Tuesday, 28 November 2017

Two Chairs



The space was filled with silence.

There are many kinds of silence.

The type that comes once a person passes out of a space of extreme noise.

The terrified silence of prey when they sense the presence of a predator.

The near maddening silence of sensory deprivation.

The silence of the grave, all encompassing and definitive.

The kind of silence that exists comfortably between old friends who do not need to fill the space.

This silence was none of those, and in the odd ways of things, all of them.

The room was bright but comfortably spartan. The cold brightness of fluorescent lighting, not the warm brightness of a fire.

What items there were each filled a very specific purpose and had a very specific space, from the sheathed blades hanging by the door, the stack of cards upon a side table, to the dustpan and brush stacked neatly in the corner.

Two big arm chairs sat one beside the other their occupants gazing straight ahead each looking at that which only they could see.

Between them stood a sturdy handmade oak table on which rested two goblets of red wine beside the open bottle. Neither glass has yet been touched as both occupants knew that it was best to let red warm to the environment and ‘breath’ as the term would have it.

“Do you think it’s going to make a difference?”

The voice which entered the silence, almost as if it were truly part of it, was deep and resonant, thickly accented from the regions surrounding the Nile in the African continent. Soft and soothing to the ear there was no harsh or hardness to the sound of it.

As smoothly as it arrived it passed and the silence slipped back close around them again.

Though the question had been asked neither party was in a rush for the answer. Time was something they were both very keenly aware of, and at this point time was in abundance for them.

The reply when it came slipped like a shadowed whisper into the silence, though easily heard for the closeness of the two chairs.

“It’s time to change or die.”

Both parties never turned to look, each keeping watch over that which only they could perceive. Two hands extended to retrieve the goblets. One slim long fingered and pale skinned, the other broad thick fingered and ebony skinned.

All of a sudden the silence was shattered as surely as the door was. Both sent to splinters across the space as a huge shape barrelled in and reeled about.

“Wife! Beloved! Ye fine vixen ye, I’m home!”

The bellow was such that the silence fled from it like a startled hare.

The massive figure staggered around, reeling unsteadily, moving its broad head about bleary eyed searchingly.

“Ah. There you are an drinkin no less. Sure I’m glad I’m not the only one to be in their cups tonight.”

The bellowed laughter spooked the silence from where it had crept close to the door, sending it bounding away again.

“Who is the company ye have beloved?”

The figure reeled over to stand before the two chairs. Their smile became a might broader to see the occupant of the second chair.

The Big man brought one of his think fingers to his lips and gave an overly exaggerated wink implying he was about to engage in some unsubtle mischief.

“Lil Ani? Is that you? My goodness you’ve grown.”

Once the line was delivered the big man again spooked the silence by descending into a fit of tittering, which for a man his size was impressive indeed.

“No need to get up Lovermine, you see to your guest an I will away to our bed to await your pleasure.”

With a reeling spin that was part bow, part over balanced stumble the figure trundled away across the room. That is of course until they reached the detritus which had once been a door.

“Ah what’s this? What happened to the door? Don’t worry my love I will make you a new one and have it hung in the mornin.”

The figure looked back over their shoulder and suggestively grasped their crotch.

“Speaking of ‘hung’, I hope you won’t be too long away”

The tittering began again as the figure strode through another door and into a back room.

“Tee hee ‘long’ hee hee.”

The silence crept back into the room, slowly, nervously checking everywhere for the Big scary noisy.

The Morrigan smiled a small smile to herself and with a sigh gave a slight shake of her head.

“Was that some movie quote? I can never keep up with his pop culture references.”

Anubis gave a deep throated chuckle.

“Star Wars. One of the prequels. I know because it was almost the death of the franchise.”

The timid silence gave a start as both began to laugh heartily. It considered its options given its favor for the two in the chairs.

It eventually gave up and left as the Dagda began to snore from the back bedroom.

Tuesday, 31 October 2017

The Fomorian Supper


http://www.zastavki.com/pictures/originals/2014/Nature___Sundown_Starry_sky_at_sunset_082927_.jpg
**Content warning pertaining  to Non Consensual physical interaction. My apologies if it upsets  anyone. It most definitely upset me. ** 
 
War.
It's all they seemed to want to talk about. The gathering of chieftains had been in session since the days dawning and now it approached its dusk.

Word had come from the Fomorians offering hospitality and so the chieftains had been called to have their say, and what say there was had spoke of warriors, weapons, battles and glory.

He had sat for the full day in quiet watching his people, listening to their words and reading the truth of their hearts.

The truth which made the sadness come heavy upon him.

Intolerance laced with fear and pride, it brings out the very worst in us.

A voice rose above the rest.

"We should just end every life among those tribes, whether they stand against us or not. They are not of the people and are little more than animals."

The wooden table shook to the thunderous blow laid upon it, cracks lacing out from where the big fist had struck.
All noise ceased and all attention was given to Him.

Dagda had moved.

In contrast to the loud impact which shattered the conversation to silence, his voice when it came was quiet.

"You would dishonour us all by making such murder upon those who share this land, and worse prove us to be the worst of peoples. All life is sacred."

"Strange words from one who carries true death in his paw. We all know that many fall before your might, and yet you simper and quail before the glory of more battle?"

Lugh had answered the Dagda's statement, knowing full well the details of his power.

"It's true I bear the burden of life and death in my hand, but doing so makes me responsible for each life I end, each of which I carry in my heart knowing their story will not continue."

Dagda cast his gaze about the assembly.

"You gather here and for a full days light you talk and plan and plot for war, never considering any other thoughts.

We have not received a declaration of war, we have received an invitation to peace."

Once again it was Lugh, wise to the ways of his lineage who answered.

"Surely you are not blind to their intent despite their invitation? The Fomorian’s seek only a reason to come to battle, going to them as requested is a trap which none could escape and it would be war before even the greetings were given. So we prepare for war which will surely come."

Dagda's sadness rolled up upon him again as gaze fell to the floor..

"I am not blind to their intent. I read full well the hearts of people."

His eyes came up to lock each Chieftain with his gaze.

"A heart turned to war and conflict becomes a malicious thing, small, closed, twisted against love and joy. Such things if not challenged can taint a people forever."

He allowed the moment to sit upon them and then spoke again.

"Full ware I am that the Fomorian invitation may be more trap than nought, but for the sake of a chance at peace, I offer myself as equal to their hospitality. No war will there be with the Tuatha De Danann to blame for its starting."

And with the words of him finished the Dagda stepped out and strode off across the lands to meet Fomorian hospitality.

Through day and night he walked to reach the place that had been spoken of, moving with his rolling, land eating gait so that he arrived upon the day and at the hour as requested.

The Fomorian people had gathered in what could only be described as numbers fit for battle and into their midst the Dagda lumbered, slow and shuffling. Sweat and road dust covered him, hair lank and loose hanging down over his face.

"Welcome Chieftain of the Danann folk to our humble camp."

Indech, King of the Fomorian peoples stood tall and proud, head raised above that of all others around him. Decked out in the finest of cloth, torcs and bracelets of richest metals and set with precious stones he looked upon the sweat and filth stained traveller with open disgust. He had heard one such warrior existed amongst the Tuatha De Danann, a sloven, an oaf, glutinous and lecherous by nature.

So this was the emissary they sent to him? As much insult as could be found in their midst. Still their pride would see them undone, and all the sooner looking at the wretch they had sent to him.

"I see you have travelled far to be with us, and I offer you what hospitality we may in a humble camp such as this."

Indech turned a slow twist, arms out wide as a grand performer would. His gesture encompassing the whole of the grand gathering, a multitude of finely dressed warriors standing amidst large bright tents with splendor to see at every angle.

"Alas you arrive later than agreed my honoured guest and as such our meal has all been passed, but in regard of one such as you a meal has been kept to honour the rule and law of hospitality, such as can be found in this poor excuse for a camp."

The Fomorian king's face split in a toothed smile, mimicked by all around, as he gestured toward a trench dug deep into the soil. With the kings waved hand the awaiting warriors tipped massive cauldrons over on their sides, spilling their contents into the rift in the soil itself.

Dagda watched from under his lowered brow and saw a porridge of oats slide onto the ground, but mixed within it he noted the boiled offal and innards of some swine, sheep and goat, no doubt butchered for the Fomorian feasting. A nausea inducing scent filled the air as the cold gruel finally came to its fill.

Indech turned to face the emissary again, a triumphant smile upon his face. Poor hospitality it may be to offer such a meal, but who would believe the words of an oaf when compared to those of a King.
Once this emissary publicly rejected the meal, crafted specifically to honour them, then indeed the King could hold the peoples of Danú to fault in breaching freely offered hospitality. And here at last he would have his just reason for insult and war.

The Dagda was not one to be lightly dismissed though, and knowing full well the trap before him he did what would not be expected.

Fixing his face to its most vacant expression and loosening his jaw so as to hang his mouth open, the Dagda bowed.
His words when they came were slow and slurred, but still carried wide around the camp to the ears of all.

"Yer a gracious one, O King to offer a humble one such as I so large n fine a meal."

And with that he lumbered over to the trench. Producing a large spoon from amidst his soiled leine, Dagda slumped to the ground with a loud thud, and set to consuming the gruel.

Spoon after spoon of it rose to his mouth. Cold and slimy the bites of it slid down his throat. Chunk after vile chunk of the offal was consumed until the Dagda's body was bowed, his gut distended, his breath laboured and even the gravel from the trench was scraped clean of the meal his hosts had set for him.

What noise and jeers had accompanied the start of the meal had long since slipped to stunned silence, as the sun had slipped beyond its mid.
All that could be heard now were the huffs and puffs of the Chieftain as he rolled to his side, then over atop his stretched gut, followed by the groans and moans as he slowly got his legs under him and rose to his feet.

Dagda stood, hunched and huffing for breath and met the incensed gaze of Indech.

The Fomorian Kings face was near the purple of his cloak, jaw clenched, lips pressed tight together so as not to offer an inhospitable statement to the grossly swollen figure before Him.

The De Danann warrior let out a belch which resounded as thunder amidst the silence.

"Truly a grand meal o King, I apologise for not leaving any fer you n yours to share in it. I'll be off now and you have me gratitude and that o me people."

So saying the Dagda bowed forward as much as his distended gut would allow, then lumbering about he shuffled and shambled his way out of the camp.

Though many were the deaths promised in the eyes of the Fomorian warriors, none would move against him for one who comes in hospitality is protected by it so long as they do not break with the honour of it.

Yet Indech was not so easily thwarted, nor conflict avoided, so he set forth his daughter to again ensnare the emissary of the De Danann and secure him his war.

Shuffling feet and lumbering movements carried the Dagda onwards, the burden in his gut heavy and sickening, so it was that he did not see the woman until he was all but upon her.

"I said, what state is this to greet a woman of noble stature?"

Her sharp voice cracked Dagda's head up and shook some of the malaise from his senses. Without straightening or giving any overt sign Dagda roamed his dark eyes around the area and then the woman herself.

Tall and shapely with pale skin and dark hair she stood beside the track, draped in a fine gúna and cloak, clasped to her shoulder with a broach of precious metals and stones.

"Sorry lady for I did not see you there, I will step around ."

"You will step nowhere without me upon your back! I am the daughter of Indech and by his request as a good host to you, my transport and safety are yours to ensure."

So here it was. The second trap of Indech and one he did bait with his own child.

With a heavy sigh Dagda put his mind to work, for the state of his body was such as to leave him near crippled.

He slumped heavily to the ground, groans and gases escaping him as he hung his head, eyes  half closed, to observe her through his dishevelled mane without being noticed

"Apologies for my rude greeting Princess. I had not thought to find such a worthy person as yourself alone and so far from her people. Might I know your name?"

The disdain never left her face nor voice and her reply came sharp as if bladed.

"One such as you has no need of my name. The name of my father and my kinship to him is enough to warrant your obedience, now get up and carry me upon your back!"

The next sigh to escape him was one of pity for her. His eyes had told him more than her words could. She was tense, poised upon the balls of her feet, ready to flee should he pose any threat or even any insult to her.
This was not the will of the woman before him, but that of her father, speaking through her, tempting insult or injury upon the flesh of his child therefore ensuring him his War.
Dagda had naught but pity in him for her, but still he must tread carefully.

"Alas princess I am bound by a geis on me not to carry any upon my back unless they know the naming of me."

"Well give up your name then for to refuse me would be great insult to my father!"

"I will not refuse you lass, but I doubt I will be of any use to you. That  and I would ensure no insult to one such as you."

"Give up your name and I shall judge what use a disgusting swollen filthy wretch such as you may be to me."

"One such as I is so far below a beauty and bearing the likes of you that I must by virtue of my appearance alone be a slight to you. Surely letting me on my way will allow for a more fitting person to serve your needs."

The shift in his words did not go unnoticed. Her frown shifted and she sought any insult in his terms, but finding nothing to take to her father she persisted.

"A third time I must ask you and let it be the last, for you are the one here and this is the here In which I must be. What is your name!"

"If such is how you would have it lady then hear the naming of me."

Dagda straightened from his hunched slump, set his big hands upon his thighs, yet made no move to rise. Meeting her gaze for the first time he saw her shift slightly, body leaning away like a doe about to leap up and sprint.

He let his voice come soft and slow then, rolling the words out one after the next in a soothing rumble, his eyes fixed to hers so as to show clear the absence of any threat or intent to Him.

"Fer Benn Bruach Brogaill Broumide Cerbad Caic Rolaig Builc Labair Cerrce Di Brig Oldathair Boith Athgen mBethai Brightere Tri Carboid Roth Rimaire Riog Scotbe Obthe Olaithbe"

When the naming was complete a moment of stillness existed between them and the Dagda was the first to break the gaze and lower his eyes.

"Many names for one of such poor stature. Now with the naming, you will carry me upon your back."

The words were meant to insult, to create a slur of his form and rise any kind of ire from him, but as his ears listened beyond the words he heard the sharpness of her tongue had dulled. He knew sure then that it was her father's will which rode her, as she was expected to ride him.
Alas he knew that more would be needed and so once again his body became forfeit.

Letting out a sigh as much for show as for himself Dagda slumped to his side upon the earth, massive stomach stretched out, and breath coming heavily to his lungs.

"I would gladly be of service to you Princess but full I am of your father's fine meal. If you would but press gently upon my stomach mayhaps I can shift this burden and we can me off."

Seeing this gross obese creature slumped so upon the soil, seeking her gentle aid, the daughter of Indech took opportunity to add injury to her insult. Why her father put such stock by this so called Chieftain she did not know. Surely any man would not take to harm without defending themselves and as soon as he struck out at her, she could flee and appease her father's anger.

So it was that stepping forward she began to lay about the Chieftain of the Danann with swift strong kicks to his gut, all the while layering her insult on him for his gross obesity.  She stood close watching and waiting for the first sign of his retaliation, but none came.

Instead, as the bruises began to form the Dagda rolled to his fore and purged the 'meal' from both his stomach and bowel. Indech's daughter leapt back from him, disgust rising as the filth left him in amounts more than could be believed.

Spasms continued to wrack the chieftains body as that which he had consumed to prevented war was now expelled to prevent war. Twitching and retching, wiping the remains of the filth from his form using the grass and leaves about him, he at last began to rise.

The Fomorian princess stood at safe distance, watching this massive man move. Waiting for the first sign of aggression towards her, but none came.

Instead the broad Chieftain, gut now shrunk to a moderate midriff, bent himself to a knee presenting his big back and wide shoulders to her. His voice when it came was torn from the retching and weak.

"Thank you for your gentle ministrations. I'm ready now to carry you."

Indech's daughter stood, her shock showing plain on a face he could not see. What was this man? To take such insult and injury and not be moved to anger or reprisal. What Will was this to drive a man to accept such punishment?

The ponderings of the daughter were soon overruled by memory of the words of her father.

"Go to the path along the ways and wait. A Chieftain of the Danann peoples will come by that way and you are to place demand, insult and injury upon him until he does to you some harm or slight. Then we will have our war."

"Father, what of my safety? What of my virtue? What of the harms that may be done upon me to be alone with our enemy?"

"All the better that harm to you or your virtue happen for then my rights to their lands through means of battle are assured. Be not a waste to me daughter and go!"

Indech's daughter looked upon this kneeling Chieftain and found her hatred cooled, her disgust abated, yet still her father's will drove her.

"I care not by which name you would be called, oh gross one, but a soiled leine is not fit for me to climb upon. Strip! Remove your rags and use them to wipe your filthy self."

Dagda sighed heavily. What a sight he must seem to her. A fair Fomorian princess sent out to ensnare a filthy, gorged mass of dirt and sweat. Insult and injury she placed upon him and now with his service secured she demanded more in order to demean him further.

With slow movements he pulled the soiled leine from off his back leaving him naked to her gaze. Using the fabric as best he could Dagda wiped and cleansed his body of the filth, muck and sweat, standing before her as she gazed upon his bared body.

He saw her eyes follow the line of his shoulders, the movements of his muscled arms, down across his now shrunken stomach, across the groin of him and where his penis hung limp between his massive muscled legs.

He noted her fear to see his big form so laid bare from beneath his loose rough spun leine, so maintains the slow steady movements until once again he knelt to the ground, broad back and shoulders presented to her.

Without a word he heard her close on him, with no flinch he felt her icy hands slide across the shoulders of him and without groan nor complaint he stood, lifting the form of her gently upon his back.

So arranged this Chieftain of the Danu’s people moved off, setting a gentle trundling gait so as not to jostle the princess.  Across the land they went, her cold hands guiding him at times so that their progress would be noted by the Fomorian peoples. So they would see the humbled hero of the Tuatha De Danann carrying their princess. So they in turn could note his naked form and hurl their jeers and insults upon him, but still the Dagda moved on with no reprisal.

Eventually they arrived at the fording of a river and here the princess commanded he stop and lower her down. Tired and sweating again the Dagda slumped to the ground.

Many hours had she ridden him and much land had they covered, yet for all of that, no bruise was there upon her skin from his hand, no chaffing nor scraping, no marks upon her flesh for which she could claim harm.

As she stepped down to the water’s edge Indech's daughter began to despair. Her father would be furious with her should she fail to secure some harm for him to use as slight.

The will of this strange man had seen him accept gross mistreatment. Of hospitality, of his bodily form, of his naming and pride. Shaming him in near all the ways one can be shamed and for all that, she had not one scuff, nor one slight with which to hold against him.

As the sun began its dip towards darkness she had but one thing left to her, one last thing with which to secure harm or slight, her virtue as a maiden.

Standing in the shallows she slipped her guna from her shoulders and allowed the sun's light to bath her naked form. Shapely and muscled with fine curve to her thigh, hip and breast, she had long known the lascivious gaze of men, had endured their leering, pawing, harassments all to ensure no insult for her father, and now here she was set to experience the worst of things, exposed to the appetites of a stranger, so as to secure insult from him and bring about her father’s war.

She turned slowly about gathering her courage to face yet another leering gaze, more exposed than ever before, and found him sitting, eyes cast down averted from her.

All time seemed to stop in that hung moment, the sun spilling liquid fire across the waters flow where it ran above the earth of the ford, the air hung close and still.

"Lass, there is no need for that now. I have read the truth of your eyes, heard the will of your father in your words, and felt the flutter of your heart against my back.

This is not by your consent to be here in this place and be as you are and so you will have no harm of thought, word, nor deed from me.

I would for the very life of me do you no insult or injury, for though conflict may yet come between our folk, I would not have it come from any harm done by me and mine."

His words rolled out upon her, heavy with sadness which she knew was solely for her, but her father's will still drove down upon her, and rage filled her to see so humble a man show true care. Who was this stranger to care so much for her, where her own kin would not. So the moment broke as she descended upon him.

Grabbing, clawing, biting, she took him. All aggression and anger, her fear spilling out and over this strange man. All she needed was some mark, some reprisal, some moment of broken concentration in which his strength was let loose upon her.
She forced her mouth to his, biting his lip til blood flowed, raked her nails across his chest opening crimson wounds so that his heart began to thump and so engorge his limp member. With his penis stiff and turgid from blood flow she mounted him, impaling herself forcefully down upon him, a scream of pain and rage escaping her and there astride him she finally looked down to meet his gaze.

Big dark eyes met hers. Filled with such deep sadness pity and pain that they had overflowed to tears. Salted water streamed steadily from him, down his broad cheeks, passed blooded lip, and into sweat soaked beard. All else of which was silence and stillness from him.

The woman atop the man saw the harm and injury she had caused, not just the physical but also the mental and emotional. She saw in that moment the great extent of a will set to do no harm, a heart burdened by hurt and pain, yet no anger rushed to retaliate.

She saw him. So big, so strong, so powerful, so compassionate. Yet all of that was as if nothing compared to an immovable Will, set now to do no insult or injury no matter the personal cost to him.

Her people had provided the worst of filth and he had sacrificed his honour to consume it.

She had beaten and berated him, stripping him of dignity and he had sacrificed his pride to allow it.

She had taken him, with harm and hurt, without consent, and he had sacrificed his body to endure it.

The depths of those dark eyes took her and in them she saw the truth. The world as it could be. A world where the highest ideals were met as all values were shared equally. Where there were no disparate tribes, but where all were as One people. Where diversity enriched the whole, instead of differences dividing it. She saw hope.

The steady slow rhythm of his heart returned her to herself. She had not known when it had happened but she lay upon his broad chest, face against his skin, rising and falling with his slow breath. Her body was warm despite the darkness of the night around them, cradled gently in a pair of massive muscled arms.

"I saw it."

Her words came as a whisper into the silence and she felt more than heard his acknowledging grunt.

"It can't exist. It's not possible."

Again her only answer was that same grunt.

"My father will not stop until he has his war. He and all the peoples of the land are bound to their hungers, their needs for wealth, power and dominance."

His lungs filled and the breath was released with as much a sigh as an exhale.

"I know lass. I know the ways of hearts and minds. I know the truth of the Worlds.

They no longer struggle to survive, to fight and scrape to have enough food. With work there is enough for all so that hunger need not be a foe.

So now they struggle for that which they think enriches them, land, wealth, precious metals, adoring subservient followers, all the while not knowing what true satisfaction is.

I know that an ideal world cannot exist because we don't all share and live to the same ideals. Until we can come together over common values, to acknowledge the baseline basic truths that apply to one and all, there can be no true satisfaction for all and so no true peace."

His words, so softly spoken in that still space, hung heavily upon reality.

"Come away with me then, let's leave them to their wars and hatred. Let's you and me make a place of peace for us."

Her words were spoken but she knew the answer before she had even started them. She had seen his eyes, she had seen the depth of his hope.

His chest rose and fell a few times, that slow steady drumming of his heart in her ears.

"You know the answer to that lass, but I'm grateful for the asking.

An ideal world might never exist, but who would I be if I stopped trying to make it so.

What hope is there for the rest if there is not at least one who is willing to sacrifice all that they are to show that ideals and values have a rightful place in the truth of our world."

This time she found it was her eyes which were wet with tears.

"I fear the price may always be too high. War will come but it will not be from this day’s events. I will do all I can to delay my people but when it does dawn, know that that day I stand with you, for the sake of your ideal world."

So saying, Indech's daughter, princess of the Fomorians, slipped from his big arms, shivered in the cold, gathered her guna, and disappeared into the night.

Dagda lay there gazing up at the starry heavens and allowed his tears to flow until they joined the rivers swell and rolled away across the lands.

"An ideal world might never exist, but who would I be if I stopped trying to make it so."


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Tuesday, 3 October 2017

The Wooden Heart

The Rath was filled with its usual comforting peace, the only sound in the space given by the hearths fire, where the wood was consumed with faint crackling noises.

The chieftain sat in his big seat, eyes lost to the dance and flicker of the flames, basking in their heat, grateful again for the warmth the wood gave.

 He sat a long while, at his ease, turning something over and over in his big hands. It was a round of wood, looking to be cut from some tree, dried and smooth. His rough fingers traced the lines of the rings upon the trees heartwood. Solid and strong the drying of the wood had not split nor cracked it.

With a last caress, he picked up the sharpened blade, and with a smile began to slowly whittle away peels from the wood. Allowing his mind to drift, he left his hands to free the shape within.

He remembered the day it had come to him. From the storm fallen bole of great tree which could no longer cling to life he had found it. The tree he had taken to support the work of the smith, in his service to the peoples. The labour of cutting, carrying, sawing and stacking, his gift to his brother. 

The island home was covered in trees, tall and green, strong and broad, old before a time his people's feet touched this soil. He had come to know and love them, these ancient creatures. Beings which merge all the elements into one form. Nourished by Earth, Water and fire, creating a form pulled from the Air itself, they stand bridging the Land and Sky, born of Water and the suns Fire.

He always seemed to breath more easily and deeply when surrounded by their bulk and leafy boughs. Many a deep restful sleep he had found seated amidst the large roots of some tree or another and grateful for their care he was.

Have you ever heard the trees sing? People always think its the wind that makes the trees rustle and hum their tunes, but He often wondered if it were not the trees rustle and song which made the wind. A gust here a breeze there, all to carrying their slow creaking groaning greetings one to the next. 

Careful he was of these grand creatures, aware of their song, their vitality, and of the centuries they had stood witness to, he always took that which the tree had already given up, or the fallen form of one whose long watch had already ended. 

So it had been with that giant oak, storm fallen and done, he made his peace with the heart of it and brought it forth to fuel the fires, yet as he had sawn the lumber, shearing the blade through the wood, the rasp and hiss of each cut, he had heard an echo of the heart song of it.

So it was, He had taken this one piece for himself.

The scrape of the whittling blade made a quiet complement to the fires crackle as the curls of wood drifted down about his feet.

The tree’s heart. The core of it. Grown outward year after year. Strengthened and hardened layer after layer. He allowed himself to imagine the passage of those, years decades, centuries as the tree had held to the earth with its roots, branches raised high into the air.

Drawing in the water and nutrients from the earth. Absorbing the heat and energy of the suns fire. Exhaling its breath and sending its song along the wind. 

Struggling from a small green fragile thing. Doing all it could day by day to grow and change. Taking on the elements and the wildlife of its environment as its grew.

Stretching and changing day after day by the smallest of measurements, by the barely perceptible increments, doing at least a little bit so that each effort builds upon the last. Until weeks, became months, became years, became decades, and every days effort became the next day's success.

Trees grow from the heart outwards.

The chieftain’s smile was a subtle thing, given as it was for himself and the fire alone.

One’s heart. No more crucial than many other parts of a body to make sure it functioned, but it always seems that there was more significance given to it than any other.

Follow your heart's desire. Listen to your hearts wants. Heed the hearts hammering. 
Be brave and bold of heart. Keep an open heart.

No one ever said, listen to the wind of your lungs, or follow your kidneys.

He brushed some shavings from the top of his stomach where they had some to rest on his paunch. True they said trust your gut, but what was that when compared to the multitudes of sayings and meanings attributed to the heart. 

He turned the wood over and began working to unlock the details of the piece. The shape was there now, almost distinguishable for its form. 

Trees grow from the heart outwards.

He often wondered if people didn't do the same. True growth, real change growing from the core of each and everyone of us. From a place of happiness and comfort where ones heart is so full and fit to burst that the growth and change just spontaneously surges up? Or oft times from the pained and broken heart, where the growth and change must happen if one is to get to a place where the heart may heal. 

Precious things these hearts. 

Not to be handled lightly or given too freely for the hurt which can be done by them, but assuredly  not to be locked away from others or ourselves for how else will we find growth.  

He looked down at the figure in his hands, rubbing his thick thumbs along its lines and form. It was a person. Blocky and broad, with a wide easy stance, arms bent and hands on its hips, the head tilted back as if the person were laughing joyfully. The Heart of the Oak.
 
Be brave and bold of heart.
Keep an open patient heart. 
Stand strong around your heart 

Trees grow from the heart outwards. 
Maybe we should be more like trees.

The Dagda smiled a broad happy smile and placed this figure on his high shelf with the others. He brushed the shavings into the flames where the fire happy took to munching on them.

Maybe people also grow from their stomach he thought, as his rumbled hungrily at him.


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Saturday, 19 August 2017

House Guest and the tales Hands Tell


"Show me your hands lad."

Perplexed  I did as requested and held my hands up. I had come out of the house to  meet him at his arrival and as ever his ways are often a mystery to me,  that is until he explains them. 

"Now turn them over, palms up."

His eyes gave the smile a mischief twist I was well familiar with these days. 

"What's the story today Big D? Some magic trick?"

That smile is his broadened a slight bit. 

"I have told you already lad, what is magic if not a skill you just don't understand."

My smile answered and I gave a resigned shake of my head.
"Go on then."

Opening his big paw like hands he cupped both of my hands one in each and stared intently at my palms.

"So  what do you know of the art of palmistry? No no don't answer, I think I  can see it here. Yes skepticism but with a curiosity yes."

He  began to inspect my hands, tracing the lines of my palms and taking  hold of my fingers at various times all the while, hmming  and hawing to  himself. 

"So, what do you see old man?"
Curiosity finally getting the better of me. 

His eyes remained fixed to my skin.
"I  see, I see, strength and yet fragility. I see purpose and yet pain. I  see affection and endurance. I see hands of a music maker, hands of  builder, hands of hospitality."

He stepped back and gazed at me with those deep eyes of his as a knowing smile crept its way into his face.
I gazed at my hands and wondered, recalling all I know of palmistry from the sources I had encountered.

"All that?"
My moment of contemplation was shattered to hear his guffaw of laughter followed by a deep rumbling chuckle.

"What? What's funny?"
His chuckle passed and with a deep breath he looked to me.

"You are, the look on your face."
My frown came down heavy and annoyed.

"Alright then, what's the trick?"
His eyes sparkled and his voice took on that tone of the knowledgeable teacher.

"As with any magic trick, the key is in the misdirection. What do you know of palmistry?"
As I began to marshal my thoughts to prepare an answer he interrupted and carried.

"It doesn't matter. That's the misdirection!"

"But how did you know the things you did then? I haven't touched that saxophone in years!"

"Alright lad, here is the key to the true skill of it."
As  usual, he paused, big smile on his broad features, allowing his  audience to await the big reveal like the very best of show men.

"I observed."

"You what? You're telling my you just looked and my hands?"
"No. Looking is just a passive state of awareness. What I did was observation or detailed active awareness.

Let's break it down shall we? 

Strength  and fragility was first. Feeling your hands and fingers showed me the  strength there, but observing your nails, bitten not clipped told me  you're nervous and biting them, so a certain about of anxiousness or  fragility in a sense. 

Purpose and yet pain. Well look at your hands and the slices healing on your skin.
You  have been working at some maintenance job or other. The multiple  directions of the cuts and locations around your index finger and thumb  showed that it was twisting for turning something, loosening a valve or a  bolt, one with sharp edges. The depth of them and the colour of the  healing skin shows that you bled but the repeated cross cuts showed that  you didn't stop and carried on. Purpose despite the pain.

Affection  and endurance is easy. The cats are quite playful and you enjoy their  company, but they do bite and scrape a lot and you seem to endure the  marks to your skin for the sake of the affection given with it."

"Ok  I get it. So it's paying attention to the details, but that's still  doesn't explain the rest. How can anything you would see tell you about  music? That saxophone hasn't been out of its case in years."

His  eyes took on a gleam of the mentor finding the gap in their pupils  thought process and savouring the moment prior to revelation. 

"You're forgetting that observation is not solely a function of the eye.
You're  hands smell very faintly of oil used to lubricate the functions on musical  instruments."

I looked at him in blank amazement at his explanation. 

"The nose knows" said Dagda as he tapped the side of his nostril with a large callused finger, and gave a conspiratorial wink. 

"Hold on....you missed one. What about hospitality?"

His smile broadened again to show teeth this time and I knew at that moment I had fallen into his trap.

"Well you're going to invite me in to your new home and make me a sandwich aren't you?"

His renewed guffaw followed me as I muttered my way into the kitchen to look after my guest

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Friday, 28 July 2017

Passage unto Death.


Who are you to stand so in state?
Who are you to gaze upon the departed?
Who are you to mourn their leaving?

It had been the spirit watch for a day and nights passing and they did not wake. No stirring of form of passage of breath did the body make. No hunger or thirst came upon it to cause a motion. No movement of any kind.

They did not wake.

He had stood so near unblinking for the spirits watch. Ensuring that the allotted time had passed and the spirit had not returned to the form, nor any other spirit take up residence.

Watching for a wake was a trial in itself. Enduring patiently so that the fallen was not alone. Abstaining food and drink so that the hunger or thirst upon you may somehow trigger it upon them. Watching closely so as not to miss a detail in case they were but sleeping or spirit traveling.

Old Donall had strode the land with the Dagda for many years and many were the challenges and adventures they had shared and endured. Donall was well aware of the Dagda's heart and knew the burdens set upon it by bearing the responsibility for life and death in that length of club wood. A great power true, but weighty with great responsibility.

It was he who had spoken of it, one night at revel, but indeed made mention of it in sincerity when the light of the next day was upon them.

"I don't want bringing back."

The Dagda had looked at him, surprised and confused, and moved to speak, but Donall hushed him and carried on.

" I seen the greatness of you and that death touch wood, an all this time together I thought to meself, Donall, ne'er be on the receivin end of that ending.

Wise words no doubt and no chore it was me for your friendship has been of great joy and no enemy of you would I be.

So the years have come and old I am, the strength and vigour leaves me and my wisdom and council is not much more needed.

So then I thought, what of that other end? What of carrying on with our adventures forever? That's when I realised it.

I'm not for stayin Old Donall forever and who knows what's for seein once my ending comes.

I know it's a sorrow I be puttin on ye Big Man, but I would not have the carrying me on that club forever.

Carry instead fond memories of me in your heart so that ye smile thinkin o me."

So that was that. Donall now called 'Old' once called 'Bold' died a quiet death. No battles harm upon him, no pain of illness to touch him, just a soft goodbye as dreams slipped over him and his breath left him at rest.

Dagda stood where only Kin could. Dagda stood dark eyes witnessing the passage onto death. Dagda stood, recalling to mind each tale of Donall's life and finding more smiles than tears upon him.

Dagda stood where Donall would have him stand, watching for a wake they both knew would not come.

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Tuesday, 27 June 2017

The Power of Endings and Beginnings

The Champion could not hold his place for his anger. Fine boots, normally kept so clean were scuffed and muddy from his  treading back and forth.

Dagda sat on the ground before his home, a huge butter churn in between his thick thighs, big hands wrapped around the broad strapped handle of a massive length of wood as he raised and lowered it, driving its shaft into the pale time and again with slow measured strokes.

"You'll wear a hole in those fancy shoes of yours"

Lugh spun on him, levelling that spear of his to point at the other chieftain.

"You could stand to show some more concern. My enemies are moving against us."

Dagda released a slow breath, making allowances for his responsibility to his own emotions before replying, big arms keeping a steady rhythm. 

"Lugh, there is naught you can do about it right this moment, and not much rest will there be in the moments to come. All is prepared as it should be and no pacing will hasten the resolution of the day."

Whether it was his softened tone or the casual use of the name, Dagda did not know, but the Champions frustration flashed to quick anger. 

"Don't tell me what to do! I am in charge  here and will not be coddled by the likes of you."

Dagda's face formed a frown as his own anger began to rise, but this was not the space for emotional responses despite the outburst.

Once again the Dagda allowed space for his own feelings to rise then pass, and releasing a slow breath he relaxed.

The Spear moved away, as Lugh resumed his pacing. Dagda had offered levity, then offered patient counsel, neither had altered the mood so he again lapsed into silence and slow rhythmic motions of the churn. 

When figures appeared from over the hill, Lugh came to an immediate halt, in an instant moving to a perfect warriors pose for attack or defence. 

"Armed men approach. Rouse yourself and ready."

The Dagda lazily rolled his head over and took a glance at the approaching force, in particular the scraggly haired broad shouldered youth in front. 

"They're with me."

Lugh began to relax, but abruptly stiffened. 

"What trick is this?!? That cannot be him. 

The blows I dealt him were mortal and ending. No skill in healing may bring back the dead!

No matter, the slight stands and I will see his corpse at my feet again!"

Lugh reached back, muscles bunched and  feet placed, spear raised for a killing cast, levelled squarely at the broad youth. When this Spear was loosed, none could stand against it. 

His eyes were fixed upon his prey, when sudden pain exploded in his wrist and hand, and the spear stuck fast to his grip.

 It was so unexpected as to bring a yelp to his lips, eyes coming up to rest upon his hand, and seeing the massive paw of another encompassing it in a crushing grip.

His eyes followed the hand to the arm, bunched broad with muscle, and up to a face likened to a dark thunder cloud.  

The Dagda had moved.

In the space of a hearts beat he was upon the de Deann champion and had ceased all of his motion. 

Lugh' eyes met the Dagda's and saw in their deep black darkness a rage barely kept in check. 

The heart of a champion is no quailing thing and Lugh's bright shining eyes hardened to quick frost, as he began to gather his strength and ready his body.

"Don't."

The word was a soft whisper and included a fractional increase in the grips pressure. To his credit, Lugh took the pain without reaction, but stilled himself as he assessed this new threat.

Lugh had long seen the Dagda as he lumbered about  slow and steady, his large frame carrying his weight and giving a slope to his broad shoulders. 
The clothes he wore always seemed too tight and just slightly better than filthy rags about his frame. A champion such as he could demand the finest of raiment as Lugh did, but the fair haired war leader had never seen the Dagda in anything other than basic work wear. 

Lugh knew this to be a choice the Dagda made, appearing slow and small so as not to scare anyone with the massive size of him, but in moments like this, when the Dagda moved as he just had, all pretence fell away.

Lugh's eyes roamed up from the massive fist, along thick muscled arm to broad shoulders set straight as the Dagda took his full height. His big barrel chest strained against the cloth he wore and the cords of thick tendon showed on his neck.

The scraggly beard and moustache surround a thin line of his lips, normally so full and smiling, now tight over clenched teeth.

Nostrils flared in his broad nose as he forcibly drew in and released slow breaths, his brow, normally at rest or raised in levity, was lowered bringing a heavy frown above his eyes.

Those eyes. 

Not much ever escaped the gaze of the Dagda, sharp dark eyes, normally so full of depth and wisdom, and not a small amount of mischief, were at this moment locked squarely on Lugh, empty of all compassion, empty of all caring full only of  rage. 

The heart of a champion is no quailing thing, and Lugh is a champion amongst champions, but in that moment he saw a true death awaiting him. 

Lugh sensed something in that foreboding that he had never felt about the Dagda before and he found his eyes drawn down to the other muscled arm and the length of wood held ready in a big fist. 

Removed from the churn he now saw it was not some stout handle but a massive club of dark wood, the handle wrapped in bindings to aid grip. Death seemed to ride up along its length and into the Dagda's fist. Death. The power of true endings. 

Lugh's eyes came back up to the Dagda's gaze and in that look the big man saw his realisation. Dagda saw the younger warrior consider his mortality and that more than anything broke the moment.

Dagda let loose a rush of breath and releasing the other warrior took a quick step backwards. His dark eyes fell to his clenched fist and the death touch wood there in. Seeing his own arm twitch and shake from the effort of holding it still. 

"Remember your promise."

He spoke the words to himself, but heard another reply to him.

"Of what do you speak? How come you upon this power of endings?"

Dagda closed his eyes and allowed memory take him

 *************

Such a fine child, open and caring and quiet, but with maybe a bit too much of Dagda's charm. 

It was that which must have gotten him in the mess, but the sorrowful Chieftain could not say his son Cermad, wasn't following in his footsteps. Alas those steps had lead him to Lugh's wife.

By the time Dagda had heard of these things and rushed across the land, it was too late. Arriving he had seen his son laid low, with many wounds placed upon him so that his body could not bear them and life had left him.

Lugh stood over the boy victorious in his vengeance, but as the Big Chieftain approached he took up his defence.

"The challenge was given for the betrayal and he took it up with honour."

Lugh's voice held its anger just in check, his eyes watching the Dagda as the Big man slowly closed the distance. 

Dagda's eyes were fixed only for his fallen child, barely seeing the still reddened Spear aimed at him. 

Slumping to his knees upon the ground, big hands trembling, he gathered his son to him. 

"Promise me! Promise me Lugh that it ends here and now, and no enemy of me will you make this day." 

The words were quiet and small coming from his mouth, yet Lugh knew that his decision in this moment would be binding. 

"You have my word on it and by my name let it be true. Honour is settled."

So saying the shining one left that place and the Dagda to his grief. 

The Big man looked down upon his son, grown to manhood, but always his child, brushing the unruly mop of hair from his cold lifeless face. 

"What a mess you have gotten yourself into Cermad my boy."

Skilled in all the ways of the healing as he was, there was no cure for death. Dagda searched his mind and laid upon his offspring the fullest extent of his talents, sealing the wounds and stopping times corruption of the flesh, but for all that he could make the body whole, he could not return that which had left.

As the Chieftain looked down upon the body of his boy, tears rolling freely amidst the sweat of his labours, the sadness came strong and black upon him. 

It was not long before the flutter of wings brought his eyes up, away from his boy. Blackest of birds, the Crow alighted on a nearby branch, head cocked quizzically as it surveyed the scene.

"Away now! This one is not for you."

The Dagda made to shoo the bird off but his labours had drained him and his tired arms would not lift. 

Caw! exclaimed the crow and hopped down gliding to the still chest of the boy. It turned its head this way and that eyes brightly shining and beak clicking as it pondered. 

"I said away!"

The red of the Dagda's anger flashed through him and in a moment he was on his feet. 

Startled the crow flapped and cawed it's way back to the branches, mightily disturbed by the Big mans sudden action.

"No. Not for you. If no power exists in Erin to bring back what's mine then I will leave and find it elsewhere in the world!"

So saying the mighty Chieftain took to task the journey, big hands gently raising him son up across his shoulders, and set his legs to moving. 

All the while the Crow called after him, but he would not be stayed.

Off the land to the east he went, out of Erin and over the Ninth wave to foreign shores. 

Those that saw him, noted a big broad man, weighed down bearing a burden the size of a grown man across his shoulders, hunched forward and low, legs pushing him along. 

Those that spoke to him, found a small voice asking for those knowledgable in the ways of healing. 

Those with skill in healing shared all they knew, but nought could raise his burden.

Long was the journey, and distant the lands the Dagda crossed, until hope itself began to die within the Big mans breast.

Sweat streaked and heart broken his feet barely raising enough to justify a shuffle, Dagda moved onward. 

The still unmoving burden across his shoulders no more a physical burden to him now than when he had carried him as an infant, but the weight around his heart  could not be shifted by the memories of those joys in holding his son. 

So it was that the three brothers of further lands first encountered the Dagda. 
A stoop shouldered, dejected man moving with some difficulty along the dirt road, in the baking heat, a heavy burden upon him. 

When stop him they did, he barely noticed them until one moved to touch the bound and covered form that was his son. The redness of the rage flashed within him and in an unthought of movement, the Dagda's fist connected with the side of the mans head, and felled him down dead. 

Shouts arose as the other brothers decried the act, and as the Dagda stepped back from his irresponsible deed, shame brought him to clarity. 

To the Chieftain's shock, one of the brothers brought forth a massive club and laying its handle against the wound, restored life to his fallen family. 

Seeing the deed done before his eyes with such ease the Dagda was moved to plead with them for his own son's life, but the brothers would not be swayed to his words. 

Talking of their great powers gifted on to them from their fathers inheritance, Dagda heard of the arts that each could accomplish with their gift, all the while his mind fixed on that club. 

Dark is the mind bereft of hope, but to see all that he required kept from him in that moment, that darkness spilled to desperation. 

Again he asked for but the use of the weapon to restore that which was lost to him, but this plea fell upon deaf ears, for the brothers stated why should others gain from the powers which were theirs by right. 

To see hearts so closed to him, drew the Dagda to a mighty rage, and he set about them all of a sudden, close an crushing. 

The first of the brothers drew forth a pair of knives and with a wicked smile,  disappeared from view. Yet the Chieftain would not be fooled in this. What his eyes could not see, his ears and nose could still track, and as his prey moved to pass him, aiming to get behind and slash at him, the Dagda's mighty fist fetched him a punch which drew the wind from his lungs in a cry soon strangled off as his ribs shattered. 

The second brothers form shifted, becoming that of some great ursine beast rearing to its hind legs to roar at the Tuatha De denann warrior. The isle of Erin long had such bears and the Dagda was familiar with the hunt of their form. Strong and dangerous creatures, but the knowledge of all things weaknesses was the Dagda's to call upon. 

As the brute lunged to him, the Chieftain ducked low and rolled over his shoulder to get round behind the creature. Springing to his feet, he kicked out hard at the back of the beast knee driving it low. As it's shoulders came within reach, the Dagda leapt upon its back and wrapped his massive arms about its thick neck. Locking  his grip he denied it its air. Loosing control of the power the form shifted back to that of the second brother and when his  struggling became frantic, The Dagda wrenched his grip to the side with the sound of bones snapping. 

The third brother had stood a back, knowing the ways of his other brothers battles and leaving what should have been an easy kill to them.
As this stranger stood up, all signs of the weary old man gone from him, all sign of the reasonable pleading father removed from his face, the man saw the truth of the Dagda and despaired.  

The last brother looked to the bodies of his kin, and to the club in his hand, weighing the odds. The large mans dark eyes fell upon him and the third brother fell to his knees, seeing only doom in them. 

Words spilled from him, apologising, pleading, surrendering  wholly to this Warrior, yet no words broke that deaths gaze, nor stirred the face set against him. 

Dagda moved slowly, rage having spilled over in his mind until all became cold as a snows burn. His son. Lost to him all this time, taken from him and all hope of healing denied to him this long time. All the footsteps taken, all the tears shed into those steps as he carried his boy upon his shoulders. All to find a means to restore him and have it held from him.

The third brothers words fell upon deaf ears, lost in the roaring of the Dagda's own blood and the hammering of his heart.  Hands offered him a length of wood and as his big fist closed about its hide wrapped handle, the power of death rolled up his arm to fill the hollowed out expanse of his heart. 

The splash of hot liquid in his face was the first indicator to his brain that his body had moved. The thump of the club wood crushed the third brothers skull as he knelt prostrate before the Dagda. Blood fountained up and bathed the warrior in the Dagda's red, as his shoulders came around and about again to bring the weapon down again upon the body before him. Rhythm and movement flowed in him as death and destruction rode upon his arm.

It was the roar that brought him to his senses. Loud and bellowing, mixed with rage, pain and hate it startled the Dagda back a step as he realised it issued from his own throat.

Blinking slowly his eyes focused for the first time on the scene about him. 

The first brother, curled in a ball face blotched and bloodied, distended from gasping for air that would not come. 

The second brother, sprawled forward in the dirt, head twisted around staring with empty eyes at the heavens.

The third brother, crushed almost beyond reckoning, in a broad spread of blood and viscera. 

The Dagda had killed before. Had taken the life of those deserving an ending. Had battled foes stepped against him and placed honourable combat upon them, but this last death shocked him. 

Murder.

There was no other word for it. The foe was broken and surrendered. Kneeling in the dirt pleading to be spared. Offering more than fair payment for his life in the club now clenched in his big fist.

Murder. 

Dagda's eyes moved to that club, feeling the power of endings wrapped around and balanced against the power of beginnings within it. 

"Never again."

The words where but a whisper from his rasping throat, but he set his Will to the words and put them upon himself. 

"By the powers I hold, by Sun, Moon, Land and tide, by all knowledge and wisdom I carry, I take on this responsibility to never again take the life of one who is not declared mine enemy, and to offer life to any who call me friend. This is my Promise."

***********

"Of what promise do you speak? Answer me Chieftain."

Lugh's tone was firm as he rolled his Will out towards the Big Man. The hearts of champions are no quailing thing indeed.

Dagda blinked to be brought back from memory.

"By your word and your name you declared an end and honour satisfied that day. To do anything else would make an enemy of me."

Dagda levelled his gaze upon Lugh and allowed his emotions their place, taking responsibility for himself and allowing the other warrior his chance.

"Choose!"

His words rolled out soft across the distance between them and bound up about Lugh in this moment.

The shining one was no coward yet neither was he a fool. His ice blue eyes flashed from the approaching warriors, lead by Cermad, then back to the dark gaze of the Dagda, and at last falling to that weapon clenched in a massive fist. 

The heart of a champion is no quailing thing, but it his head that makes him great, and Lugh stood tall amidst the greatest.

"No enemy would I ever make of The Dagda."

And so saying he lowered his gaze and settled down to a crouch, butt of the spear planted in the earth, resting himself against it. 

When he looked up again the Dagda had returned to slouch by the churn, and it was only then that Lugh found the question.

"Hold on! You were making butter with that thing?"

The Dagda looked up to see the shock and surprise on the Champion's face, and couldn't help but smile.

"What? I wondered what it would taste like."

As the Warband arrived they found a stunned and shocked looking Lugh and the Dagda bellowing with laughter. 


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