Thursday, 16 October 2008

The first to walk this land.

Many years ago, a young woman stood upon a distant shore. She stood upon the brow of a hill. Behind her the land sloped down into a valley with a river running through it. When she saw the ships she remembered the last time ships came and turned to the village. Taking a deep breath, she ran as fast as she could. Near the bottom of the hill she lit a fire, she began to yell. People stood up and looked. Hearing the note of fear in her voice, they ran to the centre of the village.

At the centre of the village was a large house, not the chief's house, not a meeting house either. This was the house of the wise woman. The chieftain consulted the wise woman and the people waited. There was talking, then raised voices, one of them full of despair. The chieftain came from the house, her head hanging low.

"They that are coming will slaughter us and steal our land for themselves. We must leave and go to the Caverns of Light now. The time will come when we shall return to the land and the newcomers will not know us," she told them.

"Perhaps the wise woman is wrong and they come in peace," a man said hopefully.

The chieftain looked at him and shook her head with a sigh. She commanded them to gather all their belongings and go to the Caverns of Light. This they did while their chieftain took her finest warriors and prepared to fight for her people. They prepared their chariots and armed themselves with hosts of arrows. She sent a messenger to the neighbouring tribes to warn them of the invaders and gathered her warriors among the woods in the valley. It almost broke her heart to watch her people leaving their homes and heading inland with the wise woman leading the way.

The invaders let the tide and the momentum of their oarstrokes carry their long ships up onto the beach, leaping to the land and drawing their weapons. They did not know this land and it seemed strange to them. Still, they pulled their ships up on the pale sands and gathering together they advanced up the slope of the hill towards the brow of the hill. When they reached the crest of the hill they gazed down hungrily upon the village they saw there and quietly moved down towards it. The silence un-nerved them, they expected battle and found only quiet. When the chieftain and her warriors charged the invaders in their chariots, the invaders were almost relieved. They understood battle and prepared to fight.

The chieftain and her warriors rode in silence. They drew their bows and launched a rain of arrows upon the invaders. The invaders raised their shields but to their horror their shields turned to stone and fell upon their bearers crushing them. This happened four times after which, their shields shattered and fell to the ground.

Now the chieftain, sure that her people had reached safety raised her spear and shouted out their battle cry. She turned her chariot to the distant hills and rode away. Her warriors followed her, the last of them loosing their arrows at the great wooden bridge as they went. The invaders charged, delirious at this retreat and intent on slaughter. But the bridge caught fire and fell into the broad river taking the invaders with it. All they could do was swim back to the shore and shout at the chieftain.

In the Caverns of Light, the chieftain found her people settling there along with the neighbouring tribes. The chieftains of all the tribes gathered together with their wise women and parleyed long into the night. After some time, they left the caverns and using the ancient magicks of their ancestors, they went among the invaders. They left their stories and songs. They fought those who would forget them and deride them. This was their land after all, Tir Nan Og and they would not give up their culture without a fight. After some time, the wise women called the chieftains together and told them that the invaders would leave and would never return again. The return to their lands and villages could happen again the following morning. The chieftains gathered and elected a chieftain to lead the gathered tribes. This chieftain sent her peers to their people to give them the decision of the wise women.

That day, the invaders were themselves invaded and enslaved. Their captors had set foot on Tir Nan Og all of them but one boy and were soon to realise their folly. When the invaders and their captors left the land and set foot on their ships, all of them aged suddenly and turned to dust that scattered upon the ocean. The boy returned home as best he could, full of fear and shock.

His family and friends would not believe him, but as he grew he became very wealthy and told the tale to his children and grandchildren. The children and grandchildren passed on the tale to their offspring and soon they too left their homeland and moved abroad to another country that was not their own. One of these great-great grandchildren went among the natives of the land and learned their language and their culture. He told them the tale of his ancestor and many years later when his own grandchildren were grown, they built a museum for the native peoples. If you enter the museum, the first thing you see is a large metal wall with the words;

"As you take your next step,
remember the first people
who walked this land."

As for the people of Tir Nan Og, nobody has seen them since those first invaders. Their island has entered the ancient legends of the Britons and nobody knows where the island is or might be. The chieftain, her peers and people are very grateful for it. They do not know that the wise women use their magicks every day to keep the island hidden.


Ruth said...

Yet again another great story.

I can't say I was ever told about shops in my tummy :) I was tossing the 20p up and down, and my sister made me jump and I managed to swallow it some how. I think I prefer your version.

I am enjoying my course, its fantastic thankyou :D

Griffin said...

Good to know you're having fun Ruth. I know I loved doing my first degree in Art History and Lit. Studies.

Managing to swallow a 20p while jumping is a circus trick worth knowing!

Ruth said...

Regarding the coffee bag bag:
The coffee bags are plasticy on the outside, and silvery/foily on the inside. I didn't open them out, I just basically flattened them, overlapped the edges, and did a mixture of zig-zag and straight stitch over it.
It worked even better than I thought it would, hope yours goes well :)

madameshawshank said...

The Land of the Young ..I discovered.. a little more and I came across this:

"spend their days feasting, gaming, love-making and partaking of beautiful music. The faeries can even enjoy the thril of battle, for anyone slain is resurected the following day. It is the paradise that mortals can only dream of."

ah, the various paradises of which we dream..almost a case of be careful what you wish for, you just might get will listen AND give you a little more..:-) life and its games...

the plaque I came across at my nephew's high school..I find the whole idea of country quite challenging..of borders..with travel we learn of our diversity as humans...with migration..I'm an Australian because an ancestor stole two horses..he was condemned to death, however was sent to Australia husband is an Australian because his family left Germany shortly after the war..our history as humans has us moving moving moving...'n that presents challenges a plenty...


at times I think of being far in space and looking back to Earth..the gorgeous marble..'n then I get to reflect on all the stories..all six and a half billions stories..

rich in detail..

those shields that looked so protective..and stone..