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.
- Cadeyrn's Tale - Part 12
Cathail makes a stand for what is right to Cadeyrn's chagrin.
From Part 12
We last left Cadeyrn searching for his runaway queen. Let's pick the story up right there.
I inquired of the wee one once again. "And where did she go?"
"She was carried away by men on horseback to be taken to a safe place. She fears the one who locked her in the tower. You will be glad to know, oh king, that the men will take good care of her, and they will seek revenge on the evil one who locked her away. Your entire city is behind you. You have nothing to worry, oh king."
I shuddered. I knew who was responsible for her imprisonment. Again, I saw the ugliness of my life. It was Báetán who first placed the idea in my head. Perhaps I should have him removed. Perhaps I could have the whole happening placed on him. The townsfolk might take him instead of me. Yes, that is what I shall do.
I will plan that later. At the present, I must find Cathail. The storm is coming quickly.
The wee one spoke. "Oh, king, do not concern yourself. She is safe with the men. They vowed against their own life to keep her safe and rid the kingdom of the evildoer who is responsible."
"Again, I shuttered."
As I looked at the problem, I had two choices. I could either join the search or I could run and travel to the east. I decided a real warrior would not back into the shadows. At all cost, I must search for my queen and bring her home.
I took twelve of my best men and we left just as dawn was approaching. The storm had moved on, but the wet of the night made traveling difficult. For every step, it seemed we would slip back two. But by steady plodding we slowly made progress. I was sure Cathail had returned to the moor where I first found her. That is where we would go.
The day wore on and soon the sun was setting. Enough traveling for one day. We made ready for a meal and a hopefully refreshing night of sleep. Dawn would be here soon enough.
Another storm was approaching. I awoke to the sound of thunder. it was far off, but I could tell it was headed our way. There was nothing we could do but wait. It wasn't long until the rain arrived - and arrive it did. The torrent pounded on our covering. Water began to trickle in neat rows to our sleeping quarters. It didn't take long to realize there would be no sleep that night. The rain passed as quickly as it came, but the damage was already done.
I called for the men. We would leave now. With no rain falling, we could light the torches and continue. There was no use of staying at our camp. There would be no sleep, but the trek was even more treacherous with the newly fallen rain. Still, we were able to make progress.
When the sun did finally rise in the sky, we were able to travel much faster. We should arrive at our destination early tomorrow. We traveled on, and as the water from the rain disappeared, many horse hooves could be seen in front of us. Though distorted by the rain, they were still quite visible. We knew what they were and we knew we were on the right track. We continued on. Another day, and we would arrive at the moor.
The beautiful Wicklow mountains appeared to our left. The lovely rolling hills brought a sense of peace to my troubled heart. The greenery sent a surge of energy through my body. The dazzling blue of the sky spoke deep emotion to my soul. I knew I would soon be able to bring my queen to her castle to stay.
A waterfall fell over the side of one of the hills. It gently tumbled forming a stream of pristine character at the bottom. We stopped to refresh ourselves. Higher up in the hills, there were sheep grazing. I stopped to remember. Oh, to return to an earlier time. A time when life was not so complicated. A time when life was gentle. A time when my soul was at rest.
Cathail says I'm a simple shepherd at heart, but I know in the unquiet of my spirit, I could never return to that life. Although I long for the simplicity of that life, I know I'm a warrior at heart. That is who I am, and I hate who I have become, but that is exactly who I am. I could be no different if I tried so I shall not try.
We traveled on. We continued to follow the tracks of the horses. We followed them to a strange situation - strange indeed. The hoofprints of the horses began to go in circles. At the end, a terrible mix of tracks was found - a large circle of tracks; one set of tracks overlaying another. From that circle extended tracks in all directions. The question became, which set of tracks should we follow?
I paused in thought. I needed to think like the enemy, but these were not soldiers. They were but simple townsfolk. Cathail, on the other hand, would guide them to where she needed to be - the moor.
Our men were off, heading for the deep wood that would eventually lead to the moor. The day was passing quickly, but we still had two hours of daylight left. If we could make it to the wood by nightfall we could conclude the trip in the morning. That is when Cathail will appear to dance upon the moor.
Because we moved quickly we made it to the deep wood while the sun still brought forth his light - the light of Lugh, I was sure. I was sure Lugh held the sun back to give us more time. We moved into the wood and would go as far as Lugh would allow.
Not far into the forest. a large group of the wee folk met us.
I most certainly recognized them for it was the same group that chose to frighten me just days before. The same group that led me to Cathail.
All of them were doing their best to tell me something, but their chatter was undiscernable. Finally, the little one in charge raised his hands high above his head and shouted one word, "Silence!" In an instant, crickets could be heard chirping from their locations.
He spoke. "Oh king, you cannot enter the forest. Evil lies in the deep wood tonight. There are men that seek your life. They have taken Cathail to safety, but they are intent on ridding the earth of you."
I could see the truth in his tiny eyes. We would lay our tents outside of the wood, and when morning came, we would enter. We would also be prepared for battle as I was sure my seasoned warriors were capable of bringing these few simpletons to their knees. After all, I was king Cadeyrn, and Ireland belonged to me. Who dare threaten me? Who dare take my queen from me?
Slowly, the morning sun began to peek through the wood. A beautiful array of wildflowers covered the forest floor. Within minutes we were on our way, moving deeper into the shadows. We were cautious with each step. At any turn, we might meet with trouble. A good soldier always knows his surroundings.
We crept quietly but hurriedly. It was necessary for us to reach the moor before Cathail went elsewhere. I knew she would follow through with her habit. She would appear at the moor but only for a short time.
Perhaps two hours passed when the forest opened into that same beautiful meadow where I first saw Cathail. Just as I knew, she was there, singing and dancing her way across the field so handily decorated with more of those beautiful wildflowers She bent to pick one. I watched as she placed it in her hair above her right ear. That's when I approached her with the men.
"Cathail, you must return to the castle with me. The kingdom is in upheaval since you left. The women adore you. They so look up to you. The men need you as well. Please, my love. You must return to your home."
From behind her and all sides, men appeared from the surrounding woodland. My best estimation was that there were as many as three hundred men. I and my twelve were encircled. Every man with his spear pointed directly at me. They approached closer. With each step, the circle grew tighter.
- Cadeyrn's Tale - Part 14
Cadeyrn takes an introspective view of his life.
© 2019 William Kovacic