Éabhla watched her son Demna sleep next to the dying embers of the hearth fire coals. It had been eight years since she had given birth to the boy, none but her knowing his father was the Goat God of the Witches. The feeble light bathed the small cottage room in an orange light, and she quietly mulled over the words of the stranger who had come to the village three days earlier. He was a smith and artificer claiming to be a traveling merchant of metal wares, and his skill and merchandise was the subject of much awe and admiration. He was obviously a master of his art. He offered his name as Tubal Cain… a strange and foreign name. Earlier that evening, after the boy was asleep he had knocked on her door. She had allowed him entry, as she was a witch of great power and had no fear in her heart. Fear was an emotion that had died on that terrible night so long ago. The tale he told to her was fantastic, but in her heart she knew it was nothing but truth.
The old man was very tall, and his skin dark. He smiled benevolently as he sat at the small wooden table in her cottage. His voice was low, and strong… but kind. “Éabhla, the Master has sent me for the boy. He will be a great leader among men someday, and he requires instruction in the mysteries, battle, and kingship. He is more than man, as you know all too well. He requires tutelage away from Danu’s Third Children until the time is right for him to return.”
Éabhla’s heart fell, and a great sadness filled her. The boy was precious. Tubal Cain smiled reassuringly. “Do not fear Daughter of Danu, you will see him again. The auguries foretell it.” She straightened herself in her chair and leaned forward asking quietly “Tubal Cain, tell me more of yourself and my son’s destiny.” She sensed sorrow, or perhaps tiredness, from the old man as he nodded his head and spoke. “I am old Daughter of Danu… very old. I hearken from a faraway land, and from a time far in the past. Like your son, my father was not of men, but my mother was of the Third Children created by the Great Goddess. As a young man I committed a great crime and was banished by my people, but my father placed a mark upon me by which I would be known… and any who would do me harm would feel the full power of his curse.” He bared his left forearm and she glimpsed a strange symbol burned into his flesh. “In those early days man began to multiply on the face of the earth, and the Fomori were still in exodus from our world after the Second Battle of Mag Tuireadh, but some resolved to remain and watch over man. For this they were labeled “Fallen Ones” by the Fomori tribes… hated and despised for bringing The Light to mankind. They numbered 200 and were spread throughout all lands where men scavenged or tilled, for they were not confined only to your country, but were known to have inhabited many other places. Some of the most powerful of The Watchers were Araqiel, Armaros, Azazel, Gadriel, Baraqel, Bezaliel, Chazaqiel, Kokabiel, Penemue, Sariel, and Samyaza. Cernunnos was the greatest among The Fallen Watchers, before he ascended to Godhood at the Great Mother’s bidding. The other Watchers serve him unquestioningly. They taught chosen individuals among Danu’s Third Children dark arts, powerful enchantments, mathematics, and astrology to name but a few, but they also saw that the daughters of men were beautiful, and they took human mates and thereby bore children. Even now this happens from time to time, as well you know. The children of these unions are known as “Nephilim” in an older tongue. They are destined to be great and mighty men of renown. They are often taller, stronger, smarter, wiser… more than mortal men. To fulfill their destinies they must be shaped upon the anvil, tempered, and honed. This is for the benefit of all mankind.
After a long silence he rose from his chair, but before Tubal Cain left he walked to the boy’s bedside and gently moved a lock of golden hair aside. “Éabhla, when he returns he will be known as Fionn, and after this night you should take upon yourself the name of Muirne and leave this place. You will see your son again six years from now… the auguries foretell it. I will return in the morning for my brother and we will depart. He then made his way to the door, offering a gentle and comforting smile as he left. The sadness in her heart was replaced by hope.