Once, many years ago, a young girl was looking for food in the forest. She was sent to look for berries and mushrooms, but she soon got distracted following a flock of birds. As the sun got lower in the sky, she realized that she was lost. She did not recognize the trees around her, or the stream in front of her. She didn’t recognize the cave on the other side of the stream.
She sat down and almost started to cry, but before she could, she heard loud wailing from the cave. It sounded like a baby. The girl cautiously walked into the cave, peering around for the source of the noise. She walked until she saw a shaft of light ahead, and in the light was a bundle. The girl tiptoed closer. The bundle was moving, and the wailing was coming from it. The girl knelt and peeled away to top layer of the bundle.
It was a baby. He stopped crying when he saw the girl. Realizing that he, too, was lost, the girl picked him up and put him in her basket. He fell asleep instantly. The girl decided to spend the night in the cave, and built a small fire. She roasted some of her mushrooms, ate, and gradually fell asleep.
The next morning, the girl woke up and saw that the baby was staring at her. She gave him some berries, which he happily ate, and had some herself. Then she picked up the basket and walked out of the cave. She still didn’t recognize anything, but she picked a direction and started walking. She sang songs to the baby to keep him happy, and gave him more to eat when he seemed hungry. As the day passed and she still didn’t see anything she knew, she began to get worried. She had no idea how to get home, or where to take the baby.
As the sun began to set, she noticed that the baby seemed to be getting heavier. Confused, she put him down and made a camp for the night. She cooked more mushrooms, fed the baby, and went to sleep. When she woke up in the morning, she was surprised to see her basket empty. The baby was nearby, but he was no longer a baby. Instead, a toddler was playing with some rocks. The girl realized that he must have been a god. She gathered her things, took the boy’s hand, and led him from the cave.
They walked and walked. That night, still lost, they made camp again. The girl was certain that the boy had been growing during the day, because he was looking taller and talking more. They went to sleep, the bow curled up in the girl’s arms. When they woke up the next morning, the boy was even bigger.
This continued for days, until the boy could speak clearly and was almost taller than the girl. She still didn’t know his name, but he seemed to be the same age as her, and they had become good friends. He helped make the fire that night, and cook dinner, and they went to sleep.
When the girl woke up the next morning, she could smell something delicious roasting. She sat up to see that the boy was cooking a grouse. When it was done, they ate together. The girl thought the boy looked even older. He was taller than her, and reminded her of her older brother, who was ten. When they were finished eating, the girl started to get ready to go, but the boy stopped her.
“It is time for me to reveal my name,” the boy said. “I am Eogan, son of Sunia and Catul. Every ten day I spend in your world, I grow up. Ten days ago I was exploring that cave. The next day, I was once again a newborn. You have taken care of me for ten days, and now it is my turn to take care of you. I now know the way to your home. Will you follow me?”
The girl nodded. She continued to pack, and Eogan helped her. Soon, they were on their way again. The girl followed Eogan as he led her in the opposite direction that they had been walking.
“Why couldn’t you help me before?” the girl asked.
“I didn’t remember who I was,” Eogan explained. “Being in your world confuses me. Normally, I can change age at will. But I got lost, and I was very lucky you came along.”
They walked in silence for a while after that. Although the girl had assumed he was a god, it was still strange to have her assumption confirmed. And now that she no longer felt she had to take care of him, she wasn’t sure what to do.
But as the day passed she relaxed and found that Eogan was still the boy she had befriended. That night, as they settled down, Eogan told her stories about his family, the other gods and goddesses. Then he stopped and grew serious.
“Tomorrow I will be a baby once again. But if you keep heading east, you will reach your village before I have grown back into myself.”
“I will take care of you until you remember,” the girl promised.
Eogan smiled. “There’s no need for that. When you reach your village, take me to the temple. Put me in front of my mother’s niche and she will find me.”
The girl agreed, and they went to sleep. The next morning Eogan was a baby again. Carefully, the girl put him in her basket and continued east.
She took breaks to eat and sleep, and sure enough, after four days had passed, she saw her village up ahead. Delighted, she started to head towards her house, but then she remembered what Eogan had asked her to do. She took his hand and led him to the temple in the middle of the village, being careful to avoid other people so that she would not be distracted from her goal.
In the temple, she brought Eogan to Sunia’s niche and had him sit down. As she turned to leave, he began to cry, and she stopped. “I’ll sit with you until your mother comes,” she decided, and she sat down with Eogan, who crawled onto her lap and fell asleep.
The girl didn’t want to disturb him, so she waited patiently. Through small windows she could see it getting darker outside. She wanted to go home to see her parents and her brother, to let them know that she was no longer lost. But instead she waited with Eogan.
She had started to fall asleep when a light glow woke her. It took her a moment to notice that Sunia’s statue was glowing. The girl watched in amazement as a glowing figure separated itself from the statue and became clearer, until a woman was standing in front of her. The girl knew it was Sunia. The woman turned to her and smiled.
“You have found him!” She knelt next to the girl and scooped Eogan into her arms. “My beautiful son.”
“He was in a cave,” the girl stammered. She was finding it very scary to talk to an adult goddess. “He was a baby when I found him, but then he grew up and he told me how to get home. Then he became a baby again.”
Sunia nodded. “He loses control over his powers when he comes to this world. I told him not to stay here too long, but he was curious.” She smiled fondly at her son.
“Would you mind if I said goodbye to him?” the girl asked, mustering all of her courage.
“Of course not,” Sunia said kindly. She put Eogan, who was now awake, and waved her hand over him. He glowed the same soft light as his mother had, and grew into his oldest self.
Eogan smiled at the girl. “I knew you would make it home. Thank you.” He put his arms around her and she hugged him back.
“I’ll miss you,” she said.
“You’ll see me again,” Eogan promised. His mother tutted and he smiled at her. “I promise I’ll be careful mother, I’ll visit during the day.”
“Very well, then,” Sunia said. She took Eogan’s hand, and held it tightly even when he tried to pull away. She put her other hand on the girl’s head. “I bless you and your village. Any child born here will never get sick. Your family, wherever in the world they may spread, will have healthy babies. Thank you for taking care of my son.” Sunia faded away, and Eogan did so as well, only managing a quick wave to the girl.
The girl stayed in the temple long after they had left. Then, when the moon was high in sky, she made her way back to her family’s home. Her parents and brother cried and hugged her. She didn’t know how to explain to them what had happened, so she never did. But she saw Eogan often, and the children in her village prospered.
Years later, when she had lived a full life and Siour came to collect her, Eogan was there. He took her hand and helped her climb onto the chariot, and she felt younger than she had in years.