Love Beyond Dreams
Book 6 of Morna's Legacy Series
He should have known better than to tell Marion what he had seen. She was a recluse who lived her life away from all people because of a mistrust of them so deep that he couldn't imagine what had happened to make her that way. Of course, she wouldn't be filled with the same sense of wonder and curiosity that he was at what he'd witnessed.
"Doona go near it. 'Tis my advice for ye. No that I expect ye to listen to a word that I say. 'Twill only cause ye heartache if ye do. 'Tis the way of such unnatural things."
He crossed his arms and leaned against the side of the cave, hanging onto his patience as best he could.
"Yer guidance means much to me Marion, whether I choose to listen to it or no. Tell me why. Why should I no follow after the others? Why is heartache the only end?"
Marion exhaled in the same frustrated manner she always did when he disagreed with her.
"Ye just told me that ye watched them walk down the stairs, and they did no come up through the other side, nor did they come out where they went in. Just where do ye think such a staircase could lead when ye saw for yerself that no room lay at the bottom? 'Tis a witch's den. She's already picked the meat from their bones and added them to her stew."
He laughed so loudly that the sound echoed from the walls. Marion glared at him angrily.
"Marion, doona tell such tales, they'll frighten ye when I'm no longer here with ye. They walked into the stairwell with purpose. They knew where it would take them. I know that ye think it no wise, but I...I canna describe it."
He paused and paced around the cave, remembering how his feet had nearly moved toward them against his will.
"'Twas like they called me toward them. In that moment, when I saw them, I wanted nothing more than to run and join them, to follow them wherever they might be headed. I canna describe it, but I feel pulled to them, like perhaps they have the answers I seek."
For the first time that evening, Marion stopped twiddling away at the piece of wood she held in her hands and stopped to regard him seriously.
"Do ye mean it? Ye felt so strongly about the people ye saw there? Do ye think mayhap ye would have felt the same with whomever ye had seen first after leaving here?"
He shrugged. He'd asked himself the same thing on his way back to the cave the night before, but the more he allowed the question to linger, the more his mind rebelled against it. The truth was making its way to the surface of his mind. He could feel it building within him. He just couldn't grasp at it alone. All he needed was to find the keys to unlock it, the people to remind him of the memories he lost.
The strange-speaking women and the men that accompanied them pulled at something inside him that made him wonder if they were those very keys.
"I canna know, but I doona think so. I felt as if I knew them, but I couldna recall any real memory of them. I just know that I feel strongly that the stairwell is where I must start."
He moved across the small expanse of the cave and sat down next to Marion. Her gaze softened as he did so.
They sat quietly next to one another for a long time until, finally, Marion spoke.
"Then start there, ye must, whether it be a witch's den or no. 'Tis time Craig. Time for the two of us to part ways."
He stood with a sadness in his heart he couldn't deny. All of his memories were of Marion—there was nothing else inside his mind. He wondered often if he meant as much to her as she did to him, if she would grieve for the end of their friendship as he would. She spoke little about her feelings, but he knew that didn't mean she was void of them.
"I will miss ye, Marion. If I pass this way again, should I come to see ye?"
The abruptness of her answer pained him.
"I willna be here. This cave has no been my first home, nor will it be my last. I move often and 'tis time that I move on. I was on my way elsewhere when I saw ye fall."
All of that was news to him. Foolishly, he'd imagined Marion spending a great many years in the cave, and now he learned that she may have only been here a fortnight when he arrived.
He would feel lost once he left her—without her, every person in the world would be a stranger to him.
"Marion, ye canna know how grateful I am to ye. I wish I could repay ye for all ye've done for me."
She shook her head and moved to stand at the entrance of the cave as if waiting for him to leave. Her shortness bothered him. That she could say so little in their last moment together. He said nothing, only made his way past her, stopping to lean in and kiss her cheek before stepping away and out of the cave.
For the first few steps, he though she would allow him to leave without another word but eventually, she called out to him. He turned to look at his friend one last time.
There were tears in her eyes, a sight he'd never seen before. He moved in to comfort her, but she held a hand up to stop him.
"Ye must go, Craig. If ever ye find a group of people who care for ye more than I, doona ye dare leave them for ye will be a lucky man."
© Bethany Claire