NOTE: This is part of the new novel I am writing. I am posting it here as a diversion for readers who may be living under shelter-in-place policies while the world waits for the coronavirus pandemic to pass. For an explanation of this project, please click here. To read the chapters I’ve posted in order, click here.
Bill Swinney’s Barn ~ Coldwater, N.M.
In a paddock next to the barn, a black horse snorted in frustration. The girl had been so close to remembering today, but her sentimentality had gotten the best of her. The Morrígan of centuries past wouldn’t have let guilt get in her way.
Still, her fondness for her father was a weakness. The horse shook its mane as it watched the young Morrígan’s bean sidhe mentor lead her away. The bean sidhe seemed to be emotionally attached to her naive little queen, and the child seemed to return her affection. Whether their bond was a liability or a strength was not yet clear, but it was worth keeping an eye on. The girl’s protective streak had been the catalyst for her reacquaintance with the ceo druidechta. The fae woman, Kavanaugh, recognized the potential in that. The girl was taking the long way to her memories, but without her mentor’s direction, the wait would have been much longer.
Kavanaugh was proving useful. The horse suppressed the temptation to taunt her again by calling to her in her dead uncle’s voice. Use it too often, and the trick wouldn’t work. No sense wasting such a valuable tool on pure frivolity.
The pair had gotten into Kavanaugh’s vehicle and were pulling away when the rancher who owned the barn waved to them. They stopped, and Kavanaugh lowered the driver’s-side window and spoke with the man, who smiled broadly, nodded, and patted the window frame before stepping back so Kavanaugh could drive away.
The man didn’t know what was going on in his barn. The cover story Kavanaugh had given him was weak, but so was his mind. The horse whickered to itself, amused at Kavanaugh’s total lack of compunction about giving him a mental push to ensure he accepted the excuse for needing the use of the building. Too bad she’d chosen the wrong side; her ruthlessness could have been a valuable asset in this battle.
She’d have required training, though. She was naive — naive enough to think that a few flimsy sheets of galvanized steel were sufficient to protect her protege from her enemies.
The man glanced toward the barn. He seemed to notice something amiss. He looked toward the Friesian, then turned his head toward the herd of quarter horses and mustangs in the pasture.
Before he could glance back at the great black horse, it kicked the side of the barn just for fun. As its hoof penetrated the metal, it shrank, darted under a feeding trough, and disappeared into a pile of straw.