John Fish B.Sc.Publishers of Tenby in Wales (UK)
ROWSE LITERARY AGENCY DROWNED FOREST: BURIED TOWN by John Robert Ward
ROWSE LITERARY AGENCY
DROWNED FOREST: BURIED TOWN
John Robert Ward
e-mail: John Robert Ward
West of these out to seas colder than the Hebrides I must go
Where the fleet of stars is anchored and the young star-captains glow.
The dragon-green, the luminous, the dark, the serpent haunted sea.
We Poets of the proud old lineage
Who sing to find your hearts, we know not why,-
What shall we tell you? Tales, marvellous tales
Of ships and stars and isles where good men rest.
James Elroy Flecker 1884 – 1915
DROWNED FOREST: BURIED TOWN
The Saga of DracoThe navigators who built the railway line between Swansea and Milford Haven were a tough bunch. They had seen just about everything and faced all the hardships that railway construction in Victorian Britain could throw at them. When they came across the blocked mouth of a cave on the outskirts of Carmarthen that lay directly in the way of the track there was only one thing to do – get rid of the obstruction! The cave was unearthed by a blast of dynamite. That would have been the end of it, but for the fact that one of the labourers had discovered a parchment scroll – which he had the presence of mind to hide on his person.
Sample Chapter Chapter One
Joseph of Aramithea entered the room and quickly closed the door behind him. The
Inn was about as grimy a place as a traveller would find anywhere in first century
Britain. Hardly the place where one would expect to see so powerful an Arch Druid
as Merlin, but there he sat, patiently waiting Joseph’s arrival. The walls of the room
were thick with decades of soot from the smoking turf fire, but the Innkeeper had
placed fresh rushes on the floor in deference to the importance of the man who had
selected the Red Dragon Inn for their meeting.
The meeting place was well known to Joseph. It was conveniently situated close to
the harbour of the Cymric port of Cynffig, a place that he had visited often with his .1.
cargo of trade goods, doing lucrative business with the Celts that lived in the Hill Fort
a short distance from the Port
His brightly painted Roman-built trading vessel was well known for its small size, in
contrast to the surprisingly large volume of exotic trade goods that it could store in its
hold. Joseph had bought it at the Roman port of Ostia some ten years previously.
The craft had been used by its previous owner as a coastal trading vessel, often being
loaded with grain regularly hauled from the port up the Tiber River to Rome. .2.
The ship had then been known as the Isis Giminiana. The Judean had re-named it
Boaz, after the first Judean artificer in metals. It was steered by means of two long
oars at the stern, which were also utilised to move the craft in and out of harbour. The
single lateen sail would then be raised. It had not been designed for long voyages, so
Joseph added a small cabin for himself, while the crew of three bunked down among
the trade goods.
The Boaz was a welcome early-Summer visitor to the shores of Cornwall, Devon and
Wales, or Cymru, when spoken in the Celtic tongue. The Welsh leg of the cruise
covered the coastline from the fair haven of Solva in the South-West to the Roman
outpost of Caerleon on the South-Eastern border. Usually making it the venue for a
short, overnight stopover in the middle of the trading season, this time he had sailed
directly to Cynffig from Caesarea on receiving Merlin’s summons. .3.
It had not been an easy voyage. It was early Spring when the Boaz left its safe berth
in the harbour of Caesarea. The weather had been fair until the vessel passed through
the Pillars of Hercules, but it gradually worsened as it progressed up the West Coast
of the Iberian Peninsula. Joseph had been forced to lay over for several days in a
natural harbour within a group of small islands off the North Coast of Brittany, before
attempting the last leg of the passage around the tip of Cornwall and up the Bristol
Channel to the diminutive harbour of Cynffig. .4.
The Merchant had fumed at Merlin’s pre-emptory request – in reality a command –
that ‘Joseph of Arimathea, Merchant Trader of Judea’ meet with him at the town of
Cynffig to discuss ‘matters of the utmost urgency to be resolved to the mutual
advantage of both parties’. It was emblematic of the young Arch Druid’s reputation
throughout the known world that, despite his trepidation, Joseph wasted no time in
casting off. In deference to the second part of Merlin’s request, the trader carried with
him but one object, all the while wondering how Merlin should be the only other
man alive to know of its very existence.
He had also wondered why a man as powerful as Merlin could possibly
select such a midden of a town as Cynffig and such a hovel of an inn as the Red
Dragon as a venue for their meeting? Although Joseph had never met Merlin, it was
well known that the Arch Druid generally inhabited a cave near the small town that
had been named after him – Caer Myrddyn. Why could they not have met there?
Since there was only one other occupant of the room, the Merchant of Judea took a
step towards him and, in his usual forthright manner, held out his open right hand to
show that it contained neither dagger nor sword.
"I am Joseph, known as Arimathea, Merchant Trader of Judea, here at your request. I
offer you my services, without reservation."
The great wizard slowly rose to his full height. Joseph gasped. Merlin was generally
reported to be a tall, well-built man with a mane of tawny hair, but here stood a
stunted, skinny, cross-eyed wretch! Could this really be the man he had travelled so
far to see, the mention of whose name could strike terror even into the hearts of
"Demon! Are you Merlin!" The Merchant cried "Or are you a changeling from Hell!"
A slight movement in the darkest corner of the room caught Joseph’s eye. A section
of the filthy wall lurched outwards and lunged towards him in a cloud of black dust.
"A Golem from the depths of Hades!" Joseph cried out, drawing his sword. " I do
not fear thee, thou creature of dust and mud!" .5.
"Sheath your sword, Arimathea, before you hurt someone – probably yourself!"
As the Golem spoke it staggered into the candlelight and threw off a soot-covered
hessian blanket. In its place stood a man who perfectly fitted the description of
Merlin, the Great Arch Druid of Caer Myrddyn.
"Not Golem but Wizard! Not demon or changeling but Wizard’s Apprentice. It was
good of you to offer him your services, but I have need of them myself. And by the
Great Red Dragon, I am indeed fortunate to have been offered the services of a man
with the courage to face changelings, demons and golems single-handed!"
Before Joseph stood a powerfully built man who appeared to be in his mid-thirties.
His beard was full and thick, but neatly trimmed, as was his red-gold hair. His eyes
were a startling blue. They seemed to flash with an inner fire as he threw back his
head and laughed heartily, showing a mouth full of even, white teeth. The merchant
was himself above average height, but Merlin topped him by the width of a full hand. .6.
For someone who was reputed to live in a cave the wizard looked extremely healthy,
with the typical sun-tanned and wind-burned skin of a Celtic Warrior. Joseph of
Arimathea was of a more compact build, with the long, sinewy muscles of a
His skin was the olive colour of the true Semite and his head, in complete contrast to
Merlin’s profuse Welsh locks, was a shaven skull. He sheathed his weapon with the
flourish of a skilled swordsman.
It was now the Druid’s turn to offer the hand of friendship. The Merchant took it
firmly, feeling the calluses that matched his own fighter’s palm. Nonetheless,
Joseph’s Mediterranean temperament was not to be that easily appeased. He matched
the pressure of Merlin’s grip and then increased his own.
"Is this yet another test, to prove that strength of grip equates with strength of
purpose? Are you now ready to believe that I am indeed he whom I claim to be? I
have travelled far to discuss these ‘matters of the utmost urgency to be resolved to the
mutual benefit of both parties’. I did not expect to be treated as a buffoon!"
"Please accept my apologies and also accept that my simple subterfuge was not
performed lightly. I have many enemies, most of who would stop at nothing to
destroy me. I had to be sure that you were the same Joseph of Arimathea to whom I
despatched my request. It was always possible that it could have been intercepted and
your place taken by an assassin."
Joseph relaxed his grip and his demeanour. Merlin took the Merchant’s upper arm in
a token of friendship. He turned to his young apprentice.
"Tell the landlord to bring us some of his fine ale, and then leave us! Joseph of
Arimathea and Myrddin of Cymru have got a lot of heavy debating to do this night!"
The apprentice slunk across the room and opened the door. The late March wind was
blowing strongly and sand from the burrows that surrounded the old port of Cynffig
was starting to drift against it. The frail youth struggled to open the door. Before he
closed it he paused and turned briefly to cast a malevolent glance at Joseph. The
Merchant caught the glance out of the corner of his eye and shivered involuntarily.
"Your Apprentice" he asked, "does he know the purpose of our meeting?"
Merlin grinned, teeth flashing behind his beard.
"Iestyn? What can he know that you do not yet know? The only person who has that
information is myself, and I think it time to tell you just what it is that I know ."
The door opened and the Innkeeper entered, carrying a large earthenware jug of ale
and two tankards. He placed them on the rough-hewn table and left the room. Merlin
filled both tankards to the brim with the sweet, foaming brew and drunk deeply of his
own. He put down the tankard and turned to Joseph.
"You have aboard your ship a certain precious relic, the loss of which could mean the
total destruction of this new religion that is sweeping through every country north of
the Mediterranean Sea. It is a common drinking chalice that possesses the power to
turn into blood any liquid that is poured into it – am I correct?"
Joseph was surprised at the Arch Druid’s knowledge, but he realised that there might
be a simple explanation for it.
"I do not understand how you came to know this, but I accept the possibility that the
cup might have been discovered by one of my crew. In order to prove to me that your
much-vaunted powers truly exist, you will have to do better than that!"
Merlin leaned forward and spoke very quietly.
"On this day twenty five years ago, when you were a very young man in Jerusalem, a
prophet was arrested by the Romans, tried by the Governor of Judea, and executed by
crucifixion. He was forced to carry His own crucifixion tree as he was cruelly
scourged through the streets of Jerusalem. But one man took pity on Him, wrapping
the corpse in a clean linen cloth and carrying it to a new tomb. That man’s name was
Joseph of Arimathea!"
The merchant gave a derisive snort.
"You think that specially privileged information? It is a matter of record that I buried
Him. I was even arrested and beaten by the soldiers for it. My name can be found in
the court scrolls with the ten shekels fine I had to pay written alongside it!"
Merlin continued as though there had been no interruption.
" After your night in jail you returned to your lodgings, where you were visited by a
woman whom you had first met on the previous evening. She had been sitting over
against the tomb with the Mother of Jesus. She now sought you out, having witnessed
your compassion towards the Crucified Nazarene.
"It was then that she gave you the olive wood chalice, the same one that Jesus the
Carpenter had filled with wine at His last supper with His Disciples. All had drunk
"How can you know this?" hissed Joseph through teeth clenched in anger. "You are a
heathen – a Druid – what do you know of the power of the Christ? This is the Devil’s
work and I want none of it!" He rose to his feet and made to leave. Merlin restrained
him gently, but firmly.
"As you said, Merchant, you have come a long way to meet with me, too far to leave
me so soon. Resume your seat and hear me out. I may not be a follower of your
Christ, but I am no heathen! The methods that I employ to gain my knowledge have
little to do with the ways of Satan and much to do with the hidden gifts of man."
Joseph took his place again, albeit reluctantly. The Arch Druid took a long swallow
of his ale and continued.
"The woman who gave the chalice into your safekeeping is of the Cymric people –
my people. She was a priestess in the religion of the Ancient Celts, of which I am the
Leader and Highest Druid. Our holiest temple is the great Stone Henge near Old
Sarum. It has stood since the dawn of time, for as long as man can remember, but the
Celtic race has been around for a far longer time.
"Among our most sacred shrines is the lake called Llyn Briane, which is protected by
the hallowed Forest of Tywi. The High Priestess is the Lady of the Lake, and she is
served by a coven of priestesses. The woman who came to you was of that coven.
Her name is Mari, Yr Merch Llyn, which means Mary, Maid of the Lake She was
travelling along the Bay of Caredygion when her party was attacked by Picti raiders.
She was abducted and brutally used before being sold into slavery with a Greek
merchant from whom she gained her freedom through sexual enchantments.
She found herself in Jerusalem, where she found work as a serving woman. It was
she who served Jesus and His twelve Disciples. He blessed the chalice and gave it her
for safekeeping. He told her that it was the Holy Grail, and that every time it was
filled, the contents would change to become his blood. That night, Mari Merch Llyn
or as you know her – Mary Magdelene, ceased to be a Celtic Priestess and became
one of the first followers of the Prophet Jesus.
I know all this because she has communicated with me in spirit, while I slept. She
was sad because she knows that she will never again set foot in her homeland. But
she has found fulfilment in worshipping the crucified Christ "
Joseph of Arimathea remained silent for a few moments, remembering those fateful
few days in Jerusalem, so long ago, so far away from this mean room in a dingy and
unimportant inn. Remembering the charismatic woman whom he had met but once,
a woman who had trusted him to save from harm the most precious relic of the
Christian faith. Thinking about the faith and courage of that tortured wreck of a man,
the aiding of who was to change his life for ever. He raised his head and looked
directly into Merlin’s startling blue eyes.
"Your powers are truly great, Druid, for what you have just told me was knowledge I
thought possessed only by myself."
"There is more. I possess the ability to look through your eyes and into your very
soul. What I see there is great fear. Not fear of man or beast, but fear of failing in the
enormous commitment that you have made to the new religion. Joseph of Arimathea,
Merchant of Judea and Trader to the far corners of the Roman Empire, lives with a
terrible responsibility as the Keeper of the Holy Grail. My friend, for the past twenty
five years you have shouldered that heaviest of burdens. Now it is time that you
passed that awful accountability to those better able to live with it."
"You read my soul well, Myrddyn of Wales. For too many years I have slept with
the chalice under my pillow. I have slept alone, for fear of betrayal. I have taken
nether wife nor lover. I am a rich man, but a hollow one. From the depths of my
tortured soul I pray to the Lord Jesus to relieve me of this intolerable burden, but
where is that relief? Not here, in this heathen, God-forsaken land, I’ll wager"
"THEN YOU WOULD LOSE!" Merlin roared with a terrible voice, shaking the
walls of the tiny inn. " The land of Cymru may be God-forsaken to you, and some of
our people may still be heathens in your eyes, but we are Celtic Warriors, fierce and
proud. Our religion is as ancient as the Earth itself!
"We have settled the whole of Europe from Hibernia in the West to the lands of the
Kazbeks and the Bulgars far to the East. The Celts were the first workers of iron and
our traditions are strong. We have no need of useless artefacts to support our
With a great and obvious effort, Merlin got his Celtic anger under control.
"Now listen to me, Judean, and mark me well! We so-called heathen Celts allow to
live amongst us a small group of men – an alien cult – who worship your Christ. On a
high Tor, called Ynis Witrin, the ‘Island of Glass’, Glastonbury, that is sacred to both
Celt and Christian, the members of this alien cult have built a small, but heavily .7.
fortified temple that they call an abbey. The Abbot there is well known to me and is a
trustworthy man. I am certain that he and his acolytes will gladly take on the
responsibility of Keepers of your Holy Grail. I will take you to him, but I want
something from him in return for my trouble. After all, your religion means nothing
to me or my own followers."
Joseph threw up his hands in delight. "God be praised!" he shouted, overjoyed with
the opportunity offered to him. "I will do anything in my power to get him to grant
your wish. What will it be, friend Merlin?"
" He must stop his monks preaching the word of Christ to my people, and agree to
stop converting them to his new religion! It is spreading like a rash all over Europe!
"My druids report daily that Celts are converting in their hundreds, from Hibernia in
the North, through Eire, Cymru and Cornwall to Brittany in Gaul, and even the
Basque people in the northern mountains of the Iberian peninsula. If it is not
stopped, it will mean the end of our religion, our customs and our language forever. I
will not allow this to happen.
"Take good note, Judean! The most holy relic of the Christians in exchange for the
future of the Celtic race. It would seem to be an equitable arrangement indeed!"
" For myself " Joseph replied "I am satisfied with the arrangement, as long as it
means that the Holy Grail will be safe from defilement for eternity. It would seem
that the Abbey of Glastonbury is the most secure repository available. I will go with
you to inspect it and if I am completely satisfied then I will leave the relic with the
Abbott, as you suggest. Since the Abbey lies across the Channel from here we can
leave Cynffig on the next tide, which will be during this night."
"And leave we shall, my brave Merchant Adventurer! Get back to your ship and
rouse your crew, Joseph. I will collect Iestyn and join you within the hour."
Joseph frowned at this, and said "To be honest with you, Merlin, I do not trust
your Apprentice. I cannot say why, but as he left the room tonight he gave me a look
which, if it were weapon of war, would have struck me dead on the instant."
"The boy is cross-eyed! He was probably looking at the sand blowing in the wind and
foolishly got some in his eyes. He has been my Apprentice but a short time and I
have found him to be diligent and hard working. But if you wish, he will remain on
board the ship when we drop anchor at Westhay wharf, on the River Brue.
From there we must travel a few miles by coracle to the Abbey on Glastonbury Tor."
"I can live with that arrangement." Both men lifted their tankards and finished the
rest of the ale. They shook hands purposefully, opened the door of the poky room and
swiftly left the Red Dragon Inn. Neither man noticed the sinister hunched figure
crouching at the corner of the crumbling building, cloak drawn around itself against
the sting of the wind-blown sand.
The moment that Merlin and Iestyn boarded the ship, Joseph gave orders to cast off.
He asked Merlin if he made this crossing often.
"Aye, I do, about once in every quarter-year." Replied the Arch Druid. "But I usually
cross further up, where the Channel is narrower and the danger of being sunk by a
sudden squall is less. There is a ferry that runs from the mouth of the River Wye, at
Beachley, to the village of Aust, but that is many leagues further for us to sail. .8.
Besides, your fine ship will get us over there safely and quickly, I am sure."
"There are some danger points on this course." The Judean pointed directly to where
the sky was beginning to lighten with the early false dawn. " We are sailing due South
out of Cynffig Harbour, but once in mid-Channel we will tack due East. This will
avoid Tuskar Rock and the mouth of the River Ogwr. As it gets light you will see two
small islands straight ahead."
"Flat Holme and Steep Holme!" Merlin interrupted. "I have often seen camp fires
alight on those islands. People from other Celtic tribes – Barbarian Picti from
Caledonia and Wild Hibernian Scotti – have tried to make their homes there in the
past, but we Welsh have always fought them and driven away those we have not
Iestyn the Apprentice burst out – "Please Master, we must not land there! The ghosts
of slain warriors guard those islands! It is death to set foot on either of them!"
Joseph laughed at the inanity of Iestyn’s outburst. "Do not be afraid, little man, we
will not be landing there – the ghosts will not get you this time. Before we get to
within even a few leagues of them, we will be making another tack due South. By
placing the ship directly in line with the two islands we will sail straight into the safe
haven of the Parrett Estuary. At the highest point of the tide we can enter the mouth
of the River Brue. We will drop anchor there. We will then deliver our message to
the Abbot of Glastonbury, return to my ship and sail back down the Bristol Channel
to Caer Myrddyn." He turned to Merlin. "The crossing will take about half a day. If
I were you I would take the opportunity to rest while you can – we have a full night’s
work ahead of us."
"Thank you, Joseph, I will take your advice." Wrapping his cloak around him against
the dawn chill, the Arch Druid settled down among the sacks of flour and dried
vegetables that made up the ship’s provisions.
"If you do not mind, Master Joseph" Iestyn asked in an fawning tone " I will station
myself at the front of the boat."
"The prow of the ship!" Joseph corrected, more harshly than he had intended.
Despite Merlin’s assurances, he had taken a strong dislike to the youth’s toadying.
"And why should a weak-kneed landlubber like you wish to sit out the cruise there?"
"Sorry, sir" the Apprentice continued, hesitantly "I am very nervous of those ghosts
and I would be grateful if you could allow me to keep a special watch in case any
"Oh, all right, Iestyn – but if you get in the way of me or my crew, we will throw you
to the fishes – or cast you off at Flat Holme! I have heard that the ghosts there are
particularly bloodthirsty!" He turned to address the crew "Is that not what we coarse
sailor men do to whingeing landlubbers, lads!" With the jeering laughter and taunts
of the crew echoing in his ears, the diminutive apprentice scuttled to the prow, to
cower timidly under his threadbare cloak. He lay quietly, not wishing to draw
attention to himself. Under his cloak he had concealed two items. One hand gripped
an earthenware flagon of strong Welsh mead. The other furtively polished the already
burnished surface of a small metal mirror.
Although it was late March, a time of frequent, violent squalls that marched swiftly in
from the Irish Sea, up the Bristol Channel and into the Severn Estuary, the weather
remained mild and sunny throughout the crossing. It was late morning by the time the
ship made its turn to the South, lining up with both Islands, and mid-afternoon when
they dropped anchor at the mouth of the river. Merlin hailed a group of fishermen
trawling with nets slung between their animal-hide coracles.
Soon he had agreed a sum for which one of the coracle-owners would transport
Merlin and Joseph to Glastonbury, wait while they met with the Abbott and then
return them to the ship in time for the next full tide. Iestyn and the crew of the
merchant vessel would remain on the ship.
A few hours later, in the gathering dusk, the coracle beached on a muddy bank a few
hundred yards from the Abbey. The great darkened bulk of Glastonbury Tor
dominated the surrounding rolling countryside, and the occupants of the small boat
could see clearly the torch and candle lit windows of the rough timber building that
was the newly-built Abbey. The moon was already on the rise and the steep, well-
worn path from river to Abbey was clearly visible. The druid covered his face with
both hands in obeisance to the moon Goddess, while the merchant made the sign of
the fish in the air with his right hand. In a few minutes the short distance was
covered. Joseph knocked three times on the stout wooden gates with the base of his
staff, and then stuck it into the ground. A head appeared over the top of what had
once been the earth wall of a Celtic hill fortress.
"Who knocks there?" The monk lowered the hood of his habit to reveal a plump pink
"Is that you, Brother Cadfael?" Merlin called back "Why, I believe you are getting
fatter by the day! Christian living must agree with you!"
"Myrddynn! You young heathen! Wait while I get down from this accursed mud
heap and I’ll let you in"
A series of grunts and un-monk-like curses accompanied the descent. With a great
rattling of locks and chains – and a final grunt of satisfaction – one of the gates was
opened a short way. Merlin squeezed his large, muscular frame through the gap,
followed by Joseph.
"God be with you, Myrddyn of Cymru! It is good to see you again." The monk
turned his attention to the stranger at Merlin’s side and held out his hand. " You are
also welcome here, stranger." He gripped Joseph’s wrist in the Roman clasp.
Joseph returned the clasp with a firm pressure to the other’s forearm.
"I thank you for your greeting, good friar, but I am not a Roman who worships
Mithras. I am a Judean who was of the Hebrew faith, but is now a follower of the
Fisherman. I am a Christian, just like you."
Merlin clapped his hands sharply. " Enough of your greetings, Cadfael! We do not
have time for such pleasantries. We have to meet with the Abbott on a very
complicated matter. Then we must return to my companion’s vessel in time to catch
the tide. Make your way swiftly to the Abbott’s quarters and tell him that Myrddyn
the Arch Druid of the Celts is here with Joseph of Arimathea, Merchant Trader of
"It is many years since I have made haste anywhere! I am built for kneeling and
sitting, not for running or even fast walking!" Brother Cadfael huffed.
Merlin continued, ignoring the monk’s interruption. "Say to the Abbott that this is the
same Joseph who took the body of your Christ when he was dead, scourged cruelly
and crucified by the Pilate’s Roman Soldiers. This is the man who gave up his own
tomb to be the sepulchure in which the Nazarene was buried. Now go!" And for the
first time in many years, Brother Cadfael picked up the skirts of his habit and ran. .9.
Merlin and Joseph followed him at a slower pace. By the time they reached the small
wooden building the Abbott had been roused and now stood at the door to the crudely
built church. Behind and to the side of him stood between thirty and forty monks
aged between sixteen and sixty years, all clothed similarly in brown homespun habits.
The Abbott stepped forward and addressed the Druid. "What is this news, Merlin?
Brother Cadfael says that this merchant is the same man as aided Our Dear Lord
before Calvary? Can this be true?" He took Joseph’s hands gently in his own.
"Can these hands have touched His poor, suffering body? Did His sweat mingle with
the blood that poured so freely from His wounds into your hands?"
"As far as I can ascertain" Merlin dryly interjected "by using my Celtic and Druidic
spiritual skills, he is the one written about in your Holy Scriptures. But do not take
my word alone. Joseph of Arimathea has with him an artefact that is as essential to
the continuation of your religion as the great stones of Old Sarum are to mine."
Merlin gestured to the bulge where Joseph was concealing the chalice. "Show him
the grail" He said quietly to the Judean.
Joseph reached under his cloak and brought out a plain, somewhat scarred drinking
goblet. He held it out to the Abbott, who took it with great care and reverence. One
of the monks carried a flagon and he now approached the Abbott, who instructed him
to pour a little into the goblet…"gently, brother, gently, for this wine will soon be the
Blood of the Lord."
But nothing happened. The small congregation of monks fell to their knees and began
to pray, while the Abbott raised the goblet towards the heavens. As if in answer to the
prayers, a full moon appeared from behind a cloud, casting a light almost as bright as
a morning sun.
The unearthly light caught the rim of the goblet, which sparkled like pure silver. The
radiant glow slowly spread from the rim to the bowl, and finally to the base, until the
goblet shone and sparked as if were made from the moonbeams that gave it such Holy
illumination. Every man present, with the exception of the Arch Druid and the
Abbott, were on their knees, gazing with rapture at the vessel that was no longer
a rough goblet but a silver grail – The Holy Grail!
The Abbott lowered the Holy Grail and turned to face the assembled monks. "Our
Master told His Disciples – ‘This is my blood, drink it in remembrance of me’. Now
my brethren, we must do the same, for our lips will be the first to have touched this
Holy Grail since the Last Supper." He carried the Grail to each of the kneeling men
in turn, starting with Joseph of Arimathea. Merlin moved aside and sat down on the
grass, looking pale and exhausted. Joseph wondered how an unbeliever such as the
Arch Druid could have been so affected by what was, after all, a Christian miracle.
As each man took a sip the unearthly glow grew dimmer and dimmer. The Abbott
was the last to sip from the Grail, and as it was drained the light went out completely.
The Holy Grail was once more a common drinking goblet. The Abbott turned to
Joseph and spoke.
"It is thanks to you that we have tonight been part of a great miracle. The clergy of
Glastonbury have indeed been entrusted with the Holy of Holies, and we must ensure
that it is safely housed in a church built of stone, worthy of its Glory. I would ask
one more act of kindness of you, Brother Joseph, for we do not possess the skills
needed for such a task."
"I will do what I can, Lord Abbott, but I am a merchant, my skills are in trading and
sailing my ship, the Boaz, and not what you require here, I think!"
Merlin stepped forward. He had been quiet for a long time. Now was his chance to
bargain for the souls of the Celtic Race. The Abbott spoke again.
"I cannot explain what has happened here this night, but I will agree that this magic
chalice needs to be carefully housed. You are a Judean, Joseph, and it is well known
that your people have developed extraordinary skills in the building of Basilicae; your
Temple of Solomon was known throughout the world for its magnificence! On your
return to Judea you must recruit those masons who hold the secrets that make such
magnificence possible, and return here with them."
"These masons that you mention so glibly are the most difficult society to deal with
that I have ever known! They are so secretive and jealous of their skills that they
have even developed a system of signs and passwords with meanings known only to
the members of their own secret society." Joseph sighed.
"But I will try my best. You had better think of a special password that I can pass on
to them, so that they will know that they are not dealing with those who wish to steal
their secrets. They would also feel more content if I could give them a sign or token
known only to the Judean Masons and the Glastonbury Brethren. It should be
distinguishable by darkness as well as during the day."
The Abbott thought for a few moments. "Let the password be the same as the name
of your ship – Boaz – to be lettered or halved when given, thus: B.O.A.Z; BO-AZ;
Boaz! And let the token be a handshake, not in the Roman or Celtic way, but by
gripping the right hand firmly and giving pressure with the thumb between the first
and second joints of the hand, thus:" he gripped Joseph’s hand in the manner
"Now it is my turn to speak." Merlin, now recovered, faced the Abbott squarely,
drawing himself up to his full height, and dwarfing all present. " It is due entirely to
me that you now have possession of your holiest relic, and I am not even of your
Christian religion. You owe me, Father Abbott; you and all your Christians owe me
in a very big way, and I demand payment."
" We are eternally grateful to you, Arch Druid, but we have nothing to give you. You
can see the frugal way we live." The Abbott extended his arms in a gesture of
helplessness, taking in the crude wattle and daub huts and the roughly-hewn timber
chapel that made up the Abbey. "We have no riches, no gold…"
"We Celts do not want your gold! We have been craftsmen in gold for centuries,
since before the presence of the Romans – have you not seen our beautiful torcs?
"Our greatest kings are buried surrounded by riches. The greatest of them all, King
Zel, is buried in a sacred mound at Silbury, not too far from here, clothed in a suit of
gold and sitting astride a great golden horse. No, Christian, I do not want your earthly
riches. What I want is for you and your damned priests to stop stealing the souls of
my people!" .11.
The Abbott shook his grizzled head sadly. "That we cannot do. We have taken our
holy vows, which include the conversion of all pagan peoples, and we do not take
them lightly. We are prepared to die rather than stop doing Christ’s work."
"Then die you shall – all of you!" Merlin hissed, through clenched teeth. "Not
tonight, and not even during this, or the next, moon. But I promise you this – if you
refuse to pay what I demand, in the manner that I require, then you will pay in blood
before this year is through! I leave now, to go on a journey that will take me to the
Ends of the Earth, and when I return I will speak to you again of this. Think hard,
Lord Abbott, and pray to your Master for guidance.
"The Celts of this land have stood against greater foes than the Christian hordes. I
am Myrddyn, Leader of the Welsh and Arch Druid of the Celtic Race, and I will have
He turned abruptly on his heel and strode off in the direction they had come. Joseph
started after him, but after a few paces stopped and turned back to the Abbott and his
"I must follow him, Lord Abbott, although I also am of the Christian faith. I will
return as soon as I can with the stonemasons. Merlin’s temper is short, like all of his
red-headed tribe, and I am sure that his bark is worse than his bite.
"I would advise that you desist from your missionary work among his Celts for a few
moons at least. Give him time to cool down. I have been to the Ends of the Earth
myself, and I am sure that his journey will take at least a quarter year. Goodbye, and
God be with you!"
The Abbott made the sign of the fish, replying "and with you, Joseph of Arimathea."
The merchant ran down the moonlit track and caught up with Merlin as the Arch
Druid climbed into the coracle, muttering under has breath. Joseph climbed in beside
Merlin and the boatman shoved off. The tide had turned and the current took the
flimsy craft swiftly downstream. Neither of the passengers spoke.
Merlin seethed with anger at what he saw as the Abbott’s pig-headedness. The
muscles of his sword arm quivered with an unrequited desire to strike off someone’s
head. Joseph smouldered with ill-contained rage at the threats used by Merlin to
intimidate the Abbott, and the insults to the Judean’s own religion, of which he had
been one of the first converts. Under cover of his cloak he slipped on a wickedly
spiked glove – a Roman gladus, as used by gladiators. If Merlin wanted trouble then
Joseph would be ready for it!
The outgoing tide carried the coracle to the mouth of the River Brue. The silhouette
of the Boaz could be seen plainly against the moonlit sky. The bodies of the three
crew members were not clearly visible, and all that could be seen of them was their
heads, which were peering over the ship’s rail. As they got closer, Joseph hailed
them. Receiving no reply, he hailed them again. Still fuming from the events at
Glastonbury, the merchant swore.
"Answer me, damn you! Are you drunk, or asleep, or both! Drop the net so that we
can climb aboard!"
The boarding net appeared over the side of the ship. Joseph and Merlin clambered
aboard, cursing each other and the crew. The first thing they saw were three spears
with points thrust into the deck. Deliberately placed against the rail, each spear
sported a severed head, with each head turned towards the river mouth. A shadowy
figure moved from the concealment of the tiny cabin, and spoke.
"No, Master Joseph, neither drunk nor asleep."
"Iestyn!" Merlin gasped in surprise. "What has happened here? Are you harmed?"
"I am unhurt, Master. We were boarded by Scotti Pirates. They were hidden on Flat
Holme. Until I signalled them with this." From under his cloak he took the small
metal mirror. "I am afraid the crew panicked – in fact, they lost their heads, quite
literally!" The apprentice laughed softly. "They should not have made fun of me,
should they? What do you say, Judean? Or you, Lord of the Celts?"
"I say that you are a traitor, to your Country, to the people of Cymru and to your
Master." Merlin drew his sword. "Prepare for death, traitor, for your head will be the
next one planted on a spear’s end!"
"Not today, Welshman!" The shout came from the stern of the ship. Merchant and
Druid whirled as one. The reefed sail had been thrown aside to reveal five armed
Scotti warriors, wielding axes and spiked clubs. "Throw down your arms, if you
know what is good for you. Hand over the treasure and you will be spared."
"We have no treasure!" The Arch Druid’s voice was laden with unconcealed
"You lie, Myrddyn, " Iestyn cried out. "I heard what you said to the Judean at the
Red Dragon Inn, when I listened through a crack in the door. You told him that you
would trade with the Abbott of Glastonbury – that you would be giving him the most
holy relic of the Christians in exchange for the future of the Celtic race. The future of
any race depends on the wealth it gathers. I believe that you now carry a fortune in
gold, so hand it over or die!"
"I repeat, we have no treasure! The holy relic carried aboard this ship was a simple,
roughly-made drinking cup, and that now lies at Glastonbury." The fury that had been
building in Merlin over the past hour was fast reaching boiling point. He drew his
sword. "If you and your Scotti scum think we have treasure, then why do you not try
to take it from us? Come on, if you dare!"
Joseph spoke then, his tone placatory. "No, Merlin, gold is not worth dying for." He
made a show of tugging at something concealed beneath his broad leather belt, while
taking a few small steps towards the Scotti pirate chief. "You can have our gold.
There are one hundred sesterces in a pouch under this belt. Only give me a hand to
free the pouch and they are yours."
The man stuck his wicked-looking axe in his own belt and stepped forward eagerly.
As he reached Joseph, the Judean’s hand suddenly came free and shot forward and
upward, the spiked glove connecting with the Scotti’s nose. With a sickening, wet
crunch the man’s nose collapsed, and the force behind the blow drove the bone
upwards into his brain, killing him instantly.
Merlin leaped forward, slashing with his short Roman sword. Using the momentum
created by the swing of the killing punch, Joseph pivoted on his left leg, bringing the
edge of his right foot into devastating contact with throat of a second Scotti, crushing
his larynx. The second man fell, choking to death and drowning in his own blood.
The headless corpse of a third warrior, rapidly despatched by the Druid, broke his fall.
The surviving pair of pirates had recovered from the surprise attack and lunged
forward. One swung his spiked iron mace at Joseph’s unprotected back, the weapon
whistling towards the right side of his head. Merlin’s sword slashed in a deadly arc,
its point scoring his opponent’s ribs. The Scotti did not flinch, and swung his double-
bladed war axe straight at the centre of the druid’s skull.
When the mace was a fraction from Joseph’s head he ducked to the left and, grabbing
the Scotti’s wrist, hurled him to the deck. As the warrior’s head connected with the
wood, Joseph seized the man by the hair and pulled his head forward so that the back
of the neck was exposed for a mighty blow with the spiked glove, delivering instant
death by crushing the Scotti’s vertabrae and snapping his spinal cord.
In a lightning reflex action, Merlin reversed the slashing stroke of his sword, slicing
through the wrist of his attacker. The axe, with the hand still attached, flew
harmlessly away. The pirate’s forward impetus ended in his impalement on the sword
Merlin and Joseph turned as one. Iestyn stood as if rooted to the deck, his face ashen,
but strangely calm and seeming unafraid. His Celtic Warrior blood lust sated, the
druid spoke quietly, almost in a whisper, with a terrible voice that shook with fury.
"Your blood is that of the Old People, the Draconians, the Chosen Ones. I took you
in good faith as my apprentice. I would have taught you every secret that I know.
You could have been a powerful man, a druid priest favoured among the Celtic race.
But you chose treachery! You were ready to be a conspirator against your own kind,
a collaborator with barbarian scum! I should cut you down on this very spot, kill you
as I would kill a rabid cur! Can you give me one reason why this should not be?"
"You have spoken the reason with your own tongue, Myrddyn. I am of your own
ancient blood line, as are very few others. The secrets that you hold so close to your
chest can only be passed on to this select few, of whom I am one. Most important of
all, you are bound by a vow that any one of Draconian lineage can never be called
upon to take the life of another. Neither can a Draconian be killed, or even harmed,
by any human of woman born. You must let me go – here! Now!"
Merlin lowered his sword and his head. He turned to Joseph and spoke, his voice
crackling with emotion.
"He is right, damn him! No matter that he is evil incarnate, neither you nor I can hurt
him in any way. We must release him."
Joseph said nothing. He took the sword from Merlin’s limp hand and turned to face
the apprentice. Iestyn, convinced of his own invincibility, leered at the merchant. He
hawked deeply and spat a gob of yellow phlegm on to the feet of the Judean.
"And what are you going to do, Master Joseph of Arimathea, Lion of Judea – feed me
to the fishes? Cast me off on Steep Holme Island?" He laughed, a triumphant cackle.
"Do your worst, for I cannot be hurt by any human of woman born!"
Joseph moved until his body was inches from Iestyn’s shrunken frame. He raised the
sword above his head.
"I was brought into this world as the great Caesar was – through a slice cut into the
womb and stomach of my mother. Caesar was not of woman born, but from woman
torn - as was I from my own mother’s womb skilfully ripped!"
The sword arm fell, the blade severing the traitor’s head in one clean, slashing stroke.
Iestyn’s cadaver was dumped over the side of the ship along with those of the Scotti
pirates. The corpses were borne by the Channel currents, away from the Boaz to a
watery grave. Only then did Merlin and Joseph cast off, letting the ebb of the tide
take them away from the lee shore before raising the sail.
When they had reached the safety of the deep mid-Channel they turned their attention
to the headless bodies of the crew, wrapping them, as best they could, in the tarpaulins
that were normally used to protect the deck cargo. Since there were no Hebrew
sepulchures in the all of the Celtic Lands, Merlin had offered to have them interred on
his own estate in Caer Fyrddin. Joseph would pray that the spirits of the deceased be
transported back to Judea, as if the bodies had been buried in their native soil.
The night was calm and even warm for the time of year. Both men were exhausted,
but neither would sleep until they reached their destination. So they lay side by side
on the deck, looking up at the full moon. In a lazy drawl, Joseph spoke.
"Tell me, what is this journey to the Ends of the Earth that you are planning to take? I
hope you don’t expect me to take you! Small ship, no crew – we’ll be lucky if we
make Caer Myrddin!" Having difficulty getting around the Cymric tongue, he
pronounced it ‘Camarthen’.
"I heard you tell the Abbott that you have already been there – to the Ends of the
Earth. What is it like there? What wonders are there to be seen?" Merlin asked. "I
have heard that ships never return from there – that they are blown by massive winds
and swept along by great currents, both controlled by the Gods, until they disappear
over the edge of the earth in a gigantic waterfall. If that be true, how is it that you
managed to return in one piece? You are a fine fighter, Joseph, with a deadly style
that I have never seen before, but no man can fight the Gods and win!"
"I did not go by ship. I travelled overland, due east, for thousands of leagues, until
my caravan came to a vast plain that stretched on and on, without end. After many
days traversing this plain we had seen neither man nor animal, and there was still no
end in sight. We calculated that the caravan had reached the Ends of the Earth, and
we turned back. When we reached the beginnings of civilisation again, I left the
caravan and stayed behind. I lived there for almost a year, with a hospitable nomadic
tribe. They taught me ways of killing without weapons."
"I am impressed by your expertise, my warrior merchant friend. I am determined that
you shall be the one to transport me to the Ends of the Earth. But this time we go
south, we go by sea, and we go soon!"
This statement shook Joseph out of his torpor. "We cannot reach the Ends of the Earth
by sea, Merlin! If we go south we will die! We will surely end up at that great
waterfall!" He rose to his feet and stood over the Arch Druid, legs apart and hands
on hips. He would make Merlin understand the dangers involved and he would not
endanger his ship!
"I have sailed many times through the Pillars of Hercules, but always to head north.
Some I know have sailed south, in much larger ships. Few have returned, and those
that did tell tales of such horror as would scorch a man’s brain!"
"What tales are these? I have never heard them!"
Joseph sat on the deck again. "After many weeks they came within sight of land.
They could make out mountains covered by cloud. As they grew closer they
discovered that the mountains were volcanoes, belching fire. What they had taken for
clouds were masses of poisonous fumes. A change in the direction of the wind blew
the fumes away from the land. The ships were forced to head quickly back out to sea,
although by this time they were running short of food and water."
"Where did they go then?" Merlin asked.
"All that I spoke to turned back to the north, save one. Some had less than enough
water to see them safely to the Lands of the Moors, and had to search for water along
the mainland. They made several landfalls along that terrible coastline, but all they
found were sand, rock and venomous serpents. Many of the crews died of thirst, and
some of serpent bite. Those that died of thirst were the lucky ones!"
"What of the one ship that continued south? What happened to it? Did the captain
and crew return safely?"
"Only one man survived. He was found close to death, raving mad! The ship was
wrecked on the great rock that guards the entrance from Atlantica to Mediterranean
Sea. How it managed to get that far is impossible to tell, for of the captain and the
rest of the crew there was no sign. The survivor was delirious with fever when they
found him. He talked wildly for many hours, ranting about an immense storm that
drove them into the vast mouth of a river. They sailed for many miles up the river,
until they came to a great lake, that was fed by a colossal waterfall. The lake was
filled with monsters and dragons and…" .12.
Merlin leaped to his feet. "Dragons!" He shouted excitedly in Joseph’s face. "Did
he say Dragons! Are you sure about this!"
Joseph looked puzzled at Merlin’s interruption. "That is what I have been told, good
Merlin. But I cannot swear to the truth of it."
Merlin’s excitement subsided. "You said ‘and’ – ‘monsters and dragons and…; and
"And fierce black goblins, who attacked and boarded the ship. They were driven off,
but not before they had managed to capture some of the crew and carry them to the
lakeshore. They roasted the sailors alive! The rest of the crew had to listen to their
screams and watch as the bodies of their comrades were cut up and devoured, as if
they were beasts! That was all of it. The survivor died before he could say more."
Both men were quiet for some time, reflecting on the terrible fate of the abducted
sailors. After a while, Merlin said "Did he say any more about the dragons?"
"I know no more than I told you. Why are you so curious about the dragons? Until a
few hundred years ago it seems that they were quite common in Europe, but ferocious
black cannibalistic goblins! Now there’s a tale to send shivers up your spine."
"Celts and dragons go together, Joseph, as do air and water, or sea and sky – one
cannot exist without the other. Where there are Celts there must be dragons, and
where there are dragons there should be Celts, it is the natural order of things. And
black goblins are certainly not Celts."
Joseph laughed at this. "Well, Merlin," he said "that statement would appear to be
incorrect, since in my travels I have met thousands of Celts. I think I would have
noticed if a dragon had accompanied one of them. Mark you, some of those Cornish
women could easily be taken for dragons!" He laughed at his own joke, but Merlin
"All the European dragons are in hibernation, many hundreds of them, in caverns
deep below the surface of the earth. They are in great danger – should the Roman
legions discover them they would slaughter them all, and the Celtic Race would soon
follow them into oblivion.
"Cymru is the last outpost of civilised Celts – we cannot count on the bloodthirsty
Caledonians or the barbaric Hibernians. So far the Romans have established but a
few small outposts in these Islands, but it will not be many years before they invade
us in strength.
"If Dragonkind is to survive and flourish again at some future time, it is up to the
Welsh to save and protect them."
Joseph thought about this for a moment. "You said something to Iestyn, something
like that, only slightly different. Not Dragonkind – Draconian. That was it. ‘Your
blood is that of the Old People, the Draconians, the Chosen Ones’. And he told you
that you could not do him harm. He said ‘I am of your own ancient blood line, as are
very few others’. The Draconians – a race within a race. The Keepers of dragons.
The word itself- Draconian – is a derivative of draco, which is the Greek word for
dragon, is it not?"
Merlin pointed to a section of the sky. "That is Draco, Joseph. You see how the stars
in that constellation can be connected in such a way that they resemble a great dragon,
winging its way through the heavens? That is the constellation of Draco. That is
where dragons originated. The word Draco is not of Greek origin. It is of Draconian
origin, and it is very, very old indeed. The word ‘Draconian’ does not mean ‘of
dragons’, but the word ‘dragon’ denotes Draconian origins."
He turned to Joseph and laid his hand on the Judean’s shoulder. "One day I will tell
you the full history of the Draconians and their dragons. Maybe on the long voyage
south. If the Gods are with us, the journey to the Ends of the Earth may turn out to be
a very long and tedious one. Such a lengthy story will help to pass the time."
Joseph opened his mouth to protest at Merlin’s apparent rejection of his advice, but
the Arch Druid chose that moment to leap to his feet, pulling the merchant with him.
"Look over there!" he cried "That headland – is that not Trwyn y Wrach, Witches
Joseph strained to pick out the landmark in the grey light of the false dawn. The sun
rose as he was peering towards the Welsh Coast, its weak early rays reflecting off the
red and green marl of the cliffs. The pounding surf and flying spume meant danger
from unseen rocky outcrops.
"Well done, Merlin! You indeed have the power of second sight! We must keep well
clear of that point. Those treacherous rocks have led many a small ship to its doom.
I’ll change tack at once."
Merlin stopped him before he could reach the sail. "No, Joseph. There is a landing
place near Trwyn y Wrach. We must take the ship in to the shore, now."
The Judean turned to face the Arch Druid in exasperation, shaking off the hand that
gripped his arm.
"What in God’s name are you playing at, Merlin! You rush me off in the middle of
the night to sail up a stinking ditch in a cockleshell made of reeking hides! I lose my
crew and almost lose my ship, not to mention coming close to getting killed by a
bunch of louse-ridden heathens! Then you spin me some bullshit about dragons and
voyaging to the Ends of the Earth with you! Now you want me to land on the most
dangerous shore this side of Scylla and Chabdiris! And I have not even got a crew!"
"Joseph! Joseph! You trusted me enough to come all the way from Judea on just my
word, did you not!" Joseph nodded truculently "Well, trust me a little further. On that
beach waits a man who will join us on our quest. He is yet a young man, for a
Draconian, but highly respected by all. Perhaps you have you heard of him – his
name is Caradog, known to the Romans as Caractacus, son of Cunobelinus, chief of
the Silures. Caradog will one day rule both them and the Catuvellauni". .13.
"Of course I have heard of him. I have traded with the Silures and with their cousins,
the Catuvellauni. Their stronghold lies inland from Witches Point. It is called
Dyndryfan – the three-sided fortress – and it is a very ancient site. I have never been
there – can you guess why?" .14.
Merlin shook his head. "Was it because you were scared to?" he replied, his tone
"What? Scared of a few blue-painted ruffians! Not I! No, my friend, the reason that
I have never been there is because it is TOO DANGEROUS TO LAND!"
He cast an eye at the lightening sky. Seeing no sign of approaching squalls, he sat at
the tiller and headed for the beach, muttering to himself and cursing his companion.
Just beyond the line of the breakers he weighed anchor, and the little ship lurched and
swayed on the heavy swell, straining against the anchor chain as the strong current
"There he is!" Merlin shouted above the noise of the waves as they broke on the
shingle. He called out to a group of men gathered on the beach. "Caradog! It is I,
Myrddyn! We cannot come any closer – you must swim out to the ship! Hurry,
before we are swept on to the rocks."
A giant of man detached himself from the group. He took in the wildness of the
waves, then threw back his head and laughed. Casting off his cloak, he strode into the
roughening sea as if into a warm bath. In a very short time he reached the Boaz and,
helped by Merlin and Joseph, clambered aboard. He shook himself like a dog, his
mane of bright red curls scattering water over the deck and those around him.
"Myrddyn, you old rogue" he roared "You owe me a new cloak!" He turned to
Joseph. "Who is this strange little fellow? He has a head like a hazelnut! But wait – I
do know you! You are the Phoenician trader – Jonah, or Jonas?"
"His name is Joseph. Of Arimathea. A Judean. And I would advise you not to be so
quick with your insults; he may be small but he fights like ten devils!"
"When you two wenches have finished gossiping, perhaps we can get out of here!"
Joseph yelled from his place at the tiller. "Pull up the anchor and pray to all your gods
that we can get clear of this current."
A short while later the ship was safely in the centre of the Channel, and back on route
for Caer Myrddyn. The wind had freshened, and the breeze bore them along swiftly.
Merlin and Caradog tended the sail, while Joseph’s expert hand on the tiller steered
the Boaz through the chop on a course that offered the least resistance to the
streamlined wooden hull.
They stayed in mid-channel, passing the Tuskar Rock and the Port of Cynffig.
Joseph lined the Boaz up with the Worm’s Head, the landmark off Rhosilli Point.
Just before they cleared the reefs that surrounded the notorious headland, Merlin
pointed out a declivity slightly to the west of it.
"There are two caves there, so ancient that one of them contains the bones of a
warrior who died over one million years ago. He was killed by the Red Dragon. We
know this, because the skeleton is the colour of the Dragon itself. I discovered the
remains of the warrior along with some of the dragon’s teeth, some a spear’s length.
"The Red Dragon is the symbol of the Silures, and those caves are our most sacred
temple, more sacred even than the standing stones of Old Sarum. We will be paying a
visit to those caves before we start our voyage to the Ends of the Earth." .15.
Joseph snorted cynically-"Ends of the Earth! We would easier find a virgin in a
Roman whorehouse!" He cursed Merlin under his breath, and turned his attention
back to navigating the difficult final passage.
Rounding the worm’s head, the Judean tacked to the North, with the imposing Forest
of Pembrey ahead and slightly to the right of the planned course. Then into the
estuary of the River Tywi. As the river narrowed, small settlements started to appear,
the inhabitants gathering on the river bank to call and wave to Merlin and Caradog,
who returned their greetings in the Celtic tongue. Passing several small fishing fleets
made up of coracles, they arrived at the seat of Merlin’s power, the small fortified
town of Caer Myrddyn – Carmarthen.
A crude jetty had been constructed at the confluence of two Rivers, the Tywi and the
smaller Gwili. Joseph manoeuvred the Boaz alongside the jetty, while Caradog leapt
from the ship on to the rough planking. Merlin threw him a rope, and the Boaz was
On the jetty stood a woman, tall and fair-haired. Her body was sheathed from head to
toe in a cloak dyed with bright, dazzling colours and decorated with golden thread
woven into a spidery pattern. Around her neck and wrists she wore finely executed
gold, silver and coral jewellery, and her cloak was fastened with an ornamented
enamel brooch. Her face was strong and tanned, her eyes a sparkling azure. Her full,
slightly-parted lips revealed a glimpse of even white teeth.
Joseph sat transfixed at the tiller. Never taking his eyes off the woman, not even
blinking, he croaked "Who is that! Is she a Celtic Goddess?"
Merlin smiled, sat down next to Joseph, and gripped the merchant’s shoulder.
"She is not a goddess, my friend. But cast aside all your desires, for she is not for
you. She is the daughter of the chief of the Icenae. Her name is Boudicca, and she is
to be the third member of your new crew!" .16.
References (Chapter One)
References (Chapter One)
.1. Joseph of Arimathea
See: The Gospel according to St Matthew, Chapter 27, Verses 57 to 61.
The Gospel according to St Mark, Chapter 15, Verses 43 to 47
The Gospel according to St Luke, Chapter50, Verses 50 to 53
The Gospel according to St John, Chapter19, Verse 38.
.2.The Trading Ship Boaz.
The remains of a ship known as the Isis Giminiana has been recently excavated by Archeologists from an ancient river bed near Ostia. There is thought to be a gap in the records kept by the harbourmaster at that time that would appear to coincide with the period of Joseph’s Ownership.
The Roman fortress and town of Caerleon (Isca Silurum) was not established as the chief fortress of the Second Augustan Legion until AD 75. There is a theory that an outpost, for trading purposes, had been established there by a small party of British under their king, Cassivelaunus, after the first Roman invasion of Britain by Julius Ceasar in 54 BC. Caesar had beaten Cassivelaunus at Wheathamstead and extracted from him promises of money payments, taking hostages as guarantees, and trading posts were established all over Britain in lieu of money, in order to preserve the lives of the hostages.
The ancient borough of Kenfig lies to the west of Pyle and the main Cardiff to Swansea railway line. It is the site of the lost town of Cynffig. Little is known of it before its development in the 12th century by Robert Earl of Gloucester. There is a theory that the harbour of Cynffig existed well before Pre-Norman times, and served the Celtic tribes who farmed in that area and traded up and down the South Wales coast, even across the Bristol Channel.
It is also a widely held theory that Joseph of Arimathea traded along this coast, as did Phoenicean merchants. The harbour and the River Cynffig would have been open in Merlin’s time, but by the 13th century many parts of the town had been engulfed in drifting sand. The final attack came during a great sand storm in the early 16th century, when the remaining buildings and even the great square keep of the castle were buried almost overnight. All that is left is Kenfig pool, the largest stretch of permanently fresh water in the county of Glamorgan, the very ruinous stump of the castle keep among the dunes and the Romano-British hill fort on the hill behind the town.
In the shrouded mists of time, when the British isles was connected by a land bridge to Europe, there lived – according to legend - a race of small, bald thick-lipped men with protruding ears known as Golems. They inhabited the Isle of Lomea, now known as the Godwin Sands, which was submerged by a great storm late in the 11th century. Golems were reputed to be able to blend with and influence their surroundings, appearing to materialise out of nowhere. They also form part of Hebrew folklore.
The great Arthurian enchanter, Merlin (Myrddin) was born in Caer Myrddin -Carmarthen. An ancient oak still stands at the end of Priory Street, about which Merlin made this prophecy: "When Merlin’s oak shall tumble down; then shall fall Carmarthen town." Merlin’s Hill stands above the village of Abergwili, a little to the East of Carmarthen. Legend has it that it is here, in his crystal cave, that Merlin sleeps until the day when Britain faces her darkest moment.
Glastonbury is reputed to be the birthplace of Christianity in England and remains a centre of pilgrimage to this day. In recent years the town has become a place of pilgrimage for visitors of faiths other than Christian.
.8.Beachley – Aust
In more recent times, this part of the Bristol Channel (Near Chepstow) was well known for the car ferry service that was a regular feature until the first Severn Bridge opened in the early sixties.
.9Joseph carries the Body of Jesus and lays Him in the Sepulchure.. See: The Gospel according to St Matthew, Chapter 27, Verses 57 to 61.
The Gospel according to St Mark, Chapter 15, Verses 43 to 47
The Gospel according to St Luke, Chapter50, Verses 50 to 53
The Gospel according to St John, Chapter19, Verse 38.
It is a strong possibility that the secret word and grip agreed on by the Abbott of Glastonbury and Joseph of Arimathea were passed on through generations of Cathedral Builders and survive today as part of Masonic Ritual.
The following excerpt is taken from "Darkness Visible. A Revelation and Interpretation of Freemasonry."
Worshipful Master: The grip or token is given by a distinct pressure of the thumb on the third joint of the hand. This, when regularly given and received, serves to distinguish a Brother by night as well as by day. This grip demands a word, a word highly prized among Masons as a guard to their privileges. Too much caution, therefore, cannot be observed in communicating it; it should never be given at length, but always by letters or syllables; to enable you to do which I must first tell you what that word is: it is BOAZ.
Entered Apprentice Candidate: BOAZ.
W.M: (Giving the grip) What is this?
EAC: The grip or token of an Entered Apprentice Freemason.
WM: What does it demand?
EAC: A word.
WM: Give me that word.
EAC: At my initiation I was taught to be cautious; I will letter or halve it with you.
WM: Which you please, and begin.
WM: Pass, Boaz.
.11. King Zel
Silbury Hill is a massive artificial mound with a flat top. It is approximately 130 feet high, with a base circumference of 1,640 feet. It was built in three stages, and begun in 2,660 BC. It is claimed to be the burial place of a Celtic King, Zel. Silbury is a centre for alignments of straight prehistoric tracks and of standing stones. There is good reason to theorise that Silbury was sited by Celtic Druids, such as Merlin, on a dragon-line with the assistance of a geomancer’s compass, as were many centres of dragon legend.
This river was, in all probability, the mighty Congo. A ship could have sailed
upriver as far as Boma, or even Matadi, but no further since the river would
not have been navigable beyond the Inga rapids (the ‘colossal waterfall’), where the Inga Dam stands today. The ‘dragons’ would have been crocodiles and a hippopotamus would have been called a ‘monster’. The ‘fierce black goblins’ were obviously a tribe of Pygmies
Dunraven was an important seat of the Silures and of the Catuvellauni in the first century A.D., under their chief Caractacus (Caradog), the son of Cunobelinus. In the years following the Claudian conquest Caractacus conducted a gallant but unsuccessful guerrilla operation in Wales against the Romans until, betrayed by the Brigantine queen, Cartimandua, he was taken captive to Rome in A.D. 51 where he was exhibited in triumph and so impressed Claudius that he pardoned him and allowed him to live freely in Rome.
Dunraven or Dyndryfan – the three-sided fortress – is a very ancient site, now unoccupied for probably the first time in nearly 3,000 years! It was the site of a substantial Iron Age fort whose post-hole dimensions can still be traced with the help of an archaeological map. It was later an important seat of the Silures and of the Catuvellauni in the first century A.D., under their chief Caractacus (Caradog), the son of Cunobelinus
The caves pointed out by Merlin could be at Goat’s Cave, Paviland, on the Gower peninsula, where a number of prehistoric remains have been discovered.
A number of ancient remains exist throughout the peninsula, emphasising its former occupations by the Celts. A striking iron-age camp survives at Cil Ifor and there is an impressive burial chamber at Parc Cwm.
There are tombs, Neolithic burial mounds, on the Rhosili cliffs at Sweynes Howes and at Arthur’s Stone, Reynoldston. At Culver Hole Cave, near Port Eynon, the entrance has been walled up with medieval masonry – to contain a dragon, perhaps? The purpose of this structure has never been satisfactorily explained.
Boudicca became famous as the Warrior Queen of the Icenae who, in 60-61 led them in a near-successful, but ultimately ill-fated revolt against the Romans that bade fair to drive them out of Britain altogether.