Micheál had anticipated he would have to save Innana at some stage.

He had sent messages out to the three local villages he would have to pass through to get to the healer.

He requested warm fires, healing broths and soups, rugs and clean warm clothing.

He made sure the villagers new Inanna was gravely ill.

He was days away from any real help and he knew his chances of getting to the medicine woman with Inanna alive were slim, but he would take his chance. At least she would die while someone was trying to help her, rather than hurt her.

He knew of only one medicine woman who could save her now.

She was revered throughout the land such was her prowess.

She was The High Priestess of the county, the healer Lilith and Micheál knew she was Inanna’s last hope.

He came prepared that morning.

He had warm blankets in the back of his modest horse and cart – his old mare was slow these days, but his only choice. The villagers had prepared some very plain broth and tea for Inanna to sip, although he didn’t realise the horrifying state of her being.

He had a shovel too, in case he met with hostility.

He knew the ride to the next village would be long – and being winter – the light short.

He made his way early that morning, the moon still visible out to the East. It lit his path perfectly. He was terrified he would be too late and was now beginning to panic.

He grew frantic, sensing something dire.

Inanna lay still, unmoved for days. She was soiled, broken and bruised. Beircheart would kick her as he walked past to see if she was still breathing.

Micháel arrived at the front of the house as dawn broke. All of a sudden his strength grew and with it his courage – he could have taken out an army of one hundred men that morning.

He pulled up and secured his horse.

He walked up that filthy broken stone path to the opening that was the front door.

He could hear Beircheart was still at it in the bedroom with another of his conquests. He was frantic now, running from room to room.

Beircheart shouted as he tripped in the dark and sent an old pewter mug with yeterday’s ale flying onto the hearth.

He came wheeling out half naked, his ire and rage making his pale complexion puce.

“Where is she” Micháel said in a calm and measured way.

Beircheart roared laughing at the sight of this weak and feeble farmer, standing there with his shovel. He could kill him with a single blow.

“Out back” he shouted, laughing heartily.

“Your too late old man”

Micheál’s heart broke and he raced out the back shouting her name. And then he saw her: under the back verandah laying on the freezing cold dirt. He ran to her side. He had no time to check her pulse, she looked frightening – dead – like there was not a breath of life in her.

He scooped her up in his arms, her lifeless and battered body laid limp.

He made his way slowly through the house to the mock protestations of Beicheart.

They made their way to the horse and cart and Micheál laid her on the tray, covering her in blankets. He tried to get some fresh water into her, but to no avail.

Before they left, he took a minute and knelt down beside her.

He prayed silently for either a miracle or a quick and painless passing.