The Journeys of Iain Baird

Russell Figgins

The warm sun glinted off the blade of Iain's Claymore. He had walked the winding road from County Claire toward the home of a friend of his father. Soon he came to a wide and flowing river; an old woman stood by the banks and wept.

"What troubles ye old mother?" he asked, as he approached.

"My children lie over this river, and I must get to them by dark," she said, wiping the tears from her face. "But; it is too deep and fast for my old bones to swim, and I fear that I would drown if I tried."

When she finished tears began to fall from her eyes once again.

"Cry nah more, I'll carry ye across on ma back," Iain said, as he knelt down. The old woman climbed on and the Scotsman waded into the river. Halfway across Iain felt the woman on his back grow heavier and heavier with each step. Soon his boots were skimming the bottom, and then his head went under. Holding his breath, he continued onward.

By the time he made it across his boots were gone, sucked off his feet by the mud on the bottom. He knelt to let the old woman off. She climbed off and thanked him.

"Ye are a kind man," she said. "I will tell my children what you have done for me."

Iain continued onward and soon came to a bend in the road. Around the bend stood a large, bearded man dressed in a bearskin shirt and trousers, a large brown sack rested at his feet.

"Halt!" he said, holding out his hand. "I am January, and my mother has told me of the kindness you have showed her and asked that I give you kindness in return for the trial ahead of you. Give me your sword."

Handing over his sword the Scotsman watched as January placed it in his sack and removed a new Claymore in its place.

"Take this warrior," January said, as he handed the sword to Iain. "May it never fail you."

Without another word, January picked up his sack, threw it over his shoulder, and walked off down the road. Iain ran his hand over the blade off his sword and found it was smooth and sharp. Strapping it to his back, he continued.

Further, down the road there stood a thin man in clothes too big for him. His eyes were red rimmed and great, black bags hung under them.

"I am February," he said, his voice was crisp and wispy like the cold winds of Scotland. "My mother and brother have told me of your kindness and bade me to give you aid for the trial ahead of you. Give me your shield."

Handing over his shield Iain watched as February reached into his breast pocket and pulled out a cloth. Wiping the shield off February cleaned it until it shined in the sun. Handing it back to Iain February placed the cloth back into his pocket.

"Use it well Iain," he said. "Defense is the best offense."

Iain thanked him and watched February walk off down the road before looking at his shield. The wear and tear on it was gone, as if it were never there. Walking on Iain came to another bend in the road. A squat, red-faced man dressed in fine clothes and rings blocked his way.

"March! March is my name!" he bellowed uproariously. "My mother and brothers have told me of the kindness you have shown warrior. So I will give kindness in return to aid you in the trial that awaits you."

Reaching into his pockets Iain watched in shocked surprise as March pulled two frothing mugs of ale, and thrust one of them into his hand.

"Drink deep from my cup of kindness!" March said, before guzzling down his own mug. The ale was warm and tasted sweet to his tongue. Taking back the empty mug March laughed loudly as he, like his namesake, marched off down the road.

Soon Iain continued onward down the road and soon came to the side of a lake. A young woman knelt at the edge washing clothes. Her hair, a golden yellow, freckles dotted her face. The yellow dress she wore hugged her body in the right places. Looking up she smiled at his approach and stood to greet him.

"Greetings, I am Miss April," she said, as she curtsied. "My mother and brothers told me of your kindness, and that I should show you kindness in return. Give me your shirt."

After removing his shirt, he watched as she pulled what she had been washing and shook it three times and handed it to him. What he thought was a piece of damp cloth, was a beautifully tailored shirt.

"Thank ye miss," he said, as he pulled the shirt on over his head, and found that it fit perfectly.

"Ye are welcome Iain Baird, may it keep you safe in the trial that awaits you," she said, before giving him a soft kiss and walked off down the road.

Further, down the road Iain came to find the road washed away by a raging river, and found a beautiful girl standing on the banks of it. Her red hair was long and flowing. The dress she wore was bright green. Turning around she smiled at seeing him.

"I am Miss May," she said, as she curtsied. "My mother and brothers and sister told me of your kindness and asked that I give you kindness in return to aid you in the coming trial you will face."

Reaching into her dress pocket, she pulled out a stone. Turning to the river, she skipped it halfway across and watched it sink. The flowing river dried up in an instant and replaced by dry ground. Iain thanked her for her help and gave her a kiss, she gave him a soft kiss in return. Walking off down the road Iain watched her disappeared before continuing on.

At another bend in the road, Iain came face to face with a dark haired woman in a red dress.

"My name is Miss June," she said, as she curtsied. "My mother and brothers and sisters have told me of your kindness, and that I should return your kindness in return for the trial ahead of you."

Reaching into her dress pocket, she pulled out a silver pendent, and placed it around his neck, before giving him a soft kiss.

"This will protect you in your journey," she said, before walking off down the road.

Iain went on down the road and along the way he met July, Miss August, Miss September, October, and November. From them he received new boots, a few petals from a wild rose, a handful of blossoms from a cherry tree, a piece of wood from a Hairy Tree, and a silver coin. Soon he rounded another bend in the road and met by the old woman from before.

"You have finally reached me warrior, I am December," she said. "All things come from me, my children have shown you kindness in return for helping me. Therefore, I should show you kindness owed to you, come closer and I will tell you the most important thing you will ever have to know. Your death."

The Scotsman approached and kneeled down, and old December whispered in his ear. Her words were cold and sent shivers down his spine. When she finished Iain stood and continued on down the road, when he looked over his shoulder, the old woman was gone.

"This has been a strange day," he muttered to himself. "I hope these trinkets will help, though I know not of what I will face down the road."