“I am not yelling at you. You’re the one yelling at me and you don’t even know it, so don’t try and spin it that I’m yelling at you,” screamed Kieran from behind his closed bedroom door.
The summer had passed quickly away and mostly without problems, but it was now nearing August and it was time to break the news to his oldest son that he would be attending a new school, especially since Kieran was now excited about upcoming two-a-day football practices. He had spent most of the summer hanging with his friends and girlfriend, who he had to now break up with, as well as working hard getting into shape for these football practices. This was going to be the year he won all the awards and set all the records. By the end of this coming football season, he was going to own every running and touchdown record for a single season in the state of Maine. Brian knew he had to end that dream for him now and forever. Life had something different to offer Liam and Kieran than sports records, something more important. But he knew his son would take some time to recognize that.
As for Liam the summer passed a little slower than for his father and brother since all he could think about was how that raven haired woman had stopped the wind from blowing and how he had actually felt it; he had felt her inside of himself, at least that’s what he thought that tingling energy was. Liam chalked up that slight feeling of darkness in the tingling energy as just a byproduct of someone sharing energy with him. Each day he thought of that funeral for Paulette Goode with a mix of curiosity and apprehension. He just couldn’t get that day out of his mind because he knew that his life had somehow drastically changed that day, even though he wasn’t sure how and how much. Whenever he had the chance he stowed away in his room and went on the Internet to search everything he could about magic and people who could really perform it, as well as searched for information about the Bene Lumen.
Unfortunately, several months of research on the Internet and the library had left him with the feeling that he must have imagined what she did; that the wind had stopped on its own, and that he misunderstood what his father and Mr. Fergus talked about in the kitchen. Most of the websites involving magic either just sounded phony or were about black magic, or the black arts, and made him sort of uncomfortable reading them. These websites almost scared him because they offered ideas and concepts that went against what Liam knew was true and right, so he never lingered too long in them. As for the society called the Bene Lumen, for the first time in his life the Internet had absolutely failed him, as it showed nothing on the organization, not even rumors or innuendos about it.
Liam found this extremely frustrating since the Internet had all known knowledge, in his opinion, stored on it as long as you knew how and where to look for it. Yet, he didn’t mention his frustration to either his father or brother or ask any questions about the Bene Lumen. He wasn’t even sure if his father would answer any questions, anyhow, about the Bene Lumen or anything else, so he kept his inquiries to himself. It didn’t help that Brian CuCullen had been in a foul mood for most of the summer, and acted now like he regretted that the summer had ever started or had to end.
For his part Brian decided at the end of July, after he had sold his fishing boat, traps and everything else he used in his trade, that it was finally time to let Kieran know that he was not going back to Cape Elizabeth High School, but that he was now enrolled in a new school along with Liam. He had been apprehensive to do this because of how much Kieran enjoyed his time at the high school and how many friends he had in Cape Elizabeth, but they had to get their passports renewed and a few other things to do so he had run out of time. He dreaded this moment because he knew it was going to strain an already strained relationship between him and Kieran. Last year Kieran had become a bit of a local legend with a two hundred yard rushing game and leading his team to playoff victories. People would stop him in local stores and talk to him about Kieran and his athletic feats. They would tell him how excited they were to see what he would do this year. It was now time, though, to pack up the house and their belongings.
For the past few months a strange looking man and woman named Ned and Noreen lived in Paulette Goode’s old house. Liam saw the man and woman occasionally, as they would come by the dock periodically to have discussions with his father as he worked on his boat. The man was extremely tall, almost seven feet tall, and looked to be all muscle with a large baldhead. He spoke with a strange accent, which Liam couldn’t place, though he sure he wasn’t from the U.S. The woman was small, barely over five feet, and delicate looking, as if a stiff wind could knock her over. Her accent sounded as if she came from the South.
Everyone in the town seemed to be slightly afraid of the odd looking pair who mainly kept to themselves. Liam couldn’t blame people for their reaction, either. Every time he saw them coming to see his dad for whatever reasons they had, he kind of got a shiver of fear down his spine. It wasn’t so much that they were mean or rude because they were always polite and seemed gentle up close, but they were such a strange looking pair that they made you feel a little worried about their intentions. The man never seemed to look anyone in the eyes and it wasn’t just because of his height. He was always searching the sky and the area around him with his eyes, as if he was expecting someone to arrive at any moment. And the woman appeared to be saying prayers or chanting or something like that under her breath, when she wasn’t talking. But now their father would be moving back to Paulette’s house soon and the strange looking couple would be gone.
“Get down here right now, young man, or I will come upstairs and bring you down here even if you don’t want to come,” screamed Brian CuCullen to his son.
Having his son locking himself in his room was the end result of finally telling Kieran that he was going to a school in Scotland with his brother. There was an eruption of anger and self-pity by Kieran that his father had hoped not to see or has to deal with, but lately Kieran appeared to enjoy disappointing his father’s wishes. It seemed that once he turned twelve years of age Kieran decided that it was his duty to disagree with his father at every turn and to find him inadequate in comparison to his dead mother. Brian CuCullen decided to allow Kieran his rebellion in the hopes that it would eventually burn itself out and go away, but it never did. He and Kieran had become adversaries more than father and son.
“No,” was the answer.
“Kieran Fergus CuCullen get down here right this minute before I go up there and drag you down the stairs and force you to listen to me,” he yelled in his strongest, loudest voice. For the first time Liam realized that Kieran’s middle name must come from the old man he met.
“Do it now,” he screamed in a terrifying voice.
They had never really heard their father yell this loudly or sound this angry before this moment. He had always tried to sound calm when dealing with his sons, even when punishing them. It was as if he was afraid to completely lose his temper with his sons and now Liam knew why. Their father sounded and looked very frightening at the moment, like a man who could rip the house apart by his hand leaving nothing more than rubble in his wake. From the living room Liam could hear Kieran unlock his bedroom door and start to walk to the stairs. When he got to the bottom of the stairs, he stopped and stared defiantly at his father. Brian CuCullen stared back at him with equal defiance.
“Get in this living room right now,” his father said in a cold, emotionless voice.
Kieran slowly walked into the living room showing his father as much defiance as he could. Liam noticed that his brother looked almost as angry as their father. Going over to their father’s favorite chair he plopped himself down. Their father came into the room and sighed heavily when he saw his son sitting in his chair. He saw this act of defiance for what it was a statement that Kieran was Brian’s equal and didn’t have to listen to him. Even though he could almost hear in his head Siobhan’s voice as clearly as when she was alive telling him not to fight every battle but to pick his battles, Brian CuCullen was not going to let this stand. It was in his nature to fight every battle, even battles best left alone.
“Get out of my chair, Kieran,” he said in a quiet, cold voice that scared Liam.
“Your name isn’t on the chair, is it,” Kieran replied just as coldly.
Without any more words exchanged between them, Brian CuCullen walked over to the chair and easily lifted his nearly two hundred pounds of muscle, six foot one inch son out of the chair and tossed him effortlessly across the room and onto the sofa. Kieran bounced off the sofa and landed hard onto the floor. As quick as a cat he got off the floor and stood in the middle of the room looking as if he was considering picking his father up and tossing him onto the sofa in retaliation. He was so angry that he didn’t even take the time to think about how easily his father had done what he did to him. Son and father stood there glowering at each other, while Liam held his breath and hoped for the best possible outcome.
“Don’t even think about it, or I won’t be so gentle with you next time,” his father told him as a warning.
After a few moments considering his alternatives Kieran sat down on the sofa beside his brother. He slumped back in the sofa and glowered at his father. Liam didn’t know whether to laugh or cry by what he had just seen. He decided that it was best for him to do neither, but instead to just sit quietly and let them fight it out. Right now it would be dangerous to get in between the two of them, he realized.
“You are going to this new school and there is nothing more to be said about it. We leave in three days for Scotland to drop the two of you off,” Brian CuCullen told his son.
“But… But I’m the star of the football team. What will the team do without me? I’m their best player. Does this place even have a football team,” Kieran asked.
“No, they don’t, Kieran. They do, though, have other kinds of challenges waiting for you there at this school. Son, I know how upsetting this is…”
“No, you don’t,” interrupted Kieran. “You don’t know how I feel or what I’m thinking. You don’t know anything at all about me.”
“Kieran, you will understand this better when you get to the school, but you are not meant to play football, or live a boring normal life. You are meant to do something very important in your life. And this school will prepare you for that.”
“Something special, like being someone who catches lobsters for a living,” he retorted sarcastically.
“I will no longer be doing that after I drop you off. I will be going back to my old job,” their father said then took another heavy sigh. “When your mother died I decided to leave my old life behind me, to take up a normal life. I thought she would want me to raise you two ignorant of what we did and who we were. She and I had talked about allowing you two to have a simple normal life. But life, or God, doesn’t always let you to live out your plans, especially when life has its own plans for you.”
“What about Karen? Do you expect me to break up with her just because you’ve enrolled me in a new school and ruined my life,” asked Kieran.
“I’m sorry about that. You’ll be home during the summer. Maybe you and her…”
“She won’t want a long distance boyfriend. No one wants that. Don’t you understand anything? If I’m gone from Cape Elizabeth, so is our relationship,” bemoaned Kieran.
“What did you and Ma do for a living that you didn’t want us to know anything about it,” asked Liam trying to change the subject.
“When you get to this school, you’ll find out about that and much more,” he answered.
“But I’m the starting running back. I have a chance to be All-State this year and maybe after another good year next year I can get a scholarship to Notre Dame or USC. I don’t want to go to this place in Scotland. I mean… they play soccer or whatever they play there, not football. I’m a football player, real football,” his son pleaded.
“Kieran, you have no choice in the matter. It is my choice not yours and you have to go along with it until you are an adult and can make decisions for yourself,” Brian CuCullen told his son.
“Ma would have given me a choice on something this important to me,” he said then got up and bolted up the stairs to his room. He slammed the door shut and turned on his stereo playing his father’s old Clash album, which he recently bought on CD, deciding to play the song London Calling louder than he was allowed to play his CD player. Brian CuCullen looked at his son Liam, who sat quietly and without an expression on his face.
“I’ve really mucked it up with your brother, haven’t I,” he asked him in a voice that sounded as if he wanted to take a long nap.
“Yeah, Dad, you have,” Liam answered honestly as he always did. “Kieran is like you. He doesn’t really like to be told what to do with his life. He’s stubborn.”
“Well, he better get used to people telling him what to do because they will be telling him what to do at Samhain,” said Brian pronouncing Samhain as ‘Sah-win.’ “He won’t get away with that kind of behavior there.”
“Sah-what? What are you talking about?”
“That’s the name of your new school. It’s what the old Celtic Druids called Halloween, but it’s more than that really. Samhain is where we are headed. It’s run by the Bene Lumen, you know, the society Mallory Fergus told you about.”
“Sounds like a funny name for a school,” Liam said.
“Now do me a favor and go upstairs and start to pack up your room up because if I have to do it, I will throw everything you own away. Okay?”
“Sure, Dad. Oh, Dad, can I bring my Gameboy and games to this Sahwee or whatever it’s called,” he asked his father.
“It’s Samhain, pronounced Sah-win not Samwee, even if it looks like it should sound like Samwee. Believe me son when I tell you that Samhain will change your life forever in so many ways and on so many levels. It will be a name you will remember for the rest of your life. Now as for you bringing a Gameboy and some of your games, I don’t suppose that having something familiar with you will hurt you too much. It might even make you feel more at home. I know that it took me awhile for Samhain to feel like home. Yes, you can bring your Gameboy and games.”
“Cool,” he said and got up off the sofa and ran up the stairs to his room so that he could pack his room up and his bags for his new school.
Brian CuCullen sat down in his chair. His bones felt heavy and tired as if he had been supporting the weight of the world on them. He wasn’t sure that he was doing the right or wrong thing with his boys, but he knew that he had no alternative. He couldn’t avoid the truth about who they were any longer. Most of all he wasn’t too sure about himself, though. So much time had passed since he was part of the Society of Bene Lumen, too many years had passed since then. Ten years had passed. Was going back to the Bene Lumen the right thing for him? Did he still have what it took to be the man he was? He just wasn’t sure, but he no longer had the luxury of wondering about that. The Bene Lumen had called him back and he could not refuse them now.
The CuCullen family’s itinerary was guided by one simple rule: get to their destination as quickly as possible without much rest and with no sightseeing. The long airplane ride from Boston to Heathrow in London was a quiet one for the whole family. They sat three seats across with Liam in the middle and Kieran and his father on either side of him. Liam played with his Gameboy until he finally fell asleep somewhere over the Atlantic Ocean, while Kieran sat with his Red Sox hat pulled down over his eyes, his new iPod player, an unappreciated gift of reconciliation, blaring music in his ears and pouting the whole trip. He seethed with resentment at having to leave Cape Elizabeth High and not being able to play football blaming his father for everything bad that had happened to him in life. Brian CuCullen attempted to read a book, ignoring his oldest son’s extended pout, but the negative energy emanating from Kieran kept making it impossible for him to concentrate on his reading.
This silence between Brian CuCullen and his oldest son continued in the cab ride from Heathrow Airport to Euston Railway Station, a white building that looked as if it had been built with a Lego erector set, where they caught a train to Glasgow. There was no stopover to sightsee the famous sights of London or to stay in a nice hotel so that they could catch up on their sleep and deal with their jet lag. This was going to be a long continuous trip for them, their father told them up front before they left. Whatever sleep they got it would have to be on the plane, or train, or car, depending upon what mode of transportation they were taking at the time.
This was a trip Brian CuCullen never wanted to make with his sons. After Siobhan was murdered doing her duty, he swore that his sons would never have to perform such dangerous duty as their parents, that they would live lives free of certain obligations and certain duties, especially those duties that led to being tossed from the rocks into Casco Bay. But his plans and life’s plans, God’s plans, were not the same, at least that was what Father Mueller had told him long ago.
“This is kind of cool,” Liam mumbled as he stared out the window at the passing terrain which even though it had trees, grass, and hills just like Maine, it was all so foreign to him, so unlike the familiar vistas of Maine.
Brian CuCullen looked over at his youngest son, whom he knew was excited and happy about this trip. Unlike his brother he had never found a clique or a group of friends he wanted to hang with back at Cape Elizabeth. He was a bit of a loner, who preferred being with his dad than with kids his own age. Here he was going to a new school, a school that was wrapped in more than a little mystery, and he found it utterly exciting. How much he was like his mother, he thought then he stared across from himself at Kieran, who still had his Red Sox cap pulled down and now dozed. Kieran was much like him he suddenly realized, as he gazed at his son. When his parents turned him over to Mallory Fergus to take him to Samhain, he didn’t say a word for days on end. All he did was pout and brood. Instead of seeing the excitement of something new, enjoying the sense of discovery, he brooded and felt sorry for himself. Kieran was definitely more like him than his mother. Too much so, he thought.
Wasn’t he a sullen youth, a bit of a loner, until he finally discovered friends and a started to become more self confident at Samhain? Josh Morley, Francis Philby, Moira Postlewaite, Vladmir Gregarien, and Siobhan were some of his best friends in the world that he made there. All of them taught him how important friendship was and what he could be if he just let go of his anger and believed in himself. And one of them taught him more than the mysteries of friendship. Siobhan taught him how to love and how to be loved. But they were all dead now, all dead. Yet, Nagura Hideki was still alive, though. Nagura was always a good friend. And now was a teacher at Samhain. It will be good to see him, thought Brian CuCullen, good to talk over old times before I have to leave my sons at Samhain and return to my old duties.
“Dad, will you be able to show us around the school when we get there,” asked Liam breaking his father away from his reverie of things past.
“No, not really. I’ll only be able to stay the night then I have to leave to go to somewhere else for a week or two before I go back to Cape Elizabeth and take up my duties,” he answered.
“Just one night with us?”
“Actually, the very moment we are on the school grounds you are in the care of the school not me. I will only be a visitor there, which means I’ll spend only as much time with you as they allow. And I suspect Mallory will start you off on your education from day one. You two have a lot of catching up to do. I’ll probably only see you in the dining hall for dinner and that’s all,” he explained to Liam.
“That kind of sucks,” Liam stated.
“Sounds good to me. I’m starting to like this school a little better now,” mumbled Kieran from under the bill of his hat.
These were the first intelligible words he had spoken in almost a day of travel. And they were negative ones towards his father. Brian CuCullen could only hope that his attitude towards him would change with time and experience.
Brian CuCullen decided it was best to pretend that he didn’t hear his son’s sarcastic comment. Instead of responding and starting yet another argument with Kieran, he patted Liam gently on the head and closed his eyes. He realized that sleep was impossible, too many thoughts swam around aimlessly in his mind and too many fears crept up and down his spine, but he wanted to rest and conserve his energy. The Society had promised a clean and easy journey, but those the society fought liked to make life difficult for members of the Bene Lumen, especially for someone with his reputation. Now that he was back in the game, he was a target.
He thought he had broken off full relationships with the Bene Lumen when Siobhan died. It was a painful break, too. Yes, he did a few odd errands for them now and then, especially when asked by Mallory or Sian as a favor, but he was an outsider when he did these odd jobs. And when he talked to Paulette and advised her, it was like a retired police officer talking to a still active colleague giving them insight and hints from his own experience. He understood what she was going through and could advise her on what to do, but it was all in the past for him until now.
“Dad,” Liam piped up once again tore away him away from his thoughts.
“Where we are going, you know the place you told me the name of…”
“Well, did Ma go there, also?”
For the first time in days, Kieran moved and raised the bill of his hat because he was interested in what his father had to say about his departed mother. When his mother died he was only six years old and somehow felt it was his father’s fault that she died. After the funeral he even went into his father’s bedroom late that night and said as much to him, that it was his fault that his ma was dead and it was him who should have died not her. His father didn’t argue with him, either. He just gave him a gentle hug and returned him to his bed.
“Yes, she did. It’s where I met her, where we fell in love, even where I asked her to marry me,” he answered.
“You never talked about this with us before. Why not,” Kieran demanded.
“Because it was your mother’s and my history, not yours. She and I talked about telling you two when you were old enough, but once she was gone… once she was gone, they were memories I shared with no one else. And I still don’t wish to share those memories with anyone else, so I tell you two this once. Your mother and her cousin Sian, the dark haired woman at Paulette’s funeral, were the two most beautiful girls at school when I was there. We started dating in our fourth year and we married right after I graduated. That is all I will tell you. Now go make your own memories,” Brian CuCullen said softly, as memories of Siobhan and happier days flooded into his mind.
“But she was our mother, we deserve to know,” demanded Kieran in a voice that was verge on yelling.
“Oh, you’ll learn about her life at school. You can’t help but learn about her once you are at school. The two of them were tops in their class. Sian teaches there. The old man, as you like to call him, Liam, Mallory gave her away at our wedding since her father was deceased. You’ll learn plenty about your mother at school,” Brian stated calmly.
“Then maybe this place won’t be a complete waste of my time after all. I wouldn’t mind learning more about Ma since you don’t talk about her very often,” Kieran commented.
“Let’s hope that you aren’t a waste of Samhain’s time, son,” his father added with sarcasm and immediately regretted that he took his son’s bait.
“Yeah, sure, like I’m a waste of your time, right,” Kieran retorted in a dismissive tone to his father’s jibe then pulled his cap bill back down over his eyes and went back into his world of silence. Liam looked over at his father to see his reaction to Kieran. Brian’s face was stoic, except for his eyes, which looked sad to them that Liam had seen too often in his father’s eyes.
After several hours of traveling on the train from London they finally arrived at Glasgow Central Railway around dusk. Checking out the platform through the window, Brian cursed to himself over the setting of the sun. They would arrive at their destination under the cover of the night, which was not a problem but was an inconvenience because he knew how much Liam hated the dark, feared it even. Ever since his mother died nights were filled with nightmares of abandonment and creatures trying to grab him and take him away. Besides a nightlight Brian CuCullen had given his young son permission to join him regardless of the time of night in his bed to sleep. Liam took advantage of that permission several times a week.
Samhain was best experienced with a clear and open mind and daylight was best for that. Unfortunately, they probably wouldn’t have daylight on their side when they got there. After rousing both his sons, who had fallen asleep, they grabbed their bags. Kieran lugged his own three bags, two of them he easily slung over his shoulder and one he carried in his right hand, while Liam carried the smallest of his own bags, as his father effortlessly carried Liam’s other two and his own one bag. Through the fairly crowded rail station they finally exited its stony facade and stepped out into an evening, which was cooling down after a warm day.
Stopping on the sidewalk outside of the station Brian CuCullen searched for a familiar face while his two sons scanned the unfamiliar faces and buildings of what little they could see of Glasgow, Scotland. Like London all they would be able to see of this city was a few city blocks, a few sites passing quickly before their eyes as their father sped them along to their final destination. There was no time for even stopping at a local fast food place to get a quick meal that tasted better than the food on the plane or train that they ate.
According to their father it was important, very important that they get to the school as quickly as possible and without getting into any trouble. Neither one of his sons argued with him, but for different reasons. Kieran didn’t argue with him because he didn’t want to talk to his father, as he was still seething at leaving behind Cape Elizabeth, football, and his new girlfriend. It was all Brian CuCullen’s fault in his son’s opinion. Liam on the other hand wanted to get to this new school as quickly as possible in order to satisfy his curiosity, which was gnawing away at him.
Finally, seeing what he was searching for Brian lifted the bags he was carrying off the sidewalk and started off in the direction of a strange looking man. Standing in front of a black Mercedes Benz, an older model, a tall, thin, dour faced, silver haired, pale faced stranger looking as bored as if he was staring at laundry being done in a laundry mat stood waiting for them. What made this strange man strange, though, wasn’t his appearance, or even how bored he appeared, but the way he dressed. He wore a gray London fog raincoat that was too short for his well over six-foot frame. Under the London fog he wore a pair of striped white and blue pajamas and a pair of galoshes on his feet. It was as if he had just gotten out of bed and didn’t have time to change.
“Hey, Ivan,” their father greeted the man. “Still like to dress for the occasion I see.”
“I find social conventions too boring to observe, CuCullen,” this man, Ivan, answered their father in a slow, bored Russian accent. “Anyway, my specialty does not call for much field work such as this.”
“I can see that,” Brian CuCullen said as he reached Ivan. He put the bags down and shook the man’s offered right hand. They grinned at each other as they shook hands.
“Knights offered their sword hands to rivals in order to show that it was empty, hence the handshake,” Ivan stated. “You would think we would have grown beyond such a quaint act by now.”
“You’re lucky my sword hand is empty,” Brian CuCullen said with a tone that made Liam believe that his father knew what it was like to hold a sword.
“It won’t be for much longer now that you are once again a Tiarnan,” Ivan stated.
Both Kieran and Liam looked at Ivan with great curiosity when he said the word Tiarnan. Neither one of them knew what the word meant, or had even heard it used before. Kieran decided to ignore it chalking it up to some European thing he didn’t understand and didn’t want to understand, but Liam suddenly wished he hadn’t packed his laptop so securely in his clothes bag. He’d love to connect wirelessly with the Internet and look up the word to see if he could find out the meaning.
“The car is all gassed up with petrol and ready for the trip. You shouldn’t have to make any stops from here,” Ivan said then took car keys out of his left raincoat pocket and handed them to Brian CuCullen and nodded to a beat up burgundy Mercedes Benz 300 SE.
“Can I drive you home, Ivan,” their father asked the strange man.
“No, I enjoy the opportunity to take a walk among people. It gives me time to think about important matters while getting some fresh air.”
“You’d think that thinking wouldn’t be an enjoyment for you,” their father said to the man.
“Why? Because I have to do thought experiments about what our adversaries are up to? I am Russian, I enjoy thinking horrible thoughts,” he said then strolled away not paying any attention to any of the citizens of Glasgow who stared at him.
“He’s strange,” Liam stated.
“He grows on you once you get to know him,” his father replied.
“What does he do,” asked Liam.
“You might say he thinks for a living. His specialty is thought experiments. He imagines what others are up to,” Brian CuCullen said, “now let’s get in the car.
“I’m hungry,” said Kieran in an annoyed voice.
“We have a three hour drive then you can eat. I bet Mallory will have some food waiting for you when we get there. And I bet that he will want to talk to the two of you, also,” their father stated in a voice that told them not to complain.
Liam had filled up on nuts and tuna salad sandwiches that his father bought for them on the train. He was too excited to be hungry now, anyway, as they were getting closer and closer to their destination. And he was starting to wonder what was wrong with his brother. Why wasn’t he excited, or at least more curious, at how this trip had gone so far? It just seemed like Kieran was determined to act bored by the whole thing in order to annoy their father. But it wasn’t working. Their father now seemed too preoccupied to be annoyed.
After their father put all of their bags in the roomy car’s trunk, they got into the Mercedes Benz. Liam instinctively got into the passenger seat beside his father while Kieran took over the back seat stretching out and making himself comfortable. Without any further conversation Brian started the car up, pulled boldly into the traffic, and drove off from Glasgow Central Railway Station.
“This is lame,” Kieran mumbled from the backseat.
“Why?” asked his father hoping to engage him in a conversation rather than a fight, as they were closer to their destination than their home, he was hoping Kieran would start to change his attitude. There was no going back.
“Because I’m hungry,” he answered then turned his head and began to stare out the window.
“Dad,” Liam piped up not wanting to give his father a chance to get into a fight with his brother.
“What,” he answered gruffly as if he was starting to get more than a little annoyed by his oldest son’s behavior. Yes, he could understand his anger, his brooding, but at some point he had to accept his decision to send him to a new school.
“What’s a Tiahhrnon, or whatever it was that guy called you just now,” Liam asked, even though he knew that the chances were that his father wouldn’t answer him.
“I am a Tiarnan,” he said pronouncing it tear-narn-nin.
“Okay, I got that much now. But what is that, what does it mean?”
“It is what it is.”
“Okay,” Liam said trying to think of another way to get information from his father. “Is there more than one Tiarnan?”
“Yes,” he answered with a slight smile breaking out on his face. He admired his son’s constant curiosity.
“Okay,” Liam said again. He knew that his father wasn’t going to make this easy for several reasons. Kieran had put him in a bad mood to start with, so getting information about the Bene Lumen and everything to do with them was virtually impossible, and his father never really liked to easily share information in the first place.
“How many of them are there,” he asked.
“Like days of the week, the number of days it took God to create the world, the number of Deadly sins, the number of genesis grounds for great evil, the Wonders of the Ancient World, the Wonders of the Modern World, and the number of dwarfs, there are officially seven of them,” he answered.
Liam was surprised that his father gave him a fairly straightforward answer, though one cloaked in a way not to tell him what a Tiarnan was. This meant that his father was either getting in a better mood, or was in such a bad one that he didn’t care what he talked about just as long as it wasn’t about Kieran. Either way, he wanted to take advantage of his mood to find out more.
“Have there always been seven of them, seven of these Tiarnan,” Liam asked.
“That’s an interesting question. No, not initially, there have been times in history when they weren’t even known as Tiarnan, yet they still existed in some manner. And they have existed in all cultures, too. But it has become tradition for the Bene Lumen and a necessity that there are seven now, not that I can tell you why. I always felt we needed one or two more. Someone else can explain that to you,” he replied.
“Would I know the names of any other Tiarnan? Like are some of them famous,” he asked.
“Yes, you would know a few of the names of past certain Tiarnan.”
“Okay, I’ll answer this question. But it is the last one you get until we get to school. Okay?”
“Okay, Dad,” answered Liam.
“Thank God,” interjected Kieran from the backseat.
“Do you have a problem with me that you want to talk about,” Brian CuCullen asked his oldest son.
“Yeah, sure, I do. All this talk is lame and doesn’t make any sense.”
“That is because you have a closed mind, Kieran. But that is your problem not mine.”
“Well, it’s better than being out of my mind like some people in this car are,” Kieran goaded his father sounding if he wanted to start a fight with him. The closer they got to their destination the more he seemed to want to fight with their father. This seemed kind of crazy to Liam because it wasn’t like his father was suddenly going to change his mind and return them to Cape Elizabeth, but Kieran was determined to be difficult during this trip. Since his life has been ruined, he was going to ruin everyone’s in the family life.
“Dad, Dad, forget about him,” Liam interrupted him. “Tell me some of the names of these Tiarnan. You said I know some of the names.”
“Okay, I promised to tell you ones that you knew, so let’s see who can I chose. I might as well stick with Celtic ones, since I’ve told you about Celtic mythology and history myself… CuChulainn, Fintain McCoul, King Arthur, Brian Boru, Queen Boudicca, I think that about covers your sphere of knowledge,” he stated.
“Fintain McCoul… King Arthur…. Brian Boru. Dad, they are all…”
“This is nuts,” Kieran exclaimed from the back. “He’s pulling your leg, Midget.”
“Are you, Dad?”
“No. I am telling you the truth, Liam. They are all real people not myths or legends, and they were all Tiarnans, even if they weren’t called by that name.”
“Bull,” declared Kieran who returned to his silence.
“Dad, they are all mythical, I mean, except for Boudicca and maybe Brian Boru, who I think are somewhat historical.”
“No, they are not myths; they are all real. Legends and myths have grains of truth, as do some urban legends. Now, no more questions from you, just like you promised me,” he said then went as silent as his oldest son.
Liam felt like he wanted to jump up and down in his seat. Stopping the conversation right when they did was almost painful to him. His father just named great mythical warriors. How could they be Tiarnan? Of course, he wasn’t allowed to ask now because he promised not to ask. He’d have to wait until they got to Samhain. So was his father some sort of great, mythical warrior? And if he was, was he one, too? He was his father’s son, though it was true that Kieran took after their father more than he did.
Yet, his DNA was the same as his father’s, or at least he had pieces of his father’s DNA floating in his blood. Just like he also had some of his mother’s DNA in his blood, too, which he always took as a great comfort because it meant that she was never completely gone. She was still partially inside of him. What was his mother, he asked himself. Was she some sort of mythical warrior, also, he mused? Dad always treated Ma as his equal in all things. Would a great warrior treat a not so great one as his equal?
Suddenly, he wanted to ask his father about his mother, about Samhain being a school for warriors of some sort, about a million different things that entered his mind, but he knew better than to do it now. When his father said no more questions that meant no more questions. If there was one thing about his father that Liam could rely on, it was that when he made up his mind, it took almost an act of God to change it.
Kieran was just like their father, too. They both were stubborn, hardheaded even, which was why they had such a hard time getting along most of the time. Well, that and the fact that Kieran blamed their father for their mother’s death. It was childish, but Liam knew that Kieran needed to blame someone. He blamed no one, but he was always different from Kieran.
One hundred and forty-one miles on the road and they arrived at the town of Fort Augustus on Loch Ness. Brian CuCullen sighed deeply as he drove carefully through the once familiar surroundings during a black night. Fort Augustus with its population of six hundred and some odd number of souls was one of the most picturesque and quiet places he had ever visited in his life. Even in the height of tourism season when people came from all over to see if they could spy Nessie swimming in his loch, Brian felt it would be a perfect place to raise children. He and Siobhan often talked about living in Fort Augustus, one of the prettiest and charming either had ever seen, when they both gave up their vocations. Both thought that eventually they would had given enough to the Bene Lumen and would retire in peace to maybe teach at Samhain, but that dream was long dead. She ended up giving her all, and he ended up giving up.
Driving through the town, past the little town pub that still looked to have locals imbibing spirits even at this late hour, passing everyone and everything until he got to a rough, worn dirt road that led them towards the Loch. Once on the dirt road the car responded to the bumpiness of the unpaved and rougher road. Both his sons, who had been sleeping, were startled awake.
“Where are we,” Kieran asked as he adjusted his eyes to the blackness of the night. Like his father his night vision proved to be better and more accurate than people’s day vision normally was. He never thought about this, but merely accepted it as a freak of nature that he and his father could see like cats in the dark.
Liam merely stayed quiet since his night vision wasn’t that great and the blackness of the night frightened him more than he was willing to admit to. Even now at twelve he still had a small night light on in his room to make sure his bedroom wasn’t completely dark at night. And this was the blackest darkness he had ever experienced in his short life. Not even the many stars and a crescent moon above them could lighten this darkness enough to make him feel comfortable.
“We are just outside of Fort Augustus, which is on the famous Loch Ness. In other words we are almost at our destination. Not long before we are at Samhain,” Brian said.
“There is a school around here,” Kieran asked in a voice filled with doubt that any school could be in this area.
“Yes, there is,” he answered then pulled the car off to the side near a footpath that led to the water.
“Come on, boys, lets get your bags out of the trunk,” he said and then opened the car door and went to the back of the car and opened the trunk.
Neither boy moved. They both thought their father had gone a little mad. Maybe Kieran was right maybe Dad was crazy, thought Liam. There was no school around here.
“Come on, boys, we are not quite there yet. We still have a ways to go,” Brian CuCullen yelled for his sons.
He stood holding Liam’s bags in his hands. His expression was sharp and he looked to be checking out every tree and bush in the area, as if he expected something dangerous to jump out from behind them. Liam and Kieran got out of the car slowly. Immediately, Liam almost tripped over a stray branch, but his brother grabbed him by the arm and led him to his father.
“I’ll take care of your brother, Kieran,” Brian CuCullen said, “while you get your bags.”
Kieran did as he was told then he followed his father as he walked down the footpath to a smallish rowboat that was waiting for them by the shore. The whole time Liam held his father’s right elbow, as if he was blind and being led across a street. When they got to the rowboat, Brian dumped his and his son’s bags into the smallish boat. Kieran did the same with his own bags.
“Well, get into the boat,” he said to them.
“Why,” Kieran asked in surprise.
“So we can get to the school.”
Kieran looked out onto the placid waters of the large loch. Other than what appeared to be a smallish island there was nothing out there except water. He shook his head and laughed to himself then looked over at his brother who looked nervously at the water. Liam hated the dark and it didn’t help that their mother had drowned, so he wasn’t that found of water either. His father always told him that the dark held no secrets, which could not be conquered, but Liam always felt night held too many secrets that he was afraid to know.
“Where is it,” he asked.
“It’s where it has always been and will always be,” his father answered cryptically.
“Dad, are you sure about this,” tentatively asked Liam.
“Yes, Liam, I am sure. Trust me.”
Liam got clumsily into the rowboat and sat down on the middle seat. Kieran, not wanting to be look like a coward compared to his brother, got in and sat in the front. Brian CuCullen gave the rowboat what appeared to be a gentle push and sent it gliding into the water. He gracefully mounted the boat before it got too far away from him. Once in the rowboat he took the oars that lay on the bottom then sat down and began to row in strong even stokes. The rowboat was pushed gracefully by the oars and with some speed moved towards the middle of the lake.
“Dad, this is kind of strange. I’m getting scared,” Liam said quietly as he looked about in the dark.
“That’s your fear of the dark talking. Don’t worry about anything happening to you, I’m here. This is strange right now and it will only get stranger, but you’ll love it and I think your fear will be conquered by your curiosity soon,” he replied.
“Yeah, I bet,” Kieran, blurted out in a tone of complete disdain.
He was starting to believe that his father had gone completely insane, that he lost what was left of his mind. First they had to go leave their school for a school in Scotland, and now they were looking for that school in the middle of an empty lake. He wasn’t going to let this go on for long, he decided then he noticed something on the water. It was as if the water was on fire, not a blazing fire, but a smoldering one that caused lots of thick white smoke to form in one spot. The white smoke began to grow larger and larger in volume, too, as if it was starting to reach out for them, as they got closer to it. Instead of rowing away from it, they were headed right for it.
“Dad, what is that,” Kieran asked with his voice finally losing its negative aspects and becoming concerned for what he assumed was his father losing his mind.
“Your school,” he answered.
Liam tried to stand up in the boat in order to see what they were talking about as his nervousness about the night lost a battle to his curiosity, but he almost fell into the loch. Kieran grabbed him and settled him back down in his seat. For the second, though, he thought he saw white, billowing smoke drifting on the water.
“Dad, shouldn’t we turn away from this before something bad happens to us in that fog,” asked Kieran. “I don’t think you’ll be able to see anything in it.”
“Just trust me and don’t worry,” Brian answered and kept rowing hard for the white smoke.
It didn’t take long, only a few minutes for him to reach the smoke. The rowboat touched the smoke. Once it did this, the smoke appeared to grow even larger and quickly swallowed up the boat. Both the boys jumped out of their skins once this happened. They had never seen smoke act this way before, as if it had a purpose. Both of them thought of covering their mouths so they didn’t breathe in the smoke, but when they caught a whiff of it they changed their minds. It smelled of cinnamon, rosemary, thyme, and even a hint of wild flowers.
“What is this,” asked Liam.
“The mist is a kind of a door that we just passed through and this is Samhain, school of ancient knowledge and training ground of warriors and other members of the Bene Lumen,” answered his father.
Kieran couldn’t speak because he saw a clearing in the smoke and a shoreline. It wasn’t the shoreline of the other side of the lake, but the shoreline of a large island that appeared out of thin air. On the shoreline a pyre burned and it looked as if two men were waiting for their boat.
“I don’t believe this,” Kieran said aloud.
“Open your mind and believe it, Kieran,” his father told him with a voice that had more than a little excitement in it.
The rowboat continued to this shore hitting the bottom of the shoreline and stopping. Brian CuCullen dropped the oars and jumped out of the boat then pulled it all the way onto this large, unexpected island. One of the men walked towards them with a torch in his hand. He was wearing a black flowing robe with red trimming that had a gold and red dragon’s crest on its right breast. The man was Mallory, who was at Paulette Goode’s funeral.
“Glad you could make it, boys,” he said in a friendly tone his clipped English accent as crisp as ever. “Welcome to another isle that hides in the mist, though this one is not Avalon. This one is called Samhain.”
“What in the fu…” Kieran started to say.
“I know that it is a dramatic way to make entry into your new school but, like Avalon, Samhain exists just beyond the veil of human senses, just beyond life as most people know it. There is no other way here but through the mist,” Mallory interrupted him.
“You mean that Avalon really exists and it’s like this place,” Liam said. All his apprehensions and fears disappeared as his curiosity took command.
“No, actually, Avalon is a larger mist isle with far more interesting architecture than here. Samhain merely has schoolhouses, dormitories and halls, worship areas, playing fields, a small forest, an arboretum and training fields. Everything needed to train the young in their skills to fulfill their vocations,” Mallory explained.
“How did we get here, I mean, how is this place here,” Kieran asked.
“The mist you traveled through is the doorway between Samhain and Lock Ness. When you enter the mist you leave behind your dimension and enter this one. Once you are here on Samhain you are hidden behind the veil. No one from the shore, or the water, or above can see us. If a boat was to come towards us right now, we would be able to see it, but it would not be able to see us,” Mallory told them in a calm reassuring voice.
“You mean it would pass through us,” Liam asked.
“No, not really. As this hypothetical boat would be about to touch Samhain it would disappear from our view then reappear after it had passed through us. We would lose sight of it once it entered our space then see it on the other side of Samhain after it passed through us. The boater on the other hand would only see water,” Mallory continued to explain.
“I… I don’t get this,” Kieran said.
The second man came walking towards them now. Liam noticed him before Kieran. He was Japanese, about their father’s age, and dressed in a samurai garb with a samurai sword tucked firmly in his black clothed belt around his waist. Over a red samurai robe he wore another robe that was the color of summer wheat and had a black and orange crest on its right breast. He gave a friendly wave to their father.
“Hey, Brian, it is good to see you again my friend,” he said without the trace of an accent in his voice.
“Hideki, it’s been years, too many years,” Brian said.
“Yes, eleven of them have passed. I’m sorry I never made it to Siobhan’s…”
“Don’t worry about it, Hideki, I understand that your time is not your own. You serve the whims of others not your own,” Brian interrupted him not wanting to hear the words Siobhan’s funeral uttered.
“Master Nagura, why don’t you and Mr. CuCullen take the boys’ bags to their proper houses then enjoy the rest of the evening catching up on old times. Young Liam will be in Morgana House and the strapping young Kieran will be in CuChulainn House,” Mallory told them.
“It will be my pleasure to catch up with an old friend,” Brian CuCullen responded.
“Sure. It will give us a chance to talk about things. I am very excited that you have returned to us,” Nagura said.
“I hope you have a bottle of honey wine somewhere and some food,” he retorted as he grabbed half the bags out of the boat while Nagura grabbed the other bags.
“Of course. You’ll be staying in Tamo House for the night with me.”
“So you’re the head of a house now,” their father commented.
“I am teacher and guide of young minds and bodies in search of enlightenment,” he said with a broad smile breaking out on his face at the end of his statement.
“I’m impressed. Goodnight boys,” Brian said turning to look at his sons. “I’ll see you two in the morning in the dining hall for breakfast.
The two men walked away carrying the bags and talking to each other. Both Kieran and Liam were left dumbfounded with part of them wanting to call after their father not to leave them alone and part of them wanting to get back in their rowboat and leave before it was too late. Mallory stood smiling at them.
“I have some food waiting for us in my private study, nothing extravagant just a nice snack. We will be able to talk there without interruptions,” he told them. “I…”
“Save your questions for when we eat and talk. Outdoors at night is for discussing the moon and love not school and other boring things,” Mallory said then turned and began to stride strongly away.
Both the boys followed closely behind Mallory as he strode up a path made of smooth stones. Each stone was a slightly different shade with some tending towards lighter colors and others blacker. As their feet slapped the slate they heard a barely audible thud sound, but Mallory’s feet made a louder, stronger thud sound. The two young boys could barely keep up with the old man as they entered through a large black wrought iron gate that was attached on either by a eight foot high stone wall that seemed to reach a great distance in both directions and encircle what was the school.
Once passed the gate their way was lit by what appeared to be street lamps powered by gas, though Liam wasn’t sure gas was keeping the street lamps alight. The school was made up of many two to four story brick buildings all connected by sidewalks and streets. It almost looked like one of those English Public Schools, Liam thought, that he had looked up on the Internet when he was told that they were going to school in Scotland. They were walking on what seemed to be the main street, which led them to a large brick house with black wood shudders and a large oak plaque on the front door that read Headmaster.
“This is my office as well as my abode. I should think after today when you are called to see me here, it will cause you great consternation,” Mallory said then opened the door and let them into his office and home.
As they entered the house it appeared to be lit by gaslight, the first area they hit was the front hall. Besides a line of pegs where up to twelve people could hang a robe or a coat and several bookcases of what appeared to be very old books, the hallway had one truly remarkable feature. It was an impressive feature because it was a life sized marble statue of a kind looking man who wore a robe not unlike Mallory’s. Looking at the base of the statue both Kieran and Liam read but a single name: Merlin. They looked at each other.
“On the right hand side is my office door,” he said and nodded towards a closed wooden door, “and on the left is my downstairs study where we will find the food.”
He entered the study and they followed him. It was a large room filled with bookcase after bookcase of ancient looking books. Towards the back right wall there was a large oak desk with two comfortable, padded wooden chairs in front of it. On the desk sat a tray of sandwiches and small cakes, as well a decanter of an amber colored liquid and three long stemmed glasses. With his right hand Mallory ushered them along to the chairs where they sat down. He looked at the plate of six sandwiches with great consternation as he sat down behind the desk.
“Excellent roast beef, very rare with some of its juices intact just like I like it, and hot spicy mustard on the sarnies, or sandwiches to you boys. This is one of my favorite nighttime snacks,” he said then picked one up and took a generous bite.
“Try one,” he said in a muffled voice as he chewed his sandwich.
Kieran picked up a sandwich and took a bite equal to Mallory’s while Liam took a much smaller bite from his. He was feeling a little unsteady and unsure of himself, almost as if he was afraid he was imagining the whole evening. Mallory poured each of them a glass of the amber liquid.
“This is pomegranate wine. Though you are too young to drink in your world, here you are allowed pomegranate wine. It has many holistic qualities to it that the body enjoys, as well as a very low alcohol content. Now honey wine is much, much stronger and only those in sixth term are allowed to drink a glass or to on special occasions,” he said and took a sip of the wine.
Kieran took a long sip drinking half his glass of wine. It was as if he was taking the opportunity of letting the wine soothe his nerves. Liam merely took a small sip. Like the food he wasn’t sure if he wanted it or not because his world was so upside down at the moment.
“Now while you eat I will do the talking,” Mallory said then took another generous bite of his sandwich. After a few quick chews he swallowed the sandwich then washed the remains of his bite down with another sip of wine.
“I expect you both are a little overwhelmed right now, so I won’t expect you to be able to answer anything I tell you on a quiz tomorrow,” he said with a smile that seemed to imply he was amused even if they weren’t. “The Society of Bene Lumen was started by Merlin over 1800 hundred years ago during a time when druids still lived out in the open and evil didn’t bother to hide in the shadows. You see he realized back then that evil succeeds because most people do not know how to combat it properly, and some don’t even recognize it. After training Arthur to see him defeated by evil, he knew that one enlightened and highly trained soul was not enough to change the world and defeat the evil that made this world its home. So being a highly skilled Druid priest and Triune Conjurer, he started the Bene Lumen.”
“Triune Conjurer,” asked Liam as he took another small bite. His appetite was slowly returning.
“Yes, a Triune Conjurer. You see there are conjurers, they use nature and the powers of nature to perform their magic for lack of a better expression; charmers, they uses potions and charms to perform their feats; and casters, they use words to perform curses and enchantments. But only a Triune Conjurer can perform all three aspects of a conjurer, a charmer and a caster.”
Liam and Kieran ate and drank as Mallory explained Merlin to them. For Kieran this was like some dream that he was having and enjoying, but for Liam this was a dream come true.
“Now usually women have greater druidical powers than men, but Merlin was the exception to that rule. His powers were truly unique. In fact his powers, well, his powers was legendary. He was a truly great conjurer, the greatest in some opinions. And he was much, much more than that. But let me get back on the point I was making to start with. Once he had started the Bene Lumen, a prodigious task to begin with, he then decided that his society needed a school in which to train students so that the Bene Lumen didn’t go the way of the druids or Arthur, so he started Samhain. You see it was fortunate he did this, too, because evil often has its own inspired ideas and in this case, its idea was called the Illuminatii. At least, that is what they are called now. They have been known by other names in the distant past, though. You see the Illuminatii is sort of an evil Bene Lumen, a group of human beings and others trying to fulfill the desires of their masters, upper level demons of great power and hate. We have waged war with each other in the shadows, mainly outside of most people’s sense of reality in those places where they don’t want to look. So when Merlin opened this school some 1800 years ago, he assured that the Illuminatii would always have competition in this world. This war between us has been a constant ever since then. Samhain is part school and part boot camp.”
“You mean this school has been open for over 1800 years,” asked Kieran as he reached for a second sandwich.
“Give a decade or two,” replied Mallory.
“This is unbelievable,” commented Liam.
“Yes, but it is simply true. Now where was I? Oh yes, would you like to know the meaning of our school’s name,” he asked.
“Yes,” answered Liam excitedly.
“Samhain is the word for November in Irish and Scottish Gaelic. The same word was used for the first month of the ancient Celtic calendar, and in particular the first three nights of the month, which was a festival marking the beginning of the winter season. Elements of the festival are continued in the traditions of All Souls Day and Halloween. In this way the Samhain celebration survived in several guises as a festival dedicated to the dead. In Ireland and Scotland, Feile Na Marbh, or the festival of the dead, took place on Samhain. Samhain Eve, in Irish and Scots Gaelic, Oidhche Shamhna is on the principle festivals of the Celtic calendar, and is thought to fall on October 31st. It represents the final harvest. Samhain, November, was also Merlin’s favorite month. Hence, he called this mist isle school Samhain.”
“That’s amazing,” Liam interjected.
“So Merlin created the society and the school to combat evil, but not just garden variety evil, the kind we face every day in many respects, like answering machines and automated tellers, but to fight truly depraved and supernatural evil, such as demons, evil spirits, werecreatures, human who have sold their souls, and the others which you will learn about. You see evil, true supernatural evil does exist and the Bene Lumen has fought for centuries to keep the Illumaniti from getting stronger. If we didn’t this world would eventually fall completely to its influence and we can’t have that, can we?”
“How do you combat it,” asked Kieran.
“Several ways. We attempt to be the ying to their yang in some respects doing good where we can, but mostly we fight it in combat, kill it, return it to its otherworldly home. In many respects we attempt to keep a balance in this world.”
“How,” Kieran asked again.
“With Aongus Cathal and Ardal Cathal; with conjurers and charmers and casters; and with those with other talents that have either been honed here or by us somewhere else. We stand in the way of the Illuminatii. We hold the line against them,” Mallory stated.
“Aongus Cathal? Ardal Cathal? What are they,” asked Liam.
“The Ardal Cathal is made up of a group of trained valiant warriors, wonderful warriors. From them come the Fiach, who are hunters of evil, the Niall, who are strong and loyal fighters and bodyguards, and the Eadach, who are warriors who patrol the waters and waterways. Now the Aongus Cathal are the strongest warriors we have. Am Aongus Cathal is born to be the strongest. They are our frontline troops. From them we get our greatest warriors: the Tiarnan. As you can see we have many uses of Celtic words which are particular to our argot. Now how does one describe the Tiarnan? Do either of you like football,” he asked.
“I love football. I was a running back on my high school football team,” answered Kieran.
“Oh, no, not American Football, but real football. What is it you call it in North America,” he said to himself more than to them.
“Soccer,” offered Liam.
“Yes, soccer. That is an ugly name for a beautiful sport. Well, in football there are the good players and then there are the superstars, those who can almost carry a team on their own. The Tiarnan are the superstars. There are only seven of them at a time for reasons that will be explained by someone else. When one falls in battle or decides to leave the field of battle, an Aongus Cathal, who has trained to temporarily replace them until a new Tiarnan can step in, replaces him or her. But a true Tiarnan is difficult to replace, a true Tiarnan has more than physical skills, though that is great, they have the ability to lead.”
“Paulette Goode replaced my dad as a Tiarnan,” offered Liam.
“Correct,” Mallory said excitedly as if he was very pleased that Liam figured that out on his own. “Paulette was a highly trained and skilled Aongus Cathal of great courage and skill. She replaced your father when he decided to step down and she herself would have been replaced when we had another fully trained, true Tiarnan to replace here. Only an Aongus Cathal can be a Tiarnan but few Aongus Cathal are born to be a Tiarnan. We have been short on Tiarnan lately for reasons that are both sad and complicated. How did you know that your father was a Tiarnan?”
“That guy, Ivan, called him by that title,” Kieran stated.
“Well, it was very bright of you, Liam, to put the pieces together,” Mallory said looking at Liam with a gentleness that seemed out of place on his gruff face.
“Mr. Mallory…” Liam started to ask.
“The name is Mallory Fergus, Liam, at least that is what I’ve called myself for many years now. Before that I had another name, which I won’t share with you yet. After tonight you will call me Headmaster or sir, unless I give you permission to do otherwise.”
“Okay. Mr. Fergus, how does the Bene Lumen, I don’t know how to ask this, but how is it that the Bene Lumen are still around after all these years without everyone knowing about them?”
“Through the ministrations and help of those we call Giolla, normal people who support us financially and other ways,” he answered.
“Do you have any names that sound normal, I mean that sound like names I’d understand without having to ask what it means,” asked Kieran.
“Well, not really. You see Merlin came up with all the names for us all himself and being a Druid he mainly used Gaelic names. The only reason he didn’t use a Gaelic name for the society was he also liked Latin and he was trying to make the society appeal to Christians who he thought as a natural ally in his war.”
“Oh,” Kieran mumbled then drank the rest of his wine. Mallory drank down his wine then refreshed all three of their glasses.
“So Giolla know about the Bene Lumen, but are not Bene Lumen. Maybe they have had family that was, or somehow interacted with us and offered their fealty. You see from the Vatican to China, from politicians to businessmen, we have people who support us. They provide cover, jobs, money, information, and their power to help us in our mission to fight evil.”
“So you aren’t just druids here, you’re from many different religions and cultures. I mean the guy that was with you was a samurai,” said Liam.
“Good observation, Liam. That is Master Nagura and he is head of Tamo House. Tamo House is where many Ardal Cathal are, as well as thinkers and others of different skills. CuChulainn House houses Aongus Cathal and some of the top Ardal Cathal. Morgana House is where potential conjurers, charmers, and casters live. And finally is Sybil House is the home of potential seers and prophets. No, we aren’t just druids. We are from many cultures and many religious backgrounds, some ancient and some newer. Though the teachers and students here come from many faiths, we respect each of our beliefs. Yet, we have one thing that bonds us together and that is we all accept and understand that true evil exists and must be fought.”
“Oh, wow,” said Liam. Kieran remained silent as he sipped his wine. Mallory took this opportunity to take another bite of his sandwich and another drink of his wine.
“As of tomorrow you enter this school officially, a little before term, but officially. Since your father chose to leave you ignorant about us and about yourself, I am providing you both with private tutors for the rest of this month and the rest of this term. Your private tutor will help you catch up. I am also assigning you spiritual council. We call a spiritual advisor a maol. It is a term of respect. You see, boys, you are both important students here because of who your parents are and were. Siobhan Griffin had the bloodline of Merlin flowing through her, which means that you, Liam, probably have the ability to be a triune conjurer just like your mother. You see Triune Conjurers are rare, but they run throughout Merlin’s bloodline.”
“Wow,” was all Liam could utter as he thought of his mother being a triune conjurer and a descendent of Merlin.
“And as for you, Kieran, your father is a Tiarnan, true, but he is not just any Tiarnan. He was one of the best and strongest we had. For ten years he performed brilliantly then, well, then your mother died and he left his duties behind him to raise you boys. Usually with a Tiarnan of his strength and ability some or sometimes all of his or her traits are passed on to the first-born. That is you.”
“You mean I may be a Tiarnan like my father is. That is what you are trying to tell me,” Kieran said, his voice sounding as if he wasn’t sure if he wanted that or not.
“Yes, Kieran, you may be a Tiarnan just like Brian CuCullen, or maybe even greater than him, only time will tell. Unfortunately, you are very behind in your training and studies. You will have to work harder than any student here just to become passable. It is a herculean task standing in front of you, but I think you can do it. Now, let’s eat and drink up then have dessert. Then I shall take you to your houses and you’ll get a good night sleep. In the morning you will meet your tutors.”