Story for the Day: The Divine Connection
While Frewyns and Galleisians worship many gods, they do not worship every god there is. Myrellenos, god of the Lucentians and god of the ancient Marridonians, while not directly related to the gods of Frewyn, is part of the same spirit group, but good luck finding out any more information about her when Aoidhe is by:
The first rays of aurora peaked out over the horizon, the twittering of sparrows hiding under the boughs of a nearby cypress sang out against the ocher canvass of morning, and Brother Brudhaawakened to the sound of Sister Ilena, who was humming the morning hymn and sweeping the hallway. He dressed and said his morning prayers, and when he was refreshed and revived, he emerged from the room to be met with Sister Ilena, standing in the doorway and looking deplorably, her arms trembling, her breath lost, her broom rattling in her hand.
“Brudha,” said she, in a dreadful whisper, “you must come.”
Brudha placed a hand on her shoulder. “What is it, Ilena?”
“I—I don’t know—I just—I was sweeping in the hallway, and the door—the door to—“ She seized Brudha’s hand and began leading him down the hall. “Please come, and you’ll see.”
She led him to the room in which the older boys slept, and knowing what he had already felt, Brudha placed a hand reassuringly on Ilena’s arm to quiet her nerves and entered the room.
The two beds where Ailbhe and Aidhill slept looked as though they had never been used: the sheets were neatly pressed, the blankets perfectly laid, the pillows resting languidly against the backboards, and when he peeled back the blankets to inspect further, he found two large black feathers resting on the topsheet. He held them up to the light, a pearlescent sheen shimmered along their vanes, and he smiled to himself in the secret felicity of knowing that the boys were now soaring over the Sheabac and being cared for by two parents who were part of a proud and prominent family. The ancient benediction of the Gods was now their heritage, and Brudha could not but be sanguine for them, though it cost him some feelings of wistful rememberance, the hiraeth of a doting parent his eternal legacy.
“Have they hid somewhere, Brudha?” said Ilena, in a panic. “Is it a game they’re playing? Are they hiding under the bed, or are they in one of the cabinets somewhere?”
“No, Ilena,” Brudha replied, embracing her. He gave her an exuberant look. “They’ve been adopted.”
“Adopted?” she cried. “What? But—just like this? At night? And without anyone’s seeing—but how can you be sure?”
He showed her the black feathers, and she seemed not to understand him. He would have to tell her everything, and taking her hand, he brought her into the hall again and said, “Come, sweet Ilena. We will sit down to breakfast, and I will tell you the whole story.”
He conveyed her to the refectory, where scones and apricot jam were piling atop buttered biscuits and bilberry scones, and when tea was brought and a few sips were taken, he told her all that had happened the day before, about the various visitations, of Fuinnog and Borras in the common room-- he had not seen Fuinnog at the hearth, but from his previous conversation with Aoidhe in the refectory, and of what the children had told him, he reckoned Fuinnog as meaning to be as rebellious as Aoidhe in one respect at least.
Her nerves were tolerably calmed, and when she had sipped more of her tea and considered, she said, “But are you sure, Brudha, that they will be all right?” her teacup rattling against the saucer as she put it down. “I do believe you, but really, I am so afraid—“
“Yes, Ilena. I am very sure. They are probably at the Sheabac right now, hunting for fish and chasing seagulls, waving around the tooth that Aidhill knocked out of Ailbhe’s mouth.” Brudha smiled and shook his head. “Those boys,” he mused, in a reverie, “they are probably in a dream, with all the flying, exploring, and uncharted landscape they could ask for.”
“But are you sure that is good for them, Brudha?”
“Yes, I think so. Fuinnog will be an excellent teacher and a guide for them. They will guard the highlands as Romhaine did.”
“But why all this secrecy now, Brudha, if they appeared to you so plainly last night? Why take the boys away like this? Why not ask us directly?”
“They want no record of it, I suppose. It is not as though Fuinnog is allowed to have children—none of the Gods are permitted, I believe, though that does not seem to stop them. We know now that Aoidhe has sons who live among us, and while there are stories of Fuinnog caring for children that have wandered away from their parents, I believe he wanted children he could call his own.”
Ilena sighed and looked forelorn, and Brudha browsed the back of her hand with his fingertips.
“If it will ease you, Ilena, I will ask Aoidhe later whether the boys really are with Fuinnog—“
Aye, they’re with him.
Brudha straightened and stared at the far wall, and Ilena watched and waited.
A cloud of smoke sweltered into Brudha’s subconscious, and he felt a familiar grin at the back of his neck. Aul’ bird couldn’t take it no more, seein’ me have all the wee-uns I’m wantin’. The crepitation of dried leaves under the influence of seething flame crackled in his ear. Asked the Aul’ Man if he could have ‘em. You know how he is, lad. He gotta ask the Aul’ Man if he can breathe. Afraid he’s gonna come down on him with the THOU SHALT NOT DISOBEY MY COMMAND and such, but Borras said what for him, and I said a few words, now he’s got two wee-uns o’ his own.
And the children are well, another voice assured him.
Borras, the first voice demanded, clear on outta here. This here’s my talkin’. The lad’s my friend, and I’m tellin’ the story. Away y’go now. Go aff and find yer own friends. This’n here belongs to me. Aff and look in on yer boy. Sure he could use a visit now.
“Your boy?” said Brudha, seemingly to himself. “Borras, you too have a son here amongs us?”
The voices were silent. Somewhere a knowing smile was given, and one of the omniscient existences were gone.
Ain’t the only one what’s out givin’a good hashiff to what asks, lad. He just won’t tell you about it ‘cause he’s afraid o’ sayin’. Hear him talkin’? The voice stopped and seemed to be waiting for someone to speak. Sure ain’t sayin’ what now, aye? But I’ll tell ya, lad, he give a right good hashiff to a girl out in Westren. Coulda been a right good bheann for him, but he loves Suibhne too much to keep a second. Just wanted to answer a prayer, and when she has the lad, she gives him away. There was a shake of the head, and an exhale aspirated at the back of his mind. Don’t understand you folk sometimes. You ask us for what, we give it to ya, and then you don’t want it no more. The voice paused, and sly features painted on a consciouss canvass. Here come the lad, said the voice, in mirthful tones. No lettin’ on now. I’m gonna sit over here and mind mahself.
The voice quieted when Cgnita and Eilen entered the room. Brudha and Ilena turned toward them as they approached: they were smiling at each other, they were speaking to one another in amorous tones, they were holding hands, and the satisfied aspect each was giving the other bespoke an evening blissfully spent. A cachinnation echoed from within, a brume of pipe smoke blustered by, and the presence shifted from the back of Brudha’s mind to somewhere beside him, as though it were waiting for Cgnita and Eilen to join them.
They did join them, and when the morning pleasantries were gone through and more tea was brought, Cgnita asked Eilen whether she should like any tea, and Brudha folded his arms over his chest and gave them an assenting smile.
“It is a question over tea, Brudha,” Cgnita insisted, “not an admission of any kind.”
“You had a pleasant evening,” Brudha observed.
“We did, thank you. We spent all evening on the hill. The stars were out, the dinner cook gave us was splendid—there was really nothing to keep us inside. It was a little cold, I grant you, but the frost was so mild, it was nothing at all to worry about. The headland was radient last night. I’d never seen anything so beautiful.”
Here was a glance at Eilen, and Eilen and Ilena coiled into themselves, each crimsoning over in delightful mortification, while Brudha surrendered to quiet mirth and admitted nothing.
“Beldynn comes today,” Cgnita joyfully announced, taking a teacup for himself.
“I cannot wait to meet him,” said Eilen, recovering her complexion between delibations. “I am all atremble, there is really so much I must show him.”
“I, too, am looking forward to his visit,” said Brudha thoughtfully. “I has been too long since we have seen him here.”
“It is too long since anyone has seen him anywhere other than the Haven. And how was the rest of your evening, Brudha?” said Cgnita, lifting the cup to his lips.
Brudha felt the consciousness beside him hover in anticipation. “It was meaningful,” was his smiling answer.
Cgnita looked up from his cup to study Brudha’s expression, but it was too late: his tea was all over his fresh clean robes, what was once white was now bemired with blotches of brown. Something had knocked his cup from his hand, and the teacup was rolling helplessly along the ground, the last few drops of tea trickling out in a stream beside the table, and Brudha chuckled, and Cgnita festered in hateful silence.
“…And on the day that Master Beldynn is to visit,” Cgnita maned, weltering in misery.
“Oh Cgnita,” Eilen cried. “How odd that the cup should have fallen like that.”
“Yes, my dear, very odd indeed,” said Cgnita flatly, staring at Brudha. “It must be my nerves.”
“Well, the stain is still fresh. Perhaps we can draw it out with a warm cloth.”
She hurried to the kitchen, to speak for a cloth and boiled water, and Ilena followed, thinking that salts and caustic soda might do just as well if they could be got, leaving Cgnita and Brudha to themselves.
“Of all the times he could have done this—“ Cgnita eulogized, his shoulders withering, and then, with a heated look, “—And if you think I don’t know he is there—I know he is somewhere near by, Brudha. I can smell that pipe smoke from here. It is practically wafting off your shoulders. Come, Aoidhe, there is no need to pretend you aren’t there.”
I ain’t anywhere, lad, the voice laughed. Just watchin’.
The familiar intonation abraded the cleric’s nerves, and Cgnita glunched and shuddered. “You are just watching as I am eating a shoe, Aoidhe.” Cgnita took a cloth from the tea trey and began dabbing the large stain on his robes with it. “I know you pushed my hand. Why else would you be laughing now?”
‘Cause you ruined yer robes and all.
Wrawling guffaws echoed internally, and Cgnita decided that he hated this morning.
“Aoidhe,” Cgnita sighed, pinching the bridge of his nose, “I really do believe that you will be the death of me
Naw, ain’t gonna kill ye, lad. Can’t do no japin’ if you ain’t down there.
“Now that I come to think of it, I should be terrified to die just now. Aoidhe must grow tired of me before I attempt to throw myself down a well. If I transend to his plane of theoretical existence while he is still attached to me, I shall be his especial friend forever.”
Brudha shrugged and looked subrisive. “You could find enjoyment in haunting everyone in this realm together.”
“I shall haunt you first, Brudha, for encouraging him.”
“I do not encourage him, Cgnita,” Brother Brudha simpered. “I simply do not discourage him.”
“Which is rather the same thing.” Cgnita dabbed his robes and made a drawn out sigh. “Oh, well done, Aoidhe. You have spoiled my ceremonial robes,” he grunted, tossing the cloth aside. “I suppose I should be grateful you did not make my nose bleed or push me into a sty.”
Can still do it, if yer wantin’. There was an exhale and a gesture to further this somewhere. For more colour and all.
“I have enough colour, thank you. And you will please not to scheme against me whilst Master Beldynn is here. He will be arriving a few hours hence, so you had better get all your japes in now, Aoidhe, because if you jostle me about whilst he is here, I will have him banish you into some hideously tiresome realm where all the witches go.”
Naw, he ain’t gonna do that, lad. I’ll tie his beard to his belt if he try any o’ that Marridon magickin’ on me.
“He is quite powerful, Aoidhe,” said Brudha, with playful warning, pouring Cgnita another cup of tea, “and there is talk of his having a brother, a prominent wizard in Marridon who has many mysterious connections.”
Ain’t no mystery in it, lad. I know that brother o’ his.
Cgnita instantly put down his cup and gaped at the far wall. “You do?”
Sure I do. He’s servant to wassername over in the east.
“In the east…” Brudha repeated, looking . “Do you mean Myrellenos, Aoidhe?”
Aye, thassername. Good lookin’ bheann with all that hair flowin’.
“You know Myrellenos, the goddess the Lucentians worship?”
Sure I know her. Everyone do. The voice paused, and someone somewhere scratched his head. Yer lad with the crinkled hat a friend o’ hers.
“You mean Master Beldynn?” said Brudha, amused at Aoidhe’s description of the ancient enchanter. “There, you see, Cgnita? Our Gods are not the only to have friends.”
Cgnita pursed his lips. “You realize that is not a comfort to me. Isn’t Myrellenos everywhere, just as you are unfortunately everywhere?”
Aye, but her form is in the east, just as mine’s aff with my boy. Don’t matter though. We can listen to prayers and give blessin’s from anywhere. She just likes stayin’ in that special realm o’ hers—Mlys, or somethin’.
“Mlys is a real realm?” asked Cgnita suspiciously. “So the Lucentians believe in a real God.”
Sure she’s real. Why wouldn’t she be? We’re real.
“Are you and our Gods related to Myrellenos, Aoidhe?” asked Brudha. “Are all Gods related? Are they all living entities that have a life of their own, or are they bound to us by belief?” but the sudden opening of the refectory door and the entrance of one of the royal guard made Aoidhe silent.
Brudha rose from the table, whilst Cgnita tried, with futile desperation, to clean his robes and eadeavour to salvage his pride, and the guard approached and bowed, looking first at Brudha and then at Cgnita, wondering what all the bitter lamentation was about.
“Brother Brudha,” said the guard. “A message for you from His Honour.” He held out a small note. “Matias Dreen will be tired this afternoon for his crimes. His Honour asks if you would like to be present to give your testimony for the record.”
“I will,” said Brudha, taking the note.
“And there is word that the boy is safe at the holding in Bramlae.”
Brudha smiled, and his heart was relieved. “Thank you, sir. I am very glad to hear of it.”
“As well, Master Beldynn is to be here within the hour.”
“What!” cried Cgnita, jumping up. “And how is this possible, sir? I was given to understand that he would be here later in the day.”
The guard suppressed a smile. “His Honour heard of it from the Regent at Barrellynn, good cleric, that His Grace Master Beldynn has left the Haven and is already on his way.” He glanced at Cgnita’s robes. “So perhaps a change of dress is in order.”
A smirk and a bow, and the guard quitted the refectory, leaving Cgnita to imitate the guard, muttering to himself in heated disdain, and Brudha to chuckle to himself, thinking of Cgnita’s misfortune with kind consideration.
“I did not know of the change in hour until now, Cgnita,” Brudha assured him.
“You might not have known,” Cgnita huffed, “but I have an idea of who did and purposely did not say anything about it.”
He flouted at the space beside Brudha, and the air warped as a laugh rippled across the hall.
Didn’t know much, lad, the voice laughed. Wouldn’t change anythin’ anyhow. You don’t got no other special robes.
“Oh, abominable morning,” the cleric moaned, raising his features to the ceiling and throwing up his hands. “Brudha, I believe I’m going to have to ask you for some lay brother robes—why are you laughing?”
“Because my other set is currently being washed, and the only other set available that I won’t have to send out for are Ilena’s officiation robes.”
Cgnita looked unenthused. “You know, Brudha,” with feigned delight, “I believe I shall wear them. If they are not mine, and if they are a woman’s set, Aoidhe will laugh at me all day and refuse to stain them.”
An eteral hand made a triumphant gesture, and Cgnita had almost resigned himself to wearing a woman’s robe when Eilen and Ilena returned to the hall, followed by the cook, who was carrying a bucket and a kettle.
“Oh, aye, yeh’ve ryght begrannowed yehself,” said the cook, in a musical tone, “but ‘tis no matteh. That’ll come out. It’ll take some doin’, but we’ll have it out.”
The cook pulled a large brush from the bucket, and Cgnita took a step back.
“What are you going to do to me?” he asked.
“Ay’m doin’ nothin’ teh yeself. Yer takin’ that robe off, and Ay’m boilin’ it down and washin’ it in the vinegeh.”
“I do hope you mean to strain it and scent it. I cannot smell like an infirmary floor when Master Beldynn comes—which,” turning to Eilen, “will be within the hour, as the guard has just informed us.”
“Within the hour?” Eilen cried.
“Aye, well,” said the cook, gripping Cgnita’s woven hemp belt, “betteh be washed afore he comes.”
She gave a sharp tug, Cgnita whirled round, and in one swift motion, she peeled the cleric’s robe from his body and thrust it into the bucket.
“What have you done!” Cgnita shrieked, looking down at himself.
“Cool yeh porridge, cleric,” the cook humphed. “Yeh wearin’ yer undehthings. Yeh not traipsin’ about in the alltehgetheh.”
Cgnita held his arms around himself and scowled at the cook. “You are an evil woman, peeling a man from his robes as though he were a sheep to be sheared.”
“Aye, well,” said the cook, disinterested, “Ah seen sheared sheep and naked men, and yeh don’t got what teh fryghten meh.” She poured the contents of the kettle into the bucket and began shuffling away. “Ay’m off teh scrub and strain this in the warshin’. Best fynd a shirt before the wee-uns come in.”
“Yes,” said Brudha, “it is time we should be waking the children, though I’m sure they’re awake already.”
Ilena went directly to the dormitory, and Eilen held Cgnita’s arm and helped him out of the refectory.
“Did you see what she did, my dear?” Cgnita said, in a quiet and injured voice, as he hurlped away from the church. “She stripped me like a sullied child!”
“I admit,” Eilen returned, smiling to herself, “I was fascinated at how easily she got it from you.”
Brudha reveled in high glee watching Cgnita sepulcheringly trundle back to the infirmary. What a morning it was already, and who could say what other pleasures the day might yet achieve? Master Beldynn on his way, the Archaeolgical Soceity showing interest in the site, Matias Dreen being brought to trial and the boy well on his way to rehabilitation, Brudha had nothing left to do but finish his tea and clean the table in preparation for breakfast for the children.
An erubescent glow radiated behind him, and when he turned, Aoidhe was standing there in full form, his pipe tucked in the corner of his mouth, his hat resting at the back of his head. “Don’t you worry about ‘em boys, lad,” said he, patting Brudha on the shoulder. “They’re havin’ a right time of it, flyin’ round the crags and learnin’ how to fish and such.”
Brudha could not but smile up at the mountainous and jovial God. “Should I worry for their education, Aoidhe? They might be learning how to care for themselves and protect the land, but they must learn better how to read and write. They know only the little we have taught them. ”
“Aye, Romhaine’ll show ‘em.”
“Is she still alive then, after all this time?” Brudha asked, in awe. “There must be extenuations made for her after hundreds of years.”
Aoidhe shrugged. “Don’t really count alive or not alive, lad. She’s around, shise shin. She looks after the Sheabac when Fuinnog is off doin’ sky things. She’ll teach the boys what’s what.”
Brudha canted his head and looked sagacious. “As a question, Aoidhe, can you read and write? I had always wondered if the Gods bothered with such things.”
“Aye, I can read and write. Somewhat. My writtin’ don’t come out like yers do. We got that Aul’ Fremhin way o’ writin’ things.”
“But your speech is Common—at least, I believe it is.”
“That’s it, lad,” Aoidhe declared, touching Brudha’s chin affectionately. “We got us our Gods’ language, but yer hearin’ Common ‘cause yer thinkin’ Common. We Gods hear all languages the same. We can’t just not answer prayers ‘cause they’re in another language and all. You pray to us in Aul’ Fremhin or Common, we’re gonna hear it.”
“So if I began to think in Auld Fremhin--”
Aoidhe suddenly turned toward the infirmary. “Talkin’ for another time, lad. I gotta ruin a robe what the lad’s found.”
He winked and began to fade as he strolled toward the door, and Brudha held his sides and laughed.
“You will not be happy until Cgnita meets Master Beldynn in a sundress,” said Brudha, shaking his head.
“I’d right love that, lad,” Aoidhe beamed, his figure shimmering and dying away. “Yer after givin’ me all these ideas, I’m gonna right use ‘em.”
“As you will, Aoidhe, only please do not tell him I gave you the notion.” Here was a sly grin. “I want him to think it came all from you.”
With a last nictation between them and the promise of the God’s returning to trip him later, Aoidhe was gone, his presence moving over the threshold and leaving the refectory, and Brudha was left to himself, thinking of all the delightful misery that was sure to be Cngita’s morning, and offering a prayer for Ailbhe and Aidhill, for their continued safety and happiness for their new life along the northern coast.