The gates of the city were guarded by the King’s soldiers who carefully checked all the contents of our wagons closely before allowing the circus caravan to enter. We slowly trudged wearily through the gates which were surrounded on all sides by wooden ramshackle houses with smoke billowing through holes and makeshift chimneys upon thatched roofs. It was filthy and muddy. Flowing uneasily were pools of excrement which filled the gutters, blocked in places by all forms of cast-off rubbish. The smell that invaded my nostrils reminded me of my first moments in Shrewsbury, only worse.

 Rolling slowly through the mud, our caravan passed through streets that were hustling and bustling with folk busy about their daily tasks. Groups of armed soldiers marched here and there, seemingly keeping a close eye on everything to maintain order. I saw a big burly soldier bearing the King’s insignia on his tunic, stretched across a broad chest, kick out savagely at an old man who was begging at the side of the road. In my homeland of Wales, we would never treat a person in such an uncaring way. Never had I heard of such cruelty and certainly had never witnessed it as I was doing now. The old man rolled into the gutter, grasping his middle where the soldier’s boot had struck him unnecessarily and mercilessly. The soldier kicked him again in the small of his aged back, making the old man curl up like a baby, groaning in the gutter, tears of pain, resentment and fear streaming from his tired eyes. The King’s soldier then stepped over the old man and turning on his heel he drew phlegm from deep down in his big chest and spat. The spittle landed in the middle of the old man’s face, spraying onto his cheeks. He strode off, leaving his victim prostrate with ne’er a backward glance.

 The streets were full of beggars and ragged dressed people, many with no shoes, shuffling around in the cold, looking lost, hungry and frightened. Two riders in half armour rode around a corner in front of us on proud spirited black horses. They trotted towards us, mud and stones flying from heavy hooves which struck the earth forcibly and with purpose. A few paces behind, riding a black charger, sat a young knight with a silver helmet adorned with a blue plume, wafting in the wind as he rode. As they came closer, I thought I recognised the harsh bitter features of the face under the helmet. I was as sure as ‘day follows night’ that it was the man Glyndwr had saved them from – Edmund the bully from Worcester. He wore the helmet and plume and he was riding a stallion, just as predicted by Llwyd ap Crachan Llwyd in his prophecy.

Ch 9 Vol I


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