THE CARMARTHEN UNDERGROUND: THE RED KITE'S SONG
During my last visit to Carmarthen, I visited the artists' shop Origin Dyfed in King Street. My purpose was to look at the work of the various artists and perhaps contact one of them regarding the new book cover.
As it happened, Mark Cox, whose work I've often bought in greeting card form, was there and I explained what I was after. He has already done a lovely painting for me so I'm really thrilled.
Anyone interested in his work can see it at www.markcoxpaintings.co.uk or in person at Origin Dyfed which is close to the St Peter's Church end of King Street in Carmarthen.
The final story in The Carmarthen Underground series is currently being written. For the moment, I can give nothing away but you can read the prologue (subject to changes during editing) here:
It was the year of heavy snow, in the age of the story-tellers. In the gathering place, around the fire, sat men and children, their eyes sparkling from the flickering flames and darting sparks, as the bard sat slowly and stiffly down on the stool, placing the harp carefully on his knee. As always, the women moved back and forth, filling cups with mead and scolding those little ones who fidgeted, impatient for the bard to begin.
Lifting his grey head, the singer looked from beneath his heavy eyebrows at the assembled company and winked at the child nearest to him. Old, wrinkled hands caressed the harp strings and he began. He sang of past battles, of heroes and heroic deeds, of gods and goddesses. All sat enthralled, cups of mead forgotten and rough toys strewn on the floor, as they were transported to the place of legend by the story-teller's voice.
At last the songs ended and the old bard placed his precious harp gently at his side. All were still silent around him and he spoke.
"In the time of changes, in days yet to come, our people will call. For the tongue of our fathers and the sovereignty of our land will once again be threatened by those who come across the seas. I cannot tell when this will be but it will not be in our sons' and daughters' time, nor in the time of their grandchildren. It may be that many generations will pass before the days of danger but all must be ready for the battle to come. Our spirits will not rest until this land is once more in our power and those who speak ill of us are vanquished."
As he fell silent, the flames in the central hearth rose with a fierce roar and smoke swirled around him. Men, women and children cried out and, as the fire settled once more and the smoke dispersed, the saw that the stool where the bard had sat lay on its side and both story-teller and harp had gone.
Outside the gathering-place, a young man standing sentinel at the gate walked to and fro in the bitter cold and was startled by a voice.
"Young lad, my work is done here. Will you not let me out through this gate?"
"But should you not stay in the warmth for the night, father bard? You will have food and drink and company tomorrow on your way."
The old man's mule grunted, as though in agreement. "No, my boy, it is time for me to resume my task and I must be elsewhere before daybreak."
The young man nodded and opened the gate just enough for the mule and its burden to pass through and then watched as the reluctant animal picked its way carefully through the snow and down the
hill. As he reached the small wood at the base of the hill, the old man turned and waved, a beam of moonlight falling on his face. The guard gasped, for as he gazed at the old man, he could have
sworn that the grey hair fell away to reveal a man in the beauty of youth and the mule that carried him became a stallion which leapt forward, its hooves not touching the ground or making any