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Monday, March 26, 2012

Below is my entry for Unicorn Bell's A PICTURE PAINTS A 1000 WORDS blogfest.  Check out the others on the link, and perhaps choose a picture of your own to write to - if you haven't already joined.  My excerpt is only 785 words, but I didn't get started on this as early as I'd expected.  I couldn't make up my mind which picture to choose; and when I did, it didn't turn out quite as expected.  Forgive the unfamiliar terms . .

Núadu, once king of the Tuatha Dé Danann, awaited the touch of morning sun atop a spire overlooking Galway City. His band of Sluagh remained in the shadows of the great city during Núadu’s morning ritual, leaving him his time for reminiscence. He stretched a thin, white wing into the air currents and surveyed the land that had once been Mag Tuired. Remembering the long ago battles, his missing hand throbbed in ghostly pain. Miach’s magical appendage had not followed Núadu into death.

A small price to pay for Lugh’s assured kingship. Núadu flapped his wings and resettled himself against the cold metal building, whispering an incantation. As a death spirit, his magic was limited, but allowed him to construct a mirage of the second battle of Mag Tuired.

His Sluagh brothers drew closer, attracted by even this small semblance of life. In the mirage, Nuadu cringes at the feet of Brigid in the lush gardens of Magh Nuadu.

“And why should I grant you a boon Núadu of the silver hand?”

Núadu trembled. It’d been twenty years since Miach had conjured Núadu’s flesh and blood hand, replacing the silver hand that the royal healer had conjured to allow Núadu to again sit the throne of Ireland.

"The Tuatha Dé have suffered greatly under the betrayal of the half- Fomorian Bres, My Lady. I have been unable to remove the taint of his sovereignty. My body was made whole, but my spirit remains weak.”

Núadu chanced a look up at the mist shrouded face of his goddess. Brigid spared him not a glance, her gaze fixed on the beautifully intelligent young Lugh. Court gossip reported Lugh as the grandson of Núadu’s mortal enemy Belor, and if true, was prophesied to kill Belor in battle. A thin hope at best, but Núadu knew his people had lost faith in him, and rather than meet a blade of betrayal, he decided to choose his successor.

“My Lady, already Lugh’s powers of healing are legendary. As is his gift of persuasion, and fairness in matters of justice. His magical talents have surpassed even the oldest among our original settlers. See how he possesses many of the talismans brought from the Isles of Findias. If you call to it, My Lady, the Lúin of Celtchar will appear for him.”

Brigid bent and placed a cold hand under Núadu’s chin, forcing him to look into her cobalt eyes. In a flash he saw his destiny, the price of her assistance. The spear would indeed appear to Ludh, allowing him to defeat the Fomorians for the final time, but only after Núadu ’s death. Núadu quaked in fear and disgrace, but nodded his agreement with the terms.

“It will be a brave and glorious death, my dear servant,” Brigid assured him.

Her breath soothed and calmed Núadu, and when she placed her hand in his, he rose to his feet with a confidence he hadn’t felt in a decade. She motioned to Lugh, and he began to play his golden harp. The court ladies sighed in contentment, tossing wreaths of flowers at Lugh’s sandaled feet as they danced around him.

“Worthy of poems and ballads that will stand the test of time,” Brigid continued, her voice growing harsh, turning the floral scents to ash on Nuadu’s tongue. “Ballads which you will hear for a millennium Núadu, as your spirit joins the lost ranks of the Sluagh, collecting lost souls rejected by both the deities and the Earth.”

Núadu gaged on the acrid taste of decay Brigid’s anger had imposed on him. His eyes rolled back, but still his Goddess forced her terrifying visage within his mind, the lost sword claiomh solais burning into his retinas.

“You were keeper of one of the Four Treasures, Núadu. Your carelessness has cost the Tuatha Dé their current grief.” She squeezed his restored left hand, and it disappeared. “Do you still wish my help.”

Despite his terror and pain, Núadu agreed, his only thought to save the remnants of his people.

The mirage faded, and once again the Sluagh retreated to the shadows, leaving Núadu an unobstructed view of the steel encased modern city. His millennium was nearly up. He’d collected souls for in centuries, watching his once verdant kingdom change through the ravages of war and industrialization.

His spirit was tired, but he had hope of redemption. Brigid had also promised him acceptance into and Tír na nÓg as a reward. As the sun rose in the east, Núadu motioned to his flock of Sluagh, then leaped off the spire, catching a westerly current with a strong downdraft of his wings. There was work still left to do before his final rest.

As always for an original, constructive criticisms are welcomed.  Your feedback helps me improve my writing.

Thanks for stopping by . .


Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Sad that it will take his sacrifice.
Very creative and original, Donna.

Misty Waters said...

I have no critisms, Donna:) Very nice.

mshatch said...

Lovely glimpse into this world and I love how you took that particular picture and made it into something uniquely yours.

Charity Bradford said...

I loved the story behind this. Even though its sad, I love when a character is willing to sacrifice everything out of love for his people.

My only criticism is all the names. I couldn't keep it straight in my head who was who. Is Miach someone that didn't actually appear in the story?

I think he's the only one I didn't figure out by the end. Otherwise, loved it!

Julie Dao said...

What terrific world-building and such conflict! Nuadu sounds like a very interesting and honorable character and I would love to read more about him.

Michael Offutt, Tebow Cult Initiate said...

This is an exemplary piece of science fiction. I love the names, the setting, the voice, the world-building. WOW!

Donna I urge you to submit this to the Writers of the Future contest. This is exactly the kind of story that wins that contest. Seriously.

stu said...

It's an interesting take on the celtic myths. Nice.

Sarah Pearson said...

I was a bit confused by the names to start with, but I slowed down from my usual reading pace and it all made sense. It feels like a tiny part of an epic tale which I would love to read.

M.J. Fifield said...

This is a cool blogfest and a very awesome piece. Well done!

Sheena-kay Graham said...

You wrote a good story. The names and some of the terms made me confused and I had to read it very slowly though. Yet still it was a sad story of sacrifice and hope for redemption.

Huntress said...

Original and totally captivating.

Excellent world-building. You gave it a beginning, middle and end. Not easy to do in so few words.
Good job.
I had trouble picking a single picture also, btw.

Donna Hole said...

Thanks Alex and Misty :)

mshatch: the hardest part was was working in the city.

Charity: yeah, Miach was the healer and the only one I couldn't work into it personally. I knew the names would throw readers, but I was too tired to work on it any more. Shame on me :)

Julie: I'm hoping to work this into an existing novel project but I'm not so sure it will fit.

Tebow: Wow, thanks. I'll check out the contest.

Thanks Stu

Sarah: its mostly research, I'm fascinated by the Tuatha De.

Thanks MJ; I hope you joined so I can read yours :)

Hi Sheena, nice to meet you.

Huntress; they were such excellent pictures.


Kathie said...

Incredible, Donna! I'm especially in awe at knowing how quickly this came together for you and yet it flows, is tight, and well constructed. Hats off to you my writerly friend, you continue to amaze me!

Aldrea Alien said...

Got briefly snarled with the names, but this is a good little story. Very poignant.

Donna Hole said...

Thanks for the idea start Kathie.

Hello Aldrea; the names snagged a lot of people.


Mark Koopmans said...

Aloha Donna,

Hey, anyone that can spell Tír na nÓg (the right way:), write such a beautiful story - and push me out of the way so she can jump and wave at Cassie has me hooked for more:)

I'm a new follower and I agree with Michael... submit this baby :)

Alicia C. said...

Beautifully done. That's all :)

Justin W. Parente said...

Very nice, Donna! I've never read any of your fantasy work, but it's fantastic. This is a well-rounded story in just 1000 words. Great job reeling us in.

Thanks for sharing!

Tyrean Martinson said...

Interesting and original. I liked the blend of history and modern times.

1000th.monkey said...

Since I'm dyslexic, I was really thrown by the strange names :)

Interesting images/descriptions though. Am I right in assuming the removed narration style is consistent with epic fantasy-type stories? I mostly read contemporary, so I'm not sure :)

Angela Brown said...

I slowed down a bit to process the names but that would be the only thing I could mention.

I really enjoyed it. I was bit saddened in the end but enjoyed it nonetheless. I could certainly see the picture woven into the story.

Donna K. Weaver said...

Wow. Nicely done! *sniff*

Rek said...

Its a beautiful piece of work that could be expanded into a short story.
I was saddened by his fate but with great powers comes great responsibilities, some one said.

Tara Tyler said...

excellent space opera! beautifully done!

Christine Hardy said...

I had to read it through a couple of times. It feels very dense to me. Sort of like a history or a synopsis rather than flash fiction.

It's got a lot of potential to expand, though. I feel like there's a whole, richly told novel condensed in those in those 785 words!

Tracy Jo said...

Very good. No criticisms here...I love your imagination!

Donna Hole said...

Mark; thank goodness for copy/paste :)

Thanks Alicia.

JW; you are one of the masters I try to emulate.

Tyrean; glad it worked. It was the hardest part.

Thanks Angela and Donna. I knew I should have cleaned up the names.

Rek; you just made me smile :)

Thanks Tara.

Christine; I know, I rushed it to get it up on time. I am hoping to work on it some time.

Thanks Tracy :)