Saturday, October 3, 2015

Story for the Day: The Vestry

There are many customs that thrive throughout the Triumverate, some good and others not so wonderful. Sesterna has its slave trade, Marridon has its hats and its science, and Balletrim has its Saints. Being the most religious out of the three countries, its natural that such an export should carry over, but considering how their holidays are celebrated, it is a wonder that anyone should honour such a custom:

They were passing a small vestry on their way to the tradesman’s quarter, and they were just
in time to hear the dissonant tones of the bells calling out the end of service. Downcast eyes and mournful aspects accompanied the crowd of parishioners that were shuffling over the threshold, their steps in perfect time with the monotonous clang ringing throughout the marketplace.
“This is your improvement, captain?” said Bartleby, gesturing toward the vestry. “This is a disparagement on the rights of man. It is shameful that a man must prostrate himself to such an odious requiem. Man is born to liberty, intellect and the wonder of discovery are his birthright, and here are a hundred who would rather moan along to a sepulchering chant and beg a fictious entity for contrition they don’t deserve.” He snuffed, and his nosehairs writhed. “What is all this anyhow?”
“I believe it is a holiday borrowed from Belletrim, adopted by those here who wish to follow their Saints.”
“Fah! Ruderary! Adopting a form of cognitive slavery for the promise of a mythical reward—what a ridiculous way of going on in a country where a man might do anything. The manner in which people will shakle themselves…” He clicked his tongue and shook his head. “You were a freer man,” speaking to Rannig, “as a slave in the brick pits than these people are. Left to themselves, they will believe in cockleshells if it means they might have a sense of salvation.”
“Take care how you talk of them, my old friend. The Saints may come to plague you after all.”
Here was an arch look, and Bartleby glared at the captain over his spectacles.
“I invite them to come, captain,” Bartleby insisted. “Let them descend from their high boughs of moral impossibility and prove themselves, if they want to be worshipped. If I speak against them, they ought to come and smite me, or push me down a well, or make my ears sprout trees, or whatever it is such superstitiosities do by way of punishment.”
“Your ears already got branches on ‘em, Bartleby,” Rannig observed.
He browsed the incanescent enation radiating from Bartleby’s ears, and the old man flailed and tried to blow the giant away with a huff.
“You must not touch them, my dear Rannig,” said Danaco. “He is cultivating a wisened farm, to ward off any spiritual entities that wish to retaliate against him. They are beacons of reason, working to repell stupidity for miles around. They are his sagely furnishings. Only look how the sun catches in them. A gloriole for us to marvel at and for Bartleby to triumph in.”
Bartleby put his hands over his ears and glowered, hating his horay nimbus and disdaining the captain and the giant for pointing it out.
“You ought to garnish them with windchimes. They might be our musical accompaniment instead of Rannig.”
“Hang your windchimes,” Bartleby grumbled.
“That’s what the boss said to do.”
“I do not need windchimes or garnishings or anything else!” Bartleby cried, his fists shaking. “I am very well off with my books and my bathing companions.”
Rannig canted his head and gave the old man’s ear hairs an apprasing look. “Maybe you can hang a small book of ‘em, Bartleby.”
“The weight might pull them out,” said Danaco. “He should have to plait them to keep them together. There is a challenge. We should stop at the ropemaker in the market and try what can be done.”
Bartleby was very sure he should be shaving his ears from lobe to tragus by the end of the day, and watched the procession of parishioners leave the vestry in a gloom of gowls.
“Well, we had best wait and let these men and women pass,” said Danaco, nodding toward the string of black shawls shambling out of the vestry. “We are in a hurry, I grant you, but we invite ill-luck on ourselves if we should break the line of mourners.”
“What is the supposed purpose of this constructed celebration?” Bartleby asked.
“Some sort of ritual abstinence from eating, drinking, and bathing, done to reduce themselves to vestigial and regretful children, after which they go for an ablutive plunge and have a moderate feast, followed by postprandial prayers. Something to do with purification of the soul and the shedding of sins, I understand.” There was a pause, and without turning to Bartleby, the captain grinned and said, “Scowl any harder, my old friend, and your jowels will droop to your knees.” 
“No bathing or drinking—ha! What humbuggery, to starve oneself for invisible entities. All they need do, if they are in want of contrition, is to forgive themselves and get on with it. Say they’re sorry for whatever crimes they have committed, and then treat themselves to a sandwich. And so they do this every year, promise not to do the things they are only going to beg forgiveness for next year? And all this with mossy teeth and mouths crusted over with the slag of dessication?” He winced, pinched the bridge of his nose, and heaved a heavy sigh. “Why must people feel the need to invent hardships and adopt stupidities—a man has no business shakling himself when he is born free. We had best stay here, captain. The cloud of noxious microbes swarming about this uneducated horde might attempt to invade—what are you doing? No, captain! Don’t approach them! They should be hosed down and scraped before you near. Microbes, captain! Microbes!” but it was too late: the captain was approaching the sacred procession, was bowing and exchanging pleasantries with the priest standing at the door, and Bartleby dared not move any nearer the vestry for fear of nonsensical ideologies poised to occupy his brain.  
“They’re just prayin’ and not eatin’ for the day, Bartleby,” said Rannig, in a kindly hue. “They don’t have the Mallacht.”
“They might as well have the Mabhrach, or the plague, or whatever else your people consider to be infectious. Ignorance is the worst of all contagions, my boy,” Bartleby asserted, “for it is not limited to one people, as you see here, and it is caught easily by the low and credulous.”
“Well, the boss won’t bring back anything, Bartleby. He’s not either of those things.”
“Hrm, no. He is rather immune to stupidity, but he does believe in an ethereal entity and is religious in his way, and so are you--” and with a disenchanted look, Bartleby added,”-- unfortunately.”
Rannig smiled cheerfully, and Bartleby shifted away from him, wondering whether only certain types of Gods begat stupidities and whether he were susceptible to any of the nonsensical doctrines that the captain and the giant cherished.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Story for the Day: Amoebas

We're in the last stage of edits for Damson's Distress. A release date will be announced soon. In the meantime, let's watch Bartleby panic about amoebas.

Come, sir,” said the captain, pouring another cup of tea. “Tell me about this thief, and never
mind about my giant. You are not allowed to ignore me while I am sat before you. He is sitting by the window, and yet I replenish your cup.”
“Oh, yes. Thank you, sir.” Mr Bellstrode forgot the giant momentarily and sipped his tea. “The man who took my seal was a small man, dark skinned—that is to say, darker than myself, but not darker than you, Captain—Indeed, you would almost look Sesternese, if not for the ears and eyes, and perhaps your height, which is quite considerable. I have never seen a Lucentian to be so tall—that is, you seem tall sitting down. The height of your shoulders, and your structure and carriage in general—“
“My dear Mr Bellstrode,” Danaco interposed, “how you do mumble on. The man you wish for me to find?”
“Oh, yes,” Mr Bellstrode exclaimed, rousing himself. “Dark, long black hair pulled back and trailing down—and he had a man with him who was twice his height, with a great curved sword at his waist—both of them high status, I believe.”
“Truly?” The captain’s brows arched. “And what evidence is there that these men belonged to the palace?”
“I saw them roving the gardens when I arrived. The queen did not speak to them—I daresay she doesn’t speak to anybody—but her retain did speak to them—that is, he gestured them, and after the whole of the trade commission was welcomed and shown to our quarters, the two men followed me. I thought at first that they were some sort of guardian being assigned us, for that seemed perfectly natural, but after they entered the room and pushed me aside, it was too late to refute them. The larger man held me back, and the stout one took my seal and laughed at me!”
The captain looked enormously amused. “You let them in your room, without knowing who they were?”
“I did not know they were going to rob me, sir!” Mr Bellstrode cried, in a panic.
“Come, man,” Danaco laughed, pouring himself another cup of tea, “you ask to be pillaged. Fortunately they did not think to plunder your person whilst you were alone.”
“Indeed, they seemed on easy terms with the queen’s man—how could I have known that they were coming to steal something from me? A visitor to Marridon would never be treated thus!”
“But you are not in Marridon, Mr Bellstrode. Here is Sesterna,” gesturing toward the scene beyond the window, “and while these men as you describe might be pilfering without the queen’s knowledge, surely she should never act for you were she sensible of your plight.”
“The great monarch of Sesterna is a great boinard,” said Bartleby. “If she dared to move a finger to do something other than summon a footman, the whole matriarchy would perish into the sea. The only time she can be asked to actually lead her people is when being called upon to choose a new ribbon for her hat and say nonsenseical things about fashion and so forth.”
“Here, you are too severe on her, my old friend,” the captain crooned. “Was not she generous to us by inviting us to her ball?”
“Ha! She didn’t invite us so much as she allowed us to stay. We invited ourselves—well, you were invited by a client—but we were so beneath her notice that she barely noticed Rannig, though he was the largest moving landmass in the room.”
“You are only sore that she slighted you when you chose to pay your addresses to her.”
Bartleby humphed and looked offended. “A formal shake of the hand wouldn’t have killed her—well it might have, considering her views on the lower classes. The wealth of education means nothing to her—and I even suffered to put on my best hat, but nobody can ever see anything with you in the way. A gesture and a word from you, and she saw nobody else.”
“I am exceptionally well-groomed,” Danaco acknowledged, studying his arms and brandishing his mane. “I think it is hardly my doing if nobody else in the ballroom could be asked to dress themselves half so well. A dignified air, worked physique, and a well-cared for aspect is all that is required to be the envy of everyone in a Sesternese ballroom, and I did not mean to make myself a rival in any respect, but I was the only tolerable dancer there.”
Mr Bellstode looked all the surprise he felt. “You have danced with the queen, captain?”
“I may have done a gavotte with her,” was Danaco’s careless reply, “but I should never succumb to imprudence while in such expensive company. I only saved her from dancing with another atrocious partner. Her previous opposite was a fright, all left turns and stomping heels, his toes kicking out every which way. A man does not dance like an elephant when the queen is his on his arm. He strode down the middle of the room, stampeding across the floor with thundering steps, and was likely to bring down the crystal candleholders the next moment had I not politely taken her hand when she came to the top.”
Bartleby said something about Danaco’s not so much taking her hand politely as he did push the man waiting for her aside to usurp him as her partner, and cleaned his lenses with his robe.
 “I had her for the next two dances, and was very well satisfied to have her for two more, being the capital dancer she was.”
“You had her the rest of the evening, never mind the two dances,” Bartleby grumbled.
“Nay, my friend. I had her for all of an hour, you will remember. I did not keep her forever. I gave her back before the evening was over.”
“She did make an offer to have you as her frippet.”
“And a pretty piece I should have been. The delight of being a queen’s ornament is an office I should never mind having.”
The old man humphed. “If your vainity wants to dance with such a lolly-lace-mutton every day--  no, Rannig!” Barlteby cried, pulling the giant’s hand back through the window. “You cannot drink the water from the font! It is hardly clear enough, and there are leaves floating in it! This is not a mountain stream, for you to be putting your hand in whenever you want to drink. It is not a fountain with moving water. It is a stagnant pond, my boy. If you put your hand any father in, it will rot off from all the bacteria festering in that deathknell of a millpond.”
“But the fish are all right, Bartleby,” said Rannig.
“The fish, my boy, do not have the same weaknesses or biological make-up as you do. They are protected against certain pathogens that should kill you in five minutes. The fish, however, have a lifespan of all of two days and do not care about it. You are not a fish, though I do wonder if you were amphibious for a time, given your propencity to plod about without shoes whenever nobody is watching you. Who knows what contagions and diseases are in that water.”
Rannig blinked. “Who does?”
“I do, my oby!” said Bartleby, in a heated accent. “And there are a hundred and one things floating in that unmoving swill that can kill you. Excrement from the fish, micteration from the birds, dead overturned bugs everywhere! And think of the mosquitoes that have bred in it—mosquitoes, my boy, the very scourge of the north!-- and unless you wish to invite all them to breed in your sinuses and make house in your brain, you will keep your hands out of that water!”
Rannig glanced out of the window and perused the becalmed water of the pool beside him. “I don’t see any bugs, Bartleby.”
“They are there, my boy,” said Bartleby stoutly, his eye flaring fervently. “And do you want to drink what a bird has bathed in, hrm? Birds are not more innocent than insects when it comes to spreading diseases, and there are othings things besides in that plungepool of calamity. There is dirt and sludge, and perhaps a few newborn crayfish or a few newborn tadpoles swimming about. Should you like to swallow a mouthful of them and only realize too late what you have done? And at night, someone might have done his business in there, to save himself a visit to the public latrine. Who know when that water was changed last—and there are amoebas to consider, my boy! Amoebas!”
Rannig was well acquainted with Bartleby’s old friends bacteria, poison, and general uncleanliness, and while he knew what amoebas were—or at the very least had considered them with regard as to how small they were in comparison to how large he was—he did not believe they were a danger to him. He had been used to drink from the Sesternese pools before during his time as a slave in the work pits of the northwest, and thought there had been some unpleasantness at first, he was grown quite used to water there. His Frewyn mind, which according to Bartleby was comprised of a few glass marbles, accepted that there were many imperceptible lifeforms in the water, but science and demesnes were new to him and were therefore a sort of magic, something that only a rumpled old man with an unforgivable hat could make intelligible after a lecture and a few lamentations on how little Rannig knew of the sujbect. Secretly, Rannig delighted in hearing Bartleby’s ideas, laughed at his raving exclamations, and when Bartleby lauched himself into one of his great recitals on the scientific wonders of the world, which all seemed to recommend Rannig’s imminent death, the same smile wreathed his lips. It was easier to appease Bartleby than enter into an argument—which Bartleby would call a debate-- though he loved to see the old man’s ear hairs stand on end. He said a good-humoured “Aye, Bartleby,” to close the conversation and promised not to drink the water in the fountain, though magpies and butcherbirds were breeching the pool with their beaks and imbibing all the amoebas which Bartleby foresaw. He watched the reflection of the birds wavering in the surface of the water, listened to all their tinkling sounds as they splashed about, and continued wondering about amoebas and all their noxious companions as Mr Bellstrode went on.   

Monday, September 21, 2015

Story for the Day: Music

Being a musician who has sat through many a traditional session, I understand why there is so much dislike for the Livanese bombard, which is even louder than its real-realm cousin.

The pavilion was almost complete: the rugs had been laid, the cushions had been systematically stacked, the annex had been errcted, and the canopy was now tolerably well placed.
The last of the garnishings were being festooned, a frill here and a sash there, and Danaco was directing the whole from the end of the walkway, endeavouring to have his men collect and compose themselves.
“Panza, stop fiddling with the tassels and get you out your ocarina,” the captain commanded. “We will welcome my friend with music, and with nothing commonplace. You will play the Sahadin march in C, and there will be no complaints about it.”
 “Transpose it now. You have a few minutes. It might be done if you can remember the sharp. And practice your scales. I will hear you. Your notes were dreadful flat last time you did an air.”
“Where is that hand harp? I told the men to convey it from the ship five minutes ago. You shall have some accompaniment. Shanyi, you shall play it-- no, never mind about the belly dancing this time.”
There were a few disappointed sighs, as the men had already dressed in their shortened shirts and low pantaloons, and were preparing to welcome the chieftain with an enticing wobble.
“No crumhorn, if you please. I know everyone adores playing it for a lark, but the thing does sound like a dying peregrin. Put that Livanese bombard away. If I wanted to be deaf, I should ask Rannig to whistle instead.”
“The bombard, sir?” Damson asked.
“A sad trick of an instrument, made as a joke by a royal bard in Livanon who hated himself and the court. The legend states that when it was first played, it made ears bleed and eyes water. Have you never heard one, sir knight?”
“No, sir. I do not think so.”
“Take you one of them when we go to storm your king’s keep in a week’s time, and you shall deafen every guard within half a mile. You shall have to borrow some of Bartleby’s wax to save yourself the misery of such bombilating notes.”
“If it is so unpleasant, sir, may I ask why you have it?”
“It came with one of the men, and which one, no one has dared to tell me. It is kept on the ship as a reminder, a punishment awaiting anyone who tries to get Rannig to whistle.”
Damson watched as almost every member of the crew took up an instrument and began to quietly practice. “Do all the men play, sir?”
“There is no sense in not having a musical crew, Damson, else they should bore themselves when we are becalmed at sea. Bartleby plays a famous leaf flute when he can be asked.”
“I played it once, captain,” the old man sibilated, “one time! And one time does not denote a life of musical service.”
“A leaf flute, sir?” Damson asked the old man.
Bartleby looked as though he would rather not talk about it, but Rannig stepped in to fill in all the blanks in the captain’s story.
“When we were in Sesterna, we were tryin’ to lure a thief that took somethin’ from a merchant the boss was helpin’. The boss put a pan of coins on the street across from the tavern where the thief was sittin’ and made a distraction while I hid and waited for him in the alley. Bartleby took a laurel leaf, folded it between his lips, and started playin’ a tune while the boss started dancin’.”
“I am supreme at a gambol when I can be asked,” said the captain. “Our plan worked splendidly. The thief davered over to see our little display, and Rannig leapt out from the alley to squelch him.”
Damson thought he had heard incorrectly. “A leaf, sir?”
“Yes, a leaf, sir knight,” said the old man impatiently. “You will make me exemplify, but I won’t. I did it once, and never again.”
“Had you only heard him, Damson, you should have been in raptures. He played it as though all his musical powers had been waiting to be unleashed upon the world. He succeeded in ensorcelling a thief with just one song. My dancing did very little where Bartleby’s vendition of The Eager Purse did everything.”
A sly grin escaped Danaco here, and Bartleby snuffed and said it was nothing extroadinary.
“Indeed, sir, I do not know anyone else who can play a leaf, sir,” said Damson. “I should say it is extroadinary.”
 “It is the same as playing any reed instrument,” said Bartleby. “The vibration of the reed creates a sound when you blow into it, and depending where you blow, the pitch changes. It is exactly the same. A leaf is not a real instrument, however, not a real one at all. There is no skill needed to play it, and it has a finite amount of sounds.”
“But how did you know to do it, sir?”
Bartleby looked rather embarrassed. “I did it when I was a very young child and curious about the world. When one has little, one learns to do anything with what one has.” Feeling this to be a delicate subject, the old man hemmed and turned the subject. “Anyway, I will not do it anymore, and that is the end of it. There are already too many musicians in the world, or those who think they are musicians. Having musicians anywhere near you is like invliting flies to tea: they are tolerable for ten minutes, but when they begin to hover around your dinner, one wishes they would either go home or die. They are little more than a drain on the economy’s resources.”
“But, sir, we need music,” Damson implored. “It is an important part of our culture. Is not music educational, sir?”
“Learning an instrument and understanding musical theory, yes. Learning how to barely work it for the purpose of begging for coppers, no.”

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Story for the Day: The God of Fire

No fire in Frewyn is complete without a visit from the God of Fire himself. Of course, it's only natural to think that he would start the fire in the first place. 

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Alasdair remained with the Fire Brigade, along with Gaumhin, Mureadh, Connors, Nerri, and Kai   everything was over and everyone was safe. An air of relief and disappointment pervaded the crowd, for while they were satisfied that all were well, a little more rubble and a few more injuries should have quelled the curiosity that begs for the animation and account of tragedy. No one should be really hurt, of course, but a building reduced to cinders and a heap of grey ash would have told well in the imaginarian’s perspective. The king had saved someone, though that someone seemed not to have noticed who his saviour was, the Captains of the Royal Guard and a few Commanders performed their offices in full regalia, and that was enough to amuse friends and neighbours for one night at least. The crowd slowly diffused into the regular parade of morning in the capital, a few young women lingered to pay the King of Frewyn amorous looks, some remained to sigh over Captain Gaumhin’s unfortunate situation of preference, and if one of the victims might suddenly take ill again, the old women who were milling about the stoops of the shoppes opposite would have something more to offer to their sewing circles at least. The part of the high street was reopened, and after nothing more interesting had happened, praises to the Great God Aoidhe, God of Fire, was offered in the spirit of indebtedness for no one’s being hurt and for the flames not escaping to the surrounding buildings.
Linaa, who were all helping to tranquilize the victims of the fire and disperse the crowd. There was nothing more to see or to wait for: the fire had been extinguished, the building deemed safe beyond the injuries of the garret and third floor,
                These prayers offered to Aoidhe, most of them sincere and many of them unspoken, produced a peculiar effect, for when the chief of the party entered the Traveler, Cioel, the old musician, appeared to be quarreling with someone, though the person he was arguing with seemed absent from the conversation. Betteidh was in the storeroom, preparing a few bowls of roasted almonds and rolling a hogshead from one end of the storeroom to the other, and Armagh was at the bar, raising a dram to his health and thanking the Gods that their well established business had not been damaged by the flames down the street. No one seemed in a hurry to notice that the old fiddler was fighting something off with his bow, grumbling for someone to go away as he sat in his usual seat by the fireplace and tuned his strings. His E was dreadfully flat, and he was desperately endeavouring to correct the pitch when the loose hairs draping down from the end of his bow seemed to attack his face. There was no breeze in the room, no gale that had blown in from the door being opened, and while Sheamas had hastened to the bar to have a few drams for his nerves, he had not run anywhere near the old man. The horsehairs seemed to move on their own, and after two minutes of fighting with his instrument, of trying in vain to blow the loose hairs away from his face, the old man snarled through his toothless gums and cast his fiddle aside.
                Shise shin!” he whistled angrily. “I ain’t playin’ nothin’ till that do-nothin’ of a God’s gone and left me alone!”
                He glunched and flouted and folded his arms, and a red glow suddenly appeared beside him and filled the front room.
                Naw, I ain’t leavin’, said a commanding yet jovial voice. I wanna hear that fiddle what you play so well. I was just coddin’ you for a bit.
                “Well I won’t be codded into playin,” the old man humphed, “so cimonna hashiff and find yerself someone else to fuss.”
                ‘Mon, now, said the voice, in a conciliating tone. Don’t go thrunchin’ over it. I came ‘cause everyone was prayin’ to me. Can’t ignore ‘em when they’re ask so nice. The fire was over before I came, and now that I’m here and all, might as well stay, have an ale, and hear you play.
                “Well I ain’t doin’ it.” The old man took his stout from the table just beside. “Rogue of a god, plaguin’ us auljins. Be aff with yeh, or that’s my shoe come aff at yeh! Go have a peek down Bettidh’s blouse how you always do and leave me outta yer schemin’.”
                He snuffed and frowned into his pint, and as he held it to his lips, a slight force pushed the bottom of the glass upward, spilling the stout onto his lap. The old man looked down and then stared at the bar in hateful silence, while the mirth of a god that would be amused echoed in the seamless expanse.
                “That’s my punishment, aye?” said the old man, putting his pint down. “Ain’t enough you gotta plague me, you gotta spill my pint ‘cause I’m tellin’ you what’s what. Well, if this is how the Great God treats us aul’jins, I sure ain’t askin’ you to come round no more.”
                An air of compunction pervaded the room, the red glow shimmered and faded, and when it reappeared, it brought with the Great God Aoidhe, his form translating from the ethereal plane, his features becoming more discernible, his immense form more substantial, his half-hearted artfulness more apparent.
                “Naw, I ain’t punishin’ you,” said Aoidhe, lounging beside the old man, who had little interest in being sidled even by a God. “We don’t do that. You do that yerselves,  achin’ over thinkin’ we’re takin’ our anger out on you and such. I only visit what I love. I’m only coddin’ you ‘cause I’m gaggin’ to hear you play. Takin’ a year and th’while to tune that fiddle.”
                “Wouldn’t take me five minutes if you left me to it!” the old man spat, moving his chair away. “You lads,” he rasped, pointing to Aiden and Adaoire as they entered the front room. “Don’t Aoidhe belong to you? Take him to yer table and keep him quiet with an ale, or there’ll be no music in here th’day, I’m tellin’ you that.”
                Armagh, who did not think it right to gainsay at God at anytime regardless of careless manner or easy disposition, hid behind the bar with a dram in his hand, fearing a display of divine Splendour coming on, and Bettidh lit the bowl of Aoidhe’s pipe as she passed, conveying the trey of roasted almonds to the counter without offering a word or even a look to the Great God. She was working, and as such could not spare even a moment to admire the God she loved best, who doted on her nearly as much as he did Chune. She put a small bowl of roasted almonds onto Cieol’s table and hurried on, to clean a table for the royal party and tend  to the Gods’ Day regulars, who were sooming and slistering in the corner window and took no notice of the Great God, though they were offering praises to him on account of the house ale.
Cieol took up his bow again, thinking he might try for a tuning, when a tickling sensation attack his cheek. He flailed about, pushing and blowing whatever it was tickling him away, and he turned to see Aoidhe purposely blowing smoke at the back end of his bow, making the loose horsehairs hover beside his face. “Along with you now,” the old man hissed, waving his bow at him in angry agitation, “or I’m prayin’ to the God of Music to smite you.”
                “Naw,” Aoidhe exhaled, “he don’t do no smitin’. Might make you listen to one o’ his songs till yer ears fall aff, but he don’t hurt no one.”
                “Yer kin are here now, so be after ‘em for a bit of attention and let me to my pint.”
“Aye, so I will,” Aoidhe exhaled, a cloud of smoke seeping out from between his lips. “Only cod what I love, and I sure love yer music,” and then, turning to Aiden and Adaoire, he said, “ain’t that right, lads?”
Aiden and Adaoire would rather not have told the old man about the extent of Aoidhe’s affection, which was usually carried out on their land and with Chune bent over before him, and they therefore only looked embarrassed and said a good-humoured, “Oh, aye, aye.”
Aoidhe inhaled, the bowl of his pipe simmered, and with a “Well, then,” he stood and approached the party, who were just being seated across from the bar. There were smiles and salutations for everyone, and with Aiden caught in one arm and Aoidhe in the other, the Great God engulfed the whole of the table into one large and inclusive embrace.