January 24, 2013
01/31/2013 06:23 PM
Grainne, Raudh, and The Morrigan
Grainne the Red Girl
Written by; R.E. L.aka Thorgil Ragnarrsson
Date 3 November 2006
Grainne the Red Girl
Written by; R.E. L.aka Thorgil Ragnarrsson
Date 3 November 2006
Chapter 1) Grainne, Raudh and the Morrigan
Grainne of the Gentle-heart as she was called in her humble home made in the mountains of western Connacht, is the only daughter of a comely beauty named Darine the Red of clan UI' Maine, the daughter to Maine Athramail Fedlimid, one of the seven Maines.
Grainne's father died early in her life over a clan dispute, Fintaan son of the mountain was of the Fir Domnann tribe, descended from Genand son of Dil, son of Loch, of the clan of the sons of Dark of the night country.
After the death of her husband, Darine became a priestess of the Order of Kelles, a cult of females sworn to the goddess Kele-De. Grainne was growing up to be a very beautiful, high-spirited young girl, with skin as white as the swan of a wave with wild twisted tresses of flaming red hair framing her mesmerizing green eyes. With the appearance of her first menses, Grainne was ritually invited into the cult order of the Kelles and from that day on, she wandered the countryside with her free-spirited sisters. From the quaint fishing villages of Munster to the rugged villages of the Cruthni tribes in Ulster, Grainne has visited all the villages and farmsteads that were possible to visit.
As the years past, the young daughter of Connacht's western mountains grew into a radiant young lady with a lithe form with beauteous features fit for a queen of Erin and a voice as sweet as honey. Grainne possessed the six gifts that many men of Erin desired in a young woman, the gift of youthful beauty, gift of sweet speech, gift of wisdom, gift of womanly strength, gift of pure heart and the gift of chastity.
Many suitors called upon the beautiful red-haired girl only to be turned away. Grainne would only give herself to a man who could give an account of himself and his daring feats in battle. She also required that the men have no jealousy, fear or stinginess, because she had a geis, a sacred taboo placed upon her at birth against marrying a man with those qualities.
While attending the great Triennial Festival in the beautiful kingdom of Leinster at the Rath na Riogh, the Fort of Kings on the breathtaking hilltop of Tara, Grainne's sensuous beauty caught the unwanted attention of a much older man, by the name of Raudh the Dark, a chieftain of the northern Kingdom of Ulster bordering the Kingdom of the Cruthni tribes. Repeatedly, Grainne spurned the elderly Ulsterman's sexual advances, even going as far as insulting the chieftain in front of his peers by stating she would rather mate with the wild boars of Leinster's forest, than lay on her back for one minute with a foul smelling Ulsterman, At least with the boar, the stench would not be so over powering and she would be able to reach sexual satisfaction.
On a cloudy night of Lughnasadh, when the Moon of Abundance hid behind the immense grey clouds, Grainne found herself walking alone through the Plains of Tremain. Taking a secluded path that led through the High King's sprawling grove of apple trees, Grainne was attacked by a group of men who had been laying in wait for the young, red-haired girl.
Thrown bound into a chariot, Grainne's senses were assaulted by the strong pungent smell of sour wine, urine and the sulfuric waif of vomit. Looking menacing, a drunken Raudh lustfully gaze upon his bound prisoner, through clenched teeth he promised that on this night she would pay for her verbal insult, and that she would also get her wish. His drunken laughter sent chills down her back, raising the hairs on the back of her neck. Her trashing about on the chariot floor only resulted in opening her clothing, exposing her fair skin and feminine goods to the grinning chieftain's delight.
In a wooded area by the Shannon River, far away from the crowds of the Triennial Festival, Grainne was stripped and forced to lie over a large fallen tree. One by one, Raudh and his men brutally raped the young girl. Each man repeatedly took their turn, forcing their sweaty unwashed man-meat into her tender feminine opening. Her screams for mercy went unheeded and seemed to only drive the drunken men into a higher state of arousal.
A screaming, crying Grainne twisted and turned against her bounds when she heard Raudh give the command to his men to drag the captured boar from the wood's edge. With little effort, the men were able to bring the animal to a heighten state of arousal and have it mount the naked girl. Sweet blackness finally over takes the now hoarse Grainne as the boar's blood-engorged organ tears into her already raw bleeding womanhood.
Regaining consciousness, Grainne was surprised and relieved to find herself still in the land of the living, sprawled upon the top of a grassy mound sacred to the Tuatha De' Danann, the People of the Goddess of Danu. Bleeding from a number of wounds, Grainne curls her body into the fetal position with tears streaming down her dirt covered face; she closed her eyes and begins to slow her mind which is reeling with the shameful emotional torture that she had just received at the hands of Raudh and his Ulstermen.
With little effort, Grainne places herself into an altered state of consciousness as she begins the process of calling the spirit energy of the Morrigan, the Danann Phantom Queen into herself uniting their life-force.
Her pain was soon replaced with a rage, a deep dark rage which filled her every waking moment with the thoughts of vengeance and retaliation against the men who brutally violated her and brought shame upon her.
Answering her cry for revenge, the great Phantom Queen of the Dananns appeared to her, taking her pain and healing her torn body as only a Danann can. The Morrigan instilled in the red-haired girl incredible warrior skills that men of proper birth spent a lifetime learning.
Making her way back to the Hill of Tara, Grainne had three large ravens to keep her company, continuously filling her thoughts with revenge, for the ravens never stopped their constant talk of vengeance. The rage in Grainne grew and grew, to the point she felt she would be consumed by her own hatred of the men who had their way with her. Each night the Morrigan would comfort the young girl, speaking so softly to her as a lover would do. Grainne would lie in the Morrigan's pale arms in sexual bliss as the Danann mistress would caress her body, touching her body as only a mate would touch one's significant other. Each night the Morrigan would return for more Sapphic loving, and while Grainne eagerly suckled on her bosom, the Morrigan would whisper in her ears their revenge plan and the whereabouts of Raudh and his men.
On an exceptionally dark starless night, at a well known hostel in Tara filled with festive revelers, Grainne confronted the first of her attackers. With supernatural speed and strength, she descended upon the startled wide-eyed Ulsterman. The ravens that had accompanied Grainne on her journey caused much confusion in the hostel.
Grainne's grim guise caused many to freeze with fear. Women fainted, men lost their courage and nerve at the fearsome sight of the vengeful girl who resembled the Morrigan. A black and grey mantle of feathers draped her nude body, her skin was dyed a bright crimson red. Her beautiful red mane was thickened with a lime solution, so that it would bristle like the tail of a horse. Her green eyes burned with an unnatural fire as she glared at the man who brought so much pain into her life.
With a cry of anger, the red-haired woman lopped-off the head of the Ulsterman as he stood frozen in place, the color drained from his face. With a laugh, Grainne shook the bloody-trophy before the startled patrons, sending droplets of blood everywhere.
As quick as she had appeared, she was gone disappearing into the night, leaving behind one headless corpse. The attacks were repeated in Leinster and Ulster as one by one, Grainne would descend upon the men of Raudh, collecting their heads as bloody trophies.
The heads were always found impaled on a cut sapling of red yew wood.On the poles of red yew, written in ogham, would always be this inscription;
"This man of Ulster has wronged and violated an innocent child of Connacht; the Red Girl has righted that wrong."
Chapter 2) Grainne the Red Girl collects her trophy
Outside the stronghold of Raudh, in the northern province of Ulster near the valley of the Picts, the wild night stormed violently. A cold rain had continued to downpour for five days and tonight was no exception; the rain came down in torrents of large cold droplets that cut straight to one's bones. A northeastern wind whipped the rain into a fierce fury, causing everyone to find shelter.
Inside the massive structure of Raudh's banquet hall, numerous fires blazed while young maidens scurry about the men and woman with food and drink. Music, festive laughter, and drunken curses, drown the din of the fierce storm as the northern province of Ulster seem to drown in a flood of rain. On this night as on the previous four nights, Raudh entertained Conchobar mac Nessa and his famed Red Branch warriors.
Grainne with the aid of the fierce storm was able to slip past dozens of Raudh's guards and servants and the royal Ulster guard of Conchobar. No one seen or took notice of the rain-soaked girl dressed in her lurid guise, her wet naked body glistening in the fire light till she was standing in the center of the banquet hall with her three ravens flying about. Grainne scanned the hall till she located the Ulster chieftain who was seated with the young king of Ulster and his Red Branch warriors. The ravens flew to Raudh and alighted upon his chair raising a noisy clamor with their ear-piercing cries. A broad smile crossed Grainne's dye-colored face as she stared at the wide-eyed, speechless chieftain.
In a loud voice, Grainne announced that she has come for the Ulster chieftain named Raudh the Dark for the crime of plundering and forcibly deflowering a child of her young innocents.
Raudh finally found his voice and denied adamantly to the shocked crowd and to a wide-eyed king that he had ever met the woman standing in front of them, and that she must have him confused with another Raudh. With a quick hand gesture, Raudh commanded his three Pictish bodyguards to take the naked girl into custody.
Responding to Raudh's silent command, Grainne drew her sword forth from under her cloak of feathers, and what may have seemed as a blur, descended upon the three bodyguards with such ferocious savagery that she severed the heads of the three Picts as if they were one.
Red Branch warriors drew their weapons, scrambling over and around their tables to reach and get-at the Red Girl. In a very calm manner, Grainne closed her eyes and held her hand over her head, as she recited a spell in a very old language, unknown to the men of Ulster. The hall's wolf-hounds cowered and commenced to bay in long mournful tones. Men dropped to their knees as their strength was quickly sapped from their strong bodies. Fear replaced courage, as men and women cowered at the presence of the murderous Red Girl, as she made her way around prostrated warriors, who a second ago was charging her with weapons bared. Standing in front of the pale-faced chieftain, Grainne made a salutation-..gesture with her left-hand; a cursed sign of death.
Grainne had killed the Ulster chieftain's men quite quickly in the past, never bothering to engage them in conversation, but Raudh was different, she wanted him to feel fear, hopelessness and pain.
"Death hangs over there, O'mighty Chieftain of Ulster." A wicked smile split Grainne's pretty face. Her tone was calm and frank as if she was speaking to an old dear friend.
Raudh continued his pitiful plea that he was not the same man that had sexually violated the young girl in Leinster. Again no one attempted to move toward Grainne in any way to disarm her. There was one large warrior that was able to crawl on his belly like a new born child, and reach out to grab Grainne by the ankle. With a smile, Grainne easily stepped out of his weak grasp. Squatting down next to the warrior she placed her hand upon his tangle mat of hair and again in the strange language recited her spell. The large warrior responded by crying out and immediately curling his massive body into the fetal position as a young child was wont to do.
Walking up to Raudh's table, Grainne reaches under her cloak into a leather sack removing the severed head of a blood-soaked boar.
"Do you know me now___ O'dark one?" Grainne's voice remained calm; her tone was almost sing-song as she shook the bloody head in front of a pale-faced Raudh. "Even the boar from the Leinster forest by the Shannon River could not escape my wrath." With a flick of the hand, Grainne tossed the boar's head onto Raudh's lap, causing a spider's web trail of blood to hit the king.
"That night when you plundered my innocents___ tore into my bleeding flower of womanhood for your drunken pleasure, you destroyed the gentle essence that made up Grainne of the Connacht Mountains.
That night, Grainne did die___ she died screaming for mercy. In her place was born a child of hate and vengeance, the Red Girl, a willing vassal of the Great Phantom Queen of the Dananns."
Grainne leapt onto the table, her green eyes flashing with an unnatural light as she spoke of the Phantom Queen.
"The Morrigan healed my injuries, nursing me back to health as I lay in her arms night after night, suckling on her bosom of sweet vengeance. She was my guide, told me where to find your men in Leinster and in Ulster." Grainne paused for a second, tilting her head to one side as if listening to something in the far distance."Can you hear it? Can you hear the hens crowing your doom up high on the roost? Can you hear your hounds in the yard, howling your death song? Raudh, chieftain of the Pictish Valley___ death has come for you on this day___ stand man and face your death!"
Raudh forced a feeble smile as his eyes darted around the hall, in a silent desperate plea for help. With all hope seeming beyond his grasp, a tearful Raudh grabs onto the king, in a desperate effort to have his life spared. Raudh's body shook uncontrollably as incoherent words bubble forth from his trembling mouth. Large tears stream down his face as he frantically pleaded to the King of Ulster.
The sight of an Ulster chieftain pleading for his life, crying like a child in the face of death sickened the Ulster king and his Red Branch warriors. Anger rose in the belly of the Ulster king. With beads of sweat on his brow, and limbs shaking like a woman in the winter of her years, Conchobar found the inner strength to overcome and break the Red Girl's spell.
Removing the distraught chieftain from his person, Conchobar attempted to stand on his two weaken legs and address the Red Girl.
"Stay your hand woman!" Conchobar had to force the words from his mouth, his strength and confidence was slowly returning to his body. "The Morrigan may not collect her bloody trophy on this night, for this man is under the protection of Conchobar and his Red Branch."
A girlish laugh escaped from Grainne as she leapt off the table to stand next to the king, bowing her head in mock respect to the young Conchobar.
"King of Ulster, Lords of Ulster's famed Red Branch, I put thee all aside___ for I seek only one." Grainne's tone had a touch of playful mockery. "I seek only Raudh the Dark and no other."
"You may not have him." Conchobar answered in a strong and angrily voice. His strength flowing once more into his muscles, as it was for many of the warriors of the Red Branch. "If what you have said holds any truth, and I believe it dose___ Raudh will face a council of chieftains at Emain Macha for a fair judgment."
Conchobar was feeling like his old self again, the weakness almost totally departed from his body. Numerous warriors from the Red Branch were now on their feet, slowly moving on weak shaky legs towards Grainne.
"May I remind you that no Connacht-born may enter a dwelling of an Ulster chieftain and expect to be allowed to pass a death sentence in the presence of an Ulster king___ now lay down your sword, Raudh will be dealt with, justice will prevail in this matter."
"I see you have made your decision, O'Lord of the Ulstermen." Grainne replied in a very low meek voice, almost compliant, giving no hint of what was to come. "Now let's see if you can enforce it."
With unbelievable speed and agility, Grainne once more alighted upon the table in front of Raudh only to pounce upon the seated chieftain. Her sword flashing past his feeble defense, descending with a sickening crunch and snapping of bones, rending Raudh's shoulder wide open. The terrified chieftain emitted a howl of pain as he toppled his chair.
"MERCY, give me mercy___ please give me mercy!!" Cried a bloodied Raudh. The injured chieftain continued to plea for his fleeting life as he tried to crawl through his own blood, with his arm hanging dead at his side.
"Mercy you ask of me?" Grainne laugh back, her wicked laughter cut through all who could hear it. "I will show you the mercy you did not show me, you Ulster pig."
With a shrill-cry, Grainne was upon the injured chieftain. Like a vision of death her blade descended in a silvery arc, cleaving Raudh's head clean-off from his shoulders.
"Is this mercy enough?" A fierce exultation swept over Grainne as she retrieved the severed head, holding it in front of her face. "You shall never know the pain I had to endure, for your pain is now ended."
Chapter 3) Grainne battles Conchobar and Fergus mac Roich
As Grainne was rejoicing in her moment of triumph she let her guard slip, allowing Conchobar and some of his Red Branch to get within arm's reach. The tiny stature of the Red Girl belied her real strength and speed as she blindly battled the warriors, driving her blade murderously left and right. Conchobar nearly lost his handsome face to a vicious sword strike.
"By the Dagda's arse cheeks, stop this at once___ STOP THIS NOW!" Conchobar bellowed as he wrestled the gore-..splattered blade from the grasp of a furious and very much frustrated Red Girl."Would you slay the King of Ulster?"
"Yes my Lord, with a joyous heart." Grainne spat back as she broke away from the warriors attempting to restrain her.
Still clenching the bloody severed head of Raudh, Grainne commences a bizarre, brutal attack upon the king's person and nearby Red Branch warriors. With deadly accuracy, Grainne uses the severed head as a weapon to rain a lightning barrage of lethal blows upon the king's face.
Blood streamed from his crushed lips and ears. His once thin noble nose was now broken and mashed into a pulp on his once unblemished face.
Conchobar's famous golden shield with its four golden rims; Ochain the moaner, let out a piteous keening wail like the howling of the northern sea wind. All the shields of the Red Branch and the seas surrounding Ulster answered in kind. The shield's wailing was a warning to the Red Branch that the Ulster King's life was in dire peril.
"Conchobar is in danger" Cried the Red Branch warriors as one, many of them laying wounded and bleeding, others struggling to break the spell of weakness that was woven over them.
"FERGUS!!" Conchobar bawled at the top of his lunges, spitting bright red blood everywhere. "Fergus, your king is in need of your aid at once."
Pressing on Grainne from all sides, the sheer numbers of the Red Branch were able put an abrupt end to her deadly assault. The warriors were able to restrain the lithe, but very wiry girl against the banquet wall. Even then she continued her fight, lashing out with her legs at any unprotected soft target or sinking her teeth into a forearm or hand.
A shiver ran through Grainne as she stared at the warrior Conchobar referred to as Fergus. She recognized the warrior as the one who was able to crawl to her and grab her by the ankle. He was a veritable giant of a man in every sense of the word. His face was framed by a thick matted mane of red hair that flowed unbound into his thick tangled beard.
With ease, the giant warrior picked up the large oak table that block his path to the restrained girl, and with little effort on his part, sent the table sailing across the hall.
"Connacht-..born" Roared the giant. "Fergus mac Roich is not one to slay a child in their early dawn of their summer years." Fergus' beard bristled like a large broom as he spoke to the struggling girl, known to him only as the Red Girl.
"That's not wholly true, former lover of the Great Queen___ murderer of children___ aye, the Morrigan spoke about you on many nights as I laid in her arms. She spoke of how you strangled your own son with your bare hands. Were you afraid of what your son would have grown-up to be___ or just afraid of what he would do to the great name of Fergus the son of the great horse, the son of Roich? Was the ageless Fergus afraid to relinquish his reign to his successor?" Grainne ranted, laughing in the face of the red-haired giant, which greatly angered the man giant.
With a loud roar, Fergus wrapped Grainne's tresses around his hand, wrenching her head up and around.
"Hold that tongue in your mouth wench; you speak of matters you are not totally familiar with." Large blue veins bulged from Fergus' bull-sized neck, as red-hot rage course through his body. "Our son Mechi was prophesied by the druids that when he grew into manhood he would destroy all of Erin. His mother could not understand that he was a threat to us all."
"She loved little Mechi very much, you destroyed that love and bond, Ulsterman. The Morrigan wishes for me to right that which you have wronged..."Saying that, Grainne twisted around in the grip of her captors, bringing a painful knee strike into Fergus' groin, dropping the giant warrior to one knee, another strike, catches Fergus full in the face, forcing him to stagger back.
A well place elbow strike and head butt brings about a painful howl from two warriors, allowing Grainne to escape from her captors. Snatching a fallen short sword, Grainne strikes out to her left and right, then pounces on Fergus, driving her blade deep into his body.
The giant reacts by scooping the young girl in a bone-crushing bear hug, his massive mountain-sized muscles bulging to the point of bursting. Grainne again drives the blade deep into the warrior, this time to the hilt, causing him to release his crushing hold on her, and in turn causing the Red Girl to lose her weapon.
No sound was emitted from Fergus as he reaches out and grabs the Red Girl by her loose tresses, drawing her close to him. Locking eyes with each other, Grainne watched as the large warrior slowly removes the short-bladed sword from his body, all without showing any signs of pain or discomfort.
"Connacht-..born, I will not taint my sword the Caladcholg, the hard-dinter on one as such as you." Fergus growled like an angry dog, blood pouring from his open wounds with every movement he made. "Instead I will smite you as a master would smite his cur."
Grainne did not blink or flinch as Fergus' large bloody fist slammed into the side of her head, bringing about the warmth of sweet-black oblivion.
Chapter 4) Grainne the Exile
For the second time in her short lifetime, Grainne was relieved to find herself still amongst the living, but it came with a painful price, her head was wrack with intense pain.
The women that tended to her needs and wounds were the wives and promised wives of the men she had injured up north at Raudh's stronghold. This was the custom___ the way of the People of Erin to treat and care for a prisoner as if they were an honored guest, anything less would be an insult on one's household.
Once she was deemed healthy by the master physician and his colleagues, Grainne was taken to the Great Assembly House of Ulster, located on a lower hilltop in the fortification of Emain Macha. Thousands gathered to get a glimpse of the infamous Red Girl.
In the Assembly House's great chamber, Grainne stood before Ulster's clan Chieftains, the chariot chiefs of the Red Branch, leaders of Ulster and of the Red Branch, the Chief Brehon, Chief Druid, and Ulster's King Conchobar mac Nessa. Many in the great hall called for the Connacht woman to be put to death, while others suggested that she be exiled from the land of Erin.
The decision was left to Conchobar, after much debating with his close advisors, it was decided that Grainne of Connacht was to be exiled to the Isle of Mana; a small, rocky Island with shingle beaches and hills with grass-covered slates, that lies in the sea of Erin, between the kingdoms of Erin, Alba, and Albion.
From the Islands highest summit, Grainne was able to see the Brython Kingdoms of Rheged, Cymru, and of Gwynedd. Grainne's curiosity was peaked as to what new adventures awaited her in the land of the Brythons. She was well aware that the kingdom of Erin held only death for her.
With the aid of the Island inhabitants, Grainne was able to set sail to the great land mass of the Brythons, with its majestic white coastal cliffs. In this land of fractured tribes, and constant warring kingdoms of Angles, Saxons, Brythons, and Picts, the red-haired, Erin-borned exile was quickly recruited into a villainous organization called; the Red Butcher's Horde, led by Cynglas the Red Butcher. The Horde's members consisted of swordsmen and women, cutthroats, thieves, mercenaries, and exiles of various lands and clans, who terrorized and plundered Alba's central kingdoms and southern kingdoms to Albion's Kingdom of Northumbria, Cymru, down to the Kingdom of Mercia.
The Angle Brytenwealda, Edwin son of Alle, Over-King of the Kingdom of Northumbria, signed a truce with Urien ap Cynfarch the warrior king of the Kingdom of Rheged, the Mercian King, Penda son of Pybba, the High King of the Brythons, Cadwallon, and the King of Calchwynedd; the Chalk-Hills Cadrod son of Cynwyd ap Cynfelyn, to put aside their age old hatreds and form a military confederation to put an end to Cynglas and his outlaw band of wanton criminals for once and all.
Deep in the midland Kingdom of Pengwern, King Edwin of Northumbria with his confederation of a hundred thousand foot-troops and twenty thousand horsemen, surrounded Cynglas' forces of only ten thousand strong deep in the Forest of Gwyardyr; the Forest of Blood.
On that day, Grainne's life came almost to an end as King Edwin's large superior force came pouring into the forest clashing with Cynglas' horseman and smashing the Butcher's ranks. In no time the vast forest was filled with the sounds of men yelling orders, the screams and cries of dying men and the thunderous roar of Edwin's horsemen as they mercilessly trample fleeing members of the Red Butcher's Horde. The confusion, the din of battle, the smell of blood and death was so intense, that Cynglas could not marshal his horde into a semi-balance of a fighting force. The sky by that afternoon was blacken by large flocks of carrion birds, blocking out the sun and sky. The forest floor was covered with the bodies of the slain and the broken. The forest ground was so drenched with blood and gore that many warriors found it almost impossible to keep one's footing.
Grainne and her fellow Horde members fought all day and night, before they could break through the lines of soldiers and bowmen under the cover of darkness and in the confusion of battle taking flight northward toward Alba's kingdoms that were sympathetic to the Horde.
Near the Kingdom of Rheged, Cynglas the red butcher, Uther the horrible, and Ursus the horrible bear, were cut down by the forces under the command of King Urien of Rheged as were many other survivors of the Forest of Blood.
They were savagely slaughtered to a man. Grainne with fleet of foot was able to escape the horsemen, losing them in the thickets of the woods. She continued northward into the Kingdom of Rheged and Strathclyde, crawling on her belly, hiding in the heathers, merging herself in the marshes, and remaining there for days with only her head out of the water to avoid King Edwin's confederation of horsemen and soldiers. Grainne was able to nourish her body by eating rodents, grass, the barks and roots of trees.
It was several months past the massacre at the Forest of Blood, before Grainne realized she was in Pict territory.
She was taken prisoner by a southern tribe of Picts who were patrolling the vast southern borders that were adjacent with the Scottias and Brythons.
The Pictish Toiseach; commander decided to bring the half-starved, half-dead girl to the southern military outpost at Dunnichen, after he heard her tale of the Red Butcher's demise.
At Dunnichen, Grainne related her adventures to the Mormaers, the local lords of Dunnichen. After much rest and well needed medical care, Grainne was escorted northward to the northern Pictish hillfort of Craig Phadrig, the seat of King Brude mac Maelchon, the slayer, the Over-King of Pictland. There she related her tale to the nobles of the Pictish Royal House of the Bull and Boar.
King Brude was much impressed with the young girl's warrior spirit. He decreed that Grainne was to travel to the Isle of Scitis, and submit herself to the Pictish Warrior-Queen, Aife daughter of Ardgeimm requesting entrance into her school of warriors. With a broad grin and a slap on the shoulder, Brude presented Grainne with a pendant, the seal of the royal House of the Bull and Boar. This would give Grainne safe passage to Aife's mountain top fortress at Dun A'Cheo, the Fortress of Mist.
Escorting Grainne on this journey to the Shadowy Isle of the Legendary Warrior-Queens was several of Brude's most trusted warriors. The steersman took the hide-skin boat within the shadows of the imposing sea cliffs, entering a deep loch surrounded by dominating mountain formations of black basalt.
The fair-haired, long limbed, Pictish steersman skillfully guided his craft into a small opening in the face of a landslip rock formation, entering a world of total darkness. Grainne thought to herself, this must be what it feels like to travel to the Danann's Otherworld. It was hours later before they emerged to the other side, into a secluded bay, surrounded by a dramatic picturesque coastline with tempestuous watercourses and breathtaking waterfalls. A heavy mist hung high, giving the high rock formations a brooding intensity.
Grainne's escorts informed her that she was now in the Sanctuary of Aife's realm. Looking about, Grainne was certain that this was the land of yesteryear, when the Formori roamed the land as its masters. Rounding a bend, the Pictish guides aimed their boat towards a cliff face of black rock, sheltered in the rocky landscape was a village, built amongst the strange rock forms.
The villagers greeted the travelers with open-arms, offering them food and shelter. Grainne presented the village chieftain with Brude's pendant, stating that she is to journey on to Aife's fortress. The Chieftain assured Grainne and her escorts that on the following morning they will depart for the long journey to the Fortress of Mist.
Early the following morning before the sun had time to top the mountains, Grainne's Pictish escorts gave their farewells, their mission was completed. Grainne looked on with longing as the Pictish craft disappeared into the early morning mist. Over the past few weeks, she had grown very fond of the Picts of Alba's highlands. The journey to Aife's fortress was a long treacherous odyssey through a precarious land untouched by the outside world. To Grainne the land was beautiful, magnificent, and haunting. Everywhere she looked, she was always in the shadows of the brooding, mist-covered mountain ridges.
Approaching the Fortress up the bluff point was awe inspiring, the massive stone, earth and timber structure was built on an enormous outcrop of towering pillared basalt. Three huge ramparts and ditches, wide and deep enough to swallow an entire army, surrounded the grand structure, with timber walls that reached well into the mist. At times during their approach, Grainne was certain she saw movement amongst the wall tops.
At the gate Grainne was greeted by several hard-face women warriors, as before, she presented the warriors her pendant. Passing through the single entrance of the three outer ramparts brought Grainne and her escorts within an inner fortification, with its own defenses and enclosures on two separate levels.
The inner area of Aife's fort was immense, covering an inner area three times the size of Leinster's hilltop fortress. Every where Grainne look, there were warriors training hard at their task exercises.
Grainne was taken to the chariot exercise yard where Aife was working out her much loved horses. A tall, muscular woman with flaming red hair halted her chariot car in front of Grainne and her party.
"Who is this child that you bring before me?" Aife asked of her gate commander.
"She was sent by King Brude of Pictland." The commander replied, giving Aife the pendant of Brule's royal house.
"What is your name child?" Aife asked the wide-eyed girl."How did you come in possession of the royal seal of the King of Kings of the Pictish Nation?"
"I am Grainne, daughter of Fintaan, son of the mountain, descended from Genand son of Dil, son of Loch, of the tribe of Fir Domnann, the sons of Dark, of the Connacht night country." Grainne thoughtfully answered in her girlish sweet voice. "Exiled from my homeland of Erin, by the Ulster King Conchobar mac Nessa, for the crime of murdering a craven dog who brought shame upon me, I am the Red Girl who battled Ulster's famed Red Branch to a standstill. I am the Red Girl who made the Ulster King's famous shield cry its warning of the king's dire peril. I am the Red Girl who stood face to face with the king's champion, Fergus mac Roich, giving the large warrior two life threatening wounds that he surely could not survive, and lived to tell of it. Of late I am the only known survivor of Cynglas' outlaw band."
A broad smile crosses Aife's beautiful face as she listens to Grainne's tale of adventure. "Welcome sister-..warrior." Aife interrupts Grainne, giving her a welcoming hug and a kiss on the cheek. "I have been waiting for you, my dear. For months, the eastern and western night winds would entertain me with your warrior prowess. You are what I look for in a student to be admitted in my school of warriors."
"Pardon my asking, but your warriors are all women, are there no male warriors?" Asked Grainne, surveying the vast enclosure, with its numerous yards, everywhere she looked there was a hard bodied female, with the radiant beauty of a noble born.
Laughter broke out amongst the gathering crowd, as the female warriors of Aife's school pressed in to get a look at the new student.
"My dear girl, there are no men in Dun A'Cheo, only female warriors who are more than a match for any man." Laughed Aife, as she gave Grainne a hardly slap on the shoulder.
Grainne's days were soon filled with intensive training in the arts of combat, weaponry, and the arts of conducting warfare. At night the veteran women of Dun A'Cheo took their turn introducing Grainne to the ancient female art of love making. The first two years at Dun A'Cheo was filled with spectacular wonderments and extraordinary achievements, new found friendship and young love.
By the third year, the tranquility on the island was broken by a vicious feud between Aife and the Island's western Queen, Scathach the Shadowy one, a warrior-queen and a mistress who also trains young warriors in the art of combat and war. Many of Scathach's students are from the Island of Erin. They are the noble born, the sons of Erin's chieftain clans and the young sons of Erin's kings.
For many months both sides would conduct bloody raids into the other's realm, stealing their livestock, slaughtering their people. Land in the western and eastern realms have both been razed, countless innocents killed on both sides. The inhabitants of the island began calling the feud; the War of the Warrior Queens of Scitis.
Neither side could claim victory or defeat after a full year's past; both armies were equal in strength and ferocity. Each queen was satisfied with just sending out small raiding parties engaging in small-scale skirmishers.
That all change one day, when Aife's high-commander and lover was ambushed then brutally rape by the male warriors of Scathach's army, before they decided to slit her throat and leave her to be found by Aife's forces.
Aife was so infuriated that she marshaled her entire army for an outright assault on Scathach's realm.
On the Magh Na Fola, Plain of Blood, both armies faced off. Chariot warriors on both sides thundered back and forth, brandishing their weapons above their heads reciting the valiant deeds of their honored ancestors and boasting of their own high achievements. Warrior after warrior would step out of their skirmisher line, and loudly belittle and insult their opponents. Others would challenge any who thought they were the most valiant to single combat.
With a terrifying war-cry from thousands, Aife's female warriors were the first to burst forth into a ferocious charge of bodies. The din of battle they say could be heard by the kings and warriors of Erin and Alba.
Grainne's supple quickness allowed her to be everywhere at once, her sword a silvery tongue of red death, striking left and right. She would dart underneath the warrior's attack, parrying and feinting their savage sword strikes with a graceful ease before driving her sword into their bellies.
The battle was going badly for Aife's army, it seemed that Scathach's forces were getting the upper hand and were slowly forcing Aife and her female warriors to fight on the defense.
At one point, Aife was hard press by two young warriors, the sons of Scathach; Cet and Cuar. In the process of defending herself the Queen of Dun A'Cheo tripped over a fallen warrior, leaving her defenseless and open to her adversaries' deadly attack. With little time to act, Grainne swiftly hurled her sword at the nearest attacker, logging the sword deep into the side of his head. With her feet, she kicked a javelin into her waiting hand and with deadly accuracy she guided the missile into his heart as he was about to deliver his death blow upon Aife.
This was the turning point in the battle that Aife needed. With renew vigor she was able to regroup her forces with the help of Grainne who was drunk with the battle lust. By night fall, Aife was able to break the morale of Scathach's army. She ordered her horse legion to give chase when Scathach's army broke and turned tale, after many witness their western queen go down in defeat.
The slaughter continued well into the night as the female warriors sacked Scathach's Fortress, slaughtering all who dare oppose them. By morning, the women were happily carrying off their spoils of prisoners, cattle, gold, weapons and heads. Amongst the throng of prisoners was one badly injured western queen that Aife decided to release for the good of the island.
That night at the Dun A'Cheo, Aife presented Grainne the curadhmhir, the champion's portion of meat and drink, the highest honour anyone could receive. After the festivities had died down, Aife brought Grainne into her royal sleeping quarters and offered her the friendship of her thighs, and stated that she will always be indebted to Grainne.
Months after the battle at Magh na Fola which became nickname the Battle of the Great Slaughter, Grainne began having disturbing dreams. In her dreams she would see the face of Fergus mac Roich laughing at her, then striking her till she would wake up screaming, drenched in her own sweat. Each night it was the same, at times she could hear the voice of the Morrigan saying to her that "there is work unfinished, the son of the great horse still lives." Night after night the awful dreams would invade her sleep and night after night, Aife would hold the screaming girl in her arms, gently holding and comforting her.
After much time and thought, Grainne requested of Aife to release her from service, for there was matters of great importance that needed attention. Aife gladly granted the request, as gratitude for her loyal service; Aife presented Grainne with a sea craft, given to her by a prince from the lands of ice and mist.
By a month's past, Grainne had recruited a hardy crew from the Island and from the tribes of Pictland. On the open sea of Erin, Grainne made her name known to the kings of Albion and Erin's coastline. All trading vessels were subject to Grainne's wraith. Her black ship named the Morrigan's revenge, with its grim trophies of severed heads adorning the gunwales, struck fear in the hearts of even the most seasoned seaman. With her crew of fierce Pictish warriors, Grainne would lead from the front on daring forays into Erin's Kingdoms of Munster, Leinster, and Ulster. Albion received most of her fury for the slaughter at the Forest of Gwyardyr. Many of the villages were razed to the ground, taking the village's livestock and inhabitants for the slave markets.
Grainne after every raid would give a portion of her spoils to King Brude of the Picts, as payment for allowing her to recruit amongst his people, and for the safe haven. In time the sea of Erin became known as the sea of the Red Girl. She picked up many nicknames from many of the kings she harassed. The most notable was, the Queen of Erin's Sea. Now that she brought Albion's coastal kingdoms to their knees, she decided to turn her attention to Erin's Kingdom of Ulster, and to a man call Fergus mac Roich.
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