Story for the Day: Mureadh and Aoidhe
Mureadh's longstanding and famous relationship with the Gods is often playfully mocked in the keep, for while there are other religious figures amongst them, like Brother Baronous, Baronet Breandan UiBrien, and Captain Gaumhin, none are so fervent, so passionate in their faith, as Mureadh-- which, of course, makes him so easy to tease, and no one loves teasing him more than the God of Japes Himself.
They walked through the gatehouse and down the front path, where they met with Gaumhin and Mureadh, who were presiding over the entrance for the hour, invigilating the churchyard, and remarking the celebration around the square, while exchanging looks from the cerns atop the battlements, presiding over the capital from the wall. Gaumhin was all smiling affability, talking of seeing his brother and cousins strung upside down by Draeden and Bryeison for the better part of the morning, and Mureadh, though pleased to see the party arrive, was trying not to enjoy himself.
“There is no sin in celebrating Cleansnameirta, Mureadh,” Boudicca reminded him. “I know it is not celebrated much in the south, and even here in the east our japes are somewhat tame, but you may rejoice without worrying whether the gods approve.”
Mureadh was hardly convinced.
“The day belongs to Aoidhe, or Gaumhna, or whichever patron god you choose, so long as you are celebrating,” Boudicca continued. “You might jape your neighbours and lark with your friends in the comfort of knowing the Gods approve it for today.”
“With all due respect, Commander,” said Mureadh, discomfited, “just because we plague one another as a custom doesn’t mean the Gods approve it.”
“I think Aoidhe would disagree with you there. Japing is his dominant proclivity. He is the Trickster God after all, and if not to jape in His Glorious Name, then what?”
Mureadh was going to say something about blessing fields and hoping that everyone should be rapt in the throes of violent passion with their rightful husbands and wives, but the wind changed, a gale grazed his neck, a presence descended, and Mureadh tremulously bowed his head and held his hands together in supplication.
What’s all this about not likin’ my holiday, said a familiar voice, its sonorous and playful tone browsing Mureadh’s ear.
“O, Lord Aoidhe,” Mureadh quietly pleaded, his voice timorous, his hands shaking. “Please see fit to forgive Your Servant—“
Nah, I’m not here for an apology. Don’t like ‘em anyhow. Just came by to see how my boy was doin’ and make sure everyone’s out japin’. Also want a bit o’ that honey slice goin’ around. How come yer standin’ here mopin’? You just guardin’ this here gate when you should be throwin’ folk down the well?
“Yes, O Lord, because I believe it is wrong to harm others for sport. The Good Book teaches--”
Fah, for such a dirty ol’ rag, that book don’t know much. If I declare you celebrate this holiday, you will.
Mureadh sighed and sincerely wished he could chose which gods spoke to him, but as Aoidhe was the only one willing to descend with any regularity, he must learn to be grateful the Gods for Aoidhe’s visits and never betray even the slightest hint of displeasure. “I will do as you bid, O Lord,” said Mureadh, in a defeated accent, spoken in half a whisper, and heard only by the God.
“Is a certain god whispering in your ear?” said Boudicca, smiling.
Mureadh looked pained and pleaded with her not to make him confess Aoidhe’s name, lest it should summon the God again when his presence seemed finally gone. “Perhaps, Commander,” was all his answer, given with an agonized conscience and spoken with a defeated countenance.
The chief of the royal party was already moved on, and Gaumhin moved on with them, ushering them to the end of the path and the church below, where Sister Aoie was supervising the orphans, who were out in the yard flumping over one another enjoying the day, and Mureadh watched Boudicca follow them with a suffering heart, fearing that the loss of her company would bring on Aoidhe again. he liked to plague him when he was alone, and Mureadh, an ordained and Humble Servant to the Frewyn Church,
Don’t think of him…don’t think of him…was Mureadh’s silent supplication, but the more he told himself not to think of the Trickster God, the more the notion of Aoidhe in his consciousness grew, reaching its apex when a slight breeze blew against the back of Mureadh’s neck. Consternation whelmed him, and he stared at the wall, asking the Gods to have Aoidhe either string him up and be done with it or leave him in peace, to have the japery dispensed with and all his feelings of terrible expectation over. He waited—closing his eyes and emptying his mid, he chose instead to focus on the nothingness that the wall supplied, listening to the church bells and children below, but just when we believed himself free of Aoidhe’s machinations, a voice whispered, Better watch ‘em boots o’ yers, lad, and Mureadh was all agitation again.
“Yes, O Lord,” he cried, in trembling misery.
Mirth rumbled on the wind, and as the Divine Presence lifted and moved on, Mureadh exhaled and stared at the ground, wondering whether he ought to give up his post as Captain in favour of all the security and seclusion that being a Brother in Karnwyl could promise.
Nah, I’d just jape you there, Aoidhe’s voice echoed. I’m a God, lad. Bein’ OMNIPOTENT AND OMNISCIENT’s what I do. Can’t rid o’ me. I’m always with you.
A warming sensation rippled over Mureadh, and he felt a large hand gently touch his head.
Ain’t all japin’, lad, said a light thrumming before him. Remember, I’m the God o’ Justice. I give MY HOLY BENEDICTION where it’s due.
A hand tousled Mureadh’s hair, and Mureadh crumbled in immediate submission.
“Thank you for your blessing, O Lord!” said Mureadh in an ecstasy, a wave of unmitigated affection rippling over him. “Thou art most generous and benevolent with thy holy word!” but the hand was removed from his head, the amourous sensation ceased, and Mureadh was alone once more, the light and presence leaving him as quickly as it had come.
Don’t thank me till you figured out how to take yer boots aff, was the voice’s last whisper, spoken in a rustle, carried off by the trees.
Mureadh looked down at his boots and all the horror and frustration he had been under before suddenly returned: his boot laces were series of outrageous knots, and a voice cackled in the back of his mind.
Happy holiday, lad, was the last transmission.
A sudden and violent pat on the back that sent Mureadh tumbling forward, Aoidhe was gone, vanished in an instant, his reboating wrawls ushering him away from the keep, leaving Mureadh to contrive a means of untying his boots and wonder whether his ordination had been worth the credence he had cultivated to procure it.
Read more about Aoidhe and his japes in Baba Connridh.