The only way to preserve what might yet survive of the crumbling Mounds was to save Danu. Lugh knew this as certainly as he knew his sole purpose now was to save her, their home and their people. The magic of his teleportation brought Lugh to the grand receiving hall of Danu’s temple in the heart of Ireland. Far above the Mounds secreted below the ground.
“Assist me!” Lugh bellowed, his voice echoing into the temple and bringing an immediate rush of lesser fey servants, mostly Brownies and fairies from the look of them. Over the screams and weeping at the sight of their mistress’ bloody body, one Scribe urged Lugh to convey the All-Mother to her chamber. The room turned out not to be a bedroom as he anticipated, but a private magicraft workshop. Lugh arranged Danu upon the altar, the knife handle rising like a beacon of death from her chest. The silver would slowly poison her, but if he pulled out the blade unprepared, she would bleed out in seconds.
“The Mounds are crumbling. We must act with swift diligence.” Lugh pressed a hand against the wound on her cooling, blood-soaked chest.
The Scribe touched the All-Mother’s neck and then met Lugh’s eyes. As lesser fey went, Scribes always had the tendency to appear grave in expression. Large eyes that perpetually worried. Thin, short bodies hedging on underfed and spindly. Pasty, green-tinged skin on faces that rarely left the library or archive long enough to have a passing familiarity with sunlight. Even for a Scribe, this one’s mournful expression spoke volumes.
Growling, Lugh shouted, “She has lived many thousands of years. No mere blade shall be the death of her! Fetch a healer!”
“There is nothing to be done,” the Scribe whispered.
Lugh reached across Danu’s body and snatched the Scribe by the front of his pressed white shirt, staining it with blood. “You lie! Bring the healer!”
“I am the healer, Sire .” The Scribe covered Lugh’s hand with both of his, not to pry but to let the magic flow from his fingertips and prove his credentials. Lugh snatched back his hand as all evidence confirmed the Scribe’s claims.
“She can’t be dead.” Lugh stumbled back from the altar, his arms held away from his body, now uselessly holding nothing. The All-Mother’s blood soaked his clothing and dripped from his fingertips. The horror-shock numbed him like an unexpected punch as he staggered back from her lifeless body. Lugh walked, then jogged, then ran to the portico that overlooked the hills that gave the Mounds their name. Two great hills should have risen before him as high as the hill where Danu’s temple perched. Through magic, the entirety of the expanse of the Mounds existed within the belly of those two hills.
The hills beneath which the Mounds were buried crumbled in on themselves. Deflated as if the hollow caverns beneath lost stability. A cloud of dust and debris billowed out as the hills sunk down, turning instead into a crater.
Lugh gaped at it, dumbfounded. The other fey about him wept and screamed in their terror.
Homes… Family… Friends… Lives… Culture… History…
Lugh dropped to his knees. The strength drained from his arms and they dropped to his thighs. The lesser fey wept about him, but Lugh could not even reach past the shock to begin to comprehend grief. Pain, though… Pain cut right through him. His heart ached as if the silver dagger had been planted in his chest, rather than in the All-Mother’s. His head dropped back as his pain screamed out to the heavens above. The magic bond to the All-Mother, and to the magic of the Mounds, severed like a dirk sliced through it. Lugh clutched at his heart. Everything he was, was linked to the Mounds, to the magic, to his people.
The world had ended. And he, the Champion of the Sidhe, hadn’t been able to save it.
Part 6/7 of "End of the World" coming on 11/18/11!