by thefourpartland

This is the second in a short #FridayFlash serial based in The Four Part Land. Events that take place here will have a large impact in upcoming TFPL novels.

He waited as the messenger cleared his throat, drawing out the time before he first needed to speak. Finally, the message was ready to be spoken, and it was begun. “The council has reached their decision in the matter of your wish to journey beyond our traditional lands and into a warmer climate, along with those who might follow you. You are ordered to heed their decision in all of its particulars, and that to break them will result in the punishment of your corporeal body and your mind, and that they wish to remind you of these things before you hear the decision that they reached.”

Annwyd Arwedda exploded. “Enough! Tell me of their decision, now!”

The messenger shook his head, then resumed speaking. “As you will. You are granted the right to take a party of thirty, of able-bodied men and women, and traverse the lands to the warmer country, and, once there, establish a settlement within empty or freely given land, and live to the best of your abilities for one year. Each sextile, you will send a courier back to our home here, carrying reports of your progress, and at the end of that one year period, three council members will arrive, to examine your situation and determine whether it shall be allowed to continue. Further rulings may change these initial offerings, of course, but for now, this is how you are bound.”

“And if I do not?”

“You well know how you are treated then.”

“Then I should take myself to the council?”

“They expect you after the mid-morning meal.”

Annwyd Arwedda waved his goodbye to the emissary, and returned to his tent, pondering how well he had been manipulated. His was an expeditionary party, nothing more, the same as the Fferedig Ddynion would send to their various hunting grounds, to see how many of their populace each could support. His was simply one more hunting ground, even if it was outside of the norm. It would also lessen any support he might have amongst those who stayed behind. After all, who could remember a man who last spoke to you a year past? It was a neat solution to their problems, for if Annwyd refused to go, he knew it would appear as if he had refused to follow through on his own ideas, and that, too, would undermine his support.

And so Annwyd found himself waiting outside the council tent as the remnants of the meal were cleaned away, waiting like a man who had been brought to heel. He would grumble and burn inside, but to show his passion to the outside world would lessen him as a man, and so he placed a pleasant smile on his face, and entered the tent at a spoken word. Nodding to the council, he placed himself at the centre of the circle, rather than at his normal seat as one of the young members. Once more, he found himself face to face with Bwrw Eira Ddyn, but this time, it was all to be couched in ritual and ceremony.

The ritual began, Bwrw Eira Ddyn gesturing as lesser men lit the smoky fires that would carry their blessings upwards, to those who must hear them. He intoned in the old language, the language of naming and of the proper place of things, and asked for the blessing upon Annwyd Arwedda and those who would travel with him, and sent the prayers of all Fferedig Ddynion to the aid of those who travelled far, in hope that they would find a great bounty at the end of their journey.

Even Annwyd found himself swept into the grasp of the ceremony, for even though he felt poorly towards Bwrw Eira Ddyn and those around him, he still believed in the gods above, and that this ceremony was crucial to his designs and desires. And so he gave of himself to the final crescendo, adding his voice in full tongue to the prayers and entreaties of the council, begging the cold eastern wind for a safe passage, wherever it might lead him.

Afterwards, Annwyd began the process of gathering his things and his followers, those thirty men and women who would be allowed to travel with him. Much had already been done, and so it was mostly informing all that they would leave on the morrow at sun up, and giving them their last day amongst the greater clan. The mid-day meal passed, and he had completed all of the tasks set to his name, and so spent his time checking and rechecking his pack and weapons and armour, testing each a thousand times over. While his hands worked, his brain wandered, running back across those cold hunts he had spent across the tundra and glaciers of his home, running through the icy mountains in search of the beasts that lived upon their slope. The time that he had fallen and tumbled, his foot slipping on a patch of ice, only to fetch up against a boulder that had broken his shoulder. That moment when his first spear cast landed true, bringing down a large buck with a single throw. It had been considered a mark of luck for him ever since, and he still wore the animal’s teeth on a string about his neck.


  1. Adam Byatt on 10.08.2010

    You have created a great world, one that is bringing me back each week to learn more.

  2. The Four Part Land on 10.08.2010

    Thanks. Glad to know. I’ve been working on the world for about six or seven years now. Two novels and another ten or so short stories set there.

    I’m curious: what is it about the world that brings you back? The setting, the plots, the writing, or perhaps something else?

  3. Steve Green on 10.31.2010

    I liked the way the coucil managed to override his ideas with their own plan, turning what would probably have been a mass exodus into an expeditionary force to ‘test the water’ so to speak.

  4. The Four Part Land on 11.03.2010

    I wanted it to be clear that Annwyd did not have supreme power here, despite his popularity, and that he could and would get overruled. Which is also why they made him wait, as a sign of their power over him.

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