Two Ravens and One Crow - 4.5

Two Ravens and One Crow - 4.5 by Kevin Hearne Read Free Book Online

Book: Two Ravens and One Crow - 4.5 by Kevin Hearne Read Free Book Online
Authors: Kevin Hearne
boulder and raised it over her head, intending to bring it down upon her father’s head. But a voice from Tír na nÓg stopped her.
    “Airmid, no!” it cried, and she froze. It was the voice of Miach, calling her from beyond the veil. “For the love you bear me, do not slay our father!”
    The rock tumbled from her fingers, and she left Dian Cecht bleeding on the ground to heal himself. She picked up her cloak and walked away from the grave without speaking a word. She did not speak to anyone for nine days, in fact, and the first person she spoke to was me.
    I was in the twilight of my normal lifetime and dwelling on my approaching death. I wasn’t decrepit or arthritic, for Gaia sustains us well, but my physical prime was four decades gone at the least, and the prospect of a steep decline into death’s embrace had somewhat soured my disposition. I was drinking alone at an inn when Airmid entered, searched the room, and picked me out. She saw the signs of morbidity in my aura, no doubt. But she also saw the tattoos on my arm and knew I was a Druid.
    She sat down across from me with a satchel and said, “Old man, indulge a young woman. What would you do to have your youth again? To feel the bounce of vigor in your step, to feel the hard wood of your cock again, and to nevermore lose it to the ravages of age unless you will it?”
    I did not know who she was. She was robed and gloved, so I did not even know she was a Druid,much less a member of the Tuatha Dé Danann. “Do you jest or do you ask in all seriousness?” I said.
    “I am in earnest,” she replied. “I truly wish to know what you would be willing to do for a gift like that.”
    “I would kill for that,” I said. Men have killed for far less.
    “Then I have a proposal for you,” she said, and withdrew a sheaf of skins from her satchel, filled with all the herblore she could remember from before Dian Cecht threw her work to the wind. “I am a Druid, and I have discovered a blend of herbs that, when slightly altered with a simple binding and brewed as a tea, confers the blessings of youth on he who drinks it. That secret and so many others are contained in these pages. They are yours if you kill a man for me.”
    I perused a few of the pages and realized that the herblore set down therein was far beyond my ken. I examined her aura and saw no hint of deception there or in any gesture of her body. That is no guarantee of honesty, for we can all be deceived easier than we would like to think, but so far as I could tell she was making me a genuine offer, and I was desperate enough to accept. But I had to ask: “Why not simply kill him yourself? I can see that you are a powerful Druid.”
    “I cannot kill him, because he is my father.”
    “I must kill your father in exchange for this herblore?”
    “Yes. What say you?”
    “Who is your father?”
    “Dian Cecht of the Tuatha Dé Danann.”
    She recounted for me the story of her brother’s death and told me how she managed to classify and catalog 327 of the 365 herbs before her father destroyed her work. “A Druid doesn’t forget,” she said. “I have spent the last nine days writing down this lore and experimenting further. This new tea of youth is the best of my discoveries, but there are more.”
    “I am engaged,” I said. “Tell me where to find him.”
    Legends say that Dian Cecht died of a terrible plague. To the bards who told it that way, it seemed like an ironic and just ending for a villainous physician. The truth of his end involves a terrified chicken.
    Airmid directed me to Dian Cecht’s house. When I arrived there, he was not at home. I approached it in camouflage and disabled his few simple wards, went inside, then put them back together. Since I was over sixty, I didn’t feel equal to besting him in a fair fight, and I dislike fair fights anyway. I needed an advantage, so I greased down the floorboards near the door. Once he closed it behind him, I would spring from hiding and

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