Far Horizons: Tales of Sci-Fi, Fantasy and Horror. Issue #13 April 2015 - Page 94

Part Three – Phelan’s Select “My father had to wait to find out why the Storyteller was going to the castle…” “In the Lands of the Dead. You were going to tell me about Phelan’s Select,” the boy says excitedly. As did I. I waited less time than my father of course, because I accompanied the man in red, but that comes later. I crack an eye open as the Ferryman drops his anchor and sits at the stern, taking out a burnished silver flask and taking a great draft. The blank mask comes to rest, the hidden eyes on me. Wordlessly he passes me the flask, and I take a draft. He reaches under the bench he sits upon and takes out a small sack. There is a loaf of bread, some cheese, some olives, a few slivers of sausage. He takes the larger portion but gives me some. I gobble it down with gratitude, the first food I’ve had since I don’t know when, two days? Three? They have kept me watered though. They wouldn’t want me to expire before He metes out His justice. “My thanks,” I say, but he continues to watch me wordlessly. “Ah yes. That’s a long tale, I’m not sure we have time. Ah, ah, don’t be downcast. I can tell you many tales… very well then. I can see that you are set on this tale. We should ask your father to row slower then?” “The man in red seemed to be in no hurry…” # The Ferryman kept a wineskin on board, with watered down wine in it. His ‘sipping wine’ he called it, for the journey. He shared a little with the man in red. The water of the lake was drinkable, but barely. The man smacked his lips with gusto, like he’d just tasted the finest wine in the country. Theatrical in even his smallest gestures, the Ferryman noted. “Where was I?” The storyteller asks the boy. # Phelan rubbed his straining eyes while carving Ogham. He was glad he was in Malvin’s Holding, in the Court of the Red Bull, in the east. The most civilised of the kings, he always thought. Phelan, like all the Great Druids, spent the majority of his time in the lands of the Fair. What they referred to as “The One,” rather than in the four Kingdoms – the Four. So when he visited his lord he was glad that his lord was, in his opinion, the most civilised. Always nice to sleep in a warm bed. Phelan had many bastards throughout the lands of the Four and One but the eldest, and the majority of the others, lived in Malvin’s Holding. The eldest, Padraig, he was going to train up to take his place, although Padraig was well on the way to becoming a bard already. # Padraig, for his own part, was content to be a teller of tales, a singer of songs, a poet and a strummer. He didn’t want to lead men, nor did he want to guide them spiritually. But he’d never been able to get this across PAGE 93