Otherworldly Memories Part V: The Two Kingdoms
- Otherworldly Memories Part V: The Two Kingdoms -
The years passed swiftly following the advent of my transformation, a thing that became over time, to me both spiritual as well as physical. I began to practice with and hone better the use of my enhanced third eye, and the mechanical augmentations felt for the most part as natural as my biological attributes. During certain months, I would retreat unto the tower at Ynys Gwydr in order to avoid causing any sort of distress when I trained myself both physically and mentally to become more at one with the body I now possessed. It was difficult for many of my people to adjust to my new appearance, although truth to tell my wife accepted it rather shockingly quick. Almost at once really, despite what seemed to be a bit of an initial shock that I had downplayed in my mind previously but come to terms with later on. But the High Queen was strong, and I was determined to be just as strong in order to feel more worthy of her devotion than ever before. For a part of me felt like some sort of abomination, in my darkest of times when I despaired the most. I never spoke of those times to anyone but her, and she would hold me and I would cry as she held me until the pain felt far, far less. That was how I dealt with Deirdre's loss, as well as the growing strife that many of the druids of our people claimed was coming. I had a rather hard time believing that, though, since it seemed we had entered into a golden age of peace at long last. Bandit raids, and criminal activities in some of our cities and villages, became almost unheard of, for a great many of those sorts feared to risk my displeasure... remembering how harshly I had dealt with the Fir Bolg back when they were still a menace to the land's peace. How to describe what I looked like in that time, after my transformation? I was eight feet tall now, and I met this new version of me during a previous phase of my life I would not have believed I would one day become this as I had. Both of my legs were fully mechanical and encased in a metal skin that gleamed like armor. My arms appeared to be likewise, and my hands although still fleshly were larger than they had once been. The skin upon my right hand had remained pitch black and this deformity had not changed over the years. My torso and all of my upper body, abdomen and genitalia were still flesh, with the only alternations being that my upper body now matched my increased height proportionally. The entire length of my spine, all up and down my back from the base of my neck to my tailbone there was a visible ridged exo-spine that was as mechanical as my arms and legs were. Flashing lights upon it would turn on and light up red whenever I moved, and were otherwise dark when I was inactive. Various metal exo-strips also ran horizontally along all of my ribs on the outside of my body as well, them being flush with the skin so that it merely appeared on the outside that my ribs were discolored. Discolored and metallic. Both of my natural eyes had been replaced with mechanical ones that functioned the same way as my fleshly eyes had, and I had a third mechanical eye in the very middle of my forehead that enhanced the powers and properties of my spiritual third eye, in addition to granting me other methods of sight that I could activate or turn off at will. My flesh was light, and my body hairless except for my eyelashes. I took to shaving my head, for in time my hair had thinned and begun to fall out in patches, quite painfully, if I did not keep it all shaved. I had no eyebrows either, and my abdomen was somewhat pronounced due to my having been born a hermaphrodite. My bones were slender, my face rounded, my skin light with a bit of a yellowish tint to it. I was of average build, with a slightly pronounced abdomen due to the hermaphroditic variety of condition that I had been born with. My face was round, my nose a bit aquiline, and my lips small. I had tapered, but not pointed, ears. I was told that I still looked very beautiful, although strange as well. I was getting older, even in Elvish terms, but age had not touched me save but lightly yet. There were a few circles under my eyes, and my hair had gone white and gray before it had begun to fall out, but for the most part I appeared much the same as I had in my younger years. Somehow too, my augmentations had given me strength and stamina far beyond what I should have possessed at that point in my life. I took to wearing garments that covered me fully, and I became more reclusive as time went on. I was a great many years before I could come to terms with what I had become, and why it was necessary at all.
I would have been dead were it not for the doctor who performed this procedure on me, though he so proved to be an evil sort at the end and I had dealt with him accordingly. Ere long, many large and quite elegant looking ships had begun to be sighted off of the coasts of Eriu and to our land came at last the Tuatha de Danann, the children of the grand goddess Dana, who claimed to hail from the island nation of Tir na nOg. Though some among their fair number had hailed from Hy-Brasil as well. Both of those domains, I knew to now only exist within the other world, a parallel dimension that existed in the same physical space as Earth but in another dimension. The roads to travel hence were difficult, and I could not fathom what might have occurred that would have impressed upon these people so burning a desire to seek a new home here. For that is why they had come, and in their isolation they had never realized that Eriu was already inhabited by both the Fir Bolg and my people, the Fomor. I did not meet with the children of Dana in person, for I deemed that to be a trivial matter better suited for a diplomat, rather than something that I as the High King of Eriu should be involved with directly. Thus did I leave this matter in the hands of my chief steward Bres, who was a minor king in his own right. A man who had in the past proven himself to be not only a capable ruler but one skilled with diplomacy and born with a bit of a silver tongue. He served as my voice and direct representative in all such occasions as this. Just to be safe, I sent with him the young man Var'lan who had been a companion of mine on many of my past adventures before I had come to dwell in Eriu. He was now tall, handsome, and fair spoken himself in many ways... and even when Bres failed with his words and cunning, somehow it always seemed that Var'lan could manage to set things aright. To be honest about these things, Var'lan had also served me in far more intimate ways as my lover as well... and I trusted him more than I did Bres, which meant I trusted him pretty much with my very life. The meeting on the shore between Bres and the High King of the Tuatha de Danann, a gruff, barrel-chested giant of a man named The Daghda, went quite poorly. Bres was only half Fomor, and part of his bloodline was descended from the same race as the children of Dana themselves. He knew all about their culture, and from where they hailed... and he was able to even determine that many of these colonists had come from other distant lands and other cities beyond what they had even admitted to. Cities I had never heard of before, such as Falias, Gorias, Murias, and Finias. All places in the north, where the air was cold and the peoples who dwell there could sometimes be just as harsh as the bitter weather of those climes. Some of the crafts they used to journey to our land were not of the normal sort either... some flew upon the air and were aircraft rather than vessels which did travel upon the sea. Those, however, arrived last and landed in clear patches along the shoreline. I could see those arriving from the tallest towers at Tara, and had an ill feeling regarding them. The day was ill-chosen as well, for it was during an eclipse of the sun, and so all was dark for some time until the eclipse passed. It was a dark omen, the druids of my court told me, and I should be mindful of it, for it portended destruction. I saw some of the aircraft, those which could land vertically, descend into the mountains of one of the land's many provinces, and all of this very much felt like the prelude to a sort of invasion. I liked it not! Immediately, their leader did not like Bres in any way, shape, or form. And he was not impressed that I had not come in person to speak with him, claiming this to be a sign that I was either a weak ruler who trusted in others too much, or a coward who was afraid to speak with him. I would not have wished to speak with someone so narrow-minded even had I the desire to conduct any negotiations with him in person. But he was largely under the impression that this land was wholly and utterly abandoned and ripe for colonization by his people. On learning that it was not, he delegated the rest of the negotiations to his heir and successor, a tall and skinny man named Nuada who was beloved of his people far more than The Daghda was. Nuada was in many ways much like Bres himself, but also a bit like Var'lan in terms of his fairness and capacity for smoothing out the rough edges of things when it came to dealing with others. Between the lot of them, they came to some sort of an understanding at the end of which I was to meet with Nuada in person at Tara in order to finalize the eventual agreement.
And the children of Dana acted too hastily, burning their seagoing vessels and destroying all of their own aircraft in order to cement the fact that they intended to stay in Eriu forever, and not be even a bit tempted to return whence they had come. Which told me, that they were fleeing something... whether it had been a disaster or a war, or perhaps an uprising in which they had been ousted from their lands. All I knew for certain, was that I remembered something from my past life memories from the days before the great cataclysm in which Atlantis had been destroyed. I remembered that Tir na nOg was not only a name, and one of many such, for the western continent upon which the gods of old once dwelt before it was said that they took it away from the confines of the world entirely... but it was the name of one of the greatest cities of that continent. Dana must have been one of those ancient gods, and these folk were all of them blood descendants of her. I wondered if they would in time come to harbor me any ill will... due to my falling out with the gods when they made me mortal and forced me into the cycles of life and death, and reincarnation. But I had a different name now, and a very altered appearance compared to as I had appeared to their ancestors. And I had never met Dana in person back then, so it was likely even their ancestors had not known me, though they had to have heard of me. Such memories always made it feel awkward for me, when I was in situations such as this. I awaited Nuada in the throne room, where I reclined upon the throne that had been set up upon a dais right next to the throne of my wife and queen. I wore a black gown and over it a scarlet cloak, both of which were long and flowing enough to cover my body fully, the sleeves of the gown also being long and wide. The gown had gold trim, and it was a fit garment for any sort of monarch. My wife looked as radiant as she always had. Her hourglass figure, ample bosom and wide hips were flattered well by her choice of dress. She wore that day a long elegant skirt that was of a green shade, and which sparkled somewhat, and this was paired with a long-sleeved blouse of the same color that was tucked into the skirt, which was belted with a wide golden sash tied with a neat bow at her side. The blouse was low cut in a somewhat revealing way, but the lady herself had the confidence and noble bearing enough to wear such attire and not seem like a harlot when doing so. Her skin was well tanned, her eyes hazel colored, her ears very pointed, and she had a smile that I always found warm and pleasant to look upon. Her face was round, cherubic, and had an earthy sort of beauty to it, a natural sort of beauty that required her to wear little in the way of cosmetics to enhance. Her hair was long, wavy, and fiery red in a way that reminded me of the sky at sunset. Shot through as it was with shades of red, orange, and gold but with scarlet red being the dominant hue. We both wore comfortable golden colored slippers on our feet, and felt relaxed as the delegation from the children of Dana was brought into the throne room by Bres and Var'lan. The two young men had become rather a bit androgynous in their appearance of late, and I found this to be quite attractive in Var'lan especially. They both wore long black tunics with red trim, and were as a whole attired for comfort as much as for court. My court had never been one to stand on ceremony too much, and our traditions were always of an informal nature, things shared among friends and loved ones. Like a family. Nuada was a tall man... all of the children of Dana were tall, but he was one of the tallest being a good seven feet in height. He was still not nearly as tall as I had become, and upon seeing me he looked very nervous and somewhat intimidated. His attendants were likewise unnerved, noticing my three unnatural looking eyes. Nuada was courteous and bowed low before my throne before rising and proclaiming: “My lord Balor! It is my pleasure to greet you at last. I regret that our own great king was not of a disposition to meet with you, for I know that were he to lay eyes upon your mighty form himself... he would know you are not at all the sort of ruler he took you to be with his assumptions. But let us not speak of him! I wish to request of you, since you are the rightful High King of this land, permission to establish lands for my people upon your island nation. We will pay you taxes, as is only right, and you shall serve as our landlord. We will keep to ourselves and keep our troubles to ourselves likewise. The only time we even need to meet, is if it is desirable for both of our peoples to do so. We need this, for now we have no way to return home!”
And I looked down into his eyes, analyzing him to see if he was sweating overtly or breathing in such a way that would tell of deceit on his part. But for the most part, he seemed to be telling the truth to me. I said unto him: “Prince Nuada, you are a man who is fair in a great many ways I see! Fair of speech, of hair, and of skin as well... like a beam of light made manifest in my presence. Your eyes are very much like unto the sky, and I am not trying to flatter you. I have a gift for observing people, and seeing deep into their souls sometimes. In you, I sense light, beauty and kindness... unlike in your king, who seems to be rather hostile towards me for some reason. I have not met the man, and to be honest I do not wish ever to do so. I am told he insulted me greatly when he met with my envoys... and his words to them it seemed were venomous at best. But you, you are more kingly then he! Are your people happy with the man who currently rules over them?” and Nuada confessed to me: “No, your majesty, they are not at all happy with him! He is brash, warlike, and quick to anger. It was he who caused... well, some of what it was that drove us from our homelands, and why it is we can never return whence we came. He made a lot of enemies back there, and one day they came for us and would have ended us had we not made the perilous eastward crossing that can only be done once when the road back is closed by those who wish us gone. The cities and lands where we dwelt were many too, and some of us had to journey south to get here... rather than eastward. But there were in all of them those who came against us, due to how very dire our situation had become because of our king's arrogance and foolishness. If my folk were to put it to a vote today, I have no doubt that The Daghda would be our High King no longer.” I then said to him, suggesting in a friendly manner: “Why not do just that? Put it to a vote, and remain here in Tara as my guest whilst you do so! If they should choose you, Prince Nuada, which I believe they will, then there might be some of your own kin who could seek your life should they remain loyal to the man you seek to replace. I could protect you from those enemies, and ensure you live to become the rightful and legal High King of your people. Then, we will discuss how to divide up this country between us so that both of our peoples are satisfied with the borders between our lands.” and he agreed to all I had said. It was a month later before the results of the votes came in, and Nuada had been proclaimed the winner. The Daghda, I was surprised to learn, stepped down quite willingly, and by all accounts took a life of drinking, feasting and dallying with whores, all of which did not surprise me at all. He seemed the sort to do so, and his immediate descent into debauchery was dismissed as an eccentricity born of a man who was never fit to be a monarch to begin with. Nuada was crowned High King of all the folk of the Tuatha de Danann, and we held the coronation right there in the throne room at Tara, at the great city upon the hill of the kings, where every High King to ever reside in Eriu had been crowned since first had people come to dwell there. We consulted maps, drew lines, and decided which places should be delegated to which peoples... we involved the councils and leaders of our two races in each and every step of the decision making process, and in the end everyone seemed happy with how things were to be divided up. I felt sorry for Nuada, for like myself he was a person fleeing the darkness of the past, and seeking to begin anew. I could not have known then, that his people would one day come to betray me, and to rise up in rebellion against me. I shook his hand, and made certain not to squeeze too hard lest I break it in the process due to my now bionically enhanced strength. I wore no crown as High King of the Fomor, and Nuada likewise wore no crown as the head of his people. We were perhaps, in certain respects, too much alike for it not to eventually become a problem. But on that day, we held a grand and spectacular celebration, and the druids performed many sacrifices to receive blessings for a land free of turmoil. The Fir Bolg also were happy, for their lands were untouched by the deal that had been made. But I kept remembering the words of the druids, and how they warned me about the eclipse and the ill omen that it was portending. There was a certain feeling of foreboding in the air, though in truth the weather was pleasant, the day of the festivities beautiful, and the time of year perfect for it. And, the dark times did not come immediately... rather, they were built up to slowly, until soon all was in ruins.
The Fir Bolg tribes in the west of Eriu one day decided that they were no longer happy with how the land had been divided up, for their own territory had since then been directly bordering the kingdom of the Tuatha de Danann. They began to raid Nuada's borders and harry his people, and so Nuada did what any king might do in such a situation... he acted directly against the aggressors. Both the chieftain of the Fir Bolg and one of Nuada's emissaries came to Tara in order plead their case with me and I explained to them that I was merely the landlord of Nuada's kingdom, not its' rightful ruler. Only Nuada could be prevailed upon to resolve this matter... and, he was inclined to resolve it by any means necessary once the Fir Bolg's raids became increasingly violent and barbaric. Reports of massacres, rapes, and horrors of every sort came in from the border between the western Fir Bolg tribes and Nuada's kingdom, and in every report it was the Fir Bolg who were the aggressors and the ones committing all of these acts. So, I sent word to Nuada, demanding that he put a stop to the Fir Bolg's wicked activities once and for all... lest I be forced to intervene in order to put a stop to these crimes, which were things unheard of in the land during the golden age that preceded the one we now found ourselves in. He acted with a great deal of decisiveness, and marshaled all of his military forces to march upon the Fir Bolg in the west. There was no way to end the violence there without a show of strength, and the might of the children of Dana made itself known in that time very powerfully indeed. This group of Fir Bolg had always been trouble, and it was from that part of the land whence came the chieftain I had slain when I had first arrived in the land of Eriu. It was his people who had killed my beloved Deirdre, and this time I meant for them to know a final and lasting defeat. One from which they would never rise up in might again. The Fir Bolg were originally descendants of a man named Nemed, who had in a time long before my coming to the land of Eriu sought to flee from what they saw as oppression at the hands of my wife's ancestors, who in those days ruled from Tara with an iron fist. And so, did Nemed and his folk flee to Greece, there to gather in strength so that they could return with designs of conquest. The children of Nemed, who now lived under their new name, the Fir Bolg, eventually returned to Eriu in a great and terrible force, and after many battles there was an uneasy peace established between the two peoples. However, in all that time the Fir Bolg saw themselves as the true masters of the land, until their defeat at our hands showed them otherwise. I do not know how long it had been since that fateful and costly battle... perhaps thirty years previous, maybe more... or perhaps less, by the time Nuada's people had reached our shores. All I knew, is that I wanted the Fir Bolg's blood now, and if I had to get it through Nuada then I would do so. And so did he become the instrument of my justice in this matter. Three hundred ships had carried the children of the goddess Dana to our shores, and that people were both numerous and mighty. The king of the Fir Bolg, Eochaid mac Eirc, had foreseen the coming of the Tuatha de Danann... and now he used the omens and prophecies of his druids, who swore it portended disaster for the whole of Eriu, in order to send forth a call to arms for all of the Fir Bolg in the land. As a result, all of the Fir Bolg of Eriu did rise up, wherever they were, and they rebelled against us all. Both in Nuada's kingdom and mine, there was now fighting and bloodshed, and horrendous atrocities being committed. I sent Bres to aid Nuada in the west... whilst I set forth to lead my own forces personally in the lands that were under my care. I was ruthless and cruel to the foe, but even at my cruelest I fought with honor... the Fir Bolg did not, and in all of the territories they seized during their rampage, the men were slaughtered like animals, women raped wherever they could be found, and not just women but children too. And even beasts were never spared, for the barbarians hacked to pieces any cows, horses, or other animals that they could find. Not as sacrifices to their gods either, but for sport! The Fir Bolg had become insane, depraved savages who could no longer be reasoned with. And in all of the territories I liberated from their control, there I saw suffering so terrible that it broke my heart to witness the aftermath of. People began to flee whole parts of the land, and there was chaos and war everywhere. I decided, upon seeing how our enemy made war, to treat the Fir Bolg as the monsters they decided to act like... and purge the land of their evils forever.
Whilst I engaged in my own personal crusade against the Fir Bolg... Nuada and Bres led a combined and mighty force of arms consisting of both Tuatha de Danann and Fomor alike, in one grand effort to strike a final, crushing blow against the barbarians. The border became meaningless, for the allied army pushed deeper and deeper into the western Fir Bolg territory with each victory they won. So terrible had the war become, that the king of the Fir Bolg decided to send his personal champion Streng in order to put an end to things. To be blunt, the king had put too much faith in that man! No matter how great the numbers of the Fir Bolg's fighting forces were, and no matter how mighty was Streng, there was just no way they could hope to win against us. And both they and we who fought against them were now well locked into a struggle where the winners could only survive if they could hold out against annihilation. I had heard later on from Bes, all that had transpired in the west of the land. Bres met with Streng when the Fir Bolg champion called for a truce during the worst of the battle, when all the field of war had just begun to be covered with blood, body parts, gore and mounds of corpses. Bres reasonably suggested to the champion that if he wished to see this whole war ended, all he needed to do was convince his king to cede all of the Fir Bolg's lands, territories and holdings over to the two High Kings, to Nuada and to myself... so that peace could be established. All they needed to do was to submit to our lawful rule and become citizens of our kingdoms. As citizens, they would be bound by our laws and it could be made established thereby that never again could they act as aggressors towards us without risking punishment with the full weight of the law behind it. All Streng had to do was bend the knee to Bres, and pledge to see this done. I am sure that everyone expected Streng to be reasonable, but he was not. Instead of suing for peace in this way, the Fir Bolg decided to fight on... to the very last of their kind if necessary. After both they and our allies left the neutral ground wherein they met, some time was taken for everyone to prepare for the commencement of further battle. Weapons were retrieved, the dead were collected and burned in great pyres, and all was made ready. When next the fighting resumed, it was at the great pass of Balgatan, where the war raged on for four more days and nights. During the confusion of the battle, Nuada met at last his foe and encountered Streng personally. However, the mighty champion of the Fir Bolg managed to cut off Nuada's right hand, maiming him brutally and meaning to kill him next. But he was not paying attention to what was going on around him at that point, and was nearly killed himself by the allied forces who had just slaughtered his personal guard to the last man. Streng fled, and then did he sound a great war horn in order to call for a truce, proclaiming that at last he was ready to make a bargain. For he knew then, that he had no chance at winning this war! Nuada was tended to by one of his healers and whilst he was recovering from his injury Bres once more met with Streng in order to lay down the terms that would serve best at this point. Three choices were offered to the Fir Bolg, and only three... they could leave the land of Eriu forever in permanent exile, and never return. Or, they could as was offered to them before, submit to the rule of our two kingdoms and give up their lands in order to become lawful citizens bound by our laws. Or, failing either of those things, they could continue to thus fight and eventually be utterly destroyed. On every border where the Fir Bolg fought against us, whilst this truce was being conducted, the barbarians were being slaughtered and pushed back so far that soon they had no places left to run and hide from us. In particular, I made certain that even their desire to so fight on would be crushed, along with their very spirits. For once I saw this as a final vengeance for my beloved Deirdre I became something truly inhuman... I became very much a demon, as I wiped out all of the Fir Bolg that I could find, until even their women and children were no longer living. And I had collected the heads of all those slain by me and by my personal forces, and sent them to the west, so that Streng and his king would receive them as warnings and indications of what was to come if they did not choose exile or peace. The headless bodies were impaled, and I set them within certain forests and woods that were sacred to the darkest of the druids' gods and goddesses, to serve as sacrifices. The choice for the Fir Bolg was now a hard one, for any path through my lands was not an option for them.
Steng was reported as having said to Bres: “How can we so flee in exile, if the path leads through the lands of the demon king Balor? He will not suffer us to live even if we agree to your terms, and though you claim to speak for him... it seems that his evil eye has decided at last to speak for itself. And I hear his voice clearly, even over yours! But we need not fight to the end of my people in order to decide this contest of ours... instead, let me face Nuada one final time once he is fully recovered from the chopping I gave him. And if he can still manage to best me, even with his one remaining hand, then I will agree to terms of peace. But we will then need to revise them better... for you should know by now that any and all paths that lead through your master's lands will for my people only lead to death! Will this be well with you?” and it was very well with Bres indeed. Nuada had recovered quickly, for the magic of the healing arts employed by the children of Dana was beyond even that of my people when it came to skill and potency. Streng was given his choice of weapons, and he chose a great war mace that he had to hold in both hands... little more than a tree branch club with a heavy rock fastened to one end of it. Nuada was going to his death fighting against Streng, and everyone knew it! And so he was shrewd and said that he would only agree to fight the Fir Bolg champion if Streng agreed to tie back one of his own arms in order to make the combat fair. Naturally, being used to winning by means of always having an advantage... the Fir Bolg champion refused and the combat was called off. One last time, the fighting did resume and this time it was going to be to the death, and all involved knew it. Three hundred men were remaining to Streng, and those three hundred fought with the strength and fury of many times that number. Nuada met him for one final duel on the field of battle, this time without any sort of rules to keep things fair. The Fir Bolg brute swung his great mace in a terrible arc, but his swing was wide and he was left unbalanced from it. He grabbed a shield off one of his slain men, and attempted to use it to ward off Nuada's furious blows, as the High King of the children of Dana rained blow after blow upon the barbarian with his gleaming sword. With all the strength in his left arm, Nuada delivered so hard of a blow to Streng's shield that it cleaved the shield in half and bit deep into Streng's shoulder. This was ironic and just, since it was by cleaving Nuada's own shield that the barbarian had managed to sever not just Nuada's right hand but his right arm along with it. And so did Nuada well avenge his maiming, for following this he did continue to rain strikes down upon his great enemy, until the champion of the foe was even more unbalanced than before. Streng was said to have dropped his heavy mace at that point, for under such harassment he could not possibly manage to swing it whilst also rummaging about the battlefield looking for a new shield to defend himself with. “Give me a weapon I can use with a shield in hand, oh gods, and I may yet win this day!” he screamed, but all the weapons lying about were of a sort that was too heavy to be of any use. The spears were all broken, the swords shattered, and with but a shield in hand... Streng knew that he was doomed. For Nuada sought his life, and at last he claimed it.
Meanwhile, the Fir Bolg king himself went forth to fight, but soon he became tremendously thirsty... for the druids employed by the Tuatha de Danann to work against him had been cunning, and in the use of their craft and skills as strategists they had managed to either poison or hide all of the water sources that the Fir Bolg had been making use of previously throughout the war. Soon, the Fir Bolg and all of their armies were without water of any kind, with many of them resorting to drinking blood, which was proving to be a poor and ill-chosen substitute. He fled with haste to the shoreline of Beltra, and there he became separated from his soldiers, who were all ambushed and killed, leaving him alone to face the goddess of death herself, who came to take his head. “I am called The Morrigan.” said she unto him, a predator's look in her eyes. She was surrounded by a great cloud of ravens, and she willed them to harry him, pecking and slashing at his body with their beaks and claws until he was brought to his knees. It was only after that, that she decided to be merciful and slay him. She unsheathed her great black sword, said to be able to slay any living thing, and with it she took both his life and his soul. The war was over.
The Morrigan then came to the front lines of the battle in the west, and she told all present of the fate of the Fir Bolg king. Her news came immediately upon the barbarians discovering that their champion Streng had been brutally slain by Nauada, who held Streng's head high with his left hand, showing it for all to see. “I am avenged at last!” proclaimed Nuada fiercely. The Fir Bolg surrendered immediately, all of them that remained to do so, and they admitted at last that they had met their match. “Never have we seen folk who fight with a might surpassing our own! Nor a lust for battle equal to ours. We will bend the knee to your two terrible and glorious kings, and so become citizens of your lands, pleased to obey your laws if only we will be allowed to live in peace if we do so.” And they were allowed to do so, and what is more they were allowed to collect the remains of their king and raise a cairn on the site that they chose for his burial place. Bes and Nuada were impressed by how powerful Streng had been, but were dismayed by the enemy king's cowardice, glad that he met his end with fitting disgracefulness. And so they decided to allow the remaining Fir Bolg people to choose for themselves a single territory to call their own, but one that would be still bound by our two kingdoms' laws. The Fir Bolg chose the region of Connacht, which was back then called “Coiced Ol nEchmacht”, where men thus traced descent from Streng and his people until quite late into history. And on seeing that peace had been established, I laid down my weapons and persecuted the Fir Bolg no more. Deirdre... would have been pleased to see the land restored to such a state; and I allowed my anger and my fury to cease mastering me. I retreated for some time after that to my tower at Ynys Gwydr, and did not emerge until I had come to terms with the darkness and evil of what I had allowed myself to do in the name of the justice that I had so sought. “It was vengeance, not justice... plain and simple.” I explained to my wife ere I set out for my tower. “Until I can learn to tell the difference henceforth, I need to spend some reasonable time in deep thought, and thereafter try to determine just what sort of a ruler it is that I am, anymore. What it is... that I even am!”
And there was among the scientists and physicians of the Tutha de Danann a skilled man by the name of Dian Cecht, who it was said could fashion new limbs out of metal, mechanical parts for those in true need of such. He was like unto the man who had transformed me, but unlike that man he was honorable and had principles that prevented him from seeking to abuse the technologies he employed. Using all of his craft and art, he fashioned for my ally and fellow king, Nuada, a new arm made from a material that was unique to his people. Like unto silver it was, but stronger and more flexible to work with by far. It had thus been made to transpire, that Nuada henceforth became known as Nuada Airgetlam, which thus meant: “Nuada of the Silver Hand”. However... his chief advisor, the prophetess Brigid who claimed to speak for the gods of Nuada's people, proclaimed that no one who had so much as a blemish upon their bodies could rule as High King of the Tuatha de Danann. Thus, was Nuada deemed unfit to continue to rule over his own lands. Another election was held, for that was their way, and the children of Dana had voted almost unanimously for Bres to become their next High King, for he had distinguished himself as a great hero during the war against the Fir Bolg. Also, he really was a natural choice to lead the children of Dana, because he was partially of their bloodline as much as he was partially of Fomor ancestry. We all thought for certain that his well deserved coronation as the rightful High King over all the Tuatha de Danann would in turn lead to deeper and stronger ties between our two kingdoms, leading to a land that would be more united than ever before. I was kept up on all of those events, and although I was unable to attend the coronation ceremony for Bres, I still kept in touch with him and told him that I was proud of him for having achieved something so grand. “You have gone from being my voice in the world, to having a voice of your own that others will heed, even as they bend the knee to you in love and loyalty. You are a credit to both your peoples, High King Bres, and I have no doubt that you will bring honor to all of us in greater and greater amounts, in the years to come.” And those were the words I wrote upon a special tablet that was given to him by one of my messengers on the day following the coronation itself.
The tower was cold and dark in the lower pits, and I only went down into them when I wished to be alone to commune with the spirit of Deirdre, which oft I would call hither using arts of necromancy, so that I might not feel so alone. For only her spirit gave me comfort during the long months that followed. I had a lock of her hair that she had once given me as a gift of love, and it was with this that I called her to the chamber set aside for such rituals. I learned this rite from a sorcerer of the Tuatha de Danann race and the specific steps he had bade me to follow never failed me. The diagrams upon the floor, etched in white chalk... the protective circle in the middle, just in case something else should come through from the other world, and the blood from my own left palm, offered up in sacrifice to the gods who preside over the domains of the dead. All of this, in that chamber that smelled so strongly of earth and stone, I did make certain was perfect. I was half mad on this occasion, with grief over thinking about some of the innocents I had slain during my campaign against the Fir Bolg. They had not known the things that their own warriors had done, the horrible and grotesque things that I had punished them for. I found that I was able to forgive the Fir Bolg people, but to my shame I could not forgive myself. “All of this, my love, I did for you! To avenge you... I keep on seeking vengeance for you... but you are avenged many times over, and would not wish for me to seek further bloodshed on your behalf. What should I do... if and when the madness, the blood lust, takes me over once again. Only you ever truly calmed me... only you ever truly knew me and understood me. Even my own wife does not know me like you did! How am I to continue living... like I am now, in this twisted form... without you to help me bear it.” and in a fury born of deepest sorrow and loneliness, I slashed at my naked body with a ceremonial dagger that was shaped like a curved serpent. I cut myself in countless places... letting my blood fly this way and that, and letting some of it drip unto the floor of the summoning chamber. In pain and agony from this, I cast the dagger away, crying and sobbing as I mouthed words of power in an attempt to focus my will and clear my thoughts. But my thoughts were dark indeed! And filled with sadness. Unable to deal any longer with my grief, I picked up a nearby whip and lashed myself with it across my back repeatedly... sometimes putting it down and beating myself with my hands across my chest, across my breasts and my ribs, striking my abdomen as well until I was in such pain that I coughed from it. But my body was strong, and it was hard to hurt it even with all my strength. I had become a monster, at least in my mind, and I hated even the act of living during that time, feeling as I did. And part of me felt guilty... for I did very dearly love my wife, the sweet Kar'mila Crom-Cruach who even now suffered in loneliness as she awaited my return from this self-imposed exile of mine. She was loyal, faithful, kind and good... and I should have been at her side on this occasion, rather than attempting to disturb the rest of the dead. In every way imaginable, I should have been happy and content. And my inability to be happy, to be able to allow myself to be content, was consuming me at last. I was so guilty, of so much! And I decided in that moment of self revelation to punish myself for it. I visited such punishment upon my body, that ere it was over I was flat on my face upon the floor, my nose in the chalk and my mind racing with myriads of images and thoughts, all of them awful to bear. “Deirdre!” I screamed, adding: “What indeed, is this thing that I have let myself become?” and then as if hearing my prayers for an answer, I felt a hand on my right shoulder. I did not look, because I feared what I might see, and instead I waited to see who or what it might be. “Balor!” whispered a familiar voice, and I knew it was the voice of The Morrgian, of she who was a manifestation of death itself. She had come to our shores with grim purpose, among the peoples of the Tuatha de Danann. She had slain a king who no one thought could be beaten, a king who had become a coward. And now... she was here. She whispered unto me: “Balor! I know why it is that you suffer... but Deirdre is happy in the domains of the blessed, where she waits for you faithfully. But she does not want you to suffer any longer! She wants you to love your wife with as much passion and adoration as you had loved her. She wants you to accept what you are now as the second chance at life that it is, and not be filled with self-loathing any longer. Do you, desire life... or crave death... Balor?”
And I got to my knees and turned around to look at her, just to make sure she was real and that I had not gone mad from the tortures I had done unto myself. She was there indeed! I could see her in the dim torchlight very clearly. She was about six and a half feet tall, and wearing a black gown that seemed to rustle and shimmer a bit when she moved about. The gown was in the ancient Greek style, which was a very different sort of style of dress compared to what was worn traditionally by the women of the Elves. And whether Tuatha de Danann or Fomor, we were all still Elves by blood. But not The Morrigan! She was something more primal, more ancient by far. Her skin was chalk white, her almond shaped eyes jet black and with no trace of white in them whatsoever. Yet they sparkled as if they contained stars within them! She was slender and quite athletically built, with small breasts like those of a teenage girl. Full were her lips, and plump. Her cheekbones were high and pronounced, and she had laugh lines though I could not picture anything more terrifying, yet also beautiful, than witnessing her laugh. She was just as known for being a warrior goddess as a death goddess, and so much about her was familiar to me. “Did we know each other once, goddess?” I asked of her, and she said unto me in a warm manner: “Oh, how well we did, Balor! I was known as Lilith then, and by other names after that... until the great cataclysm caused all the world to change and robbed even the immortals of their immortality. Except for me! For I am needed to remain immortal, allowed only to incarnate as a mortal when there is need for me to learn or experience something important from a mortal's perspective. How far have the Elves fallen since the days of ancient Kalaborea! And yet, how magnificent you all still are. Though doomed to one day die, you... like humanity also... pour so much passion and fury into your brief lifespans! If only you knew... that you waste in war, time better spent in love. But this war that we fought... we had no choice. It was needed for us to win! But there are costs yet to be paid, and I wonder if all shall be well after all. Even I do not know the future, though all the past and present lie open to my eyes to behold. I can tell you that your wife is right now pining for you, weeping for your absence whilst you torture yourself in this way over one who now knows only bliss. Go to her once you and I are done here, Balor! Go to her, and do not waste your life in sorrow any longer, for it can be shorter than you realize sometimes.” and I got to my feet, though my legs were in pain even as augmented as they were. I regarded the goddess with my ears filled with tears and my lips quivering, my right hand shaking nervously. She was barefoot, and not attired like a queen, but even so I knelt down on one knee before her. “Lilith...” I said, and I was not at all lying when I said to her after that: “I remember you. I remember... us, and all that we once were. I ask that you forgive me... for what I have done. I have done... evil, terrible, cruel things. All for love!” and she strode forward and wrapped her arms around me, whispering: “I know, my love! I know all you did for me... and for Deirdre... and for others down through the ages, in life after life, in age after age.” She then kissed my cheek and said sweetly, her voice rising in tone a bit: “I know... and I forgive you, simply because you did do it all for love! Some kill for sport... others for power... others for no reason at all. But whenever you snuffed out a life, it was for love. Tell me... because I know that you do in fact remember me and all that we once were to each other... do you still love me, Samael?” and she spoke to me... one of my most ancient names of all. I gazed into those black eyes, and was lost in them for some time ere I answered her. I admitted at last, weeping as I did so: “Yes, Lilith! I do, love you... still. I had thought you lost to me, over the ages. And... I would do anything you asked me to, whatsoever it might be. What is your desire, my beloved?” How had I not noticed before that this was she? I had seen her in the land many times... since the children of Dana arrived. She bade me get to my feet and she wrapped her pale arms about my waist and gazed deep into my eyes, all three of them, as she said lovingly: “You are to go back to Tara, and love your wife as never before... a daughter will be born from it, for this has been foretold would come to pass! Your daughter will so bear a child in turn, and that child will be how you and Deirdre shall be reunited at last. I will become your new voice in the land, and your advisor at court. Also, your lover when we both desire it! My sword, and heart, are yours eternal.” So it all began.