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An Unfinished Drama
Outside of Dublin, Ireland in Kilkenny Castle; a woman stands alone on a parapet facing the sun’s dawn, rising out of the sea. In her hand is a small scrying mirror that she glances at every so often, making sure all is clear. A soft wind tousles her luscious curls as she wraps her arms around herself against the early morning chill. A young man appears around the corner with a cloak draped over one arm. He lays it on the woman’s shoulders and enfolds her in an embrace. She leans back into him as he whispers softly…
Man: “You should be resting.”
The woman sighs.
Woman: “I won’t drop from weariness just yet.”
Man: “You’ve kept the watch all night, my lady. The men would not begrudge you a few hours of sleep.”
She shakes her head in disagreement.
Woman: “If I can give the men an entire night to sleep peacefully at the expense of my own, I’ll not hesitate to give them that, for I know they would never bring my attention to the fact that not a single one of them have been able to get more than an hour or two of sleep every now and then.”
Man: “Of course, my lady. I understand.”
They fall silent. Sea birds call out to each other morning greetings when…
Woman: “Do you remember when we first came here?”
Man: (laughs): “Of course. You were so excited to bring our people to such a rich land, where they might have a chance to survive and thrive, instead of suffering, watching our young ones die…”
Woman: (sighs): “It seemed like such a good idea…”
Man: “It was and is a good idea, my lady.”
Woman: “The Saxons are coming closer everyday on a march to destroy everything we’ve worked so hard to build. Our people…what will they do?”
Woman: “Yes, they will fight.”
The young man nods.
Woman: “And they will die.”
Man: (sighs): “Yes, some will die, but they do so that others may live.”
Woman: “Have I saved our people from one death just to lead them blindly into another?”
Man: “You did what you thought was best for us all. We chose to follow you here, my lady. We believed in you then, as we do now. You will lead us to victory against the tide of barbarians.”
Woman: “Aye, I will lead my people, as is my duty. But…”
She turns to face the young man.
Woman: “Will it be enough?”
Man: “It has always been enough.”
They turn back to the rising sun, basking in the new glow across the waters, and imagine they hear the distant rumble of marching feet, the booming thunder of thousands of wars drums, the sounds of the beast that makes its way to their peaceful land.
Man: “You remember when we were a few years short of adulthood, and your parents were killed? When all the councilors were practically running around like chickens with their heads cut off? What did you do, my lady?”
Woman: “With your father’s help, I made them accept me as their leader as is custom and assumed my rightful place to lead my people, as duty and honor demanded of me.”
Man: (laughs heartily): “Nay, my lady. You speak too modestly.”
He smiles and nudges her gently
Woman: “Very well.” She laughs “I told them they were being quite silly, and they should keep with the rules and precedents set down by my parents, as if they hadn’t really gone. Honestly, if they had just stopped, taken a step back and calmly assessed the situation it would have become painfully obvious to them what they should do.”
Woman: “All they needed was someone to look to for guidance.”
The man nods in agreement
Man: “You’ve always made your decisions based on what you thought to be in the best interest of the people, and then you would be on to the next problem, figuring out how to solve it. You’d just keep moving forward, don’t start second guessing yourself now, my lady.”
Woman: “I was lucky to have had such a man as your father at my side, to be my spokesman when we came to these lands.”
The man smiles softly.
Woman: “Lucky too that he had a son with much the same character as he.”
Man: “You flatter me, lady. I do only what is expected of me.”
Woman: (laughing): “Nay, my love. You go above and beyond what is expected of you. Our army is strong because of you.”
Man: “If you say so.”
They stand in silence, watching as the men of the castle keep go about their morning chores. Women walk to the well to gather water for the morning meal. Guards are stirring from their sleep to relieve their vigilant mistress from the watch tower. Children are scrambling around after fleeing goats and chickens, laughing as their barking dogs follow at their heels and mothers amused calls echo off the stone and mortar walls. The woman sighs in relief as she releases her concentration from the scrying mirror, and sets it aside.
Woman: “Would that an army was not needed.
A sad wistful smile appears on her face.
Woman: “Can you still hear the call of the Moors? That sweet song that bids you to come home?”
Man: “Aye. It whispers in the trees, trills along the brooks and streams begging that we return.”
Woman: “Do you think it still stands? Caladhriha, I mean? Do you think it remains unscathed and unspoiled by human hands?”
Man: “I believe the forest protects and looks after our home, waiting for the day that our people go back. In fact I believe that the Kudama look after the Shining City with as much care as they do their trees.”
Woman: “Ah but I do miss their songs in the spring. Sometimes I imagine I can hear it carried here on the winds.”
Man: “One day our people will find their way back to the Geinshu Forest, and once again the beauty of the Bealthr will grace the glimmering halls of Caladhriha.”
Woman: “Perhaps the Bealthr should not have left our crystal homes at all...”
Man: “There you go, doubting your decision to leave.”
Woman: “Maybe we could’ve…”
Man: (interrupting): “We could not have survived another raid in Caladhriha. Not with the humans outnumbering our warriors three to one in battle. Not with their insidious diseases destroying our children right before our eyes; as their bodies were deteriorating so to was the morale of our people. We could not have held out much longer. We were too indefensible, too open to attack.”
The woman nods her agreement.
Woman: “We’d had no need for these ugly stout walls of brick and stone to defend us then. We had depended on the trees to hide us. We would have guessed that there existed such horrid creatures as humans, and that they would cut down our trees to find us?”
Man: “Aye, it was as if they couldn’t hear the screams of the Kudama as their trees were murdered.”
Woman: “If we had used magic against them, we might have won…
Man: “But at what cost, my lady? Such an act would surely have brought more of the beastly humans across the oceans, and this time to annihilate us instead of just beat us into submission.”
The woman nods slowly at his words.
Man: “You made the right choice in leaving. We couldn’t have escaped the world’s notice forever.”
Woman: “Yes…of course, you are right, but…”
Man: “In time Caladhriha will be alive again with the voices of the Bealthr. You must not worry yourself, my lady, my love. You have not let us down so far and I have faith that you will not in the future.”
A gentle smile erases the lines from her face, making her beauty more noticeable. It reminds the young man of how truly young they both are, and that it has not been that long since they were children playing in the gardens of the palace of her parents. It felt like an entire lifetime had passed since then. He is also reminded of how much his lady love has given up to make sure her people are safe and in need of nothing. So many nights he wakes to find that she is in her study planning the best way to harvest crops so that they can make it through the winter. Such was their leader, her duty to her people came first and foremost; she was truly beloved by all… Suddenly he feels the woman stiffen in his arms. Her gaze to the North, where she has noticed a plume of smoke spiraling up to the sky…
Woman: Look there!”
Woman: “To the North!
A village…it’s burning!
Guards! To arms!”
They race down the stairs into the courtyard where the men and women of the guard are gathering, awaiting their orders. Stable boys begin saddling up the warhorses, while members of the household begin to gather bows and quivers, swords and shields.
Woman: “My brave warriors, the village of Blarney burns. Our countrymen have need of us; ready yourselves: for we ride out. We will meet these murderers head on. Who are they to think they can hurt our kin and leave with their lives intact? Make haste, my friends. For on this night our swords will taste Saxon blood!”
A cheer goes up. Under her breath, she whispers…
Woman: “And pray to Erin, that we are not too late…”
Hearing this, the man leans close and replies…
Man: “They are hardy people, they will hold till we get there.”
Woman: “I hope you are right, my love, but whether or not Erin grants us Her favor; we will hunt down these dogs and show them the anger of Bealthr!”
The warriors make ready to ride out. There is no confusion or chaos, they have trained for this. Everything is done in a sort of dance, efficient. The man and woman begin to climb the stairs to her rooms, to retrieve their gear. She pauses on the steps, turning to the man…