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Manchan's Tale - Part 16
The Celtic Tune that Spawned Manchan's Tale
From Part 15
Fear was replaced at the first drop of the lamb's shed blood with anger and hatred. Manchan reached the end of his resignation. It was replaced with determination - determination to rid the wicked Druid priest from the earth.
He could only run so long. He could only accept the indignities so long. He could only allow the injustices so long. It was time. It was Manchan's time. As one condemned to the abyss, he had nothing to lose. This was not a time to be safe, to hide, to avoid. It was a time to seek out the enemy and remove him at all cost.
It didn't matter how powerful Déaglán was. It was of no concern his status as king and priest. What mattered was his elimination, and Manchan was committed to the task. For all that he suffered at the hands of the townspeople, the thirteen, and Déaglán himself, he would be avenged.
War had been declared in his heart, and war it would be. The two armies of one would fight to the death. There was no turning back.
Manchan and Cráibdech traveled on through the night, and by dawn's first light they had arrived back in the familiar hill country that once was their home. Both man and horse were worn from the night of travel. A lack of sleep, a lack of food, and the constant weight of nature's cruel winter was depleting the strength both needed for the fight to come. Still, Manchan would not be denied. He would hunt down Déaglán, and he would be ruthless in his attack.
The trees and shrubs gave Manchan cover as he observed the town below. It wasn't long until Déaglán was out and about. A gentle wind covered the hills as Manchan watched his every move from above. In due time, Déaglán mounted his priestly steed and headed out of town. Manchan followed from a distance. The path both were on wound sleepily out from the village and led southwest toward the cliffs.
By now, the golden sun had risen, casting a covering of warmth on the land. Under any other circumstances, the cloudless morning would have been perfect for a ride on the country lanes, but this was anything but any other circumstance. This was war, and Manchan crept closer to his enemy, though still out of sight.
The path continued on for several miles, through streams and meadows, through brush and gullies. But eventually, the cliffs came into view. Higher up the path than Déaglán, Manchan could see the pounding ocean reflecting the gorgeous blue of the sky. Still, war was what was on his mind.
He knew the area well. He remembered many times he and Brigid traveled the same path to take in the beautiful view offered from the heights of the cliffs. He also knew of a trail up ahead that would turn to the right and circle around intersecting with the path Déaglán was taking. There he would ambush Déaglán and end the hunt on a happy note before giving in to exhaustion.and finding his eternal abode in the netherworld.
As Déaglán disappeared around a bend, Manchan guided Cráibdech to the path on the right and headed to his point of ambush. Jumping off of Cráibdech, he lay close to the ground, like a snake in the grass. He waited quietly for Déaglán - and he waited.
A stir in the grass behind him caused him to turn about. Behind him stood Déaglán, spear in hand.
"Up, sin-bearer. We are going to admire the beauty of the cliffs today.
At spearpoint, he was led to the edge of the cliffs. "Did you really think, sin-bearer, that you could kill me? Did you feel the breeze in the hill country? It whispered your plan to me. You didn't follow me here. I led you here to meet your demise. The waters will swallow you up and lead you straight to the abyss where you will forever remain. The games are over. You have reached the end of your earthly journey. Now you must atone for your sins and those of your sickly wife, Brigid." The spear backed Manchan up one more step closer to the cliff's edge.
Déaglán whispered, "You can't withstand the storm."
Manchan replied, "I am the storm."
His heart was pounding, but he didn't come this far to be defeated. His mind raced for options but found none. He refused to try to reason with Déaglán. He thought about poor, little Liadan and the injustice Déaglán laid upon her. In a fit of rage, Manchan charged Déaglán, attempting to free the spear from his hand. Déaglán remained unmovable with the spearpoint held in front. Manchan would run to his own death.
Within inches of the spear, Manchan dropped to the ground and rolled sending Déaglán sprawling to the ground. The spear flew over the cliffs, falling into the rolling waters of the cold North Atlantic.below. Now it was each man for himself, and Manchan was sure his rage would carry him through.
Celtic Battle Anthem
The two wrestled on the ground, grasping for each other's most exposed areas. Manchan found Déaglán's arm and cranked it hard behind his back. Déaglán reached for Manchan's throat with his free hand and began to squeeze. Manchan could feel himself fading away. What little strength that was left, drained from his body as both rolled close to the cliff's edge.
Déaglán on top saw the life exit Manchan and rose to toss him to his watery grave. With what little life was left, Manchan was able to trip him up. Déaglán stumbled just inches from the cliffs. His eyes peered into the depths below.
Manchan made his move. With his last ounce of energy, he charged Déaglán. In a flash, Déaglán rolled to his left catching Manchan's foot and tripping him over the edge of the ragged cliff. Déaglán stood, dusting himself off and patting himself on the back for a job well done.
He turned and walked to the edge of the cliff.Standing proudly, chest out and hands on his hips, he looked out to sea. The giant waves smashed against the rocks 300 feet below..
There was a shaking under his feet and a thunder behind him. He turned quickly only to see an infuriated Cráibdech charging him. With her long muzzle, she lifted Déaglán high in the air flipping him head over heels over the edge of the cliff. Her master had been avenged at last. Faithfull Cráibdech turned and stared at Déaglán's warhorse. The powerful beauty turned and ran back up the trail never to be seen again.
A sadness covered Cráibdech. She stood alone victorious, yet without her lifelong friend. She too looked out over the depths of the cliffs into the water below. If horses could shed a tear, she most surely did.
Stubbornly, she pawed at the ground, now softened by the late morning sun. Her prancing was gone forever, she feared. In her sadness, she lay by the cliffs and waited for her master to return, although she knew he never would. This would be her place of demise as well.
- Manchan's Tale - Part 17
5th century Ireland is the place not to be if you are the sin-bearer.
© 2017 William Kovacic