Monday, May 25, 2015

The #GloriousTwentyFifth: Donate to end Alzheimer's

Wear the lilac
May 25th is many things. In Frewyn, it the day that falls directly between King Alasdair and Queen Carrigh's birthdays. In Lucentia, it is the beginning of summer and Malsentisa. In our realm, it is Geek Pride Day, also Towel Day in honour of the late great Douglas Adams, and it is also the Glorious 25th, day which many Discworld fans know very well. That's why we're asking that this May 25th you help us in donating to the Alzheimer's Society in honour of Sir Terry's memory. We are so close to beating this horrible affliction, or embuggerance as Sir Terry called it, and with just a little more research and more funding, we're well on our way to ridding of this merciless illness for good. Below are links if you should like to donate:

Alzheimer's Society Canada
Alzheimer's Society UK
Alzheimer's Association US
The Alzheimer Society of Ireland

Saturday, May 23, 2015

#Ireland votes yes!

A historical day for Ireland, Frewyn's this-realm counterpart, as the country voted yes for same-sex marriage.

Nidello and Arkastino, Hathanta and Varthrasta, Gaumhin and Pastaddams, Searle and Aldus, Aghatha and Ebhlin, Sabhine, Scoaleigh Norrington rejoice in knowing that just as they are equals in countries like Frewyn, Lucentia, and Livanon, they now have the same rights in one of my favourite places in the world.

Well done, Ireland!

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Story for the Day: Aoidhe

The Gods of Frewyn often visit their children. Sometimes they visit through dreams, sometimes through action, and sometimes through direct address, and sometimes, when they can concede to make a visit, they leave something behind. Sometimes they leave a memory, sometimes they leave material intimations, and sometimes they leave behind their direct progeny-- in this case, a young boy. The God Aoidhe, known for his wantonness, enjoys answering prayers, especially those made by young women in desperate want of a child:

Sewynpaudir: Frewyn prayer beads

The boy need not say more to invite the suspicions of the cleric, who was already taking It must be so: He saw now why Matias would resent such a child, though he should rather be treated as a blessing than a blight. He placed his hand on the boy’s back once more and tried again to search for hereditary expressions, wanting a confirmation of the two faces he had discovered. He strained to contentrate, his features forming a pained glower, he closed his eyes and pressed hard against the boy’s back. The two faces began reconstructing themselves as he applied his conscience, and there, in the most furtive corner of the boy’s mind, was proof of his parental line. Wyn Abhaille, the cleric breathed, that I should be fortunate to see such a miracle in my time--  
pains to prove the validity of the father’s ill vaunted claims. He had his own methods for detecting any hereditary link between parent and child: he pressed his hand against one of the boy’s wounds and concentrated his efforts inward, propelling his consciousness, searching the inner chambers of his heritable composition for traces of his lineage. His essence vibrated as it traveled, caroming along every vein, every nerve, every impulse, transmitting signals and conveying an image to his subconscious. He knew this image, but it obscured itself, attempting to hide while under scrutiny, moving a little farther off the closer the cleric came to deciphering it. His consciousness pursued it: it formed a shape, materialized momentarily, and then was gone again, off to some distant corner of the boy’s subconscious . He tried again, searching with a more spiritual eye, peering around the corner of every cell, every organelle, every microcosm of molecular mystery. The storms of the mind, the brontide of wakefulness, the rush and rote of the boy’s undulating feelings burst on him in a fulmination of sound and sentiment, and there, hiding between receptors and conveyers, behind the fremescence of bereavement and longing, collocated with the face of a woman was the familiar presence. It turned to acknowledge him, and the cleric gave a small start, gasping and removing his hand, his surprise and amazement unseen by the boy, who was bent in inconsolable dejection. He stared at the boy, remarking his structure and features once again under the new idea of his parentage.
Aye, that’s enough now, said a voice, at once abrupt and familiar. No more proddin’ him. The voice sounded playfully displeased. Ogham’s wee-uns sure like pryin’, and I sure don’t blame ‘em, but you best heal him and let him be.
The cleric made a genuflection seemingly to no one.
That’s a good lad. You help him now and let him alone. He’s a strong-un. He’s one o’ mine.
The question of Why don’t you save him? rushed through the cleric’s mind, and though it was the thought of but an instant, it was attended and responded to.   
‘Cause he’s gotta find his own way. I look out for him, but we got a rule here: no interferin’ or that’s ol’ man Diras on us.
But you have already interfered, the cleric thought as humbly as he could.
No, I answered a prayer. Ain’t the same thing. She needed someone to love her, she wanted a lad, she turned to me for help. What’s the sense in havin’ believers and children askin’ you for things if you don’t mean to listen to ‘em?
 But he is now a bastard child
Aye, but that don’t mean he don’t have value. Give him a bit of a push at the plough, and he’ll drive ‘em down the field to furrow.
The cleric was silenced.
Now, you go on way outta here, and no more pokin’, hear me? I’m watchin’ him.
Yes, Your Excellency.
There was a pause. Excellency. Never heard that one before. The voice was almost laughing.
The cleric became nervous and felt afraid of offending. But how else should you be addressed?
There was an ethereal shrug. Dunno. However yer wantin’ really. Most folk what talk to me just say please and then ask me what they’re gonna ask me. Huh. I don’t even get no swearin’ named after me. Nobody got no trouble sayin’ Borras’ name a hundred times. Folk in Tyfferim even call out for Chune, but no one says what about me ‘less they want a few wee-uns. I know, it’s ‘cause they think I don’t got nothin’ to do with money or luck and that.
The cleric hesitated. Well, you are associated with fertility and bountifulness—He tried for a less opulent title—My Lord.
Lord, eh? Lord. The voice effected to be deliberating. Don’t mind that one too much. Not many folk use it, but ‘till do. No more Excellencies, though. Makin’ me think I were my brother. He’s got ideas from drivin’h is chariot all day. All that sunlight. Makes his brain go soft and all.
The cleric chanced a thought here. Do you watch all of us in this way, My Lord?
The voice seemed to smile. Some o’ you. There was a pause, and then, If you pray hard enough.
There was the intimation of a smirk, and the cleric imagined a wink somewhere in the ether.
You should know all about that, havin’ Ogham’s gift, though he was always a few apples short o’ the cart.
If the cleric could have contracted his brow and frowned in such a state, he would. Is it not blasphemy to speak this way about a God?
You say what about yer siblin’s and it ain’t blasphemy. And if it were, you’d still say what about ‘em ‘cause that’s family regulation: I grew up with him, I rile him.
The cleric supposed this was fair, as a Being of such Eminence was proposing it, and indeed it was His own family—but just as the cleric was suddenly desirous of asking a thousand questions now that he was become more comfortable speaking to the voice, a pressure began pushing against his conscience.
Mon, now, the voice sang, in a plaintive tone, that’s you outta here, lad. Leave my boy be.
The cleric winced and fought to remain in the boy’s subconsciousness. Are you with him because he is meant to be a a grant man amongst the Gods’ children?
There was an implied shrug. Dunno. Hope so.
The cleric was seriously confused. How can you not know? Are you not a God?
                Sure I am, but that don’t mean I know everythin’. Not even ol’ man Diras does.
                The cleric’s expected his features to glunch. But the boy is your progeny—directly so, My Lord. That must mean he is destined for something.
Ain’t gonna tell him what to do.
                But he is your son…the cleric weakly projected.
Sure he is. I got lots o’ wee-uns runnin’ all over the kingdom. Gotta sow seeds if I want what to grow. I look after all my wee-uns, but this one’s my fav’rite.
The cleric thought that there were no favourites amongst the children of the Gods and supposed he must have been mistaken. But if you love him, as you seem to do, My Lord, is this suffering necessary?
Nah, he don’t need it. Hasn’t made me angry yet.
The cleric paused and hardly knew what to answer.
 He won’t be sufferin’ long. Don’t be wringin’ yer robs over it.
You will help him indirectly, then? but no answer was given, and he grimaced as a subrisive voice writhed in mirth and forced him out of the boy’s subliminal mind.
In a moment, the cleric was returned to the infirmary, the image of waking life blurring into view, and he saw only the boy and heard only his sorrowful lamentations, and wondered whether he was aware of the strength of the spirit he carried with him. He must not be, if he despaired so far to be in such a wretched state. Telling him, however, he knew was impossible; the clouds should part and a bolt of lightening should crack the sky and destroy him if he dared divulge such a secret. He had been given instructions to leave the boy to himself, he had been given assurances that the boy would be well, and as he should never even consider disobeying a command when it came from such a channel, after the boy’s wounds were tended to, he called for the guard to come and escort the boy home.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Story for the Day: Tax Season

For many Frewyn citizens, tax season comes but once a year and it is nothing very formidable. Everyone pays in proportion to their earnings (declared earnings, that is), and collected taxes are given to the kingdom treasury, where they are divided into social services, public programmes, kingdom necessities, keep upkeep, and grant commissions. The nobles of Frewyn, being given the privilege of landed estates, pay taxes once a season, and one of the few ways to defray their payments is to donate some of their profits to charity. Sadly, for two of the king's favourite persons in court, charity is a word not entirely understood.

                How are you feeling, Cumhaidh?” said Alasdair, examining the darkened gullies    
beneath the Scoaliegh’s eyes. “Are you rested a bit?”
                “Well, sire, I will not say that I am fatigued to be dead, but I am not very much alive. I continue being awake on tenacity, which is what always drives me, and on the notion that I am going to enjoy an excellent meal, a feathered bed, and a warm bath as soon as I reach Galashield.” 
                “Galashield?” Alasdair exclaimed. “But you’ve just come from there—rather, you’ve just come from Tyfferim, but you were near Galashield when you went to Glaoustre to give Breigh the message.”
                “Yes, sire, but I go to visit my favour tavern, to be sore and satisfied and spend my holiday with a mulled honey wine and a noble fire. I go to the Up the Road, to see the winter sport in the woods and delight in all the serenity that winter in the south affords.”
                A conscious look was exchanged here, the king suspecting something but the Scoaliegh betraying nothing; that one who had just ridden nine hours through a freezing night and frigid frost should want to ride another few hours south instead of resting at the keep spoke only one conviction in Alasdair’s mind. He has his suspicions, as any considerate master must, but the groom broke through his private cogitations with a humphing, “Aye, and to hear all ‘em miners ravin’ about the hunters boundin’ over their mines. T’is a grand place, Up the Road, when all the miners aren’t boulderin’ through it. They come in, and bring the whole mine with ‘em, all that ash and soot on ‘em.”     
                “There is all the charm in the place, Master Dieas, I assure you,” said the Scoaleigh, fighting an attack of yawns.
                Alasdair stepped closer and said in a quiet voice, “You must be exhausted, Cumhaidh. I can’t stop you from riding out again, but if you do mean to go to Galashields, won’t rest a bit here first?”
                 “I thank you, sire,” the Scoaliegh replied, with a weak smile, “but that is really quite unnecessary. I have closed my eyes for a few minutes, and I should be very well for the next hour or so.” 
                “Will you make it to Galashields? That’s another two hour’s ride.”
“One, if I ride swiftly, sire, and one hour is really nothing at all. I made it from here to Tyfferim to Glaoustre to Tyfferim to here again in seven hours sire. With my horse newly shod, I can certainly do Gala in one.”
“Well, if you sleep on your horse along the way…”
“You are not serious, sire, but I can sleep on my horse if need be. I am certainly am tired enough for it, to be sure.”
“And you will not see you family for the holiday?”
The Scoaliegh shook his head. “They should not want me, sire. The executive of my family is gone to Marridon to visit the paternal branch of the Norrington tree, and my father stays at home with my mother to celebrate with the UiHanlanns. My cousin, your very good friend in court—“ Here was a look from Alasdair, “—does not like when I am around. Being the laird of the Norrington clan, he would much rather spend time with my brother, the one son who can be bothered to act as his lordly title commands, than he would me, and I am not sorry for it, sire. They will see the symphony, go to the opera house, and do a hundred things I have no interest in doing. My mother and father I see tolerably often, sire, that they had no need of me around the house during the holidays. I should be in the way, and indeed my parents do not expect me. Though my father was against it at the first, I believe nearly thirty years at the profession has cooled him with regard to my being a lord without wishing to act like one. Now he can speak proudly of me to relatives we have no desire to see most of the year. He tells them my brother is his steward, my cousin is his heir, and I am in the king’s service, as His Majesty’s own especial messenger, riding all over the country to convey important information that the kingdom could not do without, and our connections seem to be pleased with that. Holidays in my parents’ house, sire, are always given to entertain those we don’t wish to see until the next holiday, and by my being out of the way, I am in great danger of never seeing them at all.”
Here was a sly smile, and Alasdair sighed and shook his head.
“If only every day where a holiday,” Alasdair groaned, “then I wouldn’t have to hear your cousin or Count Rosse in court.”
“But he so delights in opposing you, sire. Surely, you must admit his rants are entertaining.”
Alasdair gave him a flat look. “About as entertaining as Count Rosse’s serrated breeches.”
“I should tell my cousin to be more adventurous in his outfits, sire. He does bore one with his tailcoats and top hats.”
Alasdair raised his hand to his brow and sunk under the agony of Lord Norrington’s trimmed millinery. “I would put a tax on top hats if it would get him to stop wearing them.”
“Never, sire. He is far too attached to the Marridon fashion, but if you should like to suggest it, I am quite sure my cousin would revel in amusing your ear with his ideas on taxation.”
“If wants me to lower the taxes on his private estate, which I know he does because that’s all he complains about, tell him to follow you father’s example and  give more to charity.”
“Ah, but you see, sire, he will still be giving the money away.”
“At least then he won’t have enough to spend on new top hats. I purposely remind the court every quarter to give more to charity if they wish to defray their taxation rates, but they refuse to listen. Breandan does it, your father does it, why can’t everyone else do it?”
“T’aint their fault, Majesty,” said Dieas, emptying his pipe. “Nobles got ‘em ears what don’t work too well. They don’t hear you for all the greed stuck in there.”
Roreigh put down Fearchair’s hoof and muttered, in a severe hush, “Yer forgettin’ we got the Majesty and a Lordship standin’ here, Dieas.”
“Don’t gotta be mumblin’, bai,” Dieas protested, waving a hand at him. “The Majesty and Lord Scoaliegh ain’t the nobles how I mean.”
“No, Master Dieas, surely,” said the Scoaliegh. “You mean those like my brother, who will cry over his profits ledgers once he realizes how much he must give to the kingdom.”
“Brigdan has seen your brother cry,” said Alasdair, with a sagacious smile.
The Scoaliegh could not help laughing. “Has he indeed, sire?”
                “Aldus sent him to the Norrington estate when he didn’t get a tax receipt from him.”
“Oh, glory day, sire. Please, the next time you send the Royal Guard to my brother, do let me
be the one to convey the message of their coming. I should glory in seeing my brother wither under Sir Gaumhin’s shadow.”
“You can tell him there is a way for him not to pay taxes at all.”
“Is there, sire?”
“He can move to Tyfferim and become a farmer.”
“A suggestion my father used to make many a time when my cousin complained of having to part with profits he did little to deserve. How I should love to see my cousin and your friend Count Rosse out in the fields wearing straw hats, reaping the summer grasses together.”
Alasdair delighted in this, peering into the distance of some unknown line, his thoughts on the horizon of possibility, watching Count Rosse, Lord Norrington, and all those who made themselves the adversaries of charity slaving away, pulling up bean plants, stacking the corn, husking and winnowing, their dry mouths begging for drink, their aching backs creaking in solemn and unheard moans for rest, their legs shaking from the agony of overexertion, their feet despising them for over-application. His lips curled in a slender grin, his eyes lowered, and he deliciated in his private conjuration, watching every edacious and ungrateful lord welter and writhe, perspiration pouring from their bent frames, the sun radiating down unmercifully, their bodies wrenched over dandelions telling time. If only I could force them, Alasdair thought to himself, admittedly with some fiendish glee at their being made to suffer. The kingdom could do without the taxes gleaned from their estates, and I would happily trade their assessments for field work if I’d be allowed to watch them. The image of Count Rosse working away in little more than a potato sack was one that he would put away and take out again whenever Rosse began complaining of peasants stealing well earned wages from indolent lords, and the notion of Lord Norrington in a hideous straw hat revived a desire to speak to His Lordship about taxation and charitable contributions that had died in the courtroom long ago. Anything was felicity compared to a courtroom lecture about the importance to ending prinvation, and though Alasdair led the way in giving to those trapped on the lower rung of Frewyn society, that his contributions came from the kingdom treasury, which was comprised of collections from the noble estates, was never a pleasant notion to those who refused to provide for the poor at all. He did, by some means, donate on their behalves in this way, and since the Scoaliegh had been so good as to remind him of how little charity is brother gave, he would remember to remind Aldus to take this season’s contributions to the residence and alms house from Lord Norrington’s profitable estate.