Thomas the Rhymer, legendary 12th Century figure of traditional Scottish balladry, as you've never seen him before.
Rhymer brings to life Thomas the Rhymer, legendary 12th Century figure of traditional Scottish balladry, as a champion who must battle the diabolical Yvag—an alien race thought to be elves and faeries—hellbent on conquering our world. This saga pits Thomas against the near-immortal elves, first with only his wits, then with powers of his own that enable him to take on these evil creatures throughout the centuries. He’s known by many names over time—Tám Lin, Robyn Hood, and numerous other incarnations reaching into the present—but at his heart he is still True Thomas, one man doing all he can to save us all from a powerful foe.
When his brother is snatched right before his eyes, Thomas hunts for justice and discovers that not only do these “elves” steal people, but they also are skinwalkers who occupy humans in positions of power. Their goal: to obliterate humanity and take over our world. When Thomas is dragged into their alien realm, he’s imprisoned and barely escapes alive, but in the process he gains near-immortality and the ability to transform himself. Will it be enough to protect his loved ones and defeat this powerful foe?
About Gregory Frost:
"[A] sparkling gem of mythic invention and wonder."–Publishers Weekly on Shadowbridge
“[A] rather stunning new fantasy novel…. Frost could be on his way toward a masterpiece.”–Locus on Shadowbridge
"Beautifully written and realized."–Jeffrey Ford on Shadowbridge
"A ripping good read."–Booklist on Ficher's Brides
“A good, big, satisfying book. LYREC holds enough good things to keep even the most jaded reader engrossed.”—John Morressy
Release date: June 6, 2023
Print pages: 384
* BingeBooks earns revenue from qualifying purchases as an Amazon Associate as well as from other retail partners.
I. On Huntley Bank
“Ya understand?” Onchu asked, and Thomas realized suddenly that his brother had been speaking to him. He looked up, mouth agape, lips slack as a drunkard’s. He squinted. He pushed dirty fingers through his unkempt hair. Shook his shaggy head. They weren’t at home, their mother and father weren’t here, their sister, neither. What was Onchu saying?
“God, he’s gormless.” Baldie laughed. He stood behind Onchu, halfway to the river. The river . . .
Onchu shushed Baldie and tried again. “You stay here now, Tommy. It’s dry an’ ye ken sleep in the grass while we fish upriver, right, little brother?” He tenderly brushed back Thomas’s hair.
Thomas took in the tall, reedy grass around him, the glimmering of the river ahead; then he twisted around to see the trees behind him. Black alders. He knew where he was, remembered they had come here from home, the route Onchu, Baldie, and he always took, though the specifics of the journey itself eluded him. So many things eluded him. They’d been walking, but anyway he wasn’t allowed on a horse. He closed his eyes, saw his feet, plodding, plodding, plodding along a path, following it from their big wooden wall with the keep upon its scarp, past sties and the well, across countryside past Oakmill on the Tweed to the Yarrow where it met the Ettrick Water—Onchu’s fishing path.
The weight of his brother’s hand slid down and pressed upon his shoulder. “Sit,” Onchu gently ordered, and he opened his eyes again. Memory slipped away like a school of minnows.
Thomas Lindsay Rimor de Ercildoun, half-witted fourteen-year-old son of a locally powerful family, did as he was bade and squatted down in the grass. He was lean and black-haired, and his fierce blue eyes could pin you sharp as blades if you could get him to focus on you for longer than an instant. Had it not been for the fits that plagued him and the simpleness of his mind, he might have been a fine catch for most any girl in the town. The trouble was, everyone there and for miles around knew of his peculiarities. Some thought him possessed. Others were certain he was touched, perhaps even divine. Weren’t the sibyls of ancient days similarly cursed? And the poet Taliesin as well? Opinions varied widely.
Those closest to him—his father, even his mother (privately), and definitely his brother—believed him to be a harmless idiot. His sister, Innes, alone thought him blessed by God in a way no one yet understood. Which wasn’t to say that Onchu didn’t love him, he did; but Thomas was more often than not a burden to him.
Pushed down, he sat cross-legged among the reeds. He smiled to Onchu.
“Hey-o,” Baldie said, “there’s a relief.” His thick mouth smirked beneath a nose bent crooked ever since the first time they had brought the idiot with them.
That morning, Thomas had been seized by a fit, fallen face-first into the Ettrick Water, and would have drowned if Baldie hadn’t waded in quick and grabbed hold of him. But Thomas, unaware of everything including his savior, had flapped and windmilled and swung his head wildly back, cracking the bridge of Baldie’s nose, getting himself dumped facedown in the water again, until Onchu hauled him out. Baldie, cursing and spitting, refused thereafter to touch him for all the treasures of the fay.
When Onchu had flung him safely onto dry land, he’d rolled about and babbled, “The teeth of the sheep will lay the plough to rest!” and then fallen quiet and still. As his “predictions” went, it made about as much sense as any.
There were no fish caught that morning. Spluttering Thomas had scared them off.
Since then, Baldie continued to give him a wide berth. If he’d set himself on fire now, Baldie would only have nodded in appreciation of the blaze from a respectful distance.
“Ye don’t follow us now,” Onchu told Thomas. He knelt close, rubbed Thomas’s back. “Ye stay here and sleep till the sun’s down. Or, I don’t know, count the leaves on that black alder.”
Thomas tilted back his head and looked at the nearest tree upside down. “Two thousand nine hundred sixty-eight,” he said.
“Leave him already!” Baldie called. Boots off, he was wading into the water, hi
ssing at every plashing step from one big and precarious stone to another.
“Christ yer,” Onchu cursed. “Then count the damned bulrushes.”
“Eighty-seven. I could see more were I standing.” He started to get up.
“Well, you’re not standing, Tom. Lie back now, count birds flying over, count clouds, count catkins till we come get ye and then tell me all of what you’ve seen, hey, sweet boy?”
He did as he was told, and stared into the sky, all but forgetting that Onchu was there.
“Come on,” insisted Baldie. “It’s feckin’ cold and I’m not gaunny stand here till meh balls crawl up inside me!”
Thomas heard Onchu, laughing, tug off his boots, and wade out after his friend. Plump Baldie was generous (though he would never admit it), but Thomas saw him as true as the tenderness in Onchu’s heart for himself. Heard them on the far bank then, Baldie chattering about the harvest.
Their voices faded into the world where birds sang songs—no two alike, a conversation he could very nearly understand as he tracked it back and forth—and the reeds sizzled now, waving accompanied by breezes, and thoughts jittered and split and swarmed.
Every moment took him off somewhere. He hardly noticed when the sounds and sensations of the whole world absorbed his brother and Baldie like soil soaking up rain. Time isolated him from before and after, cause and effect, sealed him off from human communication, from meaning. It could be sunrise one moment and night the next; such discontinuity was just how the world was to Thomas. He was quite used to losing most of it. What was lost wasn’t important, wasn’t noticed.
After awhile, he tilted his head back again. “Two hundred seven catkins,” he said of a goat willow, “larger than my fingers.” He held up his hand to study those fingers. Dirt encrusted the broken nails. The sun was hanging to the west now. Afternoon had arrived—new shadows, different lines, angles, and slices out of the light.
He placed his hand over the sun. The edges of his fingers glowed red-orange and he smiled.
A breeze blew and the reeds hissed all around him. An alien scent rode on the breeze. It drew his attention away from admiring his glowing fingers. He recalled every smell ever, though many had no name and simply came with images, moments cut out of a dark dough and scattered. This one was new, strangely sweet, like wildflower honey.
At that moment the sun went into eclipse, or had it begun to set? His hand was just his hand again, held up against darkness. He lowered it.
A strange shape sat upon a beast right beside him, silhouetted black against the sun. The shape seemed to have two heads. He squinted, but that didn’t help. Odd spikes festooned the figure and the horse it rode; but he saw immediately that it wasn’t a horse. It had a snout too long and too sharp, though it pawed the ground as impatiently as a horse. It
carried its rider out of the sun’s way, and brightness flared into his eyes again, making them tear up. The air tinkled musically. The sweetness enveloped him and the bees making it buzzed within his brain, realigning his thoughts. Two tiny things like bats dove and flitted about the silhouette.
Thomas sat up, wiped at his eyes, streaking dirt across his cheek like some warrior Pict preparing for battle. He was no longer staring into the sun.
Peering down upon him was the most extraordinary woman he had ever seen. She wore a green cape, the hood fallen back to reveal her resplendent red hair beneath a pointed cap. The beast was revealed now to be a stallion of pure white bedecked in a fine blue-and-gold caparison. How had he seen it differently? It also observed him coolly, but he hardly noticed that. The second head belonged to Onchu, who was seated behind the woman on the stallion. Onchu’s expression was as dull as if he was asleep with his eyes open.
“Onchu changed his mind about fishing with Baldie,” Thomas said aloud without noticing. “Why?”
Something like invisible fingers seemed to prod and push at his head, creating a pressure not unlike what he felt just before a fit struck. But no storm raged through him. Instead the bees buzzed about his thoughts again.
“Majesty,” said a deep voice. Thomas followed it to a retinue of two men on their own horses behind her. Knights in black armor. They had plainly crossed the river together. “Shall we—?”
“No, Ađalbrandr,” she answered. “Look at him. Poor broken toy, and such a pretty one, too. What a waste. I wonder, should we swap him for this other?” Odd that her cherry lips didn’t move as she spoke, though the words rang in his head, clear as New Year’s bells.
The Queen of Heaven, he thought, but could not remember where he had heard the title. Was it a song? Wasn’t someone playing a hurdy-gurdy?
She smiled then with the magnanimous pity of a monarch, and in that smile lay her decision that would change her world and his in ways unimaginable. She would not take him in place of the other boy, but instead leaned down and brushed her long, slender hand across his face. Her blood-dark nails traced his forehead. His whirling, buzzing thoughts slowed, stilled. Desire plucked at him.
For the first time in his life, Thomas experienced a silence inside himself.
One thing was clear. “Onchu changed his mind about—”
“Shhh.” The lady shushed him with the sound of the reeds. Urged him to lie back in the grass again and sleep. To her retinue she said, “We will leave this one. Let him forget we passed. I’ve snatched his puzzle-thoughts from him.”
He did lie back as commanded, but neither slept nor forgot. He could see in his mind the fifty-nine silver bells woven into the stallion’s mane, and the
twelve stars along the reins, the way the shining barding across its forelock poked up as if the horse had horns, just as he could see the odd gold shape of the lady’s eyes, which made him think of both buttons and spiders—the way her six pupils seemed like a circle of pinpricks within her bright irises. She pulsated with desire. He wanted to go with Onchu. They went everywhere together.
The bells tinkled as she rode off.
The other two passed beside him, and like her they each crossed the ball of the sun; and as they did, they changed. Spines as sharp and polished as thorns projected from their silhouettes. Their mouths became fanged, and the beasts upon which they were seated turned into things carved from dark skeletons but not of horses. He had never seen anything like them, and was too awed to be terrified. Close by came the gray riders’ thoughts, matching the cold regard in their eyes—they wanted to kill him, nor cared that he saw their true nature. But their queen had been clear in command, and they passed him by, becoming men and horses again.
He watched them, upside down, riding toward the black alder, until the swishing tall grass hid them.
He lay still awhile longer, wondering about things, his thoughts assembling in ways new to him, in orderly patterns. The great roar of the world had quieted, letting him perceive his thoughts before he spoke them. Eventually he arrived at a troubling question that brought him to his feet: Why hadn’t Baldie been with them, too?
By what new instinct he couldn’t say, Thomas walked down to the strand of pebbles and small rocks where his brother and Baldie had crossed the river. The big stepping stones out in the water led to a path up the opposite bank. They always fished in the same spot, across the peninsula of woodland.
As he stood there, a long wooden pole swept past. Pulled along by the current, it clacked against the stones in the middle of the stream, rotated, and slid between them. It was unmistakably Onchu’s dapping pole, tied with strips of leather at the handle and the juncture in the middle.
Floating along the river as if in pursuit of it came a bundle of rags, but soon enough he identified a forearm, the back of a head, legs. The rags became a body.
He waded in. It was icy cold, the water. He jumped from stone to stone to intercept the body. It floated up beside him and he squatted, grabbed onto a sleeve and tugged.
Baldie rolled over like a log. Faceup, his blank eyes stared wide as if beholding something terrible in the sky. There was no wound, no blood to be seen. Sodden and heavy, he was too much for Thomas, and the current had its way, prying the body from his chilled fingers into the main channel, and dragging Thomas in with it.
He splashed, choked, hammered the surface with his arms, finally clutched onto the big stone again and pulled himself back to safety.
By the time he could look, Baldie was well down the river, a flowing clutch of rags again.
Thomas managed to work from stone to stone and finally washed himself up on the pebbly strand. Crawled out and lay, gasping.
Pressure filled his head again, streaks of lightning fractured his sight. He heard his voice as he always did—as if it was another’s: “A teind for hell, they arrive, they take, all greenwood their enchantment!”
He mewled and rocked and rocked on the strand. Unlike every riddle he had ever babbled before, this one opened to him like a flower. His thoughts quieted, coalesced around it.
The knights had killed Baldie to take Onchu. But why, and where were they going? No war hereabouts, no fighting. No village, no habitation on that path, in that direction, either. Only the old abbey, and they were no monks. They arrive, they take. Fifty bird calls trilled on the wind, like tinkling bells. All greenwood . . .
Thomas jumped to his feet and ran.
II. The Teind
The riders easily outdistanced him, but the moist soil made their tracks easy to follow—three-toed hoofprints belonging to no horse he’d ever seen. It seemed reckless, as though the lady and her knights did not care if anyone saw or followed after them.
He’d thought it was the new abbey under construction toward which they headed; but once they’d forded the Tweed, they diverted east, and east was the graveyard and Old Melrose, as people were already calling it—the six-hundred-year-old abbey ruin where the Cistercians used to live. It was a holy site and had been one for a long long time, before there were even monks. Who had said that? Someone speaking to his father, once upon a time when he was younger, because people would say anything in front of him, he didn’t matter. But look how he did now!
He jumped with excitement as he ran along the path. Look how he was able to sort things that he’d seen and heard!
There was a war in the south—a king named Stephen and a queen named Matilda, but they weren’t married to each other. Didn’t like each other. How was that important to know? He could not remember, if ever he’d known, couldn’t even be sure that the war was something current or yet to come.
Some things remained jumbled and obscure after all.
Up ahead on a bend of the river and near the bridge to Ercildoun lay the ruins of Old Melrose. He would be upon it soon.
He slowed his step and walked on through the trees with more care. The Queen of Heaven might not like it if he intruded. Maybe she had descended to reward Onchu for looking after him. His brother certainly deserved a reward, just for all the times he’d stood for Thomas, defended him. There were so many people who couldn’t tolerate his weakness, his confusion. It seemed to make them angry or afraid. He didn’t understand why. He asked for nothing from them, yet they accused him of being a demon or of being guided by demons, which was funny in its way, since guided was something he definitely wasn’t.
Ahead stood a thicket of downy birch, past which he saw the first of the sixty-seven grave markers along the north side of the old abbey. It was a small rectangular building with no door in its doorway and half its roof thatch rotted and gone, nothing like the majestic structure that would be built to replace it. Dozens of circular stone huts in various states of decay dotted the rocky ground beyond it.
He could not see the Queen of Heaven yet, but he could feel her, the pressure in his head so like the storms that lashed him before a riddle fell from his lips.
Crouching low, he worked his way from marker to marker, some misshapen and grown over with moss, others covered in lettering, none of which he knew how to read. He reached a stone on a small knoll and peered over the top of a gravestone.
The two knights sat on horseback still. Around them stood seven people on foot. They weren’t monks. The five men wore doublets or tunics rich with embroidery. One of them he recognized from Ercildoun—an alderman named Stroud, distinguished by his dark beard and the scar that interrupted it on his right cheek, who had come to his father’s hall many times. The two women wore crowned wimples and long satin gowns of blue and gold respectively. People of wealth, they all appeared to be.
In the center of their loose circle, both the Lady and Onchu sat upon her horse as if basking in their admiration.
Thomas took to hands and knees to steal closer still, behind one mossy stone that looked as worn and ancient as the ruins.
The people on foot closed in upon the horse. They gathered to one side of it, reached up. Hands grabbed Onchu’s leg, arm, his shirt. They pulled him down among them. They made an excited noise that seemed to emerge from inside Thomas’s head, a weird chirring as if fierce beetles were crawling out his ears. He could not help swatting at himself, the sensation was so overwhelming.
The Queen uttered a command, but her words were foreign and queer now. He could not see Onchu between the people, but it was clear he was the object of their efforts as they worked, buzzing like a hive of bees—only not bees, not anything he knew or understood.
After some minutes, the noise abruptly stopped and the people backed away. Onchu, upright, stood naked in their midst. He didn’t move, nor seem at all self-conscious as he’d been the one time that Innes c
aught them swimming naked. Then, Onchu had covered himself with his hands. Now they hung loosely at his sides as if being naked no longer mattered.
The Queen made another statement Thomas didn’t understand. Strange that he’d comprehended her words before without difficulty but could not decipher the strange noise she made now.
The alderman strode up in front of the Queen and her horse. He raised his arm high above his head. His fingers held something dark and about the size of a small skipping stone from the river. Onchu and Baldie skipped stones on the Ettrick all the time. This one twinkled.
The alderman brought his hand straight down, and where it swept, the air seemed to sizzle with green smoke. The smoke became a kind of fire that spread, eating away from the center outward, becoming a circle. It was like nothing so much as a great round Catherine window—like the great round hole where the window would go in the new abbey. The green edges continued to flicker like fire, but the circle contained something other than the view of the old ruin now. Two creatures stood on the far side, black in polished armor, spiny, and with yellow eyes. They looked the way the mounted knights had against the disk of the sun. It might have been an illusion, but the two seemed to stand at the head of two lines, which receded into some foreign distance, into eternity for all Thomas could tell. Seven tiny creatures like dragonflies or bats darted in and out of the opening.
The six besides the alderman closed ranks to either side of Onchu and together they all paraded toward the circle. Onchu walked under his own power, if sluggishly. The Queen and her knights followed, the whole of it seeming like a great ceremony.
Why Onchu had agreed to go with them, Thomas could not fathom, but it wasn’t—could not be—a good thing. He stood up and jumped over the low marker. He needed to bring Onchu back home.
The three horses carried their riders into the circle.
“Wait!” Thomas shouted.
Alderman Stroud swung about, shocked until he saw who had yelled.
The alderman smirked and stepped through the circle after everyone else, then turned and for a moment simply stared at him as if too astonished to react.
Thomas ran for all he was worth, weaving around the stones, straight at the man. He didn’t have a weapon, but then he’d hardly thought how he intended to rescue his brother. The alderman went down on one knee to cut the air upward on a diagonal even as Thomas sprang.
As the alderman rose, the circle collapsed toward a single seam, and Thomas merged with it, halfway through. The world around him flung green jewel shapes—lozenges, diamonds, shards—flickering facets shifting into new sharp-edged forms too fast fo
r him to comprehend. They coalesced, flared bright as the sun. The great roaring of a tempest filled his head, searing voices, shrieks and shouts. Green turned to red, the roar rushing over him as if he was drowning in a sparkling, spinning ocean of blood, while sun and moon whirled and whirled and whirled about him.
Then the colors burst and hurled him away like an angry child throwing a cloth doll. Out of the glare, he flew back into the world again, struck the nearest grave marker so hard that it tipped halfway out of the ground; he flopped behind it, insensible.
The seam was gone, leaving not a trace upon the air.
After a while, when nothing moved, the birds began to sing again. Thomas heard nothing. The sun, no longer whirling, steadily descended. A dragonfly lit on his cheek, considered his eyelash for a moment, and then flitted away.
“Hey, little brother. Hey, wake up now.” Hands shook him gently.
“Onchu,” he muttered, then tried to reach out.
“Is that supposed to be your name or mine?”
He opened his eyes. A bearded face he didn’t know grinned down at him, features fluttering in torchlight. It’s nighttime. With that he realized that what he thought inside he no longer had to say aloud; he could contain thoughts, keep them to himself. He recalled all at once inhumanly long fingers that played across his head, seeming to pierce his skull, the sensation so intense that he wiped a hand across his face to see if there was blood from the sharp nails. None, but his body shivered as if beset by an ague. The stranger looked concerned. It was an expression Thomas had beheld most of his life, mainly in response to something he’d said, but right now it didn’t matter.
He sat up, clutched at his side where it twinged, and stared past the man. Green fire. Gone, everything was gone, everybody. Onchu, too. His eyes welled with tears.
“Boy, what is it?” The man twisted to follow his gaze.
He shook with weeping, tried, then sobbed, and tried again to explain. “Queen of Heaven. She’s took—she’s took Onchu.”
The bearded man’s expression furrowed, which puckered the scars across his cheek and forehead. His gaze shifted to the tilted gravestone beside them, and he grunted with apparent understanding. “That so, little brother? Then I am most sorry for your loss. Which one is his?”
“No,” he answered, wretched and despairing. He rocked back and forth, put his hands on his head. How was he to explain? “She took him,” he said again. In his head he heard the voice of a neighbor, Mrs. Duncanson, speaking of someone’s stillborn baby: “Not lost but gone before, poor dear.”
“Gone,” he managed. “Gone before.” He shook his head. It was impossible to tell it. She had taken Onchu and left him behind, when it should have been him. He tore at his hair, slapped himself, unable to sit still until the man stabbed the torch into the ground, then grabbed his arms and anchored him in place.
“Go ahead and rage, boy. Get it out, but not by harming yourself.”
The strength of those arms kept him in check, kept his hands at his sides while he kicked and twisted and yelled, until finally his fury broke, leaving him empty in his weeping. The man knelt patiently, as if he’d nothing else to do in the world. He wore a light tunic and loose, checked trousers. A satchel lay beside him, made of heavy cloth and patched in a few places. A cord was tied to the points of it, front and back. It must in some manner unfurl. Thomas’s interest in it carried off his misery. The man hesitantly let go of him, and he wiped at his runny nose and wet face.
“Your family live hereabouts?”
Thomas nodded. “I—my . . .” He stopped, unable to locate the knowledge. Where was the name of his family, his town? What was that neighbor’s name that had just been in his head?
The man must have read confusion or terror in his expression. He patted Thomas’s shoulder. “Well, let’s be up, then. This ground’s soggy after the rain.” As he stood, he offered his hand. Thomas took it and the man drew him upright, not letting go until it was clear Thomas could stand unaided. “Odd that you’re not soaked from it. Ya can’t have lain there long.” He lifted the cord of his satchel over his head and onto his left shoulder with the satchel resting on his right hip. “Can you share at least your name, then?”
“Thomas.” He said it without thinking, then skried the name as if it would reveal the thoughts he couldn’t find. When that failed, he walked straight past the man to where the green fire had been.
“And lovely to meet you, Thomas, my own name’s Alpin Waldroup,” the man said as if still conversing with him, adding in a singsong voice, “‘Oh, and that’s grand, sir, thankee for not leaving me on the wet ground to rot.’”
The jibe was lost on him. He muttered, “Onchu?” and waved his hands in the air as he stumbled around in a circle.
Alpin Waldroup shook his head, picked up his torch, and walked over. “Boy,” he said.
Thomas dropped to his knees, pushed his palms across the rough ground. “Where ar
e they? They’re gone, just gone.” Looked up. “Where are they?”
“Thomas, lad.” He reached to squeeze Thomas’s shoulder reassuringly, but the touch jolted him. He lurched to the side, where he sprawled on his back, arms and legs windmilling wildly.
“Horses but not horses, knights but not men!” he cried out. “The Queen took all through fire green! Say their name!”
Waldroup had drawn back from the flailing limbs. “What fire you talkin’ about?” he asked, but Thomas’s eyes were rolled up in his head, his back arched. He clawed at the dirt. Then, as quickly as it began, the fit ended, and Thomas sighed shakily, blinking and confused. Spit and foam trickled from the corner of his mouth. Waldroup repeated his question.
“Green fire,” he answered. “A ring of it right here.” He pointed to the empty night.
For the first time, Waldroup looked worried as he cast about them. The heap that was the abandoned abbey seemed to move and shift at the edge of the torchlight. The eye sockets of the skulls carved on the stones seemed to look their way. He hauled Thomas upright again. “We’d do well to quit this place, I think.”
“Onchu’s not coming back, lad.”
Thomas looked to where the fire had been. “It should have been me, not him.”
“Be glad it wasn’t. Come now, come on.” He lifted the torch and strode forward. Not wanting to be left behind in the dark, Thomas hurried after.
They walked through the black night, the torch throwing just enough light to reveal a few yards of the path they trod.
“Listen, then,” said Waldroup. “I think we should give you another name for now. Maybe no one will come looking for you, but it’s best if we don’t assume anything. So, what would you like to be called?”
“Don’t know.” He had only just become Thomas.
“Let’s call you Fingal, then, since you’re a stranger even to yourself.”
“Fingal,” he repeated, trying it on.
“Now, we’re heading for the Abbey of St. Mary that King David’s having built. You know of it, yes?”
Thomas turned the words over, finally shook his head in defeat. “I don’t remember anything but me and Onchu and Baldie.”
“Baldie, eh? Well, your memory’s improved by one. You didn’t remember him the last time.”
“He drowned. In the river.”
“Hey-o. Well, he won’t be looking for you, anyway.”
They walked on. It was a two-mile trek on the path. Waldroup said nothing more and Thomas strained to remember more, ...
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