The relentless Scottish wind whipped my hair across my face as I made my way through the rocky crag to the forest glen. Glancing over my shoulder I could see my mother who was bent over a lichen covered rock, struggling to gather more herbs but also to keep what we had gathered from blowing away. Shaking her cloak back behind her, and not looking up from what she was doing she called out to me, “Frances, donnae go too far that I cannae see you, Lass.”
“Yes, Mama,” I said nodding with all the seriousness that I could muster. But my mind was already focused upon the forest that was calling to me. Inside that dark, beckoning place, just beyond the line of wooded depths, I knew there had to be a shelter, a break from the wind that I disliked with intensity. The rocks were hard and slippery under my feet and I stumbled nearly every step only to have to catch myself painfully against another rock. Some of these were sharp and scraped my hands and knees. But just at the forest edge, I could see the grass evened out into gentle undulations that led to a path. Along the path there was vegetation that was thick with brambles and heather rolled that up against what appeared to be a great wall of green and wood. On either side of the what I know knew to be a deer path, two enormous oaks stood guard like large sentinels and I glanced up into the boughs. I felt so very small underneath them, but the trees themselves seemed friendly.
It was like stepping through the doors of a great mansion filled with treasures of every kind. The very place seemed to glow with the rich botanical wonders and the other trees nearest to the oaks seemed to be singing. I had been right about being able to escape the ruthless wind here. Surely, I thought, if my mother had seen this place, she would not have to look so earnestly amongst the rocks. I was about to turn away from the wood and go back to my mother and stay where she could see me when I heard a male voice.
“Aren’t you the pretty Lass?” it said, coming from inside the forest near a large old Pine It was hard to see just where it was coming from since the light was starting to be filtered through the heavy canopy of the ancient oaks. I squinted and I could see him just there in the dark. His voice was sweet and lilting. “Don’t worry,” he said, coming toward me. He was not dressed as any man I had ever seen, but his garments were resplendent. He wore no plaid like the men of the Highlands, nor the garments of the English. I could only describe his garments as being as if he were draped with things made from the forest itself. Fascinated, I took a few steps more into the trees and in a moment I had completely forgotten about my mother who was still gathering herbs from along the hill. This man, this being was fascinating and he knelt down in front of me. He had very blue eyes and gave me a smile. He reached out and moved a strand of my very windblown hair out of my eyes, “You aren’t afraid of me, are you?”
I could find no words but shook my head. No. In spite of his obvious strangeness to everything I had known in my life previously, he did not instill fear in me at all. There was something about him, something familiar.
“No,” he said, “of course you’re not.” He cocked his head slightly and glanced to his right at a small green plant with yellow flowers in the shape of stars that was growing next to a limestone rock. I smiled and reached down and caressed the plant and simply smelled the flower but made no move to pick it. He seemed surprised by this and rather pleased. “Do you not want to harvest it for your mother?” he asked.
“No,” I said finding my voice and shaking my head, I remember finding it odd that he would ask me such a question.
“Why not, little one?” he asked, smiling at me again.
“Because I did not ask her if I could,” I said staring at him dumbly. I found it quite odd that this thought would not have occurred to him, for it seemed quite natural to me. Certainly, it was how I had always thought it was supposed to be.
His face broke into a smile, “You don’t mean your mother, do you?”
I shook my head again and pointed at the leggy little plant that was still swaying in just the slightest breeze that reached the forest floor. This answer produced a wonderful peal of laughter from him. Standing up again, he offered me his hand. “You are right,” he said. “you didn’t ask. I think that is why our kind understand better than most.” He led me a bit deeper into the forest toward what appeared to be a circle of stones. We walked far enough away that the opening in the forest through which I had come was distant and barely a thought in my mind. I did not even think of my mother, either. When we reached the stone circle, he lifted me up gingerly and placed me on one of of the larger boulders, which was much taller than me, but at best to the this man’s chest. I listened to the slightest breeze rustle through the trees and there were small and large birds singing and twittering about in the trees. Even the rock I was sitting on seemed alive. At last it was my turn to smile at him. I had no idea who he was, but he did seem as if he understood a little bit about me.
“Listen to me carefully,” he grasped my small hand, in his larger one, “very soon something very sad will happen, and you must be strong. You will not understand it right away, but I want you to learn as much as you can about everything that you can.” The beautiful man touched my face and smiled, “do you think you can do that, Faelyn?” There was something so intense in that name that no one had ever spoken until that moment. It was something that I knew should have been mine but I had never heard anyone utter it before. Within that word was Power, and the sound of it reverberated through me as if I had been standing right next to the bell of the church in Dunnlauden. The intensity of it made it seem so…. right. No sooner had he said it, than I once again heard the voice of my mother. I spun around toward the sound.
“You must remember, ” that silken voice brought my attention back to my new-found friend. I nodded and smiled at him. “And I will be closeby watching. We have a great deal of work to do,” he then reached into a simple doeskin bag that was very much like a sporrran that had been hanging from his waist and extracted a beautiful green stone the colour of grass in springtime. He pressed it into the palm of my hand. “This is for you,” he said, “Only for you, and it is just between you and I. Alright?”
I nodded absently and held the translucent stone up to the light and turned it in my fingers. It was gorgeous and seemed to glow with a light from the inside on its own. I was so fascinated by it that I did not see the man to whom I had been speaking to disappear.
“Frances!” This time my mother’s voice sounded frantic, “Frances Moira MacKay! Where are you? Fraaancess!”
I looked around in a panic, hoping that the man who had put me on the rock could at least help me down, but there was no sign of him. Absently I shoved the rock I had just been given into my apron pocket. While the stranger that I had met may very well have been pleasant enough, even as a child, I was rather displeased I was so very high up!
Not wanting to dismay my mother any further, I tried to slide off the rock on my own, only to be a bit intimidated by the distance from where I had been sitting to the ground. What if I broke a limb? Then I would not only get a sore bottom at the hands of my Great Uncle Angus for having disobeyed my mother, and no doubt she would tell him. But visons of this contrasted against ones of broken limbs as well, quickly helped me to decide upon the lesser of the two evils. At last I cried out to my mother in return. “Mama! I am here!” I waved my arms frantically from the rock and I saw a shadowed figure at the entry of the forest glen that I was certain was my mother.
She must have bolted through those woods as fast as she could, probably having spilled her basket in her initial panic at finding I was nowhere within her sight. Finally, she stumbled into the circle of stones and gave me a very cross look.
“Where have you been?” she demanded, fighting for breath, “Didnnae I tell ye not to go where I couldnae see you? Are you daft, Frances? “Her expression was a mixture of both relief and concern.
“What if ye’d fallen off a cliff or a wolf had gotten to ye? What then, little miss? ” My mother looked at where I was in relation to the ground. “And what’s this? You look like a cat up a tree! How on earth did ye get there?”
Remembering the words of the blue-eyed man, I shrugged. There really was no sense in elaborating further. I sincerely doubted that my mother would have begun to understand even if I were to have told her. With a grunt my mother lifted me back down to the ground and gave me a proper scolding all the way back through the forest and the hills that led to Dunnlauden. I was right. My mother told my Great Uncle Angus about my escapade and I was scolded and lectured even more. Sometime after the sun went down and my stomach was growling and empty, I rolled onto my side only to feel the rock that the stranger in the forest had given me. I clutched it in my hand and remembered the words that the man had said to me and fell asleep.
It was not until years later that I would realise just what the man had foretold to me, and many years more before I was able to place the face and remember just who he was.
Muse: Fanny Fae / Faelyn
Fandom: Original Character / Folklore / Mythology
Word Count: 1828