Machan's Tale - Part 10
- Manchan's Tale - Part 9
The trials of life encircle and surround Manchan. Time and choices are running out.
We Last Left Manchan
hiding in Maewyn's underground chamber. We'll pick up the story there.
The conversation was interrupted by the voice of Findcath. "Manchan, we have your horse and you are surrounded. If you want her you must come and get her." Maewyn peeked through a crack in the shutters. The dwelling was indeed surrounded by Findcath and his remaining nine men, however, Cráibdech was nowhere to be seen.
Maewyn's small table sat on a wooden platform in the corner of his lone room. The rest of the floor was bare ground. Underneath the wooden platform was a small door that led to an underground chamber. Maewyn had used it before when chased and threatened by the townspeople. Without a moment's hesitation, Maewyn directed Manchan to hide therein.
Then he slowly made his way to the door. "Ah, my good findcath, what may I do for you on this cold night?"
"We've come to take the sin-bearer. We know he is here."
"You know no such thing. You say his horse is with you, but where? He is not here, nor has he been. Go your way and leave this poor, old man alone. Search the place if you choose."
"We do not have time for that. We must find the sin-bearer. If your words are not true, the Whispering Wind will let Déaglán know. Then we will be back for him - and you."
The group continued a short distance up the mountain when Findcath stopped. "Cronan, you and Aidan return. Watch the parson's homestead perchance he is lying. I have learned my lesson. Manchan may outwit one occasionally, but he will not get past two of my best warriors.We will search out the land. You stay planted by the parson's cottage. All in good time, we will have him. You must be cunning and crafty. Now, quiet as you go."
Cronan and Aidan quietly returned to Parson Maewyn's cabin and perched outside behind two overgrown oaks. Within minutes the door opened, and Maewyn stepped out into the winter's night air. The stars twinkled above. Silence was in the woods. All seemed to be safe for Manchan to make his escape. He made his way to the path, all the while looking for Cráibdech. She was nowhere in sight. His whistle returned nothing. Perhaps Findcath took her, or perhaps as Maewyn said, she was not there. Maybe she ran at the first sign of danger from Fndcath and his men.
The time of Manchan's end had surely arrived. The strain of being the hunted had taken its toll.
A pale moon gave little light for Manchan to begin his journey. He knew eventually Findcath would be back. Tired and exhausted, he continued through the low brush leading to the deep woods of the hill country. That's when he came face to face with Cronan and Aidan who had circled in behind him, one from each side.
"The time of your end has arrived, sin-bearer," reminded Cronan, "We will take you first to Findcath and then to the priest. We know of your weapon, a knife. Place it on the ground in front of you."
The time of Manchan's end had surely arrived. The strain of being the hunted had taken its toll. Manchan threw the knife down and surrendered. As all three sat on the cold, frosted ground, Cronan and Aidan went to work securing Manchan's hands and feet with a strong rope.
A thick cloud covered the moon erasing what little light it had provided. The wind began to blow. "See, the Whispering Wind is carrying the message of your capture," Aidan blurted out. "Soon the others will be joining us." Those were the last words Aidan spoke.
A loud snort was heard, startling Cronan and Aidan. Cráibdech lifted her powerful body on her two hind legs. She allowed her two front legs to come down, one on Cronan, and the other on Aidan. Their lives were snuffed out instantly.
"Oh, my beloved Cráibdech! What took you so long? Quick, go get the parson, my friend. My hands are tied. Then we must be gone."
Within minutes, Cráibdech was pawing at Maewyn's door. And within a few more minutes the parson had arrived on Cráibdech's back to free Manchan.
"My son, you must come back to the cottage and rest. You are too weak and the road ahead, too long."
"Parson, Findcath will surely be back, perhaps while I'm resting. I must go as far away as possible. Then I can rest."
The light of Findcath's fire could be seen several miles away. "You'll not get far without the rest. Please, come to the cottage. Findcath and his men have set camp for the night. Come with me. You can leave at first morning's light after some rest and refreshment." Maewyn's persistence won out, and the two traveled back to the cottage with Cráibdech providing the transportation.
The thought had been in Manchan's mind for quite some time. It was time Manchan gave it voice. "Parson, why do you risk your life for me? If they find me here, they most assuredly will take you, too."
"My God has and will protect me.He is no match for Déaglán and his men. Manchan, I have been interceding in prayer for you since you first came to me. Do you not see the hand of God's protection upon your own life? Do you not see how God has answered my prayers for you?
"Even as you left earlier. I was praying for your very protection. Did not God see you in your helplessness? In your hopelessness? It was He who sent Cráibdech. You must come to realize that you should be on your way to the priest by now - but you're not. You must realize that there is a power that is greater than your gods, for your gods require your elimination - but you're still here. The true God seeks you for His own. To love and nurture. To use you for His glory.
"He is in the process of creating another masterpiece for eternity. But Manchan, Manchan, you must follow Him. You must desire Him. He forces Himself upon nobody. We must choose His love. To them who seek Him, He will be found."
How much Manchan heard was not clear. He lay sleeping wrapped up in a sheepskin by the fire. Maewyn continued to pray. "Lord, Manchan's journey to you is not complete. Continue to keep him safe, as you have. I know You have a plan for his life, and it doesn't include Mag Mell. it includes You. speak to him as he travels. Reveal Yourself to him in the circumstances he finds himself in. Claim him for Your own, once for all.
"Might he, in the days ahead become a shining gem for you, that through him, many will know of You. Strengthen hm to fight the fight, to finish his race, to grasp the prize You have waiting for him. I see the plan You have for his life. Allow him to see it as well."
The sun began to break through the black of night. Another day was approaching. Maewyn gently shook Manchan to life. "Manchan, it's time to go, my son. The day is breaking and with it will be the breaking of Findcath's camp. You must ready yourself and go."
- Manchan's Tale - Part 11
5th century Ireland is the place not to be if you are the sin-bearer.
© 2017 William Kovacic