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“Cam, how is it you came to know that the hawk would be in that particular stand of woods at that particular time” asked a very puzzled Finn after they had continued on a little further inland towards Scalloway, leaving the rugged cliffs of the Shetlands behind. “Well, clearly Finn, that is where I left him” stated Cam unceremoniously. “You mean you know this bird?” “Yes, since his birth.” “You mean he comes to you when you call him?” “He would have came whether I called him or not” said Cam enjoying himself now. “But birds cannot behave that way, they are wild creatures” said a near exasperated Finn. “Relax nephew” said Camlach, trying now to control the conversation before Finn became any more riled. “Is it so disturbing to think that a bird can be trained with care, love and a little discipline? Any more disturbing than a dog, which is merely a wolf in domestic guise, or a free roaming horse for that matter? Given the opportunity and the right relationship, strong bonds may be formed between a surprising array of species Finn.” “But a hawk Cam” argued Finn “is one of natures most noble, skilled and majestic hunters. How could such a creature submit to becoming domesticated?” “Huntly surely acknowledges your high praise of his kind” replied Camlach calmly “but I can assure you he is not domestic. This bird is
as wild and free as his brethren but he chooses to associate with me when it suits him, which, as my fortune would have it, is often.” “That is why Doane called you bird-man then” inquired Finn next. “Yes Finn, as you saw” Camlach said with another smile “Doane is ever the clever rascal with a jibe!” Finn laughed at this and the two companions shared a light-hearted moment together before heading inland towards Scalloway and Camlach’s home. As Finn had marveled at the rugged coast and cliffs of Shetland so now he was moved by beauty of the Island’s interior. He wanted to know more of this desolate and beautiful land he would come to call home for the next many years. “Cam, can you tell me about the Shetlands” asked Finn earnestly. “Of course Finn, what would you like to know” replied Cam happily. “Well” said Finn slowly “I don’t know how to phrase this but this place just seems so different from home. It is not that it just looks different you see, but it feels different too. I cannot explain further.” “I shall hazard a guess at the sensation you are experiencing Finn, if I may. My good nephew, you are grown of Norway, a large country which of itself is merely part of a large peninsula at the very northwestern end of a massive continent. You grew up surrounded by the sea but were part of that continent. You could feel its solidness, its timelessness and its predictability. Sort of like your father actually” as Cam grinned, amused with himself. “But now you find yourself removed from that land and you are now part of the sea’s vast domain. The Shetlands lie at the very edge of the known world, save for the unknown lands to the far west that lay shrouded in the mists. The Shetlands belong not to the continent but to the sea and you are beginning to feel the difference I suspect. Almost like the Islands are a mighty ship upon an even mightier sea
on a slow voyage towards destiny, no? Almost like you can feel us moving, a little?” “Cam that might just explain it” replied Finn “I know I am obviously no longer upon the Skald but yet there was that… feeling. Indeed almost like being on a boat, yet not. Hmm very puzzling” “Worry not Finn and just enjoy the diversity that the mother earth provides for us to learn and grow upon. Now, the Shetlands lay some two days sail north of the land of the Scotts. Both Celtic peoples and Norseman lay claim to the Islands but people have lived here far before either arrived. All of the magnificent standing stones you have no doubt noticed were erected by these ancient ones that some will call the Picti. Long before the legions of Rome forced the Gaelic people west and north to the Isles of Britain there were the Picts. The painted people. And to them we owe the most spiritual of our places here on these Islands.” “I have seen the stones Cam and have puzzled over them” said Finn thoughtfully “but I cannot begin to imagine what they are for or how old they are yet alone understand who built them.” “You are not alone Finn” replied Cam. “Many who live among them here on the Isle tend to overlook them, perhaps afraid to learn more about something they don’t comprehend. But there are those also that know of the stones and indeed even tend to these sacred sites. And with any luck we may chance upon one such as this on our journey to my home; our home nephew.” “You know of a person who knows of the stones Cam” asked Finn eagerly. “Yes Finn, I have had the good fortune to meet one of the wise people early on in my years here on Shetland” said Cam. “She has helped me gain a better appreciation of the rich bounty of this Island, both natural and historical. You see Finn, the more you know about where you are from the more you can grow as a person from that
heritage. And young nephew, as your own good fortune would have it, our paths will cross with hers within the day. “But first Finn, we must to lunch no? Huntley……take to flight” and Finn watched, amazed as the hawk took graceful flight into his element. “Also Uncle, I’ve been noticing and admiring your sword hilt…..almost like a basket it seems” “Yes Finn, a model I’ve dreamed up that is light and fast yet strong and also protects the wielders hand from errant strikes from an opponent that can’t hit the mark. But listen now, a thought has jumped into my head concerning you” “What thought Cam” said Finn earnestly “could be more exciting than a new sword design?” “Do you know your letters Finn? That is can you read?” “Yes, mother was adamant about things like that. She dreams for me to be a scholar or a priest.” As Huntley returned atypically empty handed Camlach replied “A noble maternal intention indeed but letters are not confined to those seeking such lofty pursuits Finn, a man of the blade can do well to know his way around a book. And further than that nephew, remember this; it is easier to read another’s words than to yourself write down what other fine men may learn from. I suggest that when we get to my humble home we start you upon a journal for you to collect your thoughts and experiences.” “I suppose that would be fine” said Finn somewhat perplexed again. “Grand. Blades and quills are a match to be reckoned with to those aware of the magnitude of this marriage” exclaimed Cam happily. “And now, see up ahead over that last ridge. Some smoke?”
“Your eyes are keen Uncle.” “No. I just know where to look for things” laughed Cam in an increasingly jovial mood. “There is where fair Macy lives Finn, prepare to learn new things!” Uncle and nephew rounded the ridge with Camlach setting the harrier to roost with a gentle toss of his arm. “Worry not Huntley, we shall secure for you a tender morsel no doubt”. Macy was anything but fair thought Finn to himself as the two approached the ramshackle thatch hut that had produced a stooped figure with wild black and grey hair. “Welcome Camlach Mac Connell, defiler of maidens and scourge of all that is saintly” said the crooked woman in the most beautiful voice Finn had ever heard. “And how came you by a fledgling of this particular feather” she said glancing at Finn. “Ahh, the dove pales before your beauty and the lark envies your song Macy” said Camlach humbly with a bow. “Please allow me to share with you my splendid nephew Finnur Tullson of Norway.” “Could scarcely be believed that so fine a young man could be sharing your blood Camlach, you must have a glorious sister indeed!” said Macy in a gentle voice that still implied a soft scorn. “Without a doubt Macy, Finn’s mother is the best sister I have and my favorite of course.” “Uhm, Uncle Cam, mother is your only sister” said Finn quietly. “And I am very pleased to meet you Macy. Also honored to gain the acquaintance of one learned in the old ways.” “You haven’t gained that yet young Norway but you have set out right upon that mark” said the elderly woman with a kind tone. “Now lads, do come in and gather yourselves a home here for the evening and we shall earn our acquaintances together.”
The trio moved inside the small but surprisingly comfortable shelter Macy called home. Finn’s eyes darted around the room, for that is all it was, taking in the numerous roots and tubers hanging out to dry as well as countless ceramic containers arrayed upon a variety of tables, counters and shelves. A small hearth against one wall offered light and warmth drawing one immediately to the security it offered so Cam and Finn gathered themselves before the flames. Macy busied herself deftly in the kitchen area producing bowls of steaming stew and an aromatic blend of tea herbs. “So Camlach” began Macy “how come you by your nephew so suddenly after all these years of solitude, save for your monthly forays to Shetlands taverns?” “Ahem” grunted Cam, visibly humbled for the first time Finn could recall. “Yes, Macy. Solitude with a wee bit of human interaction can set a man’s mind to great depths of thought and training. But in fact young Finn here has come by me actually. He set out from his home some two weeks past to seek me out on the advice of his father.” “Advice I would question. Is your poor Father daft Finn?” “No, no Ma’ m. My Father is.. ” started Finn but Camlach interjected. “Macy there were dire circumstances at play and Tull Thorson is no mans fool. I dare say he is the most steadfast man I know, hence my allowing him to marry my sister” stated Cam with a defensive vigor Finn had not yet been witness too. “At ease Camlach” said Macy gently. “Know you well that I only jest with those I hold true. Young Finn, for however your circumstance and destiny have been woven, you will have a unique experience here on this world as guided by your rather gifted Uncle. Now young men, I have prepared my finest hare stew with garlic and my special blend of spirit tea.”
“Ahh Macy, worth the trip from Norway is this Finn” said a once more exuberant Cam, happily placated. Uncle and nephew both devoured the hearty stew and the aromatic tea after their long day’s journey. Finn, of course, being a young growing boy tended to the stew first and now sat back to enjoy the hot tea as Cam and Macy spoke of various things concerning the Island and the surrounding lands. Their voices seemed to grow distant as Finn took more sips of the earthy brew. And gazed into the smoldering fire. “Camlach” said Macy seemingly from somewhere else “think you my tea of the spirit be a tad strong for young Finn?” “Nae Macy” replied a relaxed Cam “I sense a strength in Finn’s character that yearns to escape and face the world in a new way. Let the boy have a few sips, he’ll sleep long before it takes too much hold of him I’ll warrant. He is at the tail end of a long journey and sleep will consume him soon.” Finn thought he was already dozing off as he heard the soft laughter of their discussion. As he stared deeply at the fire it drew him closer in to the soft dance inside the embers, the quiet dance of the heat inside the wood that hold ones gaze long after the licking flames have retired. In the orange amber glow of one particular ember a shadow appeared, then disappeared and reappeared yet again. And again in such a fashion as to resemble a….. what? thought Finn’s tired mind. Flapping. Yes, that was it. The ember seemed to have a black bird soaring inside it. Of course, that was reasonable thought Finn. And as he drifted closer into the embers Finn could just make out Macey’s gentle voice “I feel a greatness in this one, not unlike what I sensed in you when you first dreamt Cam, all these years ago.” And then Camlach’s firm response “Nae Macey, Finn harbors far greater strength than I. Recall that he is my sister’s boy, yes, but also Tull’s blood thick in him though mayhap we have not seen it yet. And Tull before he settled was one of the great last Vikings. Tull cut
his teeth on the strongest, toughest ships during the last days. He soared with Odin and mastered the seas before he mastered the plough, the last of his kind. He wielded steel like none of his time, savage and smart and determined. This will come for Finn to I believe. His mother’s sensitivities and his fathers fortitude will yield a formidable new member of The Order, mark my word.” “You may well be right Cam” said Macey “and may this young lad dream well this night.” “With you here my old friend” replied Cam thoughtfully “young Finn can do not else. Travel wisely nephew, and learn true.” Finn now succumbed to the hypnotic breath of the ember and indeed a black bird was soaring inside the ember, drawing closer to him it seemed. Then Finn was sure he saw Caeg within the amber and the bird flew closer and closer. Finn was then consumed by the black form so completely that he began to see through the birds eyes. The dim laughter of Can and Macy faded to be replaced by the subtle roar of wind passing by his ears as Finn took flight above the small cabin. In no time Finn was far airborne, quickly leaving the familiar feel of the earth far beneath on the strong wings of the raven he had become……
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