Tuesday, 30 August 2016

Feile.


boxmoornature.blogspot.co.uk2014

The sun shone bright upon the land as the Summer's warmth made a fine day of the green fields. White clouds chased each other across the azure dome of the sky as a light wind fluttered the pennants and pageantry of the Feile.

The children of Danu roamed about the space enjoying the sport and the wares that were on offer. Food set out on long tables filled the place with sweet and savory scents. A band of bards set sounds and song to complement the festive feel of the event.

He always enjoyed these days. The flow of feelings all lifted together in an energetic dance that did the soul much good. Invigorated by the revels a person might indeed live forever.

Dagda’s smile was broad as he meandered about, moving between the crowds. It always tickled him to move his big broad frame through a shifting throng without touching anyone, eyes scanning the route, mind plotting the movements and the flow, working the gaps. It was all just a game, but one he enjoyed immensely.
A playful bellow came from his left was his only warning.

Shifting his weight rapidly to his leading leg, he spun about on the ball of that foot, almost as a dancer twirls, getting his trailing leg ahead of him. Just in time, as two figures came sprawling out of a tent onto the ground in a friendly grapple.

Ogma, had a good grip around Luchtaine’s waist and had set a squeeze with all his might, yet  the carpenter's strong hands were locked vice like on the warrior poets wrists and Dagda was sure that his brothers grip would not hold long.

Seeing the disruption the friendly brawl had caused to those in and around the tent, the chieftain stepped in and grabbing both men but the back of the neck, heaved them upright and apart.

“Now now lads, shame on you to start this up without proper consideration for your fellows. Sure isn't the wrestling ring all set up over yonder? how can there be such sport without fit wager and spectacle to support the effort.”

Setting the men on their feet, and with a gentle nudge forward, the two set off for the cleared section of dirt across the field, gathering a crowd with every step. The followers moved with a happy buzz, trading talk, forecasts and indeed wagers.

Dagda, shook his head and let out a happy sigh. His brother was no laggard and a fine fighter, but the chieftain had spent many a time practicing his wood working skills with Luchtaine, and knew the stamina and endurance the the master carpenter had to call upon. It would not be easily resolved, and glancing at the crowds he was glad for the spectacle to come.

Returning to his own game, made a lot easier now, he moved about the stalls with nothing on his mind other than movement and appetite for the food and drinks.
His wandering feet eventually brought him to the stalls of the three brother craftsmen. There he found Goibhniu and Creidhne busy at work showing their wares to the interested.

Finely wrought jewellery of precious metals gleamed and glittered on their stands, beside vessels and curious artifacts, but by far and above it was the weapons which drew the greatest attention. Wrought with the finest skill each was a masters work to fashion.

Sword and spear, axe and javelin, blades shaped to many forms. One and all a beauty to behold for their craftsmanship, yet one and all stirred a sadness in him. Like a distant echo, faded by repetition, he heard the clash of such weapons, the screams of the wounded, and worst of all, the silence of the dead.

His sad eyes drew the attention of a few youthful warriors and misinterpreting his interest they put a question to him.

“Chieftain, tell us, which weapon is best?”

The Dagda shook his head slightly and found a smile for the warriors.

“Whichever suits you best, is the best to use.”

This response seemed to set the group off once more in their debate. One voice calling that versatility was key and that daggers were the most versatile of all.

Yet another raised their voice to decry the first. Speed they said was the best and no faster weapon than a sword to slice and slash one's foes.

The third spoke of reach, the javelin and spear, keeping a foe at safe distance whilst inflicting serious harm upon them.

The fourth, a broad backed warrior called them all fools and said that strength above all lead to victory, and no better weapon than an axe to deliver one's strength in a broad headed bite of ruin.

Around again it went, their ire in reply to each other.
“With my daggers thrown and followed, I can end 5 warriors before they could move against me.”

The second replied with a mocking laugh. “Pish! With sword in hand I could slice 10  foes before a sweat did take upon me.”

“Fools.” said the third. “With javelin and spear I could fell 15 warriors before any could get close enough to touch me.”

The fourth roared a bellowed laugh at the others.
“Weaklings one and all. With axe in hand I could end end 20 lives and cleave asunder what defense they may attempt against me!”

Then all started and the volume of their bickering rose to disturb the feile. The shift in the feeling around the four put a spoil on the day, and an angry frown on the Dagda’s face.

Stepping in between them all, he silenced them with his presence, and in a hushed voice bade them follow him.

Striding off and away from the fair he brought them to the mound of wood set aside for the evening bonfires.

Stepping up he selected 5 big logs of similar size and width and planted them upright in the earth.Stepping back to them he gestured at the logs.

“These are your opponents. These are the people you would harm. Show us all then, your skills at killing.”

So saying the Dagda, stepped aside and folding his massive arms across his chest he watched.

The first stepped up and let fly with two blades thrown one from each hand. As they left her, she set foot to chase, and at the moment that the thrown blades struck the timber, she was there driving two more into its sides. It all took less than a minute.

The other warriors cheered and applauded at the skill.

The Dagda made no move, his face gave no expression.

The second stepped forward and with a rapid flourish, the sword all but flew to his hand. Spin and cut followed thrust and slash. In rapid moving moments the log was slashed and shredded, with nary a bead of sweat on the warrior's brow.  It all took less than a minute.

The other warriors cheered and applauded at the skill.

The Dagda made no move, his face gave no expression.

The third moved to her place and with a flex of her shoulder she threw a javelin across the field, piercing the log and sticking deep, shaft quivering, in the wood. A few long strides forward had her in spear range, yet further from the wooden opponent than any of the rest had been. What followed was a flowing dance as she lunged and thrust, each strike in perfect form and balance, each punching deep into the wood which very rapidly came undone. It all took less than a minute.

The other warriors cheered and applauded at the skill.

The Dagda made no move, his face gave no expression.

The fourth had watched the other performances, and seen the Dagda’s lack or reaction. Looking to impress his Chieftain with his mighty strength, he hefted his axe and with a heroic swing and a bellow he cleaved the log from top to bottom in one act. The wood split straight and true and the halves fell to the ground sundered completely. Turning about the big warrior raised his arms to bask in the adulation. It all took less than a minute.

The other warriors cheered and applauded at the skill.

The Dagda made no move, his face gave no expression.

Frustration colored the fourth warriors face with a red anger and his words came harsh and mocking.

“What now o Chieftain? How will you best the performance of such great killers as us?”

With a face of stone the Dagda walked back to the wood pile. It took a moment to find what he sought. Twice as long as his forearm, broad and solid up its length, he lifted the makeshift club and gave it a test slap into the meat of his other hand.

It could never match the versatility of a dagger
It could never rival the speed of a sword.
It could not match the reach of javelin or spear
It could not match the axe for the strength of its broad bladed bite.

Mocking amusement appeared on all of the warriors faces to see the Dagda approach his log with nought but a big tree branch.

The first swing, struck the log square in its middle with a resounding thump, sending bark flying.
The second swing struck the other side with the same powerful swing and again more bark flew. Beyond these two strikes, the log remained undamaged.
The Dagda’s stance was set wide, this arms loose and his broad shoulders straight. Blow after blow rained down on the wood again and again.

The feat wore on and the log took more and more damage, the Dagda’s body beginning to sweat in the heat of the day and the exertion. As the fourth minute arrived, the Dagda’s last strike shattered the log and the branch, sending kindling raining down upon the ground, utterly destroying the wood.

No applause met him as he turned. Just confused puzzled glances shared between the warriors.

With heavy breath he approached them and locked each in turn with his dark eyes.

“ A grand bunch of killers you are, but one and all of you miss the most important part.”

No words did the warriors exchange, bound as they were to his gaze.

“A task done with too much ease has little value. Think you then on the ease with which we end a Life. Another living breathing creature of this world.  Stopping, with your action, the very existence of another being."

"And all in less than a minute."

A big shuddering breath escaped him, and none of the warriors could be sure if the wetness about his eyes was sweat alone.

“You ask what weapon is best and here you shall have your true answer. The best weapon is one you never have to use.”

So saying the Dagda left them, lumbering off towards the light and joyous sounds of the Feile.
He allowed the echoes of battles past wash over his senses for a moment, and saw again everyone he had been required to end. 

This was the price of his actions, forever to be haunted and heart heavy. Burdened by the blood upon his hands, he gladly accepted the sorrow, for in it he knew that he could never take joy in the demise of another. 

Blowing out a hefty sigh he straightened his shoulders as he reached the happy full energy of his people at their revels. Looking again upon the pennants and pageantry of the Feile, he knew that it was a price he was glad to pay.

For Them.

He forged a smile then, and followed his nose towards the food tables.

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