Authors: Kennan Reid
Book One of Damaged Deities
The Morrigan: Damaged Deities
Copyright © 2015 by Kennan Reid
All Rights Reserved
The Morrigan: Damaged Deities
is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, even or locales, is entirely coincidental.
This book is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. This book may not be re-sold or given away to other people. If you would like to share this book with another person, please purchase an additional copy for each person you share it with. If you’re reading this book and did not purchase it, or it was not purchased for your use only, then you should return to Amazon.com and purchase your own copy.
Thank you for respecting the author’s work.
Cover design by Najla Qambar
Irish mythology finds its roots in poems and ancient texts known as
Táin Bó Cúailnge
Cath Maige Tuired
. These stories have given us great battles and greater heroes, legends that have survived even as their words were lost and reclaimed through time. The most prominent figure in these sagas was the great hero, Cú Chulainn. His legendary deeds would earn him fame throughout the lands of Ulster, what we now know as Ireland, and Scotland beyond.
But his story would be much less remarkable without the goddess, Morrigan, to guide and often derail his journey towards fame, never forfeiting her promise to guard his life and his death. Their stories will be forever woven together in the annals of folklore, their fates intertwined.
With one, always comes the other.
“Monstrum in Feminae Figura”
The surface of the water rippled.
Deep within the thick sludge of the lake floor, the beast had awoken—not from sleep, but from a state of un-being where strange dreams haunted him.
Only those nightmares had not disturbed him, but rather muted voices coming from the shore.
His breath burst from flared nostrils in small bubbles, barely disturbing the watery ceiling above his head as his breathing made the faintest of waves. From the other side, a bloated moon multiplied and dotted the rippled surface with a pale, ghostly light.
Breaching the lake’s glassy top, the beast’s head barely crested. His ears, wet and black, twitched as his eyes of warning red watched.
A young couple stumbled around the grassy brink, laughing and speaking in failed whispers. The beast could smell their sweat, the beer on their breath, and their arousal. Their bodies were shadows against the trees, the moon pushing through the cloud-covered night sky. Mist curled around the lake’s edge, haunting its shores.
Against the dark, the woman’s hair stood out—bright red curls frizzing in the wet night air. Recognition fluttered within the beast…had he known her once? Been her friend?
In another lifetime, maybe.
Memories tried to stir to life, hinting at a different past, but they seemed to drown in a cacophony of images, too many and too distant to recognize.
Wondered where these sights came from, wondered how they took up residence in his mind, but then all thoughts ceased as the young woman slipped along the muddy bank, dipping a foot into the water.
And there it was—a whisper of it, just a tease of rust and decay, like rotten fruit because that’s how it always seemed to smell…her
The beast within flared and roared.
Water splashed as he lunged forward, steam rising from his body.
The woman screamed.
Her companion fell away, sobering up in an instant of panic and piss as he crab-walked back in a scurry.
With a mighty rush the beast broke from the lake and rose to his full height, kicking his front legs in the air. The last thing the woman would see in her brief, sad life would be her own pale face reflected in his blazing red eyes, frozen in a scream just before death fell upon her.
ld Man Flannery had the best wrinkles.
His skin looked like one of those fans made with a sheet of notebook paper, perfectly and evenly folded. With his thick white hair sticking up in clumps and his face tanned darker than cowhide, his bright blue eyes seemed to glow like naked neon against it as he smiled and dipped his fork back into his mashed potatoes and gravy.
Watching him engrossed in his lunch and colorful conversation, Morrie grinned and rubbed the back of her hand. Smooth and wrinkle-free, she stared off into space, lost in envious thoughts of wrinkles.
She would never have them.
Immortal goddesses from the beginning of time didn’t wrinkle; they didn’t age. Not in the way humans did.
This body of hers was a phantasm. A costume. One she could shuck if she so desired.
Not that any of the hard-hats and ranchers surrounding her at Pat’s Diner knew that.
To them, she was just a young wisp of a thing, girlish but serious with big, dark blue eyes and messy shoulder-length brown hair who showed up one day at the McCormick Ranch and quickly became the best horse trainer in Oklahoma.
What they didn’t know was Morrie had made a life-changing decision thousands of years ago, and before that she’d been the harbinger of death and destruction. A manipulator of discord. And a feared sight on ancient bloody battlefields since the dawn of life.
She was eternal.
The humans that surrounded her now—taken with the simple task of lunch—were but blinks to her.
Shrugging off her mortal thoughts with a sigh, Morrie returned to her half eaten burger, taking a final bite before following it up with a long swig of Dr. Pepper.
Human folklore and modern fiction had always made the massive mistake of thinking immortals and magical folk didn’t or couldn’t ingest food. But they were wrong. Gods and goddesses quite relished eating and drinking and Morrie would knock a person out if they tried to take her Dr. Pepper away from her.
Licking the wetness from her lips, she tucked her hair behind her ears and tilted her head towards her shoulder, posing a look of impatience from beneath thick, dark lashes for Big Mike to finish his lunch so they could get back to work. She had a new colt to break and they were losing daylight.
His cheek distended with a large bite, he finally looked at her as he wiped his mouth with a paper napkin. With a frown he mumbled, “What?”
“It’s been an hour.” She sat up and pushed away from the metal table.
“Barely,” he argued, his always-sunburned forehead wrinkling with dismay.
Ignoring him, she stood up and re-tucked her fitted flannel shirt back into the waistband of her jeans, hiding the raven tattoo on her lower back—a dark reminder of her former self—and pushed her sleeves further up her arms. “You’re payin’ today.”
“Here,” Big Mike leaned over, reaching into his back pocket and tugging out his wallet. He pulled out a few bills and handed them to Morrie. “Take care of it while I finish this off.”
He returned to his meatball sub and she approached the counter, slipping in between an out-of-towner truck driver and Nick Whitehead, a ranch hand at the Broken U Ranch, one of their friendly competitors.
The diner’s only waitress, Kate, was at the other end. She made eye contact with Morrie and held up her hand, silently asking her to wait while she finished taking someone’s order.
“Heard you got that paint from Norman broke,” Nick said, leaning his elbows against the counter as both he and Old Man Flannery looked at her. She rested her elbows there as well and smiled.
“He nearly took off my thumb in the process, but yeah,” she answered him. “How about that mustang you got from Wyoming? I heard he was a firecracker. Able to do anything with him?”
A sobering sadness took over Nick’s features as he sat up straighter, clearing his throat. “Owner didn’t want to give us any more time with him. Had him put down.”
Silently on Nick’s right, Flannery grabbed his cowboy hat and held it over his heart in a moment of respect.
A sick feeling twisted Morrie’s stomach. She hated the idea of losing a horse—all of them did. It felt like the ultimate failure, like they were letting the horse down.
“Tried to get the asshole to let us bring him to you, but he was over it at that point.” Nick shook his head. “Shoulda anyway, though. You got a talent, girl.”
“She’s like that there Horse Whisperer,” Flannery chimed in with his raspy voice, marred by many years of smoking too many Marlboro Reds. He plopped his hat back on the counter beside him.
“You just can’t show them fear,” Morrie said with a modest shrug. “Horses live by fear; it more than makes them nervous, it maddens them.”
This was why Morrie was such a good horse trainer—there was nothing she feared.
She had seen too much death and destruction over her millennium to be scared of anything.
And she was immortal. Not that she couldn’t be killed, even gods and goddesses could die—some faded away to obscurity from a lack of belief, no one to worship them. But to kill a god, that was different. That took a special technique.
And there was no one left around who knew how.
“That’s right,” Nick jumped in, shaking his fork to bring home the point. “Once they git skeered, they git mean. And then yer in fer a world o’ hurt. But some jus’ aren’t right in the head…” He trailed off, obviously still thinking of the mustang.
“How ya doin’, Morrie, dear?”
“Hey Kate,” Morrie greeted the middle-aged waitress when she finally sidled up behind the counter. She was sweet, but knew how to handle the rough ranch hands and truck drivers that came through her door. Morrie liked her from the moment Kate came to her rescue and put a touchy-feely plumber in his place. It had been completely unnecessary, but earned Morrie’s respect, all the same.
Morrie handed over the cash. “Big Mike says keep the change.”
Kate looked down at the money, knowing the twenty well covered the small tab, and grinned big. “Sure, he did. Thanks, darlin’.”