There is the slight hint of a path, a wandering line of flattened ivy, trodden underfoot. A space opens in the forest canopy where an ancient tree has fallen. In this space young saplings and brambles grow, each hunting hungrily for light. The fallen tree lies covered in the ivy and brambles. The path wends its way around the edge of this opening and runs along the banks of the Br ad River.
The Dark Shadow Of Loneliness
Patrick follows this path along the river through the forest on his way back to Slieve Miss. He reflects on his friendship with Conchubhar, his decision to escape and his great mission, which is yet to materialise. He decides that the next day he will visit Conchubhar's grave.
The following afternoon is bright and clear. Low slanting sunlight is casting long shadows from the posts that support the sheep pen. Patrick pens his sheep, and sets out to find Conchubhar's grave. He walks around the lower sun bathed slopes of Slieve Miss to the far side. As he rounds the end of Slieve Miss and walks onto the eastern slope, he enters a dark shadow cast by the mountain. In this shadow the birds have stopped singing. He walks on into the gloom. Then ahead lying on the ground he sees a small circular furrow. He walks up to the circle, stands, and reflects;
"Here lies Conchubhar, The Poet Warrior."
For a moment Patrick is stunned. He realises that below this circular furrow lies the body of his master and friend with whom he had so many good times. Tears of sadness and grief begin to well up in his eyes. He becomes aware of pain and a sense of loss deep in his heart.
He reflects on their time together. As he reflects he senses the loneliness of Conchubhar's life and that he was probably the only close friend Conchubhar ever had. He feels that he is now able to rescind his commitment to serve Conchubhar's family and find his own path. Patrick is moved to speak into the dark shadow.
"You had a desire to bring justice and freedom from bondage and chose to play out that desire in battle. I too have the same desire but my destiny points to an alternative path. I will choose differently."
He turns and walks out of the darkness into the light.
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