Disclaimer: This is of the great P.C. Cast's creation...Most of the actual quotes are from her book. Let me know what you think please!
No! I thought. She cannot be dying. As much as I hated her, as much as I have always wanted to out from under her thumb, I would have never thought she could be beaten by something little like death. Well, maybe I was being unfair, death isn't that small, and she is still alive…barely.
"Son, you must take vengeance!" my mother, Mairearad Dhianna was whispering to my brother. "Here is what you need to do…" As usual, everyone in the room was ignoring me, assuming I had the intelligence of a horse, or probably in their opinion a human. This is fine by me, because my carefully constructed front allows me to hear what is going on without worrying. I also did not have to worry about mother's influence. I did not have my sister's strength, to leave this goddess-forsaken place. I loved the plains, but the centaurs here are so close-minded in their hatred of humans. I have not had much interaction with humans, really only back five or six years ago, when we were still somewhat open to them. I did not think they were that bad, but what would I know, my mother would say back to me.
"…and then you will become the High Shaman. And Brighid will not be able to do a thing about it," Mother was saying. That snapped me out of my reverie, my brother becoming the High Shaman? Mother knew it was Brighid's right as eldest daughter to be next, she could not take that from her. As I looked over at my brother and mother, I could see the madness that had infected their eyes. This I expected from my mother, as she had been this way for a long time, but my brother, Bregon? He was not like this. I came to a decision right then and there. There was going to be no more hiding for me. I was not about to let my sister down again, for I knew she thought of me the same way as everyone else: a spoiled girl obsessed with her reflection. I had always admired Brighid for leaving, wishing I could have the courage do the same.
I snuck out the back of the tent. No one noticed; they never did. I grabbed a few water skins and a couple of apples, thrusting them into a bag. I knew where she would be: the Castle MacCallan.
I took one last look at the tent my dying mother was in. I had a Feeling in my stomach, one that said this would be the last time I saw her, my brother, and these Plains. I needed to do this however, to make up for what I had never done. I turned toward the west and the setting sun, and I started to run. Running was in my blood, and I delighted in it, knowing that if I did not complete my mission everything may-no, will-fall apart.
Two days have passed, and I have not slowed down once. I reached behind my back and grabbed one of the waterskins from my pack. I drank greedily from it, and poured the rest on my head. I threw the empty waterskin over to my right, all the while still running, and running. I had one waterskin left, and half of an apple. I was not going to let my mother win, not this time. Not again.
I can barely think now. All I can feel is one hoof in front of the other, the endless progression. I am starting to wonder if I will ever make it. I don't think I can…then I remember why I am doing it. Brighid would never give up, so neither would I. All of a sudden, I see a castle appear in front of me. Yes! I am here, now it is almost complete. I feel the froth foaming out of my mouth; I can barely breathe. I made to the gate, shouting as loud as I could: "I have an urgent message for Bridghid!" A man immediately opened the door, probably assuming someone in my shape was not much a threat. "You can wait in the courtyard," he called down to me. I nodded, and trudged forward. I stopped in an open area, with a beautiful water fountain at its center. I could not take my eyes off of it; I could understand why Brighid loved this place so much because it was just so beautiful and peaceful.
Later, I do not know how much, I heard a noise behind me and turned around. "Niam!" As I stumbled into her arms, I could see the shock at my state registering across her face. "What are you doing here?"
"Mother. She's dead," I gasped out. Then I all I saw for a few moments was black. When I awoke again, I was slumped over a bench. A skin of water was pressed to my mouth, and I drank. Then I remembered my mission, and pushed it away.
"Shh, you're here now. Focus on being calm…on cooling the heat within your body," my sister tried to calm me, concern practically radiating from her. "No! Brighid, you have to listen!" I knew I couldn't hold on for much longer.
"Let her speak," a peaceful voice said. Oh, the Goddess Incarnate! Brighid had an obvious respect for her. She listened to her, and grabbed my hands: "I'm listening, Niam."
So I told her how Maireard had fallen into a pit, of human design, and how my brother planned to use this as a reason to start a war with the humans, to become the High Shaman. How Mother had died this mourning…I shuddered to think of that ominous crow that appeared to me this morning.
"Shhh, now, Niam, we'll figure this out. Shhh," Brighid whispered to me.
There wasn't going to be a later for me. I had to let her know…who she was to me, so I stammered out "You always thought that I was stupid. That part doesn't matter now, but I wanted you to know that I wasn't who you thought—I just wasn't strong like you. I couldn't stand up to her, so I made her believe I wasn't worth her notice. And I fooled everyone. No one watched me, especially Bregon. No one thought I would be the one to come for you." I then grabbed her shoulders, using the last of all I had to make her understand all that depended on this, "You must return. Even those who have been corrupted by Mother would not dare to stand against the power of the Dhianna High Shaman. Take the Chalice. Make sure that Mother doesn't win. Bring an end to the madness."
I smiled up at my sister, and confessed with my last breath: "I have always envied you, Brighid. You got away from her. But maybe now I have finally gotten away from her, too…" Dear Epona, I prayed as I could see the light approaching, let her have it, please let me have been in time. Then all I could see was the purest, most beautiful light I have ever seen.