Hawthorne Tree – Part 3 – The Other Crowd

The voices beckoned me to the forest from the church, almost like a magnet. It was seducing me, swaying me into a dreamlike state. I tried to resist the calls but it was too strong. A current of persuasion, a tidal wave of comfort.
It took me deep into the forest, so deep I didn’t know where I was. But the voice was strongly urging me forward until it suddenly stopped.

I snapped out of the trance, I looked desperately around. Sunlight tried breaking through the roof of the trees but only ended up with little specks on the ground.

I trembled.

As I panicked and kept looking around my eyes dropped to the ground and I noticed a massive ring. It was a ring of mushrooms, the mushrooms were all the colours of the rainbow.

“Fergal Mc Kay, son of seven and father of none!” Came a small voice, more of an announcement of myself than a question.  The voice was soothing.

“It is I. I beg of you to show yourself as I am afraid.” My teeth chattered with fear.

“No need to fear us Fergal, son of Thomas.” Came another voice.

“Yes no need to fear us but HIM! You need to be careful seventh son!” Another voice said.

“Conarght of the solitary folk, he will trick you, or try to at least. We saw you lit a candle for him” yet another voice spoke.

“I thought it might help ease his heart of hatred for me and release me” I said turning around to look for the bodies of the voices.

“Do not. We blew out the candles as it would be blasphemous to your God. We respect religion but Conarght would be delighted.  We need to guide you through this.  The hardest part of your life has started.” A mellow voice said in my ear.

“Are you the wee folk of history my mother told me about?” I asked.

Weeping. Many voices weeping.

“We will reveal all Fergal, right now we need to protect you” a little arm grabbed my shoulder then climbed over.  It was the same size as Conarght but beautiful.  Her wings were translucent and glittered in the specks of sunlight.

Her little dress was a dark green and her eyes a golden shade to match her hair.

I was falling in love with her and then she snapped me out with her voice.

“Conarght will arrive tonight at your house, he will ask you to leave your house.  Refuse him thrice.  He will kick up a fuss and threaten but we have your house protected.  He would not dare interrupt the magic of the Tuatha De Danann!” Her little voice breaking my heart, almost like a song.

My head was swimming, tuatha de danann! The mythology was true! I couldn’t cope with this, I was drawn into a secret world of the faerie folk.

The little faerie put her hand to my face and it soothed my soul.  She flicked her wings and flew around my head, laughing.  She touched tree leaves high above and with each touch the leaves turned to a bright white light.  The forest below was illuminated.

I looked around and to my amazement there were millions and millions of tiny winged creatures staring up at me.  All laughing and rejoicing. A little band began to play and the dancing commenced.

The same little faerie came and sat on my shoulder again. 

“My name is Erith, daughter of Elith the master of dance” she said merrily ” I am at your service”.

“Why am I here?” I asked, I didn’t want to look at the beautiful creature as I was afraid of falling in love.

“All in good time Fergal, you have an important role to play” she said with a tiny amount of sorrow. “Home is closer than you think” she looked at the mushrooms.

I stayed.there with the wee folk for a long time.  They actually fed me food and drink and I was not scared, there was something so familiar about these folk. Like I belonged here somehow which of course was impossible.

“Nothing is impossible” said a little voice “but you should be going soon, it’s getting dark”.

“Yes, I should, I don’t want to keep the leprechaun waiting now” I groaned. “But please could I have a guide out of the forest?”

“Yes of course Fergal seventh son!” A flick of her little hand and two little orbs of light appeared “follow these lights, they will guide and protect you”.

“I thank you, Erith daughter of the forest” I said hoping to impress, I received giggling.

So I followed the lights out of the forest, it seemed like miles and miles.  The undergrowth of the forest going from soft under my feet to the hardness of dry stone. 

My heart fell when I saw we were approaching the Hawthorne tree, that same tree I saw the devil Conarght.  I hurried past the tree as the little lights tugged me quicker.  I felt his presence but couldn’t see him.  The tree gave off the aura of fear.

His eyes were on me, I could tell. However he did not show, for half an hour more I walked.

The lights just kept a few yards ahead of me and I worried occasionally if they were deceiving me but I believed deep in my heart they were not.

Eventually the forest came to an end and there lay a perfect shape for me to pass through between two trees. I could see my village, it was now twilight.

My father must be worried I thought, and my brothers what would they think?

I hurried home past the church and other houses.  I opened my door and was amazed by what I had seen.  A feast with all my kin laid before my very eyes. These were hard times and I wondered how this came to be.  My father too ill most days had become youthful and happy.  He was eating like a madman, wallowing in this food.

I knew it was the fairy folk who delivered this sumptuous feast. I was happy as I wanted my family to have the best.

My father looked up and saw me, he was beyond happy and ushered me to his side.

“My son, what have you done to provide us all of this?” He waved his hand across the table.  My brothers toasted me with whatever was in their hand.  It felt like the old days when my mother was alive.  I silently felt my heart drop.  I snapped quickly out of it.

“Is this my doing da? I don’t think I’ve done anything worthy of this!” I replied.

“Son, there were 10 hampers left on the table around tea time with a note.” He reached into his pocket “this note!”

I unfolded the note and read :

To Fergal, the seventh son. I hope this finds you well, Erith Daughter of the Forest!

I crumpled the letter amazed. Daughter of the forest, was that the joke? Was that why they giggled?  They really had some insight.

I told my father I knew nothing, the truth would of scared him witless. Probably stop him eating too.  I explained that I had done a good deed for a rich unknown woman who returned the favour. They were satisfied with my answer. 

So I took leave and went to lay down.

I lay down and closed my eyes, when I opened them briefly I saw the leprechaun face staring down into my eyes.  So close he was to my face that I could feel his ancient breath.  He was not happy, in fact that was an understatement.

“I warned you Fergal, seventh son, to be careful what you wish for”

With that he waved his hand.

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