PREPARING FOR BATTLE
He was up and dressed in the clan kilt as here it was worn daily. By the time his sword was strapped to his side the Elders were at his door with a single knock before stepping in. He turned to greet each one in kind, hands clasped while the other griped the their forearm. No words were spoken as next to follow was one of the Elder's daughters with a platter of food prepared for them to break fast with. Warmed mulled wine would be the libation as the Laird noted with the opening of the bearskin flap of his door, it was snowing and the air had become colder. When Ellen left they sat in a circle around the platter and began. Part way into their consumption the talks would begin. Instead of a debate as was expected the Laird instead told him of the Plan. Surprise was evident and even some shock as the Elders glanced to each other as if confirming they were not the only one to react so.
Broch needed no rest, no bones to become weary in the ethereal. He however stayed lurking about the Laird's hut, waiting. Perhaps it was pure exhaustion that found sleep for the Laird this night with the accumulation of events to take their toll or perhaps insight eased his mind knowing now there was a reason he had lived with others he loved had died. It didn't ease the pain but gave a reasoning of why to a degree. Six hours of sleep were gained, a luxury for him considering if he got an hour of any real sleep it was a miracle. Most were spent in tossing, turning, for the nightmares that would plague his nights. This night there was nothing but sleep, a deep sleep that was needed. He awoke groggy at first but that swept away with the new day's dawn. He felt changes to come in the very quality of his first conscious breath taken and the cobwebs of his mind faded. He was needed.
At first arguments arose to a mild degree in such a decision if it was sane. The Laird held to his decision standing strong with it, they were satisfied easily. There was one thing about a warring clan, they would rather fight to the death than ever run no matter what they were to face. No matter what the odds. There was honor in death as a warrior for death took its toll easily enough just by nature's hand in such the wilderness they lived.
The arguments came more over the plan of defensive strategies and some offensive measures, it was this that surprised them more than deciding to stand against the Dempsy faction. Still, the Laird stood strong in his decisions, the plan laid out to him by Broch would be followed. He was chancing it all to something higher destined than mere humble human reasoning. If the
spectra of his dead cousin came to him at this particular time, he better well listen even if it defied human logic. In this he had hope.
The runner came alerting the heads of the clan, first the Laird then the
Elders, the Dempsy warring faction were on their way. It would take them
a few hours time to reach the Cunningham stronghold. Warriors from the
Langan clan were in added force giving the Dempsies an assured air that
victory would be theirs this day in the slaughter to come. The clamor of
metal, the heavy clop of hooves against the hardened earth all herald
the approach of the army like some Doom's day parade of locust to swarm.
The Cunningham warriors were mounted in a line up over the curve of the
Field of Tears, a hundred strong to meet the forces of two hundred or
more. The snow had started to fall in thick heavy flakes making
visibility at a minimum as it layered the ground around them quietly.
The Laird, waiting with his men in silence, went more by sound than
sight as they all listened to the approaching army. There was only the
occasional snort of a horse while shifting adding the muffled sounds of
their armor and weapons with the motion.
The horses now shifted restlessly as the foe drew nearer. They heard the sounds of death for the traps set hoping it dwindled their forces to one more even. It had, even if they were still outnumbered. The Cunningham clan had that edge to fight for survival even more fiercely. It was then that the Laird nudged his stallion forward as he maneuvered him up and down the line of his warriors. "Today we face our Foe of many years. Today we show them who we are... the Cunninghams! We will not be put asunder but shall prevail. For those of you who die this day in battle, you die in honor. For those of you who live through this, and we will live through this as a clan, you shall carry on our heritage." He turned his stallion as the Dempsies now reached the field. His own battle cry to resound as he led his men into the charge of battle, swords drawn and shields positioned. The clash came within seconds as the two forces met in the heavy falling snow that now turned red beneath the hooves of their steeds. There were cries of both man and beast as both fell under the blade. It was slash, hack and pierce in the frenzy to follow. It was hard to tell who was even winning.
Broch continued to work moving on his ethereal course through the battle. A horse to spook here, a blade to alter its course or a shield to fling from a warrior's hand of the foe. What he didn't expect was to witness the Souls leaving of downed warriors, Cunningham, Dempsy and Langan alike. The gates of Heaven opened up as some were swept upwards while the pits of hell suck others down under. He was drawn to the light, like a moth to a flame but every time he neared he was sent spiraling down again, repelled. Hence his own hindrance now in struggling to help the battle upon the ground and the natural draw of the Light. There were cries of death on both levels he could hear, filling his very essence in that heavy weight of emotions.
All mingled in a dull roar that echoed through ones very
existence. A side of battle, death, that went unknown to those embodied
in the slaughtering below. An hour passed and still the war cries
continued, the clash of steel, the snort and trilling of horses as they
too were in the heat of it all.
THE GIFT OF LIFE
Broch continued to hover over the Laird. He tried to go back to the clan
village, even with attempting such several times, he failed in all
attempts. He even tried pure will power of thought to hopefully draw one
to them but only felt the veil of snow that fell like an impenetrable
static wall. It seemed he could not move from his cousin. Perhaps it was
because of their connection of sorts, a higher reason, that had brought
him here? Broch couldn't seem to even reach him, barely alive and in a
place he was not allowed. He could sense the familiarity of it, however,
while waiting in the darken silence that surrounded them. The only
source of light was from the snow that kept falling even though it had
tapered off some. One could tell where blood and snow mixed for the dark
areas around both prone bodies. He couldn't see where there was any hope
his cousin could survive this unless they found him and soon. Even then
it was a hopeless situation unless they had one very adept healer and a
miracle. There was nothing more for him to do other than wait.
Just when Broch's patience was about to wear very thin, he was sucked in. Exactly where was anyone's guess along the realms of consciousness without the physical as we know it. A different kind of reality that was more real than the physical world. It took him a moment to realize he was where his cousin was and the woman that could only be this Maureen he had told him of. She was as beautiful as he described, no, more beautiful. No wonder! Hell, he couldn't begrudge his cousin one bit wanting to be with her. Wait, there were others too, those same others he had felt their presence twice before. It seemed they were in conference with the two and he just loitering on the outskirts of any details. He began to wonder why he was here when his cousin turned leaving the others to stand before him. "I have made my decisions. I have decided to go with my Maureen. She is where I belong, where I have been in my heart. My cousin Sean will take over the clan and if he makes the right choices he will marry Ellen. They will have fine bairn in the years to come and eventually a peace between the Cunninghams and Dempsies accomplished. Sean possesses such diplomatic abilities to bridge even that gap."
This was good to hear, comforting too, although Broch began to wonder why he was being told all this. Where did he fit in and what was going to be expected of him next? Had he not redeemed himself enough by now to at least enjoy some peace of Soul in a corner of Heaven? Such fleeting thoughts crossed his mind before they were gathered, halted, and reversed back to his cousin as he spoke up again.
"For the situation and information I was given
privy on you, I was given another option that covers things three fold
to resolve in a most suitable way. It is my gift to you by their
intervention for you to take my place here on Earth. You still have
miles to go that were not traversed before in your past and this gift is
being offered to you by my acquiesce with the powers above. You have my
leave and my blessings. I ask but one thing if you accept, that you
reunite my siblings for the honor of our shared surname of the clan
Cunningham. You will not be obligated to stay here as Laird for Sean is
destined now to lead them. Instead, yours will be this added quest along
with becoming the one you should have been."