The Last Ring of Skellig Michael

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Shrapnel obliterates.

A thousand swirling blades scything an arc of destruction.

Every gasping breath from its first hosts sang the promise of death to the weak, the old, and the unlucky. Sealed coffins. No lips pressed to a cold forehead for a final goodbye. No mourners. No wakes. But always there was hope – in each other. Covid knew no borders and the World united as it rallied against the common foe. Maybe that unity was an illusion.

Shrapnel obliterates.

A thousand swirling blades scything an arc of destruction.

Stuntmen fly from pyrotechnic explosions, feigning death while the cameras roll. A trickle of blood down a cheek or a twisted limb, maybe a sooty face emerges from the smoke. But there is no shrapnel in Hollywood’s finest movies. There is no reality there. The smouldering buildings are cardboard, the blood-coloured water another illusion. They never portrayed the shrapnel. They denied us the truth for the sake of happy endings. We were unprepared. Now we understand and we weep.

Shrapnel obliterates.

A thousand swirling blades scything an arc of destruction.

No words to describe what the eyes see while the imagination puts leaves on trees stripped naked, inserts frameless windows to protect the shredded curtains flapping in the gaping holes. Colour has deserted these places. Grey as the concrete slabs dangling from high rise dolls houses without frontage. We glimpse a microwave, door unhinged, plug in a twisted socket. The fallen kettle alongside will never boil again. There is no one left to fill it from the waterless tap. In these places the voices of the dead and the dying whisper their pain, their disbelief, their resolute defiance.

Shrapnel obliterates.

A thousand swirling blades scything an arc of destruction.

Rips out the beating hearts of old men and children. Barbarism, your ego is beyond measure. Your lies spew poisonous spittle on the lives you have taken.
Ukrainians dared dream they could be free. They are. Russians dream too.
They will be.

Shrapnel cannot obliterate a dream.

Hidden for two Millenia, the Messiah’s Ring has returned to Rome. 

Two identical Rings were cast weeks before the crucifiction of Jesus Christ. One bore the inscription Pilatus, the other, Messiah. The Pilatus Ring was buried in the tomb of Herod, the other taken by early Christians far beyond Judea. First to Greece where it was kept in the shadow of Mount Olympus. From there to Rome. Following the fall of the Roman Empire, Irish Monks tasked with its safekeeping sailed from Portus, on the Tyrrhenian coast, to Skellig Michael off the West coast of Ireland. There they founded an Abbey to safeguard the Messiah’s ring.

Throughout the ages, only two people carried the secret of its existence – the Abbot of Skellig Michael & the Bishop of Rome. When the Abbey became unoccupied in the thirteenth century, it was decided by the last Abbot and the Bishop of Rome, that a monk would be selected to help keep the ring’s location on the desolate rock in the Atlantic. Thus the intricate selection of Bishop and Monk has taken place beyond the knowledge of others. In 2018, archeologists revealed that a ring discovered in Herodium in 1969 quite possibly belonged to Pontius Pilate. The guardians of the Messiah Ring knew the first part of the ancient prophecy had been fulfilled.

Many would die as as microscopic viruses threatened our very existence – but human ingenuity battles the ever challenging threat and society breathes once again.

But the Bear who ruled with an iron fist had not been hibernating. Directing his ire towards his neighour’s children, he unleashes his own brand of war.

The Messiah must reveal himself to the world.

The Last Ring of Skellig Michael  is the third novel in the Father Brennan series, and will be published in early 2023.