The Third String.
Tales from a Dagda Bard
The Third String.
Tales from a Dagda Bard
He lay there in the blackness, listening to the slow rise and fall of his breath. He knew his eyes were open but no light had yet reached the inside of his Rath. His sleep had been solid and restful. Yet awareness, being the gift that it was, had roused him to a subtle intent which may yet come to pass this day. With a hefty sigh he rose, big legs lifting his heavy muscular frame upright from his bed. Stepping naked out into the darkness a cool breeze dimpled his skin as the scents of the night filled his nostrils.
Looking east he saw a subtle change in the colours of darkness and knew that dawn was but a few hours away. Looking west he gazed into the dark for a moment, broad face serious and searching. With a slight nod to himself he strolled around the side of his home to the woodpile. The axe was a familiar weight to him as he raised it above the first of the logs. Pausing at the height of the swing, all muscles raised and taught, he smiled, then brought the blade down with a sundering splitting crack. He kept on smiling, enjoying the simple strength and form of his muscles at work.
Time was given to the task and soon there was enough.
With the wood stacked near to hand, he raised the sparks and set a fire in his grand pit, set out in front of the door to his home. Feeding it to build he took up the next task. The mighty cauldron sat cold and empty in the dark. Grasping its rim with one big hand he hefted its weight and set off to the water. Reaching the edge he tipped the vessel upon its side in the water and grasping up a fist full of fine gravel he laboured to scour its insides of the previous days cooking. Humming to himself he smiled at the simple task and the motions of his hands amidst the water.
Time was given to the task and soon it was cleansed.
With a last dip, he scooped the cauldron part full of fresh water and, glancing at the growing light to the east, raised its weight with both hands. Returning to the fire, he set it within the flame and fed the flames with more fuel. With the water set he slipped silently towards his sleeping flock. Moving among their sleeping bodies he found the old one easily enough. Kneeling quietly, he thanked the old one for the service of its life and again for the gifts of its death. With quick strong hands, he released the old one of its aches and pains, with no sound or disturbance to the rest. Lifting the remains in his big arms, he moved clear of his flock as it slept, not one other among it knowing of deaths visit. Well clear and down wind, he hung the carcass and set to skinning and preparing it, smiling in gratitude whilst capturing all that would be of use from the gift.
Time was given to the task and soon the meat hung roasting above the fire.
Cleansed and clothed at last he went among his stores, sorting and counting, returning soon with sacks of grain upon each shoulder to set these at the fire. With stone and bowl he set to grind and prepare the grain. Slow and steady, around and around, separating that which he needed from that which could find other use. Into the boiling waters he cast handful after handful of oats in big scoops, his other hand set to stir.
Time was given to the task and soon a hungry smile crossed his face as the porridge smell filled the air.
At last the sun rose, cresting the rise of the land and spilling it golden radiance forward into the day. Yet the sun was not the only arrival for as its light shone out down his hill, it caught the glint and gleam of warriors approaching. A party of five in all, they came upon the sight of a roaring fire, porridge on the boil, mutton on the roast. To see such at first light was a wonder to them, no more than the big man sitting casually at his ease by the blaze scraping and cleaning a new fleece. Tired and ragged the warriors were and ill at ease to see the magic of a well made feast upon the dawn's first light, from no apparent effort of the Big man lounging at his ease.
With a warm and hearty voice the man spoke.
"My fire is open to those who come with peace in their hearts. This place of plenty shall see none leave unsatisfied. Come, Sit."
So saying the big man smiled and set again to stir the porridge.
Following his invitation the warriors sat and took the food offered and the hospitality given, and indeed not a one of them did not receive their fill. As they fed the big man watched and looked and observed the warriors, not a one without weary or wound.
As they finished their meal at last the arrivals relaxed, and rested began to share their woes. The Big Man sat and heard them, his face showing compassion for their hurts. At the last they came to the purpose of their journey, to carry a warning.
"I know" the Dagda said.
"A time of conflict approaches, but such times are ever close at hand these days. Yet what strength can anyone of us offer if do not look to the our rest and care with as much vigor as our combats?"
The Dagda allowed a moment for his words to settle upon his guests, and then gave them a reassuring smile.
"Sometimes taking pleasure in the simplest tasks we each perform countless times a day, can be enough."
The Dagda's smile took a mischievous twist.
"Now who wants to help me clean up?"
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An Scéalaí Beag