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The tall boy on the gray horse cast an apprehensive look at the sky.
He could hear his men behind him grumbling as they rode. They resented his command of their company, considering it an undeserved appointment forced upon them by his father. Still more they resented being sent south for skirmish duty while Brian Boru was assembling the main army at Dublin for the battle to determine the future of Ireland.
Young Donough was as frustrated as his men, though in his case it was compounded by a growing sense of foreboding. The sky to the north, in the direction of Dublin, was filled with black clouds that had been boiling in eerie configurations since first light. It was now late in the day on Good Friday in the Year of Our Lord 1014, and the clouds looked more ominous than ever.
Donough tried to reassure himself. My father would never initiate battle on a Holy Day, he thought. But what if his enemies forced a confrontation? Pagan Northmen have no respect for the Christian calendar.
Watching the demoniac sky, Donough was increasingly certain that Brian Boru had already faced his enemies on the field of battle. The writhing clouds were witness.
He turned his horse's head toward Dublin and lashed its flanks with his horse-goad.
Copyright © 1996 by Morgan Llywelyn