The pretty seaside town of Clew was a hive of activity. Cooking fires burned in small whitewashed cottages, sending a sweet, woody smell out into the cobbled streets.
Fairies bustled along the pavements, carrying fresh bread, fish and vegetables they had bought from the market in large wicker baskets.
Down at the docks, fishermen readied their boats for another busy day, preparing nets and bait to take out on the calm welcoming water, for today was market day, an important day for the small fishing village and its hinterland. On the first Monday of every month, merchants came from all over the fairy kingdom, bringing their wares and goods to trade. However, more importantly to the residents and nearby farmers of the coastal village, the traders brought money, and that was good news. Merchant wizards used magic to keep the fish, meat and produce fresh, enabling it to be transported to Sarasidhe and beyond.
Tom, one of the village’s oldest and most respected fishermen, was mending a ripped, tattered sail as he watched the stunning sunrise. The sky was burning red, and the golden glow of the sun was beginning to break through the misty haze of dawn. His worn-out eyes always loved this portentous sight.
‘Red sky in the morning – I think I’ll stay ashore this day.’
His equally old and weathered friend Pat laughed. ‘Any excuse to stay on dry land in the comfort of the Fisherman’s Arms.’
‘Will you be joining me, Pat?’
‘Aye, as soon as I fix this net, Tom.’
The two men lapsed into a comfortable silence as they finished their chores, all the while dreaming of the tempting pint of stout waiting for them in their favourite tavern, their taste buds coming alive at the thought.
Tom looked up from his net as something in the distance caught his eye. He saw a large ship sailing towards the shore.
‘Pat, what do you make of that?’
‘Make of what, Tom?’
‘That ship – it’s huge,’ he replied, gesturing in the direction of the vessel.
Pat looked over to where his wizened old friend was pointing.
‘I don’t know, Tom. I’ve never seen anything like it before.’
‘I suppose it could belong to those giants we heard about a couple of years ago.’
The fishermen continued to watch as the ship sailed towards them, gradually getting closer, until it dropped its anchor less than a quarter of a mile from shore.
Two large longboats were then dropped into the water.
Pat and Tom looked on in horror as large armed figures climbed down rope ladders and clambered into the waiting longboats.
‘Dear God, we’re under attack!’ yelled Pat.
The two fishermen sprung to their feet, running towards the village centre, screaming.
‘We’re under attack, we’re under attack!’
As they cried their warnings, catapulted stones smashed into the dock behind them.
Pat risked a quick glance back over his shoulder; his eyes went wide, as already half of the boats in the small fishing fleet were ablaze in the harbour.
The unknown invaders, at least twice the size of the fairies of Clew, rushed ashore, their armour clanking, echoing the sounds of impending doom. The largest amongst them shouted, ’Kill them all, burn this village to the ground. Let the fairies of Connacht know the ogres have returned!’
The screams of terror quickly turned to screams of pain and death, as fairies were slaughtered where they stood, the white cobbled streets of Clew turning a deep crimson as fairy blood ebbed from the dying bodies.
The ogres went about their task with unbridled enthusiasm, killing every man, woman and child, leaving the bodies where they fell.
Within two hours, the small, prosperous village of Clew was wiped from the face of Connacht forever.