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Old 07-25-2014, 07:52 PM
Michael D's Avatar
Michael D (Offline)
The Next Bard
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Join Date: May 2014
Location: Oz (Wichita, KS.)
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Howdy all -
In keeping with the theme of my novelettes, Firstborn and Alliances, I decided to tackle this odd but interesting challenge.

A wee dram of background concerning the Firstborn: They are not immortal; they age at a far slower pace than normal humans. Their memories are perfect once the Becoming (the beginning of their slowed aging), has occurred in them. From that moment, every event, every conversation, every emotion... all as if it just occurred, even though a thousand years may have passed. This is their blessing-and their curse.
They are not vampires or zombies or anything so cliche'. They are just as human as you and I-but they are more.


Brú na Bóinne

It looked different now–the stones more carefully laid. Restored, I read at the visitor entry point across the river. At least the river looked the same, although there were far more homes and farms along Boyne's banks; usually more every time I am here.

It had taken until now to return this last time. Oh, I had come back many times, but always the threat of her death had kept me at a safe distance. Aonghus, the son of Dagda Mór. Curse them both! I caught myself thinking in the old tongue. The memories never left me. They still visited my dreams on cool nights, leaving me weakened and weeping in the light of morning. Her scent, as if even now upon my skin, has haunted me for all the centuries after.

As if the speaking of her name could conjure her now–could remove the thousands of years that separate us–I closed my eyes and whispered it: Niam.

I was nothing; a farmer, and the son of the same. We were important to the tribe, yes, but I was not one of the Tuatha Dé Danann. Dagda Mór and his stupid cow of a son, were. It was her eyes, I learned, that caught Dagda Mór's attention.

Niam. Her very name was cast for those eyes. As clear and blue as the sea under a bright sun. It was her eyes that caused her undoing; the marriage to the son of the chief of our tribe, Aonghus. Our families had cast our lots together many years prior to this. We were close friends; had been all of our lives. My father had given me the news.

“All must sacrifice, son. It is the way of things.”

“Damn sacrifice! Damn the way of things!” This from my mother. I was too stunned to even think.

Niam was taken from us–from me. From that moment, she was seen as one of the Tuatha Dé Danann. This made her untouchable by any but the same. It did not keep us apart for long. During that short time, my mother passed a gift to me, which her mother once passed to her. I would give this gift to Niam, from my family. From me.

Her breath upon my neck as we held each other in the dark woods. Her tearful vow to take her own life before the marriage rites were performed. The forcing of her promise that she would not. The taste of her, the feel of her hair upon me... her warmth surrounding me. It would be the last.

I found that I was shaking. Loss and red-as-blood anger rising in me as it always did. I moved across the bridge and walked the remaining distance to the site. I was dressed as a farm worker, glad for the slicker I wore. A cold drizzle was beginning, and it seemed to calmed my rage. The site itself was hidden behind tall hedgerows. I pushed through at one point just to see it as a whole. It appeared smaller at the short distance from the bridge to here. The white stones were bright now, even in the dark and drizzle that blanketed it. Reaching the gate, I walked past to make sure that the groundskeeper was not about. I did not want to be noticed if someone spotted me stopped at the heavy, steel gate. But only darkness at the site.

I turned and sprinted back up the drive, grabbing the gate bar and leaping over. I ducked to the right, hiding my form with the tall hedge. There, in front of me, after how many centuries? the Womb of the Moon, Brú na Bóinne.
My breath made rapid clouds in the cool air, and for a few moments I was overcome. The great gulfs of time that stood between then and now... it was staggering, and my mind reeled. Tears–hot and uncontrollable–burst forth. I knelt and took deep breaths, smelling the grass and earth beneath me. I had more to do. I had to move.

I walked slowly among the large, upright stones that now surrounded the main site. They were not here before. These came much later, after the tomb had been long abandoned; the entrance blocked with tons of meaningless stone. It was clear now. Tourists were nearly always here. There was a lottery drawing for the Winter Solstice. A few of the thousands that applied were allowed inside the chamber, and were able to witness what was, for my tribe, the turning of the year for the time of planting. To them, it was simply an attraction, although some found an honest fascination with the history of the site, and the mystery.

The sun stone still guarded the entrance. I traced over the carved lines with my fingertips, and again was nearly overcome. I moved to the gate that now also guarded the tomb. Bringing forth a small pack of tools and a penlight, I sprayed the lock mechanism with silicone and began to work. After bending three of the delicate tools, the lock finally released. I quietly removed the chain and placed my tools back into the pouch. Kneeling now, I watched the drive and the surrounding farms for any sign that I was discovered. Only gray darkness and the soft rain. I entered the tomb.

As silent as the exterior was, the passageway to the chamber was a hundredfold more so. I did not stop to look at the carved stones, but pushed ahead at a reckless pace. Only a moment was I in the passage, but time seemed to falter and halt, my progress slowed by my imagination and my haste. Ahead of me now, my small light showed a widening of the passageway, and suddenly–I was there.
I stopped, awed by the realization that I was here. My blood boomed so loudly in my ears, that I thought that it might be heard by any passer-by. I slowed my breathing, taking deep breaths and concentrating on my next task: The gift.
My light barely was able to show me the capstone in the ceiling of the chamber. I stood the small light on its end, beam pointed straight up, and began to climb.



“I will leave the gift in this place, so that at some time you may return and reclaim it. I will not have it taken or destroyed by one of the Tuatha Dé Danann. It is far too precious for me to lose it thus.” Niam had told this to me on the day of the marriage rite.
Dagda Mór knew of the gift, and he would have none of it. His son would not be made the fool with a new wife wearing this reminder of her love for another man. Twice he had tried to remove it from her. On the second attempt, she had threatened to cut his fat throat. This was to be my undoing. Dagda Mór banished me from our tribe. Neither my family nor Niam's could protest. To question the laws would see them banished as well. It was... the way of things.

No one questioned Niam entering the tomb, and on that day, she had done so.

“It is near the capstone. I have scratched two stars into a smaller stone just beneath it; a sign of us. The gift will be there, awaiting your return.”

My tribe was there upon my leaving. My mother and father, heartbroken, but stoic. I kissed my mother and held her as she wept. My father embraced me, told me to be strong, and to remember them both. And then Niam. I watched her from the bridge, her hands across her heart, and then an open palm raised to me. I returned the gestures back to her, and died inside.


I was near the capstone now, stretching my legs apart to the point of pain in my hips. I searched the stones just below for the two stars. Nothing. I closed my eyes and tried not to think of my aching legs, which had begun to shake from strain. I opened my eyes in hope that I would now somehow see what I had missed, checking every smooth area of stone below the huge capstone. Nothing.
My chest was suddenly heavy with frustration, and my hands were gripping the stone with rage.

“No. No. No!”

My shout was choked in the anguish that washed over me. My legs surrendered. I tried to grab any stone to slow my fall, but there was nothing. I hit the hard floor and crumpled to my side.
I do not know how long I lay there. I did not know if I was injured. My side hurt, and my legs. I did not care. It was done.

“Niam,” I whispered. “Please forgive me. Please forgive...” I wept.

I rolled to my back, slowly moving my legs. Other than my hip and shoulder, I seemed to be unharmed. I flexed my muscles, hoping to not hear the tell-tale crunching of a broken bone, or dislocated joint. Satisfied, I sat up and picked up the penlight. My fall had caused some smaller stones to tear loose from the walls. I needed to remove these before leaving. I was leaving!I could not climb to the ceiling again. I could not. Damn it! Damn it!

I knelt, and using the light, I began scraping the rubble into a pile so that I could remove it from the floor. My light passed near the edge of the sepulcher stone. A bright flicker of color that disappeared when the light passed. My heart leapt! I scrambled to the spot that the flash had appeared, and slowly moved the beam of light across the floor. There! I reached and gently lifted the piece of the leather strap I now saw. It crumbled in my fingers, but upon it crumbling, a small object fell into my hand.
I rubbed the object between my fingers, then licked it and rubbed it against my pant leg. The aquamarine shone like Niam's eyes.

Her name meant brightness and beauty. I said a prayer to her. It was long, and I was racked with emotion in it's saying, but it was done. I stood on the bridge and looked back across the fields at Newgrange.
Did she know that I was Firstborn? How could she have known? I had not learned until many years after my banishment, and then it had taken nearly a century to encounter another that gave me knowledge of our kind.

I still held the stone in my hand, for fear of losing it in a pocket or pouch. I turned and walked across the bridge. Five thousand years was long enough to wait.

M
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"I believed what I was told. I thought it was a good life, I thought I was happy. Then I found something that changed it all..."


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Last edited by Tau; 07-29-2014 at 08:25 PM.. Reason: Approved correction
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