In Defence of the Realm

Chapter 22

The light had begun to fade. I hoped that Jacob’s answer would not require the continuing reflection of the hill. Very soon there’d be no light and, with that, no reflection.

In the twilight, in the mirrored surface I could see flickering orange lights near the top of the hill. Like torches, partially obscured, as if set back into the hill itself.

A rustling in the shrubs across the stream distracted my gaze. The shrubs seemed closer and deep within vaguely visible purple and pale red luminescent pinpoints of light, bordering on invisible, flickered on and off. My eyes ached, struggling to focus on these motile dots.

In an instant there was a loud crack and I flew sideways. I felt as if I’d been shot in the ear.

“Derek, Derek? Are you still there?”

“Bloody hell, Jacob! Do you have to have it so loud?”

“Sorry, lad. You didn’t respond. I think there’s something interfering with the link.”

“What did you find out? The light’s fading and the reflection’s not going to be there much longer; if it’s needed.”

“I knew I chose well, Derek. You are astute. The reflection of the Fairymount has to be captured, my lad – I don’t know why I forgot this.”

“How do you capture a reflection?”

“It’s simpler than you think. Do you have a small vessel for your use?”

“I have the lid to my flask.”

“That is good news, young Derek. Whilst staring at the reflection in the waters, dip the lid of your flask into the reflected image of Mullach na Sidhe. When you do, repeat these words in your mind; ‘Be fast, behold, image of old Fairymount. Captured in this vessel, no strength to wrestle yourself free, image of old Fairymount, captured in this vessel, you will be.’ Over and over, Derek.

“Then gaze at the reflection in the lid and walk backwards towards the hill. Until you’re at the hill don’t turn around. The counter-spell will be undone as will your chance to reach the hill’s crest and the mission will be over. Without a doubt a war will begin. It is better for all races that there be no war.”

I had to agree with Jacob’s sentiment. I’d experienced the fruitlessness of war; the killing of fellow humans, and, if the reality of what I’d seen so far in this Other Realm had any bearing, a war between my world and this one would render Afghanistan nothing more than an inconsequential Xbox game – the Sidheóga able to manipulate matter just through thought alone. “Absolutely, Jacob,” I said.

“I think that’s all there is to say, son. As soon as you start towards Mullach na Sidhe, the link will be broken. We’ll talk when you get back. Good luck, my lad.”

“Cheers, Jacob. Back soon. Over and out.” I heard Jacob chuckle.

“Over and out, my lad.”

After three backward steps, the link evaporated. I tried stepping back on the spot where I’d spoken to my mentor, but no sound was forthcoming.

I was now on my own.