In the forest there is only the sound of wind rustling the leaves. Everything is heading towards it’s death at the hands of winter. For now though, it looks like the trees have been set on fire with leaves of red, brown, yellow and greenish hue. The forest have always been my home and it is there that I go to think or just to be alone. Many times when I go out here it is because something is troubling me. Today is an exception to this rule. Today I am happy and I feel like I am near bursting with joy.
Things are finally going right. After the horrendous summer campaign up north against the saxons, where Melkin was gravely wounded, we traveled south again escorting our Lords wife lady Ellen and the two other ladies who had been cursed by eating faerie meat during the disastrous feast. I asked Brangwen to travel with the ladies and entertain them with her singing and storytelling. She apparently made a good impression and gained the favor of Lady Ellen. I believe it was mostly thanks to this fact, rather than my own actions, that made sure the Count Roderick allowed me to marry Brangwen despite the fact that she is a commoner and doesn’t even have a dowry worth mentioning.
We are to be wed in two weeks here at Tisbury, at Samhain when the boundaries between this world and the otherlands are thin. It is a strange old custom observed by our family since time immemorial. Our marriage is to be consummated up at Tisseberrie hill so that one of our ancestors can find his way into his new body and live life again in this world. Brangwen and me have had several practice runs in private so that we know that the carnal parts will work out well. It wouldn’t do to not be able to “perform” at such an important time.
The wedding is the reason why I am out here in the forest. We are having many guests, most of them from my family, and that means that there will have to be plenty to eat. I and the other hunters on Tisbury have been out here during most of the week to hunt deer, boars and hares and so far things have gone well. It will be table set with everything the woods have to offer.
As I stalk through the woods follow the tracks made by a stag I get the feeling that something is near. I hunker down and gaze around to determine if there is any threats nearby and I almost flinch when I see something moving close by. It turns out to be someone rather than something and I recognize the cloak worn by the woman. That and the red hair poking out of the hood. My heart skip a beat but this time from joy rather than fear. She walks straight towards me despite the fact that I have made sure to cover my tracks as I travel through the forest. Sometimes I am inclined to believe that she is some manner of a witch when I see how unerringly she can find me. Those thoughts are washed away as I see her smile shining at me as she comes closer and I smile back.
“So, how goes it husband? Will our guests dine well?” She has taken to calling me husband as naturally as she does anything else and I love hearing those words come out of her mouth. There is an ever-present music in her voice that makes you listen to her every word. I could just listen to her talk or sing for hours without even once slipping out from under her spell.
“It goes well my beloved” I whisper to her. “There are tracks made by a large stag that I have followed since before noon and I do believe he is close” and when saying those words I feel my pulse increase in anticipation of the conclusion of the hunt.
Brangwen hunkers down right next to me and her leg brushes mine as she does so. She is carrying a bow and she has a quiver of arrows slung over her shoulders. She looks at me and says “You do not mind company on this hunt, do you?” I just mutely shake my head. I do not think I will ever mind her company and the fact that she is willing to get her hands dirty hunting for the food for our wedding feast makes me appreciate her even more. There are few women who would even consider something like this and much less actually do so.
Seeming to need to explain her presence out her she says "All the preparations back home are making my head hurt. There are so many things to do and hardly any that I am “allowed” to do"". She seems a bit frustrated but also nervous. Did she ever expect to be present at her own wedding one day and did she dare to dream that it would be to someone highborn? One can only speculate.
“Try to be patient with ”/characters/cerys" class=“wiki-content-link”>mother and the other women. They are only trying to help you fit into your new role as lady of the manor" I can understand her feelings. There have been a lot of times in my life where I haven’t acted according to my station or the way that society expects me to.
She looks me in the eyes with that striking emerald green gaze of hers and looks slightly guilty. " I may have shouted at your mother when she reprimanded me for giving one of the women help with the cleaning."
I smile slightly when I answer her “As long as you apologize when we get back I am sure she will forgive you. As for sneaking of to join me out on a hunt, that is probably something she expects from a woman who I have loved since I first saw her.”
She favors me with a warm smile and reaches over to lay her hand on my cheek and kisses me on the mouth. “Let’s find this stag the so that we can bring it down and bring it home.” She rises and starts to follow the deer tracks.
The thought strikes me that I am indeed a fortunate man that have been found by my strange wood nymph.
As I leave the great hall of Sarum castle I feel like slamming my fist into someone face. Once again I leave a feast early so that I will not start a brawl in my lords hall out of anger. The reason for my anger is the self-righteous ass Sir Leo. He keeps going on about his so called just and honorable conduct. He is a man that lives in some kind of fantasy and he is always trying to impose his own values on all and sundry. I am not one to take offense easily and I have had a lot of patience with his ramblings.
Until now that is. I sat and talked to Sir Jaradan of Dinton and we had just agreed on him taking on my young relative Nerthach as one of his squires. We were having a good time and I was telling him about the strange creatures living out in the swamps of Summerland that I saw during King Uthers conquest of that land.
As I told him of what had transpired during the campaign on our part, Sir Leo passed by and felt that he of course had to offer his opinion on the way a war “should be” conducted. He blathered something about how it was unjust for the strong to take from the weak and as knights we should instead protect the peasants and walk around and hold their hands or some such nonsense.
I gave him a piece of my mind and told him that it is our privilege to raid and plunder when we are at war. I may agree that it is highly wasteful to kill the small folk, especially when they haven’t done anything by themselves to merit punishment . I even told him that his way of thinking is outlandish and that if such paragons of knighthood such as prince Madoc himself says that the right way to act is for the strong to take what they want, when they want it, then who does he think he is to disagree. That was when he pointed out that bastards are always ill-favored and should certainly not be regarded as role-models.
At that point the whole conversations turned into a shouting match and Jaradan and a few other knights had to separate us before our lord noticed fight.
I really hope that that man can keep his big mouth shut in future or I won’t be held responsible for my actions. His moralizing grated on my nerves even as I was serving as Lord Amig‘s squire but back then I just had to grin and bear it. I thought that he would end his droning when I became a knight but nothing changed even though I politely told him that I didn’t share his opinions. This however seemed to egg him on.
I am holding a little bundle in my arms, a little red, crying bundle and from somewhere distant I hear my mother’s voice saying “You have a son Cadry”. I can’t seem to turn my gaze away from the little infant boy that is going to carry my family name. It is hard to tell if he takes after me or Brangwen but he certainly shares the green eyes that we both have.
How strange it is to look at something so small and to know that this might be the future. I wonder if my father ever held me and thought these same thoughts back in the year 460? My lips turns into a smile without me willing them to and finally some part of me returns to the reality that exist outside of my sons face.
I look over at my mother’s tattooed face and with trepidation I ask “What about Brangwen? Does she live? Is she well?” and I think I have never dreaded hearing an answer as much as this one.
Fortunately mother’s smile reassures me even before she has time to answer “She lives and she is fine. The birthing was long and took much out of her but she will recover. I am sure that she would like to see you at least for a little while before she needs to sleep.”
Even before the final words have left her mouth my legs are carrying me in through the door of the longhouse of my manor. In the gloom inside the warmth lies heavy and there is a smell of smoke, blood and sweat. Still clutching my son tight to me I walk over to the grand bed where the love of my life lies, still covered in sweat and seemingly exhausted unlike anything I have ever seen before.
As I carefully sit down on the edge of the soiled bed Brangwen opens her eyes and with some effort reaches out her hands to take hold of our son and to bring him up to her breast to nurse him and to calm him. As she does so she blearily looks up at me and ask “Does he please you my lord husband?”
Tears well up in my eyes and I can hardly speak but I manage to squeeze out a simple “Yes”. I lean over and carefully kiss my wife on the forehead and mumble forth an incoherent “Thank you” and whether the thanks is aimed at my wife or at the Mother-goddess Don I simply don’t know.
Gaining some semblance of control I ask “What shall we name him? I haven’t dared to think of any.” Brangwen’s sparkling green eyes meet mine and with a certainty she replies “He has told me that he is called Yraen, my love, so that shall be his name.”
Feeling bewildered I open my mouth but I don’t say anything. I doesn’t do to question someone that speaks to the gods and my lady wife have always had her strange ways of knowing things. I look down on my son Yraen, who is now sleeping upon Brangwen’s breast and I think that if I were ever to feel a joy greater than this my heart would surely burst within my chest.