She Wept Black Tears
I slept well on the night when the last tale was delivered unto me. I did not stir after the hard work of the day nor did I notice it 's delivery. I woke as I do most days, alone and slightly chilled from the Scot's weather. Even in the summer it is not as warm as I would wish now that I am growing older. I seem to feel the chill more than I once did. Yet there was the curled sheave of paper tied with ribbon. A gift I have received twice a year since I was little more than a girl and wept goodbye to my disappeared love, Raymond.
I read this book as I have every one that he has left with me and there have been many over the long years since we first met. I have sent his tales out to publishers here and there and it seems many like his odd tales. I always enjoy them but I remember the boy behind the tales, the boy that was older than I but is now younger than he once was. I shall tell you of it for it seems that is my purpose now.
My children and grand children have moved away from my small world and the captives tales, as well as my small house and television are all that I have left to end my life with.
This novel starts, as many of his do, with a tale of his travels down into Argyll. Through the forbidding mountain passes and down to the plains and grasslands by the sea. An area I know so well, born and raised in the Mid Argyll town of Lochgilphead and so have traveled those roads and passes all my life on each occasion that I have left my home town. There is no other way to go. You travel by sea to the Islands or through the mountains into mainland Scotland.
Whilst walking by the North Atlantic The hill-walker, historian and adventurer spots a strange structure perched near a hill top and goes to investigate. He finds a hill fort, ruined but still defensible and there he meets an unlikely fellow who tells him of an ancient war and his part in it, a war that continues even to this day over ancient relics that bestow power and eternal life upon the owners.
Both Rob, the hill-walker, and a creature of the fae, "The Morrigan" take turns to tell this tale. It is a tale of war, ruin and sacrifice, A tale birthed in a cauldron of Celts, the elder peoples of the land and the legends of Faerie. It is filled with sacrifice, love and friendship surpassing human years and dappled by a tragic love story but mostly it is a tale of war and greed as most histories are.
The fae and the gods are wondrous and fair but they are capricious and dangerous and have their own wants and needs. They should be heeded with care lest they sweep you off into a faerie mound or Valhalla with not a thought for your notice. Perhaps it is their eternal nature that allows them to develop an "Odd" nature, perhaps it is simply knowledge and manners that sets them apart. They look little different from we humans yet they seem exaggerated versions of us. If they are tall, they are giant, if small, then they are tiny, if pretty they appear wondrously fair, If dark of countenance, fearsome. If stooped or misshapen almost demonic, if dark skinned, prophetic, if light skinned like to ghosts or wraiths but they are just creatures oddly like ourselves but different only in magic, knowledge and age.
Raymond Walker cites the Celts the Pict's and Norse mythology in this book and so I have set a few images below to illustrate those races and personages.
Depictions of "The Morrigan" in two very different styles, the first, a traditional version from Irish Mythology the second, The War Goddess upon the field of battle, her favourite place. neither, however describe the battle beast, the blood letter, the carrion eater of the dead that the fabled Morrigan was.
The Celt's came originally, it is thought, from the lands now called Hungary, Austria and perhaps southern Germany. They spread, mainly, westwards and are thought to have inhabited much of Spain, Western France and then made their way into England, Wales, Ireland and finally Scotland. As much of their populations traveled West and North, perhaps due to famine or invasions, the southern populations of the tribe disappeared or were incorporated into other societies. In Western France, Cornwall, Wales, Ireland and Scotland the last of the Celts were, at times, united in trying to push back the Germanic Invasions.
The Saxons, The Goths, and most Scandinavian tribes (too many names to mention) were invading dark age Britain, Belgium, Holland and France and the indigenous peoples of the land already pushed back by the Celt's were again assailed. Even the giant, raw boned, red haired Pict's slowly withdrew before the might of the Celt's, the Angles, Geats, Jutes and the Romans to small highland domains where they again were either incorporated into the homogeneous whole or perished.
I know that I have added stylized inclusions here but I just thought them great pictures. I hope that no one minds. Plus in their own way , it is the Celtic warrior and the Morrigan.