M3 Gerraint: The Isle, part 3 of 3

“Spooky, isn’t she,” the voice said.  Gerraint spun around and found Arawn.  The man looked haggard, like a man who had not eaten or slept in a week.

“Urien here?” he asked.  He guessed that something like a storm happened to them as well, and Urien might have been driven to these same rocks.  He guessed Manannan for sure.  The circumstantial evidence looked strong.

Arawn did not answer Gerraint’s question.  He would not take his eyes off the girl.  “She just sits and stares at the sea, like a ghost.  But she isn’t a ghost, is she?”  Arawn laughed in a way that sent shivers, like little needles through Gerraint’s mind.  “She had a brother once, she did.”  Arawn said and he backed toward the jetty, fretted his filthy hands as if trying to wipe something clean.

Gerraint looked again at the girl.  His immediate question concerning Urien was not answered, but he still needed information if he could get it.  He felt reluctant to ask Margueritte for help since she was so young herself, but Margueritte seemed more than willing and begged for the chance.  Gerraint reached out in time and they traded places, Margueritte appeared in her fairy clothes and added a shawl to it as help against the cold wind.

Margueritte looked back first, concerned about Arawn’s reaction, but the man had already gone, somewhere unreachable.  Without a word, she walked deliberately toward the other girl.  The girl stood and stared in Margueritte’s direction.  Seeing Margueritte, a young girl like herself, the green-haired, big eyed child no longer looked afraid.  When Margueritte got close enough, she stopped, still a good distance away, not wanting to press the point.  The girl’s   eyes were definitely too round and fully brown with hardly any white at all.  Her hair looked too thick, green and brown streaked, and she had little dots, like freckles, on her upper lip and cheeks where a cat might have had whiskers.

“Can you help?”  Margueritte asked at last in her best Welsh as Gerraint spoke it.  “I have no idea where I am.  The storm, you know.  I am lost.”

The girl looked up from staring at Margueritte’s shoes.  “Brother lost, too,” the girl said.  She lifted her chin to the sky and screamed, “Forever!”

Margueritte winced.  The girl began to bark like a seal pup, and a female seal transformed into a woman, dressed minimally in a dress that looked made out of seaweed.

“Forever,” the seal woman echoed.  “You are here forever.”  She stepped up beside her daughter, sniffed Margueritte’s fairy clothing with some appreciation for what she sensed.  “Lord keeps you.  Treasure for you is sea and stone.  No treasure, only here, forever.”  She took her daughter’s hand and turned toward the far rocks.  The other seals nearby also took that moment to transform into women and young boys and girls.  They climbed together over the rocks to get to the main herd without having to make the shark infested swim around the point.

Margueritte hesitated until the last of the pups disappeared over to the other side, then she ran to the rocks, but once she climbed up, all she could see was perhaps a mile of beach covered wall to wall with seals, big males, females, and young everywhere.  Those who had been temporarily women and children were indistinguishable from the rest.  Who knew?  Perhaps they were all seal people.

Margueritte went back to her own time and Gerraint returned in order to climb down from the slippery rocks.  His walk back to camp remained slow, despite his hunger.  “No treasure, only here forever,” he repeated.  Evidentially, Manannan drove them to wreck in this place and intended to keep them here, having judged them as would be thieves.

“Gerraint!”  “My Lord!”  The others called to him from the cooking fire.

“Trevor’s not a bad cook,” Uwaine said, in an unusual word of praise. That meant the fish was probably excellent, but Gerraint no longer felt hungry.

“The ship is in good shape,” Gwillim reported.  “At least the piece of it that is left.  There’s rope I left down by the cliffs, and some tools too heavy for even the waves to drag to sea, but that is about it.”

“There’s land in that direction.”  Uwaine pointed.

“I was thinking a raft,” Gwillim continued.

“Here.”  Trevor handed Gerraint half a fish with something on it that Gerraint did not recognize. Certainly, some sort of spice, he imagined.

“Manannan drove us here.”  Gerraint said in a flat voice that got their attention.  “The seals suggest he intends to keep us here forever, because we dared to try and steal the treasures of Britain.”

“The seals?”  Gwillim laughed.  He thought of it as a joke.  Trevor looked horrified, but Uwaine knew better on both counts.

“So how do we get off this rock?” he asked.

Gerraint sighed and tasted the fish.  It was very good and hardly tasted like fish.  Gwillim knew what he was doing setting Trevor to cook.  “The gods make the rules to try and test men’s souls, not to defeat men.  There is always a way left for men who are willing to try.  A little intelligence, some courage and determination are needed.  Good men get knocked down, but they get up again.  I vote for the raft.”

Uwaine merely nodded and went back to eating.  Gwillim let go of the thought of talking seals and appreciated the support for his idea.  Trevor went back to cooking, but his expression showed he had been at sea long enough to hear stories.

“How long do you figure the raft will take?” Uwaine asked at last.

“Well.”  Gwillim sat up.  “We’ll have to work fast and hope against another September storm.  It won’t do to have the ship break loose.  We should be able to break free enough lumber in a week or so, and then drag it across the island to assemble.  I would say two weeks, three tops.”

“So, by October, give or take,” Gerraint concluded.  “I would like to get home before the snows.  I suspect we are a long way north.”

“We would all like to beat the snow,” Gwillim said.

Uwaine and Gerraint jumped.  Gwillim and Trevor were just a little slower.  They heard rustling in the trees before Urien stepped out.

“Well, I’ll be,” Gwillim said.  “The Raven got grounded on these same cruddy rocks.”

“That smells very good,” Urien said.  “You gentlemen mind if I join you?”

“I don’t know.”  Gerraint eyed Urien closely.  “Are you as insane as your friend?”

“Oh, you’ve seen him.”  Urien stepped up for some of the fish without waiting for the formal invitation.  “Mad as an Irish hermit.”

“Arawn.”  Gerraint answered the questioning looks around him.

“What do you mean?”  Trevor asked.

“What happened?”  Gwillim wondered.

“A storm as like to yesterday’s storm as can be,” Urien answered while delighting in the fish.  “Arawn and I alone escaped with our lives by being foolishly washed overboard.  Or rather, Arawn got washed over and dragged me after him.  We came up on this place and fared well enough the first week.  We have a shelter of sorts across the island, facing what I believe is the mainland of Caledonia.  Arawn got tired of fish, though.  There are sharks out in the deep.  We could not exactly swim to the mainland, though it looks deceptively close.  While I studied the problem, he began to explore.  He thought where there were sharks, there had to be seals, and he was right.  Apparently, he clubbed a young pup and hid it from me, cooked it and ate it on the sly.  I found out when he woke me one morning.  He had already gone, you know, in the mind.  He babbled about eating a young boy.  He said the seals were haunting him.  They would not let him sleep.  They kept accusing him.  He ran off, screaming.  I have only seen him a couple of times since, and only from a distance.”  Urien finished his fish with the story, and everyone nodded except Gwillim.

“Don’t be daft yourself,” Gwillim said.  “Talking seals?  Accusing him?  What are they doing, pointing fingers at him?  They must be pointing flippers.”  He tried to make light of it all but stopped when he saw that the others took it dead serious.

“It is true, then,” Trevor said.  “There are people who live in the form of seals.  They say to see one in human form is an ill omen.  They say if by chance one should speak to you, you will lose your mind, altogether.”

“Old wives’ tales.”  Gerraint thought of Margueritte.  “Sailors imagine lots of things and stretch many stories when they are too long at sea.”

“This is true enough.”  Gwillim tried to get in with the tone, even if he still did not believe a word of the tale.

“Don’t worry Trevor.  I’ll protect you,” Gerraint said.

“Better protection than you know,” Uwaine spoke up.

Trevor smiled, grimly, but seemed willing to give it his best shot.

“But say,” Gwillim spoke up.  “We’ve got a part of our ship, grounded on the rocks, and rope and some tools.  What say you to a raft?”

“That would work.”  Urien did not hesitate to get excited by the idea.  “When do we start?”

“Now.”

“No.”  Gerraint stood.  “We have to get something straight first.”  He looked directly at Urien.  “You were after the Treasures of Britain, weren’t you?  You were hoping the old isle of Manannan would give you the key to finding Avalon.”

“Annwan?”  Urien said.  “Certainly.  We are after the Cauldron of inspiration, which is life.  We all saw it, didn’t we?”

“We all saw something,” Uwaine said softly.

“Yes, well, aboard your ship,” Gerraint continued.  “Who knew about your quest?”

“Just me and Arawn.”  Urien said in an offended voice.  “I paid the Captain for passage to the Isle of Man.  That’s all he needed to know.”

“And for us, it was myself, Uwaine and Gwillim,” Gerraint said.

“I told my mate,” Gwillim interrupted.  “He had to know something.  I did not imagine it was a secret, but he didn’t tell anyone, did you?”  Trevor shook his head.

“So everyone who knew is here, on the island, and we don’t know where the innocent might be,” Gerraint concluded.  The men all nodded.  “So you need to pledge that you will give up any quest for the treasures or no work we do will bear fruit.  Manannan will keep us here forever if we don’t.”

“But.”  Urien started to say something, but then thought better of it.

“It seems my own crew was not exactly pure in thought concerning the treasure.” Gerraint continued, and the three men bowed their heads.

“The tales say after the people came up into the land some of the gods went underground while some went to Avalon,” Trevor said.   “I would have liked to have seen it is all.”

“Well, I never thought it was likely to be found,” Gwillim admitted.  “But I did hear once that the very streets of Avalon are paved with golden cobblestones.”

“In my heart I knew better,” Uwaine said in his soft voice.  “I am ashamed.”

“Don’t be,” Gerraint assured him.  “If you did not think about it, you would not be human.  But let us pledge not to pursue the treasure anymore.”  The three did.  “Urien?”

“That is a hard thing you are asking,” he said.

“That, or you will have no part in our raft.”  Gerraint responded.

“Damn.”  Urien swore, but he pledged to give up his quest.  “But what about Arawn?”

“Yes,” Gerraint said.  “I think Trevor better stay armed while fishing and cooking, and we had better carry the lumber across the island in pairs, just to be safe.”

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MONDAY

Gerraint and his shipwrecked company try to get to the mainland, but it is a long way through hostile territory to get back to Cornwall.  Happy Reading

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M3 Gerraint: The Isle, part 1 of 3

Gerraint looked back until his family fell out of sight.  He told Guimier to watch after her mother and be a good girl.  It felt like a harder parting than before.  He was forty-seven, after all.  His wars were behind him.  He woke in the dawn with aches and pains and should not have to be forced into adventures at his age.  He wanted Enid.  That was all he ever wanted since the first time he saw her in the court of Ynwyl, her father.  He fought for her then.  He would fight for her a thousand times, and never look back.

“Your thoughts?”  Uwaine asked.  Uwaine had reached that delicate point where his stomach and the sea had a temporary truce, and Gerraint knew talking helped distract his mind.  Uwaine never talked much, except at sea.  That was one thing Gerraint liked about the man.

“Guimier.”  Gerraint said.  “I think she will be a real beauty, that is, if she continues to take after her mother.”

“Yes,” Uwaine said.  “I can see you will have your hands full with her.”

“And Enid,” Gerraint added.  Uwaine said nothing, but he knew.  He nodded.

“Poor Bedivere got upset at being left behind this time.”  Uwaine pointed out the obvious.

“Yes, but he needs to heal,” Gerraint said.  “And I have a bad feeling about things right now.  I wanted a good sword in the house, a watch dog if you will.  I don’t know.”

Uwaine nodded again.  He did not feel good, either, but he could not put it into words.  He also did not feel good in his stomach and needed to sit down.  Gerraint sat with him.

“I was wondering one thing,” Uwaine said.  “Lionel was wondering the same thing.”  Gerraint waited.  From the way Uwaine started, he could tell this would be a good one.  “What’s it like to be a woman?” he said at last.  Gerraint frowned.

“I’m sure I would not know,” he said.  “I have never been able to figure out women myself.”  He shrugged.

“But you’ve lived as a woman,” Uwaine said.  “Lionel swears he saw you become one and set his leg.  And I have seen, myself.”

“It doesn’t work that way,” Gerraint said.  “I may have some practical knowledge, some things I can describe as an outside observer, but what’s it like?”  Gerraint shrugged.  “It is like memory, sort of.  I was four years old, once.  I vaguely recall things when I play with Guimier, but I hardly remember what it was like being a four-year-old.”  He shrugged again.

“But what is it like, having lived more than once?”  Uwaine asked.

“Boring, mostly,” Gerraint said.  “Its’ plain life, not always adventure, you know.  The only thing that makes it worthwhile is the chance to live it with someone as wonderful as Enid.”  He sounded matter of fact about that, and Uwaine well understood.

“No, I meant you must know things, lots of things about which most people have no idea,” Uwaine said.

Gerraint shook his head.  “I said, it is like memory.  You know, things only come to mind where there is something, circumstances or whatever that triggers the memory.  It is not something I am normally even aware of.  Not something I spend time thinking about.”

“But, then you go away,” Uwaine continued his own thoughts.  “Where do you go?  And someone, some other life of yours shows up.  How do you do that?  And how do you decide who will take your place?”

Gerraint looked long at Uwaine.  The man was not normally this verbal.  He must be really sea sick.  “I don’t know how it works, exactly,” Gerraint admitted.  “I don’t know exactly where I go, or how some past or future life is able to take my place.  I suppose time and space are not entirely inflexible, maybe like a good sword.  I guess being the same person exchanging the same basic flesh and blood between one life and the next is not enough to throw time and space out of whack.”

“No, I mean—” Uwaine started, but Gerraint cut him off.

“As for the other life that comes in to temporarily fill my space, I suppose that too is like memory.  It depends on who is accessible, who comes bubbling up to the surface, so to speak.  It is generally triggered by the circumstances and it is someone who has some skill, talent, or power that can speak to the situation.  I suppose at this age I have some say in the matter.  I know a little about some of the lives I have lived.  But at first, when I was young, as a teenager, I was not always exactly aware of what was happening.  A couple of times, anyway.  Am I making sense?”

Uwaine nodded, but his hand went over his mouth.  That ended that conversation.

Gerraint sat and listened to the sound of the waves lap up against the hull.  The sky looked clear, and the day warm.  He wondered if they would have time to catch up with the Raven.  Urien had about two week’s head start, if Gerraint’s calculations were right.  If Urien and Arawn found a boat before the end of the week, they might already be at the Isle of Man.  It might already be too late.

He tried not to think that way.  They were ready to pull into the docks at Caerleon.  After a brief acknowledgement to Arthur and an updating on Urien’s progress, if any was available, they would ride hard across the roads that wound through the hills of Wales.  At least Uwaine should hold down his lunch.  They would deal with the next sea voyage when they got there, or as Bedwyr used to say, “We’ll build that bridge when we come to it.”

“Arthur got quiet,” Uwaine said, when they started to ride the next day.

“He’s concerned,” Gerraint explained.  “I’m not sure he quite realized how strongly the old ways and the old thinking are still holding on to people.  Right now, Christianity is like a warm coat, but there are layers underneath, and those are the ones closer to the heart.”

Uwaine nodded that he understood, but he was back on land and thus back to being a man of few words.

It seemed a long, hard ride to the northwest coast, but actually, as long as the Roman roads were kept up, it was quicker than sailing around.  When they arrived at the Port known as Branwen’s Cove, they would have to depend on luck and a little insider information to catch a willing ship for the Isle of Man.  Sure enough, Gerraint sighed in relief on their arrival.  He saw the British merchant in the bay, and now all Gerraint had to do was see if it was the one for which he had hoped.

He got his answer at the inn.  “Gwillim!”  He shouted for the Captain’s attention.

“My Lord!”  Gwillim recognized him right away, and nodded to Uwaine.  They had fought any number of battles together.  Gwillim even rode among Meryddin’s select crew that went with Arthur to fetch Gwynyvar from her father’s court, twenty-five years earlier.  That was back when the Irish had a great king and a backbone, Gerraint thought.

“Is that your ship in the bay?”  Gerraint got straight to the point as he sat at the table.

“It is,” Gwillim admitted, reluctantly.  “Family business.”

Gerraint nodded.  Quite a few men of war had found other things to fill their days since the peace.  The mercantile business seemed as good as any.  Some hardly knew what to do with themselves, and that started to be a problem in some places.  This whole quest for the Graal had been intended to fill the gap for many but it was a distraction.  Gerraint knew it would not sustain things for long.

“Let me buy you an ale,” Gerraint suggested, and he did just that.  “Though I see you have added a stone or two in these past three years.”

“Not much to do at sea,” Gwillim said.  “I read the charts, follow the shoreline, and eat.”  He shrugged.

“Your ship fast?”  Uwaine asked, conversationally.

“Fastest ship afloat,” Gwillim said with a Captain’s pride, but then he screwed up his brows.  “Why?”

Gerraint told him.  “Your brother, Thomas was in Cornwall when we left.  He thought you might be here about the time we arrived.”

“Leave it to Thomas,” Gwillim said.  “Anything to avoid an adventure.  I’m not surprised he did not offer to take you himself.”

“But?”  Uwaine wanted an answer.

“Of course I’ll take you,” Gwillim said.  “For old time’s if nothing else.”  He downed the last of his drink and stood.  “You rest up.  I’ll get my crew to unload.  Give us more speed.  Can’t leave until the tide, anyway.”  He left and Uwaine breathed a sigh of relief.

“No point in filling myself full of food,” Uwaine said, and he went immediately to find a bed.  Gerraint stayed up for a bit.  The time was getting on.  They were headed for September.  He could smell it in the noontime air.

Uwaine sat in the back as they rode the small boat to the ship.  The water came up, but the bay stayed calm and there would be enough sunlight left to get a good start.  Gerraint stood up front humming some tune about the mate being a mighty sailor man.  Somehow, though, he thought the mate’s name ought to be Gwillim.

“Realistically.”  Gwillim asked as they climbed aboard.  “What do you think your chances are of catching them?”

“None.”  Gerraint answered honestly.  “With two-weeks head start, I could have the whole island surveyed by this time.”

“So why the rush?”  Gwillim asked.

“Because they haven’t found the door to Avalon yet,” Gerraint answered.

Gwillim shouted the orders to get under way before turning back to his passenger.  “Annwn,” Gwillim said, giving another name for the fabled land.  “You seem very sure about that.”

“El Dorado,” Gerraint gave a name Gwillim did not know.  “I am certain.”  Gerraint did not explain.  “And I am also certain that they need to be stopped.  The old ways are gone.  The new ways have come and no good will come from dredging up the ancient Celtic treasures.  Arthur can only see civil war as a result, and to some extent, I agree with him.”

Gwillim nodded.  “I can see Arthur’s point.  The old ways do die hard.”  Then Gwillim had to get busy with running the ship, and that was the end of it until the following morning.

The anchor came up before the sun.  By daylight; they were headed into the Irish Sea and left the coast of Wales behind them.  Uwaine seemed to do very well and even commented once or twice that perhaps he was finally adjusting to the sea.  They were not far out of sight of the coast, however, before they spotted a sail in their line of passage.

“What do you make of it?”  Gwillim called to the man he sent up the mast.

“Not Scott or Pictish,” Trevor, the first mate shouted down.

“Thank God for that,” one sailor mumbled.

“Two, three sails,” Trevor yelled.

“Irish pirates?” one man asked.  The Irish might not have a strong king at present, but they remained notorious as thieves and pirates, quick to plunder at the first opportunity.

“Not Irish,” Trevor shouted to the relief of everyone.  “Six, seven sails.  Full out against the wind?”

“Prepare to come about,” Captain Gwillim shouted.  Men began to scurry.

M3 Gerraint: Revived Romans, part 3 of 3

They found plenty of lumber around the edge of the woods.  It proved easy to find some good pieces for a splint.  On finding some rope in his things, Gerraint remarked that Luckless had a way of thinking of everything.  He tore up Menw’s cloak to tie the splint.  Menw just stared and made no objection.  With the rope, he made a travois and carried the still dazed Lionel to where he could tie down both the man and the leg.

“Bedivere.”  Gerraint called out.  The young man came, his arm in a sling.  “You ride this horse.”  Gerraint said.  “You feel the bump in your arm, slow down or go around because Lionel will feel it ten times worse.

“Yes, majesty, and I really am sorry to have taken that blade,” Bedivere said.

“Howel,” Gerraint called.  “Will you tell this puppy he has done nothing to be ashamed of.”

“First time you’ve been bloodied?”  Howel asked.  Bedivere nodded.  “Well, don’t worry about it.  It happens to everyone.  In fact, I would tell you about my first time, but it was too embarrassing to speak of.”

“Thanks a lot,” Gerraint said.  That was hardly what Bedivere needed to hear.

Once they were set, they did not linger in that area.  They took their own dead, of course, and all of the horses that had not run off, but they left the Romans in the field.  Howel said they were headed to meet a larger force just south of the Lake and if they did not show up soon, there would certainly be scouts.

“But what can I do?”  Howel asked Gerraint.  “Much of our strength was spent in Britain over the past years.  Now that we are facing our own crisis, I do not know if we have the strength to meet it.”

“The Sons of Claudus do seem to be intruding,” Gerraint said.  “But I thought their hands were being tied up by the Franks in the East.”

“I am afraid they may make a treaty with the Franks, and then we would really have to struggle,” Howel said.

“Well then.  I guess you will just have to get there first.”  It seemed a common enough expression.

“I’m sorry?”  Howel did not quite grasp the idea offered.  “What do you mean?”

“I mean, you make a treaty with the Sons of Claudus first and offer your help against the Franks.  That way, they will be in your debt, and more importantly, their army will be in debt to your army and, if you play it right, they may even respect your army.”

Howel shook his head.

“Now, think.  It is very hard to get men to invade a land whose army they have come to respect.  Help is the best way to peace.  If your father’s father had not come to Uther’s aid, he might not have stayed long on the throne of the War Chief.  In return, Arthur came out against Claudus.”

“Yes, I suppose that is a point.  Way back then, Claudus was a real threat, and my father did have a fight on his hands.”

“Are you kidding?”  Gerraint said.  “We kicked Claudus so bad it took his sons twenty years just to climb out of the hole.  And for your information, it was not way back then.  I was there, too, and I’m only forty-seven, not an eighty-year-old dotard.”

Howel smiled before he turned serious again.  “But it still would not work.  There is too much bad blood between our families, and maybe because we beat Claudus so badly.  And, don’t forget, both Lancelot’s and Lionel’s fathers lost their lives in those battles.”

Gerraint shrugged and offered another cliché.  “Nothing ventured, nothing gained,” he said, then he made a sour face.  “And I hate clichés.”

Back at Howel’s castle, Gerraint let his armor go home and returned to wearing his comfortable clothes.  He spent a week being sure he did not miss one opportunity to soak in a hot, indoor tub.  It did his muscles wonders and he thanked the Romans, privately, for instituting the idea.

“We send Kvendelig, Gwarhyr and Menw home and see what has turned up in our absence,” Gerraint said, plainly enough.  Besides, he was missing Enid, and little Guimier, too.  He just wondered what it might be like to have a good, Cuban cigar to smoke, not that he ever smoked, or even knew exactly what tobacco was, when Uwaine summed it up in his way of few words.

“One down, one to go,” he said.  And so it appeared.

This time, the Channel crossing went uneventful.  Gerraint got promises from the three Welsh Lords that they would give up their quest and stop threatening the future by dredging up the past.  He did not feel entirely satisfied with their pledges, but they were men of the Round Table, and as such, he accepted that their word could be trusted.

Once home, Gerraint felt delighted to find that Enid missed him too, and so did Guimier.  Indeed, it was hard for him to decide which one hugged him longer and harder. Sadly, he also found a messenger waiting for him, even as he pulled into the docks.  Urien, the Raven and his sidekick Arawn had been seen and traced.  Weldig, Nanters, and Ogryvan had all noted their passage.  Only old Pelenor seemed to have missed them on this trip.  Perhaps their lack of a warm reception the last time around, when Peredur was there, made them avoid those lands.  Perhaps Pelenor was just getting old and just missed them, Gerraint thought.  In any case, they appeared headed for the North coast of Wales, and from there, Gerraint guessed they would head for the Isle of Man.

In the evening, while Enid lay peacefully beside him, Gerraint knew Manannon, the old son of Lyr, God of the Sea, still roamed around.  Rhiannon remained.  Manannon had been reported by sailors and fishermen from time to time.  He guessed Urien went on those rumors.  He imagined they headed for the Isle of Man on the strength of such gossip.  It made sense.  Surely a god would know the way to Avalon, or Annwn, as Urien of Leogria would call it.

Enid pulled up and laid her arm across Gerraint’s chest.  She threw her leg around his and he pushed the hair from her back to see her face.  Enid was not able to sleep, either.

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MONDAY

Gerraint is needed again.  Urien, the Raven is headed for the Isle of Man and Gerraint will have to stop him.  Until Monday, Happy Reading.

 

 

 

 

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M3 Gerraint: Revived Romans, part 2 of 3

Gerraint returned to his horse and mounted, unstrapped his lance at the same time, turned the point to the front and tucked it securely in place.

“What are you doing?”  Kvendelig asked, as if he did not know.

“For Arthur!”  Gerraint shouted and he shot out of the woods at full charge.  The men behind him were a little slower, but Uwaine and Bedivere were quick enough to almost catch up.  Menw and Gwarhyr were a little quicker than Kvendelig, who swore first before he added his voice to the charge.  “For Arthur!”

The Romans still had twice the men, but Howel now had six mounted warriors on his side.  They rode through the Romans first of all, evening the odds a little as they did.  As they turned, Gerraint saw Howel and Lionel arm themselves in the confusion.  The fight was on again, but several of the Romans had quickly mounted and found spears of their own.

This was no joust such as became almost a sport in the late Middle Ages.  This was ancient men with spears, lances, clubs, swords, whatever they could find with which to kill.  This was war, and Gerraint knew the business well.  He put down the first man he faced without the other’s spear even touching him.  The second, however, grabbed the shaft of Gerraint’s lance as he fell, effectively ripping it from Gerraint’s hands.  Indeed, Gerraint knew well enough to let it go and pull his sword.

Unfortunately, with Gerraint’s progress slowed, a Roman became able to grab him by the leg.  Gerraint let go of the reins, directed the horse with his knees alone, and pulled his long knife across the face of his attacker.  The man cried out and fell away, but Gerraint got poked from the other side by another Roman with a spear.  The spear head was not strong enough to penetrate Gerraint’s armor, but the strike landed hard enough to shove Gerraint right out of the saddle.  He hit the ground, hard, and nearly got caught in his exposed face by that same spear.  He ducked in time and swung up and out with Wyrd.  The Roman spear got cut in two at the shaft.

The Roman then arched his back and his eyes glazed.  They heard the sound of whizzing and buzzing all around, as the air filled with arrows.   After barely a minute, the sounds of battle ended.

Three men, dressed in hunter green and carrying bows stepped from the trees on the other side of the clearing.  Two were rather old and grubby looking.  The third, a youngster, looked about Bedivere’s age, but clearly not one to be overawed by the men of armor he faced.  They came up to Gerraint, and the eldest bowed slightly.

“My Lord,” he said.  Gerraint pointed at Howel.

“Not me.  There’s your king.”

The man looked at Gerraint briefly and whispered for his ears only.  “The lady thought we might be better help than the dragon.”  Then he turned to the king and bowed more regally, but very much like a real, old hunter in the woods might bow to his king.

“More of yours?”  Kvendelig distracted Gerraint with the question.

“You never know,” Gerraint said, but he knew the young one was young Larchmont.  One thing seemed certain.  No three pairs of human hands wiped out twelve or fifteen Romans in the span of sixty seconds; and nearly every arrow a perfect shot.

“Odyar?”  Gerraint asked Uwaine when he came up.  Uwaine pointed at the body.

“But Bedivere is hurt, and Lionel,” Uwaine said.

Gerraint looked at Kvendelig who stood at his shoulder and shook his head.  It would not be prudent to bring a more experienced healer into the present.  At least Gerraint needed to examine the patients first.

“Master.  I am so ashamed,” Bedivere said.

“No need.”  Gerraint smiled.  The wound was not bad. “You won’t have nearly the scar I have in my shoulder.”  The bleeding got staunched.  Uwaine could see to Bedivere.

Lionel’s problem looked a little more difficult.  His leg broke and Gerraint did not imagine he had the skill to set it.  So much of that sort of thing was by feel, and he was not sure what he was feeling for.

“Will I lose it?”  Lionel asked.  Howel looked worried as well.

“Afraid not,” Gerraint said.  “Rather, it is whether you will run or limp.”  He looked around.  The hunters were still there.  The eldest caught the gist of what was needed.

“My king,” he called, and Howel stepped over reluctantly to speak with the hunter, and his guards accompanied him.  Gerraint did not wait.  He let himself slip away and Greta came to take his place.  Gerraint knew he lived as a real surgeon in the early Twentieth Century and probably set more broken legs than could be counted, but the Good Doctor felt too distant in his mind at present.  Greta, the Woman of the Ways among the Dacians, felt much closer in time and in his memory.  She also served as a healer, and a good one.

While Lionel gasped and Greta told him quietly over and over to hold his tongue, she quickly made sure her golden hair got securely hidden by her helmet.  She fluffed out her cape with the hope that from the rear no one would suspect she was not Gerraint.  Then she took Lionel’s leg, carefully, and examined it.  “A clean break,” she said.  It should heal completely if you stay off of it for a while.”

“But.”  Lionel wanted to protest at her presence, but he did not have the strength.  He struggled too hard against the pain and against passing out.

“You can talk to Bohort about it when you are better, and Lancelot if you need to, but no one else.  Do I make myself clear?”  She shot a thought to the hunters.  They instantly reverted to fairy form and flew off even as she snapped Lionel’s leg in place.  Lionel stayed busy saying yes to her question about it being clear, so that delayed his scream.  By the time he let out the sound, and Howel and the others shook themselves free from the wonder of the fairies, and came running, Greta had gone and Gerraint was home.

“Keep still,” Gerraint ordered Lionel, though Lionel had passed out at that moment.  “Have to immobilize it.”  Gerraint stood and swung his fist into the image which Greta, with her own gifts of sight, had seen.  Gerraint’s fist landed square in Menw’s invisible face.  As the man fell to the ground, dazed, he lost his concentration and became visible.  Gerraint picked him up, right off his feet, and stepped him back a couple of steps.  The others laughed, not sure what they were laughing at, when Gerraint whispered straight into Menw’s ear.  “If I catch you trying to look down my dress again,” he said.  “I’ll make you a eunuch.”  He tossed Menw about five feet to where the man fell on his rear and yelped.

M3 Gerraint: Amorica and the Suckers, part 1 of 3

Within the week, letters had been sent by the swiftest couriers to all concerned in the four corners of the realm, to keep a sharp watch out for certain men.  Once that was done, there was a waiting game until word came back.

It did not take long before word came from land’s end, and what remained of Lyoness, that the Welshmen, Kvendelig, Gwarhyr and Menw, had taken ship for Amorica, accompanied by Lionel.  They were ostensibly going to visit Howel, now king of Amorica since his father Hoel had passed away, but Gerraint knew better.

With that, Gerraint was able to take Enid home.  They crossed on the ferry early in June and delighted in the weather.

“I will be so glad to see Guimier,” Enid admitted.

“You are going to spoil that poor child,” Gerraint said.

“Me?”  Enid looked up.  “You’re are the worst doting father I know.”

Gerraint nodded.  “Should have given me a daughter sooner.  Or we could have another and spread the wealth.”

Enid laughed and smacked his arm.  “Bite your tongue,” she said.  “If three is four as you say, that makes my forty-two years fifty-six in your Storyteller’s day, and not inclined to go through that again.  Guimier nearly killed me.”

“Just a thought.”  Gerraint never stopped smiling.  He took her up in his arms and she eagerly loved him.

“God, I will miss you.”  She laid her head on his chest and let a few quiet tears fall.

When they reached home and little Guimier, Gerraint had a hard time keeping his mind on the task.  The month was lovely for picnics and quiet times at the beach.  Peace was a wonderful thing, and Gerraint felt more certain than ever that at his age, his adventures ought to be over.  All the same, he tore himself away, and as a result, he found his time at home seemed all too short.  It did not take long to gather what they needed and prepare to sail across the channel.  The horses gave them a little trouble, but then horses generally did.  Once loaded and ready, however, all that remained were the good-byes and last hugs.

“Come home to me,” Enid said.

“As long as there is breath in me,” Gerraint responded.

“Get up there.”  Uwaine shouted at the last horse while Bedivere tugged from the other end.  Gerraint looked up and laughed.  He admitted that Bedivere was more Uwaine’s squire than his own, but for appearance sake, his sister Cordella was too much of a snob to have her son squire to less than a king.

“I’m Pulling,” Bedivere shouted as well.

“Try coaxing!”  Gerraint shouted the loudest to be heard.  The men stopped and he had to repeat himself.  “Try the carrot instead of the stick.”  Uwaine frowned and Bedivere went back to his pulling.  They ignored Gerraint’s suggestion completely.  “So much for being king.”  Gerraint shrugged.

Enid smiled at that as well.  “Go on,” she said, before Guimier starts crying again.  Gerraint hugged his girls and went, reluctant adventurer that he was.  Guimier waved the whole time until they were out of sight and Geraint imagined she was still waving as the afternoon wore on.

The channel seemed calm enough for June.  There were no clouds on the horizon, but then, Gerraint thought, this is not exactly D-Day, is it?

“Where do you think they will be?”  Bedivere asked as he leaned on the railing.  Uwaine stayed busy throwing up.

Gerraint shrugged.  “We go see Howel first.  You must always pay respects to the king of the country first before anything else.”

“But I was thinking,” Bedivere said.  “What if Howel is in on it all?  What if Lionel is in too?”

“Why?”  Gerraint asked to get his squire to think it through.  “Why should Amorica turn against Britain just because Hoel is dead and Howel is king?  They have been our good friends since Arthur gained the crown, and Howel rode with us many times into battle.  Besides, he has the sons of Claudus on his border and their revived Roman ideas, plus the Franks pushing in hard from the East.  It looks to me like Howel may need our help soon enough.  Why would he support the idea of bringing us to civil war?  It would seem to me that would be cutting off his nose, so to speak.”

“Yes,” Bedivere said.  “I see all that.  But…”  Something bumped the boat from beneath.  Gerraint had to grab Uwaine to keep him from falling overboard.

“Get that sail up.”  The Captain shouted.  Sailors began to scurry around the deck and some of them looked frightened.

“Beg pardon, Majesty, but keep out of the way!”  The mate was not polite about it.

“Bring her about,” the Captain commanded.  “Straight for the shallows.”  They were driving the ship with every scrap of sail they could hoist.  The bump came again.  One sailor screamed.

“Buckle up,” Gerraint said.  He stepped aside when no one was looking.  He called his armor out of its’ resting place in the Second Heavens.  His comfortable clothes vanished and the armor replaced them in the same instant.  Immediately, he drew his sword which was sometimes called the sword of the gods and which he called “Wyrd,” which means, fate.  It was the last gift of Hephaestus to King Bodanagus of the Nervi before the dissolution in the time of the gods.

The bump came a third time, and it felt as if something was trying to hold the ship in the deep.  The wood boards creaked and tried to pull apart.  Several nails popped and Uwaine could only imagine it was leaking down below.  The sailor screamed again, only this time for good reason.  A tentacle came crashing down on the foredeck and by chance, grabbed the man by the leg.

The mate was a good shot with the long fish hook.  He pinned the tentacle to the deck and the man became able to pull free, but he did a lot of screaming and a lot of struggle in the process.

“Not a good idea.”  Gerraint shouted and after stumbling across the deck, he cut the tentacle off where it was pinned so it could slip back into the water.  Bedivere and Uwaine had their swords out by then and they backed away toward the center of the ship.  Bedivere’s eyes in particular were big.

‘Look out!”  Someone shouted as the ship jerked and the center mast snapped at the rigging.  Something started trying to pull the ship apart.  The ship stretched, or bulged out at the sides, but thus far held together.  The ropes whipped in the wind for a couple of frightening seconds, nearly knocked one sailor overboard and thumped another in the chest, knocking him unconscious.  Then the horrific cracking started again as, in slow motion, the mast broke at the deck and fell over across the front of the boat.  They were dead in the water, and whatever it was, it had them in its’ terrible grasp.

“Another!”  Someone shouted, as a tentacle came up over the railing on the far side of the boat.  It slapped against the deck and began to slither like a snake, looking for something soft to grab.  Gerraint counted suction cups as Uwaine and Bedivere slashed at the tentacle from opposite sides.  It reacted by whipping worse than the ropes for a second and just missed slapping Bedivere in the face before it pulled slowly back into the water.

“Good Lord!”  The Captain swore.  “Damn thing’s twice the size of the ship!”    He, too, had been counting the cups and judging their size according to what little could be seen.  “At least.”

“What’s it doing in the channel?”  The mate shouted, but all the Captain could do was shrug as he and a few others struggled to get up some kind of sail.  They heard a crunching sound and the sound of horses going wild from below.  To Gerraint, this all seemed like more than just an accident.  Something felt very wrong here, and that feeling echoed through time, confirmed over and over.

It seemed to Amphitrite, as well, that something was very wrong in the sea.  She was a life Gerraint lived nearly two thousand years earlier and while it was not his habit to trade places through time, having learned long ago that it was important to fight his own battles, when something outside of the normal course of events became determined to interfere, he saw no reason why he should not fight fire with fire.

That crunching sound came from below again, and all Gerraint could imagine was that the squid was breaking through the hull like a squirrel breaking open a nut.  The horses were utterly panicked.  One minute, he wiped his sword clean and sheathed it.  The next, he was not there at all.  Amphitrite, goddess of the sea, stood in Gerraint’s place, and the armor, which had adjusted to her height and shape, she sent home, back under the Second Heaven, and replaced it with something more suitable.

Immediately, Amphitrite calmed the squid with a thought.  As the great goddess of the sea, making the squid let go was not difficult.  All the same, she realized the ship was not at all well, having suffered a great deal of damage.  She could have repaired the ship with another thought, but that was not the way of the gods.  People needed to suffer the fate that came upon them, but in this case, perhaps a partial exception was in order.  As far as it went, the mate had been right.  A squid that big had no business being in the channel.  So she picked the ship, crew and all, into the air and deposited it eighty miles away at the dock.  That took a second.  Then she made sure it would hold together long enough to unload.  At last she rushed back to her poor squid.

“You’re more than welcome,” she thought to the captain, but her senses were entirely trained on the beast.  She wanted to know who sent it.  It had to have been sent.  It could not have come on its’ own.  Sure enough, she saw the imprint on the squid’s mind.  It had been instructed to attack their specific ship.  Oddly, she was balked from discovering the reason for it or who was behind it.  All she got from the squid was a sense of evil which felt something like a fingerprint.  She had to content herself with the fact that she would recognize that fingerprint in the mind when she found it again, and she took the animal safely back to the depths of the Atlantic where it belonged.

M3 Gerraint: Around the Table, part 2 of 2

Most everything was fairly straight forward.  The younger men came in from the courtyard.  The squires stayed outside.  The Graal got discussed at length and every Chief, in typical Round Table style, had a chance to speak and add any information or suggestions they might have.  It turned out they had quite a lot of information about the Graal and its’ supposed whereabouts.  Clearly, the Bishops and the Churches were excited beyond words about all of this, and a great deal of money was already forthcoming to finance the various expeditions.

Gerraint looked at the younger men and thought of the squires.  The squires had not lived through thirty years of war as he and the older men had.  The squires had hardly known any adventure at all.  Surely these were exciting times for them, but somehow Gerraint just could not get up for the whole idea.  All he really wanted was Enid and some seclusion, like semi-retirement.

“I have nothing to add.”  That was his great statement, and he did his best to stay awake the whole time.  Then something happened which disturbed him greatly, and perhaps more than the others because he guessed who was behind it all.

All the light in the room went suddenly dim and ghostly hands appeared to carry a glowing object across the room and across the faces of all the men present.  The object might have passed for an oversized cup, but clearly, in Gerraint’s eyes, it was the Cauldron Gerraint felt concerned about.  One man stepped up and put his hand right through the apparition.  This seemed no magic trick, but a true vision of some kind.  Gerraint cursed, quietly, but he felt reluctant to curse his own son too severely.  That is to say, Danna’s son.  Then the hands and object vanished as quickly as they came and light once again returned to the room

People were up and shouting for a long time.  When order got restored, Arthur deftly turned all thoughts toward the Graal.  He let no word of Cauldron escape the lips around him, and then the meeting was over.  Men were excited and ready to set out that very evening.

When it was over, though, Gerraint felt like mounting the nearest horse and riding off alone for a while, despite Gwyr’s warning not to stray.  Lucky for Enid, she caught him by the door and corralled him toward the waiting supper.

Bedwyr of the South was there.  He had settled in Oxford where he could keep an eye on the Angles above him, the Saxons below him, and Lundugnum on the Thames. Kai came from Caerlisle in the North, that great fort that sat aside the ruin of Hadrian’s wall.  Loth came from York where he kept a watchful eye on the Norwegian shore.  At times, he traveled up the coast all the way to Edinburgh, to get a better look.  They were all already there with Constance, Enid, and Gwynyvar.  Gwenhwyfach, mother to Gawain and of Medrawt stayed home in York, and Kai made some comment to Loth that he was glad not to be the only bachelor at the party.

They ate, and it was pleasant enough.  There were certainly enough stories to remember that went around.  No one wanted to speak of the vision and Gerraint felt glad about that.  It was time for the sweets when Gwyr poked his head in and old Peredur, father of Percival came in.  He declined to stay and eat, but he had news for the men present.

“He came to me early this morning with a tale worth hearing,” Arthur said.  “Please tell.”  Then Arthur sat back to judge the various reactions on the various listening faces.

“It was March, last, when I was visiting my good friend Pelenor.  You know, at my age it is good to have a friend still living and it does make the winter seem not quite as harsh, when one has company.”  Arthur coughed.  “It was there that Urien of the Raven came to visit, and Gwarhyr, the Welsh poet was with him.  They spoke of this quest in terms I had not heard before.  It seems that young Gawain, on returning home, let slip word that Meryddin first spoke of the search for a cauldron, not a Graal or a cup.  Well, these men seized on this notion and have every intention of searching for the lost Cauldron of Dagda.  I spoke strongly against it.  I believe that would open wounds all over this land best left to heal.  The old gods have gone.  The true faith has come and we need to embrace the light, and not return to the darkness from whence we came.”

“You know as well as I that Meryddin was a man who clung to the old ways,” Arthur interrupted.

“Yes.”  Peredur retook the floor.  “And I believe no good will come of it.  The Samhain and Beltain are still strongly followed in the country as it is, sometimes right under the nose of the church.  I fear if there is a resurgence of the old ways, the whole country may end in civil war.”

“Surely not!”  Bedwyr coughed.

“Surely so.”  Kai countered in his old way of tit for tat.

“I would swear that was a Cauldron I saw in the vision today, only I did not say so earlier because of the king,” Loth admitted.  Silence followed, and all looked at Gerraint.

Kai and Bedwyr knew well enough that Gerraint was the right man for the job, whatever that job might be.  Arthur knew he was likely the only man for the job.  And as for Loth, what he might not have known directly, he knew indirectly.  That did not leave Gerraint much choice.

“Damn it!”  He shouted, stood and turned from the table.  “Civil war is hardly a matter of importance.  If Britain falls back into its’ pagan ways, all of history, all of the future may change.  Damn Meryddin.”  He did not explain what he meant, but then he did not look at anyone’s face.  He did not have to.  He spat the name.  “Merlin.”  He spun around at last, and Arthur knew better than to interrupt.

“Arthur, you cover Wales and your own people here.  Kai, you have the North covered.  Loth, you have the East and the Norwegian shore. Bedwyr, you have the Southeast and Lundugnum.  Peredur has Legoria and the midlands, and if I recall, Gwillim is in Southampton.  We need Gwynyvar’s brother, Ogyrvan, to cover North Wales, and perhaps Morgana with Nanters to cover the Welsh midlands.  Tristam has Devon.  I have Cornwall and Lyoness.  Nothing can be sought in all of this realm without our knowing it.  Is this not so?”

“Yes, quite.”  The men agreed.  Arthur smiled.  He had only seen his cousin this upset on rare occasions.

“Then I will track the men beyond our shores. They must be stopped.  They must be prevented from digging up things that should stay buried.  What say you, Peredur?”  Gerraint finished.

“Indubitably,” Peredur said.

“Why you?”  Loth asked.

“Alone?”  Bedwyr added.

“I’ll take Uwaine and my squire, Bedivere, but essentially alone,” Gerraint said.  “I have wings to fly…”

“That you know nothing of.”  Kai interrupted and the rest joined in the ending phrase.  “Eyes that see farther, ears that hear better, and a reach longer than ordinary men.”

“Able to leap tall buildings in a single bound.”  Enid laughed.

“What say you?”  Arthur turned to Enid with some sympathy in his voice.

“I say I will miss him while he is away, and love him all the harder when he comes home.”  Her eyes teared a little and Gwynyvar teared up with her and hugged her while Constance patted her hand.

“That is the sweetest thing I have heard in a long time,” Constance said.  “Would that more women were as true.”

“Stop it, now,” Gerraint said, softly.  “Or I won’t be able to go at all.”

“Er.”  Loth clearly hated to interrupt.  “Has anyone bothered to look for Urien and Gwarhyr and ask them what their intentions are?”

“They have left Caerleon.”  Gwyr said plainly.  “They were waiting only for the meeting to pass and had horses ready.”

“And Urien came up to me just before the meeting started and all but admitted his intention.  He told me all about the Cauldron and wondered if Gawain said anything more when he first came from Amorica.  When I gave him no answer, he went immediately to whisper to Kvendelig the Hunter, Gwarhyr and Menw attending, of course,” Gerraint added.

“So, the adventure begins.”  Arthur smiled.

“I’d rather a hot bath and good night’s sleep,” Gerraint protested.  Peredur laughed, alone at first, before the others joined in the conversation about the aches and pains of age.  Peredur did join them, then, in sweets and a conversation on which he was expert.

“I think I will follow along with young Bohort and that new squire of his, the boy Galahad,” Peredur said later.  “That boy seems graced, somehow.”

“Indeed,” Gerraint said.  “Exactly right for the father of Percival.  People will remember these days.  But tell me, how is my old master, Pelenor?  You said nothing of his reaction to Urien’s visit.”

“It has been a long time since you were Pelenor’s arrogant fourteen-year-old brat.” Peredur said with a smile.  Then his smile faded.  “Pelenor concerns me.  His hanger on, Ederyn was there, too, but neither said much of anything.  They made no objections to what I said, but they hardly objected to what Urien proposed, and believe me, I am not saying civil war lightly.”

“Pelenor is rather older, now,” Gerraint suggested, noting that most of the others were listening in.

“Yes, that may be it,” Peredur said.  “His hands shake a little these days, almost like a man who has lost control of his senses.  Perhaps he was just not feeling well enough that day to get too excited about Urien’s suggestions.  At least I have told myself that.”

Gerraint patted the old man on the shoulder to reassure him, but this was yet one more thing to think about.  And who else might be in on the conspiracy to reassert the old ways, by war if necessary?

************************

MONDAY

Gerraint, Uwaine, and squire Bedivere chase the welshmen to the continent in Amorica and the Suckers.  Don’t miss it.  Happy Reading

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M3 Gerraint: Trouble in the Dock, part 2 of 2

That evening, after Gawain had left, Bedivere saw to the horses and then went to sleep in the next room where Uwaine also slept, and Uwaine snored away.  A man just thirty-three should not snore like that, Gerraint thought, as he snuggled under the covers and turned on the side that had never been cut.  He just got comfortable when Enid spoke in his ear.

“Now, tell me the real story.”

Oh, that was mean!  Gerraint grumbled, turned to his back and sat up a little in the dim light of the dying fire.  “What do you want to know?”

“Everything.”  She took the opportunity to snuggle up against him.  He did not mind that so much, but he hardly thought he would get everything out before he began to get other ideas.

“Merlin,” he said.  “As always, his agenda is hidden.”

“Why do you call him Merlin?”  Enid asked for the hundredth time.

“That is too long a story,” Gerraint said.  “Let us just say it is another name, like my other name, Goreu.”

“And how did you know all of that about the Lord’s Supper?” she wondered.  “You have not ever been an especially pious man.”

“Yes, well.  The storyteller helped a lot.  He did his masters at Princeton, you know.”

“Whatever that is.”  Enid shrugged with a smile.  “But what about Meryddin and hidden agendas?”  Enid loved a good mystery.

“Let’s see.”  Gerraint had to pause and think a minute.  “In ancient times, long before the Romans, before the Celts themselves came and took possession of the islands, back in the days of the gods, Danna and her children brought certain treasures to the islands.  They were eventually listed as thirteen treasures, though not everyone’s list included exactly the same ones.  On nearly every list, though, was a cauldron.  It was Dagda’s cauldron, sometimes Ogyrvan’s, that is the Giant, not Gwynyvar’s brother, sometimes Pwyll’s.”

“Pwyll?”  Enid asked.

“Lord of the underworld.  A god of the dead,” Gerraint said and Enid shivered and drew herself up closer to him.

“Anyway, it was said to have miraculous powers of one sort or another.  For one,” Gerraint chuckled.  “It would not cook the meat of a coward, though I suppose some Christian cleric will turn that into the meat of a sinner.”

“Yes, I know.  You don’t like the idea of the church rewriting history.”

“I don’t like anyone rewriting history,” Gerraint said rather gruffly.  “It is what it is and was what it was, and people can learn from it, be inspired by it, be enchanted, or whatever as they choose, but they ought to be about the business of making history, not rewriting what is already said and done.”

“Meryddin.”  Enid reminded him and gently laid her hand on his chest and tapped softly.

“Hmmm.”  Gerraint looked down into her lovely, sparkling brown eyes, but he finished his telling first.  “Merlin, Meryddin if you insist, never disguised the fact that he was no great lover of the Lord.  He preferred the old ways and the old gods, but people, even Arthur understood that and respected that out of deference for his age and wisdom of earthly things.”

“Not to mention that he was related to the old gods,” Enid interjected.  Gerraint nodded.

“I think this was his last salvo in that war.  There is nothing he would like more than to see a return to the old ways, a falling away of Christianity, and a collapse of the system back into warring tribes and petty Chieftains.”

“You don’t mean that, literally.”  Enid got in his face.  She was asking for it, and he gave it to her; but he did mean that.  He always felt that Meryddin was connected to the Masters in some mysterious way and he knew the Masters were determined to skew reality and history to make it come out the way they wanted.  If this bulwark of early Christendom could be torn down, history might be significantly changed, and this was just the right time to do it.  The old ways were barely a scratch and a generation beneath the surface.

Later, Enid sighed.  “I was thinking how odd that Gwynyvar’s sister gave birth to such different sons.  Gawain is the good son and Medrawt is a lot like Pwyll, I think.”

“Is that what you were thinking while we…”  Gerraint did not finish his sentence.

“No,” she said assuredly.  “Only I know Gwenhwyfach had nine years between sons.  I hope Guimier will not be so different from her brothers, being so much younger.”

“Don’t worry about it,” Gerraint said.  “Gawain is from Lot’s first wife and Gwenhwyfach’s boy had a different father as well.  She had an unhappy affair some twenty years ago.  You can thank Meryddin for that one, too.”

“Not long before you and I had some misunderstandings,” Enid said.  “By the way, did I tell you I am glad that is all cleared up?”

“A thousand million times, and me, too.”  Gerraint gave her another small, soft kiss.  “And, no.  I won’t say who Medrawt’s father was.”

“I’m not asking.”  She got deep down in the covers.  “Just hold me.”  Gerraint was obliged to turn on his side where the scar was, but he did not mind so much.

 

Gerraint: The Holy Graal M3 Gerraint: Trouble in the Dock, part 1 of 2

The wind swept Gerraint’s long dark brown hair around his face and made him blink involuntarily to protect his deep blue eyes.  The ship coming into the dock promised news from across the channel.  He already heard from Rhiannon, the Lady of the Lake, that something was afoot, but the lady gave no more information than that.  Still, he would hear soon enough, and it had to be important since normally ships avoided crossing the channel in winter.  Enid touched his arm and turned his attention momentarily from the wind and the waves.

“You look troubled,” she said.  After thirty years of war and suddenly three years of utter peace, the idea that “something was afoot” could do that to a man.

“Now, why would I be troubled?” Gerraint asked and smiled.  He kissed Enid sweetly and squeezed three-year-old Guimier in the process.  She was in her mother’s arms where she could look over the railing and wave at the sailors and fishermen.

Enid lowered her eyes.  “Because you look like you did in the weeks before Badon.”  She blushed a little.  The battle of Badon, the day the earth shook and Lyoness sank into the sea, had turned Gerraint into a bundle of stress.  Three years of peace came of it, but so did Guimier.

“Oh.”  Enid let out a little moan and set down the squiggling girl.  “I’m forty-one, you know.  I am getting much too old for this.”

“Never.”  Gerraint smiled genuinely and took the absence of the child to slip his arm lovingly around his wife.  She sighed and rested in his shoulder and they watched the ship together while Gerraint turned again to his thoughts.

They had whipped the Saxons badly enough at Badon that Gerraint hoped the peace would last the rest of his lifetime.  Bedwyr would watch the Saxon Shore well enough to remind them that Britain was not to be trifled with.  Kai, Warden of the North Watch had the Scotts and remaining Picts merrily fighting each other.  Loth had the Norwegian Shore completely under his thumb, and those pesky Irish had been quiet since Tristam killed Marat, or really, since Arthur beat back the invasion of old king Rience, now gone to meet Saint Patrick’s maker.  Peace had come, and quiet, and though the young men complained that there were no adventures left in the world, Gerraint did his best to convince them that they were better off.  His own sons, Peter, James and John, all of nineteen, seventeen and fourteen, and all off as squires in various places, had nothing to complain about except their mother having a baby.  They were pleased to have a little sister at last.

Enid broke free to catch Guimier before she toddled right over the side.  Gerraint thought how he named his sons and insisted on those Christian names, but Enid named their daughter, Guimier, and the little girl already had her father wrapped around her little finger.  He caught her up from Enid’s arms and she giggled.

“Look,” Guimier said, and pointed as the ship came to a stop and men began to shove out the plank.

“Wave to cousin Gawain,” Gerraint said, and Guimier and Gerraint waved together like a couple of three year olds.

“My Lord!  Majesty!  Uncle!”  Gawain shouted and hardly waited for the gang plank as he sprang to the dock and began to run toward them.  Guimier went back to her mother who put her down and took her little hand.

“Gawain!”  Gerraint shouted back, and when they got close enough, they hugged.  “And how is the family?”  he asked, knowing that Gawain had been in Amorica since Hoel’s funeral and out of touch with his own kin.

“Um, well, I guess,” he said.  “But I have the most remarkable news.”

“Well, come up to the house and you can tell me all about it.”

“But sir.”  Gawain started, but Enid interrupted.

“Good to have you home.”

“Oh!”  Gawain realized he had been rude.  “My lady.”  He gave her a hug.  “And, say!  This is Guimier?  You were just a baby last time I saw you.  You’re all grown up now, little cousin.”  He knelt down and kissed Guimier on the head.  Guimier did not know what to make of him.  Like all little children, she looked up to her mother for guidance. Fortunately, Gerraint had already moved toward the horses and Gawain did not dawdle.  He stepped on Gerraint’s heals even as Enid lifted Guimier to set her in the wagon with her nurse.

Luckily, by plan, Uwaine was there with the horses.  He and Gawain were the same age, just about thirty-three, and they hugged and had a good deal of catching up to do.  Gerraint mounted.  His squire, Bedivere, his sister Cordella’s son from Lyoness mounted beside him, and they lead the procession home.

“But aren’t you curious as to Sir Gawain’s news?”  Bedivere asked.

“Yes, but not impatient.  There is nothing that cannot wait until I am comfortable, sitting in front of the fire, with a glass of ale in my hands,” Gerraint responded.

When the time came, Uwaine was the one who spilled the news.  “He heard from Meryddin.”  Uwaine said.  “It’s been three years and no one has seen or heard from the old man until now.  Can you imagine?”

Gerraint rubbed his chin.  He could imagine it all too well.  Rhiannon had promised to keep the old man away from this world until his days were done.  He remained a potential time bomb, and Gerraint could not imagine what set his voice free from the grasp of the goddess.  Whatever he said, it could not be for the best.

“We are to find the Cauldron of Life.”  Gawain explained his brief conversation with Meryddin.

“You are sure it was him?”  Enid asked the obvious question while Gerraint thought as hard and as fast as he could.

“Absolutely,” Gawain said.  “Without question.  He knew who I was and reminded me of things only he would know.  Plus, I recognized his voice and that bit of a stutter.  No question it was Meryddin.”

“The Graal,” Gerraint said at last and took everyone’s attention.  “That must be it.  After all these years, the Graal is to be found.”

“No, I don’t think so.”  Gawain looked uncertain as to what a Graal was.  “It was a cauldron of some kind.”

“A cauldron.  A cup.”  Gerraint spoke fast.  “Let me tell you the story of Joseph of Arimathea.  I am sure you have heard the story, only you have forgotten.”  Gerraint counted on the fact that Gawain, like most of the Round Table, was a fervent believer in the Christ.  Indeed, Arthur’s rule was that no one was admitted to the table or even to the room unless they first confessed their faith.  Most did so willingly, though Gerraint knew there were some who confessed only in order to not be left out in the cold. Where their faith really lay was perhaps a question.

Gerraint told his audience about the last supper, and it was a story that resonated in the young hearts in the room.  Then, after the supper, Joseph retrieved the cup, and through a long, arduous journey, came at last to Britain where he hid the cup from the pagans who would have destroyed it and the curiosity seekers who would have treated it badly and without due respect.  “Evidently, now that we have become a Christian nation, God, in his wisdom, has chosen these days for this great task, to unveil the secret place of the Graal and make it known to all the people.”

“The cup of the Lord,” Bedivere whispered, reluctant to speak of such a thing too loud.

“Yes.”  Gawain nodded slightly.  “That must be what he meant.”

“You can imagine the healing in that great cup, the cup of the Great Physician himself, whose body and blood we partake of every Lord’s day for both our healing and our salvation.”

“That must be it.”  Uwaine sounded more convinced.

“Yes, Uncle.  I believe you know.”  Gawain finally spoke with some confidence.  “I know that after Meryddin, you know more things about what is and what must be than any other man alive.  This is why I came first to you, and now you have made clear what was uncertain and confusing in my mind.”

“It was a very short conversation you had with Meryddin, was it not?”  Gerraint asked.

“Yes,” Gawain nodded slowly again.  “Yes, it was.”

“Well!”  Gerraint sounded as if that answered all objections.  “Obviously, he did not have time to explain it all.  But maybe he picked you because he knew you would come first to me.  I’ll say, the minute you started talking I knew exactly what it was you were talking about.  At long last, the journey of Joseph will have its conclusion.  The Graal, what a wonderful quest that will be, and God bless the man who finds it!”

“Yes.”  Gawain nodded vigorously with his friend, Uwaine.  “With your permission, I will leave on the evening tide for Caerleon.  Arthur must be told right away.”

“You are welcome to stay and rest and refresh yourself,” Gerraint said, and he saw the reluctance in Gawain’s eyes, and laughed.  “Oh, impetuous youth,” he said, though well aware that he was talking to a thirty-year-old and hardly a youth.  Still, at forty-six he was nearly old enough to be Gawain’s father, so youth was a relative term.  “By all means you may go.  Arthur must be told, only eat something now before you leave.  Enid has been cooking cakes all day in anticipation of your arrival.”

Gawain stopped and swallowed.  It was the first he thought of it.  “Yes, actually,” he said.  “How did you know I was even coming?”

Gerraint winked at him.  “Don’t worry about minor mysteries.  You have a Graal to find.  Believe me, there is mystery enough, and I would say adventure enough for a lifetime.”  He laid a hand on Gawain’s shoulder and led him to the table.  He felt rather hungry.

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MONDAY

Gerraint explains his suspicions to Enid before he travels to Arthur’s court where, with Arthur’s help, he has to keep people focused on the Graal and off the ancient treasures of the Celts.  Until then, Happy Reading.

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Kairos Medieval 3: Light in the Dark Ages

Beginning Monday, June 22, 2020

Having read some of the Avalon stories that have appeared on this blog, I thought it only fair that you get a look at several of the actual Kairos stories in their full form.  If you have not read any of the Avalon stories that have appeared on this website, that’s okay.  The stories here are self-contained with one exception:

The books (not presently available) weave the partner stories like a fine tapestry.  For this blog, however, I have pulled the stories apart so you can read a whole Festuscato story, for example, without having to flip back and forth to Gerraint and Margueritte.  Hopefully, that will work well.  You can just ignore the rare references to what is happening in those other stories, knowing that, like the Kairos, you will get there, eventually.

The Kairos Medieval, book 3, Light in the Dark Ages, and book 4, Saving the West, will be posted in their entirety.  All weeks will have posts on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday = 3 individual, easily and quickly read posts per week at 8AM, EST, to carry the story forward.  A good way to start the day.

M3) Festuscato: The Halls of Hrothgar   8 weeks of posts

After leaving Britain to the Pendragon, Festuscato, the last Senator of Rome, is shipwrecked on the Danish shore.  With his strange crew in tow, he finds his way to the Halls of Hrothgar where a beast called the Grendal has come like a plague on the mighty.  Festuscato leaves nothing to chance.  He sends for Beowulf, but he has to tread lightly to keep history on track.  He knows things will turn strange as the Grendal, the creature of Abraxas, cannot be harmed by any weapon forged by man.

M3) Gerraint: The Holy Graal   13 weeks of posts

Gerraint, son of Erbin feels his days of struggle should be behind him.  All he wants is to retire to Cornwall with Enid, his love.  But when ghostly hands carry a cauldron across the round table, he knows he has to act.  Arthur deftly turns all talk to the Holy Graal, but Gerraint knows he has to stop the older men from recovering the ancient treasures of the Celts and dredging up the past.  Christendom is only a thin veneer and if Abraxas is allowed to strip that away, history might be irrevocably changed.

M3) Margueritte: The Old Way Has Gone   18 weeks of posts

In the early days of Charles Martel, Margueritte experiences everything a Medieval girl might want: fairies, ogres, a unicorn, dragons, knights to love and daring rescues.  But it is Curdwallah the hag, the devotee of Abraxas, that haunts her dreams in the dark.

 

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MONDAY

M3 Festuscato: Shipwreck.

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Preview of Coming Attractions: April 10, 2019

The story of Gerraint, son of Erbin, in the days of King Arthur, will continue in the next book:

Kairos Medieval Book 3: Light in the Dark Ages

M3) Gerraint: The Holy Graal   13 weeks of posts

Gerraint feels his days of struggle should be behind him.  All he wants is to retire to Cornwall with Enid, his love.  But when ghostly hands carry a cauldron across the round table, he knows he has to act.  Arthur deftly turns all talk to the Holy Graal, but Gerraint knows he has to stop the older men from recovering the ancient treasures of the Celts and dredging up the past.  Christendom is only a thin veneer, and if Abraxas is allowed to strip that away, history might be irrevocably changed.

Gerraint’s story will begin again one year from now right after the posting of Avalon, Season Six, which will post over 22 weeks and  serve as an interlude between the end of the Kairos and Rome series and the beginning of the Kairos Medieval series.  Of course, the Avalon stories: the prequel, the pilot episode, and seasons 1, 2, and 3 are available as E-books, with the pilot episode free in most places.  Look under the author M G Kizzia.  Avalon, seasons 4, 5, and 6 will also go up as E-books as soon as I can work out some details… But I promised myself I would not turn this into a sales pitch…

First, we have two stories of the Kairos and Rome saga to complete:

Kairos and Rome Book 6: The Power of Persuasion

For those who enjoyed the Kairos and Rome book 5, Greta’s story (R5 Greta), which began on June 4, 2018, and which you can look up in the archives and read for yourself, you maybe realized the story is not finished.  Picking up the story several years later…

R6) Greta: To Grandfather’s House We Go   20 weeks of posts

Greta’s ward, Berry, and her sister Fae, along with Greta’s brother and Fae’s husband go north, looking for Berry and Fae’s father to bless their marriages.  They get trapped in the land of the lost, and the shattered pieces of the old god Mithras stand against Greta when she sets herself for a rescue mission.  Soon enough, the Iranian (Mithraic) tribes in the wilderness come to knock on Dacia’s door, which doesn’t have enough strength to stand against them.  And the Roman ranks are full of Mithraites.

Before that, as we did on April 2, 2018, roughly one year ago, we have the further adventures of Festuscato, Senator of Rome and all around cad, who is good at getting into trouble, but even better at wriggling out of the consequences.  That may be why the Emperor Valentinian and the Pope both tapped him to go to Britain and bring order out of the chaos that had taken over that former Roman province.  That may also be why the Bishop in London got him to take on a special assignment:

R6) Festuscato: The Dragon in Ireland   10 weeks of posts

Festuscato gets roped into providing safe passage for Patrick to get to Ireland.  Festuscato, knowing something of what to him is the history of these events, wants to see Patrick get started on a good foot.  That isn’t going to be easy when the so-called King of the Irish is against you, not to mention the reluctant druids, the Irish pirates, and the Saxon intruders.  The boy and his pet dragon don’t help, either.

 

 

MONDAY

R6 Festuscato:  Festuscato and the bishops relax in Caerdyf.  Before setting out, they are interrupted by a boatload of Irish pirates; an indication of things to look forward to…

Until then, Happy Reading

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