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Manchan's Tale - Part 4
What Are Your Thoughts?
I appreciate so much the positive reinforcement I receive here at HubPages, but I need the constructive criticism as well. Lay it on me!
As I mentioned in Part 1, I'm out of my comfort zone, and I'd really like to know how this is coming across. Thanks for your input in advance.
- Manchan's Tale - Part 3
The Great Oak, Brigid, Warhorses, and Manchan - what does it all mean?
In the Last Chapter
In Chapter 3, Manchan buried his beloved Brigid just as the whispering wind reported to Déaglán, the priest that Manchan was indeed the sin-bearer. Déaglán's thirteen advisors who also were his war machine cornered Manchan in his cottage leaving him no escape route.
The wind now stopped, was replaced with an eerie silence as Manchan headed for the door. When he opened the door, he could see, in the distance, warhorses approaching. He knew what was next, but they were too close for him to run. He quickly closed and bolted the door, He pushed the heavy, oak table in front of the door for added protection, then went about securing the shutters to the three small windows as best he could. All he could do now was to wait.
He could hear the hoofbeats of the horses as they made their way across the nearly frozen ground that led to Manchan's farm. Finally, all was still again. Manchan waIted a moment. Then Findcath, the leader of the thirteen, spoke.
"Manchan, we know you're inside. We followed your carriage tracks from the great oak to your barn. We know too, you are the sin bearer. Déaglán has sent us to remove you to your place of everlasting contempt. By order of the priest, come out now."
Manchan did not move. The only way to freedom was through the lone door at the front of the tiny cottage. Three small windows would not allow for his passage. Besides, the cottage was surrounded on all sides.
If it was not for his expected, horrible end in the underworld, Manchan would have just walked out and faced death. He was beginning to think it may be sweeter than his present circumstances. But then again - no! to be confined to his solitary place chained forever to his sin and that of Brigid's was not something to be desired. If that was to be his end, he would fight with every ounce of his being before going to that dreadful place.
He slowly and quietly moved the table from the door. Findcath, leader of the thirteen bellowed again. "Manchan, you have been marked by the gods of the wind. You cannot escape. Come out now, or meet your demise from within."
All remained quiet. "Manchan, you toy with us? We will be no man's fool. We will send your soul by fire to the underworld to rot. Manchan, do you hear me?"
Still, there was no movement or sound from Manchan. Findcath turned to the warrior at his right side. "He wants to play games. We will play games. Set fire to my arrow."
Now or Never
Manchan's now or never had arrived. He thrust open the heavy wooden door and began to run. Just as he reached for the doorknob, a blast of wind stirred the dry, powdery snow. The whip of the wind and the snow blowing fiercely in the faces of the thirteen kept them blind to the fact that Manchan was gone.
Running hard, he made it to the barn while the snow continued blowing. He hopped on his trusted Cráibdech and sped off down to the valley below. Crossing over, he headed up the mountain on the other side of the valley and watched.
The gale force wind finally slowed. Findcath's arrow was lit. He took aim. The arrow left its mark in the center of the door. Each warrior, in turn, released a burning arrow into Manchan's home. Within minutes it was nothing but a pile of ash. Findcath roared again to the other twelve men, 'Our job is finished here. We'll go back to Déaglán and let him know of our success. He will allow us all entrance into Mag Mell at the appropriate time as we all had a part of removing the sin-bearer.
Manchan gently but firmly kicked the sides of Cráibdech. "Hurry, my friend. We can never return." His mare galloped through the valley at a breakneck pace. The village was just over the next ridge. Perhaps the Parson was at the church and could help him with supplies for his journey.
He tethered Cráibdech to a post by the church and hurried up the steps to the little meeting place. It was empty. As he was leaving, a woman stood by Cráibdech admiring her beauty. Manchan pulled his cloak tighter and kept his head low as he approached.
"Fine animal you have here. Are you new in town?" she offered.
"Thank you. No, I'm just passing through. I'm looking for the Parson. Can you tell me when he might be back?"
"Oh, no one goes to his church. He lives up in the hills and never comes to town since he was forced to leave for preaching heresy. He speaks of the existence of only one God. Look! Déaglán, the priest is coming down the street. I'm sure he can help you."
"No - no Ma'am. I really need to speak to the Parson. You say he lives up in the hills. I'll find him. Thank you. I must go."
Manchan and Cráibdech sped off to the hill country. The Night was approaching quickly. If both were to survive the cold night, he would need to find the Parson soon. There was no path up to the hill country. Traveling was slow but steady.
Manchan Meets a New Friend?
As Manchan continued up the mountain, he passed an old man on his way back from the village. "My most gracious sir, can you tell me where I might find the Parson?"
"I would surely tell you if you would be so kind as to provide transport for me to my dwelling."
"Climb up, my friend, and we'll be off."
Together they rode for several miles until they came upon a cottage back in the brush. The old man pointed it out. "That's my dwelling. Thank you, kind sir for the ride. Your horse is one, magnificent beauty. Travel on for a bit, and you'll come upon a humble, little home in the woods. That is where you'll find the Parson. You'll need to hurry, though - sun's setting quickly. May the gods be with you."
The old man hopped down, and Manchan traveled on. Soon the Parson's cottage appeared. Manchan approached carefully. Even though the Parson was not a Druid priest, Manchan knew he had to be cautious.
"Are you the Parson?" He asked.
"Yes, my name is Maewyn. How can I help you, my son?"
Machan lied. "My wife,sir - she's sick of the fever. Sir, if you could spare three sheepskins, some kindling for the fire and some food, I would be much appreciative. And Sir, I must hurry. The fire is nearly out."
"Come in, my son. I have more than I need. I am happy to help." The Parson went about gathering the necessities that Manchan requested.
Not able to help himself, Machan blurted out, "Sir, they say in the village that you only believe in one god. Is that true?"
"Yes, there is only on true God. His name is Jesus."
"You don't worship the gods of earth, wind, and fire, as do the others?"
"No, you see these gods all have their beginning in man's thinking rather than in the mind of the true God. Man created gods to please himself, but God created man to please Him."
Maewyn continued to gather Manchan's supplies. Within minutes Manchan and Cráibdech were heading deeper into the woods hoping to find a secluded place to call home.
Déaglán had already approached the woman who had been admiring Mancha's horse. "So, is that a new face in town, or just another passing through to celebrate The Festival of the Christening Snow?"
"He says he's just passing through. He never looked up. Kept his head down the whole time. He was in distress and insisted on seeing that old preacher, Maewyn. I tried to keep him here as long as I could. I gave him the thought that you could help him, but he insisted on talking with Maewyn and left in a hurry, I regret to say, I think it may have been Manchan.".
"That's impossible! My men just burned his cottage to the ground - with him in it. Look! Who is that galloping into town? He's in a terrible hurry.
"Lughaidh, what is your hurry?"
"My lord, a man resembling Manchan just provided me with transport to my home in the hills. He was impatient to speak to Maewyn."
Déaglán was in much confusion. "Are you sure, Lughaidh? My men burned his home to the ground. He couldn't have possibly survived. Are you sure?"
"Quite sure, my lord - quite sure!"
- Manchan's Tale - Part 5
What we can't see can hurt us. The sin-bearer's trials are not over yet.
© 2016 William Kovacic