Excerpt from The Wayward GodKing, Book XXX, Assassin Chronicles. Available in eBook formats from Amazon and Smashwords.
“A visitor?” The Mayor leaned around his plucky daughter to look at Selwig.
“Yes, Your Honor, sir…” Selwig nodded and smiled at him. “I am called Selwig. I once lived here and worked for the Dagda.”
“Selwig? Selwig, hmmmm.” The Mayor scratched his head thoughtfully. He had long red curls and large brown eyes. “I have heard of a Selwig. Once a great and eligible healer in the Dagda’s service and later declared a traitor and a leper and then hailed as a great hero by the Tuathan gentry, exiled forever to wander the lands of men, saving the Tuathans from disasters and contamination. I should think that one should make up one’s mind what one wants to be.” The old man waved his hand in dismissal and raised one doubtful eyebrow at the healer. “What can I do for you, Selwig?”
“Your city is dying, sir,” Selwig sat down on a footstool near the Mayor’s feet. His shoes had holes in the bottom. “Where is everyone? What happened? There was a great darkness… an evil darkness… in the forest. What was it? Where is the Dagda? Where is King Corrigan?”
“The King has not been on his throne in ages and ages past. They say he has turned against us and lives now with his mother in the world of men. The Dagda was taken away by an angel.”
“An angel?” Selwig’s face lit up. He knew all about angels. Vanni had taught him, and Sophia had also told him of angels. And he had learned much from Armand de Bleu and his nephew and everyone else. The mighty Djinni had told wondrous tales of angels, and he had seen them warring with the evil ones. Flying on great winged horses and riding magnificent beasts to war. Lord Lucifer. Lord Nanna. And others.
“Yes, yes,” the Mayor sighed heavily and turned to his daughter, who still stood waiting near the bright red doorframe. “Go and fetch us a bit of wine, Daughter. Yes, an angel. He was tall and strong and his robes shone with the light of the sun at midday. He came one morning and spoke with Lord Lugh. That evening Lugh told us that he would be leaving us. He recommended that we seek out King Corrigan’s kingdom and go to live there with the others, but when we sought the King’s company, he was not at home and, in fact, his people were seeking us for advice. Alas, we could give them none and sent them away. We have come to ruin at last.”
“Nonsense,” Selwig frowned. “You are the Mayor. You are the leader. You must lead. You must tell the people what to do.”
“I am too old.” Molwoddy shook his head sadly. “It is too late.”
“It is never too late!” Selwig stood up and then sat back down quickly as Barthig brought him a bottle of wine. She handed another to her father.
“Sorry,” she said. “All the cups are dirty and the maid’s run off with the gardener.”
“Thank you,” Selwig nodded and pulled the cork with his perfect teeth. He turned up the wine and offered her the bottle. To his surprise, she took the bottle and drank deeply from it before handing it back. “We must call a town meeting. Gather the people. Form a plan. We cannot simply give up and… and… and… well, you must tell your people to go back to work. Tell the farmers to farm their fields and harvest their crops, the shepherds to shepherd their flocks and shear the wool. You must tell the spinners to spin and the cheese makers to… to cheese and the cooks to cook and so on and so forth.”
“A town meeting!” The Mayor spit his cork on the porch and took a long swallow. “Now that is a good idea. I wonder why I didn’t think of it.”
“We need to announce a meeting as soon as possible,” Selwig encouraged him. “We can make a list of all the people and their jobs and make sure that they understand that they have to go back to work.”
“But the Boggans… they are awful,” Barthig told him. “They come and steal our vegetables and our sheep.”
“Then we must rally our soldiers, appoint some new captains.” Selwig looked from father to daughter. “Are there many soldiers left in the city?”
“Yes, yes. Soldiers. Soldiers make good police. You know I just spoke to five of them earlier. They say the plague of darkness has lifted just as you say. But they say that the Boggans are prowling the forest with sticks and clubs. We need to police the forest and drive these beasts out of our kingdom. You are very wise, Selwig,” Molwoddy stood up. “Barthig, go down to the square and announce the meeting. We will meet on the palace steps after supper. Then get back here and cook supper for us.”
“Father, father,” Barthig shook her head sadly. “You know that I don’t cook. I don’t know how to cook. I shall take some gold and buy our supper as usual from the fisherman’s wife. Soon she will be rich, and we will be fishing for a living. Shall I bring supper for Selwig?” She cast a shy look at the healer and he looked down at his hands.
“Of course,” Molwoddy answered. “He is our guest.”
Selwig reached into his bag and drew out two gold coins imprinted with eagles and other symbols of the overworld.
“Please,” he handed the money to her. “Buy enough bread and fish for a feast and if you can find some honey mead, I would love to have some.”
“Honey mead,” she repeated and then smiled. “Honey mead, fish, bread and perhaps some capers and a few carrots? We can eat carrots without cooking them.”
“I can cook, Barthig,” he told her. “Buy whatever you can with that, and the treat’s on me. I’ll cook anything you bring. Guaranteed.”
“Guaranteed? What is that, young fellow?” Molwoddy asked him, but seemed immensely pleased by Selwig’s generosity.
“You’ll see,” Selwig told him and then watched Barthig trip down the steps. Small bits of leaves and moss flew from her skirts and hair as she walked. “Now tell me, Lord Mayor, all that has transpired here since the Dagda left you. And please, pray tell me more about this angel.”