For the how/why of the writing challenge, see here.
This is part one of (?) two because I’ve been writing it for 20 minutes now, it’s late and I’m tired and I’m some way off finishing it.
Warning: contains one (1) witch and one (1) merman.
There’s some who say you’ve never lived until you’ve witnessed a Manx wedding, from the blowing of the cow’s horn outside the bride’s home the evening before to the procession to the church and the feasting and drinking that follows the service.
Imagine, then, how much grander a spectacle it is when the wedding takes place beneath the sea! Aye, for the finery of the guests and the wedded couple is wondrous to see, and the procession escorted by seals and fishes of all kinds, and the horn is a twisted thing from a gigantic sea monster, with the booming it makes fit to wake Manannan himself if he’s not sleeping sound.
And there’s the rub. Stormy weather when a lass from Sulby weds is bad enough. But when the bride is a mermaid and she’s wedding a lad with a tail as fine as her own…then the sea must needs be flat calm if the garlands aren’t to be washed clear to Ireland.
And so it came about that Patrick the merman from under Bradda Head had a keen desire for fine weather one day in June, and according to the custom of his folk he decided there was nothing for it but to visit Kirree the witch at Castletown.
Now Castletown has a fine harbour, and it was no problem for Patrick to swim in past the castle and into the shallow water beyond, but after that he had to strip off his scales – as all merfolk can when they want. He climbed onto the land and tucked the tail part neatly behind a creel, dressing himself in an old fishing net. Then he walked briskly on his own two feet, first into the town where he made some purchases, for there’s so much treasure lost at the bottom of the sea that a merman is never short of a little gold. And then he carried on until he reached the windmill where Kirree lived, in a cottage kept tidy by the folk all about, who were greatly afeared of her magical powers and short temper.
He found Kirree at home, and no more in charity with the world than usual, sitting on the bench outside her cottage and squinting at the mill sails spinning around and around, and smoking her pipe.
“Good day, mistress”, he said, all fine and handsome as only them from under the sea can be.
“Tis nothing of the sort”, she retorted, knocking her pipe out on the bench. “Tis a nasty chill sort of day that will only bring rain and winds to follow it.” For Kirree was a clever woman as well as a witch, and she could see as soon as looking at Patrick the kind of man he was, and what his errand must be.
Patrick was downcast, for if the weather wasn’t fine he wouldn’t be able to marry Cara, and he did so want her for his own bride and no more waiting to be done. Then he remembered the gift he’d brought, and he smiled at the witch and said, “But it could be a fine sweet bright day today, mistress, no matter the sky”.
The witch frowned at him but she hadn’t lived near on 300 years by interrupting people carrying small packages wrapped in brown paper and tied up with string. Not least because a witch is always curious, and often hungry, and it was market day in Castletown, which meant fresh white bread at least, if not cake too.
…to be continued!