"That's closer to it," she decided.
"Purty?" he tried.
"That's definitely true...."
"Put your tongue back in your mouth," I told him dryly.
"I need to talk to my goddess," she decided.
The whole time, that sense of being watched stayed in the back of my mind (and Gannon's). I assumed that we still had Emer's interest, but if it was him he didn't interfere. Meara was doing a lot of praying, hoping for a boost from her goddess to push her recovery, and noticed that the cotton-headed feeling she had been having for a while now went away, but only while she was actively engaged in prayer. Upon realizing this, she decided that the situation called for a full day of meditation and prayer. That had some interesting results.
First, the muzzy-headed feeling went away. Nothing else for a while, and yet... she opened her eyes with a certain sense of expectation.
Brigid was sitting on the bench across the room.
"Ma'am." Meara was startled.
"Good afternoon ma'am." They spent a few moments exchanging poetic hyperbole.
"So. Nice town," the goddess remarked, looking slightly amused.
"If it's a town. I think it's just a dream."
"Oh, no. It's a town."
"Oh, it's a town, is it?"
Brigid nodded, smiling. "It's a town. It's a little... concentrated, but it's a town."
"Ma'am, I had actually been thinking about doing a simple augury to figure out if there was a specific path you wished me to be taking, any information you wished to share, so...." She felt a helpless look slide across her face. "So what the hell are we supposed to be doing here? And what's with this cotton muzzy thing?"
"Those are two slightly different questions."
"Do I have to choose which one I get answered?"
"No, I'll answer them both, but I thought it might be good to point out that you were asking two different questions. I wasn't sure you knew that. As to what you're supposed to be doing, you're not supposed to be doing anything. Now, Balor getting back up from under that hill would be a really bad ideahe's not actually dead, you know."
"I figured. Otherwise why bother imprisoning him?"
"Well, given the Tuatha de Danaan, sheer bloody-minded spitefulness and a frightful sense of thoroughness could in fact have qualified," Brigid told her, "but he's not actually dead."
"The one in the castle, up on the hillI disapprove."
"Oh, thank you ma'am." Meara did, too. "It is a nice castle, but still; I walked in there, the only thing I wanted to do was sink it to the center of the earth."
"That's an option. If you can figure out how to do it, feel free."
"The means escaped me."
"About the muzzy-headed cotton, thing, that's a spell. Now a lot of people wouldn't believe this, but the Rhys work with a fairly light hand most of the time. If you're willing to be a bit of a brute about it, and you're not all that concerned about repercussions or who you might have to talk to to learn the trick in the first place, you can ensure that certain topics are not considered by your subjects."
"Indeed?" That explained a lot about the place.
"If you're willing to be heavy-handed about it, it would make certain things easier."
After a quiet moment Meara asked, "And how would one go about circumventing that heavy-handedness? Short of chopping his bony little head off?"
"That would be difficult," she allowed. "You'd either have to destroy the king, or destroy the focus for that magic, or remove his kingship. I'm not entirely sure you're up to any of the three quite yet," she added kindly.
"So that may have to be dealt with later? But that leaves me with the last two augury questions: what's the best path of action now, and is there anything you wish me to know?"
"There isn't one."
"That's what I thought."
"And no, not really. It might be good to consider building a shrine."
She promised to do so.
"Take care." And with that the goddess stood up and walked out the door, passing Conner, Gannon, and myself on the way.
"Who was that?" Conner wanted to know.
"Oh. Haven't seen her in town before."
"She new?" Gannon inquired.
"No, actually, she's very old."
"So does that mean she's older than"
"Gannon, hit him," I directed wearily while Conner protested.
"Where do you think I should build a shrine to Brigid? Heck, let's build one to Llwys as well," Meara suggested.
Conner finally grasped the situation. "You mean... that Brigid?"
"Maybe one of those nice watchtowers could use one," I suggested. "We could build a temple in each one."
The full-scale version could wait; she constructed a small shrine in the house we'd been given.
"Here's something my lady informed me," she told us.
"Oh? What would be that be?" I asked.
"Whoever has the kingship of this land has set about so that certain things are not thought of."
"Like questioning the darkness?" Conner asked.
"That among other things. Contacting the gods."
"Interesting," I mused.
"They're not evidently actually a dream, they're actually just a village, but a very concentrated one."
"Like someone evaporated out everything that wasn't archetypal, and what we have left is a capital V village?" Conner said astutely.
"Capital V village in Powys, so things are a little funky," she nodded.
"Well that's interesting," I said.
"So my lady, though I know that you're raring to go...."
"There' s going to be a 'but' in here somewhere in this sentence, isn't there?" I muttered. I was anxious to get moving again.
"Could I have three days"
"The way things are going, we can get out there, she'll get beaten up again, and then we'll get a couple of weeks," Conner suggested since he was safely across the room from me.
"Three days for what?" I asked wearily.
"To properly sanctify and consecrate a shrine to the gods here."
I sighed plaintively. "It's been fifty years, can't they wait another few weeks?"
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© 2002 Rebecca J. Stevenson et al