Monday, 31 October 2016

The Couple's Ford

The morning sunshine warmed him as he lay upon the grass.

Arriving in the moments before the dawn as he always had, the Dagda stripped off his clothes and waded out, waist deep, into the river's depth.

As the first rays of the sun's light were captured by the water, he raised it in the bowl of his cupped hands and poured it over his head and face.

Breathing in deeply and exhaling slowly with every movement, he repeated the process again and again.

The Dagda cleansed his body, and with it his spirit. 

Standing in the shallows of the river's bank he gazed across to its opposite side. Assessing where the earth met the water, he marked his spot and with a large inhalation, dove below the river's shimmering surface.

Beneath the water's boundary the world was a different place.

A quieter, more fluid space. An area where one thing moved toward the next in a constant, never ending push and pull, measured in the space of a held breath.

Kicking his strong legs the Dagda reached for the bottom and dug his thick fingers into the earth beneath the water. Anchored there, he took his mark to the earth above the water and with a bend of his body, and a plant of his feet, he pulled.

As the near noon sun beat down upon the water, the Dagda rose with a gasp to fill his lungs again. 
It was done.

Clambering forward, he heaved his form up on to the shallows that now forded the river from one point to the other.

Lying on the earth with the water running over his body, air filling his lungs, skin drying in the warmth of the sun's fire... the Dagda rested. Eyes closing and breathing deepening, sleep took him.

With a snort and a shudder he sat upright, mind returning from dream to his body.

Squinting, he looked to the sun’s position. An hour had past at the most. Noon.

Still, she would be here soon.

Looking about for a suitable place, his eyes fell upon some heavy brush not far up the opposite bank.

Returning to his discarded Léine and other clothes, he gathered them up, scuffed his feet through the flattened grass to make it stand, and crossed the river using its new ford.

Moving to the brush he circled around it and finding a suitable spot, crawled beneath its cover.
Wriggling forward on his gut, the Dagda gained a view of the ford, and settled to wait.

She would be here soon.

The heat of the sun at its highest was a need to warm her.

The flow of the water, clean and clear to wash her.

Her eye, which always sees the ways of change in every glance, will be drawn to this place where the land itself was changed.

The Dagda knew all of these things when he chose a space for their coupling.  

It was not long before a shadow flickered by above and the crows' call announced her approaching presence.

The Dagda relaxed his body and made his mind still, imagining himself as small as he could.

Letting go of his intent he allowed his eyes to see all that was there, foregoing thought, judgement or decision for the sake of the moment.

A difficult skill to master, being omnipresent, with no thought of self nor worry for the cares of tomorrow, with no part of the mind returning to the vaults of memory.

Dissipating his Will, the Dagda ceased to be, and became only a pair of eyes observing a moment.

Into that moment she came.

The Morrigan, cloaked in the colours of Autumn. The hues of orange, yellow and red. Her hair falling from her head in a crimson cascade. Skin with the clean healthy pallor of a fresh snowfall. Lips as red as heart's blood. Eyes of the deepest blue skies, surveying all around her.

Stepping lightly to the water's edge she stopped and cast her gaze about. Her Will rolled out across the space - seeking, searching. Only one who knew her well would have seen the slightest of frowns move her brows a fraction.

The land was changed. His hand had made it so. This she knew. Their meeting and coupling here, where earth meets water, in the surroundings of air and fire, was more than mating. 

This was their personal moment of balance. Service offered and given. The exchange that would speak to the next years course.

Every year this ritual was met and the requirements satisfied, and yet every year she could not find him before the right moment. As if he did not exist until the ritual needed him to. Never would she say, but it annoyed and vexed her to so lose track of him.

Slipping her arms from her garment she let it fall to the green of the grass. Time approached and though she could not find him, she did not doubt his presence.

Her face took on a smile at her surety. He always liked to watch.

Stepping lightly, she moved forward upon the balls of her feet, her strong legs taking her naked body out into the waters of the ford. She moved her warrior's physique with a dancer's grace. Lithe muscles moving sinuously, alluring and yet deadly.

 As the sun reached its highest, giving its warmth to her flesh, she stopped in the middle of the river. There she bent to raise water with her hands. Lifting it to her face she sipped of it, and then poured it down her head and body. Turning about she repeated this in the four directions.

The Morrigan cleansed her body, and with it her spirit.

With this done, she came about again, offering the four points of the land the four elements, filling each movement with her Will. Water of the river. Earth of the ford. Air of the winds. Fire of the sun.

Her will gathered in across the land and from that moment, all was in readiness. She cast her gaze about in one last effort to find him, but knew that he would only exist once the call was placed upon him.


Come you then, O Chieftain of the people.
Come you hither in service and in seeking.
 
fís agus eolas
I call you and by your name be made present.

Dagda!


Her voice rang out its clarion call, taking her Will with it in all directions at once.

The eyes that had watched blinked.

The word had been spoken and settled upon him like a mantle - full of power, purpose and responsibility.

Muscles in the body twitched, as that which had until that moment been just part of the land became separate again. Big callused hands placed down upon the earth supported the push of strong arms connected to broad shoulders.

The body moved as a Will filled it once again and the Dagda rose up from the brush to face her.

In the moment his name had left her lips she had felt him. So named, his Will could not be hidden. She was facing the brush as she heard the first rustling of his movement. Seeing his broad shouldered body lift up, as if out of the earth itself, always gave her pause, yet no sign of it did show upon her face.

He moved with a steady grace for one of his size, unhurried and patient. His big naked full frame, covered in ruddy bronzed skin from a life of labour outdoors. Slab like muscles defined on his shoulders, arms, legs and chest with a heaviness about his waist which spoke of wealth and comfort.

His hair hung down about his broad face, features lined and careworn where they ran down to his close cropped beard. The eyes that met her gaze were the rich dark of the fresh turned earth, deep and steady.

“I am here Lady, on behalf of the people I answer the call.
fís agus eolas
I seek so best to offer them service.”


“And what, Chieftain, do you offer in exchange? 
All know that with knowledge comes power, and with power comes responsibility.”


The deepest blue of her eyes locked to his brown as their Wills met in full at that moment. Push and pull in the water's course. Shift and steady in the earth beneath. To and fro in the gusts of air. Hot and cold in the fire's heart. They challenged. Each testing the other's worth. Pushing their full power and focused Will against their opposite.

As the challenge reached its apex, match for match, equal to equal, he let go, allowing her Will to surround and take him. Sinking to a knee in the ford he lowered his gaze from her and hung his head in submission.

“In this moment and upon this ford, I offer all that I have, 
which is all that I am. 
For the vision and knowledge to best serve my people 
from this moment on until next we meet upon the boundaries between all things. "

Moving forward through the water, she approached. Stepping in front of him, standing above his big kneeling form, she placed her hand upon his head resting it there for a moment, allowing time for this act to settle within him.

In a sudden movement, she grabbed a fistful of his hair and painfully yanked his head back, face meeting hers, eyes locking again as she sought any resistance within his gaze. Deep in the brown of his eyes she saw the pain she caused him register, but no resistance came.

Using her other hand she gripped his throat, fingers tight and claw like, ready to rip the life from him, nails biting deep enough to draw a trickle of his blood. In those eyes she saw his willingness. His life was hers to take should she wish it, and he would not resist.

Total and complete submission. His perfect sacrifice.

Pushing him over upon his back in the cool waters of the ford she loosed her grip on his throat. Pressing her body down upon his big frame she brought her lips close to his ear and whispered in a husky tone.

“Tell me you want this.”

His reply was calm and filled with deep rumbling truth.

“I want this, Lady.”

Her smile was triumphant as she clamped her lips around the wound in his throat, sucking to draw a bruise to his flesh and the taste of his blood to her mouth. With her hand she took the tumescent girth of him, and with firm grip pressed him deep within her, filling her completely and stretching her with a pleasant pain.

She owned him. Fully consenting to her whims and wants he was hers to take, and take him she did. As the afternoon wore on she used him. Taking gratification in body, satisfaction in his strength and stamina. Feeding her wants again and again.

As the evening darkness began to exert itself, she was astride him again, facing the west. The water had continually washed the sweat from them and refreshed them. The earth supported and steadied them. The air filling their lungs and carrying their gasps and moans. The sun's fire keeping a chill from their naked flesh.

Just as the sun slipped to its set, its light disappearing into darkness, she impaled herself fully upon him, and with a shared deep moan, pleasure wracked them both as his life seed filled her.

All colour fled her eyes in that second, filling with blackness. She felt her full power, in that moment, without fetter, without rival. Using him, using his consent, she took his power in to meet her own, filling her, rushing in to her being so that she became everything.

Everything that was, is, and will be was hers to see, hers to change, hers to control. Ownership of all of it within her grasp, to take as she saw fit, to create or destroy. 

Total. Unchallenged. Power.

What use had she for anything else? What was there of value to anything that was not of her? What was there in all creation that could stop or hinder her?

The answer came to her mind, of her own mind and without provocation. Memories of a pair of earth brown eyes. A big form kneeling before her. Fis agus eolas.

There was one thing, and one thing alone that could challenge her. 

Herself.

The words came. From her blood red lips they fell. Speaking of the vision she perceived, of the knowledge she held. There were no questions. There were just the words, spilling and tumbling from her to fall into his awaiting ears.

When the words had ceased and all was said she held there, that total unchallenged power. Creation and destruction. Life and Death. Light and Dark.

As the choice was his to start, the choice was hers to finish.

With a last deep breath she closed the blackness of her eyes, exhaled fully, and released him.

His power left her. Flowing back where it came from. Back to that big frame, filling those dark eyes. A shudder ran through her body as the full warm heat of him left her, and she slumped forward atop him, full now only of herself, and completely spent.

His arms when they encircled her were gentle and warm. One big hand moved slowly to her head, there to lightly stroke her hair.

“Thank you.”

The words were soft and sincere. Whispered just for her, with warm breath against her face, followed by the small peck of a kiss.

She allowed herself to be small. Wrapped in those big arms and warmed by his heat, a happy smile came to her rose pink lips.

“Did you get what you need?”

As the power had left her, so had the memory of what she had seen and said, carried back along the lines of energy to the universe.

“Yes. The people shall be prepared and endure because of your gift.”

As the night began to take hold, and the day lose its heat, she snuggled close to him, sharing in his heat and smiled again. They stayed like that until the last light of the day was well gone and the stars had begun to show themselves.

A deep shudder ran through him and a burr for the chill escaped his lips.

“Let's get out of this water now lass before the cold settles any deeper. 
I warm up pretty quick but we both know how long it takes for you, once the cold gets deep in.”

The Morrigan sat up off him and opened her storm grey eyes to meet his deep brown. The smile stayed put as she moved.

His big eyes blinked, seeing her so, and his words rumbled out softly to her.

"You slay me with those eyes of yours, Lass"

"Be glad that's not true, or you would have died many many years ago."

The smile on her reply showed her fondness, but the Dagda's lined face became sincere and his next words direct.

"Oh I did, and do. 
A little part of my resolve dies every time you look at me like this.
You will be the end of me some day. 
Of that I have no doubt."

His words were new to her, and struck something deep inside with a quivering of apprehension. Grasping hold of her Will, she met his sincerity with her own.

"May that day be a long, long way off."

His face softened to hear her reassurance, and a contented smile took on a mischievous tweak.

“Well, you would KNOW for sure,
 one way or the other.”

Rolling her eyes towards the sky, she punched him hard in his meaty arm, yet she couldn't contain her chuckle.

Monday, 10 October 2016

All Life is Stories

It was a cold bleak day, somehow fitting for what was to come. The building, brick red and smog stained had stood as a crossing station of life for many years.

Filled with peoples coming and going, toing and froing, it was always a bustle of noise and tumult, and not just to ones ears.

The automatic doors rolled back to admit him, with a whoosh of warm air against his skin. The breath of the building was heady with many trace scents. His nose took them in and as he feet moved assuredly towards the stair he began to catalogue them.

The stress laden smoke of the cigarettes was left behind outside, the peaceful green of the manicured plants about the reception absorbing it.

Next the chemical polish used to clean the counters and floor in this entry area, layered again and again over the many scents of the hurried passage in and out of this space.

Stepping his big frame to the side he moved passed a cadre of nursing staff, all smelling of antibacterial agents and exhaustion. Unseen to all he could not help note one in particular, whose head hung lower than the rest carrying more than just exhaustion.
Stepping carefully passed he allowed his shoulder brush very briefly near. The nurse shuddered to the close passage and straightened up to join in the conversation with the others.

He moved on by.

The first appointment was on the third floor over in the east wing. The room was small and dark as he opened the door softly. Taking off his long coat he folded it over his arm and removed his hat as he stepped inside.

This room smelt of must and the stale sweat of the occupant. The curtains were closed forcing a darkness upon the room. His eyes roamed about the space and he took in the sparseness of the place. A small sink set beside a small partitioned toilet, a slim wardrobe that could not hold more than one set of clothes. A single slim hospital bed, a small bedside cupboard and beside it one unused chair.

Silent and unseen he moved over to the seat, and settled down into it. The visit had begun, but would not last long.
The occupant was old, age having weathered their skin and taken the strength of their limbs. They lay back propped upon the pillows, eyes closed and breathing shallow.
He moved his eyes from the patient to the bedside cupboard. A jug of water and an untouched beaker were all it held. No pictures. No flowers. No keepsakes or mementos.

Returning his gaze to the patient he sat and waited, wondering over their life and their choices and what stories would never be told again.
The last breath was naught but a whisper as it left the body. No big gasp. No fanfare farewell. No one but him to witness.

Standing slowly, he drew back the curtains and allowed the grey light fill the room. Reaching his big hand over he turned the handle and opened the window. The crisp fresh air came in, and the scents of the room passed out.

Silent and unseen he stepped around the empty vessel without another glance and left the dying room closing the door behind him. Straightening most of the slump from his shoulders he turned down the corridor.

He moved on by.

The next appointment was second floor and through a secure nursing station. Stepping through and around the desk was no challenge as he strolled unseen by the beleaguered and swamped staff.   

The door was open and kept as such with a wedge, the occupant needing some supervision at times. This room smelt of chemicals, blood and pain. The occupant was of early to middle age and life had seen them taken on a hard road.

The bed was pushed far back towards the window were some light could fall on the patient. That light filtered colours through the clear liquid which dripped steadily from its elevated packet down the tube and into the veins and blood. The arm supporting the needle was scarred here and there and torn with many other signs of bruised puncture marks, leading down to the wrist where it was shackled to the bed frame.

The eyes of the occupant were wide and vacant, the blue of them diminished by the maze of red shot around the iris.

No chair here. No cards of family or friend. No loved ones near.
Worse yet, a glance at the paperwork told him there was no Name.  

This living breathing person, born of this world, child of a mother and father, lay here at stories end, without even a name to recall them to the world.

He steadied his feet and his own breath, setting aside the roil of his own emotion.

The patient's arm began to twitch, a tightness formed around their eyes, mouth beginning to move soundlessly as some spike of pain formed in them.

He lifted his big hand and placed it lightly on the restrained arm of the young person. A slow breath out and a push of his Will removed the pain.
Removing his hand he felt the ache of it run up his arm and settle upon his shoulder. It was all he could do, but he would do it. Long ago tales spoke of a weapon with the power to destroy or restore. Such times as these, with no tales told, no one to believe, what can a man do but that which he is able with his own hand.

The nameless one, never reacted to his closeness. Whatever horrors their story had held for them had been beyond their ability to face alone, and with no name to claim them, who would help share their burden?

The last breath left with a sigh of release and a catching throb of sorrow.
He stood still, silent witness, working their features into his mind, he would remember.

A machine by the bed began to wail and in a rush the small high risk room was full with nurses and doctors. They moved with rapid professional actions around the empty vessel, working for a life which was already gone.

No one saw the big man in the plain suit, step from the room, long coat over his arm and hat held in hand.

He moved on by.

The heaviness weighed upon his shoulders as he made the third appointment. The room was bright and colourful. Light filled every corner of it and showed the dancing whimsical characters painted upon its walls with as much glee as it could. The room smelt of sickly sweet perfumes attempting to mask the smell of poison and sickness.

His brow furrowed to see this place as he entered. These appointments were often hardest to bear. The bed here was small, not one needed for an adult. The child within it could not have seen more than 12 years.

His furrow became a frown as he looked about the space. Filled with toys and entertainments, foods and water, the place was missing one of the most important things a child needed. Family.

He found his answer on the chart hung at the end of the bed. No surname, no parents names.
He knew of children such as this one, wards of the State. With no family to claim them as their own they became the children of the country's government.

His frown deepened from confusion to anger. Where was the hand for this child to hold? Where where the arms to cradle them? Sure the nursing staff would do all they can but where was the depth of community that looked out for the weakest amongst it?

His anger departed in a breath as his eyes rose to take in the frail little form in the bed, and the sadness rolled back in.
The pillows were propped up high to help them sit upright, the characterful cartoons decorating the bed covers drawn close. The child's skin was pale and drawn, on a face that age had yet to touch. Not a single hair stood on the child's head, lost to the poison the doctors had poured in to try kill that which was killing the patient.

The child’s eyes were open, their deep brown showing a wisdom that only pain can bring. They looked about the space, not seeing the big man in the worn suit and his long coat. He wondered what stories this child may have had, what tales would not become realized with this life cut so short.

The child folded its hand in its lap, closed its eyes, and smiling faintly, released the last breath.

It was a long while before he could move. Shoulders made heavy by his witness, slumped low. The sadness was settled upon him but it was only right that someone witness the last breath and when there was no one else who could, He would.

Shrugging himself into his long coat he straightened it about his bowed form and stepping unseen from the room he settled the hat upon his head.

He moved on … and stopped.

Confusion crossed his broad face and he cocked his head to the side as if listening. Nothing beyond the ambient noises of the hospital disturbed the space, yet still, something was amiss.
His confusion set a frown on his face and turning away from the exit he moved between the spaces searching.

He moved slowly, following the faintest of traces which none of his five senses could detect. Moving across the grounds and wards and wings of the hospital he patiently traced the sensation back to its source. Moving past staff, patient and security, invisible to them, unknown to them, unremarked by them.

He found it in the most unlooked for place.

The children's ward was a noisy frantic place smelling of baby powder, creams, milk, sterilizing fluid, fear, joy, and happiness. It was a jarring rush to the senses, surrounded by clamouring kids, happy frustrated parents and patient smiling reassuring nurses. So many stories starting and continuing together. So many new chapters to existing stories and so many new tales getting their first words.

The sensation ran strong here beneath all other input and his unseen form moved between the spaces tracing it down until his feet stuck to the ground and refused to move any further.
He turned about slowly moving his deep dark eyes around seeking and searching.

The toddler stood in a cot bed, little fists wrapped around the bars, part supporting its chubby weight, part using it to accentuate with thudding thumps the happy hollering issuing from a voice new to making noise. No more that 2 years old it set quite a ruckus about the place evidently enjoying the noisy sensation of its new story.

As the confusion reached its height within him, built up on the sorrow he carried and the pain in his shoulders, he wondered why his feet had lead him here? What story was this that he needed to witness?

Then the toddler's eyes met his. Dark brown as the earth itself, the hollering ceased in that split second. The eyes sparkled and a toothless smile split the chubby dimpled cheeks.

The child witnessed Him.

He stepped back in sudden surprise as the child saw him. Literally saw him, acknowledged him, following his movements with its eyes. His mind reeled in that moment seeking and searching for some sense and reason.

He had done this service to the people almost every day for years and decades and generations. He had passed unseen and unremarked in this land for more lives than he cared remember. Existing on an echo of a memory which was too strongly tied to the land to be released. He had done as he always had, seen to the work, put shoulder to the challenge, and served the people.

His mind tumbled back along those lives until he found what he was looking for at last.

A Name.

A collection of sounds spoken aloud to identify something. A unique arrangement of syllables configured to define something and to give it a particular place in a conversation. A word, a brand, to recognize and recall everything that was and is for this one special thing existing within the entire scope of the Great Cycle.

His Name.

Unheard to his ears, his heart, his Soul beyond the shade of that echo tied to the land.

The whisper of breath escaped him, carrying the Name out of his mouth and to the his ears before he even realised he had spoken aloud.

“Dagda.”

The toddlers smile broadened as those dark eyes showed it had heard the Name. the next moment arrived and it was all a holler and clamour, reveling in the sounds it’s little voice could create.

The wetness rolled unrestrained down the big broad cheeks as the Dagda look upon the child, wonder and gratitude filling his deep dark eyes. So much lost to him with his Name, could may yet be restored in time. He slowly inhaled the scent of freshly turned earth and the green of old trees which seemed to spring up around him.

“Maybe it’s almost time for My stories again.”