Down below, upon meadow and hill, wood, fen and marsh, the Saxon came. Beneath their feet, the land writhed. He smashed into them, charger snorting and kicking. Turning a spear thrust on his shield, hacking down to part arm from torso. And again, and again. At his side, Maelgwyn fought like a man possessed. Between them, the dead made the ground trecherous. Ahead, a bannerman, howling wordless hate and hoisting tattered standard. He cut both down. From upon the pole, a raven flew, circling up. It would never be enough. The ground grew dim, and was swallowed by a rising tide.
For one who had inspired such dread, his remains were pitiful. Rusted and torn chainmail, dented shield and withered man beneath. Gamond paid the corpse no mind, It was calling. In his chest, the empty sucking hole left by Anwyns passing sang in tune with the siren call of the black blade, Heartless.
He was lost, lost in mist and elusive shadow. Ahead, somewhere down a winding path, stood he himself. Bent over a broken shape, reaching. The crow crowed, warbling, sharp. It flew. The mist shifted with it, flowed ahead.
He knelt before a young man with solemn eyes, clad in ochre and blue. Around his own shoulders, a cloak of Anarawd red bisected by the same stripe pattern as the young mans badge. He rose, turned, and walked into the circle left by his peers. His sword, plain, old and worn by use rasped free of its scabbard. He would speak with the champion there, until that champion could speak no more.
A harsh caw, muted by fog. The Raven lurked. His overhand stroke, caught by an upturned shield that gleamed metal and colour far away to the side was lost to his eye in the murk.
He strode down a path wreathed in fire. On either side, houses stood alight. Fallen bodies on the ground, bearded and savage. Ahead, the weeping of women and children, and a desperate last stand by old men. He smiled, showing red stained teeth. Where he and Heartless sang as one, death followed.
Cawing, like laughter. The raven lifted off a carcass nailed to the wall of Ludwell, fleeing the thick smoke of burning houses. Were they saxon, or Cymric? Did it matter? He smiled, showing red stained teeth.
The crow struck, black feathers flying, savage beaks stabbing. The Raven brought down and both swallowed by the grey sea. He himself, standing among the ashes of the Anarawd, laughing at the death of legacy, swallowed with them. Lost to sight.
He did not know where to go. All around rose shapes of men and circumstance, isles of meaning in this labyrinth of possibility. In all of them, death lingered. Brave Tarquin, snared in fae lands, slowly losing himself. There Gamond strode bold, carrying the boy onto forlorn shore. Here he left his squire to languish, pleased to hoist his own fate upon another. He reached for the bolder path, and it slipped as smoke through his fingers.
The crow perched over the raven, matted blood in its feathers, wing askew. The raven weakly flapping, dying. And laughing. Cawing, now all around. In shadow the deeper black of Ravens’ eyes gleamed. Thousands, the beat of their wings stirring the mist.
He woke, and burned. The fever stole most of the winter.
For all the misfortune of that year, one achievment brought the Lord of Ludwell solace. That autumn he had ridden to Sutton, and had spoken long as a guest to the lord of that manor. Gorfydd was a man possessed of many qualities Gamond lacked, and had agreed to ride with him to kill the Saxons in autumn. No longer alone, this could be the first step toward achieving a long held ambition.