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Graham Donachie's Stories
The Legend of The Tall Man....


I remember long ago when I was a lad in St Maryıs, one of my favourite subjects was history. We had a great teacher. His name was Brother Kenny. He would tell us tales of Scottish heroes and villains and he had the knack of the telling, that would keep the attention of us pupils enthralled in the drama...He would tell us the story of a man....I now interpret that story in my own fashion....

There once lived a King who had a Mighty Kingdom. A rich and powerful Realm it was, a lone flower amidst thorns....But this King had many problems.

One such problem, was  a neighbouring Kingdom. An ancient Kingdom this, much older than  his own. It lay far to the North beyond the Great Wall. This ancient Realm was in the throes of chaos. It had no Royal Leader. It had lost itıs Ancient Ard Righ....It was a Lost Land.

Now this King saw this Lost Land as his own for the taking. But being true to his cunning nature,.he did not avail himself of the danger of armed conflict.. rather, he would let matters fall into his own sphere of influence, without the blood-letting of combat.

This  King was approached by the Lords of the Lost Land. They begged of him to choose from amongst them, a future Ruler. Now sly as the Reynard was this King. He saw the weakness of the Lords, and how they argued and fought amongst themselves for the scraps of his favours. He intended to choose, and use, for his own Royal advantage, the man to rule this Lost Land.......This choice would be a mere puppet, and he would dance the merrie dance of his masterıs choosing.

And so the scene was set, and the choice was made, and the bells in the Holy places of the Lost Land pealed out for the joy of having , once again, a Leader...

And so began the dance of the Puppet King...

But there were, among the common folk of the Lost Land, those who would argue against the ruling of the Mighty King. They would choose their own King by the old laws and in the old ways.  So, as they would have their say, a deputation was chosen from their leaders and they journeyed to the far South, to the court of the Mighty King.    But alas, being the lowest and simplest of Gentry, their protestations fell on cruel ears. In answer to the arguments of the deputation, their severed heads were sent back over the Border hills, back to the Lost Land with the direst of warnings.....

But the threats went unheeded by the People of the Lost Land...They raised the voice of resentment and rebellion against the Puppet King and the Master who pulled his strings. The Puppet King tryed in vain to quell the insurrection, to no avail.  The wrath of the Mighty King fell upon the shoulders of the Puppet and he was called to the Southlands to answer for his ineptitude. Offering lame excuses to his Master did nothing to ease the pain and degradation that finally befell him. He passed away to the Dark Land of the Spirit People, a broken and shamed man...

And now the Mighty King looked Northward and vowed to end the accursed opposition to his rule.  He would crush this rabble.

The Mighty King had powerful allies. From across the Sea of the Large Nose People, came the  waves of Landless Knights eager for battle. Promises of rich and arable land, of Titles and Power and Dynasties to be forged from the bodies of the fertile women of the Lost Land.

His Armoured Horsemen swept in from the Southlands and laid waste to all that was beauty and sacred to the simple People of the Lost Land....The hordes gave vent to murder and rapine. Nothing was left untouched. Nothing in the Lost Land remained pure, all had been violated, all had the stain of greed and lust and avarice pissed upon it.  To the sword went the children, the old and any who would offer opposition. To the beds of the hungry Knights went the Young Women of the Lost Land.

On a day of Sorrow, the Man prayed in silence......

He was a Tall Man, taller and stronger than most. He was born of the Old Tongued Ones and shared a bond with the simple people. The love of the earth and the spirits that dwelt in the mists of the Lost Land......

But sad was the heart of the Tall Man on the day of Sorrow...

The lamenting pipes played the dirge for folk murdered.... and hard was the hatred forged in the heart of the Tall Man.

He stood and wept.... For the love ones that had been wrenched from his mortal life, and for the loss of family and kinfolk....He had lost all....to the cruelty of the Mighty King....

The Tall Man swore a Sacred oath....

In a lonely glen, in a far off place, was sworn the Oath, on the Hilt of the great Broadsword , in the shadow of the Cross....... The priest would say Mass in this lonely glen, and bless the Tall Man with the oil from the Eternal City...

And so it began...

The Tall Man gathered about him a few apostles. He called upon the people to rise and shake off the Yoke of Tyranny. His visions captured the imagination of even the most hesitant of listeners...His followers now, from all over the Lost Land, soon swelled in numbers.

Border shepherds laid down their crooks and raised the blades...The Men who Sailed in Ships came ashore from the briny to join in the array. The Redhaired Men, from of the Mountains and Isles in the West came to his Calling. And also....from the wild habitats  of the Northeast, came the ones who lived in the remote forests and hill forts on the edge of the Northern Sea......The Blue People...

From the high mountains, as the gurgling burns run to form  frothy torrents, which in turn flow into the broad rivers of the Straths, did support for the Tall Manıs Banner swell.

He became the Scourge of the Mighty Kingdom.....His anger was as awesome as the  winter storms that howled and screeched in from the Eastern Sea. For every violation against his people, his vengeance was twofold.....Towns would burn at his command, their streets running red with the blood of men, women and children impaled upon his iron spears......Nothing and no one was spared.....Carnage after carnage, he heaped upon the Land of the Mighty King..... His Name was Terror and his enemies suffered most cruelly under his sword...

But the Tides of Fate, once favouring him, vanished, as the mists under the sunrays of a new dawn..

The Helmıd Men of the Mighty Kingdom rode across the Lost Land in ever increasing numbers....

The Red Hairs retreated to the safety of their Mountains and Lonely Isles. The naked warriors of the Blue People were hacked and slain, screaming war cries to their Ancient Gods.....

The Tall Man became as an outlaw.....

His army scattered and defeated, he wandered the Lost Land. With only a few comrades, he waged his bitter war against the invaders. In small skirmishes and lightning-fast attacks he slaughtered with no quarter given....But tyme was running short for the Tall Man..........

The Mighty King chuckled in his chambers as the news reached him.....

His crowning pleasure......The capture of the Tall Man.......

On a day, in the month, of that fateful year...... The Tall Man was stretched on the Rack..... His joints parted with loud snaps and the contents of his voiding bowels did stain the robes of the torturers....
His spine was twisted and his agony was screamed over the heads of the  laughing and jeering onlookers.

His manhood severed by a blade, was pierced, and held aloft and commented upon in ribald jest by arrogant Lords, then tossed amongst the gaggle of Court Whores, for further dainty inspection.
His limbs cut asunder from the torso, but allowing him no pleasure of death, served to lift the mood of the mob in attendance, and their baying for further bloodsport could be heard many miles from that arena of death....A final sword thrust, from arse to breastbone and he knew no more of worldly pain...

He died in a screaming agony.......

But his final scream was heard above the baying of the mob... It reached upwards into the passing arms of the Wind Spirits. They sheltered it and carried it far from that awful place. Far away, far to the Northlands...

A cowering shepherd boy, taking shelter from a storm in the lee of the Great Wall, heard, what he thought,  was a banshee scream, and he shivered with the hearing  of it. The Red Haired sailors on their galley, were taken unawares by a sudden squall which blew in from the south, and the screaming of the wind had a certain human quality which froze their blood and caused a youth on his first voyage to soil himself in shameful fear...

Deep in the Land of the Blue People,  on the top of an ancient volcanic hill, stood the Warriors....The remnants of the Fallen. They gathered here at the request of the Old One......

The Seer told of a Vision.....The Warriors were attentive to the relating of the Vision......But during the telling,a  sudden storm erupted...The howling of the wind sounded as a tortured soul....The Seer cried aloud to the Wind Spirits..for his Vision had been made manifest.

And the years past.....

And The Mighty King sighed his last breath........

In the old Sacred Circle in a glen in the Lost Land, chiefs  gathered to discuss the old story of the Tall Man...Without him their battles for Freedom had perished with his passing, and the winds of sorrow had blown his spirit to the shadows of another place......

But the Spirit of the Tall Man still lived within the minds and memories of the People. It would nourish the Seed of Hope.....His words were as a  lifeline to the struggle of the Lost People and they would remember.....They would cherish his memory....They would cherish the memory of the giving of his life....But they would not allow him death......... He became as a Talisman to the Lost People........
In the heat of conflict and in the scream and clamour of battle, they would remember the Tall Man......

The Dark  Man stood alone......

This man had been a special Knight in the Mighty Kingıs Court. He had the King's favour and had rode at his Royal Side in the Wars against the Tall Man... He too had claim to the Throne of the Lost Land.
His Lineage sprang from the marriage of a Nobleman of the Long Nosed People and a Woman of the Northland.   

In his veins then, did the Royal Blood of the Lost Land flow.. But as The Fates would have it, his popularity had waned and he had fallen out of favour with the Mighty King.... He was an opportunist who, for his own advantage, had murdered a fellow Knight in a Sacred Place....He knew little of Scruples or Honour, for he had been sired by Lust and suckled by Avarice. But for his Sins, the penalty was the visitation of a Pestilence.....For his Sire was ravaged by Leprosy and so the ills of the Father were passed on to the Son...

Within the heart of the Dark Man,  a thought sprang forth.. The idea of Rebellion...

Deep within the folds of the warm bed, the Empty King whimpered.... He struggled into wakefulness and disengaged himself from the limbs of the perfumed boys who shared his favours.... Shivering now, he climbed from the bed and wrapping himself in a purple robe sat by the fire in his chamber....

For the Empty King had a problem......

On the Northern border of his Kingdome was the Great Wall..... This wall had been built many centuries ago by the People of the Eagle Standard. They had built it in an effort to protect themselves against the naked Berserkers of the Blue People. Many men had died on that Wall...Eventually, after years of campaigning on that wild borderland, the Eagle Standard People retreated to the safety of more southerly climes. The Great Wall stood as testimony to their passing... And Now.....

All the Peoples of the Lost Land had once again united under the Banner of The Dark Man......
The Seed of Hope had rooted and had grown into the Flower of Freedom......

The Mighty King had killed the Body........
But the Blood of the Tall Man had nourished the Seed....
His Spirit would guide The People....
They would cleave to his ideals and would not be swayed from their beliefs neither by the sword of Wrath nor the slyness of Guile.....


Read other stories from Graham Donachie

 


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