The cluichí ar an spéir are amazing. They are loved. They are celebrated.
But competing in them is a different matter than being a simple spectator.
Somehow, fourteen year-old Arthur Skin, a lonesome orphan with a thrill for adventure, must discover a path that will lead him to the riches that winning the cluichí ar an spéir will provide.
Can silent, rich Seren Williams help him, or will she point the way to what he's always believed is his destiny?
Is insanity the only way?
I knew he'd die before he even spoke.
It was that evening, that single, quiet, melancholic evening, that my elder brother angelic, dependable Alfie, spoke a single sentence that formed his own end.
I can remember it as clear as daylight, his tone smooth and confident, his young hazel eyes glistening with the barbaric hope that he might actually survive it.
"Seren, Natasia, Dad... I've decided ... I'm going to join it! I'm going to join--"
My father slapped a rough, scarred hand brutally acros Alfie's face, tough as steel and loud enough to echo throughout the entire kitchen.
None of us dared to move.
Alfie sat motionless, his face frozen in complete and utter shock. A blatant scarlet mark accompanied a dark, brown bruise across his once soft, childish cheek.
My father stared into Alfie's eyes, which resembled his so greatly they could be considered "eye twins". Though his face gave no trace of emotion, as always, those eyes of his told more than a thousand words could even dream of.
"... D-....Dad?" Alfie slurred the word immensely.
Still my father had no reply. He simply slipped back into his wooden chair, leaning one leg over the over in a kingly fashion. His goldish-ginger hair fell around his face in tufts, almost covering eyes, but highlighting his sharp cheekbones in a manner that made him appear both menacing and beautiful.
Natasia flinched when Dad glanced at us, and I wrapped a warm, comforting arm around her small, skeletal shoulders. Her lip wavered when her brilliant blue eyes met mine, tears already forming and cheeks already scarlet.
I pulled a strand of her beautiful ebony hair out of her face, and faked a smile at her. Comfort and pleasing had never been my speciality, not even with my queer younger sister.
After what seemed like an age, Alfie finally closed his mouth and turned to face my father. He looked just as menacing, if not more. I desired to reach out and pull a strand of his ebony hair out of his face like I did to Natasia, but I didn't dare.
"Why, papa, why? Why can't I? Everyone ELSE is!" His voice was hard, thick, and completely serious.
He must've had his heart set on entering the cluichí ar an spéir
Every two years, the small island in which I live, Candoi'n, holds what the natives call the cluichí ar an spéir
Swimming, combat, and then there's the main event. The heart-stopper. The real fun.
Most people referred to it as "flying", though it's much more correct to call it "jumping from rooftop to rooftop, grabbing on to sharp ledges, floating for a meter, and then falling to your death".
And there are only four people in the history of Candoi'n who have ever flew, anyway. But they're all dead now, and puzzlingly, all of the same cause.