The purple heather-coated mountains rise majestically forming a natural tree lined amphitheatre. Bright morning sun sends shadows across the hillsides. At the heart of the amphitheatre the lake is completely still, dark and mysterious. A thin transparent layer of white mist hovers above the silent water. A solitary swan appears from the mist, making small ripples that fan outward on either side of her pure white body.
Rising Above The Heartbreak Of Enslavement
Out from between the trees, along the lakeland path, walks a boy, whistling a joyful early morning tune. His fine woollen tunic and close-fitting leather sandals reveal his privileged background in the village of Bannavem Taberniae. The sight of a large smooth rock on the lakeshore delights the youth. He pauses to rest, taking in the tranquil scene. He sits in contemplative mood, watching the swan glide back and forth across the still water.
"You are so serene and peaceful," he thinks to himself. "Why are you here all alone? Perhaps you are on your way to some far off distant land."
The swan glides serenely across the lake, turns and draws close to the youth. As the swan draws near the youth feels inspired. His contemplation takes a new more introspective turn that reveals a hunger deep in his heart.
"I wonder where my life is leading? Sometimes I feel a great destiny ahead of me, but I don't know what it is, or where I am heading, but when I think of it I feel full of hope and longing."
This early stirring of his deep inner call causes the youth to sense feelings that are entirely new.
" I am sure I have important work to do, some vital mission to undertake. How am I to know what my mission is?"
The youth is lost within his new-found feelings and does not hear bushes close to the rock rustle and, between the leaves, the glint of sunlight off metal.
"There's another one. Get him."
Following the command three warriors emerge from behind the bush and sprint down the path towards the young boy sitting dreaming on the rock by the side of the lake.
"It's warriors, run!"
As the youth rises from the rock one of the warriors grabs him by the neck while the other snarls,
"If you don't stop struggling I'll stick my sword in your stomach."
To emphasise the point he pokes the sharp end of his short, sharp sword into the youth's tunic.
"It'll hurt a lot more if you don't keep still. Put the chains on him and we'll march him to the boat."
One of the warriors, a large burly man with a broken nose and blackened teeth, chains the boy's legs together, sticks the point of his sword into the youth's back and marches him round the lake and through the town, where thousands of others are being herded onto boats.
"Sit on the deck and keep silent," the warrior growls, "I want no trouble during the voyage."
The youth sits and shivers with cold and fear as the boat casts off and sails out to sea.
Once beyond the bay the wind rises dramatically catching the large white sails. The rigging creaks ominously. A warrior walks between the captives with a writing slate.
"What's your name?" he barks.
"You are number seventeen."
He attaches the cloth number to the front of Patrick's tunic.
As they head out to sea, the waves begin to swell and crash against the side of the boat, making the entire ship vibrate and shake. Looking skyward Patrick can see gulls gliding into wind just above the mast. Lowering his gaze he sees the fixed stare of people in shock and rivers of puke that run back and forth over the ship's decking. "I can't believe this is happening to me," he murmurs.
The ship sails all day and into the night. The howling wind blows the ship westwards until on the morning of the next day the captives sight land. The ship docks and the captives are led ashore.
"Welcome to D l Riaghada," laughs the warrior with the black teeth, "There's no escape from here."
The captives shuffle ashore walking as best they can in the heavy chains that bind their legs.
"Line up. Line up," the warrior shouts.
Patrick, along with the other captives, stands in a line along the dockside. A seething mass of people gather to stare at the long row of captives. Then the bidding starts.
"What am I bid for number one, a fine young women. There's plenty of work in her. Who'll give me five pieces of gold?"
It dawns on Patrick as he watches the bidding that he is to be sold into slavery. He waits for his number to come up.
"Number seventeen. He is a fit looking young lad. Who'll give me three gold pieces?"
Patrick watches as the bidders vie to buy him.
"Sold to King Miliucc for six gold pieces."
Patrick is sold into slavery for a handful of gold and is marched, hungry and naked, to Slieve Miss where he is assigned as a shepherd to Conchubhar, a local farmer. His heart is broken by the experience and he is emotionally traumatised. He begins to wonder what will become of him. For a time he sinks into a black hole of deep despair. However, despite his troubles, he remains hopeful. As time progresses he strengthens his connection to his calling, continues to believe in his destiny, nurtures his healing from the trauma of being captured and develops tremendous strength of character...
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