“Manannan’s Children” by Russell Blackford
(Originally published in Dreaming Again.)
Vain gaiety, vain battle, vain repose…
— W.B. Yeats
They’d chased a deer, which had bolted in terror from the forest, then run to a round grassy hill and vanished over the top. At the top of the hill, Finn and Oisin pulled back on their horses’ reins and wrapped their heavy cloaks more tightly against the bitter cold wind from the sea. Down on the shore was a lady, also on horseback, with the lapping waves and the sinking red sun behind her.
Oisin’s breath caught and his heart seemed to melt like heated gold within his ribs. She was incomparable!
The lady rode a majestic, shimmering stallion, as black as adamant. She called out to the heroes, father and son, and they rode down to meet her, white-bearded Finn going ahead. Oisin couldn’t take his eyes from her.
Her horse had a jeweled bridle of fine leather, but she rode without a saddle. She wore a long white gown, embroidered in crimson, which she’d gathered around her thighs, leaving her legs bare and free. Sea water dripped from her pale feet. Her hair was long and yellow, woven with gaudy flowers, crimson, gold and purple. Her eyes were blue as mountain ice, her lips full and red. On a golden chain slung round her neck, she wore a silver horn, scarcely longer than a man’s hand.
She seemed to gaze into Oisin’s heart, as she spoke. “You are sad, heroes.”
Russell Blackford is a philosopher, literary critic, and author of many books, short stories, articles, op-ed pieces, and other publications. His published fiction includes an original trilogy of novels for the Terminator franchise, Terminator 2: The New John Connor Chronicles. With Van Ikin and Sean McMullen, he is coauthor of Strange Constellations: A History of Australian Science Fiction. He is editor-in-chief of The Journal of Evolution and Technology, and holds a conjoint appointment in the School of Humanities and Social Science at the University of Newcastle. He can be found online at russellblackford.com.
About the Narrator:
Anthony Babington is a voice in the internet’s head. He looks almost, but not quite, exactly how you expect him to. He currently resides in Houston, Texas, but hastens to add that it was not his idea. He can be found on Google Plus.