Thursday, May 20, 2010

Chapter 10

"I stay." "Aye. Ye carry the knight's sword?" "Yes." "Aye, tis magic which slays the dragon's head. Will it's magic work for me?" I gave him the sword. "Swipe ye thumb across the cutting edge. And feel its feather weight, how easy it moves." "I saw ye slice the flesh of many. Howbeit in me hand, will it work it's magic?" I hesitated. There was not time to teach him the art of fencing and his aging body would not move with the necessary agility to whip a younger king. Even with the sharpest blade, the odds were against him. "Far better than with ye own sword, my lord," I answered truthfully presenting him the sword. "Take the sword to the end of this." "What will ye take for the knight's sword?" "There is only one thing that I ask. And that is, if you have the key, please give it to me now." The king wrinkled his brow and grumbled. "What key?" "Surely I have not come to your battle not to find it?" "Aye. Be content to take the jewels from me neck." Before I could respond, he swung around to focus on a stream of warriors accompanying Heber
Warning: US and International Copyright Restrictions Apply.
Fionn while he crossed the terraces. It was time for the two chieftains to decide the outcome. Then he raised the sword towards heaven. Prisms of sunlight glimmered on the silver handle and cast daggers of white lightening all about. Some of the light was reflected into his eyes and he stared with pride at the uplifted sword. "The knight's sword will decide the victory!" Heber Fionn seeing the stance ran fast across the meadow passing his guards. He was energized with the excitement of the moment. His feet began to shuffle into a war dance while he screamed loud insults to the high king until he was near enough to see that Fiacha Lebhrainn stood in the threatening posture, as a statue frozen in time. "Now you die!" He boasted. Fiacha Lebhrainn took the first charge, slicing Fionn's arms and legs. The lightness of the sword gave him the advantage. Once more he lunged forward and cut more gashes and as he did so, spit into the face of the stunned Heber Fionn. But Heber Fionn sprang into action, using fancy foot work to exhaust the king and causing him to swing wildly, and miss. Sweat poured from his face and dripped into the agonyous expression of his pained eyes. Too often did the king fall into this trap, until finally he was pinned to the ground by the heavy wide blade of Heber Fionn. The High King fought bravely, but he could match the dark strength of the younger warrior. Heber Fionn delivered the fatal blow into the heart of the king who fell dead to the ground. Then he cut off his head and grabbing it by the hair put it high over his head. "I be high king of Ireland!" He yelled ecstatically. While his warriors cheered, I rushed to grab the sword and scepter which lay beside the corpse and pushed the stunned Fiacha into the brush. "Quick! Give the signal." I said. Fiacha sent a flaming arrow into the sky towards the village. Fiacha gave the signal to burn the village and watched the smokey trail of defeat as it ascended over the trees. Then we ran. The retreat was impeccably planned. The trail through the wilderness country provided a cover of brush and high grasses one which Heber Fionn's warriors could not track. Nevertheless we ran fast to catch up with the escaping villagers of several days
Warning: US and International Copyright Restrictions Apply.
past. As we moved through the briary brush, I felt the stalking presence of Laboi. By evening we had wandered into a forest of hardwoods and settled on a thatched bed of crumbled leaves. No fire was lit and Fiacha sat quietly in the light of the moon grieving over his father. Finally he arose from his unhappiness and accepted the mantle left by the death of the high king. He was chief of the disemboweled clan and wherever they were, he must find them and preserve their roots. He observed the blade of my sword which still had the blood of Heber Fionn. "This knight's sword had not the magic to save the clan," he said. "Nor a quiver of arrows. We fought to preserve the right to rule Ireland. Twas the evil that pinned us." "No one wins every battle." "Heber Fionn's spilt blood, now dried on the knight's sword, is evidence of the battle between a good king and his evil cousin. But I am Fiacha, son of Fiacha Labhrainne and no evil shall ever discourage me again. I will find the clan and we will build a new village and rehearse our children of this battle and their lineage from our ancient ancestor, Heber, conqueror of southern Ireland." "I had not time to save the crown, but here is the scepter." "Then so be it. Ireland will always be divided. The crown be on the head of Heber Fionn, but tis my hand that holds the scepter!" We found only a handful of starving women, children, old people and the warriors who left the battle at the invitation of the king. Their camp was hidden well in the forest by a thicket of brambles and briars. As soon as they saw Fiacha, they shouted. "The king!" Fiacha raised his scepter above his head and held it there until the shouting ceased. All was well. There was hope again. They had their king. The rebuilding would take centuries, long past the life of Fiacha. And as he had predicted, Ireland would always be at odds with itself. There would always be the struggle for power and the one for peace. The next morning Laboi left a large chunk of bear meat in the thicket. No one questioned it. It was regarded as a sign that the clan would survive so was
Warning: US and International Copyright Restrictions Apply.
snatched up a cooked in smoldering coals over a low flame. As for myself, I waited. Not having found the key and confident that it was not among this people, I eagerly anticipated traveling back yet another thousand years. A path would open up somewhere in the sky, in the milky way. So I watched the night sky. When the carpet of golden dust circled its way through the heavens and dropped limply at my feet, I shared the hope of Fiacha's clan, that there was a greater tomorrow.

No comments:

Post a Comment