Sunday, August 10, 2014

Ninety-second excerpt from 'Twelve Towers'

          An hour before sundown, the light started to increase and Gwilym noticed that the trees ahead were thinning. He had been trying his best to hold to the westward path Grainne had been following. The trees ended in a farmer’s field. He called Bleddyn to halt and they ran ahead to scout out the exit from the forest.
There was a north-south cart track that bordered the forest and the visibility along this to either side was excellent. Gwilym squinted his eyes toward the south and made out a straight line there. “Is that the road?” he asked Bleddyn.
          “I think so,” he replied. “Looks like it’s about a mile away. Shall we get back on it?”
          “No. Let’s stay on the side roads as much as we can.”
          They exited the forest and made their way along the track until they found a farmer’s path leading west.
          Grainne woke on the morning after her spell, ravenous and asking to eat meat in the first time since Gwilym had met her.
          Traveling over the back roads and open farmland, they spent five more days getting to their destination. Gwilym hid his face at every habitation. It became clear that no-one in this region was searching for Grainne and the boys.
          On the fifth afternoon they arrived on the shores of the lake on which Glastonbury Tor rose. They rang the triangle that hung from the small traveler’s hut and waited for the ferryman to bring the barge. Gwilym looked around him, seeing the grass-covered path that wound through the trees to the left. A few rocks stuck out from the surface of the lake edge.  His eye strayed to the old willow where he had called for Grainne during Kaitlyn’s fatal labor. He caught Grainne’s eyes. She changed the unspoken subject. “We never finished our conversation of the Holy Grail, Gwilym.”
          “The Holy Grail. You said I was of the same bloodline as Jesus. I can’t believe you are perpetuating that old lie about Jesus and Mary Magdalene. That seems so out of character for the man.”
          “You can share the same blood as Jesus without Him ever conceiving a child, you know.”
          “What?” he looked puzzled. Then his brow cleared. “Joseph? His uncle Joseph fathered a child in Avalon?”
          “Yes. The first in a line of sons that has extended for 500 years. And your sons are just the latest in that line.”
          Gwilym thought for a long time before asking, “Were all those boys fostered out?”
          “Some returned as adults to breed again with the Avalon line. Sometimes the mothers left with them. For two hundred years the line left Avalon. Then it returned to re-energize the other Avalon line.”
          “But along the way it must have been mixed with many other bloodlines. It could scarcely be recognizable now.”
          “You forget that only boys come from that line. The blood is strong and stays with the boys.”
The ferry approached. Grainne looked into Gwilym’s eyes and told him, “Ask me the question you have been avoiding.”
          Tears sprang to Gwilym’s eyes. “Who is…” his words caught. “Who is my mother?”
          “I will bring you to her in a few days. She still lives.”
          They drove the carts on board the ferry. The boys gathered around the adults to share their excitement at taking this trip. Jac looked at his father. “Why are you crying, Da?”
          “I’m just happy to be coming home, son.”
          “Why does this priest have funny hair, Da?”
            Gwilym wiped his tears and looked at the monk poling the ferry. While his robes were typical monastery wear, the man’s head was shaved on the sides, leaving a dome of hair covering his head. He shook his head. “I don’t know, son. We’ll ask Father Drew.”

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

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