The Red Son of Concubar Meets His Father

The king, Concubar, strode into the coolness of his great hall followed by his champion, his druid, and a small boy who’s finger bore a ring that made his claim to be his son.  Concubar made directly for his throne, but paused as he approached, “So you say that you will give your name to the king and no other, is that it boy?”

“That is so, it is a geas upon me,” The boy stated flatly.

“Well then, lucky for you the king is here.  Come sit and let’s all hear what such a marvelous little fellow like yourself might be named.” Thus saying he motioned for his champion to sit upon the high seat, it took some waving and nudging and in the end a firm tug on Fergus’s leine, but at last the Champion, stronger than he was nimble of mind, realized the ploy and sat down on the high seat, looking a bit uncomfortable, “See?  Here is the king, so let us hear your name then boy.”

“I am to give my name to the king alone, so said my mother to me, it was she that put on me the geas.  I might give my name to the king and no other.”  said the boy firmly.

“But the king is here,” prompted Concubar.  Then he prodded Fergus.

Fergus blinked stupidly a time or two before offering, “Yes, let’s have it lad, what is your name?”

“To the king alone may I give it.”

“But these are my trusted advisers, surely it is not so great a secret that it must not be heard by my confidants at the same time I hear it,” said Fergus, getting the idea of the ruse but spoiling it a bit by looking over at Concubar who rolled his eyes after giving the Champion an encouraging nod.

“To the king alone.”

Fergus glanced up at his king who’s slight nod set him in motion, “Leave us then, I will hear the boy alone.”

At that, Concubar and Cathbad began to withdraw until they saw that the boy followed them.  “What is this?  Aren’t you going to say your name?” asked Concubar.

“To the king I will,” said the boy seriously.

Concubar stared hard at the small boy.  He was well formed, thin but not overly so, there were bruises from the boys troop fight but there was no fear in the boy at all.  Looking on him Concubar recognised him, surely this boy was like he had been.  The king laughed, “Good and good, well then I guess I’ll hear it.  Fergus, Cathbad, leave us.”

The two men left and the king returned to his throne followed by his small visitor.  “So, your mother put on you this geas that you must give your name only to the king, here I am then.  Lets have it boy.  And while you have my attention, perhaps you should tell me your mother’s name as well, who put this geas on you?”

“My mother, the lady Fand, put on me the geas as she gave me the name.”

“Fand you say?”

“Yes sir, Fand, whose father is Muirthemne.”

“So boy, give me the name you must only speak to a king.”

“It is not to any king I am bound to speak it, but only to you.”

“Only me?” Concubar felt flushed, angry or guilty or afraid, “Let’s have it then,” he whispered.

“My mother called me Son.  It is the only name I ever had.  Son is my name.”

Concubar nodded, the boy showed no sign of glee at his discomfort or fear.  Concubar looked into the boy’s eyes and saw only innocence and truth in eyes of his son, “It is good that you told me, Son.”

The boy nodded solemnly and asked, “May I go play with the other boys now?”

“Are you still geas bound?” asked the king.

The boy frowned, concerned, “Yes, I must only speak that name to you.  Can you make them let me play without telling them my name, I must not say it?”

“Your mother was wise in this.  Tell, if they ask, that you gave your name to the king and that I said you could play,” the boy’s face lit with happiness and he would have run off without leave, but he turned back when Concubar called him, “Son! A moment.  Did your mother, Fand, say aught else.  Did she give you a message?”

“No sir.  She named me, placed on me the geas, and told me where I might find the king I must tell my name.  Can I go play now?” the boy said impatiently.

He has no idea,” thought Concubar and said, “Yes, go play.”

As the boy left the druid and champion returned.  “You look like you’ve seen a ghost,” said Cathbad, “What kind of mischief is the boy at?”

“Easy to tell, that little fellow’s name is Son.  Just that, no more, no less.  And his mother is Fand.”

“What!  The wife of Mannanan Mac Lyr?  That’s ridiculous.  He is playing a game on us all.”

“I don’t think the boy is.  I don’t think he even knows what his name means.  And the mother may be married to Gol Mac Morna for all I know.  The boy claims the Fand that is his mother is the daughter of a man named Muirthemne.

“Stranger and stranger.”

“As you say.  This is a puzzle.  I don’t know what this Fand intends, but until we do, we need to watch the boy and make sure he comes to no harm.”

“What if the boys attack him again?” asked Fergus.

“See that they don’t, quickly.  I sent him out to play at hurling,” said Concubar.

“I’ll see to it.” said Fergus as he strode to the doorway.

“Fergus! One more thing, introduce the little fellow as something other than Son.  Keep that name to yourself.”

“Aye, but what?”

Cathbad stroked his beard, “Sometimes the simplest is the best.  Why not call him “Little Fellow.”  He’s smaller by a head than any of the boy’s troop.”

“Little Fellow then.”  Concubar smiled, “though it might not fit for long.  The lad is not nine days old unless I missed my count.”

“You were foolish to involve yourself with the fairy folk.”

Concubar frowned at Cathbad as he said, “Hurry Fergus, make sure that Little Fellow doesn’t come to harm.  We don’t know what price Fand or this father, Muirthemne will ask from us if he is hurt or worse.”

Fergus nodded and left, leaving only Cathbad with the king, “This is a mess,” said Cathbad.  “It is never a good thing to mix with the Fae folk.”

“Too late by half Cathbad, that Little Fellow is my son.  I’m sure of it.”