Here's a wee bit of writing from my book. I have not shared very much of it, at all, to any one. But little by little, I plan to share snippets and test the waters a bit. I am just about to finish the (shitty) first draft, and then the editing will come. Oh so much editing. Tell me what you think...
The wolves came at night, late in the evening of our first camp. The fire was dimming after we cooked and consumed our meal; there was talk of people settling in for an early night. We were to be up at dawn. Everyone was tired from the long ride today, and tomorrow’s was to be even longer.
There were fifteen of us in camp, including my parents. My mother’s brother, Conall, stayed behind to run the farm and tend to Manya’s needs, but three of my father’s field hands and their wives and older children were traveling with us to help with camp duties and to run the market at the fair.
My father spent the evening telling the old stories. He sometimes seemed as if he wished for another life, to be trained by some ancient poet, like Oisin son of Cormac, roaming the tribes of Erenn, honored for his words and memory above all others. My father’s calling, however, was to love the unusual woman that was my mother and to honor her family and her ancestors by keeping her land for the next generation of bandrui. Caring for our lineage in this way was undoubtedly honorable, but Father could not hide his wish to bring the old tales alive and to advise kings on what history might reveal for those who asked it questions. He had many tales and poems memorized, possibly more than I had memorized in my many years of training. His whole life, for as long as I could remember, he would sit for hours and learn them by rote from Manya or whenever the poets came to the Lughnasa Fair.
When his last story was over, we sat in silence listening to the wind creak the trees overhead, the smell of wet and wood-smoke in the air. A nearby stream rushed over rocks, pregnant with news meant for the expanse of the dark sea, rushing from the recent heavy rains that drenched the landscape. These consequence of this latest storm left mist and unseasonable cold in its wake, but it was a pleasant night despite it.
My eyes were closed, listening to the water, trying to hear what it whispered and if it had any word for me. A rustle behind me started us all; I seemed to have drifted into an almost-sleep, that place of glances and images from both worlds that meet and shake hands like old friends. A stick-break echoed through the wood, closer now, and I sat up, rubbing my face. Only a few people were awake, and my father was prodding the coals of the fire, readying it for sleep as well. He stood up at the sound and moved toward the edge of the circle.
From a space in the woods behind me, a smell drifted into the circle and grabbed me, — all of us. It smelled of wet fur and animal. Almost as soon as the scent arrived, a great, grey wolf, eyes glowing red-brown in the fire-light walked inches from me, bent her head to sniff my arm as she passed. She sat first, then laid down next to the stones heaped around the fire, her eyes watching us, ears alert for motion.
Everyone froze. My father, still standing, didn’t take another step. I glanced to see if there were others, as wolves travel in packs and there were undoubtedly others around us, but I could see nothing in the dark of the wood. No one moved or even breathed.
Then the wolf looked around again, and then — I swear that this is the truth — she spoke words, Irish words…not the howling, whining, and yipping of wolf talk. She spoke words to us, to me, as if she were a woman sitting at the fire and not an animal in the way of the ancient poets:
“I have lived the days of my life. I have joyed and wandered in woe.
I am feeble and fain and would rest from my travel, searching to and fro.
But that day I am fain to behold, and I fain to behold that day
Raise up the stones from my sidhe, and cleanse my bones from the clay.
At that time, in times to come, the keepers of stories and lore
Will bring to this isle, to all our kin, precious treasures and so much more.
I knew then not to fear the animal, and just as soon as she had finished her impossible pronouncement, she got up, shook herself off, and left the circle at a trot. The earthy animal smell remained for a long time. In fact, I am not sure it will ever leave me.