Back on the other side of that Portal Podraig was beside himself with the searching for Danna. He knew she wouldn’t have just run away: they were in love, fer fricks sake, she would’na done that. And…there was something deep down inside himself that told him she had not been killed, that told him she was alight and alive. She was not, as so many hushed voices had said when they didn’t know he was a listening, lying in a gully somewhere, dead as bones.
He knew that in his core. He could not be dissuaded.
He would find her. It was true. The hummingbirds had given him a path on which to start, chittering and twittering and pointing out the pale phosphorescence that marked where his Danna had gone. (All faeries leave that phosphorescence in their wake. Faerie dust, it’s been called, and each trail is as distinctive to the faerie that left it as fingerprints are to humans.) Podraig found the portal too, and he knew Danna had passed through it, not because of that phosphorescence, glittering shyly in front of him, or the disappearing of it twenty feet from his nose. No, he knew Danna had passed through the portal because he knew Danna, and he knew Danna would pass through the portal…how could she not? It was a delightful mystery and Danna would have to see what was on the other side.
He would want to go too; not because he was so very brave, but because he knew he always had fun when he let Danna take the lead on an adventure.
And now she had gone adventuring without him, and how was that to start a new marriage, for they were supposed to have been wed on Saturday last…
So, here was poor Podraig, worried and scared for his Danna dear, all lost and away without him…but, besides that he was frustrated beyond belief. He kept digging and digging, trying to open the portal. With every shovel of dirt he threw out of the hole, another shovel full was thrown into the hole from the other side.
“What sort of evil magic is this? “He said, to no one in particular. “Are the dark ones conspiring to keep me from my Danna?”
He pulled out another shovels worth of dirt, only to be immediately hit by more dirt from within, this time square in the face, leaving him coughing and sputtering and mad.
The dirt stopped falling. The rocks started falling. The demons of this portal, the guardians, he supposed, were dead set against him following his love to whatever new land waited on the other side. He would not be stopped, he knew that and vowed, with a crossing of his heart and a spit to the ground. He would follow and find her, of that you could be sure. He waited till the rocks stopped falling, then he pulled them out of the hole. As soon as he was done, more rocks fell into place to fill the void.
“FIIIIIIIIIIIIIIE!” he cried, in agony of dashed hopes as well as of the three fingers that had been smashed by the last stony onslaught. He might as well call it a night, and go soak his fingers in some cold water and hope he could sleep through the pain.
It was three days before he returned. His fingers were still swollen, but he could work them now, and it had been determined that, smashed as they were, none of them had been broken. When he pulled the stones out this time, a miracle happened: no new stones rained down to replace them. He was full of hope as he crawled up into the portal, only to have those hopes dashed by the discovery of how solidly the portal was now blocked, by stones held in place by sticks of steel or iron and a spiderweb of such, all glued together by a thin, hard stuff that appeared to have been poured in placed. It was like the wattle of huts, but stonier and impenetrable. He couldn’t cut through the metal, and when he tried to break the stony-stuff it came off only in small, insignificant, pathetic, tiny chips. Fie.
Podraig knew that at present there were only two things to be done, a choice: One, he could give up, go on with his life, eventually love another (or, more likely, he knew, die old and lonely and alone, because Danna would be impossible to get over) or, two, he could go on a journey of his own, with old maps, through forests deep and dark to the throne of the King of Dwarves, all the way to Diamond Mountain, to request assistance from those who knew mines and metals, and stones and such, who could help him forge a way through the cursed portal to find his Danna.
He knew which decision he would have to make, and he’d better started planning and packing so’s he could leave on the morrow.