In The Mists of Na Crainn, Lyric Doherty and her friend Andrew Devlin find clues at the mysterious Arbor Fair that may lead them to their missing mothers. One night after the Village Na Crainn’s annual Winter Pageant, they plan to take off on their own to find out where those clues lead.
Fireworks boomed through the icy pink sky, sending out flashes of colored light. They circled and whirled, then made false snowflakes that mixed with the real ones floating to the ground. A quartet of play-themselves instruments accompanied the spectacle. Earlier, several groups of instruments just like them drew the attention of the attendees to winter pageant.
Lyric took a bite of syrupy air candy and looked over at her father holding Paddy on his shoulders, both of them attentively watching and listening. The entire spectacle obviously enchanted Paddy, but her father appeared more solemn. Earlier that night, a small group of mostly parents made up the audience as her father’s students played their respective instruments. Sometimes their playing brought tears to Lyric’s eyes and sometimes the joyful rhythms and sounds had everyone on their feet dancing. The attendance was much lower than last year’s.
At one point, Lyric saw Andrew in the crowd and for a moment she caught his eye. He nodded slightly. She looked at the clock tower and noted the time. Five minutes more.
After the parade finished, she said to her father. “Dad, I’m tired. I think I’ll walk home with the Riordans. Is that all right?”
His expression was stern. “The Riordans live short of the house. Wait for Paddy and me. We’ll be leaving in half an hour, no more.”
Lyric had to think quickly. “Will you be going back for your instruments?”
“No, not this night. I’ve already locked them in the cabinets.” The crowd reacted as another round of fireworks blazed into the sky.
“Whoa, dad! Look at that, Lyric!” Paddy’s beaming face reflected the multicolored light.
For a moment, Lyric felt a sadness fall over her. “It is great, Paddy.” The last of the fireworks filled the space overhead, followed by silence as the sky returned to what it had been before.
At that moment, Maeve appeared from amidst the crowd. “Now, who’d like to walk home with an old woman?”
Lyric grasped her hand. “You’re not an old woman, grandma, but I’ll walk home with you.”
“We’ll be home shortly,” her father called after them.
Maeve shouted over her shoulder. “We won’t wait up!” She shivered. “Could it get any colder, fair Lyric?”
“I don’t think so.” Lyric pressed against her as they walked. They hurried up the pathway, and Lyric became ever more mindful of the boundaries she’d never seen before, the parameters defined in Caitlin’s book. “That night outside our house, maimeó, what did you see?”
“The night you said that something was afoot. How did you know?”
“Oh, ‘twas nothing. A feel in the air is all. A bit of an unexpected chill. There’s no need for you to worry tonight, Lyric.”
“I’m not. Not now. I just like to be careful.” At that moment, a slight glimmer of light coming from up on the hill caught her eye. “I can make my way from here. It’s only a few feet more.”
“No, I promised your father and I should at least get you to the door.” They walked the rest of the way silently.
Once they reached the house, Maeve would not let go of Lyric until she opened the door and Lyric stepped inside. Maeve pinched both of Lyric’s cheeks. “You take care. And get some good rest. I’ll see you tomorrow in church.”
“Yes, maimeó. Good night.” Lyric closed the door behind her, but only for a moment. She turned off the light and almost opened it again, but thought twice. It would take a while for Maeve to finish the walk down the hill and she didn’t want to take any chances. But she didn’t want to wait too long since Michael and Paddy would be coming soon.
Something pressed against her leg and she startled. “Chabela! I would have thought you’d have been sleeping by now.” She lowered herself to the floor. “You can’t go with me, little girl, and you quite know it.” She picked up the tiny cat who stroked her head against Lyric’s cheek. “I’m a little afraid,” Lyric confessed to her in a whisper, then set her back down on the floor. “But I have to go now and quickly.”
Lyric opened the door slightly and slipped out into the night. She hurried to find the book bag she’d packed earlier hidden just behind the fence. The forest in the distance wailed.
Above her head, the pink clouds opened slightly and the yellow moon hovered over head.