Darkness poured over him as he fell in what seemed like an endless journey. His mind attacked him and smothered him with thoughts of what he might have done. It was not the first time he had ignored the rules of the Council. They would not be pleased. What right did he have to take the future of the kingdom into his own hands by calling the Fomorian to battle? Doubts and sickness swelled in his throat. For a moment, he wished he could end his own life.
The spinning and falling seemed timeless. It was dreaming and wakefulness at the same moment. Black turned to blue. Ocean waves rose and fell; their rhythm soothing him. He could feel their misty spray upon his face. Visions of his childhood appeared. All around him the beauty of Ireland presented itself to him. As a child he had played on Tara Hill: practicing magic with his friends, breathing the sweet odor of the grass and meadow flowers, lying in the brook as the water washed over him, scaling mountains and leaning back to look up at the stars.
Why, why had they ever left the Upper World at Tara?
Truthfully, Lugh never knew. He knew they’d left when the humans came to Tara. The Elven people retired to Tír na nÓg, a world beneath mountains and sea in a dimension inaccessible to humankind. But what had happened in the upper world of Earth? What happened with the humans?
A vision spread before him as he fell—a memory so real he could touch every part of it. Shortly before they left for Tír na nÓg, Lugh had come upon the elders one evening. The Daghda, King of All Things, and Manannan, Lord of the Seas, were playing chess. As Lugh approached, stood within a complex room of mirrors. Standing behind their reflection, they could not see him, but he could see and hear them as they spoke of the humans.
The Daghda’s massive chest rose and fell as he sighed, contemplating his next move. He scratched his thick, red beard. He moved his piece at last. “Humans do not have respect for the magical arts.”
Oh, they were planning a battle with humankind, through thought. He anticipated Manannan’s response. “Of course, we will attack,” Lugh surmised. He imagined being assigned to lead the conquering armies. He wanted to step out from his hiding place to offer his services. It would be easy—he would just move right in and….
But there was no answer coming from the Daghda’s chess partner. Manannan’s face was smooth and unreadable. His blue eyes were quiet. He was silent for a long while.
Lugh waited and watched. He was certain the great Manannan was contemplating how to stage a battle. Instead, what he saw astounded him. Manannan became smaller! Lugh rubbed his eyes. Yes, it was true! Manannan’s skin grew thinner, his beard turned whiter and he lost his size by nearly half! His blue robes fell into puddle on the floor and his body became the size of a child.
At last, he spoke, “There is no reason to create magic for those who cannot see it. There is no reason to be here when we cannot live in the rhythm of our way.”
Lugh struggled with these memories as his body flew through time and space. The black torment began to rage in him. If only he had not put his friends into this position. If only he had not demanded a battle in the Upper World. Yet he knew he was right—some action had to be taken or there was no hope to restore Tír na nÓg’s power and the desire of the magical people to stay on earth protecting her, keeping her magical rhythms, opening doors to new dimensions for those who would look for them in hills that touch sun, in the dew that balances on clover petals and through the meadows brushed with wind. The ocean, holding a world of life unseen, unknown, and ignored by humankind; the kingdom of Mananann, lord of the ocean’s people who keep the sea in perfect harmony of salty, sweet abundance, had lost hope. Mananann was shrinking. He was no longer interested in fighting the onslaught of human intrusion and violence. Without Manannan, Tír na nÓg and the upper world, would slowly shrivel and die.
He began to talk to himself, trying to justify having called the battle with the Fomorian. He tried to hold onto his belief that they were the cause of trouble.
He shouted at the tunnel winds, “The Council of Elders has done nothing to stop Tír na nÓg’s loss of power. At least I have tried!” His voice echoed as he fell, “No, No-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o, the truth, the tru-u-u-u-u-u-u-u-uth is that I do not wish to spend my life trapped underground.”
“Gro-o-o-o-o-o-o-ou-u-u-u-u-und,” the tunnel called.
Tears rose to his eyes. “I want to taste the sweet joy of flight…”
“Fli-i-i-i-i-i-i-i-i-i-i-i-i-i-i-ight,” the tunnel called back.
No matter his protest, it did not stop him from falling, falling, falling.
At last, he quieted his mind, at which point he heard a loud thump that must have been the sound of his feet landing on solid ground. A voice echoed through the fog:
“I call before you, Honorable Judges! Lugh, the Shining One, the Warriors of Right and the Faery Sisters of Illusion!”
Next Chapter – Chapter 3 – The Council of Elders