Tuesday, May 21, 2013

May to Z: M

Morrigan the Raven. The glossy haired wife of Beorngardt and mother of Fhionna Firehair/Fireheart.

Derived from the Gaelic name Muirgen meaning "born of the sea" and/or the Irish Morrighan meaning "great queen". Muirgen is said to have been a mermaid for 300 years and reborn on land as a human. Morrighan was a goddess of war and death who could take the form of a crow.

Her true birth name is unknown, even to her. She suffered amnesia after her vessel was attacked and burned by pirates.

When she was just a small girl her fisherman father called her Blackbird because her glossy hair reminded him of ravens' wings. Many other sailors in their small island village refused to set foot in the same boat with them because they saw carrion birds, like ravens and crows, as bad luck. Thus she and her father usually fished alone from their small boat.

One day, tales began to spread through the fishing fleet than a shipwreck of treasure had been found in the area of the Shattered Shoals. Much of the valuable cargo was still intact because it was made from nigh indestructible dwarven adamantite. However, it could not be collected because the incredibly clear water was much deeper than it appeared. Little Morrigan was a strong swimmer and her father devised a way that she could fill a hide air bladder and breathe through a small tube, allowing her to dive deeper than even grown men. Suddenly every sailor wanted her aboard their ship so she could haul in treasure for them. So great was their greed that they failed to guard their tongues and soon the tales had spread to many other islands. 

The fishermen turned treasure hunters figured they'd be safer in numbers and could recover more treasure all at once with a single larger ship, rather than the smaller fishing boats. However this also attracted more suspicion than a fleet of smaller ships would and presented a larger target.

Morrigan began diving for treasure early in the red dawn of morning, and continued to haul in armloads of wealth all day. As the sun was setting, the crew egged her into one last dive. While she was down, scrabbling for treasure in the darkening water, a pirate shipped sailed out of the sun and attacked her boat. Even if the crew hadn't been greedily peering over the rail and picking through their horde, they never would have seen the sea-rats coming with the sun behind them.

As an exhausted Morrigan kicked for the surface, she could see a flickering light above the waves. It was the remnants of the burning hull, picked clean and drifting. All the crew were dead. The pirates pulled the weary girl from the sea and stole the last of what she'd recovered. They threatened to kill her if she didn't reveal the location of her village, which held even more loot. Desperate and shocked by the violence, she told them. They then struck her a heavy blow on the head and dumped her overboard, believing she'd die in the dark water. Instead she washed ashore while the pirates turned north to plunder her home.

The fishermen that found her named her Morrigan because she was "born from the sea". Now an adult she only remembers flashes of her childhood: the cry of gulls, visions of blackbirds in flight over a village, a shipwreck in southern islands, glittering treasure beneath the waves, and rising through dark water towards fire. The last thing she can recall before washing up on the beach is a red sunrise and red sunset.

Now grown with a family of her own, she longs to find where she came from. She wants her daughter to know her grandmother on the off chance that she's still alive. She tells Fhionna what little she can remember. After the fall of Highvale and the birth of Arthur (Morrigan's grandson) he decides to see what truth there is to his grandmother's tales of sunken treasure and ventures to the southern coast looking for the shipwreck that took her memory.   

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