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:
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.
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.
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
The cleric made a genuflection seemingly
to no one.
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.
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.
you have already interfered, the cleric thought as humbly as he could.
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?
is now a bastard child—
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.
you go on way outta here, and no more pokin’, hear me? I’m watchin’ him.
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.
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
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.
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?
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
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 yououtta 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’
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.
gonna tell him what to do.
But he is your son…the cleric weakly
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?
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.
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
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.
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.
are you feeling, Cumhaidh?” said Alasdair, examining the darkened gullies
beneath the Scoaliegh’s eyes. “Are you rested a bit?”
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.”
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.”
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.”
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.”
is all the charm in the place, Master Dieas, I assure you,” said the Scoaleigh,
fighting an attack of yawns.
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.”
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
“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
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
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 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.