“The world as we have known it ends this day.” The warriors, men and women both, needed to hear him speak. The grit and determination in his voice carried as much emphasis as the words themselves. Many cut uncertain glances his way, the deep-seated beliefs ground into them over the centuries nearly as much a part of them as their skin and their magic. Lugh patrolled the top of the castle wall, watching the courtyard below. The elaborate breastplate strapped to him served more as a status symbol than actual protection, even with the magicraft worked into the polished leather. He was the Champion of the Sidhe, even for the Sidhe who would sooner slit his throat than call him their champion. It mattered not. He protected his people regardless, most especially from themselves.
The Sidhe and lesser fey warriors of the Seelie Court spaced themselves at intervals of less than a full arm span. Wood elves, dwarves, selkies, and even a stout-hearted fairy held the line for this final watch, bows, spears, and magic at the ready. Although the technology-embracing world beyond the Mounds long ago abandoned the grace of the bow for guns and other modern weaponry, the long-lived fey of the Mounds shunned such graceless devices.
“Keep a sharp eye on the barrier.” The canopy of magic reached just beyond the courtyard wall, preventing Glamour or teleportation within the castle grounds. If any fey dreamed to raid the stronghold of the Seelie Court this day, they faced more than simply this entire cadre of fey warriors. They would have to best the Champion of the Sidhe, a near impossible task. For greater than a thousand years, only a handful had ever crossed purposes with Lugh and bested him. A few of these skilled warriors manned the line with Lugh now. Others, such as the greatest of the Unseelie guard, had yet to breach the courtyard threshold. His heart harbored no doubts that at least one would challenge Lugh’s mettle and resolve.
Lugh cast a proprietary glance across the outer wall to the fey town in the protective shadow of the castle. The hills rolled into the distance. The internal measure of the Mounds roughly equated to Ireland in width and length. Lugh knew every tree, every step of every path. Twice he held the Seelie crown. Since he was a much younger Sidhe, Lugh held the mantle of Champion. He earned it. The very sunlight in the sky was his gift to the Mounds. The Celts once worshipped Lugh as the god of the sun, for in that lay the aspect of Lugh’s unique magic. All the life that grew and prospered in the Mounds did so by the very power of his love for this place and these fey. He would defend it, and them, until his final breath.
With a great explosion of shattering wood, a boulder crashed though the courtyard gate. No such boulder had been transported though the city beyond the castle. This one had been ripped from the ground and flung with a magic only one Sidhe possessed.
“Jhaer!” Lugh growled, “Bring me your rage, Elite.” With his spear, Lugh pole-vaulted the low parapet and dropped the twenty feet into the courtyard. Using the grace of the fey, he hit and rolled, then came back up to his feet in a charge for the Unseelie intruder.