Lys: The Gift Of The Blarney

Cathair was drawn from his reverie by Kay's exuberance. He sounded for all the world like a little girl excited to be going to market for the first time. He had half a mind to brush the man off and leave him be. But he was Irish, and the Irish never passed up the chance to tell a tale- true or not.

He turned to face them. "I'll tell you the real story. You Romans- you like to change things around to make it appealing to you. I learned it from Aithne's father. She could tell you much better than I, but I think I remember enough to give you the idea."

He leaned back, spinning a tale in his mind. "Back before the time of the Romans, in the time of heroes and gods, there lived a king named Lugh Thunderfist. Now, this king found himself at war- for he enjoyed a good battle- and in fighting his adversary, the foe clove his left hand from his arm. Ah, but Lugh still had his sword arm and two good feet under him, and he repaid the coward by cleaving his head from his shoulders.

"The battle ended quickly after that, and Lugh's captains sought him out. When they were reunited, he was all over blood, having never let go of his sword to stop the flow. From that day on he was known as Lugh the Red, and also (though behind his back), Lugh the Foul-Smelling.

"Now, the law of Eire was such that if a man was maimed, he could not be king. I will not explain why- I do not think you would understand. That is all you need know, anyway. So Lugh went to his druid advisors, and asked their help. He had just won a decisive battle and was not willing to give up his kingdom so easily.

"The druids conferred together and came to a conclusion. 'Your brother is of your own blood. Therefore you must take the hand of your brother and bring it to us. No other will do. Sever it as he sleeps. If you put this on the wound after, he will not die from it.'

"Lugh regarded the potion, not knowing whether to do as the druids said or not. But they did speak sense. Lugh's brother Ket was of an annoyingly gregarious manner, which in itself was not bad, but Lugh feared it was all a front to take his place. This would be the perfect time to place his bid for the kingship. Lugh nodded at the druids and waited for night.

"Upon the dark of night, Lugh carried out their wishes. Whether by magic or some other force (for many said Ket was a prodigiously heavy sleeper), Ket did not awake and Lugh was free to bring the hand to the druids. They had him stretch out his arm, and laid the hand next to it.

"By dawn, the druids had finished their work. Lugh stretched out his hand and to his own amazement, flexed his fingers. He was whole once more. But with the dawn also came the waking of Ket. When the brother saw how his hand had gone missing, he was very confused. It was not until he came out of his home and saw his brother made whole once more that he figured out what had happened.

"Now, most royal brothers would have been offended at the theft, but Ket was not. Some say it may have had something to do with the ring of druids behind his brother. But whatever reason, Ket strode to Lugh and said, 'Why did you not ask me, royal brother? I would have gladly given it to you.'

"And so there was peace in Lugh's realm. The foe had been vanquished, the king made whole, and the king's brother's behavior greatly steadied by the fact that he could now only gesture with one hand.

"So ends the tale of Lugh Thunderfist. Make of it what you will."

Cathair sat back, pleased with himself for presenting it with something like the proper, traditional way. His expression held not the slightest hint that the story was anything other than wholly true.

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