Daughter of Moray

"Go Beathag!"

"But Father!"

Beathag's father turned to her in the midst of battle. "I said go! Run!"

The Saxons had finally made to the Moray clan, overtaking the small settlement without so much as a thought. The Romans had retreated, but with one threat gone another came in its stead. Beathag hesitated, her sword at the ready, went against her own will and ran from the Skirmish. Running into the forest, Beathag glanced back to see the torches of the Saxons approaching fast.

Keeping her sight ahead now, Beathag ran into the forest, the forbidden forest that her father had warned her about. The beasts roamed here and although Beathag feared the beasts, she feared the Saxons even more so. Beathag tripped, blood mixing with the woad tattoos she had all over her body.

Beathag tried to rise, but a foot firmly planted on her back and shoved her back into the ground. Knowing her fate was sealed, Beathag closed her eyes and clenched her teeth, waiting for the coming pain. The Saxon man above her laughed aloud, then turned her over. He said something to his men in his own language and he reached down, grabbing Beathag's red hair.

"Get off me!" Beathag shouted, but Saxon backhanded her into submission.

Grabbing Beathag by the neck, the Saxon then pulled her to her feet and threw her against a tree. "Pretty little thing," the Saxon smiled, caressing her cheek with his sword, "daddy's little girl, eh?"

Beathag spit in his face in reply and received another furious slap against her face. Bring up his sword once more, the Saxon achieved in cutting the girl slightly across her neck when there was a loud 'thud' behind him. The Saxon yelled at his men to be quiet, but there was no reply. He saw the girl's eyes widen in fear, but not at him what was behind him.

The Saxon glanced over his shoulder and suddenly released the girl, gasping. The beast, with red glowing eyes. "Demon!" He cried out, then wielded his sword. "Be gone!"

Crying out, the demon then attacked, but the Saxon hacked at her with his sword. He caught the demon, making her bleed in her shoulder, but the demon fought back, knocking the sword from his reach. The demon then roared again, slicing at the man with her claws. The Saxon ducked and brought forth a dagger, about to stab the creature when suddenly he stopped in mid-motion, his eyes filling with pain, and blood pooling around him.

Beathag pulled her sword from the man and stared at the demon. "You saved me…"

"And you in return." the demon spoke.

From what Beathag could see, the demon was a bluish woad-like color, and her eyes were light now, no longer glowing red. The wings of the demon were bat-like and a darker blue color.

"You speak," Beathag moved forward with curiosity, "I am Beathag, daughter o' Eoghan o' the Moray clan."

"Beathag, daughter of Eoghan of the Moray clan," the beast knelt before her, "I am forever indebted to you."

"By what do they call ye?"

"I am a gargoyle, keeper of the forest."

Beathag blinked in realization. "But ye're only a myth…"

"I'm standing here before you, am I not?"

"Ye are," Beathag laughed aloud, "gargoyle, what is yer name?"

"I have no name," the gargoyle spoke again, "none of us do. We are as nameless as the place you humans call 'earth'."

"Rise, you've no reason t'bow t'me," Beathag insisted, "come with me and meet m'father, where he can reward ye for saving m'life."

"No," the gargoyle replied standing, "I mustn't leave the forest, it's too dangerous."

"Beathag!"

Beathag recognized the voice of her father. "Father! I'm over here!"

When Eoghan arrived, the beast had gone into the night and he embraced his daughter tightly. "Ye're alive!" He sighed thankfully and pulled her at arms length. "I was so afraid…"

"Father, ye'll never imagine what I saw—"

"We've won the battle!" Eoghan cried, making Beathag forget all about her encounter.

"Moray won the battle, Father?"

"Moray always wins the battle!" Eoghan replied with a laugh. "Come now, daugh'er, and le' us celebrate!"

As Beathag was led from the forest she longingly took one last glance into it's depths before she was led back to the scorched village of Moray. Though the place had been run through and many had died, the fierce fighting people of Moray had ultimately forced the Saxons to retreat. Moray was safe, for a time again, and the people celebrated through the night, safely watched by the gargoyles from their shadowy cover.

The next day was spent cleaning up the carnage from the Saxons. No one would sleep until the clan of Moray was rebuilt. The night fires burnt brightly soon enough and Beathag returned to the forbidden forest when her father's back was turned.

"Gargoyle!" She whispered. "Gargoyle, show yourself!"

Soon a shadowy figure appeared in the dim light of the torch Beathag carried and she saw the same gargoyle as the night before. "Are there more of you?"

"Yes," the gargoyle said, "they do not wish to expose themselves."

Beathag smiled kindly, gazing at the brush around her, imagining it filled with gargoyles of all shapes and sizes. The young girl then looked back to the gargoyle. "M'father told me I dreamt ye last night, that ye are mere spirits and this forest makes ye see things that are not there."

"We are guardians," the gargoyle corrected, "we always have been."

"Do ye have a name?"

"I have already told you, we are nameless."

Beathag remembered then and went on. "What shall I call ye then, gargoyle? If there're more of ye, I cannot simply call ye all the same."

The gargoyle thought for a minute. "You may call me by whatever you wish."

"I'll call ye Seona," Beathag said instantly, "after m'mother."

Chuckling, Seona covered her mouth a bit. "Does your mother resemble me?"

"No…she died when I was very young," Beathag replied, "but it is a good name, isn't it?"

"The mother of my rescuer," Seona nodded her approval, "I could not have asked for a better name."

Beathag then sighed. "Will ye not come with me then, to see m'father?"

"No," Seona shook her head, "I will not."

"Then tomorrow night, will ye meet me here?"

Seona smiled and nodded. "I will, Beathag, daugh'er of Eoghan of the Moray Clan."

With that Beathag returned to where she found her father. "Beathag!" Eoghan said with surprise. "There ye are, where were ye lass?"

"In the forest," Beathag replied, "talkin' with the gargoyles, Father."

Eoghan frowned. "Those spirits will do you no good, lass, ye'd do best to stay away from'm."

The days went by like minutes, Beathag filled her nights with speaking to Seona and meeting others of her kind. The gargoyles came in all shapes and sizes and Beathag named them all. There was a beaked, gray gargoyle she named Isla, a tall, robust red male she called Rory, and a fair skinned, bat-winged gargoyle she called Alpin. "Are ye spirits of the night?" Beathag asked Seona. "Only comin' ou' when the moon shines?"

Seona chuckled as Beathag braided her hair. "No, Beathag, daughter of Eoghan of the Moray Clan. We are stone by day, free by night."

"Stone?" Beathag asked breathless. "T'is a curse?"

"No," Seona laughed again, "just the way the world is."

Beathag then hesitated before saying more. "Seona…will ye not show yourself to m'father?"

Seona sighed, tiring of the repeated question. "If you wish it so."

With that Beathag jumped to her feet and pulled Seona up as well. "Now they will believe me!" Beathag said, dragging her from the forest. "Father! Father, come quickly!"

People saw the beast and ran, screaming in fright, grabbing their children and running. Eoghan came from his tent and widened his eyes with both fear and curiosity at the enigma that came toward him. "Father, this is Seona! I told ye I saw gargoyles!"

Eoghan reached out and yanked his daughter behind him, wielding his sword. "Be gone, demon!"

"No!" Beathag cried, pushing down his sword as Seona backed away. "She saved me from death, ye should be celebratin' her arrival!"

Staring at Beathag for a moment, Eoghan blinked his blue eyes seeing the girl's pleading expression. Then, with a great heave, Eoghan sheathed his sword. "I am grateful, Seona," Eoghan bowed his head to her, "for savin' my daugh'er."

"Isn't she amazin', Father?"

Eoghan hesitated, then nodded. "Aye, that she is, lass."

Seona returned to her home in the forest after her welcome to Moray and Beathag was sent to bed by her father. While she slept, Eoghan met with one of his fellow warriors. "I want no more of these gargoyles." Eoghan said firmly.

"Do we chase'm out?"

"No, we crush'm," Eoghan replied, "if the stories are true, the gargoyles are stone by day. When ye are done smashin' the stone, burn the forest."

"But, Eoghan—"

"I will come along to do so as well." Eoghan said. "I will make sure every last one of those demons are gone."

Beathag woke to the scent of scorched earth, as she did every day after the Saxons had come, but this day it was stronger than before. Beathag stood, her legs weak from finally getting a good night's sleep and when she stepped outside she took a deep breath of the morning air. Coughing from the noxious gasses, Beathag went to turn and go back inside her tent when she saw the burnt forest. "Seona!" She cried, running to the forest.

Someone caught her before she made it out of the village. "The demon is no more," her father said stepping in front of her, "the forest is no more. Nothing more will threaten Moray."

Beathag clenched her teeth, tears forming in her eyes and fury in her breast. "You monster!" Beathag shouted, pulling free from her father's warrior and running to the forest.

"Beathag!" Eoghan called after her. "Beathag, there's nothin' left!"

Beathag wiped her eyes as she ran toward the forest and climbed over the various downed trees. She came across the remains of the gargoyles stones, pulverized completely and some turned to dust. Sinking to her knees, Beathag let out a sob and tried to piece some of the parts together, only to have them fall apart again in her hands. "Seona…" Beathag put her head in her hands in shame, "Seona, I'm so sorry…"

In the wreckage, Beathag came across something whole—an egg! Hidden amongst smashed eggs and overlooked, the single egg had survived. Beathag hugged the egg tightly, crying tears of joy now. "I'll keep you safe," she whispered, "I'll keep you safe from all evil."

"Daughter of Eoghan, must you be so foul as to cry over those you have slain?"

Beathag lifted her head and turned around to see three women standing before her, one with black hair, another with strawberry blonde, and the third with white hair. "The Morrigan!"

"Aye," another woman spoke this time, the black haired one, "and for your deed you will repay the debt."

"But I didn't—I didn't mean to!" Beathag pleaded for mercy as she protected the egg. "I will make amends!"

"You will," the third, white haired one replied, "but your path no longer resides here."

With that Beathag and the egg disappeared and the three maidens turned into ravens, flying high into the sky. Eoghan spotted the three ravens and became concerned. "Find m'daugh'er!" He called to his warriors. "The Morrigan come!"