Dagda by Alan Delaney

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SUMMARY: A reinterpretation of an incident from one of the oldest stories in Celtic mythology - the first meeting of the Dagda and the Morrigan.

It was a hot day, a dusty trail, and a long, long journey, or at least that was the Dagda's excuse as he emptied another flagon into his mouth and tossed it back into the cart behind. The track ahead of him danced and shimmered slightly as his head spun and his eyes lost focus but the reins were held loosely in his hand as he let the horses find their own way home; they knew the trail, and their master's taste for whiskey, well enough and would get him home without difficulty. The court of Tara had grown so accustomed to the sight of the Dagda's horses happily trotting their way up to the gates with the Dagda himself fast asleep in his seat that the sight of him arriving home sober had come to be regarded as a bad omen.

Somewhere through his drunken haze the form of a woman appeared ahead of him. She was standing by the side of the trail, waiting for the cart to pull up beside her. Her long, red hair was tied in tresses that hung about her shoulders. She was wearing a long white dress with the gold markings that marked her out as a member of the priesthood but, in his stupor, the Dagda was unable to make out the rank that they signified. He desperately tried to pull himself back into consciousness and made an attempt at looking respectable as he pulled the cart pulled up beside her.

"Good tidings and many welcomes to you, kind Sir. I require passage to the Court of King Nuada in Tara, if you would be so kind." She smiled broadly up at him. The Dagda felt his head spin and his stomach churn at the sight of her smile. He couldn't quite tell if that was an effect of the drink or not but for a moment he had lost himself in those deep blue eyes of hers. He slipped down off the cart and tottered unsteadily on his feet before her, trying to shake off the sensation.

"And good day to you, m'lady. I would be my ho-honurr."

"Your drunk," she said, impatiently. The smile had decayed into a grin of mockery.

"I shwear m'lay, I ha-ha-haven't tushed a drop all day, I'm me-merely dazzled by your, your great booty." He flashed a tooty grin at her that he thought looked quite handsome on him, the reaction on her face gave him the idea that she did not share this opinion.

"No matter, your horses are still sober and your cart is large enough for me to avoid your offensive odours. You will take me to Tara."

"I fear the lady izz too hasty. It is bad luck for me to car-carry anywun who doesh not call me by m-my name."

"Alright then, I shall call you a drunken oaf. Up, drunken oaf. Take me to Tara." She swept past him and stood by the back of the cart waiting for him to alight.

The Dagda, who was rapidly sobering up, spun around to face her. This was not going how he had planned and he needed to get his wits together fast.

"Ah, m'lady, that is not my name. The geas demands that you use my fu-full name. You know I c'not do otherwizz."

"It is even worse luck to refuse me, oaf. But come, tell me your name then so that we can on with our journey. I am not in the mood to be seduced by a drunkard."

The Dagda grunted disapprovingly at this.

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