Site hosted by Build your free website today!

Under Seige

We are in the High King's castle at Gwynfryn. The camera tracks behind Manawyddan as he walks through a hall into a room. Upon his entrance, Taliesin walks toward him in greeting. Both Manawyddan and Taliesin have grey hair now, and appear older. Taliesin is accompanied by a younger wizard named Ogmeu, who is short and beardless with surgically pointed ears. He does not come from the wizards' ethnic group, but has been ordained nevertheless.

Taliesin (fondly taking Manawyddan by both shoulders): "My dear old friend. It's good to see you."

He turns with a welcoming gesture toward Ogmeu.

"This is Ogmeu, one of our new allies from Attica and son of their king, Aodh. Ogmeu, this is Manawyddan."

Manawyddan and Ogmeu bow to each other.

Manawyddan (to Ogmeu): "Congratulations on your ordination."

Ogmeu (smilingly adjusting his hat): "Thank you."

Taliesin: "I've heard something extraordinary from our new colleague. People around the southern sea have a thing called... I don't remember."

Ogmeu: "Writing. A gift returned to us by the Ancient Ones."

Taliesin: "Yes, that's right. Please do tell us."

From seven feet away we see the three men strolling over to some finely carved chairs made of dark wood, near a window framed in ivy.

Ogmeu: "Well, it's like this. You make marks on a strip of bark, and each mark corresponds to a sound."

They all sit, Manawyddan facing the other two wizards who watch him closely, waiting for him to grasp the significance of what Ogmeu has said. Then we see Manawyddan looking at them over the camera.

Manawyddan (uncomprehending): "Each mark corresponds to a sound."

We go back to the other two, smiling and waiting.

Taliesin: "Like a sound you make when you're speaking."

We return to Manawyddan.

Manawyddan (his eyes widening in wonder): "What are you leading to?" We see Taliesin in closeup.

Taliesin (still smiling): "You tell me." We switch to Ogmeu.

Ogmeu (laughing): "It means that everything you say can be represented by a series of marks, and that people who know what sounds the marks represent..." We return to Manawyddan.

Manawyddan (in wonder): "...can look at the marks and know exactly what I said!"

There is a pause. Then Manawyddan speaks slowly and intently.

"Do you know what this means?"

We see both Ogmeu and Taliesin nod their heads in delight.

Ogmeu and Taliesin (jubilantly, in unison): "Yes."

Their conversation is broken by a scuffling of many feet, inarticulate voices from afar, and a messenger's voice. Alarmed, they raise their heads toward such an unusual interruption.

Messenger's voice (frantic, shouting from out of frame): "Lords, arm yourselves! The town is under siege!"

The wizards leave the frame in haste.

We see a street in the town of Gwynfryn, lined with wattle and clay houses with sod roofs. A hillside made from midden is starting between the houses. When there is no bank to build in, the Faery make one for insulation against the cold. This prosperous town is different from the old Gwynfryn. It was built on the northern shore of the enlarged Thames river when the water level rose. The inhabitants have left the streets to the victorious army, which we see moving toward the camera along the main street from the background.

All are on foot, and all are men. They dress like the Faery, but most are stockier, many with red-gold hair and Volsungr faces. Their marching tune is the familiar one to which later words have been added: 'Hi ho, anybody home? Meat or drink or money have I not, but still I will be happy'. These people are the Coraaniaid.

An establishing shot shows the council chamber of the castle at Gwynfryn. It is exactly as we saw it last, when Bran received the message from Bronwen. In the High King's chair sits the Coraaniaid general. He has Volsungr features, with red-gold hair and a bushy beard to match, but is no larger than anyone else in the room. Behind his chair we see the legs of the two standing bodyguards who have obviously inherited giant size from their Volsungr genes. All the other chairs are taken up by twelve of his most trusted men. They are of mixed descent, partly the same type as the Fae, and partly Volsungr. The chair at the opposite end of the table is occupied by Lludd.

The camera pans across the table to settle on Lludd, who is slumped in his chair looking very forlorn. His right hand is a prosthetic one made of tin. He is obviously not comfortable, for he has refused sedatives in order to keep his mind clear, and his eyes stare dully at his enemy. Every place at the table has a drinking horn, and there is a large jug with 'grooved ware' decoration in the middle.

General's voice (out of frame): "So, Lludd! How are you feeling today? Sorry I cut off your hand. I hope it's not too painful? You should never have fought us, you know. We have great plans for you. Just accept the fact that these are now the Coraaniaid Islands."

Voice of a Coraaniaid warrior (out of frame): "To the Coraaniaid Islands!"

From Lludd's point of view looking along the table we see all the men stand and raise their horns.

Coraaniaid general and twelve warriors (in unison): "The Coraaniaid Islands!"

We see Lludd's face in closeup, his eyes widening as a thought occurs to him. Then we see a shot of the table from his point of view, slowly zooming in on the horn held in the hand of the man who proposed the toast. In slow motion we see the horn raised, and then brought to the man's lips.

Lludd's voice (slowly and softly, as if in a daze): "Yes, I'll have to give in to you, I see that. Can we arrange another meeting to discuss your new government? I need to gather statistics from each cantrev. I can be of great use to you." This is said as we see the man drinking from his horn.

The camera tracks at ankle level behind Lludd's curly toed moccasins as he walks through a hall of his castle. We hear the sound of his footsteps on the flagstones of the floor. He passes into a large chamber, at the far end of which stand six wizards in a semicircle with a seventh in the middle. Taliesin, Rhiannon and Manawyddan are of their number. The middle wizard is Math. Rhiannon's hair is now white, but she is easily recognizable. We see the wizards from Lludd's perspective as he stops before them. They stand solemn and motionless. Math's voice breaks the silence.

Math: "You have used the Deep Magic."

Lludd's voice (a whisper, out of frame): "Lord..."

There is utter silence. Math suddenly roars in a terrible voice.


There is an uncomfortable pause.

Lludd's voice (timidly): "I know you've declared a ban since what happened all those years ago on Atlantis."

Math: "The Coraaniaid are a people of great knowledge. They have an antidote for every potion."

He pauses for this to sink in.

"So what was in the water they drank at your last meeting, before they ALL DIED?"

Lludd's voice (humbly): "I was told our people had been made immune–"

Math (interrupts furiously): "Don't you understand? The Deep Magic is the magic that has a life of its own. It changes! It can become anything! And we may all perish because of it. There are worse things than being the Coraaniaid Islands. How did you get it?"

We see Lludd from Math's perspective, falling to his knees, his head down.

Lludd (in a small voice): "It's from Lleuaaniais. I got it from my brother Lleuelys."

He stops, then realizes an explanation is expected.

"I didn't go to Caer Parysaan to get it, because Coraaniaid spies were everywhere. We spoke through the horn of the Ancient Ones. I pretended to go boating, and we met in the middle of the Channel. He gave me something to culture in water."

Math's voice (crisply, out of frame): "When we advised you to consult your brother this was not what we had in mind. Do his wizards know?"

Lludd: "I have no idea, lord."

Math's voice (out of frame): "You are keeping something from us."

Lludd: "He told me to set a sample aside in case I might need it again."

Math's voice (out of frame): "You must give it to us. It is a far greater threat than the Coraaniaid ever were."

Lludd covers his face with his hands, the tin one as well as the real one. He bends over even more deeply, in abject shame. He nods.

"And pray. Pray to the Mother, with all your might."

Lludd nods again.

"You're to be replaced by Bres. You can't defend the country with that hand, anyway. Bres is marrying the Coraaniaid queen; it's a good diplomatic move, since so many of her people are on the outlying islands now. And it should make the giants less resentful, appointing Bres, since his grandfather is their king. You were very foolish, not marrying one of them. Llyr's family had their blood; Beli Mawr's does not, and they were very dissatisfied during your reign."

This last remark is disapproving. Lludd nods, still covering his face with his hands.

"Lludd Silverhand, you have offended the Mother. You have broken her Law. And no good will come of it."

Lludd remains motionless, bent over, his head in his hands.

An establishing shot shows an island in the Hebrides, barren but beautiful in the mist, seen from the ocean. A tower made of small flat grey stones stands on a narrow promontory. A small Faery dugout approaches from the ocean, coming through the left side of the frame. We hear the tune of 'Gwerz Maro Pont Kalleg', performed on a harp.

The voice of a very old woman is heard, a voiceover during this shot with a singsong Norse accent.

"When I was a young girl my father shut me up in a tower, for he had been told that he would die on my wedding day."

We see a rather dashing young man, a Faery, with cloak, boots and hat just as Pwyll had at the beginning of our story. He has a harp in his left hand, and gazes up at a window which is out of frame at the top of the tower. Removing the hat with a flourish, he sinks gracefully to one knee, still gazing upward, and proceeds to play his harp in the romantic manner of Faery troubadours. There is a rope at his feet.

Next we see a young woman leaning slightly out the window to look down at him. We look straight across at her from outside the window. She has a stunning Volsungr face. Her long strawberry blonde hair is parted in the middle and coiled in two buns over her ears.

We see the tower from thirty feet away. The Faery lover is a small figure at the bottom of it on the left side of the frame, seen from his right side. The young man throws a rope up.

We see the maiden from below, fastening her end of the rope to some anchor, then throwing a sack out of the window. She climbs over the window sill and proceeds with remarkable grace to descend the rope on the outside of the tower, coming toward the camera.

Next we see the couple as she lands in front of him, and for the first time we realize their size discrepancy –he barely reaches up to her ribs. She wears the same kind of clothing as Faery women, but she wears the soft boots of the Volsungrs, bound by criss cross thongs. The young man has put his harp down and is standing. He extends one leg forward and bows, flourishing his hat behind him before returning it gracefully to his head.

"I dreamt of a handsome prince who would carry me away –"

The sentence is completed as he gently takes her right hand in both of his, standing nearer the left side of the frame than she, and turns toward the camera.

"–and one day he came for me."

The Faery leads her to his boat, which is beached on the sand beyond the camera. Then we see the small dugout from the foot of the tower as, holding his hand, she steps lightly in. The boat immediately capsizes.

We see the couple on a heathery bank. The young man is holding the reins of his horse, a fine little pony which to the giant maiden is about as easy to ride as a medium sized dog. The young man is gesturing to the maiden, urging her to mount the steed, and she is shaking her head and daintily fluttering her hands.

"He was everything my heart desired, and I loved him."

From about twenty feet away we see the maiden leading the horse by the reins over a grassy knoll. Her tiny prince is seated on the horse.

"He took me away, and made me his bride."

A wide angle shot looks down upon the maiden leading the horse, with her prince upon it. They are moving across a barren stretch of land, diagonally toward the top of the frame.

"He was Arthur's cousin, and he died at the king's last battle, fighting by the king's side. And now I am old beyond belief, but I still love him. He was my hero and I was his princess."

An establishing shot shows a very old lady, very well dressed, being accompanied by her attendant into the throne room of the High King's new castle on Atlantis. She is walking toward the camera out of a hall leading to the room. The old lady is a giantess, and her attendant is a middle aged Faery woman who treats her with solicitude.

We see Lludd from the point of view of the giantess, walking forward to welcome her with both arms outstretched, not to hug her but to demonstrate his welcome. Lludd's right hand is just as it was before the Coraaniaid invasion –a whole, functioning, flesh and blood hand. The giantess is the lady whose story we have just heard, the maiden in the tower grown old. Her name is Olwen.

Lludd: "Lady Olwen, how lovely to see you again!"

We see Olwen wave Lludd's greeting aside.

Olwen: "Nothing is lovely, Lludd. I know what Peblig's been demanding. A third of their meal, a third of their milk, and worst of all, a third of their children carried off to be his slaves, or else he razes their villages to the ground."

She shakes her head.

"You can't allow it, Lludd, you know that. Giants! Either they're good or they're bad, and you always know which pretty fast." She turns away, muttering to herself. "The bully."

Lludd's voice (out of frame): "Do take a seat, Lady Olwen."

Olwen makes her way forward, supported by her tiny attendant. She does not sit down.

Olwen: "At my age I might never get up. So you have a new castle! Courtesy of the new arrivals. I hear they're related to Partholon."

Lludd: "Yes. We owed them some help." His voice becomes somewhat resentful. "They're the only ones who trust me."

Olwen (patting him on the back): "I do. You're a hero. I was told they'd been fighting some people who have the oldest city in the world."

Lludd: "Yes. They lost. That's why they came." There is a pause.

Olwen: "Oh, I'm sorry, I forgot to say congratulations on your operation."

Lludd's voice (out of frame): "Thank you."

Olwen: "Are there lots of them, these new people?"

Lludd's voice: "Enough to fill up Atlantis."

Olwen: "Good. Then they can fight Peblig. We'll need all the help we can get. There's going to be trouble, you know."

Lludd's voice: "Yes."

Olwen: "I'm glad Bres was kicked out. He was no good at all. I heard that a mob of people stormed the castle and dragged him to his ship."

Lludd's voice: "Yes, I'm sorry I missed it."

Olwen: "And what happened to that nice young man, Light?"

Lludd's voice: "He felt he was unworthy of the throne."

Olwen: "Oh. Well, I'm happy for you." Her eyes twinkle past the camera at Lludd. "You're glad to be back, aren't you? And I hear they're calling the old capital Caer Lluddaan instead of Gwynfryn."

She surveys him appreciatively, then becomes suddenly serious.

"We need a strong king right now. Bres was in league with Peblig, you know. Funnelling the people's tithes straight over to him. Like grandfather, like grandson. He has no loyalties to his Faery blood, only to his giantish blood. The father now, Elatheu– he's one of the good ones. Can't stand his own father or his son. The point is, I was wondering whether I could help."

She points at Lludd, who is still out of frame.

"You have to do something, you know. Peblig's a greedy one. Elatheu won't help him, but he'll be back with a fleet, you know that. He and his wife Ceithleu, and Bres with them."

Lludd's voice: "I know, lady. But Peblig won't talk, not even to you. It's his way or war. The wizards have sent Gwydion to call out all the battalions." His voice drops to a confidential tone. "I think they did it to keep him out of trouble." He returns to his usual voice. "Aodh, the newcomers' king, has gone to stall the giants. He's pretending to negotiate a surrender, and playing the fool; it should give us the time we need to muster an army. We have thirty battalions from both islands, and one from Lleuaaniais. They're here because we know the giants will strike Atlantis first. They'll land in the northwest where there's a large giant population, and we'll probably meet them at Moytura."

Olwen: "You're going to need all the help you can get. There's more to this than meets the eye. The giants wouldn't follow Peblig unless they were in some kind of trouble. I wonder what it is." There is a pause. "I heard he's getting massive reinforcements from the mainland."

Her words meet with a shocked silence.

Lludd's voice (so alarmed his voice is almost a whisper): "What?"

Olwen (urgently): "Lludd! Didn't you know?" A tone of urgency enters her voice. "You must send Aodh to the Volhall, or a sea of giants will be coming before you're ready!"

An extreme closeup shows Lludd turning his face away from Olwen, who is visible in the background. He is turning to the camera, and his features are paralyzed with horror.

back to introduction for next excerpt

photo of fourth millennium British stonework courtesy Chris Collyer
(author's note: in reality such stonework was confined to tombs)
return to mainpage