Like a wild creature she sped through the shadows, following a winding path through the woods, finding the open gate, the main road and the undulating fields that lay between her and Dunalla. At last, panting and weary, she reached the fording-stones. In her haste to cross, she splashed the hem of her dress. Her slippers were soaked. But what did such things matter? She was safe, a child escaped from a wild, wild dream. She threw herself down in a grassy hollow and, curled like a seal, abandoned herself to rest. The round harvest moon watched over her, as it watched over Fergal.
She must have slept. Asleep or waking, she saw a figure coming from the mists of the sea; a man with Fergal's face and blood upon his body. And the blood became a scarlet tunic and the face that of a handsome man with deep-set eyes and a mysterious scar that ran from temple to chin. She traced the scar with her finger-tips, and his arms were about her, his kiss on her lips, and she was warm and glowing with a sensual ecstasy that stole away her will. She closed her eyes, yielding herself to the spell, willing herself to sheer enchantment. But the kiss on her lips withered and she felt the cool, affectionate touch of Fergal's brotherly kiss on her cheek, and the strong, kind grip of his hands. She dared not open her eyes to meet his, lest they held a question she could not answer. She was only vaguely aware of the question that only time could answer: how to reconcile her loves who were sworn foes. Fergal and Nicholas wore the colours of opposing arms on course for a tremendous battle. If ever they met in the flesh, it would be on the field of battle; the honour of one would mean the death of the other. Momentarily she saw the clash, the blood, the fury. Shock waves ran through her. She awoke, shivering.
The dream was gone. The grey rocks
stood unchanged, the fields green; the morning tide murmured gently. A new day
was dawning and there was hope. Fergal and Nicholas would never meet in battle.
Ties would change. And people. Her father had fought for the ancient regime of
She touched the golden circlet on her thigh. What had she promised? Nothing, except to remember with love. That was no bondage; nor was the first lover's kiss. Like the waves of the sea, women were fluid, changed and changing but constant as the sea.
She rose and hurried towards the dark tower on the rock. Maybe she was over-tired but, as she approached, it seemed that a bat-winged figure hovered darkly above the Dunalla's ramparts.