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Excerpt from new book, Eochaidh

Eochaidh

Here’s an excerpt from the new book:

Pausing in her walk, she felt the hairs on the back of her neck rise and realized that everything around her was now silent. All of the birds that had just moments before filled the air with a cacophony all their own, had hushed their calls. Even the wind had slowed. The forest seemed to be holding its breath. Meaghan paused in her descent and waited for a moment. Then she heard it and understood. The faint tinkling sound was carried on the barest of breezes, like bells disturbed by the wind.
Her heart pounded in excitement. No wonder the earthly creatures had hushed. The fae were speaking. Green fairies were about. She had been told about the green fairies, how they tended to the flowers and plants in the forest. They sang as they worked, their voices like tiny pure chimes, and their morning song was a rare treat. Watching them work was even rarer. She looked back over her shoulder to the rising sun. Surely she had time enough to find them before she put forth her plan.
Placing her satchel and walking stick at the base of a giant, old oak, she walked to the edge of the path. The green fell away to a small ravine, its sides covered with browning vines and exposed roots. Because of the thick vegetation below, she really couldn’t judge the distance down but guessed it was about twelve feet, too far to jump. Sitting down on the edge, her feet dangling, she grabbed hold of a root and tugged. It seemed solid enough.
Turning so her belly was against the edge, she dug her feet into the dirt wall and, using the root like a rope, began to lower herself down. Her first couple steps down were easy, and Meaghan felt her confidence grow. “Not so bad,” she thought, sliding her hands slowly down the moss-slick root. “I can handle this.”
Just then, one of her feet slipped, and she found herself slapped against the wall of the ravine. Her face crushed against dirt and rock, she lost her grip on the root. Tumbling down, she desperately grabbed onto anything to slow her descent. Leaves, pebbles, dirt and brush scraped against her hands and face as she fell. Finally, she wrapped her hand around a thick vine and slowed her fall. She desperately reached for the vine with her other hand and then dangled in mid-air for a moment while she caught her breath and spit dirt and twigs from her mouth. “Well, that was not quite what I had in mind,” she said, taking a deep breath. “I wonder how far down I still have to go.”
Testing her grasp on the vine before she moved, she finally glanced down and sighed. She released the vine and jumped the six inches down to the bottom of the ravine. “That was brilliant,” she whispered, mocking herself. “I’m sure the fairy folk enjoyed that display immensely.”
But, not all the fairy folk had been paying attention to her escapade because, once paused, Meaghan could still hear the green fairy song. They were still busy at work. Creeping slowly forward, Meaghan slipped inside a patch of tall ferns. Sliding between the feathery leaves and dodging the large rocks on the ground, she moved closer to the sound. She had never seen a green fairy before. She had only heard their songs in the distance.
She had seen other members of the fae before; the wood elves were a fairly common sighting with their copper skin and mahogany hair as were the water sprites, although they were a little harder to find with their translucent blue skin and dark green hair that looked like seaweed. She thought she saw a goblin once, but she turned and ran before she could be sure. And she knew she had heard a banshee just before her old nanny had died.
Even though she was excited about possibly catching a glimpse of the green fairies, there was one creature she longed to see more than any of the others. The Eochaidh. The enchanted wild horses who legend tells had once been men. But no one, not even the woodsmen in the village, talked about seeing them in their travels. Perhaps they were just a legend and not as real as the other fae in the woods.
Unlike most of Britain, the people in this Irish village spoke of the fae on a regular basis, simply because there were all kinds of fae that actually lived in the woods and the surrounding countryside. Meaghan learned as a child it was because these woods used to be a favorite of Merlin the wizard, when he was not near Camelot. The older villagers said he left some of his magic in it when he disappeared thousands of years ago. She liked that she could feel the magic, it was like Merlin was still there.
The plants had thinned out in front of her; she was closer to the clearing. Carefully, spreading the final bunch of leaves apart, she peered into it. Something making a buzzing sound like a bumblebee flew at her, and she nearly jumped back. But, at the last moment, she froze as the creature hung in the air, pausing not more than four inches in front of her face, its wings flitting so quickly she could only see a blur. Human and fairy gazed at each other, both staring in awe at this wonderful discovery.
Meaghan’s eyes widened in delight and her smile broadened in wonderment. The tiny creature looked like a miniature woman, dressed in a leaf-green sheath and tiny shoes the color of tree bark. Her skin was light green, her large eyes were the color of oak leaves in the fall, and her hair was maple-leaf red.
The fairy flitted closer, one tiny hand extended, and lightly touched Meaghan’s nose and then darted quickly back. Meaghan stood still and waited, her breathing measured and slow. She didn’t want to frighten it off. The tiny fairy buzzed around her, uncertain of this unfamiliar forest creature, and then finally approached the girl again. Slowly, with both hands extended, the fairy flew forward and touched Meaghan’s cheek, pushing off immediately and flying back several feet. The touch was like a butterfly’s kiss.
A smile lit on the tiny face and she did it again, flying forward and pushing back. She giggled, the sound like a tiny bell, and smiled at Meaghan. Delighted, Meaghan smiled back wondering if the fairy would stand on her palm.
Slowly lifting her hand and raising her palm to the sky, Meaghan waited, holding her breath. The fairy came forward and hovered over her open hand as if she was deciding. Finally she dove forward, pushed off from Meaghan’s cheek and soared into the sky, her faint laughter echoing in the trees.

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