This is for
‘’To tell a story’’ contest (sorry long story inc! Also Madra Rua is Irish for fox basically translating into red dog )An Madra Rua
It was a cruel winter’s eve, an unnatural chill hung closely in the air. The frozen ground felt as if it was hewn from the very stone that formed the imposing spectacle of Greyburg castle. The castle was home to the fierce and powerful clan lord Ulthred ‘Flame Beard’ Ruadh and his wife Aughilde of the northern Calassian Sea, whose beauty rivalled the ferocity of her war hungry husband. Their only daughter Meabh was a sweet and innocent child who was greatly cared for by her mother. Her father paid her little heed as he was anxious to sire a son but complications during Meabh’s birth had caused her mother unable to bear further children. Aughilde knew her husband blamed Meabh for this and endeavoured to protect her beloved daughter from her father’s resentment and mis-guided aggression.
Lately Ulthred had buried himself in an attempt to conquer the eastern lands of Fiochan an old warlord who had ruled the fertile lands of Dun Caerig fairly and justly. Ulthred fancied the lands for himself as although he had a thriving port town and fishing community his own land of poor quality consisting mostly of rocky outcrops and mountains. He had made the first move and had sent a small team of his best warriors to assassinate the old warlord in the dead of night on the feast of Samhain. Things did not play out as Ulthred had envisioned as Fiochan was cunning and ready for such an attempt. He already knew much of Ulthreds plans through the subtle use of spies he had planted in Greyburg castle unbeknownst to Ulthred. The assassination party was ambushed and quashed with relative ease and Fiochan had retaliated in kind seizing a command outpost under Ulthreds command. This had enraged Ulthred and thus a bitter war began to develop between the two. Over a month of unsolicited bloodshed and relentless raiding passed before Fiochan requested a truce in order to end the meaningless violence between the two lands. Ulthred urged by his wife hesitantly accepted and thus arrangements were made to discuss the terms of peace at castle Greyburg.
Fiochan was in no position to travel the distance himself and so sent his son Aodhan in his stead. Aodhan was a strong, handsome and skilled warrior coupled with his mother’s commanding and calculated disposition and his father’s wisdom was a fearsome warrior to behold. He had inherited his father’s peaceful nature and only retaliated when a fight was brought to him. Alas the same could not be said for his brother Donovan. He was a wild brutish man who enjoyed violence and despised his father’s clear favouritism for his brother. His skill with a blade did not match that of his brothers but where he lacked ability he made up for with unrivalled strength extracting much delight from crushing the bones of his enemies. Despite his violent tendencies his father decided to send him to assist his brother as he did not fully trust Ulthred to honor and feared the outcome of the meeting for peace.
Dark clouds rolled across the kingdom of Oriel as the riders from Dun Carig were permitted entry to Castle Greyburg. “Hoist the main gate” rang out the cry from the guard who had confronted them upon their arrival. Distant rumblings across the ocean which lay to Greyburgs west could be heard as heralding the imminent onset of an incoming storm. Rain broke from the dark skies as Aodhan, Donovan and the rest of their fathers men were lead into the main courtyard and their horses seen to by the serving stable boys. King Ulthred and the Dun Carig clansmen met in the great hall to discuss terms.
Sensing the disharmony between the brothers the Ulthred took advantage of this and concocted a scheme after the meeting, which would see him take the lands of Dun Carig. He approached Donnovan and proposed the two work together which would see Donnovan take his father’s throne and be rid of his favoured brother Aodhan. The jealous Donnovan agreed and rode on ahead of his brother to lie in ambush. Meanwhile the sweet Meabh Ruadh and gentle Aodhan had met in the grand library and needless to say fell in love at first sight. Sadly Aodhan had to depart and leave and go to his father to announce the result of the peace agreements, but he swore to return and take Meabh as his wife. Meabh’s joy was soon soused as no sooner had Aodhan departed to catch up to his brother she overheard her father confiding in his head advisor the plan to usurp Fiochans throne by manipulating Donnovan to kill Aodhan. Meabh was horrified at the news and briskly mounted her faithful stallion Roghnain whos jet black coat glistened in the steady downpour.
Meabh had to warn Aodhan of the ambush before it was too late. She knew he would be traveling by the Mordach Glen road and attempted to head him off by going through Coilldraiochta forest, whereupon she was attacked by the dreaded wolves of Mac Tire. She lost her balance and was dismounted from Roghnain who ran of startled into the night. She could hear the sound of the wolves howls as they closed in around her. She cried out for someone to help her warn her new found love of the disaster that would befall him should she fail to tell him herself. It was then she heard the enchanting but detached voice of a young woman coming from what felt like her own mind. It promised to grant her the ability to warn her love but at the cost of shedding her mortal form. Meabh knew it was one of the Fae folk with whom she conversed and had been warned that their deals always came at a considerable cost. Alas Meabh had no choice and readily agreed, a small white orb of light came down from the branch of a nearby oak and settled itself on Meabhs forehead. A warm tingling sensation coarsed through her body and she felt herself change, she closed her eyes and let the magic ripple through her. When she opened her eyes she was covered in a magnificent red fur with black tipped paws where her hands and feet had been, she was standing on all fours and had a large bushy tail. Her senses were enhanced many times of what she had previously known and she felt lighter than the feather quills she had played with in the library as a child. The Fae told her to run to her beloved as she was now swift enough to outrun both the wolves and Aodhans horses. So it was the first fox made its way into the world and was later to become known as the Madra Rua. Whether or not she found her love and warned him of the danger he faced is a tale for another time….