The Hero Of Meillionydd

Ribbons of light singed the horizon, kissing the brows of the rolling hills of the peninsula. The sun was pleased with the clouds’ civility, as they drifted across the vista of a settlement, allowing him to give a warm embrace to the surrounding landscape. Air rushed over the rising mounds of earth and rock, and as it entered the encircled coastline, the wind swirled and billowed. The zephyr made the many hued fields of meadow writhe like an ocean lapping against a sea cave. Wave after wave of viridian, olive and emerald rippled through the vista. Animals waded through the green sea. They were caught in the continuous current, inexplicably pulling them to and fro. The bleats of the sheep punctured the morning rustle of grass, as they braced the onslaught. Moving in a kin centred convoy, stopping every so often to wail at the jade sea in which they swam.

Between the brows of the golden tinged hills and the silvery mist laden azure sea, a double ring of stone enclosed a settlement. The stone guardians were comprised of layers upon layer of rubble, and in the conflagration of light that blazed in the heavens, the stone embankment glowed crimson and jet, while specks of turquoise haphazardly mottled the silent guardian. A gorse bush hedge sat upon the outer rampart. Like a helmet it rested upon the embankment with a distinct task and aesthetic intent. Its thorn encrusted mane spoke terror to those who tried to climb its bristly face. Still, young boys tried, as they were dared to by their young associates who continued to urge them to do many acts of stupidity.

Behind the outer stone rampart a timber canopy mirrored the fortifications, a timber and sheep hide structure that gave protection from the elements to those who guarded the settlement from raids – either from roaming bands of outcasts, or of rival settlements. Most raids came to nothing much than a few bruises and cuts. The worst would be a crippling wound and rarely did a death occur. There had not been a cessation of kin from rival aggression for a generation. The last death had been the end of a debilitating blood debt between the two settlements that vied for control of the coastal region in the peninsula. The debt had now been paid in full. Not in cattle and livestock, but in the blood of the young men of the settlements, who should be plying the fields and tending their young wives, not dead and littering the rolling hills and valleys of the peninsula in mournful Cairns.

Now an uneasy relationship between Meillionydd and their neighbours persisted, and like the volatile relationship between the settlements in the peninsula, the weather also had its own fickle liaison; one that moved from adoration to a whip crack cacophony of water, as the whispery wool like clouds darkened and the heavens released a deluge upon the settlement.

A young boy of thirteen summers, who had been frolicking in the sun’s heat with his friends, ducked into the canopy of the rampart. He wore a long olive wool tunic over brown tight fitted trousers. Upon his right arm, he wore ingots of Tin threaded with leather – denoting his un-married status. He had a leather belt around his waist, in which a Bronze knife was fastened and sheathed in sheepskin. His raven hair was tied into a tail with a leather thong, except for a single length, which had a herringbone braid. The other youngsters around him were similarly attired. The boy had been pretending that he was the great hero of the Meillionydd, who had beaten the bronze-wielding enemies – in this case played by his friends – that surrounded the settlement, cleaving men in two with his sword of star iron. This was one his favourite stories to re-enact, especially when it was maintained by his grandfather, one of the elders of the settlement, that the legendary hero’s blood raged in his own veins.

The boys huddled under the canopy, trying to avoid the torrent of water that fell. The young boy fiddled with the herringbone braid, which his grandfather had shaped, telling him as he secured it that his kin, all the way back to the hero of Meillionydd, had worn the same pattern. It was part of his heritage. The boy leaned against the stone rampart and listened to the rat-tat-tat of the rain against the stretched hide. The sharp scents of sheep dung and the musty smell of water mixing with fertilised earth assailed his nasal passages; he could almost taste it at the back of his throat. The sound of bleats from the sheep that roamed outside the ramparts echoed in the overwhelming disharmony of water. The young boy could smell the unfortunate animals – the odour of saturated wool.

‘Rhisiart,’ said Angwyn, as he crouched near to the timber frame of the canopy, ‘do you always have to be the hero of Meillionydd? Can’t some one else have a go?’

Rhisiart was about to answer his friend when one of the older boys came running to them, his wet hair flapping against his face.

‘Everyone, Rhisiart, Angwyn!’ yelled the boy, ‘there’s a Metal Magician with the elders. He has news of monstrous men clad in segments of iron and wielding swords of steel, sacking settlements along the peninsula. Let’s go and try to catch a glimpse of him?’

A chorus of agreement came from the young and now excited boys huddled under the canopy. The rabble of boys started to run towards the centre of the settlement. Angwyn waited and turned to his friend.

‘You coming?’

Rhisiart shook his head. He would find out what was happening later from his grandfather, who was also a kin Elder and whom the Metal Magician might stay with during his visit.

‘You’ll miss all the fun,’ warned Angwyn and he disappeared off into the vertical mist of tear shaped droplets that streamed down from the charcoal sky.

Rhisiart turned to the stone guardian and started to imagine himself at the ramparts with his Kin’s Star Iron sword yelling his defiance at these iron encased monsters. He walked out into the rain, and spotted a long length of wood, a fallen branch. He picked it up and swung it experimentally, imagining that it was his Iron sword, and smiled, as he pretended that he cleaved his opponent in two. He forgot all about the torrent of water that rushed over his head and down his body, soaking his woollen clothes, making him smell like the sheep that roamed the landscape. He was completely immersed in his fantasy of heroic feats. It was all that mattered at that moment in time.

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