(Because I don't have anything better to do. Ha. Hahahaha.)
Late in the afternoon, I began to smell the ocean, a rich, seaweed scent that was being carried inland by the wind. The fields around us became more wild, eventually turning to marsh, with cat tails and high, course grass that bent silver before the wind. I heard the sound of ducks and the cries of gulls.
We passed over a particularly marshy place on a wooden bridge, the horse’s hooves making a delightful, hollow clatter on the weathered, grey boards. A large, white heron stood as still as stone in the water, one foot up, its beak tucked against his chest.
Ceallach pulled the horses to a stop, and turned his back to me. “Unfasten my sword from the armor,” he said.
“Uh…ok. Why?” I urged Burroch up as close to Cashlin as I could and reached up to undo the metal fastenings. Siofra watched curiously, his hands resting on the pommel of his saddle.
“Because you’re going to wear it.”
“Say what?” My hands paused in their task.
“It’s the only iron I have on hand at the moment. Just in case we run into Aimhirghin sooner rather than later.”
The sword dropped heavily, awkwardly into my hands when I’d undone the last buckle. Ceallach took the sword from me.
“Turn around,” he said.
I twisted around on Burroch, who had turned his own head back, curious and wondering what all the hold up was about.
“Reach back and hold it in place for a minute,” he said.
When I did, he threw his scarlet sash around my head and settled it around my waist. He began to tie the sword to my back with the fabric. The sword was very heavy and awkward, the point of it jutted out a foot below my right hip and out of the corner of my eye, I could see the hilt rising up over my left shoulder.
“That should stay. We only have about another hour to go. Is it too uncomfortable?”
“No,” I replied, wriggling my shoulders experimentally. “But I don’t think I’d want to wear it all day long.”
“You’d get used to it,” he teased.
“Yeah, I doubt that.”
“I think it looks better on her,” remarked Siofra.
“Watch it, boy,” warned Ceallach, his eyes dancing. “You’ve already opened your mouth once too many times today.
“Look, Grace,” he continued, leading the horses back on the trail, “…we’re going to have to stay with my uncle. He’s stiff, self righteous man, but it would be unforgivable breach of manners if we didn’t stay with him and his family. I don’t want to dishonor my mother’s family.”
“I know the drill,” I said, already annoyed at the rhythmic banging of the sword against my shoulder blade. “Say nothing, stay by you at all time. It’ll be fine.”
“When we get home, you can take me to the Mall of your choice, to exact your revenge, if you wish.”
I laughed. “There’s a thought. I think Abercrombie and Fitch is right up your alley. We can get an Orange Julius and wander around, hand in hand.”
“What the hell is an Orange Julius?”
“Ha! Finally! Something about my culture you know nothing about.”
“What is an Orange Julius?” asked Siofra, twisting around in his saddle to look back at me.