Taliesin, chapter 1

I thought I would put this out there to see if anyone has any comments or criticisms.  I’ll be posting the next two chapters in the next few days.

Chapter 1: The High Druid

Ossag mac Rien, the High Druid of Glencairck sat next to an open window, warming his bones in the late spring sun.  A wren landed on the sill and cocked its head at him.  The High Druid studied it for a few minutes before he broke into a grin.  “Of course,” he said.  “I should have expected the king of all birds.”

The wren hopped off the widow, growing taller and wider until a grey-bearded man stood in its place, dressed in robes the same brown as the feathers he had just worn.  The man bowed deeply and said, “And I should have known you would remember that story.”

“It’s rather amazing I did,” the High Druid said.  “Thirty years may not seem like much to you, but it was still quite a while ago for me.”  He stood and hugged his guest warmly.  “I’m glad you made it, Taliesin.”

“I was across the ocean when I heard you, Ossag.  I’m sorry it took so long.”

“Posh,” the High druid said.  “I said your name in the middle of winter.  I wasn’t really expecting you for another couple of months.”

“How may I serve you?”

Ossag leaned back and steepled his fingers.  “I want you to take over as prelate of Taris.”

Taliesin’s eyes widened in surprise.  “Me?  But I thought you liked me as a wandering druid.”

“Normally, yes, it is the role that suits you best.  But I have been getting reports on the priests of Taris acting very differently than they should, and even the current prelate, Bessach, is involved.”

“Bessach?” Taliesin said.  “Tall skinny lad, always with a disheveled robe?”

“Still tall, as you might imagine,” the High Druid said.  “But stouter, and with a much more refined taste in clothes.”

Taliesin nodded.  “It sounds like you need someone to whip them into shape.  But why me?  Isn’t one of the other druids a better match?”

“I’ve already sent two in the last five years,” the High Druid said.  “Each time, the situation improves for a season, and then I hear the same problems, and usually worse.”

“And you think that I can affect a more permanent solution?”

“I need your wisdom in this place, my friend,” Ossag said.  “There are politics to deal with as well as the disciplinary actions.  And you can always turn to the Fianna if you need help.”

Taliesin chewed on his thumb while he considered.  “I guess my wandering can wait.  When would you like me to go?”

“Three days,” the High Druid replied.  “You need to go over the letters I have received, and the reports from the other druids, and get a feel for what you are getting yourself into.”

“I’ll get started right away.”  He turned to leave, but Ossag stopped him as he was pulling open the door.

“There is one other thing, Taliesin.”

“Yes?”

“Your destiny will be found in this assignment.”

Taliesin grew very still.  “Are you sure?”

“I have seen it in a vision.”

“Can you tell me anything more?”  He tried to keep the eagerness out of his voice, but knew that he had failed miserably.

The High Druid shook his head.  “If you’re asking me what your destiny is, I don’t know.  But in a vision I saw you going into Taris, and I knew you would discover a great treasure there.  And even though I knew you were going to be prelate, I knew that it had nothing to do with the treasure.”

Taliesin let out a great sigh.  “It is enough,” he said.  “It has been so long, I haven’t even thought of it in years.”

“Soon, my friend,” the High Druid said.  “In the course of your life, it is very close.  Mere moments away.”

Taliesin laughed ruefully.  “That means it could be years, even decades away.”

“Possibly.”  The High Druid got up and hugged him tightly.  “A bit more patience, that’s all.  And I promise, there will be plenty of work to help the time pass quickly.”

“Did you see that in your vision, too?”

“As a matter of fact, I did.”  He stepped back and looked into Taliesin’s eyes.  “Are you ready?”

Taliesin shrugged.  “Would it matter when it is destiny?”

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