“Attend,” Danna said, clapped her hands, and all three wraiths appeared before her and promptly fell to their knees, even if they continued to float about a foot off the ground. They had knees at least. It was the feet beneath the nightgown-like dresses they wore that were invisible or non-existent. Danna tapped her foot and put her hands to her hips. “You have names?” And she knew their names. Morgan had the dark hair, Mabon was the blond and Moira had flaming red hair. “Change of venue,” Danna decided.
Mirowen came running out the front door, saw what was happening and said, “Lady,” and stood quiet.
Danna waved her hand and all five women appeared on Captain Breok’s ship. “I have made it so the Captain and his crew cannot see or hear you or in any way be harmed or frightened by you. I have done the same for Mousden since Mirowen does not need the screams in the night, and come to think of it, I have done the same for the dock-master and any workmen or locals who have occasion to be aboard ship before we leave. The tie between you and the Travelers is now severed. You are henceforth tied to the ship until I give you leave.”
“Goddess, we will starve.”
“You will not starve, but you will not feed for a time.” Danna changed back to Festuscato and he continued speaking. “Mirowen and I will be the only ones you can communicate with, and you can only do that if it is polite and not threatening. Break the rule, and I will cut you off from everyone, and it will be like you don’t exist, and you will starve, so be polite until I give you leave.”
Festuscato took Mirowen’s hand and walked her across the plank to the dock while the wraiths wailed their lament and followed up to an invisible barrier where they could not leave the ship. “Thanks a lot.” Mirowen inched closer to her Lord. “I’ll have nightmares for years even after you let them go.”
They ran into Captain Breok on the dock, and he asked a friendly enough question. “Why are you two still awake? We are leaving before dawn.”
“I was just thinking I should sleep well, now,” Festuscato grinned at Mirowen.
“Okay. I’ll give you that one,” Mirowen admitted.
“Then again, maybe Fianna is awake and wondering where I went, in which case I might not sleep at all.”
“Lord.” Mirowen slapped his shoulder, softly. “I will not give you that one.”
“So tell me,” Captain Breok said, over a late supper. The time, just after nine, when the moon started to rise. “All day I have watched you speaking to the air and I have not seen who you are talking to. But I believe you have been talking to someone, perhaps invisible. I offer three reasons for my belief and please tell me where I am mistaken. First, anyone else and I would say they had lost their mind, but you? Second, I saw the lady speaking to the air more than once as well. Third, I saw when you laid your hand on young Mousden’s head, and from the way he screamed and flew up to the masthead, I would say he certainly saw something. So, tell me I am wrong.”
“I saw,” Dibs said. “But I pretended I did not see so they left me alone.”
“I saw nothing,” Gaius said, and Bran and Seamus agreed, but Seamus added a note.
“I felt something frightening, something evil and uncanny all day, but I saw nothing so I said nothing.”
Everyone paused and waited for Festuscato to speak. “What you did not see,” he said. “Was for your own protection, for you and your crew. Mousden has been likewise protected, and only caught a glimpse because the women claimed they were starving, and pixie fright was a treat. In the case of these Christian men, there is a natural disconnect. Their faith can be turned like a weapon, so the women hide from them so the men must make a special effort to see. They have made no effort because until now they had no idea there was something to see. Interesting that you made those observations since they were not out much during the day. They have made a place for themselves down in the hold and mostly rest in the shadows during daylight. They say the sun makes them look too wan and pale and hard to see. The moon, they say, makes them glow. I wouldn’t know about such things. Mirowen?”
“Don’t ask me. I haven’t glowed in years.”
“No. Not true. You glow even now.” They all protested, but Mirowen yawned,
“Raising boys is a dirty business,” she said.
“Not surprising your invisible visitors are women,” Gaius said, softly.
Mirowen yawned again. “I am so tired. The sea does that, but I probably won’t sleep a wink tonight.”
“Me neither,” Festuscato admitted, and they were still up at sunrise with Dibs and Gaius talking about old times when Colan and Mousden both shouted down.
“Sail ho!” It appeared a ship they were all familiar with, and Festuscato groaned, while Mirowen clicked her tongue.
“What will it take to teach this guy.”
“Captain Keravear and his Pictish lads,” Captain Breok named the ship. “Treeve. Get that sail down and get the men lined up. Now, I want to hear please spare us and bless you good Captain nice and loud this time, and with feeling. Last time I felt like you were getting a bit lax.”
“Captain, wait a minute,” Festuscato interrupted everyone as Bran and Seamus came up alongside him to get a good look over the railing. “I have three women here begging to be let loose. Ladies.” Festuscato turned to speak to what the rest imagined as empty air, but he spoke sharply and wagged his finger. “I want you to turn them away from this ship and head north, back to their home port, but you have to do it carefully. Don’t scare them to death or drive them insane, and don’t scare them so badly they abandon ship. If they abandon ship, you will be stuck floating around on an aimless, empty ship forever, or until you sink and drown in the sea. So be careful. Let them take you to their port. Then I recommend you move inland with the Scotts over the years. One day, they will build great stone forts and castles in the highlands, especially around the lochs. You are welcome to haunt those places, and if you get to Loch Ness, say hi to Stubby for me, okay?” The invisible women seemed to respond, because after a moment, Festuscato added, “Go on, then. Shoo. Scat.” and he, Mirowen, and Dibs watched something head toward the oncoming ship.
“I liked the blond,” Dibs said.
“The redhead,” Festuscato countered.
“You have a thing for red hair,” Mirowen pointed out the obvious.
It did not take long for the ship to turn around and head north. Mirowen smiled like she had been set free. To Mousden’s question she said, “You don’t want to know.”
“To Wales?” Captain Breok asked.
“To Wales.” Festuscato confirmed.
“I want to thank you for shielding our eyes and ears, and I don’t want to know, either,” Treeve, the mate said.
“Yes. thanks,” the Captain said, and added to Treeve, “Go get Gerens.”
“All in a day’s work,” Festuscato said, and he went back to looking out over the endless waves of the Irish sea.
Festuscato takes his crew back to Wales, but finds the Saxons there doing what Saxons do. See you Monday for R6 Festuscato: 8 Branwen’s Cove. Until then, Happy Reading