…I turn the gwid-byll over in my fingers.
It is the most beautiful thing I have ever seen.
It is a sphere of worked and lined stone which shadows forth in raised nodules indicative of the triad. It is heavy too, far heavier than it should be for its size. It is a sky-stone say the stories and though the stories cannot always be trusted it is hard to think of a more fitting origin for the gwid-byll.
I place it carefully and reverentially back into the pouch around my neck.
The Thunder-Stone looms out of the crossed-tracks showing pitch-black against the lightening glow of the earth-rim.
He will be here soon.
He will walk out of the sun like the dream said and he will tell the stone glyphs of the Thunder-Stone like only he is able.
I run my fingers over the shaft of the stone feeling the uneven shapes unknowable in the dark, meaningless in the light.
A shadow flits through the bushes which skirt the mound.
There should be no others.
The dream spoke of none.
My exposed toe stubs against cold stone at the foot of the shaft and catches an edge.
I forget the shadow and start to push back the moss from the edge that my toe has inadvertently uncovered.
My fingers find more depressions in the stone and even in this light I can see that they are regular and form a pattern of threes!
There are three up and three across.
My mind jumps to the gwid-byll and I scrabble to again draw it from its pouch.
This is not in the dream either but I know where the gwid-byll goes.
I place it in the central depression of stone and it fits perfectly.
Suddenly I am held firmly from behind. I struggle but to no avail.
The arms that hold my own are slight and sinewy but strong: strong as an ox.
A thin cackle sounds above me.
“Don’t struggle, little one, we have a game to play.”
I nod warily and the grip on my arms is released slightly so that I am able to turn slowly and face my attacker.
A mere boy, little older than myself stands before me, he grins crookedly and throws worked bones in the air where they spin momentarily and fall back into his grasp.
“You weren’t in the dream,” I hiss.
“Neither were you,” he hisses back.
“He will be here soon,” I say.
“But who will come,” says the boy, “Shadow or Sun?”
“I’ll cast you for it,” say I, recalling the bones.
The boy’s eyes dance like fire as he hands me the bones.
I shake and spit and cast…
‘Can only be beaten by one,’ I think handing back the bones.
Almost immediately they fly through the air and land in the grit.
We run to read them…
A low keen sounds overhead.
I look up and around.
A form emerges from the now risen sun, dark on the earth-rim moving towards the Thunder-Stone.
The boy is gone.
So is the gwid-byll…