The old horse and cloaked figure disappeared into the drifting fall of snow as if they had never been there at all. All tracks had been swallowed up between the wind and continual accumulation. Silence fell like a heavy veil this night as if the Earth itself paid its tribute to all those lives that had been claimed back to the fold. The forest thickened all around as many the variety of trees became the fortress wall to the small cabin nestled within its heart. Such was the balm to both body and soul and the light that trickled into the night from this small cozy place. It would never be seen by any others than the one approaching with their burden.

Three days later Broch woke to the cry of one in severe pain. He struggled to consciousness in tying to get up to help but was weighed down so much he could not move. A soothing voice cooed as he felt a hand upon his shoulder. "Stay still, all will be fine now." Another groan came edged in pain and he realized the sound was coming from him. Him! The encounter coming back to reel his mind in realization. He was in his cousin's body. No. His body now.... and... it hurt like hell! Rebirth came not only in pain but of the enormous weight of the physical mass that once more imprisoned his Soul. A very heavy vessel compared to the ethereal counterpart. Vision was blurred to finally clear and then he slowly made out his surroundings.

It was small, two rooms at best. He was out in the main room not far from a low burning fire within a small hearth. Wood was stacked off to the side. A table with two chairs only and another small area with cupboards and a counter. Kitchen area. There was a pail sitting there he could guess contained water and many jars of various sizes that contained what looked like herbs. Sparsely furnished but it was clean. Even the air held a spring quality to it, enough so he wondered on the season. He realized the hand had remained on his shoulder until slight pressure was noted before it was removed. He turned his head instinctively as a first the room swam before the woman focused in. It was a woman even if the lines of her face were so crease it could be either. He just knew.

Water blue eyes were ageless with the quality to calm by just looking into them. Like the cleansing waters of the Earth they nourished tranquility and in turn, healing. "My name be Miach. I was sent." So much more meaning in the few words spoken. Enough for him to know without questioning. He watched her as she turned to reach for the small bowl containing a liquid. It was held to his lips and slowly tipped carefully as he drank it down. It tasted somewhat sweet but not quite, almost like chicken broth but he knew it held no meat in it. Once he was done it was set aside again before she watched him like a mother doting on her son. "You drink. You eat. You rest. Two days you leave. You take horse."

The statements once more said it all without questioning as the old woman rose to don her cloak and make leave of the cottage briefly for more wood and see to the horse. When she opened the door, he knew it was not springtime out there but the cold of winter for that brief moment the cold bite whisked into the room before it was gone. Broch did all she requested of him as she saw to his needs. In two days time he was up and about with little to no pain. His side was still bandaged up as well as some other wounds but all were hidden under the clothing he wore. Even that had been repaired as needed. The woman never spoke after the initial words stated. It was if that had been a chore for her. He didn't invade her silence and kept to his own in those short two days.

It wasn't until he was mounted up on the old horse, whom seemed very strong and healthy for its age, that Miach finally spoke to him again after he thanked her kindly for all that she had done. "You go. Enjoy gift of life. You ask on Miach. Many the tale." There was a bit of humorous laughter to follow as Broch noted it sounded much like a younger lass full of life. She continued. "Most true. You believe them." She touched a hand on the flank of the horse as he started off to drudge his way through the snow. The day had been clear until that moment when it started falling again thickly. Broch carefully turned for the restraints of the bandaging and was amazed to find, all there was to see was snow. No old woman, nor cottage could be made out and he knew he could only have gotten a few paces distance.


An endless night was an apt description as Broch dozed off and on with the continual rhythmic movements of the old horse. The snow continued to fall and he had no idea where he even was. The horse seemed to know but Broch wondered if his trek was aimless as the cold started to seep through even the heavy cloak he wore over winter's clothing of wool beneath. Nothing could be seen for he had tried while the old horse continued on as if a destination was predetermined. He wasn't even sure how long he had been at Miach's place only having been conscious of about three days there. Was he even in Ireland still? Thoughts drifted as tiredness fell like a heavy cloak once more taking him into a dreamless state of continual healing.

Broch awoke only to find he was still riding in the darkness. He marveled on how the horse withstood the wintry conditions when he felt almost frozen at this point. Concern edged his mind in that he would end up being found frozen atop this old horse. Panic started to rise just about the same time the horse stopped. The snowfall seemed to disappear at that very moment as if one last breeze took it all away to swirl back into their wake. It was then he noted the horse had stopped in front of an Inn, now that visual was cleared. The soft glow of beckoning lights trickled over the frozen snow in a glistening display. Broch was stiff between his mending wounds and cold as it took great deal of effort for him to dismount. The horse was very patient and would even shift, he swore, to help him out. Booted feet finally crunched onto the frozen ground beneath.

"Hey Mister, can I see to your horse?"

Voice came from behind him then around before he could even turn. The bundled up lad was about twelve with patched clothing that had been mended over many times. He could tell some was even let out as the boy grew. He stood there frozen a moment as he wasn't even sure if he had any coin to give the lad to see to the horse. A moment's hesitation before one glove was peeled from a hand then dipped into his pocket to search. A few coins found were taken out and handed the lad, far more than needed for this task.

"See to him well groomed and fed extra oats. We have traveled far."

Seemed more like centuries to Broch as the lad gave a shout of glee seeing the coins given in the palm of a gloved hand riddled with holes. Promptly the lad was leading the horse off as he called over his shoulder.

"I will Mister, real good, you'll see!"

Broch by that time was already ascending the steps to make his way into the Inn. The man that seemed to be the proprietor of the place looked as ancient as the Inn itself. Once more he notice the clean fresh scent and cleanliness. He went to the hearth where a fire burned brightly, discarding the heavy cloak to lay over the back of a chair. It was going to take some thawing out and he was smart enough not to get too close to the heat given off until he did. When the tavern keeper asked him on food or drink, Broch found himself asking for warmed mulled wine. It was not something he usually drank but found himself inclined this night.

He noticed the old man had a limp as he brought the tankard over to him. Once delivered into his hand the old man took up a seat near the hearth to enjoy the warmth. He watched as the man settled himself in and a pipe retrieved from his tunic pocket before the bowl was packed then lit. Broch had to force himself to drink the warmed wine sparingly or become sick no matter how tempted he was to drink it right down. He was slowly thawing out and the drink was helping even more. The man indicated the chair near him to take and so he followed suit to settle in. In the Irish ways this was an honor for it meant a conversation at hand, how they spread the word of news and legends.

"Name's Patrick O'Donnell and I must say you'd be lookin' the wear of it."

Patrick smiled around his pipe as a pale blue gaze continued to take Broch in. Broch, on the other hand, had no idea how he appeared but he surely knew how much he still hurt and how he must look accordingly now that it was mentioned. He found himself chuckling as he responded immediately.

"After being sliced up good in a battle I guess I'll not be dancing at any festival too soon."

Patrick joined in with a chuckle of his own as the pipe was removed to remain nestled in his hand. He leaned up as his forearm rested along the arm of his chair, pipe smoke curling up in wisps toward the high beamed ceiling.

"Speakin' of battles, me grandson is sweet on a lass down in Kerry. He be tellin' me just the other day the story she be tellin' him. One of her cousins knows one of the Dempsy clan and it seems that clan had a big clash with the Cunningham clan. Bloody mess and both Lairds dead along with many of 'em own. Bloody barbarians the whole lot of 'em up in the Kerry Highlands, not like us civilized folks here in Galway. They'd be warrin' like that for centuries and still ne be resolvin' their differences. Both of 'em will be wiped out afore they do by the looks of it. Though it was said the new Laird of the Cunninghams might be promisin' in ending their disputes. Maybe that be the battle ye fought in?"

Patrick leaned back as his pipe was drawn up so he could enjoy what little tobacco was left in it before it burned away to ashes. Broch was surprised and yet not at the news, news he was part of.  So, he was considered dead. It all fit in but in turn sparked his own curiosity as he only gave a nod to the man's question. So far his name hadn't been asked and he hoped it remained that way. He also made note of where he was now located, knowing in that moment where he was headed and would seek passage on a ship come the morrow.

"Seems I was left for dead but this old woman took me in and tended my wounds. Said her name is Miach. Ever hear of her?"

Good way to get the old man off the subject of his part in the battle for he would prefer not to have to lie. His own dark hunter green eyes were trained on the old man as he realized in turn by conversing it took his mind off the complaints of his body. More just aches than pain left, battle worn stiffness and being drained physically for it. He was surprised at Patrick's reaction when the name was given. Fuzzy caterpillar eyebrows of mostly white shot up as he stared at him for too long a moment. Even the pipe was forgotten between his teeth, left to barely hang there as the smoke curled around what few teeth he had left. Patrick's hand finally lifted to dislodge the pipe and set it aside. Once more he sat up with his forearm coming to rest against the arm of the chair in a lean towards Broch. A story was about to unfold for there was that look in the old man's eyes.


"Miach was the son of Dian Cécht, head physician of the Tuatha Dé Danann.  He was a proponent of the method of natural healing of a person's own body rather than using prosthetics and them artificial devices. Now King Nuada was in his sickness, and Diancecht put on him a hand of silver with the motion of a real hand.  That seemed wrong te his son Miach.  So, he went te the hand which had been replaced by Diancecht and said, 'Joint te joint of it and sinew te sinew,' and he healed Nuada in thrice three days and nights.  The first seventy-two hours he put it against his side, and it became covered with skin.  The second seventy-two hours he put it on his breast and Nuada was whole."

Patrick took a moment to retrieve his pipe before it went out. He was relishing telling the story of Miach and his whole demeanor spoke of it. Broch knew not to interrupt as he found himself leaning more towards Patrick as his arm rested against the arm of the chair. He was becoming enraptured. Patrick was pleased to see his reaction as he continued the story.

"Diancecht was jealous of his son's success and moreover did ne entirely agree with his medical practice.  In order te test his son's powers he flung a sword on the crown of his son's head and cut the skin down te the flesh.  The lad healed the wound by means of his skill.  Diancecht in another jealous fury smote him again and cut the flesh until he reached the bone.  Again his son healed himself by his skills.  Diancecht hit him a third time and came te the membrane of his brain.  The lad healed this also by his own healing powers.  Infuriated Diancecht struck a fourth blow and this time cut out Miach's brain sae that he died and Diancecht said nothing could heal him of that blow, not even himself."

Patrick began to tap out the ashes of his pipe into a tray. The Irish liked to take their time of it and draw out every moment of this favorite pastime. Broch knew it would be a few moments pause so he drank the last of his mulled wine and waited on the old man to continue.

"After that Miach was buried by Diancecht, and three hundred and sixty-five herbs, according te the number of joints and sinews, grew from his grave. Now, ye story reminds me of another that was handed down over the centuries. In this one a lass near twenty had gotten the plague she was curin' of others. She was a healer and aptly named Airmid, after the sister of Miach. Now she was wastin' away and with the last of her strength she disappeared so she would ne be a burden te her family. Like some animals de, she left te die. Three weeks later she returned fit as a fiddle and a story of an old woman by the name of Miach that took her in and healed her. Now, I be thinkin' this lad disguises himself as an old woman se his father din find him again. That would be makin' the sense of it all on Miach."

Broch could not deny the reasoning behind Patrick's words for it was hard to tell by form or face if Miach had been a woman or a man. It was more he was given that impression of the one being a woman. It made sense for how would an old woman be able to drag him into the cabin when he was brought back? The struggle would have been hard enough for an old man but more believable. It was one of those things that would remain a mystery for now.

"I'm thinking you're right Patrick O'Donnell. I'm also thinking it is time I get some rest so I don't come off rude by falling asleep here in this chair. Do you have a bed to let this night?"

There was a twinkle in Patrick's eyes as he stood from his seat. A ring with a number of keys on it was jingled as he pulled one off to pass over to Broch.

"Because ye whar willing te really listen te an old man, the room is me guest one. Breakfast in the mornin' will be at seven. Yer welcome te join me and me youngest grandson."

Broch rose as the man did and took the key offered. He had listened because he had enjoyed the conversation but far be it he offended the man's offer by any sign of refusal or insistence on paying. He knew the Irish customs well. They were as quick to offer kindness as a way of it as they were to be in one's face bluntly if they were deserving of that too. He thanked Patrick not only for the room but the conversation. This pleased the old man greatly, it was all that was expected. Broch slept good that night, waking the next morning feeling a lot better. Even the aches had subsided. He ate breakfast with them, realizing the grandson was the lad who took care of his horse and very well at that, then headed out. The old man gave him parting words that would make him wonder later.

"Head back te the last place ye found some peace te find that which ye seek."

He booked a passage on a ship that would be making a stop in the Heathfield port for the words ringing in his ears left by Patrick. He had cousins to find, or rather, brothers and a sister even if none had been in Heathfield when he was there. Still, it was the last place where he felt a bit of peace by helping the Frasier family. He knew the body that was now his, looked a mirror image of his own, except a good number of years younger. He was not Broch Frasier but Broch Cunningham of the clan of Kerry. All and all it gave him a knot in the pit of his stomach in how he might be received but it didn't stop him for he had a mission in a promise to keep.

He slept half of the trip for sleep was still needed. When not sleeping he was found up on deck along the rail well out of the way of the crew. At one point the captain, by the name of Shelly, came up in a lean alongside him. He was a man he found that liked to get to know those who sailed his ship even if briefly. The day was calm, the breeze good and so he took this opportunity to meet his passengers. He started the conversation.

"Se whar ye be comin' from in the lands of the emerald isle?" Holding out his hand for Broch to shake as one Irishman to another in instant comradeship unless deemed otherwise. "I'd be Captain Shelly of this 'ere ship, me lady Shark."

Broch took his hand in a good clasp as he shifted up from his lean turning enough to face the man. Eye to eye was expected in this summing up. Not wishing to say anything more on the Cunningham and their battle he chose the last place he'd been at. "Broch, wanderer, coming from Patrick O'Donnell's Inn last." Releasing his hand as he spoke.

Well, Shelly's eyebrows went heavenwards before he shook his head as hands released their clasp. "I'd be thinkin' ye be mistaken lad for Patrick O'Donnell and his grandson died in a fire when the Inn burnt down te the ground over a year agae. Ain't ne one been thir or would they rebuild it. Superstition et all in how the grandson doted on his grandpappy, the two inseparatable even te death some say. 'Tis left as a memorial te 'em."

Broch felt that real strange feeling as once more his help turned out to be a myth in essence. If it wasn't for his own experiences of life after death then back in a very unique way, the impact of Shelly's words may have had him thinking he had indeed gone crazy. "I must have gotten the name wrong as you say. One of the Inn's in Galway run by a man named Patrick at least."

That got the old captain into a guffaw of chuckles. "Aye, thir be many Patrick's with Inns in Galway alone." That seemed to suffice better than a dead man's Inn which of course was tossed out as being possible. The captain could tell the man had been in some kind of ruckus and on the mend just for his pallor and the way he moved and stood. He had been there a few times himself. "Well, ye be enjoin' the rest of ye trip for we will be portin' in Heathfield in about two hours now." With that he gave a slap to the rail before continuing down to meet the other passengers. Broch just stared out over the ocean. Two hours and he would be in the only place he ever even felt a little bit as home, in spirit form no less, after one very long journey taken.

Three hours later Broch stood in the Thistle Tavern with one bag holding all his possessions. A bag he found packed on the old horse, which he had given, not sold, to an old lady vendor in the marketplace in Galway Bay. One who had to cart her wares on her person weighing her down each morning and no longer really fit to do so. The horse would do her more good and she gave him things he could add to what meager possessions he had. That night at O'Donnell's Inn when he went to his room, he found a pouch with a substantial amount of coins in it. He was not poor by any means and he wondered if his cousin had carried his wealth on him or Miach had seen to it. Another mystery that would probably remain just that.

His first facing off was when he approached Alex introducing himself as Broch Cunningham. If Alex took a double take over Broch under a keen scrutiny he showed very little in expression or reaction. Instead of a barrage of questions the older gentleman tender pointed to the kitchen door to send him there for a meal. His only comment was that he seemed to be in need of some good nourishment and there was nothing finer than Irish stew and brown bread to see to that need. He was given a key and his bag sent up to the room that would be his for how long he stayed.

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