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Change is as good as a holiday.


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Manannán mac Lir

It wasn’t every day that a person’s world got turned upside down. To a creature that had been alive for thousands of years, change didn’t faze them that much. It occurred, generally speaking, in a slow manner and was rarely insurmountable. Now and again though, a change occurred fast, in one big steaming heap moving with the speed of an avalanche. You could either get out of its way, or roll with it, and hope you made it out somewhat intact.

Manannán mac Lir had been alive for thousands of years. When change occurred fast for him, he preferred to use it to forge something new, accepting it only on his terms. He believed that by all means, a body needed to continue moving forward and adapt to one’s unique situation.

Living his long life in the open, without hibernation or self-imposed seclusion as some of his counterparts had done, Manannán had always been part of what shaped the world of the ancient Celtic gods. If asked he couldn’t tell you how old he was, and if you read all the accounts of his life, he had been everything from a trickster to sailor and merchant, to the guardian of the Otherworld. That last part was correct.

Writings of the exploits of the Tuatha Dé were long and often unbelievable, yet he was surprised at how much was still accurate. With regards himself, truths had become mixed and layered with myths and legends. Stories passed down were retold and embellished, and each storyteller had a different angle. It didn’t bother him. Nothing wrong with having a bit of mystery about oneself. What others knew, or didn’t; remembered or didn’t, mattered little to Manannán.

Lost in his ancient memory, he recalled snippets of his past. The love he had shared with Fand, the children he had fathered, the gods he had fostered, and the clash of steel in the countless battles he had fought. As a warrior god, Manannán had looked a little different than the modern appearance he had now. Over centuries he had subtly changed to fit into whichever world he chose to inhabit.

When he came to the earthly plane in more recent times, it was to find Kyla, the daughter of his former wife, Fand, and the Irish hero Cú Chulainn. His arrogance in expecting her to fall into his arms was misguided. Put in his place, they found common ground and friendship bloomed once again. Deciding to stay after they had reconciled was one of those fortuitous moments that Manannán could not foresee. It was at this point he met, quite by accident, Harlowe Jayne Farris.

Harlie. His heart warmed upon thinking of her. It was a whirlwind romance, where they went through many highs and lows in quick succession, and upon, what they both thought was her deathbed, they married. She challenged him like no other. They loved, they fought, they made-up then did it all over again. He had never met a woman like her in his long life, and he never wanted to let her go. In his selfishness, a thing he had in abundance, he offered her the elixir of life so that she would be immortal like him. He made sure to keep this little transgression from his people; it was not acceptable to give immortality to humans without great cause.

After some coaxing, Harlie took the elixir, and Manannán was beyond happy knowing she would be his for eternity. But their happiness was to be short-lived. Separated by circumstance, his woman was abused and tortured due to the demon that lived inside her. He didn’t even know. He hadn’t protected her as he should have. In his arrogance, he believed Harlie was untouchable. She was the wife of a god, who would dare such a thing? When he entered the Otherworld and ended up staying far longer than expected, Harlie managed to save herself, but it cost their relationship dearly.

It was because of this tragedy; he had all but forsaken the Otherworld. He loathed to step foot there, to be so far from her. When he was on the earthly plane, he could get to her, from anywhere, in the work of a moment. When in the Otherworld, it was different. The place enveloped him, distorted his senses, and his people required many trivial things of him.

Consequently, since his second return to the earthly plane in the last year, he had not physically left it once - a fact that annoyed some of his immortal fellows. He didn’t care. He could attend most of his duties without his physical form, the rest they could figure out themselves.
February 05, 2020 07:27 am

Manannán mac Lir

To look at him, Manannán appeared to be a regular guy. Six foot one, collar-length blonde hair, scruffy jaw, with jeans and a white button-down. His only extravagance was a Patek Philippe watch that cost a small fortune.

For the most part, he acted like a human. However, when alone, he used his godly powers to create whatever he needed around him. That’s what he was about to do now - remake this home. It held too many sad memories of the times he and Harlie were here. He wanted a new space around him, and if he managed ever to get Harlie back here, it would be fresh for her too.

Manannán desperately needed change, needed something to give between them to start anew. He figured a new home was an excellent place to start.

Finally making it back to his home, he stood and quieted himself. Drawing the ancient words from deep within his being, he raised his hands and began the chant.

“Manandán,” a sultry voice called his name.

Before he turned, he knew it was someone from the Otherworld since they were the only ones who used his old Irish name, just as Kyla did. Manannán spun on his heel to see a beautiful woman in a flowing green dress. Her long auburn hair hung well past her waist with tiny daisies, and jasmine threaded through the locks.

It was Anu, the goddess of earth and fertility, though some believed she was Danu their mother goddess and had for some reason relinquished that identity.

“Anu. Cád atá tú ag déanamh anseo?”

The goddess in question pouted at him as he got straight to the point. He silently laughed. Gods and goddesses loved to draw things out, loved to play games. He was in no mood for either.

“Tá tú caillte, Manandán. I have come to bring you back to the Otherworld. You belong to us. With your people.” She spoke in the unhurried manner many immortals possessed knowing they had an eternity to get their point across.

“I am not needed there. I can attend any duties I have without returning physically, and that is now what I choose. It’s not like we get called upon as often as we once did, and the last I checked I am not beholden to you.”

The flash in her eyes told him he’d hit a sore point. She was a powerful goddess, and if she was Danu, then more powerful than any single god or goddess of the Tuatha Dé. Pouting again, Anu approached him, gliding over the grass as if it’s only wish was to touch her feet. Manannán tensed as she slid a delicate hand up to his arm. “Manandán. Be reasonable. You cannot just skulk about this place forever. Come, sit with me. Let us talk awhile. Would you deny me that? It has been so long since we just…talked.”

Hiding his emotions, he stepped away from her. Occasionally they had done other things, none of which involved much talking, but that was a long time in the past. Which is why it was so curious she was here. He wondered what her angle was.
February 05, 2020 05:59 pm

Manannán mac Lir

Apart from a strange meeting she requested he attend a few months earlier, Manannán wouldn’t say they were well acquainted, or that Anu was a friend. Sadly, that meeting coincided with Harlie’s torture, and him consequently being stuck in the Otherworld for three months, so his association with this woman was not a good one.

“Téigh abhaile, Anu. Tá do chuid ama á chur amú agat.”

The beautiful goddess stomped her foot like a child, and he felt the vibration of it through the ground. “Manandán!”

Narrowing his eyes on her, Manannán cut her off before she could say more. “What are you playing at, Anu? Why are you here?”

“We want you home,” she said forcefully, then softer. “I want you home. Why is that so difficult to understand?” Anu walked around him, trailing fingertips along his shoulder.

Sighing, he looked at the ground a moment, then back at her. “I’m not going back. I prefer this realm now.”

The goddesses face screwed up at that last part. “Because of your human? Is dia tú! This is disgraceful. You would forsake us for a mortal creature that will wither and die in fifty to sixty years? Your obsession with this…woman makes you weak.”

“I don’t expect you to understand, Anu, which is why this conversation is over. Téigh abhaile.”

“I tried to help you, but you insisted on returning to the earthly plane. Perhaps I underestimated your human. She is resilient, no? A fragile mortal who withstood and escaped such suffering at the hands of those demonic creatures. I did not foresee that.”

“What did you say?” Manannán could not believe what he was hearing. “You knew?”

The laughter from the goddess’s lips was like tinkling bells. “It was not my doing, Manandán. I simply removed your ability to sense her for a short period, to make sure you concentrated on your people. She should not be your priority over us.”

“That’s why I didn’t know. I couldn’t work out why I wouldn’t know if Harlie was in danger. I could have saved her.” He took a step towards the goddess, fists clenched, power gathering momentum. The ground beneath his feet cracked open as his hurt and anger seeped out, then he lunged for her.

Anu waved her hand in the air, casually rendering him motionless, then smiled and spoke softly. “By some miracle, your human is fine, and from what I can tell has not let you back into her…good graces. So, this is the perfect time to realise where your place is Manandán. That you belong to me.”

“Never!” Manannán attempted to move and with great effort broke her hold. She merely smiled at him.

“I have found a scroll written by the prophetess Cethlenn, a Fomorian queen,” Anu spoke with great excitement as she continued. “Cethlenn wrote a poem. I believe it is about me and my future consort. I believe that man is you, Manandán. I am here to claim you as such.”

Dumbfounded at her outrageous claim, Manannán was speechless. During her pronouncement, Anu had taken a sheath of parchment from her gown and clutched it tightly in her small fist.

“Anu,” he began gently, desperately trying to calm the situation. “There is no me and you. There never will be.”

“Read it.” She thrust the parchment towards him, but he did not take it. “Thousands of years ago, we were foretold. I am the earth; you are the sea. If you let it, this could be our time. If you won’t, then I am not an enemy you should make. You or your little human.”

“It doesn’t have to be this way. Why would you want a man that doesn’t and will never love you?”

When Anu’s shoulders dropped, Manannán breathed out a slow sigh of relief. Perhaps she would see reason. As gods, they knew better than most that you can’t make someone love you.

From under her lashes, she looked at him, sly and malicious. His eyes widened at what he felt. “Stop!” He threw up his hands too late to halt the magic she funnelled straight at him.

The enchantment she threw was not what he expected. He thought it would be harmful in some way, but it felt restorative. The spell went right through him; he felt it in his very cells. They expanded and popped readjusting, his neurons fired, nerve endings sizzled. “What did you do to me?”

Anu’s eyes went wide with awe and something else that looked like fear. “I...I didn’t know what…” Then she threw her chin out, mastering her emotions. “This is what a consort should be. A warrior god.” Her eyes roved over his form.

“What are you talking about?” He looked around, unable to see any change. As he looked back to Anu, she blasted him with further magic. A binding spell. A powerful one, one he would not be able to break without knowing the exact enchantment. He quickly threw up a shield in the ether so she couldn’t do further damage knowing he was already too late. He had not expected her to attack him in this manner and consequently had not been on his guard.

Smiling at him, Anu spoke. “You have only yourself to blame. I can undo this, but it will be with you kneeling at my feet begging forgiveness and ending with a promise never again to leave the Otherworld. Read this, and know the truth.”

Anu let the parchment fall from her outstretched hand, which fluttered gently to land on the grass. Then, she was gone.
February 06, 2020 04:04 am

Manannán mac Lir

Irritated beyond belief, Manannán turned back to his house. Nothing of what she said made sense. As he moved, the wind stirred something near his face, and he noted hair fluttering in his peripheral view. It was at that point a button popped off the front of his shirt, and he noticed his clothes and watch were tight. Tight enough to be very uncomfortable.

Looking down slowly, dread deep in his gut, another button popped off his shirt as the material strained over what was now much larger pectoral muscles than he had before. As he moved towards the house, he heard the material rip around his arms as if it no longer wanted to contain the flesh therein.

Snatching the parchment up from the ground, he also retrieved the whiskey and boxed cuff links he had left on the porch earlier. Manannán strode into his home, placing the items on the table before stripping off the clothes that no longer fit him. He went into the bathroom adjusting his watch strap as he moved so the thing would no longer cut into his skin, then looked up into the mirror. His body jolted with surprise, as he didn’t recognise himself. He was now too tall to see his face and would have to adjust the height of the thing if he wished to view it.

Six foot six at least, Manannán had grown in height and bulk. His pectorals and right bicep rippled as he ran a hand through his now very long blonde hair that was well past his shoulders. Leaning forward, he scratched at the blonde beard that now graced his chin. Shaking his head, he backed away, staring in confusion and disbelief. Even the tattoo that had been on his left pec was no longer there, and that saddened him more than it should.

Anu had restored him to how he once looked when going into battle was a regular occurrence. She had called forth the warrior-god he had been over a thousand years ago.

Clothing himself with a thought in loose sweatpants and a white tee, Manannán paced the house. Now and again, he caught glimpses of himself as he roamed restlessly from room to room. The drastic change in height and body size meant he walked into things and clipped hips and knees on tables, sideboards and benches when he had never done so before. He felt disorientated, which in turn made him angry.

Frustration ran through him and retrieving the bottle of whiskey. Manannán opened it and took a long drink. It helped, marginally. In an attempt to take the edge off, he put the bottle to his mouth again and drank the entire contents, his throat working as the smooth liquid flowed into him. He could barely believe this had happened to him. He returned to the mirror time and again to confirm it was real. Nothing magically changed back, and with an oath, he swung a massive fist shattering the glass, obscuring his image.

In an attempt to formulate a plan, he went back to the lounge. The sofa creaked a little under his weight as he sat then leaned forward to put his head in his hands. Blowing out a breath, Manannán set to work to reverse the enchantment. He tried all manner of magic, spells and potions. Nothing worked. He called to Anu, raged into the ether for her to undo her work, all to no avail. That she did something so drastic against his will outraged him. Such a thing was not unheard of in their world, but he had not seen it in centuries.

What if he couldn’t change it? He did not want to give into Anu’s demands for it would mean losing Harlie entirely.

Harlie-girl, his mind was suddenly saturated with her. Her smell, her taste, how she felt under his hands. What will she think when she sees him? He grabbed the pants he had stripped off earlier and retrieved his phone. Their recent texts had given him such hope – open and playful. Then he read the last part.

‘I miss your handsome face already.’

The roar that came out of him was that of a wounded beast, and he threw his phone at full force across the room. The device shattered on impact. When he saw the tiny shards that littered his floor, he took a deep breath and reigned in his anger, not wanting to cause further damage.

Falling to his knees, he was at a loss what to do. His emotions were in turmoil, and for once, he wished he was human enough to be able to get blind drunk. Deciding to at least give it a try he went in search of more whiskey and when he gathered what he thought were enough bottles, Manannán mac Lir sat and attempted to get proper drunk.
February 07, 2020 02:09 am

Manannán mac Lir

As daylight crawled over the land, it made its way through the full-length windows of Manannán’s home. Creeping over the floor to touch the bare feet of a god remade before sunny fingers reached for his face.

Waking with a start, Manannán sat up slowly and swiped a broad palm over his eyes, then lower to scratch at his chin. The beard was still there, so nothing had changed, and it hadn’t been a dream. The fact that he felt like he slept was an odd feeling. Generally speaking, he didn’t need to sleep at all. His ‘sleep’ was more of a meditative state, though others would think him at rest as a human.

Standing, he stumbled across the lounge, counting five, or was it six, whiskey bottles littering the floor. He should have gone with wine from the Otherworld, that he could get drunk off, but didn’t want to be around his people in that state. Plastic crunched under his feet as he absently walked across the remains of his shattered phone. A slight pulsing behind his eyes was the only indicator that he had drunk a lot the night before.

Heading outdoors without a brush to his hair or change of clothes, Manannán took three steps passed his front door and the fourth step set him down in the Otherworld. He needed to speak with someone, gain some perspective.

Walking through a vast sun-dappled meadow where a large gazebo sat, gods and goddesses of the Otherworld socialised played games, read books, made love under shady trees and generally amused themselves in ways he took no notice of. Some heads turned as he passed mainly due to him not being there in some time rather than his new appearance.

How a body looked made little difference in the Otherworld, they knew the essence of each other and recognised one another regardless of their physical state.

Reaching a clearing where some of his people prepared for hunting, he found the being he sought. Bodb Derg, a son of the Dagda, was feeding something to his horse when he looked up abruptly as he felt Manannán draw near.

“I need to speak to you. Now,” Manannán said before turning off and walking into the nearby woods. Bodb Derg and he had fought in battles together and he could think of none better to vent his frustration on.

Thankfully Bodb followed, without question, and they walked in companionable silence for some time until Manannán stopped and just stared at the ground.

“It’s good to see you again, Manandán. It has been awhile. I hear you married a mortal woman.” Bodb said by way of breaking the silence.

Ignoring the pleasantries, Manannán whirled to face the other god. “I need you to break the enchantment that is on me.”

“And hello to you too. I am fine. Thank you for asking,” Bodb said as he shook his head then slowly wandered around the other man, a low whistle coming from between pursed lips until he was once again directly in front of Manannán. “That is a strong enchantment. I’m not sure I can break it.”

“Two, she placed two on me, one was binding magic.”

“Ah, that’s going to be a little more difficult to remove, perhaps even impossible. Who, might I ask, is she?” Bodb asked as he attempted to undo the spells. His efforts were many with unsatisfactory results.

At length, Manannán answered him. “Anu.”

“What? You should have said so before I even tried. You are not getting this undone unless she wills it.”

“Do you think she is Danu?” Manannán asked between gritted teeth.

“No,” Bodb replied succinctly. “If you were the mother of all, why wouldn’t you claim that title, especially with the egos in this place. So, no, I do not believe the rumours. However, she is one of the oldest of us and very powerful. Perhaps a direct descendant or sibling of Danu, but not the Great Mother herself.”

“I don’t know what to believe after this.” Manannán gestured to himself.

Bodb then took them to another place and with a lift of his chin motioned for Manannán to follow him. They now stood on the shores of a beautiful beach of golden sand and blue gently ebbing water. It was peaceful and set his unsteady nerves at rest. Manannán silently thanked Bodb, who created the only scene that would help him.

“I take it this new look, is her doing then, and not a choice of yours to return to your roots, as it were?”

Manannán shook his head, feeling a little calmer. “No, it was not. Anu thinks there is some prophecy about me being her consort and decided how I once looked suited her delusion better.” He sighed slowly thinking on where to go from here. “So, my choices are to give in to her demands or live with what I now have?”

“Manandán, I can’t help point out that a lot of men would be more than happy with this new state of affairs. It could have been a lot worse. You’re pretty enough now that I might ask you on a date.”

“I wouldn’t date a trollop like you.”

Bodb threw back his head and laughed then clapped Manannán on the shoulder. When the other also started to laugh, Bodb nodded his head. “I take it you have not seen yourself laugh or smile, because you still have those dimples. Does your woman like them?”

A surprised smile lit Manannán’s face as he looked at Bodb. “Aye, she does.”

“Well, there is something, then. All hope is not lost. If you love her, then don’t stop until she sees the man inside once more.”

If I love her? Bodb, she is my ocean.”

The other god sighed and nodded once more, understanding the depth of that statement from a Sea deity. “Then what are you doing here with me? Just…do me a favour before you go see her.”

“What favour?”

“For the love of all the Gods and Goddesses take a shower, you smell like a distillery.”

Laughing once more and feeling his spirits lightened somewhat, Manannán waved to Bodb Derg and took his leave.
February 10, 2020 06:43 pm

Manannán mac Lir

Stepping inside his home once again, he took a moment to clean the place of the empty bottles, shattered phone and smashed mirror, restoring the last two items to their original perfection. He retrieved the pocket watch Harlie had given him and set it on the table next to the parchment Anu had left.

Adjusting the mirror in the bathroom, Manannán then showered and washed the anger, confusion and despair he had felt over the past twelve hours down the drain. Wiping the condensation off the surface of the mirror he took in his reflection once more, then smiled and indeed those dimples appeared. He ran a comb through his long hair, and decided to leave it as is, but trimmed the scruffy beard, then looked at himself at length. “This is us now, and someday I won’t get a surprise at the face looking back at me.”

In his bedroom, he manifested an entire wardrobe of clothes, including underwear and shoes, for his new body and put on jeans and a dark grey t-shirt that fit but strained a little over his arms and chest. Adding running shoes, he was ready to get back to Harlie.

Taking the phone, he put it in his back pocket and about to pick up the watch when he instead picked up the parchment. With a sigh, Manannán slipped the satin ribbon holding it together and gently spread it out.

When the sea meets the earth
Great happiness will arise
A Plague will mark for death
And bring beauteous wedding ties

On godly golden sands
When unicorns are set to ride
The first age will end
But death will not abide

Though she suffers in hellish pain
In the darkness, he will not find
When trust was slain
Her wounds he would ever bind

Only change can wipe the slate
And bring their souls to rhyme
An immortal love will be their fate
Until the end of time

When he finished reading, Manannán released the breath he hadn’t realised he was holding. His head spun at the possibilities because he believed Anu had it half right. The poem was about him, but the woman was not her, it was his Harlie. All the things mentioned were a condensed form of what they had gone through since they met.

With a shaking hand, he turned over the beautifully engraved pocket watch Harlie had bought him some six months ago. In cursive script on the back were the words “Until the end of time”. He held the watch to his heart for a moment before putting it in his jeans.

The only concern he had was if he should read into the poem any more than Anu had. Perhaps the words aligned because he wanted them to rather than because they were about Harlie and him. He would share it with her someday and get her views. Regardless, it wouldn’t dictate their future.

Feeling better than he had for some time, Manannán hoped this would go smoothly, yet knew he was in for a difficult time ahead. He spirited himself through the ether. There was no time like the present to see what this change would bring.
February 11, 2020 02:09 am
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