The Prince of Two Tribes

Sean Cullen


An Introductory Note from the Narrator

Hello again, and welcome to the second instalment of The Chronicles of the Misplaced Prince. I’m so pleased that you’ve decided to read this book. I hope you can read; otherwise, this experience will be frustrating for you. If you’ve read the previous book in the series, you will be aware that Brendan has decided to stay with his Human family despite discovering that he’s really a Faerie.^ 1 Most people would be happy with just one life, but Brendan is determined to have two.

Pretending to be someone you’re not is very difficult. For three years I pretended to be the Dalai Lama. No one was convinced, mainly because I didn’t look like the Dalai Lama. Nor did it help that the Dalai Lama took out ads in major newspapers warning people that I was trying to be him. I finally gave up. I still haven’t forgiven the Dalai Lama.^ 2

Pretending not to be someone you actually are can also be very challenging. In the weeks following the adventure detailed in The Prince of Neither Here Nor There,^ 3 Brendan has been carrying on with his training in the Arts while trying to maintain a normal home life with his Human family. The most difficult part is being unable to share his troubles with his friends. Having erased Harold’s and Dmitri’s memories of the quest for his amulet, he is now utterly alone in the world.^ 4

Fine. I keep having to reference the first book, hoping that you’ve read it. Why you wouldn’t have read it is beyond me. It’s a wonderful story and a brilliantly narrated tale. If it were up to me, I’d just soldier on with the second book. However, my editor has insisted that I take this opportunity to tell you what happened in the first. She has no faith in your powers of memory. She also believes that some of you may be determined not to read the first book and start on the second instead. These types of readers should be discouraged, in my opinion, but you know editors: they try to winkle every last penny out of the reading public and are unwilling to leave any eye uncatered to. So, against my better judgment and wishes, I’II provide a brief synopsis^ 5 of the first book, The Prince of Neither Here Nor There.

Brendan Clair, a fourteen-year-old student of Robertson Davies Academy in Toronto, is a typical adolescent: pimply, clumsy, and awkward. At school, he spends his time with his little cohort of similarly nerdy friends: Harold Chiu, an artistically talented, overweight boy; Dmitri Krosnow, a Polish immigrant who’s trying to master English; and Kim, a sporty tomboy who has hooked up with the group for no apparent reason, given that she’s super-cute (just don’t try to tell her that or she’ll brain you with her field hockey stick). Together, the friends try to negotiate the dangerous waters of the ninth grade while avoiding the attentions of the school bully, Chester Dallaire.

The arrival of a substitute teacher, the mysterious Mr. Greenleaf, sparks off a weird reaction in Brendan. He begins to see and hear things that no one else can. He believes he is going mad. Everything comes to a head when he has a vivid dream in which he is informed by the imposing and terrifying Deirdre D’Anaan that he’s not Human but rather a Faerie who was adopted by a Human family. On waking from the dream, Brendan confronts his parents. They confirm that he is adopted, but they themselves are unaware of the Faerie angle. They believe he is a normal boy whom they rescued from an orphanage as a baby. Brendan’s sister is furious that Brendan is special and becomes even more annoyed with him than usual. For his part, Brendan wishes he wasn’t anything but a normal Human kid.

The next day, on his way to school, Brendan has a series of bizarre experiences: he hears a rock snoring, he talks to a tiny man who claims to be a lord of squirrels, and finally he is accosted by Orcadia Morn, a powerful Sorceress who claims to be his father’s sister, his closest Faerie relative. She wishes him to join her in a war against the Humans. But Kim, who it turns out isn’t a regular teenage girl but rather a Faerie assigned to protect him, engineers their escape. They race through the subways and sewers of Toronto, encountering magical beings along the way, and end up on the Island of the Ward at the Faerie Refuge of the Swan of Liir. The Swan, and indeed the entire island, is a meeting place for the Faerie Folk of Toronto.

Terribly exciting, don’t you think? Take a moment if you need it.

At the Swan, Brendan meets other members of his family and learns the stunning truth: that his Faerie mother died in childbirth and, in a fit of grief, his father, the dark and dangerous Briach Morn, suppressed baby Brendan’s true Faerie nature and hid him in a Human orphanage before exiling himself to the Other Side.^ 6 Are you keeping up?

Brendan also learns that before he can be fully fledged in the Faerie world, he must find the amulet that was stolen from him at birth. With no one else to turn to, he enlists Harold and Dmitri to help. Further developments reveal (what, did you think I was going to recite every last detail?) that the amulet is in the possession of a homeless man named Finbar, who’s been a fixture on Brendan’s walk to school and, it turns out, is an Exiled Faerie, no less. Stay with me. After Brendan promises to help him regain his full Faerie status, Finbar leads the boys to the orphanage where Brendan was left all those years ago. That’s when Brendan uses his Faerie powers to erase his friends’ memories of recent events and send them to safety before going in to meet his fate.

Finbar lives in the basement of the now-condemned building, and it is there that Brendan receives his amulet, but not before Orcadia makes a last attempt to destroy him by holding his sister, “Delia, hostage. This prompts Brendan to unleash his powers-powers he didn’t even know he had. Finally, Brendan’s estranged father, Briach Morn, breaks through from the Other Side, pulls Orcadia out of the world, gives Brendan his secret name, and initiates him before returning to the Other Side forever. Phew!

So that, in a nutshell, is what any dumdum should need to get on with the rest of the story. I want you all to know that I wrote the above under protest and will be submitting an official complaint to the Narrators’ Grievance Committee. So there, Editor! Eat that!

As I said before, Brendan is now quite alone in the world. He has Compelled Harold and Dmitri to forget everything that happened. His sister’s memory of events has been similarly expunged.^ 7 Now he must face the challenges of his training alone.

Another fly in the ointment,^ 8 as if one were needed, is that Brendan has developed some kind of block with respect to his Faerie abilities. He can’t connect with the energy of the universe. Something is holding him back. He is increasingly convinced that the problem is a mental block rather than a physical one.

Mental blocks are the most difficult to overcome. They are problems we create for ourselves out of our own fears and hidden desires. I myself have experienced many different forms of mental blocks. Of course, as a narrator, I have experienced Writer’s Block. Most writers refuse to even mention Writer’s Block for fear of contracting the condition. I’m not one of those superstitious types. I have no fear of Writer’s Block. I can say it any number of times and know that it’s not like some kind of virus that will affect my mind, taking away my ability to write. Writer’s Block. See? Still writing! Writer’s Block. Writer’s Block. Writer’s…

Sweet, blazing fish dumplings! I’m back. Certainly it’s unapparent to you that for the last four months I’ve been going through the most horrendous writing dry spell of my long career. I’ve been sitting looking at the blank page for days on end, weeping in frustration. After intensive therapy I’m finally able to put pen to paper and continue with this story. From now on, I beg you not to mention Writer’s… You-Know-What. Not even in casual conversation. If you have to mention… “it”… do so a good distance away from the book and in a very low voice, preferably with a foreign accent that’s difficult to understand without listening carefully. I will never mention… “the thing”… again. From now on, let’s have a code word for that “thing.” If we must mention it, I will refer to it as “my cousin “Dave,” and you’ll know that what I really mean is Writer’s Block…

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