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Manchan's Tale - Part 11
- Machan's Tale - Part 10
5th century Ireland is not the place to be if you are the sin-bearer.
Maewyn was able to convince Manchan to come to his cottage and rest, but now morning's light was breaking.
"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."
Slow to process the order, Manchan struggled to his feet. Cráibdech was impatiently pawing the frozen ground outside Maewyn's cottage. Only a few minutes had passed before Manchan was prepared to take his leave. Quietly, he crept out into the dawning light and made his way to Cráibdech. Together they started down the worn path to the valley below.
Findcath and his men were also on the move. Their first order of business was to stop at Maewyn's home, but before they arrived, they discovered the bodies of Cronan and Aidan.
"Ahhh, the sin-bearer has struck again. He must be eliminated at all cost. We will not stop until he rests in the underworld," Findcath shrieked.
Never Give Up!
There was a restless drive in Findcath's heart that pushed him on. The last few days had been as draining for him as they were for Manchan. Still, there would be no stopping until they successfully captured Manchan. The footprints of Cráibdech were also discovered as they led down from the hills. Findcath's shrinking army was off following the path left behind in the slow melting, christening snow. They would need to keep ahead of the sun.
It wasn't long until that sun showed brightly and the first snowfall of the winter began to show signs of melting. It was, however, a matter of not enough not soon enough as Findcath continued to follow Cráibdech's tracks.
By mid-morning, Manchan stopped to rest. He pulled out a pouch containing his provisions from Maewyn. A quick stop to eat some oats and cheese was all he needed to regain his strength and energy. He instinctively knew it wouldn't be long until Findcath would be at his back. That time would come soon enough.
Cráibdech began to prance and snort. Manchan knew it was her signal that other horses were in the vicinity. Thunderous hooves could be heard growing louder as they echoed over the rolling hills. The two sped through the long, narrow valley trying to put as much space between themselves and the intruders.
Then Cráibdech stopped suddenly. The approaching river put a stop to their progress. Repeatedly, Manchan gently kicked Cráibdech's ribs to get her to move, but the current was too swift. Cráibdech ignored Manchan's orders and stepped slowly into the frigid waters. She began to make her way along the water's edge, then took off in a gallop heading downstream. After traveling on for quite a distance. The two finally came to low water. Not much of a current existed. Here, Cráibdech crossed over.
Once safely on the other side, Manchan stopped to survey the situation. His natural inclination was to continue south following the river. Eventually, it would lead to the sea and a choice. He could take up residence in a seaside town, far from his home. Or, perhaps he could take passage on a ship to a new land. Of course, that required the parting of Manchan and Cráibdech. If it meant a parting of the ways, Manchan was willing, but not looking forward to it. For now, the more distance he could put between himself and Findcath, the better. Besides, following the river would allow him to hide his tracks at any time, as Cráibdech just showed him.
"Ah, Cráibdech my friend, we must hurry. Get moving!"
Cráibdech had different plans. Manchan guided her south, but she bolted and galloped off in a northerly direction. following the riverbank.
Manchan showed his concern. "No! No! Cráibdech. Findcath will see us from the other side of the river." Cráibdech had a mind of her own as she continued to follow the river back.
Findcath's men followed Cráibdech's tracks to where they disappeared at the river's edge. What to do next wasn't clear in Findcath's mind. The water's flow was increasing in strength as the snow melted. It was at that point that Cráibdech snorted from across the river drawing Findcath's attention.
Cráibdech pranced and bucked as if to say to Findcath, "Come on. I dare you to try to catch me."
And so it was. Findcath took the dare. With spears flashing, the remaining eight charged into the cold swells aiming at Manchan and Cráibdech. Slowly the beasts swam toward the shore, fighting the intense current with each powerful kick. The freezing waters began to overtake the animals, and the fast flow of the river at its deepest point refused to let Findcath and his men cross. One by one, Fiandcath and the last of his men sank beneath the rustling waves, never to appear again.
Manchan stood on the shore. The turbulence seemed to calm as the hungry river devoured the last warrior. Findcath could be heard to say, "Long live the gods of Déaglán. Sin-bearer, you will join us soon."
From behind, Manchan heard another voice speak, yet he saw no one. "You have fought and done well, my Beloved. You have destroyed the king's army."
Brigid. Brigid. Is that you? Where are you?"
Slowly Brigid stepped out from behind a fat oak. "I cannot stay, my beloved Manchan, but I do bring a message - a message of hope. You must return to Maewyn in the morning. He is in need of your help, and he has words he must share with you. Manchan, do not fear. It's safe to return now."
In the blink of an eye, Brigid was gone. Manchan tried to shake himself back to reality as he did before, but he couldn't. The vision seemed too real. Exhausted, he sat under the same fat oak where Brigid first appeared. He breathed in deeply. He was surrounded by a familiar aroma. It was Brigid's scent of lavender.
At peace with himself and the world, Manchan went about setting up camp for the night. After several days of running, he was ready for a good night's sleep. The overwhelming peace that he felt was comforting, but that would all change in the morning.
- Manchan's Tale - Part 12
5th century Ireland is the place not to be if you are the sin-bearer.
© 2017 William Kovacic