Manannan’s Daughter –Cantos six

I remember, or perhaps I dreamed, another time. It was a long ago time. Much is hidden in the mists of the past but moments stand out as in sunlight. The first memory is actually the last memory of she I might have been.

There was a battle and I fought crippled, being alone. My shieldmate was gone, he who guarded my back as I his. Being alone and knowing my fate, I had chosen the site of this battle carefully. The oak tree was ancient when I was born. It watched me grow, speaking to me in the whispering wind. I did not feel alone with it behind me.

They came laughing, seeing easy prey. My sword drank hearts’ blood twice and my shield crushed an unwary throat before they learned caution. They were angry at my impudence, shouting at me, rattling their swords. I laughed at them and they grew angrier. They charged. I danced amid the gnarled roots, dealing death. Time and time they came and could not take me. The roots grew slippery with their blood and mine. The ground beneath was darkened with it.

Time stopped as we fought. I know not how long we battled so. It was sunset when I next held thought, the sun’s gleaming, gold beneath the storm dark clouds. My arms burned and my legs trembled. My lungs labored with each breath. Everything was still. I looked at my enemy and ‘though the bodies were many, more still stood watching me. One stepped ahead of the others. Bigger, stronger, he was their champion held in reserve. The others fell back. He lifted his sword in salute and nodded his head. His eyes were kind.

I straightened and looked around me. The wind was cool against my face, sweet in my laboring lungs. The colors of the trees and fields glowed in sunset splendour. The air sparkled with amazing clarity.

I turned to the champion waiting still, patient. My fatigue, pain were gone, replaced by fierce defience. I raised my sword, delighting in the sunlight that jeweled its bloody length. I looked at the champion and my vision grew red. I screamed as the bann sidhe screams. I know no more. Perhaps my heart burst or his sword found it. I know not, for only darkness echoes.

These are my first memories, dreams of the distant time. There are others that came later as I remembered the sword. It was his sword. The coming of my shieldmate to be and the gifting of his sword are other dreams, memories to be recalled some other time. Some I might share but others, others well, we shall see.

©2019 Maggie Grimes

“Manannan’s Daughter” begins in prehistoric Ireland with the selkie’s tale and continues now with ancient tales of Irish heroes. MJG

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