Festuscato stood on the small hill where he could look out over the activity around Caerdyf. The wall around the village looked unfinished and the village looked burned and smoldering. The walls of the fort looked to be holding, but even with every man from the village added, there could not have been more than three hundred human defenders. Luckily, Hywel from Caerleon got there first with two hundred additional men, and Festuscato sent Pinewood and a hundred fairy archers to help. That put six hundred against some two thousand wild Irishmen under Sean Fen.
Leinster must have sent his whole army. Sean Fen must have convinced him that now would be the time to strike, with the dragon in Ireland with Patrick. Festuscato understood well enough. Caerdyf represented a strong Wales shutting the door against the Irish. If they could tear down the fort, they could keep the Welsh weak and Wales easy pickings. Sean Fen, the pirate wanted easy pickings, but overall, the Irish benefited from keeping the Welsh weak. It could not have been a hard argument to make. Sadly, six hundred against over two thousand did not make good odds, even if the six hundred were behind stout walls.
“Addaon.” Festuscato called the young man to the front. Dyrnwch stayed with his men as did Bryn. They had four hundred men from the midlands and three hundred more from the north under Ogryvan. Roughly another four hundred came from the coasts, but they were mostly disorganized and in small groups, including thirty men and monks from Branwen’s Cove. The monks Cedrych and Madog smiled when they said they wanted to see that their horses were getting proper care.
“What do you see the Irish building there, over there on the west side of the fort?”
“That is a very long way,” Addaon said. He squinted and stumbled when he felt a sharp slap on his back.
“Look with your fairy eyes, man,” Festuscato said. “You don’t have to play ordinary human with me.” Addaon turned his head to stare at Festuscato, so Festuscato used his finger to point and his other hand to turn Addaon’s head to the task. “There. Over there. What are they building?”
“They look like towers. I would say several, and nearly complete.” Addaon wrenched his head free of Festuscato’s hand and spouted. “How did you know?”
“I know your sire, that disobedient son of a mother. He is a full blood fairy but with a little spark of the goddess Amonette in him so he is immortal, and I can’t get rid of him, God bless him. He knows full well fairies are not supposed to mate with humans, but how can I punish McKraken when my own son disobeys me?” Festuscato shook his head.
“Wait. My father is your son? How is that possible? You can’t be more than a few years older than me.” Addaon was bright.
“I’m not, and if you call me Grandad I’ll hit you. He is Danna’s son, but explaining that is a bit complicated.”
“A woman? Danna?”
“The goddess Danna. The Mother goddess.”
“So, I should call you Granma?” Addaon grinned.
“You do and she will hit you, and she hits harder than I do. All of her children and grandchildren and so on just call her Mother, and so you understand, I don’t answer to the name Mother.”
“I’m confused,” Addaon admitted.
“What?” Festuscato kept looking back at the troops, trying to figure out how to deploy them so they didn’t trip over each other or start killing each other by accident, thinking the unfamiliar face was the enemy.
“Lord. The wood elves and dwarfs under Weland, and the hundred fairies Pinewood left on our side of the fort have all volunteered to take down the towers on your command.”
“Hold that thought. I want to try something else first. For now, tell them to keep to the woods. If the Irish try to flee the battlefield, it will be important to stop them before we end up with hundreds of wild Irishmen roaming the wilderness.”
“Lord Pyre an Nog suggested we wait until dark when he and his can sneak up on the Irish, unprepared.” Mirowen made a face. “He means when the Irish are unprepared.”
“No, but I imagine some Irish may try for the woods in the dusk and dark. He and his will not lack for targets, as long as they stick to Irish targets and avoid the innocent Welsh. Now, let me see what I can do. What?” Festuscato appeared to be talking to himself. Mirowen waited patiently, as did Dibs and Bran. Addaon did not know what to think. “But this is not a job for you. I’m surprised you are even accessible. You god types usually hide when it is strictly a human event. I understand Gerraint and Greta because they are close, and maybe the princess or one of the others around the storyteller, but … No, now wait a minute. You showed up with Patrick. You practically took over with the wraiths. Now you want … I don’t care if he is your grandson … oh bother.” Festuscato went away and Danna took his place. She smiled and laid a hand on an astounded Addaon’s cheek. Then she told him to be good for a moment.
“Talesin!” she shouted, and a fairy appeared, took one look and would have vanished again if Danna did not keep him there. “Big.” It was all Danna had to say, and Talesin got big, and whistled, and looked at the sky. “Your son, you naughty boy. Where is his mother?” she asked, but the moment the question formed in her mind she knew the answer.
“He is with his mother. Dyrnwch doesn’t know. He went on a trading expedition and was gone sixteen months. Poor Caru said he could not give her children. I felt her sorrow so deeply, I could not help myself. Really. I couldn’t help it.”
“He seems a fine lad,” Talesin said with a hopeful grin.
“You see the results of you refusing to go over to the other side.”
“But Mother. People are watching.”
“Turn around,” Danna repeated herself, and Talesin reluctantly turned.