John Fish B.Sc.Publishers of Tenby in Wales (UK)
ROWSE LITERARY AGENCY CRACH FFINNANT by Lazarus Carpenter
ROWSE LITERARY AGENCY
(Illustrations by Debbie Eve)
e-mail: Lazarus Carpenter
On a chilly spring morning in Powys in the year of 1375, Crach Ffinnant, a dwarf, is knocked sideways when Llywd ap Crachan Llywd, the old wizard, announces to him that his apprenticeship as a healer, prophet and seer, is over. Crach, for the first time in his life, must now leave the safety of their mountain home to fulfil his destiny. Through the prophecy he learns that one day he is to serve the future Prince of Wales. As with all destinies, Crach has no choice in the matter and accepts his fate with astonishment and grace. With sacred scrolls hidden in his bag, a confused Crach begins the long journey to London to seek out Master Healan who, disguised as an Apothecary, is an old friend of his Master and a Welsh spy in the Court of the English. Guided by Fwynedd the Shepherd, Crach trudges across the mountains to Shrewsbury where he joins a Travelling Circus as a performing dwarf. Adding to Crach's disguise, his decision to become mute challenges his every step. At a show in Worcester, he meets Owain Glyndwr for the first time. Unexpectedly (or is it?), they meet again some months later in London at Lincoln's Inn where our Prince in Waiting is studying Law. Of course, at that point in time, neither Crach Ffinnant nor Glyndwr had a clue as to what lay in front of them. Guided by dreams and coincidence, their adventures begin with magic resonating from every nook and cranny as the prophecy unfurls. Introduction to 'CRACH FFINNANT' – Volume Two – 'RISE OF THE DRAGON' Sample Chapter Crach Ffinnant - The Prophecy
Crach has many adventures over the next ten years before me meets with Glyndwr again. He visits the deep caverns of Ffestiniog to seek council from Tany-y-Mynedd the Fire-Dragon and later is accompanied by the mischievous Carron the Raven while riding his trusty mare, Merlina. When they are reunited, Crach becomes Glyndwr's prophet and seer and they ride side by side for King Richard in Scotland and in Ireland. Upon their return to Wales, all is chaos as Owain, challenged by his brother, Tudur, and the prophecy, must consider his next step. But all is not well, and Crach is summoned by Tany-y-Mynedd the Fire Dragon to attend an important meeting at the Great Council of Blue Stone.
Crach Ffinnant is a wise but comical dwarf who thinks and acts honourably at all times. He is guided by spirituality and wisdom, is clear thinking, with a mystical ability to walk through the 'worlds'. It is a historical fact that he did truly exist although not a great deal is known about him, other than he rode with Prince Owain Glyndwr as his prophet and seer, guiding him as Merlin did for Arthur. Some events did take place, but the rest is my fantasy.
(Approx 250 pages A5, 89,000 plus words. Each chapter is illustrated by Debbie Eve, my partner. The front cover has been designed and the manuscript includes acknowledgements, a dedication to Crach Ffinnant, historical facts, the lyrics to a song written by me about Owain Glyndwr and an author summary).
(Several Chapters Completed - Overview)
The story continues … Crach and Tany-y-Mynedd arrive at the Great Council of Blue Stone, deep in the ancient magic caverns of Ffestiniog. Wise Druids, wizards, dwarves, goblins, elementals, dragons and spirits from the 'other world', gather to debate and unite their powers. Welsh Lords are gathering as Wales approaches the brink of war. The prophecy demands unity from all kingdoms as Wales prepares for the crowning of Prince Owain Glyndwr. In parallel, only four dragons are left alive in Wales, all male. The last female dragon had been killed by the English but was thought to have left her eggs buried deep in an unknown cavern. The remaining dragons hunt for the eggs in an attempt to avoid the extinction of their species. Will Owain Glyndwr become Prince of Wales? Will the dragons survive? Will Crach be able to use his special powers and wisdom to make it all happen?
(This manuscript will be approximately the same length and structure as Volume One. I have outlines for a further five stories in the series, which are: Volume Three - 'Revenge of the Dragon'; Volume Four - 'Blind Victory'; Volume Five - 'The Golden Goblet'; Volume Six - 'Hide and Seek'; Volume Seven - 'Dragons in the Mist').
On a chilly spring morning in Powys in the year of 1375, Crach Ffinnant, a dwarf, is knocked sideways when Llywd ap Crachan Llywd, the old wizard, announces to him that his apprenticeship as a healer, prophet and seer, is over. Crach, for the first time in his life, must now leave the safety of their mountain home to fulfil his destiny. Through the prophecy he learns that one day he is to serve the future Prince of Wales. As with all destinies, Crach has no choice in the matter and accepts his fate with astonishment and grace. With sacred scrolls hidden in his bag, a confused Crach begins the long journey to London to seek out Master Healan who, disguised as an Apothecary, is an old friend of his Master and a Welsh spy in the Court of the English. Guided by Fwynedd the Shepherd, Crach trudges across the mountains to Shrewsbury where he joins a Travelling Circus as a performing dwarf. Adding to Crach's disguise, his decision to become mute challenges his every step. At a show in Worcester, he meets Owain Glyndwr for the first time. Unexpectedly (or is it?), they meet again some months later in London at Lincoln's Inn where our Prince in Waiting is studying Law. Of course, at that point in time, neither Crach Ffinnant nor Glyndwr had a clue as to what lay in front of them. Guided by dreams and coincidence, their adventures begin with magic resonating from every nook and cranny as the prophecy unfurls.
Introduction to 'CRACH FFINNANT' – Volume Two – 'RISE OF THE DRAGON'
Crach Ffinnant - The Prophecy
For ten years past, I have been an apprentice to Llwyd ap Crahchan Llwd and have learned the ways of prophet and seer. Such a long apprenticeship one may say, as indeed it has been, but all will become clear. Magic and prophecy I am good at, or so the old man told me, and I had excelled, in his opinion, as a healer of sorts. I was a headstrong keen apprentice, streaming question after query, followed by endless thoughts, followed by even more questions. This would drive Llywd ap Crachan Llywd to the comfort-induced oblivion of sweet tasting mead, often by the jug-full. It was almost as if the sweetness of heaven's immortal nectar softened life but the Gods had given him many seasons and with so much time came many stories. I listened and learned a great deal from my Master, I studied and laboured hard. He rewarded me by imparting knowledge and magic that vibrated through our strange world. He told me that we lived in difficult and ever- changing times and that my destiny was to embrace magic, prophecy and wisdom and to be of service.
Nobody really knew how old he was. Some said over a hundred years, but some would say anything. I would say he has been very, very old for as long as I have known him. Oh, and considerably taller than me. I am a dwarf and have always been so, as it will always be.
My beard is not as long and strong as my Master's but it is growing and magic brings it along. My physical strength, I am proud of and can lift two fully grown men, each on the palms of my strong hands. Mind you, magic helps. I can do many other things, however, these will manifest as my story unfurls. I feel blessed that my legs are strong. Season after season, trudging from one end of Wales to the other, up mountains, down through valleys and back again, and again. It was by my endless shadowing and learning from my Master's wisdom that had prepared me for this moment.
The greatest journey of my life so far was at hand. Venturing far from the familiar terrain of my country into lands unknown to me. Lands and people I had only heard terrible stories about, that of the English.
My Master, Llywd ap Crachan Llywd, had given me the name Crach. Ffinnant is a tiny Hamlet hidden deep in the mountains of Wales and is where I was born. I recall little of my life before becoming an apprentice but there are remembrances and dreams of past joy and happiness. My parents were of normal stature. Father was a woodcutter by trade. His strength was well known and till this day revered by those who knew him. Mother was quiet, kind and gifted with the sight of prophecy. I dimly recall visitors to our tiny home, seeking counsel and rewarding her service with gifts of chicken, duck and goose. On reflection, I may have, in some small way, inherited some of my father's strength and my mother's gift of prophecy.
Master had never indicated any of this was true, but why take me as an apprentice unless something hidden deeply within revealed a vision telling of a journey together? He would teach and I would learn. For ten years, lessons often started early in the morning before the sun rose and continued late on into the darkness. We spent many weeks, sometimes months, away from my Master's small cottage. We walked, trudged, staggered, but never rushed, down valley and up to mountain top. We often slept in caves, under huge boulders, many times soaked to the skin by lashing rain. Winter was no different from any other season, we just wore more clothes, thus making my little frame heavier. Still, now I was strong and quite fearless for a small fellow, with wisdom and skill growing by the day.
In April of 1375, just as the cock crowed, I plated our food for the first meal of the day as I usually did. I had prepared, served and cleaned up after breakfast, in fact all meals shared, every day since my first with my Master. I did not know this day would be my last. The mid-morning sun shone brightly through a lush canopy of new leaf, budding above our heads. Shadows danced across the ground as small gusts of wind bristled branches, new and old, above. Cleaning bowls and spoons in the cold waters of the pool formed by a shallow stream, trickling over jagged rocks, I was lost in thought of nothing in particular. I often was!
“Crach!” Llywd ap Crachan Llywd stood and beckoned me to join him. “Leave that for now. There is something of great importance that I must tell you. Come here!”
Putting the well-worn wooden bowls to one side, leaving them half-cleaned on the stones by the stream, I rose to my feet. Turning to see my Master, I noticed he looked even older today than was usual. His back seemed more bent and curved, giving him the appearance of a gnarled tree. That aged, craggy, lined face, with prominent, sharp, pointed, angular nose, great straggly beard and motionless stare, did nothing to alter my image. Only his shining deep-blue eyes disturbed my vision, reminding me of my Master and not that of an old gnarled tree! But I must remember that all he taught me hinged on an ability to conceal oneself in nature. Perhaps this was one of these moments!
“Sit, Crach …. come and sit beside me, there is much to tell!”
Llywd ap Crachan Llywd slowly adjusted his ancient posture from one of standing to one of sitting. Not an easy task to accomplish for one of such age and decrepitude but he seemed to effortlessly achieve it nevertheless. I placed another log on the dwindling embers of the morning fire before taking up position as requested by my Master. Sitting down quietly, looking into those entrancing eyes, hypnotic mirrors of this ancient soul, I waited. Many times, when staring into his eyes, I had felt transported to different worlds which unfurled in my mind. But that was not the case this time. His eyes were clear, still looking, staring knowingly and intensely into mine. Putting his aged hand on my shoulder, gently he pulled me a little closer.
“The time has come, Crach!” His long fingers curled around my shoulder, gripping gently. “Your time is now, with many adventures ahead of you. Our time together is at an end.”
Llywd ap Crachan Llywd gasped at breath, as if searching for more words. Or, I wonder if that was merely my thought due to the fact that he had said so much with so few. Llwyd ap Crachan Llwyd's grip on my back lessened as he began to pat my shoulder in a not so gentle fashion. I wondered what he was saying. I mean, I have always known my apprenticeship would be over some day. But today! Worry was something my Master always insisted is a human frailty to be avoided at all costs. 'It stops you breathing in the magic of the moment!' he would say. Well, this was one moment, and I must say the first for a long time that was clearly and undoubtedly rather worrying. What was I going to do? I had never had any plans or adventures not shared with my Master, not ever.
“You have learned much, Crach. There is little I can teach you now that you do not already know. In my long life, you are the fifth and final apprentice and, permit me to say, the only one to have stayed so long and achieved so much. You have become my friend as well as my aide, Crach. How would I have managed to get about so well over the last few years without your help, strength and, more importantly, love?” Gasping, he clutched his chest with one hand and squeezed my shoulder tightly again with the other.
“Are you unwell Master?” I moved closer to him, feeling very concerned.
“No Crach, just old and ready to sleep!” He smiled and squeezed my shoulder again, playfully. “It is time for you to go out into the world, Crach, but there is something of a curious nature that has happened and I need your help. This is what has brought me to this decision now. Otherwise, I think, because of our friendship, your apprenticeship may have lasted until I no longer did!” He smiled again.
Of course, I understood very clearly what he was saying. I actually had thought for a number of years that my time with him would be until he was no more. 'But what had happened that he needed my help with? It had to be serious to break this hitherto unspoken pact between us.' He spoke again, quietly, almost whispering, as if someone or thing lurked in the shadows, eavesdropping his words.
“Great turbulence is facing our country, Crach. Our Princes are long gone by glory of battle or Y Farwdaeth Fawer, the plague.”
He was right, the plague had taken one in three of the Welsh as it had in every other country in Europe.
“Our lands and people are long chastised, ridiculed and ruled by the English. Cruel and barbaric earls and barons have enslaved our people for long enough, their hearts are heavy with doom. Clouds of change are looming on the horizon of an uncertain future. A great prince is waiting in the wings, Crach, not yet ready to rule but well placed to do so. He knows not at this time the destiny written for him but will awaken to come forth when the heavens decree, leading our country and down-trodden people to freedom.” Llywd ap Crachan Llywd raised his eyes. “The skies will reveal all, Crach! Keep your eyes on the heavens and listen as nature will always have the answer! All things are connected at all times, remember, at all times. Justice always prevails. It is the way of all things!”
This was not a new lesson for me but a grand reminder of one he had taught many years ago and reinforced ever since. An ancient law that I had witnessed and one that had proved correct so many times in many manifestations. Yes, a grand reminder! 'But what has this to do with me?' I thought. 'All this talk of Princes and great change. What in the name of the moon has any of this to do with me, a dwarf?'
“You may be thinking, 'What has this to do with you, Crach!' After all you are a dwarf, a small man in a much bigger world!” He smiled. At the corners of a wide mouth, the twitching, old, grey beard gyrated an involuntary spasm, conjuring the vision of a horse's tail, swatting away annoying flies. But he was always doing that. I would have a thought, and just seconds later he would give it back to me, accompanied by his beard dancing smiles at my ineptitude. I waited patiently for more.
“Well!” he coughed from deep in his chest and paused. A deep breath gathered his momentum to enable speech. “You are going on a long journey to the Land of the English. Into the very heart of their lives you will venture.” Pausing for more breath to enter his body, Llywd ap Crachan Llwyd continued. “You will take parchments to my old friend in London, Crach. The writings upon them are in our ancient language and thus the accursed English will not know the words written thereon. However, Crach, at all times you must remain alert, vigilant, aware and most of all, awake!” He smiled again, as did I.
We both remembered the times when I had nodded off. There had been so many. But, I mean really, there are only so many hours a dwarf can stay awake. I suddenly stuttered in reply, my anxiety obvious.
“How will I get there? What must I do? I don't know the way? I .. I .. I ..!” Now, as panic began to overtake my bewildered thoughts, I paused for breath. Before I had chance to exhale, he said.
“All is as easy and as simple as night following day.” He smiled again, stroking my shoulder. “All is in place for you to start your journey today.” His eyes twinkled.
“Today!” I shouted, as sheer panic now thundered from my head to my toes. Now remember, I am a dwarf, thus the distance between my head and the ground is much shorter than that of a 'non-dwarf'. I shuddered, every cell of my smallness reminding me they existed.
“Calm yourself, Crach.” Master spoke softly. “Do you honestly think I would send you on such a journey without all that you need to do what you must do? And, Crach ..... do it you must!” He smiled again. “You are to meet a shepherd tonight who will take you along the ancient trails through the mountains to Shrewsbury. If you move quickly and sleep little, using the moon at night, you will be there in seven days. And in seven days, you must be there!” He paused to gather breath while I gasped at the mere idea of his suggestions. “You will join a travelling circus in Shrewsbury, staying with them until you reach London.”
“A travelling circus! ….. London!” I cut across his words as a knife through butter.
“Yes Crach!” He repeated. “A travelling circus and London.”
Now I knew my apprenticeship was over and today of all days! But this? Master always taught me to be alert to that which was not expected. Well I did not expect this and alert now I certainly was.
“Once in London, Crach, you will find my friend's Apothecary and give to him the scrolls. His name is Master Healan, a fellow countryman of ours, a Welshman. This is the name the English know him by and when you meet him, he will tell you his real name.” His look was serious and challenged my stare. “Master Healan will give you shelter and food for a few days so that you may regain your composure after such an arduous journey, travelling and performing.”
“Performing?” I stuttered.
“Yes, Crach! Performing.” He smiled knowingly. “You do not expect to travel with a circus and do nothing do you? You are a dwarf, my short friend, a dwarf! Dwarves perform in circuses, don't they?”
I did not answer. I simply thought 'Well, this one does not!'
“Yes he does!” Master laughed from deep within his belly. Any ears hearing this may have been forgiven for thinking that they heard a stag rutting.
He had done it again! 'Did I open my mouth? I rest my case.' Ah well, no point in pondering the obvious. Yet here was another issue of survival I recognised instantly, drilled into me by those magical eyes over the last decade.
“Well Crach, telling you 'as it is', as I have taught you, is the only path in this life. It will be a difficult journey for you, long and adventurous in so many ways. You are the only one I can rely upon to serve this task and you are ready.” He playfully gripped my shoulder, laughing. “When rested after the journey, you must follow your intuition, your destiny in the future will be secured. Not for one moment must you ignore your inner voice.”
“Master.” I was calmer now. “So you are telling me that in a few hours, I will walk for miles, day and night, over the mountains to Shrewsbury. I only have seven days to get there and when I do, I will be working in a travelling circus, doing 'the moon knows what'!”
“And don't forget the parchments, Crach! But I must first say more about your need to be free to follow your destiny.” He shuffled his body, changing position in an attempt to ease aged muscles. I was now beginning to be even more concerned. It's not bad enough that I go through discomfort and danger, now I have to walk around listening to myself, with no other idea of anything!
“Now all is not to be understood in that way, Crach. “No idea of anything! Ha ha ha!” The belly laugh became silent. Llywd ap Crachan Llwyd looked stern, eyebrows protruding, stony crag-like cheekbones and nose becoming sharper, vibrating with new found energy. Aged veins along his long scrawny neck pulsed. “What is your destiny Crach?”
Before my addled mind could switch up a notch and words of response could utter forth an answer, he shushed me by a wave of his arm, ending on his lips with a long pointed finger. The fingernail, long, bent and ingrained with the dirt of life.
“Open your ears, my short friend, and remember every word I tell you. Do you understand?” Master's face twitched. Mine did too, a twitch that told him silently that I understood. “You will meet our 'Prince in Waiting', Crach, and you will become his prophet and seer.”
“I will what?” I gasped as I stood up in shock and disbelief.
“Sit down, Crach!” He tugged my jerkin firmly and I fell back to sitting. “Be not afraid of your destiny, because you will be indispensable to our hero on the horizon.” He scratched at his chin, thin pointed fingers searching for the irritation on hidden flesh through a matted beard. “Together you will rally our countrymen to the flag, to the 'Great Red Dragon'! Together you will breathe fire and from those embers become free. Then, in turn, you will free our country from the tyranny of the English sword! Together you will scheme and plot to overthrow this evil and exorcise its demise. Together you will see great victory and great defeat, you will feel joy and you will feel pain, but freedom will always be yours!”
Becoming silent, he gasped deeply in an attempt to refill his now exhausted lungs. I sat in silence, trying to take in all my Master had said and he had said a lot! If all were true, what an adventure this was going to be! It was beyond all dreams ever to invade my sleep, beyond all daydreams when lost in visions. Was this one of those times? ….. Had I been lost in a daydream and imagined those words?
“Crach!” Llwyd ap Crachan Llwyd stirred again, controlling an obvious excitement and accurately reading my addled mind yet again, he said. “It's all true Crach, all true.” He smiled. “There is no more to tell you, dear Crach, and I am sorry if much of the telling may appear harsh. There is a map guiding and informing your true destiny. Remember my words, Crach!” He coughed lightly, producing a rag from his deep pockets, wiping spittle from cracked lips, he continued. “And now you should rest for a few hours. You have not much to pack and your guide will be arriving as dusk joins us.”
He stood, adjusting the worn cloak wrapped around his shoulders, pulling it closely to his bent body, smiled and walked away, stepping across the stream. I sat for a moment, taking in all that he had said and eventually drifted into deep sleep. Visions haunted my dreams until there was only silence and blackness. When my eyes opened, it was late in the day but dusk was yet to arrive. Master greeted me with a nod and a smile. He seemed very composed, sitting by the fire, a calmness emanating from his being. We ate bread and drank broth in silence - he smiling, me in silent wonderment, shadowed with confusion. My few possessions, Master had packed in a leather sack which lay in wait for my journey, soon to begin. Dusk was now not far away and I felt quite tired, not at all prepared for what may lay ahead. My head was swimming in a whirlpool of the unknown.
“Well Crach, there is a little time left before you must leave.” Llwyd ap Crachan Llwyd pointed a finger towards a ridge above the treeline. “From that direction he will come, and soon.” He coughed to clear a dusty throat before telling me more about my soon-to-be guide. “Fwynedd is a shepherd and knows our land as well as anybody. He is familiar with all the paths and tracks but, more importantly, holds knowledge of speedy routes unknown to others.”
I thought briefly of how pleased I was about that. At least someone would have a badger's nose for where we were going, because I certainly did not.
“He is a good man, Crach, but very quiet in manner. Do not take this for unfriendliness. He is a man who, after so many years alone with his flock, finds that little needs to be said, but fervently believes there is always much to be done.” Smiling, he bent to poke the logs, stirring smoke to flame. “I have told you all I must, the rest is up to you my small friend. I will miss you, Crach, and it is possible we may never see each other again. Your journey is long and my time upon this earth is short. We must share our goodbyes with no regret for all we may now never do, but then were we ever to do anything other than what we do now? Probably not .....” His voice drifted into silence.
“This is all rather quick, Master!” I tried to raise a smile, even though a great part of me, deep inside, felt a tearing, ripping sadness. “One day we are here, then gone the next!”
“Such is the way of things” he replied. “Change is ever constant, we can never really know what may happen, can we? Remember our gift of prophecy aids vision to make the right decisions. The outcome of truth is for us to reveal through actions of honest intent.”
Sitting down by the fire, he pulled his cloak around a frail, skeletal, aged frame. Cold air drifted along the valley, light was failing and long shadows formed of a day now passed. Dusk had arrived. A fire roared, warming us through to the bone, so welcome as the nights were still cold. I drank more soup and tore pieces of bread, eating most heartily. 'By dragon's breath', I thought, 'I have no idea when food may pass my lips again!' My journey to Shrewsbury sounded as if it would give little time for rest and sleep, perhaps I would eat as I walked, or maybe not! At least I would not be alone, even if much of our journey, by the sound of my guide Fwynedd, would be in silence. I glanced to the treeline above, faintly in the distance a lonely spectre came into view.
“I think my guide comes!” I pointed to the ridge.
Llywd ap Crach Llywd laughed loudly, such guffaw echoing endlessly in a cacophony of chorus along the valley and off into the approaching darkness of night. It ended abruptly in a spasm of coughing, the hilarity of the moment taking his breath. Pausing to gather grace, he took a deep breath, but the smile did not leave his face.
“Have you forgotten that these tired old eyes cannot see that far Crach?” Bursting into laughter once more, he gripped his sides. “Oh Crach, I will miss you!”
“I will miss you, Master! I will miss you.” Tears welled in my eyes.
“Smoke in your eyes, Crach?” He laughed again, showing a little more restraint, but not much!
Light was dim and night fast approached as the fire roared, casting shadows into the forest beyond. Through a gap in the trees on the far side of the stream, a tall figure of a man appeared, walking purposefully towards us. Upon reaching the stream, just one wide step of such long legs enabled him to stride across with ease. He waved and gesticulated a silent greeting. Fwynedd was strongly built with powerful shoulders, perhaps the size of three of me standing on top of each other. He was a mountain of a man, wearing a beard longer than any I had ever seen. He stood by the fire, towering over me. I stared, taking in his countenance. I had seen many a long beard but never at a length as this one. In my memory, such a beard was sported solely amongst magicians, prophets and seers. His beard was long and wild, bushy ends sprouted from under a thick leather thong at his waist where the beard lay trapped, held securely in place. Presumably this stopped it blinding his way when trudging through strong winds. He wore a thick, weather-battered, leather jerkin, tightly wrapped around for warmth. Torn dirty leggings, made from sheepskin, adorned thick muscular legs whilst big worn boots clearly housed large feet. My Master announced.
“So, you are here!”
Staggering to his feet, Master smiled his welcome, putting out a hand to greet my guide. Fwynned bent down, extending a muscular arm, helping my ancient Master to his tired feet with a firm but gentle pull. They embraced warmly as would be expected of old friends who had not met for quite some time. The embrace lasted for what seemed an eternity to me. Their entwined upper torsos cast strange, eerie, ghostly shadows across the ground, flickering madly in the firelight. My guide had arrived. It was dark now, shrouding all in night, excepting slivers of light caught from a half moon which, in my presently addled mind, enabled the conjuring of dancing shadows, haunting as far as I could see. Echoes in the distance of creatures who only ventured into the world at night, played in my ears. My stomach tumbled, as does a butter churn. My fingers and toes tingled and my head felt light. I could not understand why I felt so in fear, a feeling most unfamiliar to this dwarf, I can tell you. I felt positively, without argument, upside down.
Llywd ap Crachan Llywd, my long-suffering, aged, wise friend and Master, joined with Fwynedd the Shepherd in standing on either side of me, each calmly placing an arm around my shaking shoulders. I began to feel calmer, twitching and tingling started to lessen, my churning gut gurgled but felt less painful. Yes, I was starting to feel more in control, I think? Yes, I was! The top of my head definitely appeared to be feeling somewhat clearer but still they held me securely in what seemed like a healing embrace. Time stood still as we three stood, not moving nor speaking, with not so much as a twitch between us. I know not how many moments passed, I only know, as they both gently took their hands from around my shoulders, Crach Ffinnant was feeling grand. All my fears and trepidations of what, at first, felt like the most perilous journey imaginable had melted away and I now truly considered this to be an adventure. 'I, Crach Ffinnant, am ready! This is my time.' Of course, these were only thoughts in my now less addled mind. Both of my protectors smiled warmly and in unity exclaimed.
“No fear now, Crach! Ready to go?”
Now all three of us laughed heartily until certainly my ribs ached. It was time to leave and Llywd ap Crachan Llywd, my Master, teacher and friend for ten years past, took my shoulders in his gnarled hands for the last time.
“Keep the wind at your back, young Crach, and remember all that you must. 'Pererindawd, ffawd ffyddlawn' - a very great pilgrimage.” He smiled a smile that would be the last I would see for a long time, if ever again. “I will always be with you, Crach, and when not in this life, as the universe one day will decree, I will walk beside you in spirit from the 'other world'.”
Smiling warmly, he pulled me closer and my final moments in his care and tutorship were over. I could not speak, as no words could I find to say goodbye to him. It was almost as though his final words had spoken so much that none were needed. I would never forget those words and he did keep to them, as all will see. Fwynned the Shepherd, my guide and protector for the next seven days and nights, embraced my Master and nodded silently in my direction as he strode with purpose into the darkness. Crossing the stream, I stopped and turned for a brief moment to wave a final farewell to my Master, but he was gone.