The only sounds echoing throughout the darkened castle were the clapping of her wooden walking stick against the stone floor and the staccato ticking of the clock.
Medb pulls her bent form with great effort to the heavy wooden door of her
bed chamber. After a pause to regain strength, she continues her trawl to the
worn circular rug, its brilliance faded from use, in front of a standing mirror.
Mustering all of her might, she heaves off her robes; allowing them to fall,
leaden, in a velvety pool around her. Sunken eyes, the color of algae, stare
back at her from the mirror. She winces at the sight of her naked body; her
wrinkled, pale torso; arms stained in a web of thin blue veins and wiry, gray
hair, barely contained with an old sliver of driftwood. She points a trembling
finger at the clock as flakes of powdery skin float from her. Faint chimes from
the town’s clock tower strike. Marred teeth emerge from behind indiscernible
lips in a smile – the hour is nigh.
Her bones crack and joints pop as she straightens to full height. The scent
of mold emanating from her is replaced by a faint kiss of clover. Her chafing
skin is replaced by creamy, unblemished epidermis. Shriveled, hanging breasts
become full and round.
She winces with the pain of shrinking flesh tightening. At last her eyes
begin to sting bitterly, forcing her eyelids to clamp shut from pain. Once the
burning fades, her eyes open to reveal crystalline emerald irises as bright as
the glistening white teeth that have replaced their decayed predecessors.
Gracefully pulling the driftwood from her mane, she releases curls the color of
mink, down the length of her sculpted back.
Slowly Medb pulls her head back and begins to sing in a harmonious voice.
The sweet sound of her own voice sends tears across her cheeks.
With her body supple and free of pain, she hastens to her dressing room.
Luscious fabrics from every corner of the world and ropes of glistening jewels
surround her. She dances in continuous circles, her hands caressing the
closet’s glorious contents. She stops short when she reaches the cast iron safe
in the center of the room.
It’s there; that vile pot and its cursed contents.
She had happened upon Rúadhán many decades ago as he was diligently working
the leather for a sole. She was hungry, she was desperate; but she didn’t just
want enough – she wanted more. She crept up on him, covering her steps with her
mesmerizing voice. To ensure he would not take flight, Medb hobbled Rúadhán’s
ankles with his own tack hammer.
She stated her demand: the location of his pot of gold, great beauty to bloom
like a rose before St. Patrick and for all to hear her powerful voice. Rúadhán
granted her wishes, as was his obligation, but upon each one he also placed a
curse: a pot of gold that could buy anything but freedom, great beauty
that would only bloom on the anniversary of St. Patrick’s birth and a
powerful voice that would be heard by all heralding the death of those they
Disciples of the St. Patrick’s Day celebrations have begun their reveling in
earnest outside her manor. Medb dons her most impressive attire. She carefully
laces jewels throughout her hair and places a gold medallion on her breast. She
glides quickly down the grand staircase – past all the treasures her gold has
afforded her; treasures only she sees. She floats down the pathway that winds
from her edifice and proceeds to town.
Once there, she selects the finest food, the most aged whiskey and the most
beautiful bodies. Her hypnotic voice lures them to her manor where all imbibe of
Medb’s pleasure remains unsated, she demands more. As in all things, she
cannot be satisfied with enough.
Midnight strikes on the clock in the center of town. The 17th day of March
has come to a close and the bars of her prison reappear. The unsuspecting
guests of her bacchanal flee in horror as her youth is ripped away. Medb races
to that damned safe. She plunges her gnarled fingers into the endless supply of
gold coins and hurls them about the room. Her twisted frame convulses as she
attempts to stifle the noise bubbling up from her chest. Clutching her throat,
she cannot suppress the sound that forces open her mouth and casts itself to the
Rúadhán’s laughter bleeds out of her, blending into her own tormented cry.
She races to the top of her tower, throws open the sash and screams. Throwing
herself from the window to the darkened mire below, she screeches her agony.
Midway through her descent, Medb’s body is jerked back as if caught by a
And wailing, she hangs suspended in an ebony sky.