(previously in Henry & Sophia):
“Please,” Máire said, “you must heed my words. You cannot be near the windows or venture out of doors.”
“I don’t understand,” said Sophia. Even as the words were on her tongue, the storm grew louder and the rain appeared as jagged pieces of glass in the flash of lightening that cut through the trees in the distance.
“Please,” Máire said again. “Please.” Sophia let Máire guide her back to the couch and once she was settled there Máire returned to the window, but despite her attempts to see through the storm, she could discern nothing. “You must wait here for Anrái. Do not move from this place, I beg you.”
Even before Sophia could nod her consent, Máire disappeared out the door and into the swirling tempest. Sophia hugged a pillow close to her chest and fixed her eyes upon the door. Was this more of the danger to which Máire had eluded to when they stood upon the portal? At that moment, the door to Anrái’s cottage flew open and Sophia could not hold back the scream that she’d been holding in her throat. As it mixed with the swell of the storm outside, Sophia became acutely aware of a foreboding force filling the space around her; it’s presence almost choked her and she gasped for breath and tears slid down her cheeks. Around her there was nothing but darkness and fear. She scrambled toward the door, following the sound of the storm, certain she could hear someone calling her name.
“I’m here,” she shouted into the wind. “I’m here!”
“At last,” a voice called from the storm. “I’ve come for you and found you at last.”
Sophia stumbled into the storm, the rain pelting her skin with a burning sensation and the thunder drowning out all other sound. “Papa!” she called. “I’m here!”
A presence of darkness loomed over her and the wind wailed and wherever she looked there was only the blackness of night. Was this what it had been like on the sea that day, she wondered. Were the village elders right? Was this a storm created by dark magic, an ancient evil? As she tried to calm her mind and slow her breathing and focus on the love in her heart for Henry and her father and her days on the Irish Isle, Sophia’s vision grew dim until at last she lost consciousness in the midst of the forest tempest held in the grip of a hand that grabbed her from the darkness.
(here begins the new):
“Has there been any word?”
“None, dear heart.”
“She didn’t simply disappear.”
“Likely she has fled.”
Word of what? Who was speaking? And of whom? Someone, a girl, who was gone, disappeared, perhaps fled. It was all too much to process and she groaned with the pain of remembering and the pain of her listless limbs.
“Shhhhhh, shhhhhh, shhhhhh,” a gentle female voice hushed close to her ear, something a mother would do in her baby’s ear as she rocked her to sleep. “You’re safe.”
“Has she stirred at last?” a male voice spoke and she heard the strain of its worry even through the distant rumbling of thunder. Though she could not see the flashes of light signaling the fading storm, she sensed them in the rhythm of the rain and thunder; in her mind she saw the familiar summer storms that cloaked the small inlet where her father moored his fishing vessel and felt the relief of his safe return. But as the memory returned in full, she groaned again, this time for the grief of her loss as if it had happened only now. “She stirs and I shall speak with her,” the male voice was more insistent now.
“Soon,” the woman’s voice replied. “Her groans hold layers we must not disturb.”
Once more Sophia felt herself falling into darkness and she shuddered as another groan escaped her lips and her heart.
“She was close. All of it was close and almost complete. It was finished, but for him.” Myrrdin’s words pierced the darkness like a staccato of arrows aimed at his enemy’s heart.
If she were able to see him, Máire knew that his eyes would flash with the same brilliance and warning of an approaching storm, the lightening streaking and splitting the sky only moments before the crashing of thunder upon thunder upon thunder. She stroked her temple and ran her hand along the sticky gash just along her hairline. The pain and her fear caused her to tremble on the hardened ground and her bones seemed chilled far beyond the heat from the nearby fire. Without meaning to, Máire groaned from the weight of Myrrdin’s words as well as his presence and the deep ache in her head.
“At last,” he said, but she heard no relief or care in his voice and so she fluttered her eyes only a moment before giving in to the lure of the quiet darkness of her restless dreams.
“We know she could not have traveled far unless she was taken by the Dark One.” A different male voice stirred her from her drowsing dreams, but she remained still, hoping to hear more and to discern where she was and what had transpired in the tempest outside Anrái’s cottage. His voice floated in from a distance and she reasoned that he had not entered the room where she lay. In her haze, she held fiercely to its familiar gravelly tone; somehow, for reasons she could not yet at this moment reach, his voice made her feel safe.
“Has she stirred further?” he asked and she rested in his words and his concern.
“No, my lord, she has not.” She recognized the woman’s voice from earlier and its presence, too, provided her a deep comfort, as if her words and her voice cradled her inside them.
“Uilleam, we must speak if we are to formulate a plan before he returns.” The man with the strains of worry, and something else she was unable to name but with which she was deeply familiar and even connected to. And that name, Uilleam. She sensed its importance and its connection to her heart, but the night had left her with little memory but the forest tempest that had swallowed all of her.