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Manchan's Tale - Part 7

Updated on December 21, 2016


Manchan lowered the number of the thirteen to eleven. Eoin is now missing as well as Aengus. Findcath is off to try to locate Aengus as Manchan watches from across the valley.

. . . That being settled the thirteen set out again. But now the thirteen had become eleven. "They retraced their steps back to the hill country hoping to find Aengus. This would not be good news for Déaglán. Not only was Manchan not captured, but one of Déaglán's chosen men was missing. Still, Findcath had complete confidence that Aengus would be found safe.

As the group disappeared into the woods, Manchan made his move. Oh, so quietly and carefully he crossed the valley. From the east, he approached his land. Eoin stood at the front of what was once Manchan's barn - now just a shell. Manchan came near to the back side of the barn and waited.

From the corner of his eye, Manchan saw a shadow coming from behind him. In an instant and with two movements as one, he reached for his hunting knife while twirling quickly to meet his attacker face to face. What joy he felt when he found himself eye to eye with Cráibdech.

"Shhh . . . " he whispered in her ear as he began to mount his friend. "Do not make a sound, until I give the word. Stealthily, he guided Cráibdech around the side of the barn. When they reached the front of the structure, Manchan kicked her hard in the ribs. She reared and charged the enemy. Eoin was left dead in the fast melting christening snow.

Manchan whistled for Slánú who came galloping across the valley. He sadly looked him in the eye and without saying a word he tied the old warhorse next to Eoin's horse. He and Cráibdech rode off, again following Findcath and his troop from a distance.

He knew the battle wasn't over yet. Actually, he knew it had just begun.


Findcath was on a mission. He needed to find Aengus, but the night was falling fast. He and his men set up camp. The group settled in as it was now late afternoon and all were exhausted. The hunt for Aengus would resume in the morning. Likewise, Manchan was worn from the chase.Likewise, the hunt for Manchan would also resume in the morning.

Although fading fast, the daylight hours allowed for excellent vision. He could see the men from a greater distance through the bare, winter trees. That being the case, he crossed the valley and observed from the other side. A crooked ash tree provided the perfect cover. He cleared away the snow from underneath the old tree and sat down. He wasn't ready for what was to happen next.

The glistening sun cast a halo of light.
The glistening sun cast a halo of light.

The sun glistened on the nearly two-day-old snow casting a halo of light on the field below. A lovely, blue stream creased the edge of the hollow. The glow gave way to a field of wildflowers as a young girl danced her way through the vale. Her grace and beauty struck Manchan. It was Brigid!

She ran leaping across the meadow, all the while coming closer to Manchan. As she ran to him, she came laughing with delight. "Manchan - Manchan, my love. Come join me in the dance among these beautiful flowers."

He arose and began to walk toward her. Then, shaking himself back to reality, he hurried back to his place under the ash tree. She was gone. Still, Manchan remembered. the first day he saw her. Keeping his sheep up in the hill country, he could see her as she danced and sang along the crystal blue stream at the bottom of the hills. Oh, how he loved her! His memory, now unlocked, began to flow with sight after sight of his beloved Brigid.

Manchan, my love. Come join me in the dance among these beautiful flowers."
Manchan, my love. Come join me in the dance among these beautiful flowers."

Remembering that first day, he shook with tears. Sitting on the hills talking, laughing, dreaming, they sat in autumn's colorful covering. It was always a special time for both of them. The parade of colors never seemed to end and mixed perfectly with the cloudless blues of a fall backdrop.

He thought about how their love had grown - starting out wild and reckless, then settling into a ripened love of respect and honor, each for the other. Their souls became one. The beauty of what had existed sadly disappeared when Brigid died.

Her last request surfaced in Manchan's mind as it often would in the coming days."Manchan, when each new winter comes, promise me that when you see the christening snow, you'll stop to think of me."

As he sat under the ash, he looked down at the christening snow that laid all around him. He was true to his word as he stopped to remember, but the wounds were too fresh. His only hope was that time would heal the scars he inherited. More likely, he knew the scars would inherit his solitary place in the underworld and would last an eternity. The chase he was now experiencing from Findcath was only the beginning of a forever path that would separate him from very life itself. The weight placed upon the sin-bearer was almost more than he could carry/.The christening snow had become Brigid's ghost and would haunt Manchan all his days.

The thought of his future state placed him in torment, His past life with Brigid only added to that. So quickly, in a passing moment, his whole life was rearranged - from precious love to pathetic hopelessness.

Across the way, Manchan could see Findcath and his men as they huddled around a freshly kindled fire. They openly shared the warmth of the flame. Manchan didn't have that luxury. Shades of night fell as the blue turned to orange as the sun set in the west, as the orange turned to gray, as the gray turned to night's black.

It seemed to match Manchan's heart. He saw no reason for anything. Life no longer made sense as his world continued to spin out of control. The pressures, the stresses mounted and pressed heavily upon him. In an instant, his world was changed, and he would never be the same. Dark forces grabbed at him from without, from within.

In his mind's eye, he stood on the edge of a dark abyss looking down. The bottom couldn't be seen, but Manchan instinctively knew there was no end to it. It seemed to call his name drawing him closer, daring him to face what was there. Should he jump? Or should he allow Findcath to push him?

He tried to shake himself back to reality, just as he did when he imagined Brigid dancing across the moors. But then, this was his reality. He knew the abyss was waiting for him. He knew it was just a matter of time before it would claim him for eternity. This was his lot in life and in death. The voices continued to call. The voices continued to taunt.

There was only one thing left to do. In the quiet and the still of the young night, Manchan stood to his feet and screamed across the valley. "Findcath, the sin-bearer waits for you! Take me now before I see the light of another day for I may change my mind/"

© 2016 William Kovacic


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