~ by Edorix ~
This story is a sequel to my Bardic Circle saga
The tale shall appear in serial format: one chapter per update for a total of between five and ten chapters. The individual chapters as well as the full tale shall also be shorter than my earlier tale, as there is not only less to tell in the first place but I also have less to add. The updates shall be irregular; I shall make them at my leisure. Sometimes I will be busy, sometimes I will prefer to do something else. I make no apology for vagrancies or complete changes of style, as long as the style remains good. Among other things this is an experiment in writing
The last rays of the setting sun bathed the thatched rooftops of the little village of Segomira in a warm hue, casting long cool shadows over the damp ground. A cat basked in the orange glow on a little knoll in front of a roundhouse door, but there came no other sign of life from the pastoral hamlet.
A colourful songbird hesitantly ventured a few notes from a branch at the edge of the nearby overhanging coppice. The lounging cat rolled over and stared at it, impassively. The bird chirped nervously, twittered another couple of bars, and then flew off.
The day was waning, and the last rays of the sun could not dispel the nightly chill of the ground setting in. The feline stretched, yawned, and reluctantly got to its feet. Then it silently slunk off, around the side of the roundhouse, across a narrow alleyway, and round the whitewashed wall to another entrance. Without pausing to enquire within, he lowered his head and nosed his way under a corner of the ill-fitting door.
Within, all was dark, and with the door shut the smoke from the hearth left to burn out pricked his eyes irritatingly; but he refrained from mewing, because this was where the people were - the whole hamlet gathered together; and that meant warmth, and comfort - and unless he was much mistaken, a story.
With his sleek quiet arrogance, the cat wended his way through the cross-legged villagers, careful to affectionately brush every one of them which he passed, and slunk round the fire to the side of the one who held court over the expectant audience gathered here, the bearded man on his elevated stool - the storyteller.
Actually the cat wasn't that interested in him. Beside the storyteller, on the floor at his right knee sat a pretty redheaded girl who looked up at the teller of tales with stars in her eyes. Into her lap he jumped and settled down, purring as quietly as he could. He felt her body resonate with her voice as she spoke.
"Please tell us, Togodumnos master-bard! It is many months since you promised to tell us more of the fate of Manawyddan son of Llyr, last of the great men who survived the War of Branwen."
The bard chuckled, and his eyes twinkled as he declined for the third time.
"Nay, Cata Star-Eyes, I made no such promise. Besides, I am tired, and the tale is long and dull. Nay, too much did you delight in the tale of Branwen and Taliesin to find this one to your liking."
Cata rested her chin on his knee and blinked up at him with a sad, wide-eyed expression.
"Please tell us, master..."
Togodumnos sighed, and gently removed her from him.
A ripple of laughter ran through the assembled listeners, and then an expectant silence took hold. All eyes were on the storyteller.
Togodumnos was quiet for a moment, collecting his thoughts. Then he produced his harp, and began plucking a low cord, slowly, rhythmically, with a quiet, resonant chant. Then he spoke - but his voice rose gradually into a low, spellbinding incantation.
"This is the extraordinary story of Manawyddan son of Llyr, brother of Bran who made war on Ireland for the sake of his sister Branwen, both of whom died. Manawyddan however lived on. His bitter grief lasted for many months, but it fell to him to raise the next High King of Albion, who was also named Bran, and so he did his duty. As regent of the kingdom he reunited the Kingdom of Albion and governed the kingdom with a steady hand; and under his guidance the alliance with Ierne was renewed, Caledonia finally crushed the rebel Maeatae, and the southern lands were all brought into the fold of the Catuvellauni dynasty. The royal court was moved from Verlamion to Caerwent in the south, which is called Winchester in the local dialect, and trade with Gaul flourished.
It was an era of wealth and prosperity. Manawyddan dealt with every threat to the unity of the island and the sovereignty of the new king Bran - and there were many, but Manawyddan dealt with them all. The child-king grew tall and wise, and by the time four years had fallen and the boy had reached the age of seventeen, Manawyddan realised that there was nothing more he could teach him. The young King Bran the Second offered him every honour when he had made known his desire to leave, but Manawyddan desired none of it: only he wished to live in peace for the remainder of his days. But in his journeys across the kingdom as regent he had became well-acquainted with Pryderi, who was Prince of the Seven Cantrefs of Dyfed - or Demetia, as we know it; and he had fallen in love with the prince's mother, Rhiannon. So thither now he journeyed, to the prince's court, at the fair port-city of Carmarthen.
This tale has no great wars, no passionate youthful romance - you will only be disappointed if you seek those excitements here. It is a tale of an entirely different nature - of rogue druid-wizards, enchanted towers, ferocious sea-serpents, and the terrible slow-kindled wrath of the Undemanding Chieftain... this is the tale of Manawyddan ap Llyr."
~ ancient briton ~
[This message has been edited by Edorix (edited 09-14-2020 @ 03:50 PM).]