Anieran's Lesson

David G. Murray

© Copyright 2023 by David G. Murray


Photo by Claudia Ramírez on Unsplash
Photo by Claudia Ramírez on Unsplash

This story is focused for young readers and has a moral to for the reader to learn and take it to heart. The story takes place in Ancient Ireland when Chieftans and other rulers ruled Ireland before the British were invited over.

Anieran, first born son of King Fionn of the Kingdom of Meath in ancient Ireland, was  now a young man slightly taller than other men of his age, and quite strong. His face matched the rugged mountains that surrounded the kingdom and his eyes were green as the forest leaves topped with red bronze like hair. One day he watched villagers from a balcony who were going about their business of farming, selling their goods on Market day, gathering chickens, pigs, and horses while others gathered to barter over goods to purchase at different stalls. As he was watching the activity, thinking to himself, “One day this will all be mine to rule over. From what I see one can never have too much of anything, food, gold, or even love for that matter.” He was thinking of this because his father, the king was old in age and had been quite ill lately.

Anierans's thoughts were stopped cold by a knocking on his chamber room's door. He opened it and was surprised tha tis was one of the druid priests. “Yes, how can I be of service to you priest?” Aneiran asked. “Sorry to trouble you my prince, but as you know that your father is quite ill, and we priests have decided the best way to cure the king is to do a blood letting.” “I see.” said Anieran, frowning a bit over what was just told him. “All right, go ahead and do the blood letting but not too much! Remember what happened to my uncle when his druid priests performed a bleed letting on him. He became white as a ghost and died that very same day.” “We will be very careful my prince. I promise you that.”

(Note: Blood letting was an old method of forced bleeding of a person in order to let out the bad spirits that were thought to be inside of the body,))

Anieran couldn't understand how this red fluid that was in his and everyone else's body was so important and if it was so important, then why was blood letting thought to be good for the body. An idea came to him. He would go into the forest and hunt for a deer to feed to his father. He knew that his father liked the taste of deer especially young deer. So he quickly gathered his bow and arrows and set out for the hunt for it was still morning and the daylight hours were long during this time of year.

As Anieran was making his way past the main gate of the castle he ran into his one sister Nuala who was the eldest of three girls in the royal family. “Where ya going me brother?” Father is ill and I'm going into the woods to hunt for a young deer for him.” Nodding, Nuala said, “Well that's mighty thoughtful of ya. Would ya mind giving some thought of helping me to learn some more reading sometime in the near future?” “I will.” replied Anieran “But just don't let anyone know that you have already begun to read.” At this time in history it was not customary to teach women to read. “I assure you me brother that I have been keeping that to me self.” Nodding he replied, “Good.” And he left Nuala heading towards the woods, and Nuala continued walking on her way with her long wavy red hair bouncing with each step she took content that she didn't have to tell Anieran where she was these past two days. Unknown but to her underneath her long brown cloak and purple liner lay a small slender sword. Which she could easily hide and retrieve when needed, such as highway muggers who'd not only rob travelers but also kidnap a fair looking lady like Nuala, and force them to do their chores on the farm, and Nuala is the type of woman who would not go quietly. For she knew she was royal blood and no low blood mugger was going to make her tend pigs for the rest of her life.

Now Anieran was aware of the forest creatues that lived in the woodes. Both good and evil beings such as the likes of the leprechauns who were rather small people believed to be fallen angels with no way of gaining back the favor which meant that they were stuck here. Some leprechauns were quite friendly to humans while others were known to be very mean. There were also the forest fairies that were quite beautiful to look at but extremely difficult to catch for they could fly through the air. They wre quite playful too from stories that were told.

A short time later Anieran was well into the woods now clutching his bow firmly in his left hand and an arrow in his right, ready at a moment's notice sending the arrow piercing its way through the air into a deer's heart. Suddenly as he turned to the left he saw a deer between two large trees grazing on plants. The deer was just out of the range of his arrow. Trying to be as quiet as he could, he crept toward the deer from behind so as not to be noticed. Just when Anieran was in range the deer turned around staring Anieran right in the eye. Before Anieran could react the deer bolted away effortlessly but stayed within eyesight. So Anieran again approached as quietly as he could and just when he was in range, the deer bounced deeper into the woods. This frustrated Anieran for he didn't want to go too deep into the woods due to the forest creatures. Besides, he was growing tired of this cat and mouse game.

Then suddenly without notice Anieran heard the sweetest cheerful voice that he had ever heard. “Hello welcome, welcome to my home.” Caught completely off guard he quickly gathered his wits about him and replied, “Who's there? Show yourself!” Then if out of nowhere a girl appeared before him, “Hello” she said with a beaming smile, “I'm Karina” . Karina was a young looking female with wavy blonde-white hair, no blemishes whatsoever like the girls in the village and had forest green eyes. She had a bright cheerful smile as well as all of her teeth unlike the women in the village. “Glad to meet you Karina, Tell me now; would you happen to be a forest fairy?” She stood smiling as if the two had known one another but hadn't seen each other for a long time. “Yes I'm a fairy, and I do live here in the woods.”

“What are you doing out here deep in the woods?” She asked, “I'm out hunting for a young deer to feed to me father I'll have you know for he is ill and some good young meat would make him feel better.” Her smile faded from her face like magic with the only reply, “Oh, well I wish that you wouldn't. I'd like for you to stay and play with me.” Her smile returned to her face with a hopeful look. “Perhaps another time.” He said. “Well don't hunt all the deer in the woods for there would be none left. They may look stupid to you but they are very important to the preservation of the woods.” She firmly stated. “Oh really? I didn't know that at all, I”ll keep that in mind, but I'll have you know that you can never have too much of anything”, he firmly stated back towards her.

Now Karina was standing there with no smile on her face staring at Anieran thinking about what he just said to her. Then suddenly her face lit up like the sun. “Come with me! I have something for you Anieran.” He watched her go off deep into the woods leaping over logs and plants just like a ballerina in a playful manner. They came to a clearing that glowed with a golden aura from the sunlight. There was grass and flowers of every color imaginable along with animals and birds chirping and singing and felt at peace and wonder. They sat on some large stones inside of the clearing, Karina looked at him and said, “I'll be right back.” Sitting alone and thinking to himself he mused, “Well it can't be bad whatever she's going to be giving me. She seems harmless enough.” Before he knew it Karina reappeared holding a cup in one hand and some herbs in the other hand. “Here, eat these herbs and then drink from this cup.” she said. He took the herbs and ate them finding them bitter to his taste, then he took the cup and drank tasting of a honey flavor much to his liking. “Well, I've tasted worse things before, but this drink I'll have you know it's quite tasty Karina. You didn't have to do that.”

“Yes I did, I did it to help you.” Help me?” Anieran asked. “Yes, you told me earlier that you could never have too much of anything, so I decided to give you something tha twill help you understand what happens when you do have more than enough of anything.” “And some bitter herbs and a sweet drink is gonna do that for me?” Stated Anieran in an amused tone. “Wait and see.” Karina replied in a somber tone with one eyebrowse raised staring him in the eye.

Then suddenly Anieran yawned and felt his eyelids growing heavy. He quickly fell asleep. With a quick movement later of his body Anieran was once again completely awake and noticed tha the sun was setting beyond the horizon. Seeing that Karina was nowhere to be found in sight he leapt to his feet knowing that he must leave the woods and enter the castle before nightfall lest the night creatures surely would be after him. If they caught him, they would do unheard evil things to him.

Running through the woods like a scared rabbit he entered into the clearing leaping over fallen trees barging through bushes as fast as he could. Almost instantly he came upon the main road that ran through the woods between towns. Then suddenly Anieran heard the rumbling of thunder and looked up ans saw a storm was about to unleash its fury with its clouds moving quickly. He headed off towards his father's castle continuing his fast pace until he reached the edge of town thinking to himself that as a prince who is destined to be king one day he must never show that he was afraid of anyone or anything. He paused to catch his breath and then entered the village with his head held high with his bow and quiver of arrows on his back, noticing tha the villagers had retreated for the evening for no one was in sight. He entered the castle as the last bit of sunlight was saying it's goodbye and climbed the stairs to his chamber. As soon as he was in his chamber, the rain had started it's hard downpour upon the whole land, and he quickly closed the shutters to his windows. As he lay on his bed he could hear the rain pounding against the stone wall and a stream against the castle and carried away the dirt and grime so too did Anieran drifted off to sleep.

Just as he was about to fall asleep the thought of how his father was doing popped into his mind. He found strength to get out of bed, opened the door and walked down the hallway lit by torches to his father's room. At the sight of his father's door he saw the king's maideservant Maeve. “Maeve, is me father alright?” He asked. Bowing down before Anieran speaking softly she replied, “He is resting now, but he is pale.” Feeling relieved that his father was still alive but angered over remembering what had happened to his uncle two years ago, he thanked Maeve and asked her to go. “Thank you me lord, but may I trouble you to allow me to go and eat?” Startled by her request he granted it and watched her hurry off almost excitedly toward the great hall of the castle. Puzzled by this he went back to his chamber and slept the night away.

The next morning when he awoke and opened his chamber door he found his servant Baen lying nearby. Something was different about him too. Baen would never lie at his door. Anieran bent down to awaken him but saw that Baen has lost weight and was looking rather thin like he hadn't eating in days or weeks for that matter. Baen moaned and awoke, after blinking he looked up at Anieran and said, “Oh, sorry ta trouble ya me lord. I was coming to see if I could be of any service to ya and I reckon that I fell asleep.” “Have you taken ill old man?” Anieran asked in concern. “Nay not at all. It's just been a bit of time since I had some breadcrumbs to eat.” His servant answered feebily. “”Baen! You don't have to ask me fer permission to eat.” Anieran stated Upon hearing this from his master, Baen trembled as he got to his feet and using one hand against the wall to steady himself just before going down the stairs turned and asked if his wife could join him for a bite. “No no problem at all.” A concerned Anieran replied. Puzzled by first Maeve's request for food and now Baen starving, he tried to reason why either would appear to be in need of nourishment. As long as he could remember no one ever when hungry at his father's castle.

Thinking to himself, “Well Baen isn't bad I could be worse off like me brother's servant Norn who was more than just a bit lazt in me eyes. As well as me sister Nuala's servant who's a wicked old hag Adelle who always carried a frown especially when she looks at me.” Upon entering the great hall he indeed found the answers to his puzzlement.

The great hall was build to hold 150 people for entertainment and trils but now the hall held the biggest shock in Anieran's life. So much space was taken up there was only enough room for a small table for six next to the huge fireplace. The rest of the room was taken up by food. Anieran had never seen so much food in his life! Why there was so much food to spare. At the table sat none other then Maeve, Baen and his wife, all eating as much food as they could, and eating it like pigs eat in their styes. Anieran decided it best to leave them alone and exited the great hall to the outside.

Once outside he noticed that the guards who protect the castle were also very thin and leaning heavily on the stone walls or their weapons in order to stand watch. Then he went outside the castle's gate and fearing the worst saw that all the villagers were also quite thin and barely moving due to hunger. He then returned to the castle's great hall. Standing before Maeve and Baen and his wife gave the order to feed the guards first and then the villagers for Anieran knew that a weak army is no match for a well-fed army. Anieran took some of the food himself and gave it to the guards ordering them into the great hall to eat. He then gathered his bow and arrow and angrily marched off into the woods to seek Karina for he was sure she was the cause of all this.

After walking awhile at a fast pace he found Karina playing with some rabbits along a stream. “Karina!” He strongly said. “What have ya done to me people causing them to starve like that?” Standing up and staring at him, she said, “I have done nothing to them. It was you.” She replied in a calm but strong voice. “Me?” he exclaimed. “Yes you. You're the one who said that you can never have enough of anything, so you were given all of the food leaving nothing for anyone else in the kingdom.” Saying nothing to her response, he realized how asking for everything in this case all of the food could become a very selfish desire. Karina made him realize how thoughtless he had been. He turned to her and said, “Well, I see that is true concerning food.” Yes”, she replied, but when you saw how hungry your people were you did share your food with no hesitation. I belive you've learned an important lesson.” Now Karina was smiling at him with a fond smile and sparkling eyes.

“At least me thinking still holds true regarding love and money Karina, ya can't argue that!.” A defiant Anieran replied standing tall. Karina's facial glow quickly disappeared from her with a frown at hearing Anieran's words thinking but not saying, “You fool, you still much to learn.” She did say to him, “So you think that's true do you? Go back to your castle. You might be surprised at your return.” With that he did leave her without saying anything more to her.
Puzzled as to what Karina just said did return to his castle. Nearing the end of the road well and in sight of the castle, he noticed a very tall building within the castle's confines that he had not noticed before. Thinking to himself, “This building wasn't there when I left.” It was so tall that it reached the sky. He didn't know how it was possible to build such a tall building in the first place, never mind it wasn't there this morning. Anieran walked quickly through the village noticing that the people were quite active in their daily lives like before and looked well fed. He contuined towards the castle and the tall building. Puzzled by this, Anieran approached the tall building and none of the guards stopped him from enterering. Anieran stood still as a statue, his mouth and eyes wide open gawking at what he saw before him. Before him stood piles upon piles of gold and silver. WhyI must have all of the gold in the world he thought. Why I could purchase a vast army if I wanted, build a better castle for father and me sisters. Actually I could become high king of Ireland if need be. His thoughts were now racing in all directions as what to do with all of this gold.

He smiled and left the building quite delighted and started making plans. There in the courtyard stood none other than Karina. Anieran gave her the biggest smile he could muster. “Thank you Karina! Thank you for all of this gold! The things that I could do with this gold is far beyond anyone's imagination!” Not moving one muscle Karina replied to him, “Really?, You think that all that gold is valuable? Come with me please. I have somehting to show you.” She turned around and proceded walking toward the gates and out into the village with Anieran close behind her. She led him to the village market where lots of people gathered because it was market day. “Why bring me here Karina?” he asked. “I want you to look at what's going on here.” She stated Anieran looked around and shrugging his shoulders said, “It's market day, so what?” “Look closely please, see what they are trading with.” She replied.

Anieran approached one of the stalls where a dealer was conducting his business and noticed something he would never thought would be used in trading. The people weren't using gold or silver to trade but stones of different colors. Shocked he went back to Karina and informed her what his people were trading with. “Of course they are.” Was her response in a not surprised tone. “They decided to put a value on these types of stones to use as trade instead of gold or silver. Gold doesn't have to be the main source of trade; why not stones? Why not glass beads? Why not different types of plants?” She asked him. Still not convinced that stones would be more important than gold, Anieran stated to her, “I'll show you that gold is more important than stones, watch.”

Anieran approached one of the stalls and reached into his belt bag and pulled out some gold coins. He tossed the coins on the table before the dealer and told him that he would buy a roll of blue cloth for his sister Meghan. The dealer looked at the gold coins in front of him and then at Anieran. He tossed them back at Anieran saying, “Ya think me a fool do ya? Get out of here with that junk! Ya can't buy anything with that yeller stuff here!” The people looking at Anieran and laughed. Now Anieran was really shocked. As far as he knew no one turned down gold until now. Going back to Karina with her arms folded and raised eyebrows at him, he replied, “Did ya see that? He threw me money back at me saying that it wasn't worth anythng.” Karina's reply was, “Well, now what does that tell you?” Standing there before her, he thought a minute and realized that having too much money was no good just as having too much food wasn't good. “Fine.” he said. “I'll restart the gold trade by sharing it with others.” She replied with a half smile, “No need to trouble yourself I'll change it back now tha tyou have learned another lesson.”

Now Karina reached into her belt bag and pulled out her hand holding something in her fist. She opened her fingers and blew a fine purple dust from the palm of her hand towards Anieran's face. Catching him off guard, he stammered a bit and then sneezed. “What was that for woman?” he exclaimed. “Your final lesson which begins now.” She flatly said. Opening his eyes and looking around, he noticed that the tall building that held the gold was gone but the people still there going about their business.

Standing in front of Karina. Her hair now seemed softer than ever, her eyes flilled with a soft lovingly look and with a gentle smile, she said that this lesson would be the most important. She started coming nearer to him and was ready to kiss him on his lips when a strong hand grabbed his arm spinning him around quickly. To his amazement the entire villagers were now standing before him with the same kind of gentle look that Karina held. “We just had to tell ya great prince how much we've taken a liking to ya.” The big burly man said. Nodding to this he replied, “I'm glad to hear that, and would ya now mind leaving this lady and me alone? A voice from out in the crowd shouted, “But we love you great prince!” And the villagers replied, “Aye we do love you!” Startled by this sudden show of love and devotion, Anieran decided that now was a good time to leave these people quickly. He broke free of the man's grasp and ran towards the castle. He raced onward to the great hall locking the doors behind him. There leaning against the door breathing a sigh of relief he felt safe from the villagers.

After a moment he heard a woman's voice. “Welcome home me prince.” The voice belonged to Maeve his father's servant. Who was older than him by about 15 years; still she had a slim figure and deep dark brown eyes to match her dark hair. Now at last they were alone in the great hall. “Can I get you something me prince?” She asked. “No not at all Maeve thank you.” he said. As she approached he noticed that Maeve had removed her head wrap and let her hair come undone letting it flow freely over her shoulders. As she came nearer she had a look of desire in her face. This behavior was most unusual. Just as she was about to embrace him, he realized that she too had come under Karina's spell. He quickly moved away from Maeve and fled to his chamber bolting the door behind him. Breathing fast and short and thanking luck for getting away from this undue affrection of the people, he now heard the villagers from outside his window. He went over to the window and looked down. To his amazement a crowd of villagers had gathered below his window shouting words of joy, pleading that he come out, declaring how much they loved him. This was too much for him, and he wanted out of this mess right now. Karina had restored gold to be the medium of exchange, and he was given the credit for it.

“Hello Anieran. So do you still believe what you said earlier to me in the woods do you?” Anieran turned quickly around to find Karina standing there smiling with her green sparkling eyes staring at him in an almost playful manner. Anieran shook his head yes, and then said, “Uh, I mean no, no I no longer believe that. I now believe that having too much of any thing is no good for anyone.” Karina's smile grew bigger at hearing his words for he ad now learned an important lesson in life. Placing her hand into her belt bag she made a fist and walked over to him. She blew yellow dust into his face. Anieran closed his eyes and started twitching his head. He sneezed a few times, when he opened his eyes, he was back in the woods lying on the boulders with Karina standing there smiling at him.

Blinking and now sitting up, he look at her. “How did we get back here so quickly?” he asked. “We never left. You fell asleep after you drank the potion, did you sleep well?” she said. “Boy did I sleep! I had a dream that was so real- lit it really happened. I went through a bit of trouble only to learn that too much of anything is no good even love.” he admitted. “Oh I'm so glad that you learned that!” She sqealed in delight. “You can leave now and journey back to your hunt too, but promise me that you'll come and visit someday.” “Aye that I will promise you” he said getting to his feet ready to leave her. He walked out of the clearing and into the woods to resume his hunt.

A week later Anierran kept his promise to her and visited her Sharing a break together by a stream he told her that his father was still ill. “You know Karina, that one day I will be king and since me father is ill I have to take over the duties tha tme father isresponsible for, so I won't be coming back for a bit.” he sadly explained. “I'll be here don't worry” was her reply. “What sort of duties do you have?” she asked. “Well tomorrow the druid priests and I whom truly don't trust will have an audience with a man named Patrick who requested one, and we'll grant him that and listen to what he has to say.

I was born and raised here in Cleveland, Ohio attending different Catholic Churches as a child, but was most attracted to St. Patrick's Catholic Church due to
it's Irish architecture and culture. Learned about Irish culture and folk tales too.  I am also currently a licensed interpreter for the Deaf and attracted by their culture too and folk stories which like the Irish have meaning and a moral to them.

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