There is a lot of Celtic mythology in here that is explained with footnotes at the bottom 😀
Ag Cogadh (At War).
We could see their silhouettes over the horizon, black behemoths, braziers lit and dancing in the morning wind. It was as if Balor himself was leading them, his great evil eye towering above the fleet. We stood strong against the wind, fur blowing, feet wet in the shallows. A few men trembled, their spears wobbling in their hands. As they neared, we heard no war drums, no horns – the men believed that the silence was the very incantation of death. We responded with fire, the beating of our bodhrans filled the sky and bounced off of the flat grey clouds that lay across the empty skies. They were not empty for long.
As if on que with the drums, fire drilled through the clouds, and fell with earth shattering power upon the beachhead. We held fast, trusting in our Gods. Some of us prayed quietly to Toutatis, others to Artahe, all of us prayed to Morrigan. A crow flew overhead with a single caw, the deafening sound of the fire from the clouds was silenced as I stared at that crow, flying directly toward the fleet of Balor.
“Hold!” I screamed to the men around me, my grip tightening around my spear. The men on the cliffs moved to the beach, having successfully waved off the invader’s first approach. When the great ships landed we held our breaths.
They were stuck, stuck in the deep water, their behemoths oversized for our shallow shores. There was silence, and then we began to laugh. We laughed as if we were sat at the banquet table, a pint of mead in hand – I looked up, and saw Morrigan flying back toward us. I stopped laughing. So did the men.
“Leap, fellow soldiers, unless you wish to betray your eagle to the enemy. I, for my part, will perform my duty to the republic and to my general!”
We had never heard the language, a tongue of fluid pitches high and low, no guttural sounds. A man with a staff leapt into the waters, an eagle bearer, and waded toward us wit determination. A spear fed his soul to Kelpie – but he was followed soon after by tens upon hundreds of silver-clad men.
They charged, we held steady, and let out a roar of battle cries.
We prayed to our gods, bark around our faces, as we placed the dead in their graves. Inhumation, a ritual to fend of the evil spirits and allow their souls safe passage to the otherworld, but I doubted it would be enough. Not when evil itself had graced our shores.
The failure at the beach had loomed over our heads for a year, the silver-clad invaders had stayed away from the mainland, but we had no idea for how long. We all knew our villages were first in the firing line, but somehow none of us were ready when it happened.
I hugged my wife and child, before lifting them on to the village’s last horse.
“Go, Brianna! Go with your Mother! We will find you in the next village.”
“Go, Evelyn!” She nodded to me as I slapped the horse’s behind, and they rode away. I knew I would never see them again, but I had to know they were safe before we faced the brutal invaders. The metal warriors marched past the beach toward us, through the grasslands, a mob, Balor’s enforcers. Their bronze skin, silver armour and tendency to survive our volleys of javelins and spears had them branded as the Iron Golems. Morrigan flew overhead, likely returning from the dead on the beach. I could feel the Sluagh following the Golems.
They stormed through us, squashed us like bugs under their boot. I lay in a pool of my blood, sword wound through the stomach, waiting to be taken to the Otherworld.