Travel The Two Realms: Iona, Scotland
The chilly June morning promised rain as my daughter and I joined a few of our fellow travellers and our guide Scot to the landing where the sailboat Birthe Marie and Captain Mark awaited us. While sailing around Iona, we pulled into a quiet cove, disturbing a colony of seals resting on a narrow island. A few disappeared into the water as we approached. A delightful young seal kept a consistent distance from us as it swam in a half-circle around the boat, popping up here and there to check on us.
|Captain Mark of the|
After tea and shortbread thins to warm us, we reversed course. Now heading against the wind, Captain Mark switched from sail to motor to propel us through the choppy blue-gray, green-tinged waves.
Eyeing the coast, a sinister sight skipped my pulse. Where two rocky hills almost met, stood the blackest of black caves. The downward point of a giant boulder wedged between the two hills stabbed the cave opening. Malevolent eyes set in a circular, seemingly disembodied face, stared at us from the cave’s dark maw.
Not a human face. Not an animal face. Something else.
What is it? I wondered, my knuckles whitening as I tightened my grip on the ship rail.
Barely visible in the mist-dimmed light, and hunched in the depression between two rocky peaks, nestled the blackest of black caves. ’Tis as I remember, Disa thought when she spied the long, narrow boulder wedged into the cave’s roof; its distinctive downward point, as pale and sharp as a dragon’s fang, impaled the darkness just inside the hollow’s inky maw.
Beneath the stone tooth, two glowing amber eyes popped open, piercing the impenetrable gloom.
Disa stiffened and held her breath.
The disembodied orbs scanned the calm sea within the island ring. Then, as if sensing her human presence, the predatory eyes narrowed and searched beyond the inner waters, halting to fasten their malevolent gaze upon her.
In the fixedness of that stare, the monster and years faded, and as though bewitched, Disa saw instead the half mad glare of the Norse slaver and the smear of blood across the man’s knuckles when he grabbed her wrist and little Bree’s arm. Fear stole the strength from Disa’s limbs, and the oars clattered at her feet as a silent scream rose from her core.
As we continued back to Iona, Captain Mark steered us into another quiet cove, where we encountered a giant boulder wedged between two cliffs. To the right of the gap, a naturally formed basalt staircase named "the Fairy Stairs," rises to nowhere. Magic is all around us!