irish beef stew

The Stuff of War

Another week had passed and Rowan was pacing throughout the castle. Padd had assured him that tomorrow they would call on The Master Assassin and see to the status of his daughter. Surely by now, someone had taken possession of her womb and planted a child.

Padd has also assured him that he was in somewhat of a situation known as a sticky wicket. “Just think on this as a glue pot that has been upended and poured all over your floor,” his lawyer had said, his tone speaking of worse things to come.

Oh what to do? Yes, he could see how things could perhaps end badly but then he needed a cause to start the war. A noble cause that the people would uphold. Padd had in detail explained to him how the Mater Assassin was not that cause.

“You have a Master Assassin,” Padd’s voice was condescending, perhaps. “And you have an apprentice Master Assassin.

“No,” he had hotly denied, “I have not. Just the Master.”

“No,” Padd had shook his head, repeatedly. “The Master is not married. If he was, then Aed would stand tall. But they are not married,” he had stressed. “You saw to that.   Legally, he still holds the title. If you demand Gael, and if the child is his, he will cut your heart out. And if the child is Aed’s, although a flightless dragon, dragon he is in his bones and if you take her you will have the dragon clans breathing fire on you and your residence.”

With that out-brief, that was how his morning had started. All of his yelling and screaming had only made his disposition worse. Of course, throwing the filled mug at Padd had not helped either. His lawyer excused himself and left. Yes, left him here to his own mindless thoughts and devious behavior.

Going to the door, opening it he called out into the castle. “Padd, so sorry, I can behave now.”

Padd entered wearing a helmet and full armor.

“Sorry,” Rowan sighed. “Is all that really necessary?”

“Yes,” the lawyer answered.

“Well then. Let us begin. I thought once the Master was mated, he had to retire.”

“Once the Master is married,” Padd stressed, “then he is to retire. His family then becomes his first responsibility and not the crown.”

“Why was I not told?”

“I hear the pout in your voice,” Padd moved the ale mug out of his king’s reach. “Not told?” he asked, disbelief in his voice. “How could you not know this? It is your duty as king to know this. This is your Master Assassin!” Padd brought himself back under control. He thought he heard his voice go up a bit in frustration.

“I know,” Rowan began, “that I am not the smartest out there when it comes to the daily grind. But I can come up with a devious plot and a corrupt plan and bring chaos to a peaceful world order with the best of my ancestors. When you are not the smartest, isn’t that why you have advisors?” he growled lowly at Padd.

“Advisors are to advise on your course of action when they are consulted,” he added, his tone stern. “If you want to know what I think, my king, you are going to have to ask me and then if you ask for advice I shall give it. Until then, I say nothing and am going to wear this armor.”

“Coward,” he mumbled good naturedly at Padd as he poured him a mug of ale. “So advise me. In what direction do I point my nose?”

Padd nodded in approval. “Aed, at this moment is of no consequence. His brother, Eitilt, however is. I would start there.”

Rowan considered that and poured out more ale. “For all his polite ways, he does not like me.”

“My king,” Padd chuckled, “name one who does.”

The mug stopped in mid-air to Rowan’s mouth. “Padd really? Not even a little?” he asked. It was very quiet from the opposite side of the table. “If I was not king and I was dying by the side of the road…or choking on a piece of meat…?”

“You would be dead,” he answered truthfully.   “However, you are my king. I owe you my fealty. That is all I owe you,” came Padd’s reply as he regarded his king..

“Well,” Rowan sighed, “I am taking that a lot better than I thought I would,” he picked at the foam on the top of his mug.

“I hate Earth,” he sighed. “I guess there is nothing for it, though. See Eitilt and…” he shrugged. “It was so much simpler when Albie was alive. Or even Sinead. I could deal with those two. We were always on an equal footing. Eitilt, I just don’t know.”

“That is correct,” Padd replied. “Being king was not ever meant to be easy. Just look at our history. What makes you so special that you should just get to waltz through this.

Go to Earth. See Eitilt and take notice of your surroundings. He runs a nice pub. Friendly faces. Good food. Appreciate these small things.   And if nothing else have a bowl of his stew. It is top notch. It has lots of potatoes.”

“Potatoes,” Rowan mouthed back. “Do I like potatoes?”

Padd shook his head and drained his mug. “Earth. Eitilt. Stew. Go now, before The Library calls you into service from which you shall not return.”

Rowan pulled back from the camaraderie.

“I am most serious. I am glad to see you are as well, my king. Those that dwell there, they want war, my king, and they want it now. They understand about the sacrifice, but that does not keep them from reaching out and tasting other morsels that happen to be lost and wandering at night.”

“Do you think they would dare come here?” he asked.

“I think they dare whatever they damn well please,” he answered with all sincerity. “If not Gael and her child, then you and your crown. Take note, they grow hungry.”

 

Earth—Dublin:   The Gate

There was the general hub-bub of guards being shuffled at the front door. That was when Eitilt and every other fae in the pub knew the king was inbound.

Many fae made themselves scarce, others went back to work. Eitilt just continued wiping down the bar. The game was about to begin.

“Eitilt,” Rowan called out in greetings as he came through the door.   “I see you have been released from your kitchen duties. How fortuitous for me! Have you a moment to spare?”

“Indeed my king,” he replied. “Something to drink, perhaps?”

Rowan knew his eyes had lingered on the bottle too long that Eitilt held in his hand.

“You think I have poisoned it?” Eitilt chuckled.

“That thought did cross my mind. Dragons do have a way with removing unwanted fellows with drink and poison.”

“Only our kin. With all other, I am not the subtle, my king. I would come at you with flame and screaming madness until it seared your body, shattered your ears and infected your brain.”

Rowan’s smile dipped down into a small frown. “Such a cheery place. So alive with music and laughter and the business of hearts beating. I would hate for all of that to stop. It would leave such a dark blight upon the walk and scar it, perhaps for eternity.”

“Oh my king,” Eitilt bowed his head. “But this building is a scar upon the soul of the ages. The Traitor’s Gate. Here the fae crown banished all those that thought to war against them.”

“Seriously,” Rowan drew back. “This is that very place?”

“Indeed,” Eitilt smiled.

“You do mean the original, the one where they banished traitors, burned witches and floated their ashes out to sea?”

“The very one,” Eitilt replied as he waved good night to a patron.

“My ancestor Ryland built this place,” he said, awe in his voice.

“No, my king, he did not. It was standing before he lied, cheated, and bullied his way into power. Probably built by the old ones, you know, those whose bones rest uncovered. Whose very presence stand watch to this day.”

“Keevan and Dechtire had no living heir,” he replied, his eyes now slits.

“I did not say they did,” Eitilt replied as he filled a drink order.

“Oh,” Rowan sat back and watched the dragon who was just as crafty as his father and mother. Time to spin the bottle and see where it stopped. Truth or dare. He was an expert. “The last time I saw Trudy,” Rowan clenched his hands under the chair, hoping it would keep him from shaking. “She Runed for the House of the Sun and saw its destruction.”

Eitilt nodded. “Yes, and that has come to pass.

The last time I fucked Trudy, she said The House of Ryland would be swallowed by the darkness it worshiped and fed. That an ancient order of the king would rise from Ryland’s blackened ashes and the land of the fae would once more know their ancestors.

May I interest you,” he smiled, “in a bowl of stew? It is the house specialty, tonight.”

That did not go very well. So, they were lovers still. He gripped the seat tighter, pretending that it was Trudy’s neck. That fucking Trudy and her love of big dick! Time to press on before he had a screaming fit. “I have been told that your stew has lots of potatoes. I am not for sure if I like potatoes. So instead, I think I shall just be on my way and stop off to see my daughter.   I think perhaps she would enjoy visiting with me in the castle. She was not much of a visitor there when she was small and I miss having memories of her there.

It shall be delightful to watch my grandchildren grow and be a blessing to me as I embrace a new age.”

“Oh,” he smiled. “Lady Gael. My brother, Aed, tells me that she is expecting. The Master Assassin claims the child as his. You think to remove her from his tower, I would bring an army.”

“All I have to do is ask,” Rowan chuckled. “The Master owes me fealty. There is no need to war over the girl and her child.”

“As I said, The Master claims the child is his,” Eitilt’s eyes became slits, fire showing from his nostrils. “She carries a dragon. War it will be if you think to remove her.”

Rowan drew back into his chair. “You know this how?” he hissed.

“Only a dragon has lain with her,” Eitilt smiled.

“Oh…” came out in a breath of anxiety.

“You cannot win, Eitilt,” Rowan thought to bluff.

“I cannot lose,” he smiled in return.

“You would once more send war to grind us down,” Rowan sadly shook his head.

“Better to die free than to live out our days with you declaring King’s Law.”

A slow smiled spread across Rowan’s face. “I see,” he sighed. “You have me all figured out.”

Eitilt laughed out loud. “My king, I cannot even begin to go down that path. But I promise you this. You push your darkness at The Tower and your world will cease to exist.”

“Strong words from one so young,” Rowan’s voice was soft and gentle. “You know nothing of ruling. The strength of character of it takes. The willingness to do what you believe to be true and decent.”

“Perhaps not,” Eitilt said with a bow of his head, “but neither do you.”

“Touché,” Rowan laughed. “But I do talk a good game, don’t you think?”

“Enjoy your evening, my king,” Eitilt responded. “And the next time you stop by, leave some time to have the stew. We grow our own potatoes and they are exceptional.”

“I am sure they are,” Rowan smiled and stood. “Good speaking with you, Eitilt. I do so miss Albie and at times Sinead. I had honestly thought that one of them would be my next mate.”

“Well, I am glad that did not come to pass,” Eitilt laughed, “I would have never called you Daddy.”

“Your father was exceptional,” he said, licking his lower lip. “I wonder if the same can be said for his heirs,” his voice slid over the word.

“You will never know,” Eitilt’s voice dropped to the low rumble of his dragon persona. “You threaten the child Gael carries, again, and I will be the last thing you see.”

“Of course, foolish of me,” Rowan remarked. “I meant you and Aed, but when I said heirs, I can see how your child could be included.”

“Glad we understand each other,” Eitilt smiled. “Oh look the door has been blown open by a guest of wind, or perhaps a ghost.”

“A ghost!” Rowan looked around. “Well, I must be away.”

“My king,” Eitilt bowed his head.

“House of the Sun,” Rowan said in return and left.

Eitilt left the bar and went to the back room. Speaking into the fireplace he said, “Aed, the time is now. Have the ladies invoke the wards and be away.”

It was difficult to concentrate on the ley lines. Rowan had a million thoughts pounding through his head and vomiting out useless thoughts. “I need to see Trudy,” he said over and over. “I need to mend that fence and call her to my side. I need to tell her I am sorry for throwing shit on her house and for fucking a crow. I need to just go ahead and admit to her that I enjoyed it. By all the darkness that rots in my heart. I am going to declare war on the Master Assassin. How well is this going to end? And how soon? And how am I going to explain this small interruption in our agreement to the dark gods and that fool the soul washer? “

“No!” he screamed as he stepped off the path and back into fae, the darkness giving way to the light. “Trudy will see me! I will insist! I will find every witch in the realm to break the spell she holds over her home and I will drag her out by her hair, screaming, and crucify her to her own altar stone.