A Halloween Story from Frewyn: A Festive Return
Seamhair (Sheh-mir) is Frewyn Halloween. It's the day that Frewyn honours family and heroes passed. In honour of halloween at the end of the month, here is a moment from book 10 that describes the Frewyn holiday and some of its customs.
A Festive Return
Being in Gallei for the chief of the season meant that the royal party had missed the harvest festivities entirely. The children had enjoyed the apple picking, squash gathering, games and hay rides, but business in the west of the Southern Continent had kept all of the adults from joining their high revel. Their return, however, saw the beginning of Seamhair, the last day of autumn on the Frewyn calendar, celebrated with guising, feasting and merriment in honour of those who had come before and passed on, bringing with it usual accoutrements of sweets and chocolate and all the requisite tooth aches and sore stomach such a dulcet commemoration could merit. The party returned to the Frewyn capital to discover Diras in a glow of festive spirits: decorations of gauze ghosts and green ghouls lined the gables of every home; amber candles were lit in the square in honour of those who had no memorial belonging to them; the bells from the church rang out in subdued tones, calling those who wished to honour parents and children long past with sermon and song; the faint scent of nutmeg from fresh apple pies cooling on open sill and the aroma of mulling spices from steaming cider carts being wheeled round the capital hung languidly in the air; children wearing various costumes of Frewyn’s legends and heroes skipped from door to door and made wide, toothless smiles at old women in exchange for treats, abiding the occasional cheek pinches and spittling lips that the crones of Frewyn were disposed to dispense. It was a prospect of Frewyn’s gaiety that the party triumphed in seeing, so much that when they arrived at the capital gate, they were forced to stop and remark the striking splendor that such a scene could provide. Gallei had shown them its agonies, and here Frewyn would show them its glories.
Alasdair felt his breath grow full. His chest swelled, and he exhaled with a billowing condensation, remarking the festivity in the capital with glistening eyes. His happiness at seeing his people in so revelrous a state was more sentiment than his speech could express. He turned to the commander with the parted lips of impending words, but nothing came beyond a sigh and a thankful nod. He requested that the party should move forward; he was anxious to see his queen and his son and therefore determined that the others were anxious to see their families likewise, but the moment Alasdair was discerned along the main road to the castle, drawing attention by the various soldiers beginning to peel away from the ranks and return to their homes, there was an end to the king’s designs of a quick and peaceful return. Ovation came from the square, entreaties for their king poured in from every quarter, and soon the party was surrounded by the capital’s denizens coming to the king to congratulate and wish him joy. Alasdair must stop; he apologized for the delay, but a few moments more where the greeting and honouring of his people was concerned would be of little consequence to being detained. Bows and curtsies were given, ‘Your Majesties’ addressed him, and hopeful eyes and hands outstretched bearing tribute and gifts for their king were borne. Alasdair was in such a beholden and appreciative humour that he had forbearance for every command of his attention: he said hello to the children skittering about his feet demanding that he judge their costumes, he waved to the young women who were ever desirous of seeing their handsome young monarch, he endured every pat on the cheek that the wives and old women could accord, and he even nodded to the Reverend Mother who emerged from her place in the Church to bless the king’s safe return. Their attention and their exuberance at seeing him and greeting his party in such a manner was all Alasdair’s exultation, and the instant he turned from their society to recommence his arrival to the castle, he wiped a tear from his eye and reclaimed his place at the head of the procession with a bowed head and grateful smile.
“All gallantry in battle and in court,” said the commander in an audible murmur, “but the moment that you’re attacked with affection from your subjects, you are all sensibility.” She smirked and looked away but felt Alasdair returning with a powerful glare.
“What?” Alasdair rejoined, and then sharply added, “I’m not crying.” He endeavoured to hide a sniffle and only succeeded in making the commander laugh when he failed to conceal his sentiment. “I know I am king, Boudicca, but I think I’m allowed to show some emotion.”
“Of course you are, Alasdair. Besides, we all know that the King of Frewyn never weeps.” She made an arch look. “Especially when his wife and son are waiting at the castle gate to greet him.”
Alasdair suddenly looked ahead to find Carrigh and Dorrin walking hand in hand toward the iron sweep gate from the castle peristyle. His eyes welled once more, a hundred feelings rushing upon him, the most prevalent of which relief for seeing them well, and where his heart could govern him, his feet would answer. He broke away from the party, hastening toward them, his smile broadening with every step, and when he finally reached the edge of the gate, he assailed them with the most fervent and fondest of kisses, taking his son up into one arm and ardently embracing his wife with the other. “I am so very glad to see you,” he said in a voice oppressed by tight throat. All his love and all his reprieve prevailed him at once, and in seeing his wife’s blue eyes, golden curls, and elated countenance beside his son’s rosy complexion and smiling face, he was compelled to lean into his wife’s nape and shed a few open tears, saying his praises to the Gods that he was come home and that they were within the auspices of his most devoted embrace.