And Talking of the Boatman…

Is tric mi ‘sealltainn o’n chnoc a’s àirde
Dh’fheuch am faic mi fear a’bhàta
An tig thu an-diùigh no’n tig thu a-màireach?
‘S mur tig thu idir gur truagh a tà mi
Fhir a’bhàta, na ho ro eile
Fhir a’bhàta, na ho ro eile
Fhir a’bhàta, na ho ro eile
Mo shoraigh slàn leat ‘s gach àit’an téid thu

I climb the mountain and scan the ocean
For thee, my boatman, with fond devotion
When shall I see thee? Today? Tomorrow?
Oh do not leave me in lonely sorrow
Oh my boatman, na ho ro eile
Oh my boatman, na ho ro eile
Oh my boatman, na ho ro eile
May joy await thee where e’er thou sailest

It should some as no surprise, to anybody who might read this journal, how much I loved my parents. Glancing back through these pages, one might be forgiven for thinking I mostly loved my mother, since I speak of her more often than I do my father, but I loved them equally well, and there are many times when I miss them. Of late, I find myself missing that certainty of childhood, that Mother and Father were always there and would have all the answers. I miss the comfort of knowing that no matter what, Mother or Father could sort it out, fix whatever was wrong and make things better.  They were my rock and, my foundation, and, now that they are gone, I sometimes find myself feeling a little adrift. It is possible, perhaps, that I have been subconsciously searching for somebody to provide that anchor, yet so far, it does not seem I have found one.

I have my beloved Gwyn, of course, who is in many ways more down to earth than I, and gives me some roots in whatever currently passes for reality. Yet, in other ways, she is more innocent, more naïve than I; which, while they are traits I value, means she cannot be the older and wiser figure I might turn to for advice. Valene has a much older head on her, and is wise in the ways of this other-worldly place, but in many ways, we are each an anchor for the other. Brigitte could be an anchor at times, if it were not for her habit of disappearing without warning, and I miss her, even if, sometimes, despite her age, she could still be a very young woman.

And now, over the past months, I have two would-be mentors in Alec and Maric, but at the moment, I have mixed feelings about both of them. While Maric appears, on the surface, to be a gentleman and a scholar, there is much about him I do not yet understand and I am not sure how much I trust him. His apparent enthusiasm for knowing about my current experience is perhaps understandable. Given his age, who would not crave a second chance at, for want of a better word, life? And while he has been most gentlemanly in respect of the various ladies who have some within his orbit, I am not sure how much I trust his motives.

I had a conversation with Aoibheann the other night, in which she told me that he has confined her to the village. I had been in the library, seeing if I could learn anything more about necromancy in the hope of solving the mystery of the attack on Aislyn. She told me that she missed the sunshine outside the village, and when I asked why, she told me about her confinement. I suggested that perhaps she might be able to go abroad more if I was there to protect her, but she wasn’t sure how he would react to that. I got the distinct impression that there was more going on than she would speak of. I did try to help her, telling her that she could confide in me, but she was most insistent, as she is prone to be, that these were problems she could only solve herself. As ever, I left it as an open promise that I would help when needed. I also got the distinct impression that she had a problem with Alec and Isabella. To some extent, I can understand that, knowing how abandoned Gwyn has felt at times since we arrived here from Jasper Cove. I did not try to get her to elaborate, but I am sure she will at some point.

By curious coincidence, the following evening, the aforementioned Alec turned up in the tavern. I had been in the mansion, trying to get to grips with Ose’s accounting practices, and felt that a change of surroundings might help. So I took myself and a selection of the paperwork across to the tavern. Such was my preoccupation with the paperwork that I did not even notice Alec, save being vaguely aware that there was somebody by the fireside talking to Dyisi (about realm politics and the courts, I later gathered), until he gently chided me for ignoring him. I apologised, blaming my preoccupation and we greeted each other with an embrace. We both regretted not having much time to talk at the ball, but he did say how delighted he was that I managed to spend some time with Wren, as she and her sister had been missing me.  I told him the feeling was mutual, expressing my disappointment that Ember had been unable to attend. I commended Wren’s aptitude on the dance floor and remarked it was a pity she didn’t have the same enthusiasm for mathematics.

He glanced at the pile of books and complimented me on my pursuit of knowledge, so I felt bound to point out that I was merely trying to make sense of the accounts, and explained how I had been made Steward under Lord Maric. He congratulated me, but I sensed some unease behind it. Perhaps he is not entirely trusting of Maric’s motives either. He did warn me that much about Maric was unknown and that his secrets might not be as benevolent as Alec’s own. Bearing in mind Aoibheann’s feelings of late, I had my own opinion on that, but kept it to myself, as I also refrained from commenting on what I knew of Alec/Greyson/Dee’s secrets. I did tell him I was well aware of Maric’s nature and that I was slowly learning more of his past. My position as Steward was purely a matter of employment, and I was not in any way sworn, save for the usual promise of confidentiality. It was a job that needed doing, and one that was not greatly different from one I might have ended  up doing for him in Jasper Cove, had things worked out differently.

I took the opportunity to greet Dyisi, which slightly surprised Alec, who didn’t know we had already met. I said that we had only recently met; joking that at least I thought it was only recently. She seemed mildly amused by this, remarking that we had met here and there, adding “Mayhaps in later on as well.” I didn’t quite know what to make of that, but given I was friends with a girl from several hundred years in my past and walking out with one a hundred years from my future, it was not outwith the realms of possibility that we had met in the future. That did give me an opportunity to make a reference to secrets, explaining that when I had been in Alec’s land, I had learned that time was not the fixed thing we imagine it to be, and even more so, since receiving a journal from the hands of an old, old friend. Alec didn’t react though, so either he didn’t hear me, chose to ignore me, or perhaps Alec does not know about Greyson/the Boatman.  Surely he must, though, otherwise nothing else makes sense. As if anything makes much sense any more.

Gwyn came in. I noticed that she consciously straightened up before entering, as if putting her adult fae face on. She greeted us all warmly enough and Alec, in his turn, greeted her with the usual compliments and praise. I waited until she had finished greeting him before wrapping my arms around her, feeling her relax into my embrace. Dyisi had greeted her with the word “paidi”, which I had heard her use before, and Gwyn asked what it meant, recognising the intent, if not the actual meaning. Dyisi told us it was a term of endearment (I later looked it up and discovered it meant “child”) and Gwyn related a tale of being called a little sausage by her grandmother.

Alec commented that he was still trying to look out for us, even though he did not have the power to protect us that he once had in Jasper Cove. He also expressed concern that Aoibheann seemed to be somewhat distant and resentful of him, and wondered if that was down to Maric’s influence. He seemed to be of the opinion that she would be better off in the sithen, keeping company with Gwyn’s people. Gwyn said that Aoibheann had been distant with her too, possibly because of her preoccupation with saving Llwyd, and at the moment, she distrusted Blaise more than she did Maric, possibly because of the deafness and blindness spell he cast on her when she was in the sithen. She felt that it was likely because Maric had offered her security and that was something she needed at the moment. I ventured my opinion that Aoibheann was perhaps feeling slightly abandoned and added that while she was reluctant to leave the village without protection, she also chafed at her confinement.

Alec snorted at the idea of Aoibheann having to be blinded while in the sithen. His brother, he said, was a fool, and it was unlikely that Aoibheann could save him from the madness with the Huntsman. By brother, I assumed he meant Llwyd, which added to my confusion about just who Alec is. He said that if the Huntsman wanted to know about sithen affairs, he had enough of his brother in him to find out without Aoibheann’s help. He was also annoyed that Maric had decided to confine Aoibheann, claiming that he had overstepped his authority. He seemed set on some sort of intervention, but what it was, I did not find out. I had taken a seat by now, and found myself drifting off in the warmth of the fire. What passed after that, I did not hear, and by the time I awoke, they were all gone.

I had heard Alec refer to Llwyd as his brother before, but had not really had much context for it. I still don’t have much context, and I cannot fit that in with the serial incarnations of Dee, much less the manifestations as Greyson, Alec and the Boatman.  Dee, so far as I know, was human, as was Greyson. Alec, I am not so sure about – is he fae, or, as somebody once suggested, a demon? Being brother to Llwyd would point towards fae, but how that works, I don’t know. I suppose there is no reason that reincarnation can’t cross… species, for want of a better word. From what little I know of Buddhism, I seem to recall that people can be reincarnated as, say, an ant, if that is their karma, so I suppose that reincarnating as a fae is equally possible. Of course, I don’t know if Alec’s serial nature is via reincarnation or some other route. Maybe he just borrows other people’s bodies. I don’t know, and I don’t know where to begin to try to find out. I am not certain that he will tell me if I were to ask. I shall have to return to Dee’s journal. Maybe there is a clue there.

Fear a Bhata (The Boatman)


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