Wednesday, 20 June 2018

A Just Reward for Labours Given

A Just Reward for Labours Given


"The corpse was bloated and discoloured. Gut, throat and face grossly swollen so that its eyes and tongue protruded far beyond the skull which should have contained them. The stench of it’s putrid emissions filled the hall, leaving many an occupier gagging and the rest taking but the shallowest of breaths."


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Go Raibh Mile maith agaibh
 ( Sincerest thanks to you all )

 An Scéalaí Beag

Tuesday, 1 May 2018

Battles due

They had carried him inside as quick and as full of care as they could. Outside the Battle continued despite the fall of their King. It would be no easy feat to carry the day given the blow struck against the People. Their bid for land on which to live may end this very night.

The draoi were already waiting and chief amongst them was Dian Cecht, the most knowledgeable and skilled of the Tuatha De Danann in the ways of healing and surgery. With this life to save none raised questions and all worked diligently.

Nuada lay on the table, covered in his heart's blood. Scored and scraped, the most grievous wound of all was the loss of his arm. In his moments of consciousness, there was one he called for, one whom he needed to hear from. One who could tell him the truth of what happened.

The Dagda was soon at his side.


The Plains of Pillars had seen Battle for three long hard days. The hosts had gathered as agreed. Bres had seen to the exchange of spear for javelin and both peoples had looked to thier production and training so that the day would be carried by those of skill and courage instead of some imbalanced technical advantage.

The conflict had carried back and forward each day, one side or the other taking some ground but neither finding full dominion over the other so that as the sun set each night, both forces would retire, rest, heal and plan the next days battle.

It was in such a meet that the King, Nuada, called together his chieftains and champions and set forward his idea.

“Long and hard have you all fought, and carried each a heroic burden of battle so that you stand tall with honour upon you, but pained by your wounds. Tomorrow we must try something new.”

The King looked to one and all and drew forth the sword which he had carried from Findias.

“I will take the vanguard role tomorrow and call out their King and inflict mortal wounds upon him. With their King fallen, their resolve will break and we can at last claim a victory.”

Every eye in the rath was held by that sword and the strong arm which wielded it. All knew of their King’s prowess in battle and it was said that once the fight was upon him, and that sword in hand, none could stand against the wounds he would bring upon them.

Still there was one chieftain who held a doubt in his big heart and as the warriors and leaders left to rest and plan the next day’s victory, He remained behind.

“What is it my big friend? I know that look on your face as well as if it were carved upon my own.”

The Dagda shook his head and moved over to his friend and King.

“This isn't wise Nuada. The extent of our foe’s skill and strength has not been fully tested. True there is much to gain by pushing for a victory, but the risk to you is as equally great. The loss of our King may do more harm than you have considered.”

Nuada was known as a fair and strong king, having lead the People to Eire, but as with many who rely heavily on their own talent he could often be blinded to the possibility, and indeed the price, of failure.

“Now now friend, there is no need for such thoughts. What day of conflict has there ever dawned, that I did not carry it with the edge of my blade and with the swing of my arm? We have seen what these Fir Bolg can muster and mighty as they are to stand against us so long, they have not faced the cut of my skill. They are little more than savage brawlers”

Dagda shook his head to see his friend so blinded by his own pride and so he tried again to bring some balance.

“You do them wrong, Nuada. They are honourable and fierce and they fight for that which they too see as their birthright, Eire. To dismiss them as you have is not wise, it’s false pride and could lead to disaster. I say again, reconsider.”

At this Nuada was rankled to be so questioned and even rebuked. He was King here and the swing of his arm and this blade was death and doom. None could stand against him, so who was the Dagda to question him on his decisions and speak so of a failure that could not exist. The Big Chieftain spoke of pride and it was pride which he had wounded in his King.

“I see the toll of this battle has been heavy upon you Chieftain, if it has taken your confidence in your King and your friend. My decision is made and you had best come to terms with your unfounded fears or they may do you harm come the morrow. Once this sword is in my hand none can stand against me, this is the truth that will bring us victory tomorrow.”

Dagda met the steely grey eyes of his friend and King and knew that his words had not been heard and so his heart remained heavy with doubt. For the third time he spoke.

“I can see that your mind is set and your pride is wounded to my words, at least let me stand by your side the morrow so that my fears can be set to rest and your safety assured should they by some chance come to pass.”

Nuada’s temper flared, grey eyes flashing to heat and face filling with angers rush.

“I am no child in need of coddling and can look to my own protection, Chieftain! You will take the lead of our left flank tomorrow, alone. Maybe there you can find your courage and be of use. This is the order of your King and you will follow them by the oaths you swore to me.
Last words. Leave!”

The Dagda straightened to his fullest height, His own anger stoked by the words of his friend and King, but honour bound and oath sworn he was, and with that he left.

The next day the Dagda’s rage had not cooled. He had spent the night pacing a ditch into the earth about his camp and as the battles call came he was already covered in muck as sweat.

His King had given him an order and called upon his oath to enforce it, instead of his friend taking on advice and asking him to fulfill a role.

Some might argue that there was little difference once the job was done, but to the Big man from Murias the manner in which a person acts defines the person that they are irrespective of the results they achieve.

The Dagda was ever an amiable and compassionate companion, but none would doubt the strength of him nor the courage of his heart. Until now. Careful of himself and his anger, he had stayed away from the rest and revels of the night not wanting his hurt and rage to spill on to others with some ill conceived thought or word.

Snatching up his weapons he strode off towards the left of the Plain striding to the fullest extent of his big legs so that he out paced all others and arrived to stand in the lead so that the lines formed up about him.

As the warriors gathered they glanced in a hurried worried manner to the big Chieftain at their centre. Today brought no quips nor jokes from the Dagda. No reassuring remarks nor boisterous blather. The large form stood unmoving and silent, the waves of his anger rolling out from him so as to bring all about to silent stillness.

Across the Plain the Fir Bolg gathered, and as they had in days past they called and jeered and cheered to the forces arrayed against them. This was how each day had begun, with each force’s warriors and heroes raising their voice to tell of their deeds the previous day and raise new threats for the greater achievements in the battle to come.

This day, the Tuatha De Dannan forces remained silent and unmoving, wrapped as if in some spell by the big man at their centre.

The Fir bolg forces grew steadily louder and more colourfully irate in their cries and jeering seeing the steady silence as a weakness or fear in the force arrayed before them.

Still the Tuatha De stood, waiting for word from their leader and following the example he set.

Finally the Fir Bolg chieftain could stand no more of this, seeing the silence now as an insult, that these foes deemed themselves to proud to engage in the sport before the battle. So it was that he ordered his Warriors forward and into the charge.

The forces of the Tuatha De watched as with a great cry the warriors of the Fir bolg broke into a staggered rolling charge that soon had their whole host bearing down upon them. Every eye was on the Dagda, waiting, yet still he stood.

The noise of the descending horde increased as they closed the distance, soon it was possible to make out particular figures in the mass, waving their weapons high and screaming insults and threats.

Just as it seemed they would be washed under by the wave of warriors, The Dagda moved.

Without word or gesture, the Big man charged.

So sudden was the shift that not only were his own forces wrong footed but so too were the Fir Bolg facing him. They staggered a step in their rush and that was all the Champion needed. In the passing of a breath it seemed, the Dagda was among them bowling the first warriors over with his bulk alone, then setting his arms to swing, bringing death to those who came within reach.

The Dagda released his rage, setting it upon the Fir Bolg and with a thunderous bellow began cleaving hard into their ranks so that more than a hundred had fallen before the first blows dropped on any other of the Tuatha De Danann. With the release of their Chieftain the voice, the People found theirs and descended upon the now staggered Fir Bolg.

This days fighting was fierce, as all about many warriors fell on both sides. The Dagda waded deepest among the foe, laying harm and mortal wounds within the range of his broad arms and here it was that word reached him.

The King, hard pressed in battle, which none would say he could stand against. The Fir bolg had revealed a large warrior and this Chieftain of theirs was equal if not more than the King’s skill.

All seemed to stop around the big man. Heart hammering thunder blood in his ears, he could not believe that they had heard correctly. Nuada hard pressed and likely to fall? His King, his friend battling and set to be bested? If he could not believe his ears, He could believe his heart.

It had told him, warned him, whispered to him that there was yet some threat unseen to the Fir Bolg. They were descended of the first great tribes such as he and the People were. Why would they not possess equal courage and skill?

His heart had warned him, and he had failed to warn his friend. A friend now hard pressed and failing.

The moment broke, and the Dagda moved.


Nuada had entered this days battle with his mind set to the plan. By the strength and skill of his arm, the sharp swift strokes of his sword, would the conflict be won and the ascendancy of his People assured. This was what a King should be, an example of fierce power and pride, set to carve their place in the stories by their skill and their courage.

What did that big fool know of such things? Lumbering about in easy companionship with the People. Ditch digging, wood chopping and food gathering. A King should be above these things so that the People had someone to look up to, to aspire to, a leader.

The battle began this day as it had many others, both forces gathered facing one another, yelling, cheering and jeering so as to raise the blood and inspire the fight frenzy. As Nuada stood loosening the muscles of his arms with easy swings he couldn’t help the drift of his gaze towards the left. There was no way to see his big friend given the expanse of the battle formation but it struck him as odd the see that section of the host stand in silence.

With a shake of his head he dismissed the thoughts and made ready to win this day upon the edge of his blade.

The clash, crush and clamour of conflict took the morning and made it noon, and always Nuada moved where the battle was fiercest, committing himself and his guards to the hardest harshest sections of the embattled forces. Many a mortal wound feel from the strong swing of his sword, cleaving and cutting the Fir bolg down wherever they stood before him.

So it was that the King pressed forwards fastest and farthest of his forces, pushing the foe back time and again. That is until the canny Fir bolg sprung their trap.

Nuada and his guard pursued another rabble of warriors as they fled from his might, only to have them stop abruptly and form a tight group before them, the spears they had built from the sharing of knowledge presented forwards in a spiked wall of death.

It was then that the King realised the error of his pursuit. Glancing about he saw that other groups had formed similar spear walls to either side and even as the thoughts of flights began to him another group cut in behind, long spears pointing both inwards and outwards, closing off any aid from reaching the now surrounded Tuatha de Danann.

Completing the circuit the king looked back to see a small opening in the spear wall through which a tall muscled form stepped.

“Pride and hubris are poor traits for a King to rule by, but I guess this lesson may come too late for the likes of you Nuada King. Today your rule ends and with it the conflict for Eire as no Peoples can stand without a worthy King.”

At this a rain of javailn descended in upon the group, expertly thrown by those most proficient in their use. Nuada remained without harm, but now stood alone facing this foe.

“Come then King of the Danann Peoples. Know me, for I am Sreng, lets see your worth.”

So saying the tall figure charged, sword and shield setting a momentum of slash and stymie that Nuada was instantly pressed back and working furiously to prevent wounds upon himself. He held for a while, keeping clear of harm, but the toll of the days conflict was heavy upon him and already his arm was weakening.

The skill and strength of this warrior was unlike any that Nuada had seen from the Fir Bolg. It was in this moment that the words of caution resurfaced in his mind, this time clear for their concern of him and not as question to his skill. He had been warned but took no notice of the warning having missed its intent by being caught on the words.

Pain unlike any he had felt burned its way across his consciousness sending him staggering and stumbling until the ground took him. He looked to the side and saw that magnificent sword of his, clutched in the strong grip of his swift arm, an arm that was no longer attached to him.

A mortal wound done upon him, Nuada’s gaze turned up to the sky seeing the swift passage of clouds the same grey of his eyes. The view was then blocked by the large warrior, standing tall over him, a spear, de Danann people had taught him to make, held firm in his strong arms.

“Time to die, knowing you have failed your People.”

Nuada’s gaze came down to the tip of that spear, seeing its sharp point so skillfully crafted. At least he would die swiftly upon a well made weapon. Nuada closed his eyes.

It was then, that thunder struck.

With an almighty crash the spear wall to the left was shattered, bodies thrown all about in disarray as something massive and powerful exploded through them. Sreng glanced up from his death blow to have his vision filled with a massive worn, muck and blood covered fist.

The crash of impact set an echoing deafening noise all about the Fir bolg’s senses leaving him staggered and dazed. The large warrior stumbled back towards his people and recovered, head still ringing, his eyes cleared to see a massive figure standing over the prone form of the de Dannan King.

Bulky and broad, heavy with muscle, with some girth around his mid, the figure was covered in muck sweat and foe blood, breathing vasts gasps of air, feet planted solidly, rooted to the spot.

Yet this warrior too was alone and despite their entrance Sreng could see that the day weighed heavily upon them.

“You have arrived in time to die with your King brave warrior, but the day is done and it is our victory. No peoples may stand without their King,”

The Big warrior took a moment to catch his breath and despite Sreng’s words none of the fir bolg seemed eager to engage him.

“This battle you have won, Warrior of the Fir Bolg, but the day is lost. The Left side of field is already broken and fled and I would not be long expecting our northern friend Aengaba to be upon you from the right. Might be best you walk away from this one.”

Sreng had long served as champion among his people yet he had never met a warrior such as this. Broad and powerful, even covered in war blood, the man spoke softly and with a firm confidence sought to end the conflict. Yet Sreng was not to be stirred, his people had fought long and hard these past days and with Nuada King fallen, there was much to be gained in ending him and calling the war done in the act.

“By the strike of my hand this day, I could end blood shed for all the next days for both our Peoples. I cannot withdraw and will grant you the honour of dying with your King. Fare you well, Rolaig Builc.”

With those words Sreng gestured and closed with this men upon the great warrior with the the belly, and the fallen maimed King.

The Big man made no move and only released his breath in a heavy sigh and prepared to defend his fallen friend. It was often this way on the hard days, when words fail and all about is conflict and aggression. He was no better than any other but he knew at least that he should be.

The Dagda stood, giving no step back and denying all the chance to strike at his friend.


“That’s the truth of it Nuada king. My warriors broke through and I had them carry you away. Aengaba did arrive but found his match in Sreng and has fallen this day.”

Nuada sat propped up and pale from the loss of life's blood. The stump of his arm ending in a sutured and sealed state even as Dian Cecht hovered close at hand observing.

“King I am not for I am no longer fit, by form and by deed. I am just Nuada now.”

His voice was weak and strained and Dagda could see that the sadness was heavy upon him. Behind the crippled warriors shoulder Dian Cecht made a gesture of concern which the Big Chieftain knew well. Dagda the draoi knew the harm that a sadness left unchecked can do on a person.

“King you may no longer be, but well loved chieftain and champion of our Peoples you will Always be.”

Dagda’s words were soft and gentle but with that firmness that brooked no arguments.

Nuada’s grey eyes met the warm earthy brown of the big man’s and Dagda saw that, though clouds remained there was still light behind that look.

“I would foresake all that too, if only I could be still called friend by you.”

The Dagda found his smile and shared it fondly upon Nuada, allowing the warmth he felt show clearly upon his face.

“Sure I am, and always will be your friend. Trough strife and revel, labour and rest, you can be assured of me by your side. This is truth.

The Dagda’s smile turned more grin seeing his friend’s humour raised.

“Last Word.”

Sunday, 1 April 2018

A Cold Stroll

It had been a quite some time since I had walked the mountains but it seemed the memory of that cold invasive chill was enough to set me to shivering all over again.

Winter, it seemed, was doing its level best to hold on to the island as more days than naught I was required to clear ice from the windshield before starting the car, or snow from its bonnet.

The thing with Ireland is that if its cold there is ice, if its warm there is rain. I don’t normally mind much at all. I'm built for my climate it seems. I am one of those ‘warm people’. You know, the kind whose handshake on a cold day is invariably remarked on for its temperature. Yeh that’s me.

This day though, the wind chill cut me right through and my ambient heat was stolen away by this blustery gusting. The car had been warm, heaters set to maximum thurst, forcefully driving engine heated air across my toes and up, but that pleasant memory was left with the vehicle parked as it was a few feet away.

I gazed longingly at it, wondering if I could nip back there and wait until my companion arrived, when I heard a heavy foot step and a shuddering exhalation behind me.

“Jaysus it’s cold out here today isn’t it?”

I turned to see a broad figure standing just beside me, his shape made bulkier than usual by the addition of a long heavy overcoat, a thick wooly scarf, and a woolen beanie hat pulled low over his ears.

I have known Him quite some time now and feel like I’m getting the handle on some of the things, but his ability to turn up in that split second when your attention shifts still bothers me at times. I consider myself to be an attentive person, especially when standing outside or in a place I am not familiar with, both criteria being met today.

Yet still I had not seen him approach from either direction. It's almost as if he moved between the gaps in people's attention, and for a person of his size that seemed highly implausible. Still that is the best description I had for it and he never disagreed. At least he was remembering to make his last steps audible to me and give a little cough or something. Honestly, I can't count the number of times he made me near leap right out of my skin. We had to have a stern talk about this, and by a stern talk I mean that I gave out to him and he just smiled and laughed. Thankfully he isn't an asshole and took it on board. He still does it sometimes but I know it’s only in good humour and have learned to laugh along.

Of course all of this flashes through my brain at the speed of thought so that he is not left wanting of an acknowledgement.

“Its fierce alright. Can’t say I’m too chuffed with the location D. Why are we out here anyway?”

I glanced passed him to where the sea thundered into the shore, shattering itself in breaking waves of froth against the strand, the grey swell of it mimicking the heavy blanket of cloud overhead.

“It’s spring now that Imbolc has been and gone. It’s time to shake of the grasp of winter’s chill and get out again. To be alive and active as the world returns from its little death.”

I watched as he rubbed his hands together and stamped his feet against the pervasive cold.

“I’m shaking alright but it’s because of the winter chill. Maybe we should call it off until the sun gets its ass in gear and turns up the heat?”

My glance strayed wistfully towards the car again.

“Ah come now! Once we get the legs going and the heart pumping you will warm up quick enough.”

With that he turned and set off in his rolling gait, part stroll part stride and awkward as all fuck to try match, but I hurried to keep pace as well as I could.

The walk along the strand took us clear of the car park pretty quick and it wasn’t long after that the signs of humanity were lost behind the rising dunes.

I enjoy the feeling of warm sand beneath my bare feet in the heat of summer, but trying to stride along on the soft shifting mess of it in the cold of winter is a hell all in itself. All the while the thunder of the surf and the incessant face freezing slap of the wind stole any opportunity for discussion.

This was the way of things. At times there was no need for talk be it a lecture or a joke or whatever. Sometimes it was just companionship. Simple as. Just sharing space with no need or requirements, work, or in today's case, words.

I’m not sure exactly when we turned about and began the return journey having kept my face down cast for much of the “stroll”, keeping it away from the worst of the wind. We climbed the steps up from the strand and were back once more at the car.

The shiver was deep inside me now, skin wet from surf spray carried inland on the wind. Its salty taste heavy on my lips. I worked hard to stop my teeth from chattering and looked over at my companion.

He wasn’t shivering or stamping his feet now, he was just looking at me appraisingly.

“Right, so maybe it’s still a little rough outside for the likes of yourself. It’s hard for me to tell you know?”

I felt my face contort in what I’m sure was a frown despite the numbness. The shiver had its icy touch upon me so my words came out all a stammer.

“What You...were...shivering..earlier..?”

He had the good grace to look a little abashed at this, even shuffling his feet a little, though not with the cold I could see.

“The thing is, I learned this trick from the sun a long time ago and since then I have never really felt cold at all.”

He looked up and met my incredulous gaze, the shiver having taken up residence in my tongue and preventing any exclamation.

“It’s true. Thing is people are very sensitive at times and the mind is a fiend for short cutting to strange presumptions when presented with something even a little outside their regular expectation.”

He loosened the scarf and opened the buttons of his long coat down the front. Looking at this seemed to make me feel even colder.

“From your perspective it’s cold. That has certain meaning to you and your brain then fills in the expected indicators for reactions to cold. The shivering of the body, stamping of the feet, the rubbing of hands. Even the wearing of additional layers of clothes.”

At this the hat came off and was stashed in the deep pockets of the coat.

“A savvy person can read these expectations and use them to blend in when they would normally stand out, riding along these brain short cuts as it were. It takes a good bit of skill and attention to the details but it can really help when your trying to connect with someone, or avoid their attention even.”

Some deep controlled breathes had banished the shiver from my tongue.

“So your saying that some people only see what they expect to see, or even ignore what they expect to see, paying attention to that which is different.”

He nodded.

“A good example is on a day like today. You won't remember how many people you saw with their hat and scarf on, but you will remember that one person wearing shorts and a t-shirt. Here mind this for me will you?”

At this he slipped his coat off and handed it to me, standing there in just a loose tshirt and a pair of garishly bright bermuda shorts.

Just looking at him made the shiver rise again, creeping gooseflesh all up my skin. The surprise of it contorted my face to incredulous again, as the words leapt from my lips.

“You have to teach me this trick!”

Dagda chuckled and turned to embrace the gusting blustery wind, arms spread wide so that it flapped against his clothes and hair. Already we were drawing furtive glances from the passers by.

“One day maybe. Now I’m off for a quick jog and to see how many people I can scandalise.”

He waved a big hand and turned away, trundling along into the wind, the sound of his laughing carrying clearly back to me.

Thursday, 1 March 2018

A Long day and a Tough night

It had been one long day.
He couldn't recall a longer one in all his years, still he would never say that it hadn’t been worth it, nor that he hadn’t enjoyed it.

As the sun began its descent at long last,  night’s darkness crept slowly towards the places it had long been denied. His rolling gait took him by the roads away from the Rath of Eclmar and on across the country towards the West.

In the crook of his great arm rested the bundle, and swaddled within it the child. Such a small pudgy thing, all pale skin and softness. As he looked down where it slept, held close to his bodies heat, he saw the face scrunch up in momentary discomfort. The returned warmth of the fart was accompanied a smell of mothers milk, pungent in the Dagda’s nostrils.

“That’s my boy.”

The Big Chieftain always kept his best smiles for his children, for they always seemed to bring forward the best in Him, yet this time the smile slipped as the memories came.


The Rath was warmed with hearth fire and the comfort of private intimacy. The table was set and the pieces had seen many moves, some decisive and swift others thoughtful and measured. Once again it seemed that the play had come to a stalemate, but the pieces had been long forgotten now as both sat considering the last words spoken in the space.

“Are you sure it’s necessary?”

His rumbling words came as softly and measured as his moves had been.

“You know as well as I that the ways of fate are fraught with changing winds, dear heart, but in this there is surety. The child will bring much to our tribe and in time come to your aid where no other could. They will be a unique force of unequaled vigor. There is only one choice.”

Her words delivered with as much softness as there ever was to her, she picked up a piece from the board and sat back in her chair, caressing it almost absent mindedly.

“There must be concessions.”

Her eyebrow rose at this but reading his tone she remained silent.

“First, there must be unswayed consent. On this there can be no ambiguity or hesitancy.”

Her smile was genuine and pleased as once again her husband’s first considerations did him credit, though He never could understand how rare that was.


He nodded reflexively as if his motions were absent his mind’s awareness, such was the focus of his thoughts.

“Second, the matter is to be completed in one day. The sun will stay its course to allow the natural growth and birth of the child within the womb of Boann, but no others outside will know of the deed for the safety of her body and her honour.”

Her brows lowered at this demand. Though the ability was not beyond them, the impact to the great cycle, not to mention her own plans, could be significant and far reaching. Her sharp eyes watched him closely to read his intent. So much concern for this other woman.

“Agreed, but on the condition that the impact is yours to manage and that the same boon be offered me should I call upon it.”

This time his nod was mind full as his dark eyed gaze met hers, accepting the responsibility.

“Now I have a concession of my own before the matter is closed.”

He kept his gaze locked to hers and waited patiently.

“The child is to be brought to me as the sun renews its course and moves to set. There I shall trace the paths of fate again so we may know the best course.”

The Chieftain took in a deep breath to speak but she interrupted Him with a raised finger.

“What the weave of fate decrees, you will abide by.”

She knew his heart, knew it as intimately as her own. Knew how big, broad and giving it is, and knew exactly what pains would be caused should her current view of the fate not alter by their next meeting. For all that he was a great and wise chieftain, a knowledgeable druid and powerful practitioner, for all of his grand strength and skill, his love of family was both his greatest power and yet his biggest weakness.

His brow furrowed and his gaze sharpened upon her but she was not one to be quelled even by the likes of Him. She remained impassive and resolute.


The intent of his gaze told her well that he was suspicious, and of course he would be as he was no fool, but the rumble tone of his voice gave his binding word to the matter.

The agreement struck and set, the matter was put aside as easily as a gust of smoke caught in a high wind. Both their eyes fell to the board and its pieces. The Morrigan sat forward returning the missing piece to its place as they both began to contemplate the stalemate again.

“You know, even though it’s going to pass in but a day, it will be almost a year long absence from my embrace and our bed. Did you really want to spend what time we have playing games?”

Her gaze fell upon him like a predator on her favoured prey and her eyebrow rose with the suggestion.

His rumbling chuckle was the only reply she received to her question as he moved to take her in his big arms and carry her off to bed, but definitely not to sleep.


A few days later Eclmar journeyed out of his rath and off to the waters he tended. Every seven day before the rise of the sun he would set out and draw forth the wisdom of the well as the first rays of light touched its surface. Yet for all that wisdom may offer, on this day it was a lack of knowledge which would see the changes wrought within his house.

Boann had received the Dagda’s approach with enthusiastic consent and so she awaited him in her chambers as soon as her husband had departed.

As the sun's light first touched the island The Dagda called forth his power and with all the Will and authority which was his, he slowed the flow of light across the land.

Throughout this the longest day, Dagda stayed with Boann sharing a 9 month of partnered relationship. They spoke on every topic, shared and challenged ideals, swapped crafts and skills and engaged in many enthusiastic encounters not just between bed sheets, but in all other places imaginable.

Once the motherly changes were wrought upon her body as the child grew within her, Dagda stayed ever close to hand, nursing, caring and nurturing Boann, sharing in all of the trials as much as he was able and easing her burdens in whatever manner he could.

The child was born healthy and strong, with thankfully little discomfort to Boann. It seemed the the infant was possessed of a force of wilful intent as he arrived sooner than expected. Dagda was thankful for this as it gave time for Boann to nurse and know the child before the parting which they both knew would come at the end of their day.

And so the Dagda bid farewell to his wife of the 9 month day and taking the bundle safe and warm in hand set forth towards the setting sun.


Without prior agreement he knew where to find her. There were many places which they called theirs but there was only one for business such as this. The rush and gurgle of the river caught his ears long before his eyes fell upon it. Tucking the blanket close around the child against the river Unshin’s chill, the Dagda arrived at the ford.

With the sun in his face and night’s darkness following close behind him, he came to her where she stood across the waters, light surrounding her in its red gold flames.

She stood in robes of red flowing to the ground just above her bare white feet. Hair undone, mane stirring faintly with the breeze above the water, face marked with the colourings of her paint, not set for war, but set for great works none the less.

He had missed her there could be no doubt about that, but as he looked upon her here, arrayed as she was, he couldn't help recall their last meeting, a 9 month day ago. What had she not told him? What had she held back? It seemed now was the time of revelation.

Not missing a beat they both stepped forward, one foot at a time, matched stride and synchronicity until the waters of the ford washed about both their legs and they stood without touch in the middle of this space between.

“With earth and water below, fire and air above, I greet you husband.”

“In this space between where elements meet, I greet you wife.”

She had missed him, there could be no doubt about that. Though the day had continued for the rest of the world, She had known the passing of each true minute for what it was and though change had been slowed, it could never be stopped. Many things had been adjusted and altered in the passing of the longest day, but now she stood upon the moment she had foreseen and could not help but hope for the fate to have changed.

She held out her arm towards him.

“As agreed in days gone passed, I will look upon the child and see to their fate.”

Her eyes came up to meet those dark orbs of the Dagda looking to read in him his mood and intent. For all of her abilities to glimpse the weaves of fate’s design, his was the one thread she could never see clearly, the one force which she could not with any assurance predict. He was the most interesting, attractive and yet frustrating thing she had ever encountered.

She saw his brow furrow into a frown yet his gaze never left hers. There it was, the oh so subtle threat. That power coupled with the mystery of him ensured that he was the most dangerous thing in existence to her, as she was to him. A perfect balance of beloved nemesis.

She kept her breathing slow and steady refusing to draw her power about her in any visible way. This was his heart. The strength of the love he held for the child of his own flesh and the will to destroy any who would attempt harm upon those he considered His. She was His as well in the same way that he was hers, but she was under no illusions about his stance when it came to his children.

His arms came forward and present the bundle to her, oh so gentle for all of his huge muscled strength. She took the swaddled infant and turned it up to look upon its face. Round and with the pudgy jowls of a newborn, it’s eyes were yet to fully open to the world about it.

Easing her mind she looked to See the child for the first time in person.

Dagda stood as the waters about his legs began to lose the days heat. He watched closely as the Morrigan looked to See the fate of his child. No force in creation could move him from this spot. The time of truths was here.

Dearly he loved his partner, this mate, his equal, but he was no fool and also knew she was his greatest threat, the one against whom he could find no effective defence, even if he had wanted to. The power of endings.

Within his mind he replayed the conversation they had shared.

They will be a unique force of unequaled vigor. There is only one choice.

There I shall trace the paths of fate again so we may know the best course.

What the weave of fate decrees, you will abide by.

He waited as the sun at last disappeared and the day ended.

The Morrigan shuddered and closed her eyes, Dagda noted that her arms closed around the child and held him closer to her. He did not move. He waited.

She opened her eyes and and raised their green orbs to his.

“Chieftain of the tribes do you remember your oath given to me concerning this moment?”

Dagda’s mind raced along the paths of what could be considering the possible fate of his son. True his word was given and he would not break with that for honour sake, but what was honour when compared to the safety and well being of family? He couldn't help note the absence of the little bundle from the cradle of his arms and his eyes fell to where it rested in hers.

“Recall I do the words of my oath.”

“The child will grow in force and vigour and in time will aid you when no one else can. Yet the fate of his parentage must, for now, remain secret and so he is to be raised in fosterage within the house of Midir and as no child of yours may you claim him.”

Within his great broad chest the Dagda’s heart skipped and sank low within him. This child of his, this son, not to be his in name or in the raising. His shoulders slumped and face fell to look to the river and within three breaths the wetness of tears adorned his face. The Morrigan’s voice came to him softly and he knew she spoke to him from her own heart not the weave of fate.

“I’m sorry beloved dear heart, I know how this must pain you. I had hoped that the passage of the longest day might change this fate, but for the child to grow and become whom they must, then they need to be parted from father in the same manner as they are parted from mother. This is the balance of fate.”

Dagda’s tears joined the waters of the Unshin but he knew the words for truth. She had held back information from him, but now he saw that it was for the love she bore him that it had been done.

“Name the child, Chieftain.”

Raising his head, tears still flowing from his eyes, he looked into the Morrigan's now  blue orbs.

“You did that bit already my love.”

Dagda took a deep steadying breath and into the world about him he sent the name of his child.

“His name is Oengus Mac ind Og”

Tuesday, 30 January 2018

To walk the Mountain Tops

The mountain air was cold as it passed my lips, sending it searing chill deep into my lungs. 

I exhale faster than my natural rhythm just to get the air out of me before the cold can catch to my lungs and freeze me.

The views around the area are grand and sweeping, all rolling glacially crafted curves covered in years of rich brown soil upon which the green of the island’s grass is grown.

My eyes do not see them as they fall to the hard frozen ground in front of me. My heavy feet move forward one step at a time as I watch for the next rock or dip upon which I might stumble.

So it was that the upright stone crept up and surprised me. It’s looming rock form manifesting out of the ground in front of me, splitting the trail I had been following with its erect solidity. It’s grey sloped sides carved flat so it’s squared form rose to the height of me. The markings scored on its corners took my attention and not for the first time regret arose for not knowing the ways of ogham.

With my journey stopped by this odd pillar I finally looked up from my feet at the land all about me. Cold and cloud heavy for the season of it, there was still great beauty in the roll of the mountains, the green brown patchwork of fields and the gorse.

Again it was the unexpected that drew my attention. The broad figure labouring two fields away, digging and hauling, arms bare in just a loose t-shirt despite the December chill upon the heights.

Turning my back to the pillar stone I made my way across the fields, navigating the walls, hedges and watchful gazes of sheep.

The closer I got the more sure I became about the identity of the labourer until I stood just behind and to the right of Him. Close enough to see the breath clouding the air about and smell the sweat adorning him.

I waited. It’s never good to sneak up on someone like him despite his playful friendly demeanour, then again I’m not sure sneaking up on hims is really possible. A thought which seemed to be answered almost as soon as it occurred.

“Pass me that rock there will you?”

The thick fingered hand was dirt covered when it gestures out to the rock in question. Knowing him as I do and my own nature, there was only correct action.

Do the work.

My fingers were cold to the point of near numbness but the scrape of the rocks craggy surface and the weight of its bulk as I stood to raise it, was still enough to draw a growl of effort from me.

A few steps over and I was placing the stone amongst some others in a pit he had dug in the field.

So it was that I spent the next time, shifting soil and hefting rocks until the cold was banished from me, the sweat slick upon me and my arms too, bared in but a t-shirt upon a December mountain top.

When he stepped back I stood to see what it was our labour had produced. A circular stone ringed fire pit set next to a long stone lined trough, surrounded by the banked up earth from the pit.

He passed me a bottle of water and I sipped of it slowly, rehydrating my body as the sweat steam rose from my shoulders.

“Light a fire whilst I fetch the waters.”

I stride about the edges and hedges of the field gathering what fuels I could and returned to set them in the fire pit and begin the work of calling fire. Setting the kindling and tinder then applying spark and breath to feed its growth.

All the time my companion trudged across the field to the spring and back hauling water and splashing it into the trough.

The blaze was crackling merrily heating the area around us, protected from the wind by the banked earth, by the time the trough was full and my companion finally stopped to sit with me at the hearth.

Fulacht fiadh.

I had remembered ancient stories about these sites dotted around the island. It seemed that they were for boiling meat in a trough of water heated by rocks from a fire.

It seemed like a lot of effort to go through for just a spot to cook, especially if the peoples were so nomadic at the time.

It shouldn’t really surprise me when he answers my thoughts, but it still does and I wonder what gives me away every time.

“It is a lot of effort to build the likes of this, but not so much when you consider that it’s more than just a cook pot. How did you find your way here?”

“I was trudging across the mountains when I came to that pillar stone across the way. From there I saw yourself at work down here. What’s with the pillar and the markings on it? Why is it there?”

“It’s there to do exactly as it did, point those walking the hills to this place. Quite cold up here isn’t it? That is when you don’t have the labours warmth upon you.”

The mention of the cold brought the chill thoughts back and despite the warmth of the fire in front of me I couldn’t suppress a shiver. I glanced up to see his gaze turned out beyond the fires light. Taking in the land and as the clouds began to darken towards night.

“There were a lot of the peoples up in these hills back then. Peoples moving around above the dark wet swamps of glacier melt in the lowlands, but beneath the cold open peaks where a body could still freeze in the nights chill.”

His voice was almost as distant as his eyes as he looked into a time long before today.

“Fulacht fiadh was more than just a cooking spot, more than just a temporary campsite. It was the beginnings of community. It was a place to which any could come, everyone was welcome, food prepared and the care of those struck by the cold could be cured.”

His eyes came back to mine as we gazed across the fire.

“Do you know you can die from hypothermia? Do you know that unless you can raise the person's body temperature enough they may go mad, strip off their clothes and then have their heart stop?”

I knew some things from my days in the scouts but never that it could go that far. His eyes told me truth as ever, and the sadness there told me that those eyes had seen it first hand.

“Sitting by a fire will do some good but it takes a long time for the heat to reach one's heart. Placed in a trough where fire burnt rocks heat the water a person can soon be warmed through.”

His eyes fell to the fire where it danced and crackled its usual hearth song and I saw a sad smile creep on to his face. I kept to my silence and left him to his for a time as the fire danced between us.

"The people need those of us who can to do the works so that lives may not be lost to circumstance."

As ever there is more to any one thing than the histories can tell us and what knowledge is lost when the labours cease and the conversations quiet?

Eventually the Dagda’s head came up and his smile broadened and his big hand came to rest on my shoulder whilst I had kept to my silence and just smiled at him.

“Thanks for helping me do the work.”

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