By Milli Morgana Crow
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“Green Hills meet your eyes wherever you look. Yonder them hills of green lay my heart. This is me home, this is me heart…Shanain. Where the wind blows soft and the rain pours down on you washing all your sins away. Oh this is freedom, and this is where my story begins. My name is Ian McGilles of the McGilles Clan. I was the oldest of my five brothers and had to take care of them for times were tough. We were very poor, you see, for work was scarce and the dangers lie ahead. Lord Rowans had claimed war with Shanain and was slowly burning the villages and destroying the clans that would not surrender to him. You see we were farmers, poor but never falling so low to sign a treaty with him. We hoped that it would never come to this for we lived high and far away from his kingdom where no one could touch us and we could live our life in peace. But we were wrong…”
“Ian son, here are twenty cresents, I wish you to go with the sunrise to Lawrskin and buy some more seeds; without crops we’ll die soon,” Carmos McGilles asked of his son. Carmos was an old man with silver hair and gray eyes that shone like the moon. He was a kind old man with a warm heart. Since his wife died and left him with five sons, he had to take care of them. While the draft was killing the crops they grew on their land, this was their existence that kept them in this world. Carmos had to do all that was in his might to save them so they could stay alive for another winter. So Ian was forced at a young age to take care of his brothers, master the skills of hunting and farming. Now the boy looked into his father’s old hand, looking at the golden coins shining like his father’s eyes.
“Father, I do not like to leave you alone. It is a two weeks journey at least. Can’t I just stay here and help thee on the land,” he asked respectfully for he knew that the old man wouldn’t have enough time to take care of the land and the children in his condition. For the draft wasn’t only slowly taking hold of the crops, but also the old man’s bones and chest.
“Nay my son, there are no crops left to save and we have only enough for one cycle. It is necessary that you leave with the first dawn and return as soon as your legs can carry you. I want you to go to Lawrskin and buy the needed seeds and a horse. Use the money wisely for it is all we have got and beware of people who want to trick you, and of the Fachen who live in the heart of the forests and the Gwyllions who come when the moon is high to look for travelers to make them lose their way. Careful my son, for I can not bear to lose you,” the old man said feeling his heart hurt, knowing that his oldest son had endless dangers ahead of him on the journey to make their struggle for life a little longer. Ian took the gold, feeling pain inside of his chest, seeing his father not wanting to lose his oldest son but knowing that their life depended on it.
“I shall go as soon as the sun rises and return within the next full moon, father. I shall be careful and I won’t get tempted or tricked by anyone or any sorcery. You have taught me well the art of swordsmanship as your father taught it to you. I shall take the Spirit with me so that when I get lost, he’ll guide me. I shall return with the seeds so that we’ll survive another cycle.”
“You shall succeed my son, now let’s return home and sit by the fire so that you shall rest before your journey,” Carmos said, placing his strong hand on his son’s shoulder as they both walked over the hills to their little cottage.
Ian awoke in the middle of the evening and felt the cold wind blow though the cracks of the door. He slowly stood up, trying not to make a sound so that he wouldn’t awake his brothers who lay all together near the fire under a bearskin that Ian had slain in the Wolf Moon. It had been a long and tiresome struggle for survival. It had nearly cost Ian his lif,e but he had supplied the family with enough food until the Ice Moon.
Ian walked over to his father and pulled the blanket that had slipped over his father’s shoulders. The shadows danced on the wall on the melody of the burning fire. Ian opened the window and a soft wind blew inside the cottage, making him shiver. He looked up at the full moon whose rays shone down on him. In the distance a wolf cried his sad song and Ian smelled the mountain air. Twenty-three cycles ago, he was brought upon this earth in this place isolated between green hills and since then he had never left it. With the rising of the sun he would leave it and travel to the unknown to Lawrskin, a little village located over the hills to the north. His father had told him tales about that village and others that he had visited on his journeys through Shanain. He wasn’t afraid of what lay in front of him but of what lay behind, his family and whether they would still be alive when he returned with the seeds. A cold wind blew through his sand-colored hair and he closed his eyes enjoying the moment trying to forget his worries. The moon smiled down on him and his future.
Carmos walked into the cottage and took the sword that his father had given him long ago when he got his title, Sir. He took it from its hiding place and blew the dust from it. He looked at the hilt, which was engraved with the family name. He took it out and gracefully swung it, charging at his imagined enemy. Carmos smiled as his memory trailed to the days of his youth when he went on crusades fighting alongside McKenzie and the other clans of Shanain. Now it was time to pass it on to Ian for he went on his own crusade to keep his family alive. Deep in his heart he hoped that his son would make it in time for he didn’t know how much longer he could keep the crops alive.
Ian looked at his father, who exited the cottage in his slow manner. In his hand lay a sword what Ian recognized to be the family sword, for when he was young Carmos had shown him and told his adventures about the sword. Carmos walked to his son and placed the sword in his hands. He took it and looked into his father’s eyes.
“You’ll need it more then I, Ian. Now go and don’t look back; we’ll be waiting for you,” He said trying to keep his voice from shaking. Ian hoped fiercely that this wouldn’t be their final goodbye. He gave his father a hug and then took his four brothers in his arms.
“When will you be back, Ian?”
“Soon Reamus. Now take good care of your father and brothers. will you, while I’m gone?” Ian said to the second oldest of them. He looked down at the twins Kyle and Growen, who were looking tearfully back at him.
“Don’t cry boys. I’ll be back before you know it and I promise I’ll bring something for you all,” he said and gave each one of them a kiss on the cheek. He looked again back at his father and then turned his back to them and started the journey.
“Over green hills I went carried by the wind with Spirit along my side guiding me through the woods. Dangers lie ahead of us and sorrow behind but we continued our struggle for daily life. For days we traveled through the land of Shanain. But the Gods didn’t seem to be on our side; the wild creatures where hungrier than we were and saw us as their next meal while the cold wind and rain delayed our journey through nothing to nothing.
We were particularly lucky that we weren’t traveling in the month of the Mead Moon when the Amadam where active. Their touch could cause instant paralysis and were harmful to outlaws and people who walked in the moonlight. But I knew all the dangers the forests and Highlands of Shanain held. Carmos had told me tales about those Mythical creatures of our world. Of Goblins and Cyroeraeth, Pixies and different kinds of Fearie folk. Til then they were only creatures that Carmos had told us of before bedtime, when we all sat around the fire. But as I continued my journey, numerous creatures crossed my path and I theirs…”
Ian and Spirit continued their journeys through the Highlands and Forests of the North Region of Shanain. Spirit was Ian’s tame wolf that he had saved from the flood that had appeared out of nowhere many, many cycles ago. Ian had been a little boy when he first set eyes upon Spirit and instantly they had become each other’s guides. Together they had lived many adventures and this would be the last.
Both of them where silent as they entered yet another forest that looked like a copy of the forest they had just left. They were silent, their feet making no noise as they walked over the fallen leaves. It was the time of the Blood Moon and the trees swept slowly with their branches in the wind. Both were careful and constantly aware of their surroundings for you never knew what could await you at the end of the road. Go East, Carmos had said and they went and slowly Pine trees turned to enormous oaks whose leaves colored the ground red. The animals were busy finding food that they could store for a winter that was only a couple of moons away. Their journey was slow but it seemed that they had some luck. In the distance a beautiful brown horse stood looking at them with its clever eyes. Ian slowly approached it and the horse let him come closer. It had been a long time since Ian had seen one, for there in the Highlands there were none for the winter was too hard. The last horse he had seen was the old steed Carmos once owned when they first came there but it didn’t survive one Winter up there and one cold morning they found it stiff frozen in the stable.
“Steady boy.” Ian said softly to the horse as he neared it. Gently he placed on hand on its nose and stroked it. The creature let him and looked deep into his eyes, welcoming him to try his luck. Ian looked down at Spirit who gave him a disapproving look and growled in a low voice at the horse. Now Ian knew that no matter what, he always had to trust Spirit for animals, especially wolves, could sense danger, mischief, troubles and even death. But looking at the magnificent creature made him push his luck and he carefully mounted it. Ian let out a sigh, happy to find himself still on the back of the horse. But as soon as his hands touched the neck of the beast, it raised itself on his hind legs. Ian had just enough time to take hold of its rich mane before the beast started off in an uncontrolled gallop through the woods. Ian, who had no experience how to ride, knew one basic and important thing, that if he let go he would end under its feet. So he held on with all his might trying to calm the beast down. Spirit ran next to the horse trying to grab its hind legs so that it would slow down and release his master.
“Spirit what are you doing; you’re going to get us both killed!” Ian shouted to Spirit who made a leap to catch one of the legs, but it only made the horse go faster. Ian saw nothing but blurs of colors as they galloped at high speed through the woods. Branches hit his face leaving scratches on his arms tearing his clothes. He became dizzy and he would have fainted if it weren’t for the pain in his lower back and below from going up and down on the horse’s back. He tried with all his strength to control the beast but knew that it was hopeless.
“Spirit, do something!!” he cried out in a strangely high voice. But Spirit felt as helpless as his master, not able to do anything. A large brown thing came in sight at his eye level and Ian saw his chance clear and let go of the horse’s mane just in time and grabbed hold of the branch, never letting go. In the distance the horse kept running and let out a low laugh and then Ian realized what had happened: He had been tricked by a Brag.
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