14. Heaven on Earth
Cuinn, as he now called himself, looked out the door of his room watching the matriarch of the family teach a small girl-child how to use a loom to make a tight weave of a brightly colored cloth, everything about these people was one of joy and color. Out in the pasture, a young man tended to a horse, sliding his calloused hands over the long legs of the equine. Years of skill and knowledge of what the big animal could do with a single kick now kept the horse calm as he checked the legs for injuries. On the far side, he saw four men who used a fire to point a log that people were going to drive into the ground with the dozen other logs to make an enclosure for the creatures that they kept in abundance.
Once upon a time, he hung on the side of a building and watched as an advanced human race slowly poison themselves with chemicals in the form of drugs to make themselves happy. Here, in the prehistory of that same race, they worked and lived with animals and crops. No one was on the verge of suicide in this group.
He pondered about crime.
Crime? They probably did not even have a word for it.
He had yet to speak to anyone or tell them of his name. Finis had gone, after some length if time, when the eldest male had brought him a tunic of fine wool to wear. The man was rather taken aback with the naked face of the stranger and had asked if he was some sort of girl.
That made the demon laugh inwardly. So he had decided to grow a beard, but it was taking longer than he had expected. It has been several hours and he could not detect any change. As a member of the hoard, he would only have needed a second to change his appearance. This, however, was presenting a challenge, indeed. But he was not going to fail, never would he return as a lowly unnamed slave of anything that crawled out from under a rock.
“You look out on the land as if you have new eyes, fair-faced one.” The sudden voice behind him brought him out of his reverie.
He turned and it was the matriarch of the family, she was tall and slender, her hair behind her head in a single plait that was the color of a sunrise. She was about thirty summers old, by the time of humans able to do space flight, this grandmother, wise and with wisps of gray hair, would be a young woman in the eyes of the society of that far off age.
He opened his mouth to say something, not knowing just what to say and his voice made a croaking sound when he spoke.
“I see beauty in your family and I thank you for your kindness and hospitality. I have been to many places and have lost sight of that which I have seen as beautiful. This family of yours has taught me the meaning of beauty once again.” he smiled softly. “I don’t know the name of your family here.”
His hostess smiled softly and nodded, “The way you found on the road, naked and beaten by someone or something you had made very angry, concerns me. Only this ax that leans against the wall was in your hands. It is unlike anything we have seen.”
She raised one eyebrow as she looked at the ten-pointed ax. “As for our family? We have a few families here. This is what we call a fine (She pronounced it as “finna”), we are a smaller part of a Clan, but when we finish gathering up the sheep and animals that have ranged in the hills here, we will go and meet at the Clan home on the coast, at the edge of the world.”
He nodded understanding, pointing at his ax, “This ax is a weapon and tool that was given to me by someone long ago.” (Or would that be long in the future? Time was not something he could relate to very well, without even including the effort to explain it to this terran.) “I can’t recall his name,” (A lie, but no one needed to know it was Hades, the Emperor of Hell in that time.) “Or for that matter I don’t know my name.”
This was true enough, he had chosen the name “Cuinn”, but wanted to find more knowledge of the people here before he used a name that could be one of a hated history. “All I remember was a man on a horse.”
“That would be my sister’s son, Tosk. He is the leader of the hunt. Nearly always brings back meat for the family and fine. We should find your name, for your spirit cannot be inside you without your name. Who ever struck you and knocked it from you did you a great harm.”
“We would have to drive you out of this area.” She shook her head, sadly. ” Without a spirit, you could harbor a dark demon inside you and brought into our midst.”
He nearly laughed out loud at that. She had no clue about the true nature of the man in front of her. At one point, he would have enjoyed making her weep and turn on any of the host. That was his job and he enjoyed creating bitterness and woe greatly. But now, he looked on her with different eyes.
They knew him not. And yet, and yet they brought in his broken and bruised body and cleaned him up, put him in a bed reserved for guests and clothed him. No other reason he could think of other than it was part of the fabric of this society.
Then, a yell came from below. A rider on a horse was seen riding in on the road was coming towards the enclave. In no hurry, the rider waved at the small group of buildings and the people as the horse and rider made their way up the path. Sleek, tall and black, this horse was unlike the smaller ones that were in the compound.
The rider looked up at the larger house where he stood in the window and looked out. He felt a thrill of recognition, it was HER. His heart leaped with such joy he bounced on his feet.
“You know this person?” the leader of the clan asked. Gretna was that which all the others had called her. “You act as one of my children when the father returns with a prize of the hunt.”
“Oh yes, she is known to me. I would go talk with her now.” He smiled and she granted him leave with a smile and nod.
He walked to the black horse with a bounce in his step and a smile on his face. The new stranger smiled down on him then slipped off the great horse.
“There you are! I have looked all over for you. I was coming to ask these good folk if you had been seen and that I had lost you.” Her red and gold mane of hair glittered in the mid-morning sunlight. “You are well taken care of I presume?”
“This is Kane, he is my mate.” She said to Gretna. “Ten nights ago he went to get water and never returned,”
“Many foot prints were found near where he should have been and it I feared that the Picts might have taken him.” She looked him in the eye and spoke to the leader of the Fine.
“I thought I had lost you.” She whispered as her fingers caressed his cheek.
He looked her in the eye and mouthed the name, “Kane?” and turned and nodded, “I am Kane! Pleased to meet you and thank you for your kindness.”
Looking back to Bronwyn,
“For a time I have been lost, lost to the world,” Kane said softly. “For I could not speak, lost to these people who saved me for I knew not who I was, taking any name I could, to see if any reminded me of who I was, lost to you because I did not know where you were.”
The newly named human made her smile wider than she had in a very long time.
“Kane! it is our joy to meet you!” Two men laughed and now greeted him without suspicion.
They slapped him on the back and welcomed him now as family might greet a long-lost relative.
The crimson haired rider stroked the neck her horse, turning to look at Gretna.
“I am Bronwyn, we are making our way inland, away from the water. Our lives are forever on the edge of the world it seems.”
Bronwyn did not lie. But she covered herself well.
“You are welcome to stay for the night and share our food.” Gretna smiled broadly “If you would trade any stories this will make the night seem short. We have ale, for which we have traded with other clans. Our wool is of the finest on the coast.”
“I would appreciate that and my camp is over in the next valley.” Bronwyn nodded. “I have been lucky to have found him alive and well. I will accept your offer and make the long trip back on the morrow’s first light.”
She walked her horse up the path to the enclosure that was nearly built. Pulling off the bridal she showed it to the men that examined her horse. “I had this made in a land across the water. A whole village used them with the horses. The animals accepted it well and would not buck as badly.”
Gretna smiled broadly and motioned to Bronwyn to come over.
“Let the men play with the new horse, that will keep them busy for most of the day and you know how men are with things that go fast or one as tall. Nor have I seen one as tall as you or your mate Kane.”
The disguised angel nodded and spoke softly to Gretna.
“I wish some time alone with Kane so we can talk and I find out what has happened to him over the last few nights. It is not like him to wander off, and you say he had his ax with him?”
The matriarch answered just as softly, two women that cared deeply for what was theirs and they were in the deepest worry.
“Yes, it is nothing like any of us have ever seen. It gleams like the full moon and has a shape that is impossible for us to figure out how to do with bronze and copper, not counting this moon metal.”
The two women walked up towards the house talking to each other in hushed tones.
Kane felt the fear that all men everywhere feel when two women get together and men are on their tongues in conversation.
Following along behind them, holding to the theory that it was better to keep them close than be surprised about it later when they would come looking for him, later. Beside the fact that Bronwyn was his liaison here, he knew little about humans and wanted to keep it that way. But now he was in for a battle.
He chuckled darkly, his fortunes had not changed much. But. at least, Bronwyn was nearby and he had an ally. He could not wait to get her alone to find out what she was doing here.
Not one to look down on a fortunate gift, but he just did not know what to think.
That night after the meals had ended and the humans had consumed their fill, only Bronwyn and Kane remained awake.
“What are you doing here? I cannot come back with you, I am here forever, and you are an angel.” He said directly and softly. “You can return any time, yes?”
After she had taken him by the hand and made love to him for the first time in this age, she kissed him a long time before she answered his question.
“I have spoken with my Lord and got permission for you and I to live here and I will help you do what you need to do without being alone.” Brilliant blue eyes sparkled with excitement on the current life. “To keep you from being taken off your path by the imps and demons of your past life. We can do as you wish, but I chose a life with you, life as a human like you. I have no powers, but I will live in immortality like you do. We will span the years together and I can return any time that I wish to the other side. But so long as I am here with you I can’t use any power that I have in my Angel form. When I am here, I am human in form, but I am immortal. I may live as a human, but I am not unprotected from the Dark Side, the Host has many that have supported me. You are not a favorite being, those you have met and brought down in battle do feel some ill will towards you.”
Kane grimaced over the huge angel that had him at her mercy for a moment.
“I think she would have more than a little ill will.” he thought.
Bronwyn continued “They are all wishing us well and good will.” She grinned “Most of them anyway.”
Then Bronwyn frowned slightly, “The cost of this union is that we can never have children, there have been events that have crossed boundaries and plague Angel and Demon alike. But the Lord assures me that this will never be a great issue. But my Lord has denied at every plea, ‘no children’.”
She drew a breath, “This may cause a bit of a tribulation in the future I think, because children are a staple of the energies of the hearth.”
Kane smiled softly, “So long as you are with me, we can make due with anything else. But – No powers at all? What if some of my old brethren got involved. They have no such restrictions.”
“I can use my powers subject to the approval of Gabriel, the Archangel.”
Kane sighed… Gabriel! He and Gabriel had faced each other in battle before and had not found who was the better warrior. This made for some consternation in that Gabriel and Micheal had both been looking and waiting to test him in battle again. This was a terrible worry. He still carried memory of scars and injuries inflicted by those two thunderbolts of the Other Lord. The Dark Lord had healed him when he had returned broken and injured, but never beaten. But never had he been allowed to walk away without scars.
But now he was with his hearts deepest desire. Bronwyn had come to him, giving up all so she could have a life with him and create a life that , to say the least, would be challenging. Here, where the scars could heal, he could cause the very throne of the Emperor to tremble in anger.
This pleased Kane to no end.