( December 12, 2018 )

A merry Christmas treat

Hello All

Here is a written version of my Tale “The Robbers of Penwyllt “  enjoy and Nadolig Llawen .

Owen x

 

The Robbers of Penwyllt
By Owen Staton
The New inn was never new, Its thatched roof leaked and its doors were ill fitting and rotten, rain would run down the inside of its walls to be collected in buckets and its fire was no more than a dull glow on even the darkest of nights. Two hundred years ago this Halloween was one of those nights.
Gathered around the dying embers of the fire were two of the blackest hearted men that the hills and valleys of Wales had ever seen, a pair of brothers with Murder on their mind. Their names were Iago and Gronwy and they were Wreckers . Now Wreckers for those who dont know were thieves of the worst kind. Using their lanterns and bells they would lure cargo laden ships onto jagged edged rocks and cause them to flounder. Surviving crew members who swam ashore would meet their end at the hands of these evil minded fiends and their cargo would be stolen as their bodies floated in the shallow waters of the Welsh coast. Iago and Gronwy were two of the most feared men in Wales and they had won and lost many fortunes in this the blackest of all trades.
Iago was tall and thin, his shoulder length hair matted and lank, he spoke with all the grace of a wounded weasel. His long coat was ragged and torn and his Tricorn hat never left his head. He carried with him a long sharp and rusty knife, one that he had long ago pulled from the shallows as he searched through the remains of an unfortunate wreck . Gronwy could not have been more different , huge in Girth his body seemed to be held captive by his clothes in the same way that a small sack tried in vain to hold a large load . His face was mostly covered by a sea weed infested bush of a beard and he puffed and panted with effort at every step his overburdened body was forced to make.
The Church bells rung outside ,their solemn chimes echoing through the fog that had descended on the deep valley outside like an unwashed shroud.
“Its time “ said Iago placing his pewter mug on the rotten table in front of him as rising from his chair he made his way to the door followed slowly and noisily by his brother.
The air outside was heavy and dank as the Wreckers clambered into their carriage outside . Pulled by an emancipated black Mere called Shadow who strained with every step the cart slowly made its way up the winding road that was the main artery through this the darkest of all valleys on this the darkest of all nights .
. Silent they travelled both Wreckers minds intent on the deed before them until suddenly Gronwy opened his barely visible mouth and started to speak .
“ Are you sure this is going to work ?” He rasped , his voice like that of a wounded fox with a bad winter cold.
“ Of course it will “ replied his Brother “ The Shepard told me, why would he lie ?, A Coach Passes this way on this day every month, a coach so full of gold that if you opened the doors it would flow out like a river, gold to pay the soldiers based in Brecon , gold that will soon make us the richest Men in all of Wales”.
“ It better be tonight ‘ rasped Gronwy “ I’m sick of your plans coming to nothing, don’t let me down again “ The huge Wrecker turned and pulled a large Blunderbuss gun from under a blanket in the back of the cart and placed it across his knees.
The two brothers made their way through the thick darkness of the Swansea valley, branches from gnarly oaks leaned over the road to hang down like hooked claws and nameless animals crowed and called from the darkest heart of the forest until at last they came to their destination.
Penwyllt , a place so dark it was said that the sun only shined there for an hour a day and that was at the height of midsummer . Near the road were many old caves and caverns and old abandoned ruins and there looking down on the road was a rocky outcrop that offered a view for as far as a man cared to look. Hiding both Shadow and the wood wormed carriage near the ruins of a long empty hut Iago turned to Gronwy and outlined his plan.

“ Right brother , you go and sleep near the cart , I will climb up the rock and watch the road. When I see the lamp on the coach I will give a call, like the hoot of an old Owl and then and only then you jump out in front, point the gun and stop the coach. Do you understandthat?”
“ Yes , but make sure you get this right, don’t spoil this “ replied Gronwy making his way to where the carriage waited. Soon he was asleep as Iago climbed the rock and laying on his stomach watched the road.
The dark night grew darker still and after an hour the only sound the Wrecker could hear was that of his brother snoring. The night grew long and the first lonesome streaks of the dawn sky broke over the eastern side of the valley , then he knew the coach was not coming . Not this night.
Suddenly out of the corner of his eye he spied a light on the road. A light so bright that it could only be that of the coach, he watched intently as the light grew in size and brightness cupping his hands around his mouth he was about to make the call of the Owl when suddenly his black heart started to beat even quicker. The light was joined by a second light, then a third and then more and more and these lights were not high like the lights of a coach but low to the ground . Iago stared in wonderment not knowing what this could be . The sounds of his brothers snores echoed around and then , to his terror it became clear what had created the light.
Each of the small lights were carried by one of the Tylweth Teg one of the Welsh fairies , now these fairies are not the sort of ones you read about in tales written for children . These are strange capricious creatures that could make you fall asleep and not wake for a thousand years. These beings would replace a baby with a changing and make sure the parents
Watched from afar as it grew into a warped strange creature. This was Halloween or Calon Gaeaf as it is known in Wales and this night of all nights the Tylweth Teg loved nothing more than to dance under the new winter sky.
Some of the Tylweth Teg were warped Goblin like creatures that shuffled and crawled while others were as beautiful as the dawn , each of them danced and capered along the forest road a small light in one hand and a gold coin in the other .
A Gold coin, hundreds and hundreds of gold coins, Iago who had up until now hidden his face with his hands , terrified of what the Fay people would do to him slowly peeped between his fingers and watched as each of the creatures made their way to a small cave opening nearby. Each of the Tylweth Teg stopped at the entrance and in a myriad of strange unearthly voices called into the darkness “ Gallwch” before disappearing into the cave only to emerge moments later without the gold coin.
“ They have a password , a password known only to them and now to me “ Iago whispered to himself as the last of the Fairy procession vanished into the forest around him. Carefully he lowered himself down from the crag and walked to where his brother still slept . Suddenly Iago stopped and turning on his heel quietly made his way to the cave entrance. Even amongst Thieves loyalty only goes so far.
Kneeling down at the cave entrance he peered into the darkness . Nervously he reached into the cave with his hand and watched as his arm vanished into the black cavern before him. Summoning all his reserves of courage he took a deep breath and cried “ Gallwch” before stepping into the cave.
Iago made his way down through passage after passage , feeling like his journey would take him into the vary centre of the world, up and down , left and right the passages went on for what felt like an eternity before finally they opened up into a large square room.
Lit by orbs floating in the air the room had great hooks hanging from the walls like those found in a butchers shop , and from these hooks hung great sacks and from these sacks flowing like a river onto the ground were gold coins beyond count . Iago leapt into the coins and started to fill his pockets, fill his coat , fill under his hat he danced and capered with joy as more gold coins than a man could spend in a hundred lifetimes suddenly became his. Iago laughed and screamed and fell to his knees with joy.

Then everything changed .
What Iago thought was a pile of rags in the corner of the room started to shuffle and move , What Iago thought was inconsequential suddenly became the focus of his very being as the rags fell away to reveal the skull of a horse with bright glowing green eyes. Iago knew he was now doomed as he looked into the eyes of Y Fari Lloyd.
Y Fari Lwyd , the first horse that winter claimed , the queen of the Fairies , the Winter Mare The Fari Lwyd was the loathsome skull of a felled horse that stalked the valley above Swansea port. It was said that just to look at her meant certain death. Iago covered his eyes and fell to the ground as Y Fari made her rickety way over to him and spoke in a voice as old as the Mountains and as Capricious as the sea.
“ Why have you come here Thief? “
“I’m not a Thief “ pleaded the Thief “ I came here by accident look I Will put all the coins back “ Iago emptied his pockets, his coat his hat. “ Look I know the password its Gallwch” Iago pleaded with the Mare.
“ Gallwch , is the password to enter “ stated Y Fari “ but what is the password to leave?”.
“ You mean there’s a password to get out?,oh please let me go I beg you , I will never come here again I promise “ Iago pleaded to the Mare
“ Your Luck grows short but my patience is endless “ stated Y Fari. “Your fortune however is truly beyond compare for you have come here at Calon Gaeaf the night when the spirits of the forest are at their brightest, the time that kindness lights the darkest reaches of our black hearts. Go now but know this , if anybody else comes here , anybody . They will stay an eternity with me”
Almost before y Fari finished speaking Iago was gone. He made his way through the dark passages until he burst into the night once more. He would have run all the way to Swansea Port but a figure stepped in front of him. A figure with a gun.
“ Where do you think your going Brother?” gasped Gronwy .
“We have to get out of here now” screamed Iago gesticulating wildly.
“ You robbed the coach and left me sleeping didn’t you?” Said Gronwy with true venom in his voice. Iago pleaded with his brother but at this moment fate like it often does intervened and a single gold coin slipped out of his jacket and fell to the ground.
Gronwy stared at the coin and lifted the gun and pulled back on the trigger. Iago covered his eyes and waited for the inevitable but suddenly his mind became clear and he spoke.
“ Yes Brother I robbed the coach, I put the money in that cave “ He said pointing to the cavern entrance. “ Make your way down to the left and just keep going , you will find the gold and are welcome to it.” . Iago then ran and ran until he came to the sea. He was never seen in the Swansea valley ever again.
Gronwy made his way to the cave entrance and peered in . Squeezing his belly between the rocks he made his way in and was never seen again.
A few years free that fateful Halloween night world renowned Opera singer with a voice as clear as a crystal lake came to the Swansea Valley, her wish was to build a castle, a castle with towers so high as to touch the sky. Armies of workers flocked to the valley to dig and build. One fateful evening at the time between times the workman dug deep into the ruins around Penwyllt and far beneath the earth they came across the great chamber full of Hooks. Cautiously the workmen entered and peered with horror at a great rusty hook at the far end of the room . From it there hung a Human skull . Of the gold there was no sign. Carefully one of the builders removed the skull from the hook and placed it within a sack which he kept under his bed.
During the dark heart of the night the Builder awoke to the sound of screaming . Sitting bolt upright he realised that the sound came from under his bed as the skull cried out in the sack, its teeth chattering together. The workman bravely grabbed the sack and leaping onto a horse rode all the way to Swansea port.

On arrival he ran up the stairs outside the great Greek facade of the museum and hammered on the door. The ancient caretaker took the sack from the builders trembling hand and carried it downstairs to the darkest room in the deepest vault and placed it in a safe.
But still it screamed.
The next day a boat took the skull far out to see and dropped it in the deepest water where it sank beneath the waves . Only then did it become silent.
However it is still said that even today if you go to Craig y Nos in the deepest part of the Swansea valley at the Time between times , the time when it is neither night or day but the Sun has gone and the sky is grey, you can still hear deep beneath the earth the cries of a man . “Gallwch , Gallwch “ he screams and he does not relent until the sun breaks over the mountains which it seldom does in this the darkest of valleys.

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