"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been replaced by Diancecht and said, 'Joint te joint of it and sinew te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
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
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
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
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
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.