Manchan's Tale - Part 9
- Manchan's Tale - Part 8
5th century Ireland is the place not to be if you are the sin-bearer.
From Part 8
We last left Manchan alone with a desire for death until his faithful horse, Cráibdech, encourages him in the battle.
The despair of Manchan was soon replaced with hope as Cráibdech began to prance. Her encouragement gave Manchan a desire to carry on once more. He addressed Ronan.
"Does it not seem strange to you, Ronan, that you've been left here alone? Findcath wants the glory for himself. He is allowing his men to be removed one by one. You know of Aengus and Eoin."
"You shepherds are so stupid. That's why you lead stupid sheep. We are all Déaglán's men. We share in the spoil. Aengus is following you from behind. He no doubt sees us right now. Eoin is guarding your property waiting for you to return to care for those miserable sheep."
"Aengus is dead. Eoin is dead - their life has been taken by the sin-bearer, and now Findcath has set you for the same fate."
"Impossible, you filthy shepherd. You don't even have a weapon."
Cráibdech reared on her hind legs, coming down just inches from Ronan's feet. The surprised Ronan jumped, watching the powerful animal the whole time.The distraction allowed Manchan to pull his knife from its hiding place. Manchan did indeed have a weapon!
He remained still with the knife carefully placed under his right leg. "Actually, you know, Ronan, we shepherds need to be quite intelligent to lead a flock of stupid sheep. We need to protect them from wild animals, lead them to pasture, make sure the parasites stay away. It's really quite complicated and detailed work.
"Shortly you will meet your end, Ronan. Will it be Mag Mell, or will you be joining me in the abyss?"
Cráibdech snorted loud in Ronan's ear. In the split second that passed, Manchan threw the knife point-first into Ronan's heart. He fell backward. Spurt-by-spurt, his life drained from him. Cráibdech began to paw the earth. She could sense Findcath's horses on the move.
"Come, my friend, Cráibdech. We must hurry." The light of approaching torches could be seen in the shadows of the night.
The two crossed the valley quickly, unseen and undetected by Findcath, and started up into the hill country on the other side. Once clearing the valley, Manchan slowed Cráibdech to a trot. As they rose higher and higher up the western slope, the torches of Findcath's men could be seen.
By this time Findcath was furious. Two of his best men had been taken by the sin-bearer. He was about to find number three. Ronan lay lifeless under the same tree Manchan had claimed as his place of surrender. The body was taken and buried while Manchan continued his flight up the mountain and into the woods. He was careful to pass Lughaidh's cottage quietly. He didn't need any uninvited conversation. It was the parson's home he needed to reach.
As he approached the old cabin, Cráibdech instinctively turned off the path and stopped at Parson Maewyn's front door. Manchan jumped down and knocked on the old man's door.
"Parson! Parson! My wife has taken a turn for the worst. Please, can you spare some more supplies?"
"Oh, sin-bearer, please come in."
"Old man, why do you call me sin-bearer?"
"I know the truth. Your name is Manchan, is it not? Your precious wife is no more, but has entered the realm of eternity. My son, sit. We need to talk."
"No, that's not possible. I am fleeing from Déaglán's man, Findcath. He is but a few steps behind me."
"If you want supplies, you must sit." Manchan, in an attempt to hurry things along, sat on an old, wooden stool in the corner, listening to Maewyn.
"I know the beliefs of the folks around here. I know the doctrine of the gods of earth, air, and fire. I know particularly of the god of the wind - the Whispering Wind, how it tells the priests what they need to know to control the land. Manchan, I know a whispering wind also. His name is the Holy Spirit of the one, true God. He is the God of gods. He is the King of kings. He is the Lord of lords, and Manchan, He is calling you to Himself."
"And this Holy Spirit wind told you this?"
"Yes, He told me in the book He left for me. It's called the Bible. He loves you, Manchan, and He desires to have a relationship with you."
"How can a god have a relationship with mere mortals? The gods are demanding. They are cruel. They are hard taskmasters. We serve them out of fear, not love."
The conversation was interrupted by the voice of Findcath. "Manchan, we have your horse and you are surrounded. If you want her you must come and get her."
"The one, true God is a loving God. He is knowable and will reveal His plan for your life if you follow Him. He's not a hard taskmaster. He will not force you to follow Him, but still, His love is calling you.
"You see, Manchan, this God came to earth a few hundred years ago - lived and walked upon this earth. He is the God of the earth, the wind, and fire. He created it all. And in due time He created you. This God willingly gave up His life as the final sacrifice for sin. He became the true Sin-bearer. He died for you so you would be able to experience eternal life through Him.
"The Romans placed His body in a sealed tomb, and three days later He rose from the dead, victorious over death. We that follow Him have been promised the same - victory over sin and death. death was defeated once for all/"
The conversation was interrupted by the voice of Findcath. "Manchan, we have your horse and you are surrounded. If you want her you must come and get her." Maewyn peeked through a crack in the shutters. The dwelling was indeed surrounded by Findcath and his remaining nine men, however, Cráibdech was nowhere to be seen.
Maewyn's small table sat on a wooden platform in the corner of his lone room. The rest of the floor was bare ground. Underneath the wooden platform was a small door that led to an underground chamber. Maewyn had used it before when chased and threatened by the townspeople. Without a moment's hesitation, Maewyn directed Manchan to hide therein.
Then he slowly made his way to the door. "Ah, my good findcath, what may I do for you on this cold night?"
"We've come to take the sin-bearer. We know he is here."
"You know no such thing. You say his horse is with you, but where? He is not here, nor has he been. Go your way and let this poor, old man alone. Search the place if you choose."
"We do not have time for that. We must find the sin-bearer. If your words are not true, the Whispering Wind will let Déaglán know. Then we will be back for him - and you."
The group continued a short distance up the mountain when Findcath stopped. "Cronan, you and Aidan return. Watch the parson's homestead perchance he is lying. I have learned my lesson. Manchan may outwit one occasionally, but he will not get past two of my best warriors.We will search out the land. You stay planted by the parson's cottage. All in good time, we will have him. You must be cunning and crafty. Now, quiet as you go."
- Machan's Tale - Part 10
5th century Ireland is not the place to be if you are the sin-bearer.
© 2016 William Kovacic