The two sat upon the top of the hill beneath a great spreading oak and looked out across the plain. The boy and his grandfather shared a bit of flat bread, a bit of cheese and some water from a water skin. There were birds on the wing, water fowl, a hawk, song birds as well. The old man enjoyed the quiet for a few moments, but his grandson could not let the moment last.
“Grandfather, what is the Dagda?” Bres asked.
“Not what, but who,” began Dream-Walker, “the Dagda was a giant who lived among the Deer-Riders. Long ago, before the Gobli ravaged the plain, before we all took to horse, and even before the Deer-Riders rode their herd deer.
“In fact it was not so much after the first men came down and scattered the grass on the plain and the trees on the hills, planted all that we eat and all that we hunt, this was long and long ago, when Danu’s children moved from the Palace of Glass to Sliebe na Gael down South. It was the Deer-Rider’s ancestors who were charged with making the world green and it was those same folk who fought the ice wall that threatened to destroy us all.
“Now at this time the goddess Danu made every woman who had borne her first child take a child of Danu’s making. This was the womb duty and some were good people who just needed to be born, but there were some that were changelings, and some were just evil so that the saying was, “trust a first, a third and a fourth, but never trust a second born nor a seventh.” That was the womb duty, and that was what they were like, and then some were giants.”
“How could a woman give birth to a giant?”
“Ah, well that shows what you know, a giant isn’t born so. How big were you when you were born? Not so very, but you ate and you grew. Isn’t that so?”
“Well that’s how it is with giants too. They eat and they grow, they eat and they grow, and they eat and eat and eat and they grow grow grow. A giant is always hungry and if you feed him he grows and he never stops growing until he stops eating. That’s how it was with a fellow named Eochaid.
“Now this Eochaid was the second child of a man named Calvert Moss and his wife named Mandy. That is he was a womb duty child, but they treated him as one of their own, and loved him like the rest of their children. But Eochaid was the hungriest of all their children. He was always hungry and his loving parents fed him and he grew and grew until he was much taller than an ordinary man even before he was twelve years old. What made it worse was that none of the other Mosses, not even Calvert or Mandy, was tall. In fact they were very short.
“The more the Mosses’ fed young Eochaid, the more he grew. That was clear. But there were other things that were odd. Mandy’s eyes and hair were brown, Calvert’s hair was black, and his eyes were green, and so too, all the other Moss children were a mix of one or the other, but not Eochaid. His hair was firey red, like copper. His eyes were blue, like ice. He was tall for his age, but he was born with teeth in his mouth, which went hard on poor Mandy, and too, He had six fingers on each hand and six toes on each foot. SO, how do you know a giant when he is young?”
Bres pondered, “His fingers and his feet, his hair, and his height?”
“All good clues. And this too, in his mouth you may see that he has two sets of teeth where you or I have only one. That you may see when he is young, but you will know him as he is driven by his appetite to eat, and when allowed his way, he will not cease to grow.”
“You say you will know him, grandfather, are there no girl giants then?”
Dream-Walker smiled at his grand-son, “Well that you have asked, for there are no giant females. These creatures are the Nephilim reborn and they take there wives from among normal men, if you imagine that a woman who would be the wife of a giant is in any way normal.”
“And Eochaid was one of them? Giants I mean, not giant wives.”
“He was that, but he was the first of them and he was more influenced by his family who loved him than by others. The giants grew wicked. Their hunger made them selfish and a bit mad, I think. Eochaid grew and grew. He had six fingers on each hand and six toes to a foot, he had copper hair and cold eyes, but Eochaid had a remarkable father and mother and loving brothers and sisters and that made all the difference.
“So, though he grew to be twice the size of a man, and more, he used his great strength and size to help the people who loved him and who he loved. I’ve told you about the great underground raths of the Deer-Riders. When the Norfolk fought to save the plains and stood against the advancing ice it was the raths that Eochaid built that made it possible, that kept them safe, that kept them warm.
The Gaels had a legend of a man who used his strength to benefit his people and this “good god” or “the Dagda” had a great appetite and used his strength to make great ring forts. They called him the Dagda but the legend says that he was first called Eochaid. Strange to think them both named the same, but the new Eochaid came to be called after the old, a rath builder, enormously strong, good, they called him the Dagda.”
Bres eyed his grandfather skeptically, “Really Grandfather, do you think that story is true?”
Dream-Walker carefully got to his feet, “I do, I believe that and more. But right now I believe that we have a fish to catch.”
“The Bass of Knowledge?”
“The same.” And hand in hand they walked down to the pond.