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Image for the poem Otherworldly Memories Part VIII: The Final Battle

Otherworldly Memories Part VIII: The Final Battle

- Otherworldly Memories Part VIII: The Final Battle -

  There she was, reclining like the queen she was, upon a comfortable divan near the clear glass pane of one of the windows... out of which she had craned her neck around to look out of curiously for just a bit before she noticed our arrival in her presence. It was Ethniu alright, but she was indeed totally changed. Her skin now had a more yellowish tone to it, though it was still well tanned... and her sparkling green eyes had a very wild, wide look to them that made her seem somewhat unhinged. Her cheerful face was round, and she so seemed to be smiling brightly, even though her teeth were all filed unto pointed fangs now that appeared very sharp looking. Her full, moist lips were blood red... and, I should not have been surprised if she was truly using actual blood, in order to anoint them in this way. She still wore her gold nose ring in her elegant looking, aquiline nose... the same exact shape of nose that I and Lugh both had as well. Like the green eyes, a family trait! Along with the almond shape of her eyes. She was both full figured and exceedingly lovely, and though she was somewhat older now than when she and I had first come to dwell in this remote tower together... she still looked very much beautiful and still lovely to my eyes. Despite the fact that she was now covered with countless ritual scars, and tribal tattoos, and other markings that were common to the Ur'kril folk. Her face, had a series of scars in the shape of lines cut into it... horizontal scars that were small and which were cut across her nose from the bridge on down to just above the tip. Above where her eyebrows had been, which were shaved off now, there were two curved arches that were also scars, and two that were beneath her eyes... and which ran from both sides of her nose down and around her cheekbones. She had metal stud piercings on both sides of her nose bridge, and her ears were now pierced to accommodate three pairs of small gold loop earrings. Her hair was all in dreadlocks and braids now, and she looked very wild and tribal. She wore a tight sleeveless outfit not too different from a leotard, which buttoned in the front and was black in color... thus her legs and arms were bare, and I could see just how muscular they, and she, had become. Her feet rested upon a small pile of skulls that lay heaped about the floor in front of the divan. “Welcome home, beloved!” she said happily, her voice soft and sweet but with a strange accent to it. The accent that all Ur'kril had when they tried to speak languages other than their own native tongue. She had embraced fully, her new heritage as an Ur'kril and appeared very comfortable in her role as their matriarch. “You all look at me so surprised! Calatin, you have seen me looking this way before, so your shock I think is feigned. But truly, Balor my love! My soulmate... your surprise is amazing to me since you have seen so much very darker things in your travels both in this world and in the other world. And Lugh... my son! Have you, in all your days, never seen an Ur'kril woman before? Where were you raised, in a cave! Oh, don't you be frowning now, I am only teasing you. Son... brother. Both! Oh, did you know? I am Balor's daughter as well as his true wife. Not his fake wife like my mother, the bitch queen of Tara that she is! You have to love how... complicated our little family is. You know Lugh my boy, they do say that children born of incest... are sometimes born insane! Are you insane, young man? If so, welcome... you will fit right in, in our little slice of Hell here.” She then rose to her feet, kicking the skulls out of her way before then gliding with a dancer's grace over to me. “Beloved... father... my all, my everything! It has been a very, very long time since I last held you in my arms. I have been very lonely, waiting for you! How about we have the boy and the old man go, and we can try and make some more babies, eh? How about we make a whole litter of them, and we can found a new dynasty through them and their descendants. Sound like fun to you, father? I'm always game!” and she licked my face like an animal might, before grabbing my crotch lewdly, and chuckling in the same way as a harlot laughs. She then clapped her hands upon her hips and proclaimed: “These are child bearing hips! That is what my mother always said of hers... the rotten cow that she is. When do I get to kill her, my love? I want so badly, to kill that bitch, for what she did to poor Deirdre. We used to be so close, Deirdre and I! We inhabited the same skin for a while. But she is gone now, and it is just me here. Poor, lonely little Ethniu. So everyone, out... except for Balor!”

  And Calatin motioned for Lugh to come with him, leaving me alone with my clearly insane daughter. I know that the old druid would make certain my son was shown about and made comfortable with this place, and the two of them seemed to be quickly becoming friends. Though knowing Calatin I could not really understand why Lugh seemed to like him. Perhaps he merely tolerated him! If so, he was a better sort than I was, for I loathed Calatin even though I respected his accomplishments as the most powerful dark druid in the entire country of Eriu. I looked deep into Ethniu's eyes, and felt like I was looking into them for the first time. “What happened, sweet one? Whatever made you choose this way of life!” and she sat back down on the Divan and motioned for me to sit next to her, patting the seat with her hand. I did exactly that, and put my arm around her, holding her close, as she began to cry. She said tome with tears flowing from her eyes: “Oh darling! Father... my love... I thought for certain, as the days passed, and then passed again, and I cannot count how many months those days became. Or was it years? It is so hard to remember anymore! But I was certain, that you were either dead, slain by some enemy, or in truth unable to return having passed once again into the other world in search of our son. For how could I be certain the boy was not taken there? And I knew if he was, you would follow him and find a way... any way that you could... to bring him back home to me once again. But I feared for such a course! And I worried it might mean you may never return... or, knowing the realm of Faerie as I do, you could just as well return years or even centuries later, or long after we are all dead and gone. With yourself and if the gods be good our son as well not even having aged a day! And so I sacrificed to terrible gods, and did magic of the blackest sort, and I walked in places I cannot speak of, emerging from it all changed. I saw things, visions of the future, and knew you would come back to us, though fearing it may be only a dream I despaired and heard a voice that told me the day of your return would coincide with a very dark and specific conjunction of the stars and planets in the heavens. And lo! Our astronomers witnessed just such an event last night, before today came and you arrived. One of the vision I witnessed however, it seems, was a vision of your death! Your death, father... beloved... at the hands of our son Lugh. He will turn on us, and he will seek to end your life in the service of king Nuada, whose poisonous words make his mind dance with many dark imaginings. All across the lands of Eriu, they call you a demon king and there are many who seek to slay you because of the lies of that fool Bres, whose disgrace started the war we are now embroiled in. For the children of Dana hate us, thinking you were the reason for all that the idiot Bres did! They do not know how selfish and foolish he was, and I doubt that Lugh knows the truth of things. Unless you told him?” and I replied to her sweetly, explaining: “Actually I did tell him! I told him the whole truth, and explained to him that both Bres and Nuada are liars and that Nuada is trying to use the lies he has told our son in order to keep him loyal to him, and to him alone. For, Nuada fears to lose Lugh to us, since being as powerful, mighty, and great as our son has become... and oh he has truly become great, my love... with him fighting both for us and for our very kingdom, the Tuatha de Danann would surely be defeated. The boy is conflicted at the moment, and trying to come to terms with many, many hard truths and even harder choices that he must make. For though he has sworn an oath to Nuada he is still our child, and blood of family and kin is still stronger than even the blood spilled and shared during the swearing of the most solemn oaths of loyalty. He will choose us, I believe!” and Ethniu said to me as we kissed passionately: “I am happy that I chose you, to be my love! Though it was forbidden. I like doing forbidden things, father. Teach me more such things.” and I ran my hand along her thighs. It felt so good to touch them once again. “I will!” I promised her, and we two then made a ferocious sort of love, but it was of a sort whereby no child would be born from our coupling. It was good to be back from my journey, and I promised my love that I would not leave again save only if the war required me to go forth and fight on the field myself. If Lugh were to join us, that would not be necessary, for I was certain he could lead our forces to victory should be pledge himself to become my personal champion. I could not see any reason why a son should not wish to defend his family's honor! And so, I felt content.

   When I emerged from the chambers of my beloved, which were my chambers too once again, I felt a sense of contentment, hope, and happiness that I had not experienced in a very long time. I sought out Calatin, who could not be found anywhere. I was eager to ask him where Lugh was, but was irritated at the fact that he did not seem to be in the tower anywhere. I went out to the gatehouse and asked of the guards there if Calatin had left, and they said unto me: “Aye! He left not an hour previous, chasing at the heels of your son if I am not mistaken, who was running off like a madman. They went that way!” the guard said, pointing off to the south. “Thank you, guard! I will try and find them.” I shouted up, and ran back into the tower to tell Ethniu what it was that I intended to do. “Go! Bring our son back to us... and this time, put chains on him if you have to.” she commanded me, and I bowed to her, for she had a very powerful presence to her now that made me feel obedient to her will, and then I ran off as fast as I could go. And with my mechanical, enhanced legs I could go very far indeed, very fast. I used my third eye and its' various vision modes to track the heat signature of the two men's footprints, and I knew that I could, if necessary, follow them as far as they could go. And thus I did, chasing after the tracks across the length and breadth of the countryside before me. South I journeyed in this way, trying not to allow myself to tire, but even so having to stop occasionally to rest. I was not in disguise, so I had to be very careful not to be noticed by any patrols from the kingdom of the Tuatha de Danann. Southward wound the trail, and the day was gloomy and it looked like it might rain at any moment. I was now well within the neutral domain between the borders of my kingdom and that of the children of Dana... in the same part of the land where Calatin had discovered my son. There, the trail ended, with a pool of blood. It was Calatin's blood, and the old man lay crumbled in a heap by a stretch of tall pine trees near the side of one of the main roads. His wrinkled face looked pained, his wispy white hair... what remained of it in his extreme old age... was also matted with blood. His walking staff was broken, the wood of it in many splinters, and it appeared that someone wanted to make very certain he could not walk any further. His legs were broken, as was one of his arms. “Who did this to you, Calatin?” I asked him, as I looked over his injuries to see if I could stop his bleeding and be of any help to him. But his injuries were horrific! His legs were broken in multiples places, and his arm was not simply broken, it was bent backwards too far and had snapped nearly off at the elbow because of it. Someone had cut the tendons of his legs also, and one of his feet looked like it was almost severed. His face had sustained a beating, and I knew that he was dying. The tales of his immortality were only stories after all. “It was your son... who did this to me, Balor! It was Lugh himself, and no other. He said he could not bear to remain in that tower and see what his mother had become... and thought you mad for continuing to love her as you do. For him, I do think seeing with his own eyes what she has done to herself... and knowing that you tolerate it... had but served to confirm for him the stories Nuada told him, about you. That you are a demon, after all! For is that not... what your beloved Ethniu... has transformed herself into? You are... both... demons! And you have lost your very own son, because of it. It is... your own... fault. Even as dark as I am... and as evil as I have been... and I have been, quite very evil! Even I, would never sink... into such utter darkness.” and as he said that the old man began to cough up blood and smile at me cruelly. He was on his way out, but could be dying like this for hours. Killing him would be merciful at this point... and pleasurable. For he hated me, and had always hated me even though he served me. And... I hated him! Even more now that he voiced with his dying breath, his true thoughts about Ethniu and I. He spared nothing as he went on and on with his angry ranting about how much he hated my daughter. “She is savage, cruel, and wicked in ways no woman I have ever heard of before could be! She drinks... blood... and eats the flesh of men and women whom she sacrifices upon her black altars. She plays with bones like children do with toys, and she keeps spiders and snakes for pets. What... what makes you still... love... a creature such so vile in her ways and as... mad and twisted... as she?” I said to him honestly: “Because I see who she still is inside, despite all of that! And I do love her still, for who she truly is within. Not... for what she does.”

   Because... that is how you know when love is true. When you are willing to look past all of a person's flaws, faults and failings, and forgive them for all their mistakes, and sins... and love them still, with if anything more passion and adoration than ever before. Never less! Someone like Calatin, who was ever a lonely, cowardly, pitiful sort of man despite his fearsome reputation as a dark druid... such as he could never comprehend true love. He said no more, and spat up more blood and mucus as he looked at me in a way that said: “I have always despised you.” and it was that look finally that drove me to take his life. I walked over and said to him: “Farewell, Calatin! I hope that when you get to the other world, that the realms of the dead are more forgiving with you than I was. Because for all you just said about she who I love above all others in this world... I am going to make your death slow, and painful. Not merciful, as I had at first intended! You are not worthy, of mercy.” And I began by cutting off his left ear and blinding him in his left eye. Hours later, he was no longer recognizable as anything human. The dagger I had on me, which I used, was sharp... and I used it with an artist's precision as I tortured the dark druid. Had I not cut out his tongue fairly early on, he would have been surely trying to mutter curses and spells of all sorts against me. But I had robbed him of the ability to voice any incantations. At some point after I had flayed both of hands, and half of his face, and began to violently pull out what remained of his hair... he passed out from the blood loss. I hit him repeatedly to keep him awake, and continued to cut into him, ending with blinding his right eye and cutting off his right ear. “Now we have come full circle!” I said to him, and proceeded to slit his throat clear across. I cut off his face after that, what flesh remained on it, and left him where he lay for the wild animals to devour. It is said in many tales, that a dark druid by the name of Calatin still walked the land in days long after the Tuatha de Danann and the Fomor had so vanished into the mists of history. But one thing was certain! It was not this Calatin, and if it was then it was his reincarnation. For, I had slain this man and sent his soul screaming into the realms of the dead. I never caught up with Lugh, so lost was I in punishing Calatin for having offended me. His tracks went beyond the border of the lands of the children of Dana, where I could never follow. And so I went back to the tower where my daughter... my beloved... awaited me. Back to Ynys Gwydr, where I could try to heal my wounded heart, and ease the torment that I knew Ethniu would be feeling inside when I so told her of Calatin's venomous words and how Lugh had wholly turned against us. Our son was lost to us in a way that was far more terrible by any means... than when we were simply thinking him to be missing. For now we knew that there was no chance at all of him ever coming back to us again. And he would be more determined than ever to lead Nuada's forces unto a final victory against us. Ethniu did not take the news well at all, and seeing the fullest extent of just how deeply his running away had actually affected her... causing her to despair of him and having to give him up as if he were dead to us... it began to also break my heart, which I had hardened against Lugh upon learning of his hatred for us. For whenever it caused my beloved Ethniu to cry, it made me cry as well... for I remembered the little boy Lugh used to be, and how he was in so many ways a ray of hope for the land. Now, he was the hope of only one half of the land! And the other, his true homeland, mourned for having lost him to the enemy. Even the evil High Queen of Tara... Kaitlin the Crooked... wept upon hearing what the loss of our son had done both to myself and to Ethniu, who was still Kaitlin's daughter after all. She came to our tower, in person, to offer her sympathy, and to apologize formally for everything she done against us in the past. She made sacrifices there to our alien gods, for I too became an adherent of the Ur'kril religion following Lugh's rejection of us... and their gods were now my gods. And she prayed for the soul of Deirdre, whom she had slain in bygone days, and did not know that the soul and spirit of Deirdre was no longer in the body of her daughter. When Ethniu told her that Deirdre was no longer there... Kaitlin became depressed and despondent, for she wished to make amends in person. But she had come too late to beg Deirdre for any sort of forgiveness. But Ethniu did find it in her heart to forgive her... and thereupon did Kaitlin choose to step down from her position as High Queen, passing the title and honor to Ethniu. Our lives changed.

   Tara was now no longer the main seat of power in all the land, for we had chosen after that to instead make Ynys Gwydr the new heart of our kingdom. With its' remote location and extensive fortifications, as well as its' vast army of Ur'kril warriors and champions, it was a place that we knew could never be taken by the enemy. Tara was still the historical heart of the kingdom, but now Ynys Gwydr became the political and military heart of it. Even with all his skill and guile, Lugh would never be able to take the tower and live to tell of it! For there were metal automatons being created who would crush him like a fly if he tried to best them physically... and the defenses that were added to the gatehouse were of lethal cunning and ingenious design. The bridge was designed to be collapsed... which would cut off the only means of reaching by land the isle upon which the tower sat. And, in those waters around the tower, we chose to station our navy, in all of its' strength and might. Countless, were the sails of our long ships... their dragon head prows gazing out defiantly and ferociously, like wolves waiting to devour the foe. On them were a multitude of our warriors, and their sea rover allies, who of old had been close allies of the Ur'kril and which were welcome in their armies as equals. All around the tower, all about the isle upon which it sat, were Ur'kril camps and watchtowers... and every road and path was guarded, with many checkpoints to be crossed before ever even reaching the base of the tower. And within the tower, which had become many times larger the more we fortified it... and we kept on fortifying it just in case... there did await our elite warriors, our noblest and fiercest champions, and war beasts the likes of which not even the children of Dana had ever faced before. Once the automatons were finished, we intended to test them on the front lines, where the fighting had resumed once Lugh had arrived back at the court of his master Nuada. And there, the enemy would be given a glimpse of our true power! Over all the tents and towers, and from the masts of the ships of our fleet, and from the highest pinnacles of our tower... there did fly the banner of the Green Eye, which had become my personal symbol. It had also become the national symbol of the Fomorian kingdom, and it instilled great pride in our people, as well as the most dread despair in our enemies. I intended to go in person to test the automatons, to see for myself what sort of a foe it is we faced. For during the time of my wanderings in search of Lugh, I had not yet personally seen the battlegrounds where the forces of my kingdom met his, nor had I witnessed how it was that they waged war against us. All I knew was what I recalled from the days when we all fought as one against the Fir Bolg... but those were different days, and required different tactics. On the day when I was about to set forth, as fate would have it the miserable fool who had started this entire conflict had deigned to show up at my doorstep. Bres... the disgraced former High King of the children of Dana had decided to seek me out at last. He was a skinny man now, and it was raining when he arrived seeking an audience with me. The moment the guards at the gate mentioned his name, I knew it was ill fortune for all of us! Even so, I longed to meet him and confront the traitor myself with his misdeeds. As he was let into the tower, he was shivering and clutching his brown cloak about him, trying keep his tunic warm as he removed his soaked sandals. His face, formerly beautiful, was now ratlike and lean... he was like a walking skeleton, so emaciated he was, and his black hair was plastered to his head from the torrential rain. “You pick a fine day to go to war, master!” he cried out to me as I approached him. “I am not any longer, your master, you disgusting worm! You lied about me to your people... for you are of my folk no longer... and because of your greed, we are now at war with them. With they who should be our friends! You have poisoned the very land with your tongue, and now you have the nerve come here, to the very heart of my kingdom, in order to... do what! Beg for mercy? I will show you less mercy than I did that old fool Calatin, and believe me when I say I was not merciful with him in the least.” I noticed that his black hair was shot through with gray, and there were white streaks through it. He had been living quite the hard and difficult life since his disgrace and exile, and I wondered how it was that this creature was even still alive at all. He said to me nervously: “No, master, I am not here to beg for your mercy. I know all to well, that you have none for traitors like myself. And yes! I was a traitor. A greedy fool... at best!”

   To which I chuckled, evilly, as I said: “Oh foolish little Bres! On that, we can both agree. Now get to the point... before I have you impaled and send your head to Nuada as a peace offering! This would be the first time when your skull might actually prove valuable to anyone but yourself.” and he nervously looked this way and that before saying in a near monotone: “I know where Lugh intends to strike... he wants to lure you out into the field, likely under the deception of a feigned truce... and after that, he had a plan to kill you. He has a special weapon, you see... something I have never seen the like of before. It can be thrown, but it can also cause a great explosion or so they say. An explosion like no other! It has never been tested before, and the plan is to reach your tower and test it either on the tower or on you. If you go forth in person to meet him, you will be killed. So why not send me, instead? I can be your spy, and no one would even recognize me if I wore a mask! If I am killed, it would be no loss to anyone, not even to myself. I am unable to live with the guilt of what I have done against you, master. Give me this one last chance at redemption, please! Or if not... then kill me as you wish. I am unworthy of life, in any case. And cannot contemplate another day living in disgrace.” I then said to him in a severe tone: “Very well, Bres, I will grant you this one final chance to redeem yourself! Go forth with my army to test the automatons on the field. I dislike the rain anyway, it feels strange upon my mechanical parts. If you do survive the coming battle, and if the war machines work after all, then you will have much to report. If you make it back here alive, that is! But if you even think about betraying me again... I will hunt you to the ends of the world, and even beyond it, and I will kill you horribly. You, and any kin you have left as might care about you!” to which he replied fearfully: “My kin? They have disowned me! I tried to go to my father before coming here, and being a Fomorian minor king under your rule... he wanted to slay me on the spot as a traitor to the crown. But I explained everything to him, and told him how sorry I am for what I have done! It is only due to my own rotten greed and bitter hardness, that I was cast out from the kingship I held... but I would not see your kingdom fall because of that. And... if Nuada should be slain in the battles to come, the land would be united under a single ruler. You, master! And there might be a place in a united Eriu for me, should I prove myself loyal enough. My father said you would help to see that the land is made safe, that you would if any could be able to turn the tide that is coming like a dark storm to swallow all that we hold dear. That you would have the courage... to put a stop to Lugh and his power hungry master Nauda! And believe me, master... Nuada has, very much, become drunk with mad thoughts and dreams of driving the Fomor from Eriu and uniting the land solely under himself. Only by your power and knowledge and wisdom can be stop him! Which is why... I only wish to help you now.” And I finished our conversation by warning him: “I commend you for your attempt at loyalty, Bres. But if you wish to live and serve me better... then you must make it more than just an attempt. Go now! And bring me victory this day... or my soldiers will bring me your head.” and that was how he once more did come to serve me, though now as a mere general in my army. A low position indeed for one who was at one time a High King over an entire kingdom. Even so... it was more than he deserved, after his crimes! I did not bother to ask him how he came by the knowledge he possessed about Lugh, for I knew that his methods were sneaky and underhanded, and that he was as treacherous as a serpent. He had his ways of learning things, I was certain, but they would avail him on the midst of battle. And by all accounts he so reached the front lines of the war by late afternoon, and a halt was called to the fighting upon his arrival so that both sides could wait until morning to resume fighting. The automatons he and the warriors who kept watch over him like the dog he was had brought with them were large hulking metal giants that did have no souls or intelligence to them. They were simply constructs designed to do one one thing... to be ordered to fight, to kill the enemy, and to smash everything in their path. They were among the pinnacle of Ur'kril war craftsmanship, and their like had never been made before. Not for this purpose! Of old it was that such were used only for guardians in the Ur'kril's underground cities and dwelling places. But this was the first time that such machines had been constructed solely for the purpose of fighting in war.

   That was the start of the bloodiest chapter in the long saga of the feud between our two kingdoms! It began with the unleashing of the automatons, which decimated all before them quite powerfully. Not a single champion of the Tuatha de Danann could stand before them, and they retreated a good ways after the first battle in which they fought against the machines. Bres sent word to me, of all that occurred on those front lines, and his reports were verified as accurate to the last detail. He was proving a useful sort of tool for me to use, after all. And that was but the first battle of many! More and more we pressed on deep into the territory of the children of Dana, and our Fir Bolg allies kept Nuada's forces busy on other fronts... so that we would not be outflanked by the enemy. Things were going well, during this phase of the war, and there was reason to believe that we could finally overcome those who sought to destroy us, and finally unite the land after all. But we could not have been more wrong! After some time, it seemed to us as if perhaps things were going too easily... the children of Dana put up less and less of a fight, as they retreated from us earlier and earlier during each successive engagement. But before long, there had begun to be signs that they were baiting us into some kind of a trap. Near the very heart of their entire kingdom, as our automatons and armies prepared to launch a final offensive against the enemy, Bres did send word to me that Lugh had taken the field himself, armed with some kind of projectile weapon that no one had ever seen the like of before. The weapon was fired in some way, much like a sling stone or an arrow is launched, and each time one of the automatons was struck... it was first electrocuted and it was then exploded from the inside out. Seeing the destruction of those war machines, our forces tried to fight on all the more fierce, but the weapon Lugh used was too much for them and so we were made to retreat. We kept on retreating, being pushed back all the way to Tara, which by this point was empty for it had been evacuated following the destruction of the automatons. The Fir Bolg likewise retreated, and they wisely went northward to bolster the defenses at the tower there, joining with our elite forces, who welcomed them as brothers and sisters in arms. It was hoped that Lugh would be tricked into going to Tara, for we assumed that he still believed Tara to be the capital city of our kingdom, which in a way it still actually was, though we had divested it of any real military power or political significance. It was a symbolic place only now, but as such it would be a necessary objective in the children of Dana's plan to unify the land under their rule, and theirs alone. Upon finding the city empty, Lugh and Nuadha... for on this occasion the High King Nuada himself went with Lugh... seemed to relax a bit. Nuada sat upon the throne in Tara, and did declare himself to be High King over all of Eriu. Lugh, wishing to humor him in this, was said to have bent the knee in worshipful obeisance to his chosen master. For many days, they did celebrate as if they won the entire war, and no one questioned why it was that there were no forces to meet them in battle once they actually got to Tara. It was because, by them, we had sent a major force into all of the surrounding areas whilst the main army of the Tuatha de Danann had occupied both Tara and the entire region in which the city existed. They were no longer watching the surrounding domains, where we began to gather in greater and greater numbers. Bres had the command of this massive army, and though we lacked the war automatons, we still had great numbers and warriors willing to fight unto the death if necessary in order to protect our kingdom. As the enemy grew complacent, and got deep in their drinking and dancing, and singing and all manner of merrymaking... we closed in and did thereon fall upon them like a storm cloud. Countless warriors of the children of Dana fell that day... before our blades and spears, and in the face of the tide of Fomorian wrath that fell upon their shields. Now it was they who had fallen into a trap! And they had barely enough time to rally in order to meet us and put up a meaningful fight. Bres, I am certain, was expecting to easily slaughter the enemy on that day, and as per my instructions he even attacked at night in order to take as many of the foe by surprise as he could. Several enemy camps were taken that way, with their occupants being slain as they slept or were passed out from drink. And when our forces encircled Tara, to which the surviving enemy forces retreated, it so did appear... that this was to be the final battle at last. We had both Nuada and Lugh cornered in the city.

   I went forth in person, by the swiftest chariot that could carry me hither, in order to personally see to this last phase of our military campaign. A veritable sea of our forces surrounded Tara on all sides, and many had to part for me so that I could stride to the gates of the city, where Bres awaited me. “Master... all is in readiness! We have only to be given the word, and we will enter the city and slaughter all who cower within its' walls.” he said. I called out loudly before the gates: “Nuada of the Silver Hand! I call upon you to answer my personal challenge... let us fight, one and one. Just you and I... and by this act of single combat, we shall decide the fate of this country. For if you win, I give you my word that my folk shall surrender unto you thereafter, and that Bres himself will bend the knee and accept your justice, as well as your authority as High King of all Eriu. But if you should perish... then your folk will surrender unto us, and Lugh must bend the knee and accept my justice and my authority instead. For he is my son, Nuada, and not yours! It is my right, to insist upon this. You need not reply to my challenge, if you feel you are not up to the task... but either way, what transpired here at Tara at this hour will decide the very fate of the entire country.” I already had plans set in motion that were I to fall, then the Ur'kril up at the tower were to board our long ships and get Ethiu away over the sea to one of the other countries where hidden entrances existed that led to the Ur'kril's subterranean cities. Kaitlin wished to join her upon the voyage, and all was agreed upon before I had ever even reached Tara. Everyone was waiting only on the outcome of this battle. I waited for some time... the night birds and night insects made their music, and the stars and moon looked down upon us from the evening skies. It was well past midnight, and I began to wonder if Nuada was even awake to receive my challenge. “I do not think anyone even heard you, oh master, and if they did... they may be ignoring you.” said Bres, and I could not help but wonder if it may be that he was right about this. There was no sound at all from inside the city, and it was as if the place was itself still abandoned. “I like this not, Bres. This stinks of a trap, and all is not what it seems here.” I explained, expressing my deep concerns regarding this situation. I was expecting Nuada to reply soon.

   All of a sudden, there was noise and clamor, and voices from behind the gates of Tara, and the sounds of soldiers rushing about. The gate was opened from within, and striding forth through its' open portals was Nuada Silverhand himself, the High King over all the Tuatha de Danann. He was as tall as ever and as fair to look upon as ever... though more careworn and with a slight shaking in his left hand. His right arm and hand glinted with their silvery shine in the light of the torches and braziers that illuminated the battlefield before the great gates of ancient Tara. The mechanisms that powered it made slight whirring and clicking sounds, for unlike my own mechanical arms and legs his seemed to be powered by cruder means. His eyes were as sky blue as was the tunic he wore, over which was a ceremonial breastplate of find Elvish craftsmanship. He was fair of skin, of hair, and once he was even fair of manner. But time... it had changed him somewhat. He was no longer skinny as once he had been, and was now more bulky and muscular. He had been training a great deal over the years, and he looked like a mighty warrior a lot more than he had in times past. He was seven feet tall, but I was eight feel tall... and we were each very different in our appearances. I loomed over him, my mechanical legs carrying me forth. Over my form, which dwarfed many men, I wore a knee-length black tunic over which I had on a black breastplate of Ur'kril design that made it appear to be made from the scales of a dragon or a great serpent. I so cast off the hooded black cloak I had been wearing... and because Nuada wore no helmet neither did I. My head was shaven and I looked almost alien... with my three mechanical eyes and my lack of eyebrows or any other sort of body hair save for my eyelashes. My arms were also mechanical, and my armor had to be specially designed to accommodate the fact that my back was covered with a ridged exo-spine. I was in body not very muscular, being of average build, but my rib bones were reinforced with metal in a way that would make me a lot more enduring of physical pain that other warriors might be. My entire body had all manner of enhancements, beyond what I at first knew... and I was stronger than any man living.

   For what I lacked in muscle, I now possessed in the terms of sheer mechanized strength and power. I could crush a man's skull with my bare hands, and none could stand against me in contests of arms. My eyes began to glow much brighter, as they did when I became angry... and my slightly tapered ears, an indication that in me the ancient Elvish blood was more diminished than in those whose ears were more pointy... could hear the sounds of my warriors cheering for me. Nuada unsheathed his short sword, and made ready to face me. I had in my hands a large, heavy mace with a round head to it from which many spikes stuck forth. I pressed a hidden button the mace's handle, and several sharp blades emerged from the head as well, adding to the threat that my weapon posed. I smiled at Nuada as I closed in upon him, and prepared to smash and slash him into death. To me, the weapon was light as would be a broom to pick up, and though over my hands I wore a pair of black gauntlets with spiked fingers. “You will die this day. Nuada! When last you faced a giant, you lost your arm. What will you lose now, I wonder?” I said to him, taunting him. He arms shook as he slashed and stabbed at me, the weapon merely glancing off of my breastplate, arms, and legs. He should have known that would not work! He then grew highly desperate, and kept trying to stab or slash at my face, which I blocked easily with the should I had in my left hand. The mace I held in my right hand, the hand that had permanently black skin. I used a trick on him that I knew would work, one I had used sometimes when hunting animals in the forest. I mentally switched my third eye to shoot out of it a laser targeting beam, which oft made it easier to aim with a bow, sling, or throwing spear... only this time, I used it to temporarily blind my opponent, and it worked all too well. “Oh goddess! I cannot see, the devil has blinded me with that accursed eye of his!” and as the High King screamed and clutched his own eyes, he for a moment panicked and dropped his sword by accident. I had already throughout our combat wounded him a great deal, but he had been agile like a great cat. His wounds had been minor, but now he was fully open to my attacks and I used this well to my advantage, swinging my mace down upon him over and over again. The blades slashed his flesh, as the spikes bit into it, only for the balled head of the mace to smash down through his skull and into his neck with such force that it also cracked and smashed a great deal of his spine. He crumpled dead unto the ground, blood spouting and splattering all over as he was at last no more. I held up my mace in my moment of triumph and exclaimed: “Now, who is the High King over all the lands of Eriu?” and that was when Lugh ran forth from the gates screaming terrible oaths of vengeance. “Your reign shall not be a long one, demon! I will never call you father, for you have slain the only man who was truly like unto a father to me. Now honor demands that I must avenge him! And so shall it be...” and before he could say any more, he retreated back behind the walls of Tara and ordered the gates be closed. I ordered my soldiers to begin to besiege the city, but before any of us could act... Lugh had climbed a ladder unto the walls of the gatehouse, and from there he brandished a sort of javelin which had a sling-like apparatus on the bottom of it, with a sharp blade at the top of it. Bres screamed out: “Beware, master! He means to use the weapon that destroyed our automatons. Fall back! Everyone, fall back at once!” and, we did as Bres advised, and were glad to for all of a sudden Lugh pointed the sling end of the javelin at us, and into it he placed some sort of small glowing projectile stone, which clicked and snapped into place. It was unlike any sling I had ever seen, and was more like some sort of advanced rifle. With a press of a button in the middle of the javelin, and having pointed it squarely in our direction, he shot forth from it the glowing stone, which struck the ground before us and caused so powerful an explosion that many of our men were torn apart from it, those who stood too close. And many who were not even that close did suffer burns from the heat of the explosion regardless. Bres and I had managed to get clear of the zone of danger... but I knew that we could not hope to win against such a weapon. “We will not prevail here, my people! Fall back, fall back all the way to the tower. To Ynys Gwydr, where we shall make our final stand against this foe. Let them come to us, if they dare! But we will not die on their terms.” That was the order I gave... and we retreated back to the north amid many more targeted catastrophic explosions.

   Tara was lost to us, all of Eriu was lost to us now, and the only place left for us to defend was now the tower at Ynys Gwydr... where the navy was being prepared to carry off the woman away to safety. I thus watched the dragon long ships depart, and my heart was heavy. I knew where they were bound, and part of me longed to go with them. But I had to remain and fight for our honor! The battle was terrible. All the might of the kingdom of the Tuatha de Danann was arrayed against us, and even with the Fir Bolg at our side and the most elite of all the forces of the Ur'kril, who went forth from the gates of the tower in terrible majesty, it was still hopeless at the last. Our trained war wolves were slaughtered, and all of the other animals and beasts at our disposal were annihilated, and all because of that weapon my son used. It did not matter even if we outnumbered them! And I knew not any longer if we still did... because that weapon was terrible, a relic I knew from the days of Atlantis. Likely found in some ancient tomb or in a barrow that was forgotten about, which Lugh had somehow discovered. But whatever its' origin, it was single handed in destroying our entire army. “Can no one put an arrow in the boy!” I cried out as I did stand upon a high balcony of the tower, overlooking the chaos below. But no one could... for, he was a swift young man, if nothing else. He destroyed the wooden bridge, cutting off any retreat from the isle of Ynys Gwydr for either of our armies, exclaiming: “It looks like we will have to swim to get back to Eriu proper, once we've finished matters here!” and he treated it all like a joke. “Son! Please stop this insanity at once! You are of our blood, not theirs.” I called down to him, but he just looked up at me as I said this and smiled, replying loudly and clearly: “I know that all too well, father! That is why I know I must stop you... look at what you have become... what I have became, because I share your blood. We are both monsters now! Both slaves to the same ancient technologies that once destroyed the world. I do not wish to do this... but I must! Forgive me, please.” I stood still, waiting for him to blast me into oblivion, but then I felt someone pushing me out of the way. “No, husband! You will not die like this, not like this...” and it was Kaitlin, my wife, the former High Queen of our kingdom. She was arrayed in armor fit for a warrior queen, and by the time she looked down at the battlefield Lugh was gone. In his place, was The Daghda, that great old bear of a warrior who had himself once been a High King, only he had been the king over the Tuatha de Danann. The two former monarchs regarded each other with hate in their eyes. “Kaitlin the Crooked! I should have known you'd be ready to defend that monster of a husband of yours.” to which she exclaimed: “Well, if it isn't the old bear himself! Shall I skin you, and present your pelt to my husband?” and before anything else happened, she produced a javelin that she had brought with her, aiming it at The Daghda's head. He was boastful and foolish, taunting her. “Do it, woman! You will miss... for a woman is never the equal of a true man, and a true warrior, in combat.” And he made ready to throw a javelin of his own. They both cast their javelins at once, and both of the weapons hit their mark. Kaitlin's javelin pierced the former king through his right eye, shooting out of the back of his head, mortally wounding him. He lived on as a half wit, because of this injury... only to perish of the wound many, many years later. Kaitlin died instantly, for The Daghda's javelin pierced her heart. I looked into her dead face, and wept for her passing. “I forgive you, for everything, my wife!” I whispered to her, and in a rage I stormed out from the tower to meet my son one final time. “Lugh, you filthy coward! Put down your weapon and face me as your master did. Why do you keep running away from me?” but then he ran forward, holding his javelin in his hand. He pointed the sharp end of it at my face, and said: “I will not need the magic stones, to put an end to your evil!” and he threw the javelin at my third eye with all his might, much quicker than I could hope to deflect it, or dodge it. I dropped my mace, as I felt the weapon pierce my third eye, smashing its' mechanisms... and entering into my brain. Lugh rushed forward and retrieved his weapon, and then he pointed the other end at the tower and with several of the magic stones he destroyed the tower and all of its' under chambers so completely... that to this very day nothing remains of it. All that was left was smoking rubble and shards of glass. As I lay on the battlefield dying of my wound, The Morrigan strode forth with her grim attendants to bear me away.
Kou_Indigo
Written by Kou_Indigo (Kara Lucielle Pythiana)
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