When I assigned countries, I did it at random…but I must confess. For I have selfishly saved one country for myself. To make matters worse: I have broken the word count rule…but the upshot? I can’t win! Being the supreme commander secretly planning world domination–I MEAN–adminstrator for this site and contest in the Editor-In-Chief’s absence is reward enough! So to help myself connect with my Irish roots, Ireland is my port of call! Welcome to the Emerald Isle and surrender yourself to:
Patron usually didn’t attend these meetings. He had better things to do. Like steal Fahy’s screwdriver. And if he was at the pub long enough, maybe sneak a screw or two from Fahy’s wife.
I’m sure I’m the reason the village thinks she’s crazy, he thought. But to be fair, they thought she was crazy before she hit puberty. I know, I remember.
The dirt roof shook and the crowd that had gathered fell silent. Even Patron’s heart stopped. There was always a fear of a cave in. Or a wolf attack.
Or other beings.
The crowd remained silent for a few seconds to ensure that the danger had passed. But a gleam caught Patron’s eye and when the crowd burst into cheers, the corners of his mouth sank deeper than his heart.
Patron never liked Fanny much, but he understood why others did. He always figured that’s why he disliked her so much.
Never did trust anyone so well-liked, he thought. There’s always something fishy about them.
Patron wasn’t sure from whom she stole the iridescent cloth, but the way her gown shined in the candlelight made them listen with their eyes. When she opened her arms, the crowd’s cheers fell to the dirt ground.
“Little Darlings! Have hope!” Fanny said, her voice reaching to the edges of the meeting hall. Patron was sure if she spoke any louder that the mound would cave in for real.
Or that they would hear.
“Every day, there is a squabble worse than the one before,” Fanny said. “The overlords cannot control us if they cannot control themselves or each other. We must have hope. We shall escape our overlords and find a land of freedom and peace! One where we can make our own destinies and fates! For are we of the Fates themselves? Are but the keepers of destiny itself?”
The crowd cried out. Patron shifted his eyes down; even he couldn’t deny she was good at fueling their pride.
“We are the great descendants of the Fates!” one cried.
“We are the keepers of destiny!”
“What can we fear?”
“You are more powerful than they are, great Fanny!”
Patron wasn’t sure if his eyes were deceiving him, but he swore that Fanny swayed a little bit so her skirt could catch even more light.
“Then we must take charge!” Fanny cried out. She tried to keep talking but the cheers and whooping from the crowd drowned out her commanding voice. When the crowd had quieted enough, she continued.
“When the time is right, our savior will save us from the crucible of extinction! When we finally receive knowledge of our savior, we shall bring him forth to rescue our race from our greedy overlords! I know not when our savior will come, but we shall be freed! We shall show them what we are: FAERIES!”
Oh no. Not that. Not the “F” word.
Not his favorite, anyway.
Patron could feel the vibrations. The gait was unmistakable. Fanny was talking too loud and now she was risking the entire kingdom.
Patron’s mother used to say he could never take any wrongdoing lying down—even at the cost of his pride. Or teeth.
Just like me ol’ pop, he thought.
Patron shoved his way through the crowd, most people still overcome by Fanny’s passionate speech. Fanny continued to smile at the crowd and swing her licorice red ringlets as they continued to shout.
“How will we know when our savior will come?”
“Where is the savior now?”
“Will the savior stop the overlords?”
“Silence!” Patron yelled. “Everyone stop yelling!”
“YOU stop yelling then,” a small boy said, kicking at Patron, but barely missing Patron’s right shin.
“Everyone silence!” he yelled again. “They’re coming!”
“Yes, Fanny said the savior will come!”
“No, they will—”
The cave rocked once again, and many of the candles that kept the spacious meeting hall lit fell and left the crowd in semi-darkness. Many in the crowd began to shriek and Patron tried to cover the mouth of the closest person to them.
“They’re coming,” he said.
“I’ve sent the best men out,” Fanny said, pushing her way forward. She glanced at Patron and sneered.
Oh, she hasn’t forgotten either.
“Since when has a meeting been more important to you than ale?”
“I’m sure since before you were with Asher.”
Fanny glared a command of silence—which Patron would have gleefully disobeyed were it not for the threat.
“Nothing to say, eh?” Fanny said. “I’ve out-mouthed you!”
“Do you want them to find us? If not, then silence your bleating, she-goat!”
Patron slapped his hand over her mouth instead. Though the rocking stopped, it didn’t mean that the threat had left.
The crowd remained still. The thought that his father’s tomb sounded just like this made him shiver.
“…I’ve had a dream,” Patron whispered.
“A dream. While I slept.”
“I know what a dream is, you pint of weak whiskey.”
“I will ignore your cruel comments on the greatest drink to grace the earth,” Patron said. “But I’ve had a dream.”
“Why do they speak to you and not me?”
Probably because I listen instead of lecture.
“The savior will come,” Patron said. “And the savior will come soon.”
“When will he come?”
“About two hours of her own time.”
“Shut up, Fanny! We don’t know if they’ve left!”
“Only you would think of such a lie,” Fanny said, shoving Patron backwards. “Only you would dare to say that one of THEM, and a FEMALE of all—”
“What’s that then?”
Fanny’s pale green eyes faded to grey when she heard the voice.
“I don’t want to be here, Scott. I have a bad feeling.”
“They’re just mounds, lad.”
“So you don’t believe?”
“Why? Nothing here will hurt us. Look, I’ll show you.”
“Don’t! Put your blasted foot back where it was!”
“If you piss off—them—”
“You can’t even say it, can you?”
“I’m not stupid, that’s why.”
“I can’t believe this. You’ll chase demons, ghosts, and even Bigfoot—thanks for wasting a good ticket to the U.S.of A, by the way—but you won’t say it?”
“You won’t either, mate.”
“They’re calling us back anyway. Guess we’ll see who’s right later.”
The footsteps retreated. A few in the crowd were brave enough to try and relight some candles.
Patron stood up straight.
“That confirms it,” Patron said. “He’s here.”
“You said the savior was a wo—a WOMAN!”
“She is,” Patron said. “He just made sure of it.”
“You ARE drunk on ale right now!”
“I make a lot more sense when I’ve had ale,” Patron said. “I think I’ve earned it.”
Patron made his way to the west entrance of the meeting hall and yanked a pint out of a young lad trying to talk his way into another younger lad’s skirt.
“Oh, no you don’t,” Fanny said, taking the pint away. “Prove it!”
“Prove to me that the savior is coming! And that it’s a blasted woman!”
“You hate your sex so much. Now you know how all your suitors felt.”
“The gown she wore has Maeve’s embroidery.”
The sound of Fanny’s lips slapping shut was merrier than a song from a finely tuned lute.
“How do you know what it looks like?” Fanny asked. “Nobody has seen it in our generations to pass.”
“I just know.”
“That isn’t good enough, Patron.”
“Two hours, Fanny. Two hours. She will prove to you that she is the savior of aes sídhe.”
Fanny looked around. The crowd was tending to those who had been injured and offering words and pints of comfort. Fanny whipped her head back to Patron.
“Two hours. OUR hours. Not hers.”
“Dare you argue with what they’ve told me?”
“I dare argue with what YOU’VE told me.”
Fanny grit her teeth but shoved her way through the crowd. The young lad was nice enough to have gotten another pint which Patron graciously purloined.
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