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    “Suddenly, time blossomed like a strange flower in his skull....
    Before this he was transfixed in the present. But memory produced another dimension in the animal…No longer did memory flicker briefly and disappear, enclosing him in darkness again. Now it stretched brightly behind him and also stretched out ahead - a road on which he always saw his own changing image.” -- Seth

    “Which way do we go Voyager?”  Una flew dizzy circles around Voyager’s head, “which way, which way? north, south, east or west?”  “The left hand path or the right hand path?”

    Voyager had hidden behind a clump of Blackthorn bushes, his paws over his head, moaning to himself: “Chan eil fhios agam, Chan eil fhios agam, I don’t know, I don’t know.”

    But before Voyager could form an image, a great cacophony rose from the branches above his head; it seemed every bird in the forest had something to say: nightingales, larks, linnets, robins all squawking, chirping. The thicket was alive with rhyming, warbling songs. A huge magpie hovered above him chanting:

    "One for sorrow, two for joy; three for a girl, and four for a boy. Five for silver, six for gold, and seven for a secret that's never been told."  

    Voyager felt a lump in his throat, flashing lights, a bitter taste on his pink tongue. He began to shake as he tasted the words of the magpie’s song, metallic blue, butterscotch sun on the afternoon pond, smooth silver, taste of honey, then pure crisp water dripped from his eyes and his mouth.  His eyes closed, and he lay still as a stone.  

    Una lifted her wings and hopped closer to her friend.  He smelled of burning fur, his ears & tail were singed, but then she saw the water gushing from his eyes & mouth; a small lake forming around his body.  

    “Voyager, Voyager, I see you you in a valley valley, swimming, swimming up a waterfall waterfall, there is a---,” Una shrunk to a dusky brown speck, her tiny voice disappearing ---  

    Voyager lifted himself up, slowly and gingerly. The water was up to his chest. He saw four damsel flies in front of him and a chorus of voices echoing in his ears. He forced his eyes to refocus until there was just one of Una.  She was beating his nose with her wings. “Quickly Voyager, you must run.  You do not know how to swim!”

    Voyager threw himself forward, but as quickly as it had come, the water receded, vanishing before their astonished eyes.   

    “Tha mi duilich – I’m sorry, Una. That was not an image I created. I do not know what it means nor do I know the way home or even where to begin;” he felt his throat seize up & he stuttered a bit, “the truth is:  Una, I have no sense of direction.  I only know we must follow the holy lines, the lay lines to Glyndwr’s Way.  We must find the Portal and Cayden.” Before Una could respond, another voice emerged from the forest.  

    “Silence” thundered an ominous, sooty  presence hunched over the branch of a gnarled tree behind the assembled birds.  “Who speaks?” said Voyager.  

    “It is I, Macha, the Crow Goddess. It should be clear to anyone, even an idiot dog such as yourself, that you must take the right hand path which means you will turn right at the first Oak, walk three days and three nights on. You’re going to have to cross the Irish Sea, you fool, so you better learn how to swim. Take the Roman Way and Hadrian’s Wall to Newcastle.  And when you get there, find some sheep to herd, & a fat farmer’s wife to feed you mush --Gaw Gaw Gaw,” her beak gleamed malevolently. “Cayden would snap your puny little neck in two. Forget Glyndwr’s Way.  Say your prayers and be a good dog, Gaw Gaw Gaw.” Voyager stood up on his hind feet and snapped in vain at the smug Crow on her perch.  

    From even deeper in the forest another voice trilled, the sweet sound of The Lady of Heaven’s Hen, the Soul of the Oak: Vivian, the sacred Wren.  

    “Voyager, you cannot see me, but you can hear me:  I invoke Taranis, Cernunnus, Fearuaine, spirits of all the Oak trees of Scotland, Wales, Ireland. Before you embark on your journey, you must return to Dunvegan Castle and find what you have lost, what is rightfully yours.  You must face the McLeods. But more importantly you must face your fears.  There is a small chest hidden in the castle. It contains the map you need to find Cayden along with your prophecy cards and the shape shifting silver collar that belonged to your great, great, great, great Grandfather, Old Hemp.  The chest is in the bowels of the castle near the moat side, guarded by two ferocious Mastiffs.  Una can guide you.  You may borrow my wings for this part of your journey.” 

    A pair of wings made of silky wren feathers fell from the sky, landing on Voyager’s front paws. Standing next to them appeared Iridessa, one of the Merrows. “What are you doing here, Iridessa?” he spluttered. “I take many forms,” she smiled, “mind yourself well, Voyager, remember all we have taught you,” & in the whoosh of a cat’s whisker she was gone. Una felt a chill & Voyager heard the deep voice of the North Wind  sweep through the forest, reciting a Prayer from the Gaelic Highlands:  

    “Power of raven be yours, Power of eagle be yours, Power of the Fiann.

    Power of storm be yours, Power of moon be yours, Power of sun.

    Power of sea be yours, Power of land be yours, Power of heaven.

    Goodness of sea be yours, Goodness of earth be yours, Goodness of heaven.

    Each day be joyous to you, No day be grievous to you, Honor and compassion.

    Love of each face be yours, Death on pillow be yours,
    And God be with you.”  

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    February 23, 2010, 8:40 pm
    WHO DREW THE CROW?? perfect! love the introduction of new characters.....all helping little Voyager on his just gets better and better.....enriched by a deeply felt celtic sensibility! more more
    September 6, 2009, 5:13 pm
    Just stumbled upon this story. It's really great. I love the characters and feel like I know them
    August 25, 2009, 2:15 pm
    So glad to read the next chapter in this wonderful story.
    August 22, 2009, 3:50 pm
    Wonderful, wonderful, wonderful. Your words bring Voyager's journey to life and before my eyes I see magpies, damselflies, castles, storms and ferocious beasts dancing before me.
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    About the author

    R.A. Martin is a lover of four-legged creatures and a psycho-geographer in the age of sensible shoes, exploring the hidden passageways, nooks & crannies & abandoned corners of the natural and urban landscape. Read More »

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