Thought I’d add a little bit of Riley Trivia this time.
Madigan means “small dog” in Irish.
Magnus means “big” in latin.
After her arrow wound had healed, life became almost normal for Riley. Freeda gave her some normal Viking clothes and a new cloak because her old clothes were too bloodstained. Riley’s new cloak had a floppy hood that would hide most of her face in its’ shadows; this enabled her to go into the village to get groceries for Freeda. She and Maddy enjoyed living with Freeda quite a lot, but deep inside Riley knew that she couldn’t stay forever. That afternoon Maddy seemed to have a small cough, so he stayed home with Magnus while Freeda ran errands. Meanwhile, Riley sat under a tree by the forest clearing, letting the wind blow against her face and comb its invisible fingers through her hair. There she sat, thinking. She sighed, “Jesus, please help me think of a way to tell Freeda that I can’t stay forever! I need to get back to Ireland! I miss the O’Neals terribly, and they were going to adopt me! What if they forget about me?” Riley started walking slowly around the forest. Eventually she ended up by an area where the plants were going to seed and started carelessly picking seeds off of various plants. Soon Riley had the pouch at her side filled to the top with a wide variety of seeds for no specific reason. She went back over to the stump and looked around. There was a good climbing tree right on the other end of the clearing. Riley ran over excitedly and examined the tree. The branches seemed sturdy enough and the tree seemed big enough to hold her. She nodded, satisfied with the tree she had found. Riley looked up the tree’s length then quickly scampered up. She found a good place to sit, plopped herself down and looked out over the forest from her treetop perch. “I think,” she said out loud, “I need to come up with a plan to escape before I tell Freeda.” Suddenly, the sound of the huge screech of what sounded like an eagle startled her and made her lose her balance. She fell through the air trying to right herself so that she could land on her feet. Then, moments before Riley hit the ground, her hands grasped a tree branch. She opened her eyes and looked cautiously downward. There, a couple feet below her was a large flat rock. Riley drew in a sharp breath, “I could have been killed!” She thought. She dropped as softly as she could onto the rock below and then scanned the sky for the bird that had startled her. What Riley saw took her breath away. There, up in the sky, was the biggest bird she had ever seen. It had a twenty-foot wingspan, was a golden brown color with a white head, white on the tips of its wings and white tail feathers. Riley gasped as the eagle took a tremendous dive towards a rabbit, scampering across the field. The eagle came down out of the sky, grabbed the rabbit in its talons and sat down to eat. Soon, Quicker than Riley could say “yuck” the eagle had finished eating the rabbit and started searching the ground for seeds. “H-Here eagle!” Riley reached into her overstuffed pouch and pulled out a hand full of seeds. “BRUAAAK?” The bird tilted her head curiously and stepped forward to investigate. Riley’s heart beat faster. She had never been so near to such an enormous creature, except for when she had battled the dragon. The eagle now towered over her head, staring hungrily at the seeds in her hand. Riley stared up at her in awe, “Norway certainly has some strange creatures.” She thought to herself. Just then the eagle brought it’s head down to her hand and pecked hard. Riley sucked in her breath and pulled back her hand, dropping the rest of the seeds as she did so. She brushed her hair out of her eyes and squinted down at her hand. A bright red dot of blood appeared on her palm. Riley raised her head to glare at the eagle that was pecking at the remaining seeds on the ground. Just then, the wind whipped her hair into her eyes again and blew some seeds out of her pouch. Riley looked up at the dark gray clouds blowing across the sky and frowned worriedly as two raindrops spattered across he face. The eagle also looked worried as she looked up at the sky, ignoring the seeds that flew up and danced away with the wind. The eagle looked up into the trees, and then took off heading straight for the tallest one. Then Riley saw it, a nest sitting near the top of the tree. “I’ll make friends with you soon!” she whispered. A clap of thunder rumbled across the sky as rain started coming down in sheets. Riley looked across the forest, and then turned back towards the nest just as the eagle landed. “Soon,” she added, “but not now.”
“Riley! Look at you, lass! You’re soaked!” Freeda scolded as Riley sloshed into the house. Maddy ran up to Riley and nuzzled into her leg. After Riley had said hello to Madigan she raised her head. “Sorry, Freeda. But I saw the most amazing bird in the forest! It’s like a huge eagle and its nest is way up in the highest tree and it ate my seeds and…” Freeda slowly shook her head, “Riley, you’d do best to stay away from that bird. Some men have been killed trying to catch it! They managed to catch her mate, but that made her even madder.” Riley’s mouth dropped open. “Really?” Freeda nodded, “Yes. In fact Magnus has chased it more than once and almost gotten himself killed, the silly dog. Now go get into some dry clothes!” Riley walked towards her room with Maddy at her heels as she pulled off her soggy cloak and hung it on a hook to dry. She slowly peeled the damp clothes over her head and shivered. Cold water from her wet hair dripped down her back. Riley wiped the water off and then started wringing out the rest of the water from her hair. “Are you feeling better, Maddy?” As if in reply, Madigan looked as pathetic as possible and gave a small cough. “Oh, That’s ok Maddy. I bet you’ll be better after tomorrow!” As soon as most of the water was out of her hair, she pulled a new, dry dress over her head. The warm cloth felt good against her cold skin. Another shiver ran down her spine, but this shiver was one of wonderful warmth. “Riley! Dinner’s ready!” Freeda called from down the hall. “I’m coming Freeda!” Riley hollered back. She hurried down the hall to the table where Freeda sat waiting patiently for her. Riley licked her lips as she smelled the roast venison Freeda had prepared. She plopped herself down in the chair across from Freeda and bowed her head, letting her damp, stringy hair fall all around her face. Freeda smiled and started to pray. “Thank you, dear God, for the food that is before us. Thank you that Riley did not get lost or hurt in the forest. Thank you that we got all our errands done yesterday and please help that Riley won’t find any more slimy little frogs to put in my bed tonight.” Riley giggled, remembering yesterday’s prank and opened one eye to look at Freeda’s smiling face. Freeda opened one eye to look at Riley and stuck her tongue. Riley laughed. “Amen.” They both chorused. “But don’t think that this means no more frogs!” Riley added. They both laughed and started eating. As soon as the meal was over Riley cleared her dishes, said goodnight to Freeda and went to bed. “Tomorrow,” she whispered sleepily, “I’ll go see the eagle again.
“Goooood morning, Shyloh!” Riley greeted the eagle cheerfully. “Brauk?” the bird seemed lacking enthusiasm for the name Riley had given her. “Come on over! I got some seeds for you! Niiiice yummy seeds!” Shyloh eagerly came towards Riley, who this time had wisely set the seeds on a rock. While Shyloh pecked up the seeds, Riley walked slowly around, looking her over. She seemed big enough to carry two of her. “Maybe me, Maddy and Magnus could even fit on her!” she thought. Shyloh still wasn’t finished with his seeds, so Riley wandered over to the tree that her nest was in. “Hmmm, I wonder…” she looked back over at Shyloh and a grin spread across her face. She immediately started climbing up the trunk. When Riley eventually reached one of the top branches, she stuck her hand into her pouch, pulled out a handful of seeds and set them on a thick spot on the branch. She shaded her eyes with her hand and looked down. It looked like Shyloh had finished the seeds and was looking for other food around the clearing. Riley slowly turned herself around and slid down the tree trunk. As soon as her feet touched the ground she ran over to Shyloh, “Hey, Shyloh!” she called out when she had reached her. Shyloh walked over and let Riley stroke her head. “She must like me now!” Riley thought excitedly. “That’s it. It’s okay. See? I’m a nice person!” She crooned as she worked her way around so that she could get on. Riley started trying to scramble up on to Shyloh. Shyloh turned her head and looked at Riley curiously, and then, as if making a sudden decision, put her head under Riley, lifting her up onto her back. “Hey!” Riley shouted excitedly. “You trust me! You really trust me!” she laughed and then put her arms around the eagle’s neck in an attempted hug. Then, remembering that she was trying to train her, Riley sat back up and grabbed onto Shyloh’s back. “Hey, Shyloh! See those seeds? Those yummy seeds up there in that tree?” Shyloh scanned the trees slowly with her eyes until she found the seeds. Then slowly she started walking across the field, the walk quickly turned into a run, as Shyloh lifted her wings she ran faster and faster until they she lifted weightlessly into flight. Riley gasped as Shyloh sped up, making a beeline for the seeds. The tree now loomed only a couple of yards in front of them. Riley closed her eyes, ready for the collision. Shyloh swooped low over the branches, pecked up the seeds and swooshed back up into the sky. When Riley opened her eyes again, they where high up above the forest, all the trees looked like tiny little plants. She gasped, “Shyloh! Oh, wow! I didn’t know that you could go this high!” Riley couldn’t help noticing that Shyloh looked a little proud. “I bet you’d help me get back to Ireland, wouldn’t you?” Riley said thoughtfully. “Alright, I bet Freeda is back by now. Let’s land.” Shyloh swooped down to the ground and gently landed. “Let’s see what sounds attract you before I go!” Riley said, sliding off Shyloh. “Hmmm… what about this?” she let out a sharp whistle. Shyloh immediately walked over to her and looked her over as if to see what was wrong. “That’s settled then! You’d come for that and seeds!” Riley ran off into the forest. “See you tomorrow when I escape!”
A Second Escape
“This is it.” Thought Riley excitedly, looking out across the forest. The sun hovered close to the horizon. “Today I’ll tell Freeda my plan to escape.” She sighed, and then looked down at her heels, where Madigan lay. “Your feeling better today, aren’t you Maddy?” Madigan barked happily. “Good!” replied Riley. “You’ll need to be healthy for this trip!” She glanced over at the house. “Well, best to get this over with!” Riley thought, as she walked bravely towards the house.
She burst in the door, trying to get what she wanted to say out fast while her courage lasted. “Freeda! I want to tell you…” The old woman whirled. “Whaddya want?” she snapped. Riley took an involuntary step back, What’s wrong with Freeda? She wondered, worried. She’s acting like…like… Riley blanched, the problem was suddenly obvious to her. FREYDA! She quickly scanned the woman’s left cheek. Sure enough, Freeda’s small red birthmark was nowhere to be seen. Riley felt lightheaded, where was Freeda? How did Freyda find her? Madigan trotted casually in the door, but as soon as he saw Freyda his eyes widened, he remembered this mean person! Maddy quickly tucked his tail and scuttled out the door. Maddy knows too. Riley thought. “What did you want to say?” Freyda asked, remembering this time to mask herself with the sweet voice of Freeda. “Um…” Riley thought quickly, “I wanted to ask you, could I play in the woods for a while?” Freyda thought that she had fooled Riley. “Why don’t you play in the yard for a bit? I invited over some friends that I want you to meet and they’ll be here soon.” Riley winced. “I’ll bet their Vikings.” She thought grimly. “Alright!” Riley agreed, faking cheerfulness. “Just let me go get my cloak!” Riley ran off towards her room. Her heart was pounding so loud she was almost certain that Freyda could hear it. She went over to a side room were most of the clothes were kept. “Dear Jesus!” Riley prayed silently “Please help me escape and help Freeda be alright!” She threw open the door to the room where they kept most of their things and glanced around quickly. “Where is that stupid cloak?” she muttered, rifling through Freeda’s and her clothes. “Mmff!” Riley raised her head and looked around. Nothing. She shrugged and resumed the search for her cloak. “Mmff!!” Riley raised her head again. One spot in the laundry squirmed. She ran over and started throwing various items aside. “Freeda!” Riley exclaimed. Then remembering to lower her voice, whispered while taking the gag out of Freeda’s mouth “What happened?” Freeda rubbed her wrists. “Freyda tied me up. She wants to hand you over to the Vikings!” “I know.” Riley said grimly. “Freeda, I have a plan to escape. I was planning to tell you today, and I guess I still will! I trained the giant eagle. She can carry me! And she did carry me yesterday! She comes when I whistle and I’m going to escape today.” Freeda nodded understandingly. “Yes, that is a good plan. But you’re an orphan! Who do you have to go back to?” Riley’s eyes filled with sadness. “The O’Neals. If they’re okay.” Freeda looked surprised. “The O’Neals? I’m related to them! I was planning to pay them a visit soon if you want to come with me.” Riley shook her head “I’m the most wanted slave around these parts. They’re not going to let me on the ship.” Freeda agreed “Alright, escape, but you need to do it fast; The Vikings will be here soon! Quick! Tie me back up!” Riley stared. “What…?” Freeda started slipping the rope back on her hands. “Freyda would suspect that you found me if she finds me untied! Now help me put these back on! Oh, you’ll need your cloak, right? Here it is. And one last thing, please take Magnus with you! He’ll be a good watchdog for you and a friend for Maddy.” Just then, a call echoed down the hall. “Riley! Aren’t you going outside?” Riley looked sadly at Freeda. “I’ve got to go. I hope I’ll see you again!” She tossed her cloak around her shoulders and ran down the hall. “Frey… I mean Freeda, could I have a snack?” Riley asked as she ran into the kitchen. “Certainly, dear!” answered Freyda sweetly. “Help yourself! I’m busy preparing food for our guests.” Riley murmured her thanks, waited for Freyda to turn her back, and then filled a small sack with food. “Bye!” She called over her shoulder as she ran out the door. As soon as she was at the other end of the yard she whistled as loud as she possibly could. Riley scanned the sky, anxiously waiting for Shyloh to show herself. Soon a loud flapping filled the sky, Shyloh landed with a thump and looked over at Riley. “Time to escape, Shyloh. Stay here for a bit while I get Maddy.” Riley ran off towards where Madigan was chewing on a small bone right in front of the house. “Madigan! Come on! Let’s go!” She whispered urgently. Madigan obediently trotted over to Riley, who stood stalk still, listening to the conversation going on inside. “No, I’m not in a hurry. She suspects nothing. Are you still hungry? I have more food.” “Oh, yes, thank you. Are you sure we’re safe?” “Completely.” Riley stayed no longer. She scooped up Maddy and ran, heart pounding, towards Shyloh. She swung herself up onto the eagle’s soft, warm, feathered back. “Alright, when I say go, we need to take off right away! Got it?” she whispered to Shyloh. Riley turned to look at Madigan sitting behind her. He looked very uncertain and very unsteady. “Oh fine, Maddy! Come sit up here with me.” She laughed. Madigan was happy to hear that and scrambled up in between Riley’s legs. “No Maddy. You sit beside me!” Riley corrected him. She tied the sack of food to her side with another cloth and a couple bandages she had gotten from the laundry. “Ok, when they come out I think we’ll be ready.” Just then, they heard a call from the house. “There she is!” Freyda hollered. Two Vikings started to charge at Riley, spears ready, from the other end of the field. Riley squeezed her eyes shut, wrapped one arm around Shyloh’s neck and hung onto Maddy with the other. “NOW!” She yelled. Riley jolted back from the force as Shyloh made the sudden swoop upwards. “She’s getting away!” Freyda screeched, waving her arms in Riley’s direction. Riley opened her eyes and looked down. She saw two Vikings shaking their spears angrily at her. Maddy whimpered and snuggled closer to Riley. Riley continued to scan the yard, in one corner she saw Magnus jumping up on his hind legs and barking. Riley slapped her forehead. “Awww… how could I be so stupid!” She pressed down on Shyloh. “Go on! Swoop down and pick up that dog!” Shyloh dipped downwards and grabbed up an astonished Magnus. Then, as quickly as she had gone down, Shyloh took a tremendous swoop up. The change in direction was so sudden that it made Riley feel like she’d left her stomach fifty feet below her. She clutched Maddy. As Shyloh leveled out, Riley slowly relaxed. She looked over at Madigan; he was shivering and whimpering pathetically. His golden fur ruffled in the wind and shone with each ray of sunlight that touched it. Riley smiled and hugged him as he slowly stopped shivering. Madigan cautiously opened his eyes and looked ahead, only to give a frightened yip and shut them again. Riley looked ahead and her eyes widened “The Forest!!! Shyloh, look out!” Shyloh seemed completely calm as she glided over the tops of the trees to accommodate her huge wingspan. Riley relaxed her grip on Shyloh as she calmed Madigan down. But Magnus was anything but calm. He kicked, howled and cried the whole way through the forest. Shyloh dipped, almost smashing into a tree. “Kroo-AAA!” the eagle cried in alarm as she righted herself. Riley leaned over and stroked Magnus’ head. “Magnus!” She said loudly, “Calm down! Your okay!” Magnus refused to listen and continued to yip and cry. A sudden thought entered Riley’s head. Freeda had said that Magnus had chased Shyloh on more than on occasion, and had almost gotten himself killed. “He’s going to bite Shyloh!” She cried out in alarm. “Magnus, NO!!!” she bent over just in time to see Magnus sinking his teeth into Shyloh’s leg Shyloh squawked and took an alarming dip towards the trees, dropping Magnus. “MAGNUS!!!!!” Riley yelled as the dog dropped onto a swaying branch in a tall tree. But Riley didn’t have much time to worry about Magnus. A branch had whacked Shyloh’s right wing when she dipped down and dropped Magnus. She had been struggling to keep up in the air, but now it was just too hard. Shyloh dropped out of the sky like she’d been shot. Riley held Madigan to her and yelled to Shyloh over the sound of the rushing wind. “Shyloh! Come on girl! Pull up! You can do it!” Shyloh flapped, franticly trying to get back up into the air. The tops of the trees loomed closer. Riley closed her eyes and waited for the crash. Shyloh crashed into the tree that Magnus was on, flipping him back onto her. And then, bumping into branches all the way down, Shyloh finally managed to right herself, only to crash into the ground, sending Riley, Maddy and Magnus flying in all directions. After she’d recovered, Riley sat up, shook out her hair and then turned to see what happened to everyone else. The always-loyal Maddy limped over to see if Riley was all right. Magnus sat there for a moment, shook his head as if to clear it, stood up and stumbled into a tree. Riley laughed and walked over to see if Shyloh was hurt. Soon she wasn’t laughing anymore. It looked like Shyloh had twisted her wing and a small section of feathers were missing. “Oh, poor Shyloh! That must hurt!” Riley crooned as she wrapped her other cloth around it. “Good thing I brought this extra cloth!” she thought out loud. “Now,” she pulled out the bandages. “Maddy, Magnus, come here please.” The dogs both walked over, Maddy was cheerful, but Magnus was looking suspiciously at the bandages. Riley quickly checked Maddy over and found no wounds. Then she gently set Maddy on the ground next to her and continued on to check Magnus. She found a rather large cut on his leg, obviously from a branch from the tree he fell on whipping his leg so hard. Riley winced as she started to wrap his wound in the soft white strips of cloth. Magnus whimpered pathetically as Riley finished tying the cloth onto his leg. “It’s alright, Magnus. It should feel better in a couple days. Now, to set up camp.”