Good day for the Beginning of Darian's Point...
I did 20 pages, in Courier 12 pt., double-spaced. It's fast and rough, but here's part of it...
He was one of those men who was sturdy and strong, unbending. Hair the color of the rich earth. Skin tanned by sun and wind. Eyes like stones, and just as sharp and focused. He had been blessed with good features, open and honest, marred by only a few scars. The tallest in his clan, after only his father, it was accepted he would take over its leadership, once the elder had passed into the next world.
Now that was not to be.
He wore a tunic specially woven for this moment, its color a mixture of the darkest earth and the shining deep red of blood. He wore no pelt against the wind, and was glad he had not. It would not do for his body to be covered with moisture from himself on this day.
His boat was the lead, his brother, Mícheál, at the helm. Three oarsmen to each side, none wrapped in skins for the simple act of thrusting their oars into the water provided heat enough for them. Their passage was swift, for none had expected the silence of the wind or the ease of the water. Behind them, two similar craft kept pace, each carrying men Caoimhín had known since boyhood. Not one of them unscarred by the recent battles. Not one of them willing to back away from what was to come.
He looked to his left at the endless water. It could carry a man to the edge of the world and he thought for a moment it might be better to aim for that...but what would he then find? Anything? Nothing? Would he even be allowed to make the journey? He could see hints of anger in the water beyond a certain point. Their little boats would not easily cross there. No. That way was for cowards, and Caoimhín refused to number himself with the likes of them. He had seen too many in recent times. What good was a life lived without honor? He had learned this lesson in ways hard and brutal. Vicious and cruel. He could not toss it aside.
He sighed and looked to his right at black rocks that towered above them. Taller than a hundred men. Rough and unyielding, topped by only a hint of green. The edge of his past domain. He had once been to the top of those rocks and looked down to see, so far below, birds whispering in the air as the water thundered up with white foam to shatter itself against them, and the wind pulled at him in ways inhuman. Now the silence was there, as well, and the water but barely touched the base of the rocks. The wind was also easy against them. And no birds danced amongst the crevices and caves it held.
He looked up and saw a billowing flock of white creatures on the wing. Pacing his boats. Hovering above them, like a soft pelt of protection. No cries from them. No mewing. No diving into the water for a fish to gulp down, not like they had been when his men drew in their nets from the water. Then, they would steal anything they could, like rats. But today? They were like his honor guard.
Caoimhín chuckled. What a silly thing to believe. Something a child would think. Something Mícheál might still think, him being the sensitive one. The one in tune with the earth. The one who had warned them it would come to this. Who had all but begged Caoimhín to follow his head and not his heart. Who had been labeled coward by many, but who also bore the scars of battle.
Caoimhín cast a gentle look back at his brother and received a near smile in answer. Younger by two summers, his face was more open and honest. His hair like the rich earth that brought forth grains. His eyes soft and the color of slate. One could see how their features lightly mimicked each other, but where Caoimhín was like the trunk of a tree, Mícheál was the branches of a willow, powerful in his willingness to bend and not break. It was with no hesitation Caoimhín now thought of him as the bravest of them all. For he knew from the beginning what was happening and refused to be set aside, not even from the ordeal to come.
Caoimhín sighed and looked ahead. Saw the tiny strip of land that barely rested above the water. Inish Ciúin, he was told. Tiny Island. The name was right. Low and fairly flat, most of it rocks the color of midnight. Very little green showing very little earth. If his thoughts were correct, a man such as himself could circle the damned thing in less than half a day. Not a place fit for anyone to live.
"The witch chose the appropriate spot for this," he muttered.
He caught a glimpse of a small strip of sand slightly to their right and pointed to it. Mícheál looked and nodded and shifted the helm to aim for it, raising a cloth above his head to signal for the other boats to follow. He did not bother checking to make certain they saw him; he knew they would be right behind.
Now Caoimhín could see a finger of land jutting from the side of the island, to his left. It pointed in the direction of the sun...and was covered in grass.
"Why is it so green?" he wondered. "Why does that one spot look so rich? Is this more of her work?"
A closer look showing the hint of two figures atop the tallest part of that bit of land. One male, one female, both gleaming and golden in the midday sun. Standing still. Waiting. He knew who they were.
Mícheál saw them, as well, and drew in a sharp breath of anger. "I see no boat on the sand," he called to his brother.
"Did you expect to?" was Caoimhín's response.
"I would like to think, for a moment, that they were at least a little human, like us."
Caoimhín chuckled. "They were never like us."
"I know. But I still hoped..."
Their boat slipped up to the sand and Caoimhín jumped into the water to walk ashore. The oarsmen followed him and pulled the boat the rest of the way up on the beach, then Mícheál joined his brother. The other two boats followed them, and soon two-dozen men were gathered together, all of them strong and proud. Each had a tunic freshly made, to be worn only for this occasion, and each held a gleaming sword and shield. Their heads were protected by thick leather straps enriched by runes to ward off the worst of horrors, while more leather surrounded their feet and calves. Their eyes, dark and dangerous, all focused on Caoimhín.
He nodded to them, pointed to the green sliver of land to his right and said, "To the witch, we go."
He turned and led them straight across the rocks. It was not an easy crossing. Untold eons had scarred the stones to where they were uneven and small crevices cut between them. But there was no other way, and Caoimhín did not wish to prolong this final confrontation. They were almost there, and he could see the two of them watching him. Both tall. Both regal. More like brother and sister than separate creatures.
The male? The Dagda. A god to Caoimhín's clan; an evil jokester, to Caoimhín. He was taller by half a head. His hair the color of the sun. His eyes the color of ice. His features in perfect harmony and so very condescending. He wore not only a tunic of gleaming white fabric trimmed in gold, but leggings and coverings for his feet that he called boots. A thick cloak of a deep rich blue hung from his shoulders, and his ornate helmet was of silver, as were his sword and spear. He was the only person any of them had known who could make Caoimhín look weak and simple, in comparison. For that, alone, he'd have hated the creature.
The female, however, was a hundred times worse. For Caoimhín knew her too damned well. Morrigan. Said to be queen of the demons, and he now believed it. Without question, she was of incomparable beauty. Raven red hair flowing from a visage of perfection. Eyes as green as the grass upon which she stood. A form to invite the dreams of every living man. Her clothing was also in white and embroidered in gold. Her cloak the same as The Dagda's. Her manner just as haughty...from a distance. Once Caoimhín was close enough to see her expression, he noticed an odd sense of...wariness? Unhappiness? Sorrow? He could not tell. He thought she would be glad for this day to have come, not fighting to hide her true feelings.
The Dagda hid nothing. He was filled with rage and fighting to keep it under control. Caoimhín knew it was not aimed at him, but it was still unnerving to sense. He stopped his men on the side of the grassy finger. It was wider than he'd thought, wide enough for a settlement to be arranged. And it rose farther above the water than he'd estimated. He also saw this bit of land pointed directly to the towering rocks, beyond.
Of course. Now he knew why this spot had been chosen.
Two posts were planted in the ground, perhaps two arms-length apart, both solid and taller than even The Dagda. Leather straps hung from each. Runes had been carved into them, adding to their ceremonious feel.
Caoimhín hesitated then drew in his deepest breath and snarled, "We've come, witch. Let this be done."
Morrigan drew up, haughtier, her expression now cold and nearly cruel. "Do you agree to the conditions of the oath?" she asked.
Caoimhín nodded. "This must be ended in some way, and that is how, so be it."
The Dagda glanced between them, almost ready to speak...but then he decided against it.
Morrigan almost smiled. "So be it. Which of you is the offering?"
"Me," said Caoimhín.
Morrigan jolted at the word. Her composure cracked.
The Dagda stepped forward. "No, Caoimhín, this is not -- "
"It is our decision, not yours," Caoimhín snarled. "Our choice. And it is to be me."
"Caoimhín," Morrigan whispered in a voice so soft and alluring, it could break the heart of a stone. "This is not what we wanted. This not what we...what we..."
"Why not?" And he cast her a glare filled with such hate and anger, she took a step back. "I am the one who started this."