The Tragedy of Deirdre
Long ago in Ireland King Connacher of
the family of Ulster held a feast just before Samhain. The king's proud
knights known as the Knights of the Red Branch were there ,in a most festive
mood, when a scream arose so loud veteran knights leapt up to fight whatever
was the cause. The only person not dismayed was the king's own druid Cathbad
who, the whole night ,had been alone in a archway lost in his own thoughts.
Cathbad walked over to the King's harper
Malcolm and his wife Elva who was with child and said "It is the child
who cried out for this is no ordinary child she will be blessed with great
beauty and her name will be Deirdre , however her beauty will cause the
Red Branch to divide causing war and strife and Ulster will suffer greatly."
"Kill the child!" some knights called
out for all knew Cathbad's predictions to always be true yet King Connacher
was curious to see just how beautiful she would indeed be so immediately
he declared that "This child will be born and when she comes of age i shall
marry her.It is not good to kill a child and i do not wish to bring sorrow
to my guests."
Connacher devised a plan to have Deirdre
raised in seclusion his own personal storyteller and scribe Levarcham ,a
young woman who had been raised in the King's own household, was given
the job of raising her.Dierdre was taught the science of nature and skill
in music her voice was like honey on the wind and true to prophecy her
beauty was astounding.Deirdre had smooth skin and conveyed deep emotion
with her eyes to look upon them was to be drawn into them.Her hair was
crimson her skin aglow and her demeanor was patient and kind.She gave beauty
to all she touched.
When she was 15 years of age she was told
she was to wed the King the next year but she had dreams and visions of
a man with dark hair and bright eyes who would be her true husband.
The next season after Deirdre was picking
flowers when she became detatched from Levarchen and in the woods heard
a song she followed the sound and came across a hunter, when she saw him
it seemed as though sunlight shone forth from the ground he stood upon
and a force compelled her to come to him she at once kissed him and said
"My kiss is against the wishes of the king i am Deirdre i will love you
as in the days of old and at the new moon i will be taken away to marry
the king.You must take me away from here."
"I am Naois the eldest of the sons of
Uisnach." the hunter proclaimed and he knew full well of the prophecy and
bade her to return to the king for fear of her safety, yet Deirdre remained
adamant "I value this one moment more than ten lifetimes with Connacher."
she said to him and then he decided to take her with him.The pair met with
Naois' brethern Allen and Arden and left immediately for Alba (Scotland)
making a home near Loch Etive they called "Grainian Deirdre" which meant
Deirdre's Sunny Home and they lived there happily for some time.
Connacher back in Ireland had defeated
his foes or made peace with them yet he was saddened that three of his
finest warriors the three brothers now with Deirdre were away "just because
of a woman" so he hatched a plan to send the trusted Fergus Mac Roigh to
issue unto them his pardon and invite them all to Ehmain Macha for a celebration.
Naois was elated but Deirdre was worried
and justly so for the night previous to the voyage from Alba to Ireland
she had a most frightening dream.
Deirdre dreamed she saw three ravens come
to her with drops of honey in their beaks but as they flew away the honey
turned to blood she told Naois but he dismissed it and the next day
they sailed for Ireland with Fergus.
Upon reaching the north cliffs of Ireland
Fergus rode ahead so that the King would know of their arrival, however
Connacher was not prepared and asked Fergus to have them all stay as his
guests at the Inn of the Red Branch on the Great Plain until the morrow.
Fergus did as he was told but King Connacher
was still curious about Deirdre's beauty and fetched the warrior Gelban
Grednach and gave him a secret mission."Go to the inn where Deirdre sleeps
and tell me if she has kept her beauty." the King commanded.
That night Gelban crept to the window
of Deirdre's room and gazed inward where upon seeing her he gasped and
gave his position away.Naois angered at his privacy being violated hurled
some dice at the window and one hit Gelban in the eye with such force it
began to bleed.
In pain Gelban escaped and made his way
to the King to tell him what he saw."How does she appear?" asked Connacher
to which Gelban replied"If i could i would have wished to gaze upon her
for the rest of my life."Connacher became insane with jealousy and sent
for 100 of his finest soldiers.
"Go to the inn and kill the strangers
bring me Deirdre alive or i will have you all put to death!" was the king's
decree to these men and they all rode to do battle except for one.Levercham
who had been Deirdre's caretaker through youth was in the throng and rode
ahead to warn Naois and his brothers.
Naois heard the news and rather than flee
back to Alba decided to stay and fight they prepared for combat and met
with Connacher's army in the great plain near the inn.
The three brothers were highly outnumbered
and lightly armed however they were the Sons of Uisnach and they could
not flee they had to fight.The combat was furious and quickly over and
when the last warrior fell it was not one of the brothers it was Connacher's
men for the three brothers had defeated all one hundred.Immediately they
fled for Alba but Connacher would not allow them despite their honor and
courage to escape and turned to his Druid Cathbad and demanded by threat
of exile that the mage kill them all except for Deirdre.
Cathbad summoned a forest to rise suddenly
from the earth and it's branches and weeds were as thick as any on
earth but to the fleeing brothers it was nothing.Cathbad became worried
and summoned a icy gale to chill the brothers to death but the brothers
stripped their shirts from their backs and Deirdre climed upon Naois' shoulders
as they waded across the flooding plain but then Cathbad transformed the
water that had by now reached up to the brother's waists and turned it
to stone the brothers were ripped to pieces and Deirdre since she was upon
Naois' shoulders was unharmed.The plain turned once more to it's normal
state and Cathbad merely walked away.
King Connacher had Deirdre placed in a
chariot and taken to his castle to be held in a tower so that the wedding
could be planned but on the way there she flung herself from the speeding
chariot and her head was split open on the rocky ground below.Deirdre was
dead.Connacher never having wed left no heir to the throne and the battle
caused the Red Branch to divide.The prophecy was fulfilled.
The King decided to have Deirdre buried
where she lived in Ireland but in the night a band of people moved her
body to be near Naois' grave where they placed stakes made from yew trees.Two
years later the yews even though they were six feet apart each had intertwined
branches and they trees remain to this day.
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