(First tale of many that I have written in an epic retelling fashion. I sincerely hope you enjoy this version of the classic fairy tale we all know.)
Aurora the Warrior
Written by KC J. Hutchins
“The same place again… did I take a wrong turn?” Aurora said aloud to herself. She wanders for what seemed like an endless maze yet again, never seeming able to move on. Every turn seemed to change but led her back to the same exact spot. This maze seemed to have been the only thing in her life, she could not remember a time before hand. Time seemed lost and her body seemed to never change. Something seemed different today, a red glow has begun to shine in a corridor she did not know existed. Moving towards the light cautiously, she held her sword knowing that it may be a trap. Nearing closer the light seemed to form into a being beckoning her forward. She comes into a courtyard of pillars which she had never seen before. As she stood a creature emerged from the ground with what appeared to be a cage. The creature is Sluagh, known to snatch away those who are going to die. His eyes are a terrible red in color, his teeth sharp as razors, his tongue stuck out with the thrill of murder, his four claws covered in blood, and his horrible green form crooked moving towards Aurora. In his cage, she sees two different balls of light one of blue color which was furiously hurling itself at the bars of the cage and one of green which was staying still in the middle of the cage. The monster throws his claws at Aurora who brings her sword up to meet the blow. As she looks up, she can see something dangling from the creature’s neck. She is pushed back by the sheer strength of the beast. Her mind starts to race, trying to figure out how to slay this monster. Just then the creature shows a weakness, he keeps his hands and his body around the cage.
“He is protecting it… perfect.” She thought. Lunging forward, she runs to the prison. The creature notices and extends a claw out at the oppressor, but Aurora already knew this would happen. Rolling left, she evades and brings her sword down on the cursed beast. It howled in pain as it cowered away trying to tend its wound. The cage is freed from his grasp allowing Aurora to come up with her next move. The warrior places the prison in the middle of the courtyard of pillars and retreated to the darkness. Sluagh moves forward toward the cage. He hears crumbling as he steps to his prize, though continues believing it is his steps that caused this sound. Finally, the sound gets louder still and causes him to turn. The pillars are falling greatly down on him. He begins to run trying to escape but he is too late, being crushed by the great stones of the courtyard. His head sticks out letting him spill out curses toward the woman. She walks up to him while he still speaks and cuts his head off.
Taking the medallion that hung around the monster’s neck as a prize, she states, “Your own stupidity led to your downfall. Curse yourself if you are to blame anyone for your death.” She unlocks the cage and the balls of light fly next to the red form. The three swirl in harmony until three beautiful women emerged. The lady in green is the goddess Airmed, healer of the world, next to her the lady in blue is Banba, the goddess of war and fertility, and finally the lady in red is Macha, wisest of all beings. Aurora recognizes them, bows low, and blesses them.
Macha speaks, “Stand brave warrior for you have saved two of my allies, but I need your help for the third.”
Aurora was dumbfounded and spoke with much difficulty, “How can I help you? I have been stuck in this place for what feels like an eternity. How can I help the goddesses of ancient wisdom?”
Banba speaks up, “You have already done part of your duty. You have freed Airmed and myself. Take heart young hero for it is not your fault that you could not escape the maze.” The hero looks up at the goddesses confused looking to each of them for the answer.
Finally, Airmed speak, “You have been afflicted since birth brave child. Before you were born a terrible war had broken out among your people. The witch Carman and her three sons Dub, Dother, and Dain have come upon your kingdom. Your father, the king, sought to ward them off by praying to us goddesses. There were four of us who answered her prayers, but one of our members has been possessed. Her name is the goddess Badb or the crow as some of the mortals call her. Whoever’s side she is on the people will win.”
Macha interjects, “She fell to the side of Carman by means of sorcery. While she flew above cornfields on the border of our side the evil Dub sprung a chain made of iron upon her. She was unable to break free and the witch set a spell over her that makes us look like the other side. Deeply she believes she is opposing Carman but instead fights us. If we get her to see she can again be our ally and win this war. This is where you come in noble hero. You can stop this horrible foe and her affliction.”
“Again, sweet goddesses who have not heard me. I cannot see beyond this maze even for the answer to escape. How might I even begin to save a mighty goddess to escape a similar affliction?” Aurora responded.
“The answer is in your hand.” Airmed points at the medallion. “That is the Amulet of Go Léir A Fheiceáil, it allows the wearer to see clearly everything before them. You have been trapped inside your own mind without even knowing it. This amulet will allow you to see and free you from your curse.”
“Even so great and powerful goddesses how can a mere mortal fight against such power?” Again, the mere human wondering her future fate.
“When you were born, a prophecy was made by the great prophet Vate. He prophesized that the first born of the king would slay Carman on her twenty first birthday and lift her evil from this kingdom. Carman heard word of her spoken doom. She walked straight into the halls of the castle with the crow on her shoulder. No one could stand against her as long as the crow was with her. She spoke, laying a curse upon you saying that you would be trapped in your mind until you could defeat her. She laughed walking away knowing if you could not escape your own mind how could you even train, but now the prophecy can come true.” Banba revealed.
Aurora thought on this and spoke, “Thank you fair goddesses. Let me now go with your blessings and oppose this threat upon this land.”
“Go, we will be with you as you go to defeat your enemies.”
The warrior puts on the amulet and awakens in her bed. She looks to her right at the wall and in big letters sees “Aurora’s birthday” and underneath the peg marks added up to the number twenty-one. “Cursed for that many years, I shall make Carman pay!” She said aloud. She jumps out of bed and fastens herself in armor that was prepared for her on this fated day. A sword was slung to her side with a bow and arrows that were hung over her back. Looking out the window, the once great lush green land had half of it turn to black dust. She watched as forces stormed the stronghold in an attempt to defeat fate. Fully armed and ready, she emerged from her chamber to see a platoon of soldiers and her father Ailill Molt reinforcing the door. Her father turns and delights in seeing his child embracing her, but quickly remembers what is at stake returns to position.
“We are going to win this fight; my daughter has emerged and we shall win this day! Fight on men! Fight on!” Just as he shouts this, the door swung open. Creatures of horrible fangs that walked like men attacked the castle, while something larger approached from the rear. Dother arrived with armor that seemed to be impenetrable. Aurora, using the Amulet of Go Léir A Fheiceáil, saw an opening in the armor at the waist line. She advanced through the ranks dodging creature after creature finally reaching one of the sons of Carman. Dother recognized the warrior and immediately swung forward with his large broad sword. She ducked nearly having her head cut off, rolling forward she drew ever closer. Fear struck further into the heart of Dother when he saw what hung around her neck. Furiously he swung his sword over and over having every blow parried away leaving him open to attack. Finally reaching her target she swings her sword across his waist. Immediately his guts spilled over the floor of the halls of Ailill Molt. The other creatures shrieked and retreated out of the halls back to the battle field. Taking a quick rest, the soldiers of the castle, the king, and his daughter begun strategizing. They knew that the other two brothers would have to be killed, their mother, and Badb be turned back to the right side.
The king went to put on the armor of Dother as to avoid harm but Aurora warned her father, “That armor has a weakness that his brothers and mother know. I would not put on that cursed suit.”
Her father replied, “A wise man will wear armor that is stronger than others. I will be fine my daughter.” They moved from the tower and onto the battlefield. The tide of the battle seemed to be changing, baffling Carman. She sent her son Dub, the son of darkness, to investigate along with his brother Dain, son of violence whose touch can kill any man. They met the king and his daughter on the battlefield. They saw the female warrior and knew what had become of their brother. Dub filled with hatred swung his mighty spear at Aurora who simply grabbed it in mid-air, and swung it back at the son of darkness. It landed into his shoulder causing his hands to swing back and hit one of his followers who was blinded by his touch. The young female’s mind raced on how to defeat an enemy she could not touch. She ran forward while the man was wounded from the spear who ripped the spear from his shoulder. Again, he threw his spear missing his target. She then jumped up onto the weapon using it as a spring, rising her up into the sky. Dub looked up and saw as arrows rain from the sky all landing their mark. One for each eye, one through his head, and another through his throat. The mighty man fell dead without another word. Her father on the other side was fighting against Dain. He swung his sword forward over and over having his moves parried away. Eventually he used his body to tackle forward and knock the son of Carman over.
“How can this be?! No man can touch me and live!” Dain yelled.
“I wear the armor of your brother Dother who was slain in my halls by my daughter. You will die just the same swine.”
“My brother’s armor you say?” The wicked son smiled as his arm reached out and touched the king’s waist line. Instantly the king fell dead from mere contact with the son of Carman. Aurora looked in horror as her father turned pale. She drew the arrows from the body of Dub and noticed this had changed her arrows. The heads were now a pitch-black color, she thought and now knew what this meant. She flew one arrow straight into the arm of Dain who panicked at once. He had become blind, and Aurora smiled at the success of her discovery. Now going for her sword, she charged at the pathetic son. Filled with rage she stabbed her sword straight through his heart watching the light in his eyes turn dark like the many he had slain. She withdrew the sword and realized again that one of her weapons had changed. The steel color of the blade had turned to a white as pale as death. Looking toward a nearby soldier of Carman she swung her blade causing a non-fatal wound on the man. He immediately fell over pale and dead. The blade could kill any who opposed it with a single cut. From above a caw she heard, and Badb swooped down to attempt to kill her. She swung the crow to the ground as it transformed into the form of the goddess herself.
“Carman, you shall die today! You have hidden in your fortress for years but now you reveal yourself right when you are about to lose. You shall kill no more!”
“Badb calm yourself it is I, Aurora, daughter of Ailill Molt, the one who must slay Carman. I do not wish to harm a goddess such as yourself and I can heal you. Let us not fight it is pure foolishness.” Aurora tried to reason.
“No! I will not fall for your trickery!” Badb lunged forward and with her two swords in hand. The Aurora knows she cannot kill her for that would upset the balance of this world and she had given her word to the three goddesses. She grabbed the spear of the fallen Dub and blocked the onslaught of attacks of the warrior goddess. She slides the spear up to disarm her foe of one of her swords, the goddess in response strikes with more rage and aggression. She brings her sword down stabbing it into the ground where the sword remains stuck. As she struggles to unhinge it, Aurora outstretches her hand and taps into the power of the Amulet of Go Léir A Fheiceáil. Badb’s eyes become clear as she sees what she has done.
“Thank you, brave daughter, of Ailill Molt and my deepest of apologies for your kingdom. I will fight with you, now go knowing that the battle is already yours.” Badb joined her fellow goddesses and began to burn the remains of the sons of Carman fearing their touches could still pollute the land further. Aurora moved swifter now to the heart of the army.
Carman was starting to pace now having her sons nor the crow return. As she looked out she saw her fate running down into her domain. “How did you break my spell?” She looks as she sees the amulet on Aurora’s chest. “The stupidity of others is astounding, you slew Sluagh? Did you also slay my sons and the crow?” Smiling knowing if the crow was slain she had already won.
The king’s daughter responded, “I slew Sluagh and your sons with much joy to rid this world of their stench, but the crow has had her eyes open. You have lost wicked creature although your sons have slain my father, I will now slay their mother!” Drawing her bow, Aurora shot her four arrows. Carman threw a gust of wind, and two of them blew away. The arrows were still coming. She evaded one but the other just barely nipped her leg. She laughed until realizing that her sight had left her.
Enraged she screamed, “You kill my children and dare to use their blood against me! You worthless woman! I cannot see you but I can still sense your presence.” With that the witch threw a ball of energy toward the heroine who dodged while moving behind a rock. The furious witch hurled blast after blast of energy causing the boulder to grow smaller and smaller. With courage, the king’s daughter advances evading one blast after another. The sorceress sensed this and decided if she cannot see nor would the cursed wench. She formed above her a ring of fire that went out around her scorching the eyes of Aurora. The heroine screeches out her eyes blinded by the flames. Drawing from the power from the Amulet of Go Léir A Fheiceáil she sees Carman and notices that she is tired. Aurora silently and without reserve jumps and brings her sword down onto the wicked wench who had plagued her kingdom. Carman jumps back being sliced by the cursed sword.
“This blood… it is my son’s… you killed me with both of the blood of my children. You wench you deserve death not me! I merely wanted to cleanse the land I am…”
“Shut up witch! Your attentions were purely for conquest! Do not beg for forgiveness from the gods and goddesses, they have already seen your disgust. Join your sons in Ifreann!” With that witch turned pale and departed to the afterlife.
The battle has been won and Aurora walked away with the body wilting down to powder. She returns to her kingdom her sword dripping with the blood of her enemies. The king’s daughter sits upon her father’s throne having the crown held upon her head. She however did not feel the throne stood well for her.
She proclaimed, “The throne is not for me, for while the kingdom moved on I was stuck inside my own head. Therefore, this shall go to the wisest of us all, the crow shall lead us. She who had to suffer for our inability to defend ourselves. Hail goddess and queen Badb who will keep this land clean!”
“Hail Badb!” the court resounded. With that the daughter of Ailill went to exit the court when she was stopped by the voice of Badb.
“Our strongest warrior what shall become of you?”
“The rest of the dear land of Éire needs cleansing. My spirit is not suited for staying in one place but for the heat of battle and the clash of swords. If you ever need me come to me in the form of the crow and I will return.” With that she bows low again and exits the castle to a future of constant battle and adventure.