At the home of the Forest Mother

 The rest of Dark Season was spent in the hills overlooking Ty Manawydan in the service of Forest Mother. Jon and Ama toiled dutifully and conscientiously. So much so that at the end their servitude, the beginning of Storm Season, Forest Mother sat them both down and poured them each a cup of tea.

It wasn't really hard labor, tbh

"Tell me of your mother," she said, staring intently into Ama's eyes. So intently it seemed she was staring into her soul.

Ama immediately began recalling her life as a small child in Glamorganshire. Toiling in nets, playing in the surf. She saw her mother picking her up from the sand...a crab had bit Ama and she was crying! Ama felt her mother's arms encircle her and hold so tight she knew the world was right again. She could hear her mother's heart beating and a soothing lullabye...

Jon heard the question and saw Ama look straight up into the rafters, then start softly sobbing. Her head sank into her arms and the sobbing grew louder...and then there was snoring. Forest Mother placed a blanket over Ama's shoulders and carried her softly to her mat on the floor. She found a pillow for Ama's head and tucked her in. 

"Jon, tell me of your travels..."

When Jon awoke, he saw his mother, Kymeth, smiling down at him with tears in her eyes. Jon closed his eyes again, knowing some spell was still at work. He heard his mother giggle and then she pinched him! "You are not dreaming, dear son! Your sister Mae is here with me as well!"

Jon shot up off his mat and saw his mother and sisters standing in the room with Forest Mother quietly smiling as she rested on her walking staff.

Jon and Ama both could see the strain on their mother's face. Something terrible had transpired, and they knew only something truly horrible would have kept their mother from them for so long. Some day she might tell them. Today was not that day.

They discussed amongst themselves where to go from here. Ama was intent on finding a unicorn and dancing with it, a quest Forest Mother did not encourage. "Outside of these wards," she gestured widely,"these mountains are in no ways safe to wander. You experienced that once already."

Jon and Mae were intent on beginning the journey home. Something stirred in Jon calling him to return to Ty Manawydan and search out the meaning of his travels. Regardless, to get home by sea would mean traveling back there and finding a ship. Kymeth stared out to the sea, she saw beyond it her hearth and a cooking fire, her gardens and her nets.

Her heart is drawn to home.

A single tear streamed down her cheek. "I want to go home."

All stared silently for a moment...and then the Cymrans started to putting their packs together for the journey down the mountain back to Ty Manawydan.

"Be sure you head straight down and don't go looking for unicorns. You might just find a giant instead!" laughed Forest Mother.

As they finished their preparations then gathered for one last meal together, Jon and Ama told their mother all about their adventures together. Kymeth and Forest Mother laughed and were amazed at the resourcefulness of the children. Kymeth looked lovingly at them and realized they really were no longer children. Each had matured so much in such a short time!

Dawn caught them by surprise and Forest Mother was no where to be seen. Packs loaded, they headed out on foot down the mountain. Deer paths were all they had and both Jon and Ama knew them well. Jon was half skipping, half running down the trail when both Ama and her mother saw movement ahead just to the side of a pair of trees. As one, they both hissed, "Jon, STOP!" Jon looked back and made a funny face, not quite sticking out his tongue at them. 

Or, maybe he did. It was hard to tell as the net scooped him up into the tree. Things moved quickly and a small, hideous green man started shooting arrows into Jon! Kymeth and Ama immediately started peppering him with sling stones and he fell to the ground with a thud. Mae spotted movement and sent a ball of flame from her sling hurtling into the underbrush. A goblin stumbled out, clutching his chest as he fell into the path. An arrow came flying from behind the tree, missing both the women who then returned fire. A gurgling cry was heard from behind the tree and then scrambling through the underbrush. Ama was angry now and gave chase. She caught the goblin and crushed its sternum with her shillelagh. 

Jon had managed to take his knife out with his good hand while caught in the net. An arrow in each leg and one in his left arm had made it difficult to move or break out of the net. He managed to cut through the net just before he realized how high up he was...

As he lay on the forest floor, the first goblin crawled towards him, pulling himself slowly with his knife. A sickening crunch of Mae's shillelagh flattened its skull still a few feet from where Jon lay.

Kymeth approached the crumpled form of her son. She knelt down at his side, fearful for what the next moments would prove. She waited...and saw him take a breath! "He is strong, this one. Too much like his father, perhaps." She looked up to the sky and then to each of the trees. She stared intently at the runes etched into her forearms and they began to glow. She touched his head, his chest, his hands, and his feet. Power went out of her like a flowing stream and his eyes opens.

"Mom? Are we home?"

"Not yet, son. Soon."

Ama returned from behind the copse of trees with her knife in one hand and three goblin heads tied together with a cord running through the ears.

"Soon," she whispered again.


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