Earl Patraic sat in his tent, drinking an ale while reading the latest report. The siege was proceeding well, likely to last only 4 more months. While the Earl knew that such was the nature of war, and he was patient enough to wait, the length surprised even him. Earl Enna managed to lead his men around Patraic’s to lay their own siege in Dublin, deciding that a frontal confrontation would lead only in defeat. When one is outnumbered four to one, that is a prudent move. That the walls of Leighin castle were high, solid and well manned made it all the more so.
Patraic despaired that it would be a long while before he saw his Gwen again, that he had to wait before he could rout out the Leinster raiders from his own lands, that the men were getting restless running a siege. Coirpre was with him, though, and that was all he needed.
The boy was a fast learner, and was always in high spirits. His optimism and joy was good for the troops as well. Patraic had put his son to work in delivering messages, doubling as a lesson in learning names and titles.
Patraic put the report down and picked up the next parchment, finding that it was a letter from Ath Cliath, from his wife.
“My Lord, my love, the castle is well, as are your subjects. The Leinster troops do little but harass us, Gilla-Patraic has set up watches and militias that keep the peasants safe. Many of the outlying farms have been torched, though. I pray your victory will be swift, but I know you will not be rash and strike only when the time is ready. I long to feel your touch once more. Gwen.”
Patraic smiled and wiped away a tear, and decided that a tour of the countryside with Coirpre would be a fine way to spend a day. Perhaps some lessons in the beauty of The Lord’s creations would be good for both father and son.
It was mid July, 1078 when the castle finally fell. The surrender was given by the lady Tailltiu, the Earl’s mother. To Patraic, her ferocity and determination were a reminder that women were not to be underestimated, Celtic women least of all.
After leaving a token detachment to watch the castle, Patraic marched back north to finally rout out the rest of the Leinster forces, managing to catch the army out of position around the castle. The Battle of Ath Cliath joined on July 30, lasting for four days before the Leinster forces retreated in the face of overwhelming numbers. Earl Patraic himself slew twenty calvary that had tried to flank around the main force. By mid-October, Earl Enna had finally been found and pressed into surrender.
Patraic knew this was only the first conquest, and much more work yet lay ahead of him, but he allowed his troops a reprieve for a year to tend to their own homes and regroup. Earl Patraic Crovan was now Lord of Ath Cliath and Leighin castles, Lord of Dublin and Leinster counties. Already the repairs in the south were going well. It would not take more than a year before the fortifications were ready, and more troops were being trained to prepare for the conquest of the rest of the Leinster Kingdom. From there, Patraic knew that the green crown of the Kingdom of Ireland would not be far.
But for a year, Patraic planned to spend time with his wife.