Christina Paul 

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In a mystical realm, just beyond the sight of the mortal eye, Queen Bevin stood on the balcony of her morning room, the highest point in her castle. From here she could survey each of the four shires which made up her kingdom of Grá.


Urraim stood to the North, with its majestic snowcapped mountains and waterfalls, lush green forests filled with game, resourceful hunters, and fierce warriors. Síocháin, in the South, brimmed with fertile fields, healthy livestock, and skilled laborers. In the East was Rathúnas, a land with sweeping cliffs and crashing waters, and the home to the kingdom’s scholars, poets and musicians.


Finally, Comhcheol lay in the West. Although the queen would never admit it aloud, this was her favorite of all the shires. Comhcheol had captured the best of each of the other shires and melded them all into one. It had lakes teaming with fish, rolling picturesque hills, rich soil to grow herbs, and the wise ones who catered to Grá’s health and wellbeing, both physically and spiritually.


Each of the shires contributed to the whole of Grá, maintained its balance. However, if something were to happen to Urriam, Síocháin or Rathúnas, the other shires would be able to compensate. But, if something were to befall Comhcheol, the queen knew all of Grá would crumble.


This was why, as Queen Bevin stared to the west, she was filled with a sense of dread and foreboding. The Bagairt, in the form of a menacing dark cloud, hovered on the horizon, just beyond the protective barrier of Grá. A barrier the queen feared she was no longer strong enough to maintain. This was the reason she had summoned her only son, Pádraig, to her side this day.


A gentle breeze ruffled the sleeve of her emerald gown, and she shivered, even though she was not cold. She rubbed her arms, then turned from her vigil when she heard her son approach. The sight of him made her smile, her fear momentarily forgotten. Pádraig had grown into a fine young man. He was tall and strong, handsome but not vain, honest and caring. Yes, she was incredibly proud of the man he had become.


He kissed her cheek, “You needed me Mother?”


“Yes Pádraig, my sweet boy, my son. I do.” She laced her arm through his, and led him to the couch. After they had settled themselves, she elaborated. “The time is drawing near when I will need to pass on this kingdom. It is requiring more and more of my energy each day to keep the Bagairt at bay.”


“Then we shall fight them mother. The Urriam are strong. With them, we can defend Grá.”


She squeezed his hand, “I admire your courage Pádraig, but I know the Bagairt cannot be defeated by an army, ours or anyone else’s. The Prophesy states…”


“I do not care what the Prophesy states!” Pádraig rose and began to pace as he railed. “We are the masters of our destinies. We will determine what shall come to pass, not some ancient book.”


“What is written is what will be, my son. Even our own seers have confirmed this. If we are to survive the Bagairt, it will not be I who defeats them, but a descendant of yours. The time has come my love, for you to find a wife and have a daughter. When she comes of age, it must be her decision to come to me, to be trained and to take her rightful position as ruler of Grá.”


“But Mother, I have searched all four corners of our land, and although we have many wonderful and beautiful women, there is no one here I wish to claim as my own. No one my soul cries out for.”


“You silly boy, you rage against the Prophesy, yet you still believe in a destined mate.” Queen Bevin laughed and shook her head. “Although I had hoped it would not come to pass, I knew there was a possibility you would not find your mate within our kingdom. You son, must leave here and walk amongst the mortals. It is there you will find true love, your destiny, the fulfillment of the Prophesy.”

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