Title – The Old Ways
Author – Tracy McCusker
eBook – Yes
The bride stood upon a cairn, on a broad groaning hill. There was no preacher, no festive cheer–just the wind and her blowing hair. She held a bridesmeet in her hands. A stone she’d worked with chisels until, at last, it became her token for her promised one.
Her grand-dame had covered her face at the oldness of the bride’s ways. “God love you, god protect you, don’t look into his eyes.”
Dressed in green, the bride stood alone waiting for her prize.
At last, he came, a white shadow against the moor. His armor tarnished, his gait unsure, his sword coated with a sickly must. And it was a curious thing, as he closed, looking for a stone to rest his legs against the wind (to lay down and, perhaps, not rise again): his wasn’t the face that peered into her dreams. His was of a gentler shape, a kinder brow, a simple chin–a weary, but always laughing grin.
It piqued her, this face–“Good sir!” cried she, and he looked up with a start.
The knight took in what scene unfolded from the rocks. A bride in green towered over him. Her hand raised up in challenge. But in her hands: a living flame. A heart that called out his secret name.
And though he knew the ways of empty places and the caution meted to traveling men, he thought the advice outside its earthly ken. In her face, he sought to know the truth of her intent. And as he gazed into her pale, blinking, mirrors, he felt the piercing of his flesh.
The bride, far from being unmoved, herself was transfixed. In her hand she felt the building heat. Yes! This one!
Whether she pulled him to her or he climbed the scraping stones, it is hard to say: tales differ on this point. On the pillar, they embraced, they two, and split the bridesmeet in twain. And as the deed was done, they fell:
The bride in green and her new fairy king embrace arm-to-arm; the heart in their hands holds more than they can, in the kingdom beneath the cairn.