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Manchan's Tale - Part 17

Updated on March 4, 2017

Previously . . .

We left Manchan and Déaglán fighting their personal war. This is what happened in Part 16.

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.


Twenty feet down, a ledge protruded out from the face of the cliffs. Manchan woke to the scent of lavender. He thought to himself, "This can't be the abyss. Could this be Mag Mell? Where am I?"

Brigid reached for Manchan's hand. Knowing his thoughts, she answered, 'This is neither the abyss nor Mag Mell, This is your land. You're not finished here yet. There is still much for you to do. Those who seek your life are gone. As I've said before, it is safe for you to return.

My dear Manchan, the gods of earth, wind, and fire are not true gods, for who is there God? There is only one God - the true God of all. He exists in the person of Jesus Christ. And God is not done with you yet."

"Oh, my beloved Brigid. Not so. The earth itself reached out to save me from certain death in the depths of the sea."

"No, my dear. God has protected you, but you will learn that in your time and in your way. He has sent me to tell you that He will reveal Himself to you. Now, to get you back to the top of the cliffs. Your faithful Cráibdech waits for you."

Manchan immediately found himself atop the cliff beside his trusted horse. His Brigid was gone, but the aroma of lavender lingered on. "Up, my friend. We must be off. We will return to our land and rebuild the farm. We have no sheep, but we will start afresh. My Brigid has encouraged me. Shall we be off?"

And with that, the two began their travels once again. The afternoon passed quickly, and Manchan realized he would have to start preparing camp for the night, A suitable place couldn't be found, and the shadows of night were falling fast. At least, this night Manchan was at peace with himself and the limited world around him. He could relax and be carefree since his enemies had been destroyed.

Trudging through the woods, he happened upon a cave - a perfect place to spend the night. After exploring inside to make sure it was safe, he would start a fire at the entrance of the cave for warmth in and to keep wild beasts out. His plan was set in motion.

Being assured of his safety from within the cave, he set about building the fire. Dry wood was hard to find. After much effort, the wood was gathered and the fire was burning brightly, just as dusk was beginning to fall. Manchan pulled his sheepskins close and curled up by the fire. Sleep covered him quickly for, at last, he had no worries. Or did he?

He awoke to a rumbling sound. The ground began to shake beneath him. He tried to stand, but the violence of the quake stopped him. After several minutes, the ground rested again. Manchan made his way to the mouth of the cave and gazed out. A fierce wind was blowing in response to the quake. Rocks were falling from the hills. Whole trees were uprooted and strewn across the landscape.

Once again, all was silent - and very dark. The campfire couldn't stand in the face of the strong wind. Slowly, Manchan made his way back to the cave entrance and looked out over the darkness. The Irish winter held some strange surprises. Flashes of lightning spread across the black backdrop of night. A loud cracking sound alerted Manchan to fire streaking down the mountainside. The lightning claimed a tree and as it fell down the hill, it left a trail of fire behind. The whole countryside was ablaze. Manchan retreated further into the cave.

The earth had spoken. The wind had spoken. The fire had spoken. Manchan got the message. All three were more powerful than he, and he knew they still had a claim on his life - a life that would end in eternal solitude.

In the still and the quiet of the night, Manchan struggled to sleep. A strange, scraping sound echoed within the cave walls. He was not alone in the cave. Someone or something was just around the corner in another chamber. The thirteen had reappeared after their deaths in the river. It took innocence to send them on their way. But now, his innocent lamb, Liadan, was not with him.

He sat in fear. Could it be that Déaglán himself had returned? In the cold and the dark, his mind raced from one possibility to another. None were good.The blanket of black surrounded him as the scraping grew in loudness. Should he be quiet and wait? Or should he move toward the sound to see what or who it was? Should he run?

He opted to run from the cave. Once outside, he and Cráibdech could be on their way. Hopefully, whoever or whatever would not follow them. He was praying the plan would work. Without making a sound he placed one foot in front of the other and moved toward the cave entrance. What he found there caused him, even more, alarm.

© 2017 William Kovacic


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