Danna spanked Talesin so hard he took to the air, involuntarily, and landed somewhere out in the channel. “Now, Addaon,” she smiled for the boy. “Never forget. That was your sire, but Dyrnwch is your father. Always honor your father.”
“Dyrnwch is my father. I will not forget,” Addaon said, and he added, “Mother.”
Danna put her hand to the boy’s cheek again, and patted it softly. “Good boy. Marry and have children of your own, and I cannot say if I will see you again.” She turned away and shouted and clapped her hands. “Rhiannon.”
“Now what?” Rhiannon appeared. “I was just about to take Clugh for a good wing stretchy.”
“I know,” Danna said. “You can do that here. Do you see those towers, building?”
“I would appreciate it if you and Clugh practiced setting them on fire.”
“Yes. But there are men there. Aren’t you afraid we might be teaching him the wrong sort of lesson?”
“Perhaps. But you know Festuscato. He crosses one bridge at a time.”
Rhiannon nodded. “He makes it up as he goes along. By the way, I heard Talesin scream all the way in Amorica.”
“He broke the rules, a thing you should consider as long as you still have work to do.”
Rhiannon changed the subject by peeking around Danna. “Addaon. Hello brother. I think I will call you brother A.”
“Hello?” Addaon got the word out in the face of the goddess, but he did not sound to certain, as Rhiannon vanished and Danna let Festuscato come home.
“All right,” Festuscato shouted and saw the various Lords of Wales were dismounted and waiting patiently. They all saw what happened, but Danna made sure they did not hear, and she made sure Addaon knew they did not hear. “Ogryvan,” Festuscato called. They were hearing now. “When the dragon attacks, the rest of us will attack this end of the Irish line. Ogryvan, I want you and your men to take the town. Try to kill only the Irish, and there is nothing wrong with driving them to their ships and letting them cut loose. Do not burn the Irish ships. Anwyn should be allowed to keep them as a small payment for his troubles. Okay?”
“Bryn and Dyrnwch, you and your men take the point. You men from the coasts need to back them up. The idea is when the Irish run away from the dragon, the rest should be running away from us, and when the two groups run into each other, hopefully, in the confusion, they will surrender. Allow them to surrender. We don’t want an all-out war with the Irish. We just want to hurt them enough so they don’t try this again. Got it?”
Men nodded, and Bran whispered.
“Good plan. Good luck. They are not trained Romans.”
Festuscato heard a scream come all the way from the back of the woods. “Dragon! What do you mean you smell dragon!”
“I was kind of hoping the clerics would keep Mousden quiet. I forgot about the dwarf’s nose,” Mirowen said.
“You better go see to them,” Festuscato told her, and she gave him a dirty look for using that as an excuse to keep her out of it, but she took her horse and went without arguing. “Mount up,” Festuscato yelled, and it took only moments before they charged the Irish line.
Things did not go as expected, which was expected. Ogryvan’s men took no prisoners and burned the Irish ships, the docks, several fishing boats and one merchantman from Lyoness which happened to be in port when all of this started. Ogryvan apologized, profusely, but could not hide his pleasure. When Festuscato pointed out that Ogryvan would have to pay for the fishing boats and merchant ship, he lost his smile.
“Of course, you can appeal to the Pendragon, but I would not expect sympathy from the lords gathered there.”
It took more than expected to get the Irish to give up their position and collapse the line, and when they gave up ground, they did not run in panic but pulled back, slowly. Bran lost his horse to an arrow early on, but that proved worse for the Irish as he showed what an artist he was with that big sword of his. Dibs and the monks Cedrych and Madog joined him as he led a company of men along the wall of the fort where the horses could not go. Meanwhile, men ran well enough from the dragon, but Clugh got distracted by all that motion and fried a number of men. Rhiannon tried to keep her baby to task, but did not begrudge him some fun since getting the Irish to run was the plan.
In the end, there were plenty of Irish soldiers who tried to escape to the woods. Half of their ships were a number of miles away in a cove the Saxons would use in Gerraint’s day. Festuscato knew the escapees would never make it to their ships, and indeed, the guards they left around the ships would not survive the night, and he felt bad about putting his little ones in danger, but he also felt bad about the fact that his little ones interpreted orders in whatever way felt convenient. He knew surrender would not be convenient.
The only thing Festuscato insisted on was finding Sean Fen. It turned out to be easy. The man had been killed by an arrow the day before Festuscato arrived, and he said so in the letter of condolence he wrote to MacNeill. Then they had to get everyone to Cadbury, because the Saxons were definitely moving, an army of about five thousand strong. Fortunately, there were twelve hundred men coming down from the north, from York and Fort Guinnon and Edinburgh, and Festuscato thought if he timed it right, he could meet up with them somewhere around Bath. With his little ones added in, he might move three thousand to meet the Saxon threat, and hopefully south Britain, Cadbury and Cornwall could make up the number difference.