The Bards of Bone Plain (McKillip)

“Phelan found his father at the river’s edge.  It was morning, early and very quiet.  Tide washed softly along the flank of one of the great, weathered standing stones scattered so randomly on both sides of the river that some said they moved about restively at night when the moon was old.  That was one tale of the stones.  Another was drifting drunkenly behind a pile of rubble from a wall that had collapsed warily into the conjunction of water and earth.

I was there when they went to war,/The stones of Bek, the stones of Taran,/And the doughty stones of Stirl./I saw them rage and thunder.  I lived to tell the tale. /Who am I?

Phelan knew the answer to that one:  there was no mistaking Jonah Cle’s rich, ragged voice, with the edge of careless mockery in it honed so fine it could flay.  He sighed noiselessly, walked along the sucking mud that clung to each footstep.  The mist was thick over the Stirl River; the entire plain seemed silent.  Phelan might have been alone in the  mist, and the world itself beginning all over again but for his father’s voice.”


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