Manchan's Tale - Part 14
- Manchan's Tale - Part 13
5th century Ireland is the place not to be if you are the sin-bearer.
Now in battle with Déaglán himself and the thirteen spirits, Manchan's time is coming, and he knows it. Still, with a bit of a breather, he fights on.
Shades of night were falling fast. Manchan and Cráibdech walked the woods searching for the right place to set up camp. Several deer stood grazing in a clearing down in the meadow. In Manchan's tired, confused thinking, that would be the best place to camp for the night. In reality, it was a good choice. There would be more visibility with fewer distractions.
Yet, visibility didn't matter. The spirits could appear out of nothingness if that's what was required of them. Distractions - the spirits could certainly create their own. There was no need for Manchan to hide in the woods. The spirits would find him wherever he chose to be. Yes, the battlefield was set, and a long night was approaching.
Manchan began gathering brush for bedding and kindling for a fire. Cráibdech pawed the frozen earth begging for another barley cake. Then she meandered down to a small brook and began to drink. Manchan was close behind her. A last sip from the stream and he would be ready for his sheepskins. Finally, he could settle back and try to get some much-needed rest, although he knew that was not really an option. He would have to sleep with one closed and the other opened. Every sound would be amplified. Every movement of nature would be magnified. The thing he needed so badly had been taken away from him - the ability to sleep.
Cráibdech sprawled at his side, Manchan sat close to the fire wrapped in his sheepskins. A moment of peace grabbed his attention, and he began to take in all that had happened to him. His life had become overwhelming. How much longer he could last, he didn't know. He knew his days were numbered, and that they no doubt would soon come to an end.
For every loss, there must be an equal grieving, and as of yet, Manchan had not that opportunity to grieve his devastating loss. His mind went back to his beloved Brigid and the loss he suffered.
Their lives forever intertwined, his would never be the same again without her. Although Brigid was gone, she would forever live in his memory - now and in the abyss. In the quiet of the night, he came face to face with his reality without her.
Secret on the Moors - David Arkenstone
"Brigid. Oh, my Brigid. I miss you so. I see your lovely face so clearly. I'm sorry for the times I hurt you. I'm sorry I let you slip away - slip away from the moors as you danced in the setting sun; slip away from the love we once knew. Where have you gone? Why do you hide your face?
"I struggle here alone without you. I wonder about you. What's Mag Mell like? I will never know, nor will I ever behold you again. When it's my time, and it may be soon, I will depart to the underworld, to my solitary place where I will suffer forever without you. But you'll always be with me. I have the assurance you'll enjoy eternal happiness. That will be enough to get me through. Brigid, do you think of me? Do you remember how we loved? How we became and are one?
"Oh, my beloved. I've so many questions. I will do my best with the time that's left to find the answers. That will bring me a certain measure of peace in my eternal torment."
As night took its place, the glow of the fire and quiet meadow brought back to Manchan Brigid's words, "Manchan, when each new winter comes, promise me that when you see the christening snow, you'll stop to think of me. Always remember our time together for I will ever be with you. Manchan, will you promise?"
He promised her, but he knew he would never see another christening snow.
With the full night upon him, a soft whisper floated on the air. Fear immediately struck at his heart. It sounded like Brigid, but it could be Déaglán or one of the thirteen. "My dear Manchan, you will have all the answers soon enough. Be patient, and always remember I said it is safe to return."
Fear caused Manchan to remain silent. He heard the words before, but he didn't feel safe. True, he had been kept until now, but safety? He felt anything but safe Terror reigned on every side. When would he meet his end? How long could he hold out? Where would the final attack come from? More questions.
"Never think you are alone, my beloved. As you said, I will always be with you. Even though I am not physically with you, we are inseparable in spirit. Mag Mell? It's not Mag Mell, but a place you haven't heard of yet - but you will. It's called Heaven. Again, my love, be patient. I have the assurance that you'll receive the answers to all your questions in time. Never forget, I love you and always will."
Once more, all was silent. Manchan pulled the sheepskins closer as he breathed in the peaceful scent of lavender and drifted off to his own dreamland.
Hours later, he awoke with a start. Evil was all around him. He saw nothing, but he could sense the presence of the thirteen. He slowly sat up and visually surveyed the meadow. Nothing. Nothing in sight. No sound. Yet he knew. The sheepskin did him no good for he knew he was blanketed in their evil presence. This could be his final battle, or maybe it was just another time of play for the thirteen and Déaglán.Time would tell, and it probably wouldn't take much time.
The air thickened as the gods set themselves for battle. The demonic thirteen were in their place. This was indeed to be the final battle.
The smell of Brigid's lavender was replaced with a stench in the air. Unexplained flashes of light were occasionally seen streaking across the meadow, but not a sound was heard. The air thickened as the gods set themselves for battle. The demonic thirteen were in their place. This was indeed to be the final battle. The wind began to blow wildly as the campfire nearly went out. Flames danced in the night with each breath of wind. Lightning flashed in the winter's night sky - very unusual.
Hideous voices shrieked in the night as the thirteen prepared to launch their final attack. Cráibdech pranced and reared in nervous anticipation. The time was drawing near. It could not be delayed forever. Still, Manchan sat petrified with fear, unable to react in any way.
In an instant, silence replaced the confusion and commotion of the thirteen. Manchan heard a tree branch crack fifteen yards behind him. Someone or something was on the move. He refused to turn around but kept staring straight ahead into the fire that was once again glowing brightly.
He could hear the shuffle of the being as it made its approach through the scattered brush on the meadow floor. .He could hear its course but labored breathing as it inched closer. An agitated Cráibdech continued her prancing. Manchan jumped but remained seated as he felt a head resting on his shoulder. He could smell its putrid breath as it breathed on his neck. He felt hot saliva as it dripped from its lips. Manchan waited for the end.
- Manchan's Tale - Part 15
5th century Ireland is the place not to be if you are the sin-bearer.
© 2017 William Kovacic