Macha the Determined
Chapter 22 of the Celestial Pack

Macha startled awake, her thoughts still enmeshed in The Dream. Abruptly she sat up, her hands going to her head. “Well, that explains it, " laughing at herself, ‘falling asleep in a hard hat will certainly give you Strange Dreams. She looked down at her strong straight legs, then gathered herself and effortlessly stood up while gazing about her. She was standing near a Bridge, and across it she saw a mistiness. Soft quiet sobs and other sounds of grief emerged from the mist. She tentatively stepped in that direction, when suddenly she spun around at the sound of horses’ hooves and blasts of a hunting horn. The purple clad leader pulled away from the celestial Pack. He was astride a dark mare. Faster still was the white gelding running beside them saddled, but riderless. Macha smiled with pure delight as the gelding rushed up to her and lowered his beautiful head to her outstretched hands. 'Ace!' she exclaimed. She then drew him into her arms and hugged his neck with joy. She put her face up against his neck and inhaled his sweet scent, that perfect fresh smell of horse. Her heart beat in rhythm with his and she was so content.
'Macha," a man's gentle voice broke through her reverie. “ Welcome to the Summerlands. I am sorry we were late to greet you as you stepped through the Veil." 
Macha looked up, but then immediately put out a tentative hand to his dark mare's nose. "Gaia" she sighed, then gently stroked the forehead of the pretty dark mare. She looked up at the rider to see Terafan smiling down at her. " I hope you don't mind that I rode Gaia. Interestingly, Ace won't let anyone near him, let alone ride him. He was obviously waiting for you, Macha"
"Terafan? What's going on? I Dreamed that you had died doing what we all love best--riding a horse.” She hesitated as he nodded. “ I also dreamed that I could barely walk or even ride, because my knees were so painful. " She looked down in disbelief at her strong straight legs, did a knee bend, then looked up at him. " Well, that’s weird-- they are obviously fine and I feel great. "
"Macha" Terafan interrupted her, " actually all that did happen but now you are restored in health and join us here in the Summerlands. “
With that, the rest of the riders approached while hounds dropped to the ground tongues lolling.
Macha took a deep breath and for the first time, really looked around her. Her hand remained on Ace’s neck and he nuzzled her as if he couldn't get enough of her. Macha looked down at herself and realized she was standing straight and pain free. Before she knew it she had easily stepped up on the mounting block near the Bridge and climbed onto Ace’s saddle.
She glanced at each of the riders. She thought she knew one and her gaze fell immediately on the gorgeous palomino mare he rode as she looked up she recognized the rider was indeed a fellow An Tirian.
"Sir Jerald?" she asked ,"are you on Donwenna's Venus?" Jerald smiled and nodded. "Welcome Macha, we are glad to see you. We have watched your efforts in caring for all the Equestrians in the Dream. You did so much and were beloved by many. It was obvious you pushed yourself so hard for them all and stayed well beyond your time."
Macha smiled at Jerald. "I remember that you did so much for the Equestrian Dream as well my friend! You traveled the Known World supporting the Equestrians everywhere.” She stopped and asked “ You know that Donwenna rode Antares and won the first Sir Jerald Memorial Equestrian Championship at Summer Hunt? It was the first tribute event held in your honor. She was so happy that she won. You know she thought of you as her true friend, and spoke of you often."  
Jerald’s face held a note of reminiscing “Oh yes, we know when our friends and loved ones think of us.” He grew quiet for a moment, then said, “When she visited me at the VA Hospital and shared all those messages from everyone for me, I was so grateful. Before she left, she told me that she would miss me. And I said that I would miss her too. We do miss our loved ones here, it’s true. We can however, send our thoughts and love through the Veil to them as they do to us. Love is an energy that transcends the physical realm. I often speak to Donwenna and send my love and support to her. I was so proud of her when she joined the Army. And I am glad that now she is home safe with Giraldus, Ximena, and her horses.” 

Macha nodded thoughtfully. It was good to know that love could pierce the Veil. She had left so many loved ones behind, like her Ken and her daughter. She sent a swift thought to each of them hoping they would catch it and know she was safe and well with Ace and Gaia. 

Jerald absently reached down and stroked Venus’ neck. He sure enjoyed riding this gorgeous spirited palomino. He knew that she allowed him to ride her, because he was Donwenna’s friend. But at times, she was still a handful. Jerald switched his attention back to Macha explaining, ‘ Terafan and I were already out riding with the Celestial Hunt Pack when Ace shot past us galloping towards the Rainbow Bridge.”  

Macha transferred her attention back to Ace and Gaia. She looked them over and admired their glossy shining coats. She had recovered her composure faster than most who had crossed over. It helped that her beloved Ace, her Soul-Horse was here. But even she startled when the hounds jumped up as a rabbit shot by them. The hounds all leapt after it. Jerald said reassuredly, “Don’t worry about them. They will come back when they are ready.” Jerald looked over at Terafan who was quietly sitting on Gaia next to Macha. “Should we head back?” he asked him. Terafan smiled and nodded. He was relieved that Macha had adjusted so quickly. But then again that was not entirely unexpected given her character. He was also glad that she didn’t mind that he was riding Gaia. Honestly, he reflected, Gaia had been a personal comfort to him when he arrived. Somehow she had sensed that Terafan was a great friend to Macha and she had taken on the role of his personal mount. 

With thoughts of his own arrival, Terafan turned Gaia around away from the Bridge and motioned for Macha and Jerald to join him as they rode towards the Castle. Macha brought Ace up beside him. With Jerald and Venus on her other side, Macha rode forward while her eyes took in everything with a wondering excitement. She lovingly stroked Ace’s neck and smiled with pure delight to see Gaia’s ear twitch in her direction. Gaia turned her head ever so slightly to take in the sight of her mistress beside her. Gaia then touched her nose briefly to Ace’s. For a moment time stopped for Macha while she simply gloried in the reunion with her horses. Yes, she thought to herself, I am glad to see Terafan and Jerald, but my soul is now whole as I ride with Ace alongside Gaia. 
Jerald and Terafan respected Macha’s silence knowing that it was a lot to absorb when first arriving at the Summerlands. They shared a long look with one another as they rode on each side of her.  
Macha then looked up at their destination, the not-too-distant Castle and caught a glimpse of another palomino cantering gracefully with measured strides on an archery field. A crowd was gathered watching as the dark haired rider on Valerius shot off 3 arrows during his run past 3 archery targets. She heard the ‘thump, thump, thump’ as each one smacked into the targets. The crowd murmured and applauded at the perfect run. "Oh my, * she said, " mounted archery! And is that Little D on Valerius?" She asked. “Yes it is,” Jerald affirmed. “Valerius is the best of the horses for archery and it seems that he and little D have hit it off as companions. Perhaps Little D reminds Valerius of his person, Giraldus, Donwenna’s son and a right good horseback archer himself.”

“We left Little D teaching Master Johannes horseback archery,” Jerald continued. “ Johannes is already shooting some great archery off of Belle. But that’s Johannes for you. He is not just good at everything; he is great.” Jerald eyes danced. “ And best of all, he is always up for a good debate.”
Jerald settled a bit firmer into his saddle as Venus started to prance. Macha cracked a wide smile at the sight of Jerald on the animated palomino. “How’s it going, Jerald? Is she gonna run off with you or have you got her?” Jerald laughed, “Who me? All I do is hang on, right?” Macha joined in with some laughter at that old joke as if Jerald couldn’t ride. Jerald easily sat the mare and with a daring look at Macha, he let loose the reins. Off they went, with Macha shouting her joy in swift pursuit with Ace. Terafan and Gaia leapt after them--all three of the riders in a glorious race at a breakneck speed. Here they were riding like they did in their prime on the best, most beloved and beautiful horses. Their joy spread out like a fierce wave of energy before them.  

The crowd at the Castle now turned their attention to the oncoming horses and riders. Master Johannes and Little D stopped as well to take in the thrilling spectacle. Little D was startled to see these riders that he had remembered as somewhat old and decrepit, now flinging themselves forward in a passionate race towards the Castle. He could feel Valerius intently watching his friend, Venus come at them. Before he knew it, Little D couldn’t help himself and was grinning ear to ear. “Sheesh” Little D thought, ‘these oldsters are all alike when they get to the Summerlands and seem to go a little crazy reclaiming their youth.”  
He shook his head and just sat back. Master Johannes rode up next to him on Belle and leaned over saying, “I had to take a break from horseback archery to watch this.” Little D nodded, ‘Me too. I can feel their happiness from here. And boy can they ride!”  
Macha, Jerald, and Terafan arrived to applause from those gathering near Little D and Johannes. “Whew, that was fun!” exclaimed Macha with a wide grin on her face as the horses slowed to a walk still a bit of a distance from the crowd. Folks called out a welcome to her as she began to scan their faces. She noticed that many wore noble finery and sported Crowns and Coronets. She recognized most from pictures and knew that they were the OG (Original Gang) of Scadians who were the first in the ways of chivalry and courtesy of the original Dream. She felt like she had come home and was living in the best Dream she had ever known. Jerald and Terafan flanked her once again. All three proceeding at a more sedate pace to give their mounts a chance to catch their breath. “I do love a good run, “ chuckled Macha. Jerald and Terafan shared a smile then both nodded in satisfaction at each other.  

They dismounted and began to walk their horses to continue to cool them off in an area near the crowd. Macha grew sober for a moment then quietly asked Jerald, “Is this my home now?” Jerald looked at her and said, “My Lady, this has always been your home, because it has been forever in your heart. You worked so hard in your life to always do the right thing. You brought a certain diplomacy to the SCA Equestrians and many depended on your wise counsel.” 
He went on, “Often I heard Donwenna’s thoughts of deep gratitude for your friendship and her love of you rise in the wisps of the breezes here in these Summerlands. She, as well as many, appreciated your efforts and deeply mourn that you have left them in their reality.” 
Macha grew serious and a frown began to form on her face. “No Macha, don’t worry’ Terafan interjected. Macha glanced swiftly at him. He continued, “Your work is not over. Now your spirit joins ours here in the Summerlands, where we reinforce the original Dream. You will help to prepare this place for all of the mighty souls who still strive in the ways of Dream of the old days.” At that, Macha smiled “Yes, I understand.’ 

She then reached down to stroke Ace’s mane whispering “l am home with my Ace.” She looked up at the sky of the Endless Summer and breathed deeply, her first true relaxing breath in many years, perhaps even decades. “Now what?” she asked Jerald. Jerald’s blue eyes crinkled at the corners as he smiled and said, “Macha, now is your forever in the Summerlands with your Ace and Gaia. All you do now is to keep the Dream alive here for those who follow us. “  
Macha grinned at him, then tossed a smile at Terafan as well. “I can do that, “ she said. She went on “ I am Macha the Determined, and I am determined to keep the Dream alive here for my friends.” With that she stroked Ace’s neck a content smile growing on her features. She nodded once again, put her other hand out to Gaia and whispered, “I am home.”

At the edge of the crowd, Master Johannes raised his hunting horn to his lips and blew The Recheat, to signal the end of the hunt. He lowered the horn as the echoes faded into the distance and said, “We welcome you this day, Dame Macha to the Celestial Realm. Come and meet the rest of the Celestial Pack and let the breezes of the Celestial Lands caress you. We the Kings, Queens, and Nobles of the Celestial Realm stand ready to make you one of our own. Hear now the Roll of the Celestial Pack, who will be your loving Companions during this Endless Summer:

“Beaux, of Meridies”
“Venus Tia, of An Tir”
“Cisco, of Trimaris”
“Valerius of An Tir”
“Titus of An Tir”
Ace of An Tir
Gaia of An Tir
"Aces High, of Midrealm"
"Aiden, of Calontir"
"A-Me-Go, of Midrealm"
"Ariel, of Meridies"
"Belle, of Ansteorra"
"Belle, of Midrealm"
"Bernie, of Meridies"
"Blackout, of Atlantia"
"Bo, of Midrealm"
"Brodie, of Atlantia"
"Browning, of Meridies"
"By Choice, of Meridies"
"Carl-Ten, of Meridies"
"Chris, of Meridies"
"Christa of Meridies"
"Colt, of Meridies"
"Cutie, of An Tir"
"Damon Fox, of Meridies"
"Digger, of Trimaris"
"Dixie, of Meridies"
"Duncan, of Midrealm"
"Ears of Dark Horde"
"Emily, of Atlantia"
"Erromani, of AEthelmearc"
"Et Cetera, of Meridies"
"Frankie, of Midrealm"
"General, of Midrealm" 
"Gryphon, of Midrealm"
"Harmony, of Meridies"
"John Moore, of Meridies"
"Keavy, of An Tir"
"Lookin, of Trimaris"
"Lucinda of Trimaris"
"Lucy, of Calontir"
"Madeline, of Artemesia"
"Magic, of Meridies"
"Missy, of Meridies" 
"Muskrat, of Meridies"
"Myra, of Ansteorra"
"Pat-C, of Midrealm"
"Pattycake, of Atlantia"
"Pest, of Artemesia"
"Ripley, of An Tir"
"Ross, of Meridies"
"Scooter, of Meridies"
"Seeger Rock, of Meridies"
"Sha-Kar, of Ansteorra"
"Sheba, of AEthelmearc"
"Sissy-B, of Midrealm"
"Splash, of Meridies"
"Storm, of Meridies"
"Streaker, of Ansteorra"
"Stumah, of AEthelmearc"
"Sugar Sweety, of Meridies"
"Sunni, of An Tir"
"Swift, of Midrealm"
"Tasha, of Midrealm"
"Tucker, of Meridies" 
"Velvet, of Midrealm"
"Zima, of Ansteorra”
So Howl and Roo all you hounds! Whinny and Prance all you steeds of the Knowne World for tonight, there is another Noble rider, who shall grace the Celestial Lands. Macha is free of earthly pain and safe with her beloved steeds who have gone before, while she awaits her family and friends in the Celestial Realm.
By my hand this day, 15 July 2021 ---in loving tribute for the passing of Macha in May 2019. 
Donwenna LaMareschale
© Donna DeBonis 2021

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