The bow of the skiff scraped against the sandy rock with a shudder signifying it would go no further. He rose from the center bench, running the strap of his bag over his shoulder to offset the weight of the heavy greatsword he wore slung across his back. Bracing a hand on the gunwale, he sprang nimbly over the side and onto the shore.
With nary a look backwards to those who’d brung him there, he began to trek inland. Though there was no path or road to guide him, he walked with the sure strides of one who knew whither he was bound. For a surety he knew, for this was…home. Granted it was a home he’d not seen in too long a slew of years but it would always be the land of his birth and he now knew, knew with the wisdom of age, would forever be the only place he’d ever truly belonged.
A wan sunlight sought to pierce the gray clouds of the early spring day and drive away the thick mist that swirled about him. His thoughts drifted like the mist back to a time so long ago when he’d cursed the unchanging coastal gloom. Now, it felt the most natural place for him to be in all the world.
Topping a low rise, he gazed down into a valley grown thick with the salt grass, bracken and wildflowers so common this time of year. Drawing a deep breath, he savored the tang of the sea minged with the unmistakable scents of heather, peat, sheep dung and wood smoke. Aye, this was home.
Shaking off memories he’d not been aware he even still possessed, he set himself back to walking, relishing the feel of the springy turf beneath the soles of his boots. He expected it would be the better part of a day and a night before he would be within sight of the hamlet he’d called home for the first fifteen years of his life; years that weren’t all that bad given the places he’d been and the things he’d seen since.
Aye, he’d seen the far-flung lands he’d only imagined. He’d worn the armor and rode a fine steed and swung his sword until the whole of the long blade ran red with the life’s blood of more men than he cared to think of. He’d bled no small bit himself and puked up the remnants of a hundred hundred pots of piss-water wine he’d drunk if only in hopes of achieving a single night of sleep free of the voices and the faces of the men he’d sent to their end. Perhaps here, so very far away from the lands he’d once so yearned for, he would at last find peace.
The jingling pouch at his side would see him settled on a decent spot of land and he’d not, as yet, decided if he’d build a home himself or seek a stead already made. He would hoe and weed and plant by day, have a strong cider and a pipe of an evening and then fall asleep between the comforting scratchy embrace of homespun sheets. He would raise pigs and sheep and chickens and mayhap even a cow or two. It would be a simple, uneventful, pastoral life and he could not imagine in all of his dreams a life he desired more.
A frown creased his brow when he pictured that home with not a soul to share it with. Sure and it was years too late to think Brigid would still be free for him to pick back up with. With a fierce scowl, he shook his head to banish such thoughts.
For while this was, indeed, Eire, the land of his birth and the land he called home, the truth of it was that it would not be so, unless and until, he’d found that favored lass again and wrapped her in an embrace so tight he’d never wish to let her free of it again that it would truly be a home worth having.
Whistling a merry tune, he walked with a renewed vigor across the land of his past in search of his future.