The Third String.
Tales from a Dagda Bard
The Third String.
Tales from a Dagda Bard
It had been one long day.
He couldn't recall a longer one in all his years, still he would never say that it hadn’t been worth it, nor that he hadn’t enjoyed it.
As the sun began its descent at long last, night’s darkness crept slowly towards the places it had long been denied. His rolling gait took him by the roads away from the Rath of Eclmar and on across the country towards the West.
In the crook of his great arm rested the bundle, and swaddled within it the child. Such a small pudgy thing, all pale skin and softness. As he looked down where it slept, held close to his bodies heat, he saw the face scrunch up in momentary discomfort. The returned warmth of the fart was accompanied a smell of mothers milk, pungent in the Dagda’s nostrils.
“That’s my boy.”
The Big Chieftain always kept his best smiles for his children, for they always seemed to bring forward the best in Him, yet this time the smile slipped as the memories came.
The Rath was warmed with hearth fire and the comfort of private intimacy. The table was set and the pieces had seen many moves, some decisive and swift others thoughtful and measured. Once again it seemed that the play had come to a stalemate, but the pieces had been long forgotten now as both sat considering the last words spoken in the space.
“Are you sure it’s necessary?”
His rumbling words came as softly and measured as his moves had been.
“You know as well as I that the ways of fate are fraught with changing winds, dear heart, but in this there is surety. The child will bring much to our tribe and in time come to your aid where no other could. They will be a unique force of unequaled vigor. There is only one choice.”
Her words delivered with as much softness as there ever was to her, she picked up a piece from the board and sat back in her chair, caressing it almost absent mindedly.
“There must be concessions.”
Her eyebrow rose at this but reading his tone she remained silent.
“First, there must be unswayed consent. On this there can be no ambiguity or hesitancy.”
Her smile was genuine and pleased as once again her husband’s first considerations did him credit, though He never could understand how rare that was.
He nodded reflexively as if his motions were absent his mind’s awareness, such was the focus of his thoughts.
“Second, the matter is to be completed in one day. The sun will stay its course to allow the natural growth and birth of the child within the womb of Boann, but no others outside will know of the deed for the safety of her body and her honour.”
Her brows lowered at this demand. Though the ability was not beyond them, the impact to the great cycle, not to mention her own plans, could be significant and far reaching. Her sharp eyes watched him closely to read his intent. So much concern for this other woman.
“Agreed, but on the condition that the impact is yours to manage and that the same boon be offered me should I call upon it.”
This time his nod was mind full as his dark eyed gaze met hers, accepting the responsibility.
“Now I have a concession of my own before the matter is closed.”
He kept his gaze locked to hers and waited patiently.
“The child is to be brought to me as the sun renews its course and moves to set. There I shall trace the paths of fate again so we may know the best course.”
The Chieftain took in a deep breath to speak but she interrupted Him with a raised finger.
“What the weave of fate decrees, you will abide by.”
She knew his heart, knew it as intimately as her own. Knew how big, broad and giving it is, and knew exactly what pains would be caused should her current view of the fate not alter by their next meeting. For all that he was a great and wise chieftain, a knowledgeable druid and powerful practitioner, for all of his grand strength and skill, his love of family was both his greatest power and yet his biggest weakness.
His brow furrowed and his gaze sharpened upon her but she was not one to be quelled even by the likes of Him. She remained impassive and resolute.
The intent of his gaze told her well that he was suspicious, and of course he would be as he was no fool, but the rumble tone of his voice gave his binding word to the matter.
The agreement struck and set, the matter was put aside as easily as a gust of smoke caught in a high wind. Both their eyes fell to the board and its pieces. The Morrigan sat forward returning the missing piece to its place as they both began to contemplate the stalemate again.
“You know, even though it’s going to pass in but a day, it will be almost a year long absence from my embrace and our bed. Did you really want to spend what time we have playing games?”
Her gaze fell upon him like a predator on her favoured prey and her eyebrow rose with the suggestion.
His rumbling chuckle was the only reply she received to her question as he moved to take her in his big arms and carry her off to bed, but definitely not to sleep.
A few days later Eclmar journeyed out of his rath and off to the waters he tended. Every seven day before the rise of the sun he would set out and draw forth the wisdom of the well as the first rays of light touched its surface. Yet for all that wisdom may offer, on this day it was a lack of knowledge which would see the changes wrought within his house.
Boann had received the Dagda’s approach with enthusiastic consent and so she awaited him in her chambers as soon as her husband had departed.
As the sun's light first touched the island The Dagda called forth his power and with all the Will and authority which was his, he slowed the flow of light across the land.
Throughout this the longest day, Dagda stayed with Boann sharing a 9 month of partnered relationship. They spoke on every topic, shared and challenged ideals, swapped crafts and skills and engaged in many enthusiastic encounters not just between bed sheets, but in all other places imaginable.
Once the motherly changes were wrought upon her body as the child grew within her, Dagda stayed ever close to hand, nursing, caring and nurturing Boann, sharing in all of the trials as much as he was able and easing her burdens in whatever manner he could.
The child was born healthy and strong, with thankfully little discomfort to Boann. It seemed the the infant was possessed of a force of wilful intent as he arrived sooner than expected. Dagda was thankful for this as it gave time for Boann to nurse and know the child before the parting which they both knew would come at the end of their day.
And so the Dagda bid farewell to his wife of the 9 month day and taking the bundle safe and warm in hand set forth towards the setting sun.
Without prior agreement he knew where to find her. There were many places which they called theirs but there was only one for business such as this. The rush and gurgle of the river caught his ears long before his eyes fell upon it. Tucking the blanket close around the child against the river Unshin’s chill, the Dagda arrived at the ford.
With the sun in his face and night’s darkness following close behind him, he came to her where she stood across the waters, light surrounding her in its red gold flames.
She stood in robes of red flowing to the ground just above her bare white feet. Hair undone, mane stirring faintly with the breeze above the water, face marked with the colourings of her paint, not set for war, but set for great works none the less.
He had missed her there could be no doubt about that, but as he looked upon her here, arrayed as she was, he couldn't help recall their last meeting, a 9 month day ago. What had she not told him? What had she held back? It seemed now was the time of revelation.
Not missing a beat they both stepped forward, one foot at a time, matched stride and synchronicity until the waters of the ford washed about both their legs and they stood without touch in the middle of this space between.
“With earth and water below, fire and air above, I greet you husband.”
“In this space between where elements meet, I greet you wife.”
She had missed him, there could be no doubt about that. Though the day had continued for the rest of the world, She had known the passing of each true minute for what it was and though change had been slowed, it could never be stopped. Many things had been adjusted and altered in the passing of the longest day, but now she stood upon the moment she had foreseen and could not help but hope for the fate to have changed.
She held out her arm towards him.
“As agreed in days gone passed, I will look upon the child and see to their fate.”
Her eyes came up to meet those dark orbs of the Dagda looking to read in him his mood and intent. For all of her abilities to glimpse the weaves of fate’s design, his was the one thread she could never see clearly, the one force which she could not with any assurance predict. He was the most interesting, attractive and yet frustrating thing she had ever encountered.
She saw his brow furrow into a frown yet his gaze never left hers. There it was, the oh so subtle threat. That power coupled with the mystery of him ensured that he was the most dangerous thing in existence to her, as she was to him. A perfect balance of beloved nemesis.
She kept her breathing slow and steady refusing to draw her power about her in any visible way. This was his heart. The strength of the love he held for the child of his own flesh and the will to destroy any who would attempt harm upon those he considered His. She was His as well in the same way that he was hers, but she was under no illusions about his stance when it came to his children.
His arms came forward and present the bundle to her, oh so gentle for all of his huge muscled strength. She took the swaddled infant and turned it up to look upon its face. Round and with the pudgy jowls of a newborn, it’s eyes were yet to fully open to the world about it.
Easing her mind she looked to See the child for the first time in person.
Dagda stood as the waters about his legs began to lose the days heat. He watched closely as the Morrigan looked to See the fate of his child. No force in creation could move him from this spot. The time of truths was here.
Dearly he loved his partner, this mate, his equal, but he was no fool and also knew she was his greatest threat, the one against whom he could find no effective defence, even if he had wanted to. The power of endings.
Within his mind he replayed the conversation they had shared.
They will be a unique force of unequaled vigor. There is only one choice.
There I shall trace the paths of fate again so we may know the best course.
What the weave of fate decrees, you will abide by.
He waited as the sun at last disappeared and the day ended.
The Morrigan shuddered and closed her eyes, Dagda noted that her arms closed around the child and held him closer to her. He did not move. He waited.
She opened her eyes and and raised their green orbs to his.
“Chieftain of the tribes do you remember your oath given to me concerning this moment?”
Dagda’s mind raced along the paths of what could be considering the possible fate of his son. True his word was given and he would not break with that for honour sake, but what was honour when compared to the safety and well being of family? He couldn't help note the absence of the little bundle from the cradle of his arms and his eyes fell to where it rested in hers.
“Recall I do the words of my oath.”
“The child will grow in force and vigour and in time will aid you when no one else can. Yet the fate of his parentage must, for now, remain secret and so he is to be raised in fosterage within the house of Midir and as no child of yours may you claim him.”
Within his great broad chest the Dagda’s heart skipped and sank low within him. This child of his, this son, not to be his in name or in the raising. His shoulders slumped and face fell to look to the river and within three breaths the wetness of tears adorned his face. The Morrigan’s voice came to him softly and he knew she spoke to him from her own heart not the weave of fate.
“I’m sorry beloved dear heart, I know how this must pain you. I had hoped that the passage of the longest day might change this fate, but for the child to grow and become whom they must, then they need to be parted from father in the same manner as they are parted from mother. This is the balance of fate.”
Dagda’s tears joined the waters of the Unshin but he knew the words for truth. She had held back information from him, but now he saw that it was for the love she bore him that it had been done.
“Name the child, Chieftain.”
Raising his head, tears still flowing from his eyes, he looked into the Morrigan's now blue orbs.
“You did that bit already my love.”
Dagda took a deep steadying breath and into the world about him he sent the name of his child.
“His name is Oengus Mac ind Og”
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An Scéalaí Beag