to his father. And today his father had called for him. He had his best tunic on and had taken a bath. His father had never called for him before. He’d often turned up unannounced, taken Padraig for walks and talked at him. But had never asked for Padraig to go to him. Padraig wasn’t sure what it meant. But it surely meant something important. He hurried across Malvin’s Holding. A collection of stone built houses huddled inside the great wall for protection, a community of over two hundred souls, the largest centre for civilisation in all the Four and One and a place Padraig had never been more than a few miles from. When he knocked on his father’s door, he could feel his heart beating faster than normal. His father frightened him. Not least because he was one of the four Great Druids, but also because he was tall and intimidating. When asked to enter, he slipped through the wooden door and bowed. “Father,” he greeted. “Well, come in, don’t just stand there looking foolish,” his father replied. Padraig walked to the table his father sat behind, a collection of thin wooden sticks in front of him etched with the Ogham, a language Padraig, as bard, had learned to read. None of his friends could read, or write, or do much arithmetic even. Padraig was proud that his father had seen to it that he was educated. “We are going on a journey. You must tell your mother that it will be at least four months before she sees you next, and you must be here at dawn tomorrow with e fW'