Sunday, 1 January 2017

Across the Ninth Wave

Nine.

The salt spray moistened his face as the storm's wind whipped the wave tips to froth. 
Thunder bellowed across the sea sky and rumbled its way toward the land.

The Dagda stood upon the shore, the wash of the waves rolling up across his broad feet. 
He had stood so since his arrival at this place. The place she had said he should wait.
As the waves receded, the Dagda started the count again.

One.

More than a week before the storm, the Dagda had sought her out. 
The foreboding was upon him.
A prickle of intent seemed directed towards the land of Eire and though he was confident of its security, the Will behind that intent could not be disregarded.

From his Rath he had journeyed the long walk across the isle. Those who saw him noted the set of his shoulder, the thoughtful furrow of his brow and left the Dagda to his own devices.
He arrived as the moon reached its full and stood before the pool; where in its silver radiance was reflected in full beauty.

He did not have to wait long.

"Speak o Chieftain of the thoughts you carry. Ask your question, but be warned of the answer.
Truth is ever changed by those who look upon it. "

The Dagda's ears, even one scarred as it was, picked out the source of the sound, and allowing his eyes to relax he saw the Shadow amongst the shadows. 

"What Will is this that sets its intent so firmly upon this isle? "

The Shadow moved slightly and with a faint sound of something breaking the water, the moon's reflection danced to the rippled waves that moved outward in rings.

"Know you this, Chieftain of the Dennan. The Will is that of 'One eye' and that he sets his gaze firmly upon this isle. A challenge I see. A battle. The outcome shrouded in Fate's weave. 
Go, to the Giant’s rocks on the top of the isle. 
Go, and bring no other with you. 
Go, and take but your Will and your club to meet your Fate. "

As her voice faded to silence, the last ripple reached the pools edge and the moon’s reflection was once again still.
Her words set a worry upon the Dagda's already thoughtful demeanour.

Balor Bale-Eye, had been slain. He had witnessed the feat himself as he battled that bloody day. Lugh had borne the burden of his lineage and succeeded in meeting his Fate as prophecy had declared he would.
There could be no surviving the blow that had been dealt, nor the beheading that followed.
He once again looked toward the Shadow, but found that she had slipped away.

There could be but one question.
Those who could not phrase their need as such, had not thought long enough to be worthy of an answer.

Gazing at the moon’s reflection, the Dagda stayed in the spot and thought, until the sun's light turned the pool to gold.


North she said and north he had come. 
The days of walking had given him much time to muse.
To question the message given for its truth was pointless, to look deeper to its meaning was not.

A Will to rival his own.
A challenge and a battle, meant conflict the likes of which could test him.
The outcome of Fate undecided meant that as yet his Fate lay in his own hands, with his Will and club and no other.

Reassured to this the Dagda had come to the place on the coast to the far north and east.
 The land was a broken stretch of rocky steps, thrusting up from the earth.
A place both beautiful and bleak; where pools of water collected upon the stones surface.

The Dagda's eyes remained fixed upon the waves, the steady count continuing.

 The fomorian foe had come from the sea and so it was he kept his gaze upon the tumultuous water. 
Feet firm upon the earth, he waited.

Nine.

As the ninth wave lashed itself to foam upon the land, the sky was torn by a deafening peal of thunder, and rent with a flash of lightning.

 The Dagda's eyes were pulled upwards as the Lightning ripped itself again from the storm and this time struck the land off to his right.
The Dagda set his Will, forced his muscles to relax and the energy to pass up his sturdy legs then down his steady arms, through his club and back to the earth.

The Dagda remained unmoved and resolute.

The ninth wave was torn open by the beast. 
Raising its long neck above the waters, it's head a snarling gruesome visage of horn and teeth, mouth set wide and tongue protruding. 
Coming toward the land, moving with such speed as to fly across the waves,  it raced to the beach. 

The monster bore down on him and with a great grinding roar it drove its body up onto the shingle.

The Dagda remained unmoved and resolute.

Two black forms arose from the back of the beast and with raucous cries set to wing about the area.
The Ravens flew about the beach and swooped down towards the De Danann warrior.

Their course was abruptly altered and hesitation took them as their call was answered from further back inland.
The two corvus seemed to hang uncertain between the ship and the land, but with a renewed call to them, they set off with black wings all a flutter. 

The Dagda remained unmoved and resolute. 

Next from the back of the beast came two massive wolves, One grey, one White. These predators leaping with great agility to the shingle, instantly dropped into a hunched hunting posture, hackles rising and throats growling. Fixing their bright avaricious eyes on the Dagda, their jowls slavering they began to stalk forward.

Just as the pair moved within range to pounce they hesitated. The Dagda allowed them to sense his threat and without even a glance he set his Will upon them. 

The wolves ceased to prowl and lowering their bodies to the beach they averted their gaze with the smallest of whimpers.

The Dagda remained unmoved and resolute.

Then came the giant.

Leaping from the beast’s back to land feet spread upon the shore of Eire. 
He stood head and shoulders taller that the Dagda, though not as broad.

Clothed in furred boots with trous of linen on his long legs. His big torso wrapped about in mail and hung with burnished plates.
The spear held in his right hand stood as tall as the Warrior, its blade long and wide with markings etched into its bright metal, a round wooden shield hung casually on his left.

A burnished and winged helm sat atop long flowing white hair that joined a white beard.
The face was lined with age, but still filled with a healthy colour.

When the warrior lifted his gaze from the cowering wolves, the Dagda was stuck by a Will much like his own. It rolled across the distance between them with push and probe, seeking to dominate all in its path. 

The voice, when it came, was strong and rich in timber and though the words and accents were odd to him the Dagda knew them for their purpose.

‘Ho! I , Lord of the Aesir, Bragi of the North’s men, come upon this land. Turn and address me!”

The one steel grey eye of the warrior fixed itself on the figure standing amidst the waves, facing away from him. 

The Dagda remained unmoved and resolute. 

A heavy breath filled the Dagda’s big chest and his reply was given with much resignation for his measure of the man’s arrival would not allow for a withdrawal. Still he had to try. 

“Leave. Board your beast and be gone beyond the wave, else conflict and challenge you will find upon the land of Eire.”

So saying the Dagda counted the ninth and felt it wash across his feet.

“Turn and address me stranger or your disrespect will my ire raise to your folly.”

The reply from the Bragi was sharp with his anger, as he forced his Will upon the words.

A Challenge I see.

The Dagda turned to face the warrior and allowed that steely gaze to take its measure of him. From unruly hair and beard tumbling in curls from his head, to broad shoulders tight with muscle. Down arms wide around and thick from labouring. Over a waist whose girth spoke of prosperity and plenty, to legs round, strong, and steady.

“ A fair warning you have received and no other will you have of me. Heed it and leave, or face me and fall.”

The Dagda set forth his Will and drove it hard home across the words to his foe, seeing a tightening of that one eye, as the face took on a scowl.

The attack came fast. 

With a long legged lunge the Bragi closed the distance, spear leading the way. Broad bladed death rode swift upon his arm, surely a thrust which had settled doom upon many.

The Dagda moved. 

The shift of his body and twist of his hips carried him all but clear of the strikes course. 

All but.

Fire and pain scored itself across his bicep as first blood was spilt. Rich redness flowed and with it the Rage took him.

Whirling about, carrying his momentum to its full, Dagda spun, strong arm lifting his club to crash, crush and split the other warriors shield. 

Banded wood and metal flew asunder as the Bragi recoiled saving his arm from the same fate. 

In that stroke the battle began in truth. Move and counter. Blow and strike. All merged into the flow of combat.

 Battle

The Bragi was the faster and had a longer reach. The Dagda was stronger and intractable.

That spear did taste Dagda’s flesh and blood with many a smart positioning and push, but the stranger did not have all the advantage. Crushing bruises and near breaks were raught upon him in reply. 

Knowledge and skill each displayed a plenty as they adjusted and twisted the battle to seek an advantage. 

Lost in the waves they crashed again and again. Stamina driving them now where skill could find no advantage. 

The Dagda, covered in his Red, was near a horror to the stranger. Never had he encountered a being such as this in all the realms of his experience. 

The Bragi was indeed a challenge and an equal, yet the land of Eire required much of her Chieftain, and he was not to be found wanting. 

Bringing his crushing club around on the warriors blinded side the Dagda  met again the readied defense as strong as every time he had tested it. No advantage could a weapon find in that quarter, and again he took another shallow wound for  his effort. 

Around and again they came and that steely gaze followed the club as it arced in presenting that strong block, and as the weapon was turned, finding his opponent a flesh. 

The Dagda took the pain adding it with all the rest as the club moved up and around again.

Steel eye followed the deathshead weapon as the Bragi prepared his block, feeling in full the threat of the woods killing touch. The wood struck his spear shaft block, muscles braced to push hard against it and clear him from its touch.

The one eyed warrior staggered, his gaze following the club as it spun away from him, free of any hand to hold it. 

Overbalanced he stumbled forward, muscles braced to resist, finding nothing to hold against 
His gaze flicked up just in time to catch a glimpse of dripping red doom, in the shape of a broad muscled fist.

Thunder roared in his ears, lightning sparked him his eye, and darkness took him.

Nine.

The wave brought the tall warrior back to himself as its surf washed over his face, cold and salted.

As his stunned and reeling mind took in its surroundings it could not but latch to the Big man standing over him, bleeding from many wounds, the worst of which gushed red down his muscled right arm, broad fists clenched, threat in every aspect of him.

The voice when it can was steady. Will rolled in every sound, intractable, irresistible.

“Speak your Name true, or find your end here as promised.” 

The demand could not be denied and before his brain had registered in full his lips supplied the answer.

“Odin, Alföðr, Asagrim!”

The Dagda heard the true Name spoken and in that moment took power over the fallen.

Releasing a slow steadying breath, he opened his fists and offered his hand.

“Dagda, Ollathair, Dé Danann.”

Surprise registered in Odin’s eye as he heard the true Name spoken and realised the balance that had been freely given.

Reaching up an aching arm he gripped the wrist of the bloodied Chieftan before him and allowed himself he lifted from the water by his mighty strength. 

As he righted himself a wave of dizziness took him and his questing fingers found a lump raised upon his temple and a paining ache to his jaw. 

Looking down at the easy stance of his broad companion he caught again the flash of a fist coming in as a Club sailed away through the air. 

“You gave up the advantage of your weapon.” 

Odin’s voice carried his question unsaid, for well he read the threat of endings on that weapon. 

“Against you and that spear it was no advantage.” 

Rumbled the Dagda’s voice as the Bragi saw him wince for the first time, big hand moving to clamp closed on the deep cut across his right bicep. 

“Tell me, did you bring anything to drink on that big curragh of yours?
I think our fight is done, don't you?” 

The words came to Odin with an easy camaraderie he had not expected following the fierceness of the fight. 

He found himself smiling at the Big man with his easy demeanour. The reply could not but contain a chuckle.

“The mead of Asgard is strong stuff and not for those of mild constitution.”

The Dagda’s face sported a broad grin to hear the challenge behind the words. A new battle about to begin.

“Well I hope it also comes in large quantities for I have a thirst upon me you could not possibly rival.” 

When, hours later, in a flurry of beak and black feather, Huginn and Muninn, returned to Her where she sat feeding the wolves Geri and Freki with meat from her table, they spoke of growth from a challenge, the pleasure of friendship, the loudness of men, and the foolishness of drink.

Her toothy smile lit the darkness as if the full moon had risen. 

Fate decided by ones own hand, and what good hands He had indeed.

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