Cadeyrn's Tale - Part 11
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events, and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.
From Part 10
I've taken a much needed break, but I'm back - I think. Now, lwt's see. Where were we?
We last left Cadeyrn searching for Cathail after he defeated Edmund of Wales. She has yet to be found, and Cadeyrn spends the night in the deep wood as he waits for daylight to resume his search. Here's as an excerpt from Part 10.
The night was beginning to fall. I knew my search would needs be delayed until the morning light. I felt safe knowing Edmund had been done away with. I had spent many a night alone in the hill-country and the deep wood. Still, I sensed something I had sensed before - once before.
A strange feeling of fear overtook my being. There was something in the air - something dangerous. Something threatening. Something I couldn't see with my eyes.
Every sound was magnified. Was someone creeping? Were wild beasts searching out a prey? Were bandits hiding nearby waiting for the opportune moment to steal what little I had on my person? Were they of the murderous kind?
I listened through the night. Every good soldier is alert and pays attention to his surroundings. The more I listened, the more I became frightful. I only laid still and quiet, barely breathing lest I make a sound and give myself away.
I could hear strange sounds in the night. The sounds continued for many hours. At times, it was very loud - a clanging sound. At other times it seemed to be further in the distance - a rustling sound. I was puzzled as well as filled with fear. I could also sense a presence, a presence of someone or something. I could not tell. I wished for the night to pass.
In my fear, I also felt shame. I was a brave warrior. I would never run from anyone. I would gladly run now if only I could see. The thick blanket of the forest kept any and all light from my eyes. I tried to prepare myself for an attack, but from which direction it would come, I knew not.
Terror filled my weakening soul. I could only remain still and pray to Lugh. I could hear a crunching sound as someone was walking through the dried leaves on the forest floor. Slowly, I reached for my sword but continued to lay still. I waited. At the proper time, I would whirl into action. That's when I heard a twig break to my left.
I rose quickly in the dark, swinging my sword in all directions. Surely I would wound my adversary, even if I could not see him.
I heard a voice say, "Missed me." I took another swing in all directions. He chuckled as he said, "Missed me again." The voice seemed so faint, yet so near. I was in a panic, swinging my sword madly in the black of the night. The voice continued to taunt me. "Try again. Surely you can do better than that . . . Oh, my! What a terrible swing . . . Stop swinging that sword and I'll reveal myself!"
I stopped. What a fool I played! He could see me, but I could not see him. He could have plunged me through. The forest broke out in tiny laughter.
I once again heard the familiar clanging sound. Something was being dragged over the rocks and broken tree limbs. In the dark, it was coming closer. I feared the end.
The clanging stopped directly in front of me, I took one more swing of the sword in that direction. A brilliant light flowed forth from the pot of gold at my feet. The light revealed a forest full of the wee folk. I, at once, felt a great relief cover my body. The wood was alive with movement as they gathered around me. The clanging - the pot being dragged on the forest floor. The rustling - hundreds of tiny feet scurrying about.
"We just love playing games on you bigger folk. We do apologize, but we could not resist." He chuckled, "Now, how may we pay you back for your fright?"
In the gleaming light, I leaned against a tree. "My Cathail! Can you help me find my Cathail?"
"Oh! That will be easy. The sun will be rising soon. We'll take you to her."
What seemed like hours passed, but finally the sun had risen. Lugh would light our way from here. I set out with a band of wee folk circling me as the prince of the wee folk led on through the wood. Within a short while, I once again heard laughter, but this was not the wee folk. I recognized it as the laughter of my Cathail.
The wood slowly began to clear and in front of me was a most beautiful moor. The grass appeared greener than green. The sky, bluer than blue. In the distance, I could see Cathail frolicking in the fresh, morning air. I thanked the wee folk and they returned to their home in the forest.
I stole behind an old oak and watched as Cathail danced amongst the gorse and heather, covered with the dew of the morning. I saw the life in her that I saw years ago when we claimed our share of the deep wood. Through streaks of sunlight, I could see her gentle smile as she embraced the morning. I could hear her voice float across the field as she sang her songs of contentment.
That was not the way I expected to find her. Perhaps in my absence, another stepped in my place. I would wait and watch. No. No one came. She was just filled with life - more than I had ever seen.
It seemed that as she danced, the small animals of the field danced also. As she sang, the birds joined in the chorus. It surely was a spectacle to see. It had been months since we were last together. She seemed as a different person to me. I thought to myself, should I approach her or just enjoy her frolicking?
I chose to call her name. She immediately turned my way, but the smile of joy had disappeared from her face. I knew something was wrong. It was when I looked in her eyes that the unspoken words were spoken. She need not speak. Silence spoke so very clear. I saw words she could not say. I heard words she could not speak.
Still, I muttered an invitation to her to return with me to the palace that was now hers. "But why, Cathail? Why will you not return with me? You are my wife. Has someone else stolen your heart in my absence? Why, Cathail? Why? I am not only your husband, but I am your king."
"Cadeyrn, you have been my only love. There is no one else, but you must admit, you have taken advantage of my heart. You have been gone for months. I knew not from day to day if you were alive or have gone on to your final reward.
"You have left me many times unloved and unprotected. You have traded me for war. You call me your wife, but you refuse to honor me as your wife. You name yourself as my king, but the blood of the innocent clings to your hands. I will not allow myself to link arms with that."
"Your father was a man of war. Surely the blood of many was on his hands." I protested.
"My father fought to protect his people. My father fought because he loved his people. You fight to take - to take lives, to take land, to take wealth, to increase your kingdom. It is no secret to me or to the others. Your desire for war comes from your lust for power and fame. It is driven by your desire to control. It is your greed that causes you to take the lives of the innocent. Cadeyrn, remember from whence you came. You were nothing more than a shepherd, and that is all you will ever be.
"I can have no part of that, Cadeyrn. I can not and will not return with you for I have found another king who loves and protects as a king should. I will follow him at all cost, but I can not follow you."
Another king? I thought, "How could that be?" I have conquered the entire land except for one small patch further north. I am king to all.
"So, tell me, Cathail, Who is this king and where does he reign?"
Her eyes immediately twinkled, and I could tell she was deep in thought. Her eyes sparkled as she thought of her king. Somehow I knew she would be well cared for. And I, at last, knew she would be happier without me. Her allegiance was to another. I desired her happiness, even if it was to be without me.
I turned to make my way back through the wood from which I came. She called after me. "Cadeyrn, His name is Jesus and his kingdom is in my heart."
I did not understand her speech but continued on my way. She called again. "Cadeyrn, I have two horses tied to the ash tree over against the way you came. It is a long journey. Please take one. Cadeyrn, know too, I will never forget you, and I will always love you."
"Then come ride with me. We will be company for each other."
"Even if I would like, Cadeyrn - I can not. Go. Ride on."