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ike Hobnobble and his troopers, Brother Jack followed the streams deep into the moors where Nick O’Railie’s directions took him through masses of ferns and round large boulders as well as over the many streams and rivulets. Before long the trees of a huge forest appeared on the eastern horizon and at a gradual angle the trail bike drew closer to them. A single tree standing alone on a small hill appeared out of the mist that lay on the moor. It was a great relief to Jack when Nick indicated that was where they were going for the vibration caused by the rough terrain was numbing his muscles as it transferred through his limbs. They got nearer to the tree and its great size and age was more obvious, Jack halted the bike to shield his eyes from the midday sun and get a better look at it. “The Silthie Tree,” informed Nick. For a moment the huge and ancient oak tree looked as if it was loosing leaves to the wind but the cloud of glistening green took to the skies in a very unleaf like manner. It rapidly drifted towards them and from the centre Tuto swooped and soared, with the cloud forming into peculiar folds and eddies as it followed.

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“We are honoured,” claimed the leprechaun. “They come to greet us.” Jack soon discovered who the “they” were as first Tuto, then the swarming silthie, circled round the track bike and its two riders. Individually and in small groups they dived from the cloud above to hover in front of Jack’s face, their wings like those of large dragonflies, a glistening blur. They waved, quite a few blew kisses and for some reason he found himself blushing with the strange images and ideas that came to his mind. Nick shook his shoulder. “Ye’ve the gift,” he said. “Snap out of it, they’re talking to thee, it’s the dryad in them teasing your manhood; the little minxes.” Jack eased out the clutch and the bike surged forward along the grass bank of a stream towards the Silthie Tree. Tuto glided in front, drifting in from the side as he came and diving below head height. Jack realised a small elf sized figure was clinging within the feathers on the owl’s neck and he nearly lost control of the bike as the figure turned its head and waved at him. His little sister laughed at the expression on his face as Tuto’s wings either side of her adjusted and they went up and away again. They parked the bike on one of the grassed and flowered slopes surrounding the tree and Jack and Nick sat on an unrolled groundsheet next to the machine to share a cold lunch from their backpacks. Wherever Jack looked a new scene of silthie life presented itself to his eyes. The tree’s extensive and twisting root system dug deep into the rocks and soil of the hill on which it grew. Within those roots spreading across the ground were small rocky caverns that he was sure led deep within the hill, hovering silthie were entering and leaving the larger entrances almost constantly carrying something either in or out. In places dome like woven grass constructions dotted the trunk as it disappeared upwards, a silthie sized doorway opened at the centre of each and again the tiny industrious silthie were busy in and out. Football sized baskets hung from the tree’s many limbs and numerous branches like strange woven fruit and the silthie darted between them on more

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mysterious errands. Jack realised he was not so much looking at just a tree but a real tree of life, as vibrant and noisy as any town or village anywhere on the other side of the gate in the human world. “I don’t think I’ve seen anything so amazingly weird and beautiful,” he said. “It’s so full of life.” “They’re all like that,” said Nick. “Trees I mean, if you look hard and close enough. This one’s just a bit more obvious, but then it is home to an owl that is old enough to have quite likely planted the acorn it grew from; it’s bound to be a bit special.” “How old is Tuto?” asked Jack. “Old enough to have argued with Plato,” answered Nick. “Too old, like me. You humans don’t know how lucky you are; just imagine our Christmas card lists.” The elf sized Mary Jane appeared running down a tree limb followed by a waddling and hopping Tuto who was accompanied by a red haired female elf; several silthie hovered in the air above them as they came. Mary Jane was dressed like the silthie, her tight fitting shirt and slacks all shades and reflections of green, it was as if she was part dancing fallen leaf from the tree as she ran towards Brother Jack. She hesitated briefly at what was to her, the huge size of him, then skipped over his crossed legs and buried her tiny body against his stomach. He wanted to hug her but dare not for fear of hurting her, so he gently cupped his hands, without touching, around her and she climbed into his palms. “Well hello little sister,” he said, carefully putting her down on the ground sheet in front of his crossed legs. “Nick says we are only stopping for lunch,” he added. “But I wish we could stay longer. Your silthie friends are totally amazing, I’d like to come back and visit some time” “This is the Lady Gwyneth from Elmskeep, Balin’s lady, you remember from the picnic” introduced Mary as Tuto and Gwyneth reached them. “She’s been looking after me whilst Tuto was through the gate.” “Good to meet you,” said Jack feeling like he wanted to shake hands but realising it was not possible. “Thank you for your kindness and care of my very little sister.”

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“She’s been teaching me some real neat magic,” said Mary Jane. “I can talk to the silthie and all sorts.” “You and your sister both have your great grandmother’s smile,” claimed Gwyneth and Jack laughed. “Everyone I meet in Faerie makes me feel like a little boy again,” he said. “You’re no boy,” said Gwyneth smiling herself. “You almost make me wish I could be human for a while.” “There you go,” muttered Nick as Gwyneth winked at Jack. “I can see I’m going to have to teach thee all about the nymphs and dryads.” “I’m not that much of a child Nick.” “Aye lad,” added the leprechaun. “But Faerie’s facts of life are completely different to those that you’ve learnt.” “You have no idea, I’m quite safe, my closet door has long been open,” said Jack returning a wink in Gwyneth’s direction. Mary Jane could not resist trying out her secret weapon on her brother, although she was disappointed that Gwyneth had been insistent that the sample prepared was well diluted. The silthie had been totally intrigued by her idea of the stink bomb, since a great deal of their communications with the honey bee were conducted using prepared scents they quickly took the idea to heart and developed it. With great glee Mary Jane waved an open bottle under an unsuspecting Jack’s nose, barely able to contain the giggles as she simply asked him. “Smell this.” Jack lent forward and put his nose next to the tiniest bottle he had ever seen and instantly recoiled with a grunting moan. He was relieved he’d only got the faintest hint of the aroma as it registered in his nose like a slap to the back of his head and was indescribably foul and putrid. “I made her water it down,” claimed Gwyneth. “The real thing is much worse, Mary Jane wants to use it on “Af Troll’s army and the silthie are busy filling little glass bubbles with it as we speak.” “They say they will only be able to use the bees once and would sooner not do it at all,” informed Mary Jane with a serious expression on her face. “With the stink bombs no goblins will

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really get hurt, instead they will just get falling down sick and won’t be able to fight at all.” “We had an accident,” explained Gwyneth. “Trying it out on the moors, the wind changed, so I can vouch for how effective it is. All you can do is bury your face in the ground and hope the smell has gone before you have to take a breath.” “I had to have a bath I was so sick everywhere,” added Mary. “Okay,” said Jack still feeling green and wishing he hadn’t just eaten that last piece of cheese earlier. “Less of the descriptions please.” Mary Jane giggled more. “Time we were moving,” said Nick. He had just finished giving the silthie one of his bottles of brandy by slowly pouring it into his mug set on the ground sheet. A queuing succession of them had dipped tiny flasks and bottles on the ends of cords into it, flying off when they were full to the caverns beneath the roots. He quickly drank the last little drop left in the bottom and stood, nodding to Tuto who was roosting on a tree limb nearby. “Look for me when nears the night, I’ll bring you supper before moon’s light,” hooted the owl. “I’ll make sure the cooking fire’s ready,” said Nick. “Pheasant would be good.” “Get what comes, eat what’s given. Maybe rat, maybe pigeon.” “It would have to be a big rat to fill Brother Jack,” laughed Nick. “You’re not serious?” asked Jack and he was sure the hooting owl was laughing as much as the leprechaun. Jack got on the trail bike, rolled it back off its stand and started the engine as Nick climbed on behind. “Catch you later, little sister,” he said just before they moved off, being led and followed by a number of travel equipped silthie into the moors towards the giant forest filling the horizon. The bike made better progress after they entered the trees and Jack realised the silthie were deliberately finding a route suitable for the bike to travel easily and more directly. As he began to trust them not to lead the machine into a disaster he also took more notice of the huge trees. All the varieties he was used to and some

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he wasn’t but most such large specimens that collectively he had never seen anything like them. A bewildering variety of birds were everywhere and more than once he got the distinct impression that though they reacted to his presence they were unperturbed as they watched him pass. He saw a gigantic red bearded boar that stood its ground as the track bike noisily went by and its grunting squeal of acknowledgement to their passing seemed to shake the landscape. Thus began a call that was passed from one denizen of the forest to the next. A stag, whose forest of antler echoed the shape of the trees in its domain, barked a booming cry in its turn. A bull of a breed of cattle long extinct through the gate lifted a span of horn as wide as its body length and listened to the wind. His bellow of response shook the forested hills all the way to the sidhe fortress of silver, Liosliath na Airgiod. There an ancient, one armed and battle scarred centaur started to play his pipes in a courtyard filled with flowering shrubs, he told his descendants gathered about him that they should look to the Hill of the Gate. In a dryad inhabited glade of oak trees the patriarch of the fauns also played his pipes. Older than Tuto and yet his oldest friend, he played in a way that he had not done since he came to this new Faerie. All his yearning soul turned towards the shadow that did not belong in this land, saying not here. The shadow in ‘Af Troll felt the Great Pan’s disdain and for the first time in ages a small suppressed part of him caused his body to tremble and shiver with fear despite the warm sunshine. Jack was uncertain of how far, as the crow flies, he had travelled but he knew it was a great distance from the mountain gate because they had just emptied the five gallons out of the petrol can into a nearly empty tank. Nick had reassured him though, that they were very nearly there. Riding along the edge of a stream, still beneath the trees, they came out into a huge oasis of meadowland. At its centre a large elongated hill was crowned with a wood of tall trees, completely separated from the rest of the forest by the wide surrounding ring of grassland. They followed the stream into the meadow, crossed it and passed what could only be a standing stone erected

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deliberately on its opposite bank. Climbing the slope of the hill they entered the trees of the wood and picking a likely looking camping site left the trail bike there. They had not walked far into the wood when they came across a circle of more standing stones, making a grass island in the trees upon the hill’s crest. One of the stones, wide and flat, had recently been deliberately toppled into the circle, face down in the grass. Raw earth and the splintered remains of wooden beams showed around the hole in which it had once been seated. “Recognise it?” asked Nick. After a blank stare from Jack in answer he added. “It’s the twin of that in your father’s garden. You and I, with the ropes, pulleys and a bit of Leonardo’s ingenuity are going to spend tomorrow getting it back upright; then it can be used as a gatestone again to bring Joseph and Emily here.” As Jack entered the stone circle to more closely examine the fallen gatestone, the runestaff carved for him by his father twisted and writhed in his hand and he nearly dropped it in shocked reaction. Nick, who had noticed it happening, answered Jack’s question before he asked it. “Your father is a rare druithin, he is what is known as a maker, his talent produces the most wondrous art and carvings and yet he himself does not really understand the magic that his hands have given them. When in the hands of those for whom they are meant those creations, like your runestaff now in your hands, reveal the magic that he has given them. In a place such as this it will always react and warn you of the possibilities of your own magic.” “And just what is this power that you call magic?” asked Jack holding his runestaff more firmly in his hand as it twisted and turned towards one standing stone to the next like the divining rod it was. Nick was silent for a while as he contemplated an answer that Jack would understand. “You have perhaps heard,” he began. “Of the saying about the flap of a butterfly’s wings being the trigger in a chaotic system like the world’s climate that causes a devastating storm on the other side of the planet. It is an inherent ability of all living things to so affect the future by every choice they make in going from A to B.

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Magic is the ability to change the future in large significant ways by such simple trigger actions, this is the talent you have, this the ability you have inherited. By being able to instinctively recognise and use such trigger moments you have the power to make the future a better place than it would otherwise become. It is a great blessing from mother nature Herself and a great responsibility that you use the gift only for good works.” The silthie that had come with them, a score of hovering, darting, green shapes, were dancing about the gatestone in an agitated revolving circle in the air above it. Jack received images and thoughts from them that distracted his attention from his runestaff and left him in no doubt, despite the confused muddle of the sending, that they expected him to put the gatestone right. The toppled rock, root and all was a huge thick slab of a boulder totally flat against the grass, the spiral carved on the hidden surface buried hard into the soil where it had fallen. “They must have kept it upright with those beams of wood after digging out round the base, very clever,” remarked Nick also changing the subject. “It would have come down quite nicely after they’d kidnapped Mary Jane; quick and easy.” He started to collect firewood from beneath the trees outside the circle. “Anyway that’s for tomorrow,” he added. “Let’s get our camp pitched and that fire lit, I’m looking forward to Tuto bringing our supper.” “I don’t know if I am,” smiled Jack collecting old fallen branches himself. The silthie disappeared through the trees back to the trail bike. When Jack and Nick got back they had already taken up residence in a hollow within the split trunk of a nearby tree and a number of branches and gathered twigs had been woven into the beginnings of a nesting platform and shelter. Their industry and construction amazed Jack, for by the time the tent was pitched and the campfire built, a round well woven nest filled the split in the trunk and they had taken up residence within. Already the silthie were sharing their supper, Jack discovered they loved cheese and ended up giving them the last wrapped chunk of it from the bottom of his backpack.

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An approaching dot in the sky over the trees that was Tuto glided down across the meadow towards them, he was met by several silthie and it became obvious that he was carrying something. Held fast in his great claws was a sizable bird with long red tail feathers hanging and trailing in the wind and as it was dropped to the grass by Nick’s feet, Jack realised it was the promised pheasant the leprechaun had requested for supper. Earlier Nick had hammered two posts into the ground and then fixed another pole between them and now the purpose of the strange rail like construction was revealed when Tuto immediately hopped upon it. “Good perch not lurch,” he said after vigorously testing it out by bouncing up and down. Several of the silthie joined the owl, watching as Nick quickly plucked the pheasant and prepared it for roasting on a spit over the fire. As the sun set over the trees in reddened brilliance Nick raked out hot embers from the flames and a delicious smell of roasting bird drifted over the meadow. Potatoes baked in foil, cut open and filled with butter proved a great hit with the silthie; as did Nick’s brandy, One of the little creatures produced a tiny flute and another had incredibly somehow brought what looked like a miniature fiddle with him. Nick got out his newly purchased flute from a backpack and their combined music filled the wood making a perfect evening. So much was Jack enchanted that when the silthie retired to their nest and Nick had gone to his sleeping bag he did not want to sleep himself and stayed by the fire keeping company with Tuto. After a while his voice found the words to ask something of what was on his mind. “Tuto, I keep getting hints from conversation of your great age and authority and it occurs to me that you are probably the best person to give me an explanation of how this world could be here through the gate. It’s all so unbelievable like there is a whole part of creation that has been kept secret; tell me do you believe in God?” Tuto stared hard into Brother Jack’s eyes then shook his wings and with his beak straightened a few wayward feathers in them

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as if taking the time to organise his words. He started talking but surprisingly not in rhyme.­­­­­­­­ “Truth becomes myth, myth becomes truth, in the end all things are part of the struggle for good against evil, for order and law against chaos and anarchy,” he said. Though Jack noticed the old owl was no longer speaking in verse he made no comment as Tuto continued as if he was starting a philosophy lecture and Jack was his student. It continued and lasted some considerable time with the cracking of wooden embers in the campfire the only interruption.

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Tuto’s Lecture.

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“One man’s belief is another man’s heresy, and you fight your wars for those beliefs. Islam and the east calls it jihad, the west a crusade, both sides are insulted just by the others words and you ask me for more words that if repeated, would lead you into a disharmony of thought with many of your own kind. I do know that Mother Nature has existed since time began, when what you call God was just an inexplicable desire for light and life within the darkness of an empty universe. “Let there be light and there was light,” is that not how your holy books tell it. That sudden illumination has become what we see of the universe now, planets, stars and galaxies, the light from the other side of that creative moment only now reaching us, so far has it come, with so many planets full of life between here and there. Such a Creator has a life experience where millennia are as seconds, how can anyone comprehend that viewpoint and put it into words. What your prophets call the word of God is a poor reflection of the truth and always written by man and for man; the one true Creator could never be just a god for human beings and the world on which they live. Your own Jesus said you only have to open your eyes and see that the Kingdom of Heaven is all around you. It is there in the water of the seas, in the air of the sky and in the wonder of all around us on earth and in heaven, from the largest whale to the smallest microbe. It is the Creators great gift to our souls that we should be able to appreciate this and be caretakers of the life around us. With all self aware beings that is the true test of their intelligence. That we can flap the butterflies wings and make the future a better place. Too often with human beings this gift is manifest as a tremendous arrogance such that mankind uses the world and creation solely for selfish profit. An arrogance that mankind shows most obviously with his belief that the world will end when mankind itself comes to an end, however that may come about.

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“Nick said something of the same earlier today,” informed Jack as the old owl paused dramatically. “He is a wise old leprechaun, old even in the time of Finn, though less wise then,” Tuto chuckled. “Mankind has much to look forward to if only he could strive towards such a future. It is certain that there are creatures on other worlds that will visit and communicate with mankind. Who will share their histories and stories when he can intelligently flap his butterfly’s wings, so passing that test of intelligence and at last making his world a better place for all the life forms that coexist with him. It would be wise for him to admit that all senescent beings on Earth have the same rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness as he has; For example the cetacean, the great apes and other higher mammals. There are many possibilities of intelligence amongst the stars; maybe mankind will need the deep language of the whales to communicate with some of those visitors. What would you like to be said on mankind’s behalf by the cetacean about what you do to them and their home in the ocean? What stories would you like to be told between the stars? As you would honour the one who gave you birth, so should you honour and care for Mother Nature. She is a direct link to whatever Creator mankind’s religions may envisage, Jehovah, Allah, Buddha or Mother Nature; they are all aspects and different cultural viewpoints of the same inexplicable question. To abuse or lessen Mother Nature is a crime and a sin and no religion can honestly justify such actions, yet too many of man’s religions have and still do find excuses for murder and the abuse of life. I cannot and do not believe in any of them whilst they continue to condone such things. The messages of your prophets are always corrupted by their chroniclers as the message is passed from one generation to the next. Increasingly they are evilly misinterpreted as the centuries pass by and in too many ways they are used as political tools in the game of kings; war. You oppress and treat half your race as second class beings, the females of your kind are too often not allowed the same rights in your laws and this too is done in the name of

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religion. As far as I am concerned this too is a sin not only most obviously against Mother Nature but against whatever vision of God you may have. Do you consider yourself to be a Christian?” “I was brought up in that tradition, yes,” answered Jack. “Then I will tell you a truth and know it to be truth for I heard the words from the lips of the disciples themselves,” said Tuto. “Not only did your Jesus preach that the Kingdom of Heaven is all around you, he preached an equality of the sexes that his church quickly denied after he had given his life for its foundation. One of the twelve disciples was she who you know as Mary Magdalene. It was the chroniclers of what became of Peter’s church in Rome that denied her ministry and turned her into a prostitute. This not for loving him as all his disciples did, they did this foul thing to continue the male’s dominance of the female, the excuse being that her love was out of wedlock; something they but not he considered a sin. As with many of your females she was his rock and anchor in life, not Peter. Peter was the rock of a church that can now never truly hear his words as they were meant to be heard and interpreted. Think on it,” the old owl mused. “If Jesus truly was the son of God then surely he would have advocated what is right, equality of the sexes without denying the differences. Was he not also the son of Mary and surely by nature have showed her such respect.” “Honour your mother as you would honour yourself,” he quoted and a quiet chuckle became a hooting call to the sky before he continued. “In the politics of Rome the emperors long ago claimed divinity for themselves and emperor to pope was an easy step after Constantine. The bureaucracy of Rome used the words of the gospels just as effectively as they had used the swords of the legions to conquer and kill; this new empire of Rome’s words is what you call Christianity now. Mother Nature is my Creator and my religion,” continued Tuto emphasising his words with a feather stretching of open wings that indicated the forest around them. “There is no answer to the why of her that any creature can understand but without Her nature all benevolence is lost. She is my god and it does not deny

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my masculinity in any way to admit that. If man does not learn to respect and live in harmony with other life forms then his end will come sooner rather than later because Mother Nature cannot and will not tolerate his disdain much longer. Seas will boil and cities fall Before at last man heeds Her call. Mankind has a whole universe of planets to wander amongst if only he can get into harmony with the one he lives on; therein lays the true Garden of Eden from which both he and Eve were banished.” Tuto paused as if taking a long mental breath, this pause ended with an increasing chuckle. “You should not get me started on your so called democracy,” he said adding to his lecture. “You think the voters decide who governs them, think again; you should read Karl Marx as well as Plato. The money changers govern your society, as money and greed rules the man on the street, greed and the lust for profit also rules the men in your parliament. Therefore also governing how your planet develops. All they want from you is a cross on a piece of paper. Though you can talk to one another when on opposite sides of your world your politicians do not consider your words, all they listen to is the vulture of profit. Even though you are literate, all they want is a cross on paper and in the end that is all you get in return: a transient cross on a piece of ground.”

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Eventually the word flow of millennia of acquired avian wisdom seemed to have ceased and after a long silence the leaves of the trees about them, whispering in the night wind became the loudest sound. “Here endeth the lesson,” finished Tuto just as quietly. “Do you know you have not been talking in rhyme?” observed Jack at last. “Serious thoughts, serious words are bringing, No more now or dawn will come and other birds will be singing.” They both laughed, then in the silence afterwards, from the tent, Nick’s snores could be heard and they both laughed even more before a final silence led to the involuntary nodding of Jack’s head through sleep’s insistence. As Tuto finally closed his bright eyes for the rest of the night Jack crawled into his sleeping bag. Nick was almost annoyingly cheerful as he woke Jack very early at first light the next morning but the early morning fogginess left his mind with the appearance of a hot cup of tea and bacon butty cooked for him on the small gas stove. “That’s the last of the supplies, we either get the gate open or we starve,” informed Nick. Shortly afterwards Jack found himself carrying rope, axe and shovel through the trees to the stone circle. Nick carried more rope and a pack filled with the pulleys and other fixings they had purchased in the hardware store. Tuto, imperiously perched on one of the standing stones, directed the laying out of an intricate rope and pulley system. They tied off around the trunks of three stout and healthily rooted ancient ash trees beyond the stone circle and behind the fallen gatestone. Using small wooden trowels that the leprechaun chopped out and then quickly carved with an amazingly versatile knife like chisel, the silthie burrowed a small tunnel under the heavy rock. They passed a cord then rope along the tunnel and the gatestone was soon bound with loops of the strongest of the ropes tied off at what would be the top when upright. All the time Tuto from his standing stone perch, reminded Jack again and again that he must not strike the stone

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with anything hard especially with metal as he hopped from one foot to the other in agitation. “You do not know how lucky you are, If I had not wings but had your hands, Still would I be flying? Yes and far away around our star.” As Jack and Nick worked the ratchets at the heart of Tuto’s web like design of ropes leading to the trees, his dance became even more frantic, in tune with the ever tightening and creaking system pulling at the gatestone. “We need more,” shouted Nick his feet off the ground as he pulled and bounced on a squeaking length of nylon. “We need more muscle from somewhere.” Jack found himself shouting too as he leant his whole strength to pulling, although afterwards he could not explain why he had done it. His runestaff pushed upright into the ground nearby, twisted in the earth and pulsed with light in a sudden brief illumination of energy. “Help us,” Jack yelled calling to the trees and the forest. “Help us,” A watching presence that was the Great Forest’s magical soul with the stone circle on the Hill of the Gate its heart stirred with a leafy whisper and answered Jack’s call. The Green Man insubstantial and like a ghost in the daylight drifted into the stone circle and the swirl of leaves that accompanied him was a brief green filled hurricane. Tall and vital with long hair blowing from a weather worn face in a wind of its own, he was all green flowing leaves as he placed his wide hands on the gatestone. The trees round about groaned as he appeared to do nothing else but touch the stone. The three tall ash trees tied to the ropes bent like saplings in the wind and as they pulled back and upright so the gatestone moved steadily back into its original setting, pivoting upright. All the ropes suddenly loosened. Jack found himself falling to the grass as the rope he was hanging, arms and legs from went slack, when he recovered and rolled onto his hands and knees the Green Man had vanished. He looked around; Nick, Tuto and all the silthie seemed to be staring wide eyed at him.

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“Truly you are Druithin Mason,” claimed Nick his face again showing his particular and nearly constant grin of seen it all amusement. “Only a druithin could summon the spirit of the forest.” Tuto just hooted with glee. “But I didn’t do anything,” objected Jack. “And in not knowing what you were doing you did the right thing anyway,” finished Nick and would talk of it no more. Tuto pecked and waddled around the base of the gatestone as the rock wedges and soil were replaced and it was bedded back in place. Nick ran his hands around the grooves of the spiral carved on its face, then held still when his fingers reached the centre and he closed his eyes. After a moment he nodded to Tuto who was now perched on the gatestone’s top and the owl called out his own satisfaction. “Gatestone good, very sound And once more rooted in the ground. Brother Jack with druithin gift Will restore its gate rune rift. Nick O’Railie will show you how, This news, I take to Faerie now.” With no more to do he took off with a sudden clapping sweep of his wings, hooting out his farewells as he disappeared over the trees. In a flowing file the silthie followed like a string of buzzing light bulbs in the blue sky. Jack and Nick coiled up the ropes and tidied the stone circle. “Regardless of the fact that you all seem to think I’m some sort of Gandalf character I’m still a bit hazy about the reason I’m here and how my family fits in with all this,” said Jack. “Tuto gave me a bit of a lecture last night but it didn’t really help that much.” “Truth is,” advised Nick. “The old bird is just that. He is one of the oldest creatures in Faerie and as such his wisdom is greatly revered and respected by all. When he says the druithin, meaning your family, should deal with the Duillidamh na Caich invading Faerie. Then everyone knows that is the way it will be done, especially when he tells us an old prophesy that talks of the great bog dragon being reborn will be fulfilled in its doing.”

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“You’re just as deep and circumspect as Tuto,’ complained Jack. “And you are very deep and perceptive yourself, a good druithin trait; patience is another,” said Nick with a smile as he continued. “Killing another being in Faerie is against the druithin compact that made the ancient Elvinstones into gatestones and brought us all here. A pact that your ancestor was instrumental in making with all of those who are fey and wanted to pass through the gatestones to colonise this world. The shadow has done his worst here amongst the goblins but he will do no more and come no further, the whole of Faerie is turned against him and has always opposed his kind. All the old ones lend their strength of purpose to your family in this.” “Deeper still,” laughed Jack. “And I hope you are taking this all down,” said Nick. “Yes Professor O’Railie.” “There is another old prophesy,” instructed Nick. “That one day the Silver Towers will return to the Welsh valleys, through the gate; perhaps the druithin will return to the valleys with them. Maybe again the people of the plains of Albion will once more celebrate and acknowledge all that Mother Nature has given them at midsummer and the turn of the year by the temple dedicated to her; that place you now call Stonehenge.” “Too deep, Nick, too deep!” Jack had no idea how he was supposed to open the gate but later that afternoon, holding his runestaff before it and following Nick’s instructions he was surprised how easy it was. They passed through the pulsing vortex wheeling the track bike, both looking forward to a hot bath and a cooked meal in the cottage beyond.

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Muddle Puddle & The Whistrling Shell (Ch.18)  

Chapter 18

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