A few things, my readers:
First, though it comes late, I think this bit about how Lugh came to be beneath that tree comes before. I feel that you need to know a bit more about Lugh as he is your point of view and this story reveals the child of Moss, Oatey.
Second, I plan to make this, of Lugh and Oatey, my first polished stone, a story that I’ve at least tried to revise and so hope to have made better than THIS first rough draft. I began it imagining Lugh on his hill and all that followed surprised me. Now I’m thinking in terms of the story as a whole, I had a good middle of the beginning, I’ve imagined what I think is a pretty good end, so with the expansions and many discoveries already I give you this first of two (I hope) that came before the first moments there on the little hill. So I beg your pardon, now HERE, begins
Child of Moss
Lugh of the Long Journeys trudged through the swirling cloud of midges and flies that found the swamp comfortable. Lugh far Reacher, Lugh woman despoiler, Lugh who runs away, He thought, Lugh of the slough. He laughed, “That’s who I am,” Lugh said and immediately regretted it. Now there were wee flies in his mouth to add to his misery. Did he really deserve this exile? How was this betrayal of Findabair and Gormflaith unlike so many others? Worse or better?
Lugh mulled his sad fall from their graces. It was the story of his life, it was his nature, it was the rutted path he could never seem to leave. When Findabair had learned of Gormflaith and in turn Gormflaith had learned of Findabair he had been forced from his cozy arrangement.
Maybe no worse or no better but Lugh was haunted, Findabair’s face, white as snow at all times, was a mask that hid the great pain she felt when learning of his infidelity. The disappointment of the innocent. That gentle soul would not take revenge for the shambles he had made of her honor. Not so her brothers. They pursued him, ejecting him as surely as the hurt in Findabair’s eyes, and more so. They would not let him live if they caught him. And Lugh, for his part, would not be caught.
He should have known the jig was up and fled where he would or where his bones might lead, instead he’d fled to another lover. He chuckled ruefully, Gormflaith had been another matter. She was not one for holding her pain behind her eyes, nor one to leave revenge to another. Lugh ached, but not from loss, Gormflaith had taken what revenge she could, at the moment of knowledge, with a foot to the offending member.
“Ah me, the girl has fire,” He said to himself, “Red was her mane, flame her desire, Hot was her rage, now my self is on fire.” Not really flame anymore, now more like the ache that he imagined Findabair felt in her heart, now for him, between his thighs.
So he fled, but at a walk and in disguise. Findabair’s Maines were looking for a dashing rogue who’d stolen their fair sister’s heart, her innocence, and her honor. They would not find such, for Lugh was a man of many talents, I am a poet, I am a sacrificer, I am a brehon. Judge me.He strode (at what speed he could make considering Gormflaith’s revenge) along the way in the robe of a druid, head deep in his cowl, and person safe against violence by taboo. It had been a long long time since he’d been to the North. It was as likely a time as any to return to the land of the Norfolk, to the land of Von.
Aah pretty Von. It may be that she is the only lover I left who still wished me well at my going, thought Lugh, Since that time I fled Llyr to save my life, my goings most often involved a father, a brother, or a husband. Ah but I remember my Von of the wavy brown hair and the sun brown skin.
Llyr had not yet gotten over Lugh’s elopement with Brigid. Von had not known that he found himself in the North because of what he’d done with Brigid in the South. Mayhaps she would have wished him dead then instead of well, but she hadn’t known and so Lugh could cling to one woman’s love. One woman who may have learned of his true nature, his roguishness, and hated him for it for all he knew, one woman who was dead now for 300 years and more.
Oh maybe she hated him one day but still, that night she had come to him, with tears in her brown eyes, to warn him of his brother’s men, she’d given him warning, some food, and these bones around his neck.Lugh clutched the divination bones he wore on a thong around his neck for all these many days, so many years of days, he knew them by feel.
It was vexing. Druidry was a bit tame for him. Truth to tell, he’d wished he could stay the rogue. It was his core. The Maines denighed him his fine horses and his hidden things and Gormflaith had denied him a place of safety for his offense. Lugh smiled, Well, she’d cast him out for the offense she knew. Why must ill news travel so fast, faster than feet and faster than fine horses?
Why must these sad endings drive me out just when things are going so well?“Ah, my fine fine horses.” Lugh sighed, “enjoy those lovely mares I brought you, Chara Dubh. Consider yourself free, free to make a herd of such beauties.” Perhaps that little hidden valley would hold a great herd of horse when he returned to find Findabair a memory and all the Maines long dead. Then his loss would be an investment. Best to think positively.
So the man went North and farther North from his lovers, Lugh of the long journeys, whistling and wondering what adventure would find him next. He was a brehon until he could buy a lyre, a bard until he could find no Gael to listen to his songs, and a hunter when that was the only way to fill his belly.
When he no longer feared the Maines, he began to think more of his future, what should he do next and where? Fleeing North, it occured to the him, I should go to the Norfolk and see what has come of them these hundreds of years. I do doubt anyone would remember Lugh who left sweet Von in a hurry, that time with his brother Llyr in pursuit. “Yet I should take no chance, I’ll name myself for my light hair, and call myself Fionn.”
And so he did. When he passed through a border town and looked to buy provisions for a journey still further North, he was Fionn to the old woman who sold dried fish and jerked buffalo. He bought a fine bow from the Umircen bowyer and to that man he was Fionn. From a tanner’s wife he bought a fine skin bag, some water skins, and a good pair of boots and a wool lined leather cloak, to her he was Fionn and Sweet and Love. Ah the tanner’s wife, he didn’t really remember her, and too, it had been dark, but stolen fruit was sweet, he thought.
So it was that Fionn must needs go North or West or East but not South as he marched into the trackless wastes in search of the Bramblewood Elven, the Norfolk, and he went as quick as he could go, lest the tanner come on him. And he suffered, suffered his memories, suffered from the heat of the Summer, but most of all he suffered from the clouds of insects that whirled around him in a hungry cloud.
Lugh splashed through a creek like so many others on the marshy plain. He trudged through the tepid water and into the brush on the other side, miserable, he thought as he waved his hands before his face in hopes of frightening away the midges that kept him grieving his condition, but saying nothing for fear that the flying pests that haloed his head would invade his mouth at their first opportunity.
Hot, miserable, sweaty, miserable, besieged by vile insects, miserable. “Aaah!” Lugh howled in pain and slapped at the black fly that had found his neck exposed. Midges invaded as he feared they would and he sputtered and spit to be free of them, miserable, he thought.
Oh sweet Von of the Norfolk, where have your people gone? He thought. He was in a stand of close spaced little trees that provided some shade, so Lugh took off his pack and his hide strung bones, he pulled out a skin tarp and hid beneath it with his divination bones between his palms and let his mind grow calm. “Sweet Von of the Norfolk, where have your people gone? Where can I find your folk in this my time of need? Shall I turn to the left or the right?” Lugh cast the bones. He felt for them. “Two and three and one. The bones are ambivalent.”
Lugh scooped up the bones and whispered to them “Tell me true, my beauties, tell me. Shall I go to the right? ” He cast and felt for the marks again. One mark, and one mark, and three. “So, not to the right.”
Lugh rubbed the bones between his palms, “Shall I go left then? Shall I turn away to the left? The bones came to rest on the skin bag. “Three marks, and three, and again three!” So definitely not to the left either.
Forward then? Shall I go straight as I am to find those elves of the brambles, those folk of the north, the people of Von, YeVon Mendez, who cared for me? “Shall I continue on as I was then?” Lugh cast the bones and felt for his answer. One mark there is, and three on the other, and TWO. Yes then it seems. “Tell me true bones, shall I find the folk of Von ahead, neither turning to the left nor the right?” Lugh cast and counted. Two and Two and Two, no stronger augre could there be, straight ahead for sure.
Being, for a short while, free of the bugs had quite renewed his spirits, that or using the gift of divination bones that Von had given him or both. Lugh had quite forgotten how fun was this little game of chance. Having restrung them, repacked his things, shouldered the load, and alas, recollected his cloud of midges Lugh trudged on.
The man found his path leave the soggy marsh and enter an older section of forest. The trees were magnificent, stately and shady. The insects would not relent, but they were tolerable in the shade of the trees. Everywhere beneath the mighty trees were ferns and moss. Even the light seemed green in it. Then, like a vision, the old trees fell away and a sapphire jewel was revealed, a lake of deep water, cooler even than the shady old forest.
Laughing, Lugh threw off his clothing and his fine boots and packed all but what was too long to fit, his bow and a sword, into the skin bag with a strong puff of air as well. Thus protected he took to the water, after kissing the bones, “Neither left nor right and see you’ve brought me to this lovely lake. I can only go through and bless you for it.” He ran naked through the rushes and into the lake. Soon he was swimming upon his side, towing his bag of possessions behind.