The trees bend and flex as the gale howls and roars. The road and woodland are one white carpet woven by driven snow. Even the sides of the trees facing the wind are covered. Everything is a blur in this howling maelstrom.
Escaping From King Miliucc
Patrick is battling his way through the winter gale along the Way Dheas that leads out of D l Riaghada. The forest children are following behind. The group have managed to travel almost to the border of the kingdom without being challenged. The brooch is acting as a good disguise and none of the people they are meeting in the cold and snow suspect he is a slave. Now they are nearing the edge of D l Riaghada and Patrick's heart is starting to sing with the thought of freedom.
Then in the distance, through the howling blizzard, Patrick hears the approach of horse's hooves. Maebh signals to the children and they run to either side of the road and hide among the trees. Patrick is left to face the horsemen alone. The sound of the horses increase until round the bend come three warriors on horseback, one of whom Patrick recognizes as King Miliucc. King Miliucc also recognizes him, despite his disguise.
"Slave. What are you doing leagues distance from your farm and why are you wearing the Brooch of Loughinra, my king's brooch?"
Before Patrick could answer a hail of stones come flying out of the woods and strike the two warriors accompanying King Miliucc. They break left and right into the forest to T ir the children. Patrick stands alone facing the man who sat on the Devil's Chair. They both look directly into each other's eyes.
"You defied me once slave, but you will never defy me again," shouts King Miliucc above the howling wind and snow and, balancing on his horse, he reaches down and draws his long, twin bladed sword.
He holds the sword high above his head and prepares to strike.
The two men stand eyeball to eyeball. King Miliucc hesitates. He notices that Patrick's eyes show no fear and are full of steely determination.
"Don't you realise slave, I can cut your head off and never blink an eye."
Patrick replies with calm but determined resolution, "Don't you realise King Miliucc, that I can have my head cut off and never blink an eye." King Miliucc hesitates further. He has never met a man who did not fear death.
Then a large stone comes spinning out of the trees and strikes King Miliucc on his helmet. He is momentarily dazed and drops his guard.
"Run Pat, run," cry voices from the forest.
Patrick dodges past King Miliucc and sprints into the woods jinking between trees. As he runs he can hear King Miliucc turn and come after him on his horse. Patrick runs faster but sees he is leaving tell tale footprints in the snow. His mind begins to race as he thinks of ways of shaking off King Miliucc on his horse.
He runs on at speed deep into the dense forest where he weaves between closely spaced tree trunks that give him an advantage over the larger horse and rider. In the distance he sees a shallow river. He has an idea.
"If I run up the river I will no longer be leaving a trail in the snow."
Patrick sprints up the river, comes to a fork in the stream and goes left, later, at another fork, he breaks right and runs on further. Stopping for breath he listens for the sound of horses' hooves but hears only the wind in the trees. He realises he has shaken off King Miliucc and his two warriors and is relieved. He decides to follow the river through the dense woods to freedom and a new life.
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