Cadeyrn's Tale - Part 4
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 3
King Aedan was quickly eliminated, thanks to Cadeyrn's cunning, but was it really that simple?
From Part 3
I gathered the men. "This is what we will do," I said. "Remember what we did to King Brendan's village? We will divide into two groups. I will lead one group toward the south gate. When we approach, I will go on ahead leaving the others behind. Aedan will believe I have come to surrender - and indeed I will. He and his few men will come to meet me at the gate and take me in.
"You men in the second group, you will approach from the north and attack the wall while I make my ascent up the hill from the south to meet a distracted King Aedan. Once inside the walls, you will free Queen Cathail and you, Caiside and Aonghus, will lead the queen to safety by taking her home to her own castle.
When the Queen Cathail has safely been removed, you will give the battle cry, Caiside. The men in the city will shortly be joined by those from the south. Aedan and his people shall be destroyed, every one of them. Not a living soul shall be left. Now, we must hurry. Time is running out."
My army did its job skillfully and confidently. Cathail was safe and the town destroyed. But one problem lingered.
Listen to the battle hymns of Celtic war, but it's not the kind of war you may think.
Aedan was not among the forces of the village. He was not at his castle. His person was not there to take me as I trudged up the hill. After the destruction of the city, he was not found to be among any of the dead or the few living that we took as captives. Truly, I was confused.
I returned to Cathail. She was safe. I asked her of her captor. "Was he known to you?"
"Yes, very well known. King Aedan."
"Did you experience harm at his hand?"
That was all I needed to hear. It was not chance that I discovered his sword in battle. I was to believe he was dead. He could not be found at the castle. Surely he was no more. But Cathail proved me wrong. I must hunt him as a roe of the field and bring defeat to him at once. I told Cathail I must be off to bring Aedan down. She looked at me with unbelief.
"You cannot go. You must stay at the castle. You are so in need of rest, and I, I need to be safe at your side. Send the other men if you must, but my need is you. You have fought war after war. It is time to be with me. We can go back to the deep wood and continue to plan our future, just as we did before all this bloodshed came upon us. Cadeyrn, I need you."
I understood her words. Perhaps she did not realize I was acting on her behalf.
"But Cathail, you do not understand. I must fight for you. It is for you that I go. It is what your father would want of me, to avenge the evil committed against you."
"No! My father would want you to be my loving husband. He would want you to be with me at all times, to protect me from the likes of Aedan, to protect me like you protected your sheep. That is what my father saw in you - protection for his village and daughter. Cadeyrn, I need you here - with me - now!"
"You must realize, my dear Cathail, I am protecting you by removing from the land Aedan. He shall hurt no one again. I will likewise put an end to his raids. He must pay. If it is not what your father would want, it is what Lugh wants. I must do the work of the avenger."
"You yourself said, Cadeyrn, that his army has been destroyed. One man cannot harm us. We will be safe within the castle walls if you do not want to go to the deep wood. There is no need to follow after Aedan."
It broke my heart, but I knew I needed to bring Aedan down and put an end to his nasty reign. She could tell of my determination as she looked in my war-weary eyes.
It was necessary that we act with speed. Cathail tried to hold me back. I pushed her away. There was more blood to shed, and I could taste it. I was hungry for the blood of Aedan.
We had taken much of the land from our enemies. That was what war was about - acquiring land and possessions. This war was personal. My men would go with me, of course, but it would be me who would plunge the spear through Aedan's blood-thirsty heart.
Visions filled my head - where I would meet Aedan, how I would meet him, what I would do to him. My mind was flooded with scenarios of Aedan's demise. I, and I alone, would thrust my spear through his wicked body. But I would not do it quickly. He would experience a slow, agonizing death. He would pay for his evil deeds. Besides, he was not there to protect his castle. It was now in my possession. I owned him, and he knew it. He was mine to dispose of.
I gathered my men and we set out to seek out his place of hiding. The night was soon upon us, and we required rest. There was no moon shining through the clouds of the heavens. The total darkness let us know there would be no fight tonight. We raised our tents on the moor and sought sleep that we might be refreshed to continue the hunt in the morning.
I grew cold in the night and searched for my blanket, but it was missing from among the few necessities we brought with us. I was sure it was in place the night before but was mistaken.
As the sun was rising, so were the men. We had much to do and we needed to take advantage of every minute Lugh allowed us to have. As we prepared to ride out, I heard a voice from across the plain.
The voice shouted, "See this, my great Cadeyrn. Your blanket. I removed it from your tent as you lazily slept. I could have fastened you to the ground with my spear. I have spared your life - not because I ask for mercy, not because I have had a change of heart, not because I fear you, but because I choose to make the war more challenging. I love a good challenge. I am too clever for you. You will never win this war, and this war is not over until I, King Aedan, have eliminated the great Cadeyrn. It is you, Cadeyrn against me, Aedan. I know the outcome already. You shall not live to see tomorrow."
He turned and ran into the deep wood at the edge of the moor. Within minutes, we were once again on the move. His threats would not stop us!
As he disappeared into the forest, it became necessary for us to follow on foot. The thick undergrowth and many trees were too much for the horses. The chariots could never maneuver on that rough terrain. The men, spear in hand, took after him. For a moment, we gained sight of him, but then he left our sight as quickly as he had appeared.
The mist of the morning left his heavy footprints in the dampened ground. We followed on. Perhaps it was the Druid power. Perhaps it was our own carelessness. Perhaps it was his cunning. But after a few hours of time, we realized we were being led in circles. We had crossed this path before. Our many footprints erased the steps of Aedan. Yes, we had been tricked - somehow. But we would be denied. We would find and eliminate the enemy at all cost.
We stopped for a moment to reassess our position. In the quiet of the moment, we felt a tremor beneath our feet. The earth was quaking gently, not violently as at other times. Then it stopped. A wind began to blow through the trees and seemingly refreshed us. But then we noticed below us flames of fire. We stared in horror. The flames were moving upward toward us. We were trapped for the only place to go was up. We could not retreat.
We continued up the hill in the deep wood hoping that somehow Lugh would extinguish the fire. The gods of earth, wind, and fire were against us. The earth gave her warning. The wind, we mistakenly took as a blessing, all the while stirring the flames of fire to more activity. Aedan was nowhere in sight.
We prayed to Lugh as the glaring brightness of his sun beamed down upon us. Our desire was that if we must die in this traveling inferno, that Aedan would also meet the same fate.
- Cadeyrn's Tale - Part 5
Cadeyrn and Aedan meet in a final showdown. Only one will stand, but not without a little help.
© 2019 William Kovacic