Saturday, July 27, 2013

Sixty-fifth excerpt from 'Twelve Towers'

          Gwilym took his boys out to the remains of the Roman settlement. Jac and Llawen were content to jump from one rock to another or to walk along the walls, trying to maintain their balance. Gwilym showed Bleddyn what the town would have looked like 100 years ago. The palace, barracks, baths, marketplace, and temples. Under the palace, they saw evidence of recent digging which brought Gwilym’s mind back to what Tarrant had been doing in Northwic. Inspecting this, they saw that the diggings went down a few feet and stopped. It was unlikely anything had been taken from here.
          They spent the next week enjoying the town. They visited the church and found the singing was almost as good as that of the Cambrian churches they had enjoyed in previous years. The Mass was said in Latin so the whole family could enjoy it.
          When the weather was clear, they took long walks into the countryside. There were some old Roman villas in this area that were occupied by prosperous merchants or landowners. The family would visit and Gwilym would show off the mosaic. They found a buyer who was willing to give them gold for the mosaic, allowing Gwilym to pay off any debts he might incur for the tower overruns.
          As they left this villa, Gwilym noticed something unusual in their surroundings. This area was almost completely flat but, in the fields surrounding this villa rose a symmetrical, dome-shaped hill.

          He set off across the harvested fields to the hill, finding it abutting the surrounding forest. The boys were excited by the prospect of climbing something so they ran ahead. Gwilym and Bleddyn walked behind until, sensing some danger, Gwilym urged Bleddyn on and raced to the hill, arriving at the top just as Jac and Llawen did. He asked them to be quiet as he explored the hill. It was about 200 feet across and 20 feet high. Looking around at the surrounding countryside he could see nothing like it. There were a few hills around but they looked natural. The dimensions of this hill were too perfect to be made by nature. On top, the boys were climbing up and jumping off a large stone that looked like a fallen, square pillar. Gwilym saw that at one end of the pillar, in the exact center of the hill was a large flat stone. Gwilym surmised that the pillar used to sit on the flat stone.
          Gwilym walked around the lower parts of the hill and noticed something out of the ordinary. While the hill appeared unbreached, there was a worn path leading from a lower section into the woods. Following this path, Gwilym found a huge pile of dirt and rocks that had been recently deposited here. Kicking the top of the pile, Gwilym saw that dust filtered through the rough pile of stones, indicating that it hadn’t rained since the last deposit. He remembered rain five days ago.
          He followed the path back to the hill and saw where it ended. The hill was covered in rough grass, trimmed by the farmer’s sheep in the summer. Feeling around, he discovered a rope hidden in the grass. He pulled on the rope and a 3 foot-wide square of sod lifted up. The sod was supported by a board that fit over a tunnel leading into the hill. Gwilym carefully returned this to its original state, and then went back up to the top of the hill to talk to his boys. Bleddyn gave him a curious look but asked nothing.
          “Let’s go back to town, lads. We’ve got to get ready for Fred. He comes tomorrow night and we’ll leave with him the next day. Any last shopping we need to do before we return to Salthouse?”
          “Yes, Da! We need more taffy!” shouted Llawen, always the one with a sweet tooth.

To read the entire first draft in one shot, click here:

No comments:

Post a Comment