maids lead each to a bed where they helped them in and covered them well. “They will sleep until spring with so many of the little ones,” Macreedy said. “But we cannot do the same for you unless you let us.”
Gerraint nodded and gave himself over to the glamour. “Just make sure I am first awake,” he said, and he closed his eyes. He knew he was safe under the protection of his little ones, but in the spring, there would be far to go. He would have to stop to visit Kai at Caerlisle, and then Old Pelenor in the Midlands, Arthur in Caerleon, and Tristam in Devon on the south watch. At that, he might not get home until June, but he imagined Enid running to him in joy, and he felt the joy also deeply in his own soul, and with that he fell asleep for a long winter’s nap.
The trip home is long, but something itches in the back of Gerraint’s mind. Somehow, Enid and Guimier do not feel safe. Monday. Don’t miss it. Happy Reading