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.
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