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-Sincerely, Emmarayn Redding, Author, artist, and eccentric dreamer
Sunday, September 25, 2016
Meghan O'Bries: Part III
* * *
“It is not for human kind to divine the future,” Death said slowly, “but for your sake, in your dying moments, I can give you a gift.” Now...
hold of her shoulders, he turned her so that her back was braced
against his chest and directed her gaze out the window.
carefully,” he murmured.
swallowed and looked to the horizon, where the hills seemed to roll
on and on forever, until they were met by the pale, milky sky. But
suddenly, that sky began to shift and twist in her vision, merging
with the ground and drawing her in, so that the hut and the wooden
panes of the window began to blur and fade. Meghan gasped and felt
her stomach drop as her surroundings melted away in a blur, so that
all around her there was nothing but vague, dancing colors that
swished by like branches in a forest. She felt Death's grip on her
tighten, and at once found a strange assurance in that firm hold.
She closed her eyes, concentrating on the feel of him behind her,
knowing that they still stood together in the hut, safe and on solid
your eyes, Meghan! Don't be afraid.”
herself, Meghan cracked her eyes open and took stock of her
surroundings once more. To her surprise, the world had fallen back
into place- but it was not the hut where they stood, rather it was
the ridge that overlooked the village of Fainhearn, where Dairn and
the rest of the Free Folk were preparing for battle.
could see him moving far below through the tents of the soldiers they
had gathered, talking with the generals at his side, patting the
shoulders of the men he passed. Meghan smiled. That was Dairn, ever
the friend of the common men, even when discussing the pressing
matters of politics and battle strategy. If only she could see his
if sensing her wish, he paused and turned, gazing toward the heavens
for a moment in consternation. Meghan drew in her breath, noticing
immediately the changes in his countenance. He was marked with
grief- fresh and tender, as if he were mourning the loss of a dear
friend. And yet, despite that, there was a cool, calm sort of
resolution set deeply in his features, and in that moment Meghan knew
without a doubt that he would be victorious in whatever battle was to
is for you he mourns,” Death spoke, his smooth voice slipping into
the silence without causing so much as a ripple.
you see is the future.”
squeezed her shoulders. “After your death and failure to arrive at
the meeting place, your cousin Heich will search for you. Upon
finding your body, he and his people will be outraged, and your death
shall move them to align themselves with Dairn and his people.”
scenery began to shift again, whirling into a battlefield, where the
sounds of clanging swords and men locked in mortal combat rang out
into the cold air. Meghan cast her eyes about for Dairn, and found
him at last, in the center of the fray, swinging his broadsword
masterfully, bringing down an enemy with each blow. He was
blood-spattered and damp with exertion, but he showed no signs of
slowing. His face was twisted with fierce determination, and in the
falling snow he looked every inch a king.
continued, still speaking softly, but somehow able to be heard over
the noise. “Together, your forces will defeat the Norn and drive
them back to their own land.”
battlefield fell away, and the land beneath them sped away until
Meghan could see the Castle Cutorney, where the Old Kings had once
reigned, rising tall and strong from the rocky fells. They seemed to
be soaring down toward it through the sky, and as they grew closer
Meghan could hear the sounds of a multitude, cheering triumphantly.
peered closer as she and Death came to rest on the battlements. A
great crowd was gathered in the courtyard below. With a sigh of
relief, she smiled as she saw Dairn ascending the steps that led to
the outdoor dais, where his elders and generals waited to crown him
king. Heich of the Siobhan stood there as well, and in his tall,
lithe frame Meghan could see traces of her own mother.
Dairn knelt with his head bowed low, dark hair shining in the morning
forward, General Ruel, their right-hand-man held the crown above
MacGabhann, we the people of Ern have gathered here today as freemen
for the first time in four generations. When the Norn foreigners
invaded and declared themselves our new rulers, your royal ancestors
were cast from their place and forced to live in secret. But now you
have risen against all odds to lead us, your people, into victory.
Now we ask you to continue this duty and take your rightful place as
our king. Do you accept this duty?”
do,” Dairn said, and the sound of his calm voice ringing out over
the crowd brought tears to Meghan's eyes.
crowd cheered and raised their fists in salute. Ruel placed the
crown on Dairn's head and bowed. Slowly, Dairn stood and turned to
face his people, raising his hands for silence, then smiled, his eyes
shining with both joy and sadness. People of Ern,” he said, “my
beloved kinsmen, my heart is warmed by your bravery and loyalty.
Though we are a small people who have long been held in bondage, no
nation could have matched the courage I witnessed during this war.
We have risen against all hope to claim a victory we hardly deemed
possible- but my friends, I cannot bear the credit as your leader. I
began my quest fully believing it was a solitary one. All I wanted
was to bring those who killed my family to justice. But when you
flocked to my side, it was only then that I realized we could stand
and fight. And even then, there were many moments when I doubted.
When had I but had the chance I might have fled from the trials of
war and hardship.” He swallowed, faltering. Even from the
distance from which she watched, Meghan could see the tears that
shone in his eyes.
my friends,” he continued, “I would not be here today were it not
for the inspiration that drove me, even until the very end- my cousin
and dearest friend, Meghan O'Bries, who gave her life for our cause.
She who was as a sister to me, whose royal blood shone brighter than
my own, was the true life of this revolution.”
other generals bowed their heads, and Heich put his hand over his
chest in respect.
sighed. “Let us remember her sacrifice, and the sacrifice of all
those who have fallen for our freedom. Let us honor their memory as
we step into this new era, where justice and freedom shall reign!”
the people cheered. Yet though this cry was more raw and and
saddened, it seemed to Meghan all the more beautiful.
acknowledged me,” she whispered. “He told them of my
birthright, and my involvement. I never asked for it, and yet he has
given me a place of honor.”
bowed her head, and she felt Death release her slowly. When she
picked her head up and looked at him again, they were once more
standing in the dark hut.
embers of the fire flickered dimly in the corner, so low now that the
room was shrouded with shadow. Yet somehow she could still see
Death's face clearly. She found she could return his gaze more
you,” she said softly.
nodded, giving a slight bow. “It is a privilege I can seldom give.
For my part, I was glad to show it to you.”
as if he sensed something she could not see, he shifted and looked
out the window. “Are you ready now?”
looked down and heaved a deep breath. “I think so.”
her annoyance, she felt fresh unbidden tears spring forward. But
before she had a chance to quell them, she felt a hand cup her face.
looked down at her and brushed the tears away. “What is it,
never fell in love.” Meghan sighed, ashamed of herself. After
seeing all of her wishes realized, how she could still desire more?
“I had always dreamed.... that after the war, if we won, I might
live long enough for someone to see me, truly see me. To
look at me and find beauty both inside and out...”
trailed off and shook her head. But to her surprise, Death smiled.
see all that,” he said gently. Slowly, he bent and kissed her
forehead. “Don't be ashamed, Meghan. It is only natural for you
to hunger for more life- for despite your hardships, you loved life,
and lived it well. You were happy in what you had, and because of
that, you can now leave in peace. Trust me, you were loved, and
out his hand, he backed toward the doorway. “Come with me, Meghan.
blinked away her tears and smiled. She felt, after all, that it was
time to leave. Her time had come, and she had no regrets. With one
last breath, she reached out and took hold of his hand. As his
fingers closed around hers, Meghan closed her eyes and thought back
to all she had seen, all she had done. It was true- despite her
trials and sorrows, there had also been joy, and triumph, and above
all love. The love of her parents, the love of her guardian Finn,
and of her cousins, Heich and Dairn. And someday, she now knew, the
love of her people as well. Her restless heart settled its wings and
a sense of peace came over her.
you ready, Meghan?” she heard Death's voice ask again.
have nothing else to wish for, she realized. This time the
tears that flowed held no sadness or shame, only relief. She
squeezed his hand.