The Queen of Ireland's Daughter - Excerpt

     "Well, let us fight then," said the King. "But I have never killed a man before who was not in armor."
     "I won't be troubling you to start doing that now," said Tuan.
     "Come with me," the King told him, and he led Tuan into the courtyard. He showed Tuan a place on the wall where there were three heads hanging. Beneath each of them hung a suit of armor.
     "You may take your pick of these," the King said.
     "Who were these men?" asked Tuan.
     "They are the last three that came to face me in battle."
     Tuan looked at the heads and the armor. "Don't choose the armor I was wearing," said the first head. "It rusted while I was in the thick of the fight, and I could hardly move; otherwise I would have won. It's little trust a man can find anywhere, if his own armor betrays him."
     "My armor has rusted too," sighed the second head. "But I can't blame my loss on that; it's the mist, the cursed mist of this land that has rusted it, in all the years it's been hanging here."
     "Even my armor looked braver when it was on me," said the third head, gazing at Tuan through the one eye it had left.
     "Do any of you have any advice for me?" Tuan asked.
     "There is only one way that the King can be killed," said the first head.
     "What is it?"
     The second head laughed. "If we knew, do you think we would be hanging on his wall?"

2007 Oak Hedge