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Swarms of salty seagulls squawked sinisterly. “Matron would have insisted the seagulls were portents,” muttered Lady Sheenagh. Her eyes rested on the beach below, waves crashed upon it in the darkness of the storm. The shrieks of the seabirds became unbearable. Slamming the shutters on her southward facing window, Sheenagh swung herself onto her soft bed. A bed worthy of a spoiled rich girl, stuffed with feathers, and yet, what good did her spongy cot do her now? In a matter of hours, the traitorous snakes would be here to slaughter the remainder of the Dalcassian household.
High-born Lady Sheenagh Delcassian, with satin skin, scorched red hair and sensitive eyes, had been considered a real beauty in her youth. Now a girl of almost nineteen she was swiftly racing past marriageable age. Her father Lord Eóghan Dalcassian struggled to find suitors for her in the wake of the rebellion. The unrest among the peasants resulting from several years of weak harvests followed by silent snowy winters. Although during this time her family never went without, food was scarce among those in the villages surrounding her ancestral home Caisleán de Thomand. The peasants had been recruited by the surrounding Lords, seeking the weakness in the Dalcassian dynasty for over a century. Now standing at the end of the uprising, Lady Sheenagh Dalcassian awaited the demise of her family’s sovereignty. Her tear stained face, though stunning, conveyed agony in her doom.
As a well-read nobel, she understood the fate that lay before her as a high-born woman. She beseeched the family’s guiding spirit Aibell to lend her a quick death. If faith had something else subsequently planned, she prayed that Aibell would grant her the strength to endure in honour of her family’s heritage in even her death throes.
Her Matron, who raised, taught, and loved her, died earlier that year of consumption. She whispered stories to Sheenagh, on her deathbed, of what happened to young women under siege, and she begged her to run. Tears had streamed from her blue eyes, but this she could not promise. Bravery was required for the Dalcassian house, not cowardice.
“Please Matron, you know I cannot promise you these things. I must display dignity for my clan, please do not ask me to flee, it is not in my nature, I must stay and fight.” Matron’s brown eyes shone with tears. Nodding, she beckoned Sheenagh closer. “My dear sweet Sheenagh, I have loved you as though you were my own, although you were not spawned of my own womb, your shining virtue fills me with pride even death cannot dispell. I am forever your humble servant.” Her already shallow breaths slowed to a painful stop.
Sheenagh shook the now lifeless body, unable to control her sobs. “Matron, please do not leave me. I cannot live without your guidance. Who will tell me the wonders of the world, all the while I am secure in my lonely tower.” Shaking she lay her face on the still warm body of her beloved Matron. “Please, I am scared.”
Childhood had been serene for Sheenagh. Her nature was that of a goddess on Earth, through it she displayed sympathy and grace. As the third daughter of Lord and Lady Dalcassian, and the seventh child overall, from an early age, she displayed nothing short of a virtuous temperament which gave joy to all those whom she encountered. As a child, Matron would bring her for walks across the countryside. She shared her lunch with peasant children she encountered. She gave them gifts of toys she had outgrown.
It was as if Aibell herself brought her forth from her own rib. Her singing voice echoed through the halls of Caisleán de Thomand. Villagers gossiped that King de Lench of Ireland himself, would someday wed one of his sons to her. Making her the princess they had seen in her from birth. Throughout her girlhood, many sons of the gentry asked for her hand in marriage, but her father could not part with her. He must have believed himself when the sons of King de Lench beheld her in court, one would fall desperately in love with her. Thus seeking her hand in marriage.
Sheenagh remained unaffected by those whispers spent her days reading, singing, and befriending peasants. Her parents laughed at her strange affinity for the poor and though others in their position may have stopped the friendships, they allowed them as it brought her satisfaction.
Sadly, these interactions bred a slice of contention which brought down the Dalcassian supremacy. When the rebellion broke, many who had played with Sheenagh as children displayed no essence of love or loyalty. Bitterness and subversion spread towards the clan of Dalcassian. They seen what Sheenagh had, and they wanted it. Thinking it unfair that but one family in all the land of Dal Cais should have such riches. While the rest scrimped for their supper.
The rebellion had stunned the household. They were not prepared for the ruin it would bring to their family. The betrayal of Lords in the lands adjacent, seen to the decline of her father, whom mere years ago had been a tall, powerful man. His hair had naught but a few greys shining through his red mane. Now, four years into the rebellion, he was suffused with sadness. One betrayal, in particular, had taken him by grisly surprise. The subterfuge of Lord Teague Uí Caisin of Breifne. Whose son, Murtagh Uí Caisin, had wed Lord Dalcassian’s eldest daughter Lady Clodagh Dalcassian. This treachery had come at a price. Lady Dalcassian took to her bed for several months. Though she had convalesced, she was never quite the same. Her beloved daughter and her grandchildren lost through treason.
Sheenagh had wept at her vanished sister, yet the feeling within the Dalcassian household was still one of faith. During the final years of the rebellion, hope sprung from the small Kingdom of Wexford. Lord O’Neill had offered troops to the Dalcassians in exchange for Sheenagh’s hand in marriage to his son Lord Aodh. While Lord Aodh was known to be slovenly and grumpy in nature, Sheenagh solemnly stood at the chance to bring victory to her family.
Sheenagh could still remember her father summoning her his study, the grave appearance on his face. A letter lay open on his desk, beside a quart of wine. His face was shadowed by the fire behind. Sheenagh sat and waited patiently for him to speak, her graceful accommodating nature piercing her father’s heart. Though parents claim no favourites among their children, Sheenagh had a special corner reserved in her father’s heart. This was the reason she could not have been swiftly married off. He had thought it too late with the rebellion until the arrival of Lord O’Neill’s letter.
“Sheenagh, Mo Croí, I must speak with you regarding a matter of the most sensitive nature.” Sheenagh perked up, she would not miss one word her father spoke. “I received a letter this morning from Lord O’Neill of Wexford, he has offered us troops to fight off our rebellion…” He trailed off when he looked into Sheenagh’s eyes. His silences informed Sheenagh more than any words he ever spoke. “However, he’s asked for an alliance between our families. An alliance through a marriage, of course, to his son Lord Aodh O’Neill…” Sheenagh pursed her lips, knowing already what was coming. Prepared to accept without question. She knew that although her father spoke as though she had a choice, daughters did not control their destinies. To be spoken to with such high esteem from her father was all the respect Sheenagh could ever ask for. “I will accept father.”
Lord Dalcassian took a sip of wine and offered Sheenagh a glass. Another veneration, an offer to drink with her father. “Father you honour me, both with your council and offer of wine. However, I know my place in this world. As a woman, I have but little to offer my family. A strategic alliance by marriage is one of the few. I duly accept the privilege you bestow upon me this day.” Her father smiled warmly at her, though his eyes held a melancholy which sent a shiver down her spine. She knew that a marriage to Lord Aodh may be fraught with severity. He was well known to be a man of onerous countenance. She straightened her back smiling bravely at her father. “This will save our family and the glory of the Dalcassian clan father, I am exalted.”
That alliance never came to be. Lord Aodh and his men were viciously attacked on the way to Caisleán De Thomand a week hence. It was then the spy within the great walls of Caisleán de Thomand was exposed. A wretched sour ward by the name of Donal Bóruma. He had been taken by Lord Dalcassian when his own father had died under impoverished circumstances. This monumental betrayal had cut her father down.
Sheenagh had surveyed from the North tower window. Onto the courtyard where Donal Bóurma was beheaded by her father. His screams raged throughout the morning air. “Your family line is ending you arrogant waste. The villagers hate you and the Lords in the lands adjacent will sack your castle, rape your woman folk and…” Lord Dalcassian swung the axe, and the traitor cried no more. Fresh blows were sustained following that. From a family of seven children, all but the traitor Lady Clodagh Uí Caisin, and Lady Sheenagh remained. Each of his four sons perished in battle, and Sheenagh’s remaining sister, Lady Bronagh Mathghamhan of Oriel, died in childbirth along with the babe she bore.
Sheenagh spied the oncoming swath of rebels marching towards the castle from the North tower. The house was near empty now. Her stately mother had taken poison, not half an hour hence. She lay lifeless on the bed near Sheenagh, her skin slowly shifting to grey. Sheenagh remained calm as her simmering prayers flowed asking Aibell for scrutiny. Her earthly life drawing to a close. Her family would not be sullied in history, she knew better. Although victors forge history, she believed Aibell would carry the legacy of Dalcassian’s into the future. The glory of the Dalcassian Clans would never die.
She heard a great boom, as the rebels swung a large log into the gate of the castle. Sensing the end, her stomach twisted as she vomited out the window. She would find her father and spend her final moments with him. Besides, her mother had done dishonour to the Clan by taking her own life. She beseeched Aibell to remove this from the tales surrounding the great Dalcassian Clan. She rose, washed her face of vomit and grabbed her black veil.
Outside of her father study, she heard the cracking of wood. She assumed the great castle door had been smashed in. She knocked on the door and waited a moment. She tried the handle, but it appeared locked. Frightened she knocked and shook the door frantically, “Father? Father please it’s just me, please let me in!” Panic gripped her. Had someone gotten to her father already? With great effort, using an axe, she broke the door down, shattering pieces of wood all around her. She stumbled through the door and her eyes found her father. Strung from the ceiling boards, his corpse swung gently from the wind of a nearby window. The fire crackling near its cusp, untended for hours. Sheenagh was frigid in her realisation that she was the final tenant of the house. The servants had long fled, and she alone represented the Dalcassian clan.
A small note was left by her father that brought her little comfort. It spoke of his undying love for her and his cowardice. His words begged for her forgiveness. She would not relent. She inhaled deeply and climbed on his desk. She cut down his body and allowed it to fall to the floor. She burned his suicide note and the noose. Perhaps it would appear as though he died from heart strain from the stress. Her mother’s body could not be helped, but her father, no. He would not die a coward, though a coward is what he was, she thought rancorously. No, she would tidy him up, place him in his chair, at his desk in his study. Then she would bravely face the invaders alone.
Lady Sheenagh was found beside her father. It is believed, through the mouths of rumours and time, that Lady Sheenagh Dalcassian suffered significantly at the hands of the invaders. The rebels, expecting at least the Lord and Lady of the castle, were enraged when they found them dead. All their resentment was then directed at the delicate Lady Sheenagh.
Some, afterward, were shameful of their behaviour. The blame for the rebellion was often disputed. Surely sweet Lady Sheenagh Dalcassian of Dal Cais was not to blame? Others hissed that she was to blame. She had her chance to desert, but she remained. Even at the moment of her death, she did not renounce her affiliation. Though doing so may have saved her life. She remained the sole representative of the Dalcassian namesake, at the sacking ofCaisleán de Thomand on an Autumn’s eve in 1017. Her mutilated body, along with the body of her mother and father, hung in the courtyard of the castle for many days. It is rumoured that the bodies were taken down and buried. Hidden by villagers still loyal to the family. The castle was subsequently occupied by the traitorous family of Uí Caisin, of Breifne, whose son Murtagh Uí Caisin and wife Lady Clodagh Dalcassian lay claim to the ancestral home.
Legend speaks of the torture the Guardian spirit of the Dalcassians Aibell, levied upon all future occupants of the castle, and of the villages adjacent. Sicknesses, accidents, and stillbirths remained terrors the villagers and Uí Caisin’s endured for decades. However, occupants of Caisleán de Thomand had been known to say otherwise. Some tell tales of a radiant red-haired apparition, with silky skin, and shining blue eyes. A siren song with no owner would echo throughout the halls. After her presence is seen or felt, however whether in dreams or a waking nightmare, an elegant face once sweet turns to menace. A horrifying death ensues. Deaths similar to those suffered by beautiful Lady Sheenagh Dalcassian, who remained to defend her family name when no one else would.
Copyright © 2018 Thinkingmoon.com – All rights reserved
Copyright © 2018 Thinkingmoon.com – All rights reserved
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