A Drifting Soul

The story of Daithi, a young shaman of the Nioneska prior to the events of A House Of Photographs.


12. Agreeing to a Vacation

After a time of adjusting and sulking, Daithi was marched to Sampsa's for a visit. Though Daithi was still angry, it wasn't with his brother. More with himself. He knocked on the door and limped inside when Sampsa's wife, Mina let him in. She was a sweet and lively woman and was of a similar mindset of Daithi; status wasn't everything and sometimes actions must be taken regardless of the penalty. They sat together and chatted for a time, having rarely spoken before Daithi and Ronan left or since Daith returned. The warmth and generosity was infectious. Daithi was reminded vaguely of his father while he listened to Mina speak.

Then their topic shifted no matter how much either tried to avoid it.

"How are you? Sam told me what happened." Mina's eyes were glistening with worry, like any true mother. Daithi was at a loss. His eyes were glazed and a shrug was all he could manage. "He is very sorry. We've known what kind of man Darius is for awhile but...y'know how we are."

"'We must not take action unless someone asks' even if they haven't got the courage to," Daithi quoted sourly. The very words were bitter on his tongue. But it was the way. It was why whenever someone wanted to help they asked them if they wanted it and the one asked had to ask you for the help you offered before you could do so. Just as the words escaped his mouth Sampsa came home with an empty water jug in hand. His surprise seemed even more exaggerated than any other expression he was capable of making.

"Daithi? What are you doing here? I mean it's good to see you but..." Sampsa trailed off, reflecting on the events prior. Then the loud sound of a growling stomach broke the silence he left. Sampsa tried to hide his embarrassment with nervous chuckles laughter.

"Light meals?" Daithi asked. It wasn't the first time he'd heard Sampsa's stomach growl. He recalled certain evenings when they'd all gotten themselves into trouble and all seven of their empty tummies created a grumbling symphony of sound.

Sampsa sat down and sighed. He glanced at Mina who was rather unimpressed and a tad annoyed with him. "I gave a harsh punishment to Darius without discussing it with the council. He's supposed to go without food for three days. I must do the same. Praise the spirits that today is the last day," Sampsa explained.

"Oh you stuffy old fool! Forbid that one of our daughters finds herself in a similar situation and you punish the man who struck her! You'd have yourself beaten from here across the sea and back again!" Mina screeched. It made Daithi want to laugh to see how Sampsa, a tall and barrel-chested man weathered by a youth of sailing and a life of being a leader, cowered before his wife as if she had the power to kill him with just a word. But despite the humor of the situation, Daithi worried for Sampsa.

"Sampsa, you're getting old, I don't think you can afford to do that," Daithi pointed out with a quirked brow.

Sampsa furrowed his brows in thought then responded "Well...I'm only one hundred and fortyyyyyyy.....two." The Nioneska never pay too much attention to age or time due to their extended lifespans so Sampsa found it difficult to recall exactly how old he was.

"By the spirits that means I'm one hundred and twenty-nine," Daithi exclaimed. He didn't realize just how long he'd been gone and how much everything had changed in his absence. But Sampsa brought their minds back to the present.

"Daithi, yuré bruskӧn, I am very sorry for what happened. Romona and Siiri told me how you and Laurel were. But there was nothing else I could do."

"Sampsa, you know Daithi doesn't care what happens to him," Mina broke in. Her voice was weighted with the wisdom of a mother, able to pick up on the slightest details and combine them with what she knew to form a concrete conclusion. The gray hairs and aged glint in her eyes was proof enough of that. Daithi stared down at the floor trying to swallow down the words he wanted to say. His chest ached in a strange way; not in a pained way, but as if it were hollow. He took in a shuddery breath. Just when he thought he was going to leave, the door opened and in came a young woman.

"Màskané, Druskàn?" Then her eyes fell on Daithi. There was no doubt in his mind that this was one of the daughters. She had Mina's strong and curvy build and Sampsa's hair and eyes and olive toned skin. Daithi realized two truths at that moment: 1) Sampsa and Sarafina were the only ones that had kids, and 2)Daithi had never met a single one since being back.

"Nerene, we didn't know you were gong to visit." Sampsa looked to the side as he tried to remember if they'd discussed it earlier or if it really was meant to be a surprise. While he did that, Mila was up and hugging her daughter, going as far as to squeeze a squeak out of Nerene. They sat down together between Daithi and Sampsa, Nerene being scrunched up against Daithi's knee and muttering an apology. So Mila became engrossed in conversation with Nerene with Sampsa butting in from time to time. Daithi took the opportunity to soak up as much information as he could even if it didn't have anything to do with him. He became so wrapped up in it that he jumped when he was mentioned.

"So....forgive me....but who are you?" Nerene finally asked, her brows furrowing and pinching in the same place Sampsa's always did.

"I'm D-"

"This is your uncle. Remember the story of the war in Scotland?" Sampsa asked, not intending to cut off and prevent Daithi's own introduction of himself.

"With Ronan and Daithi?" Nerene proposed. Realization washed over Nerene and her head snapped to Daithi. "You're Uncle Daithi?" Daithi nodded and chuckled nervously. Nerene let it sink in, then began to ask question after question after question. She was soft-spoken like her father, but curious and lively as her mother. At first, Daithi was afraid that he would trigger a flashback by trying to recall the memories but began to tell story after story as he did when he'd first returned without realizing it. The entire afternoon passed that way. Wrapped up in the moment, Daithi somehow agreed to go on a hunting trip. As if that weren't enough, he agreed to go far south to visit the islands. It's not that he wouldn't have wanted to go, but his mind and soul were still recoiling after the events that transpired. When he returned home, he began to pack some things for both trips. It was all he could do to keep from moping.

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