RISE OF THE DRAGON – SPEAKS!

SNIPPET FROM

CRACH FFINNANT – RISE OF THE DRAGON

 A fire blazed across the enormous ornate hearthstone.  Above a great fireplace on the smoke-worn and stained granite wall, hung the standards of England and Ireland, wafting to and fro a little in the breeze of hot air rising invisibly from the flames. Honed fat logs of beech, fractured by heat, spluttered towards imminent flaming destruction, coughing as sparks flew here and there, abandoning all sense of ignition. Tapestries of battle scenes hung from the walls, splendid in their horror, depicting shadows of spectres long passed, dancing in half-light. Beeswax candles dripped from a candelabra, pungency filling the air, already heavy with smoke from the fire, mingled with incense and overladen by the stale aroma of roast venison. Empty platters adorned the great table. Crumbs of bread and ribs of a deer picked clean, lay discarded among the elbows resting thereon, full bellies digesting in silence. Several well-fed men with splatter of food and wine staining their fine clothes sat slumped around the table. At the head, in a great chair, sat the newly crowned King Henry of England and Ireland. Several paces behind him, two armed soldiers sporting the Royal Crest across their chests, stood motionless with eyes staring blankly into a space only they could know.

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The King seemed greatly troubled, his features strewn with deep lines of worry, creating the appearance of a spider’s web, etched upon a tanned face, almost the colour of a blacksmith’s apron. He portrayed a tiredness through lack of sleep, together with wine, rather than blood, running through his veins. He stared silently up into the rafters with eyes as black as Whitby Jet, no doubt reflecting upon some aspect of his obsession with power. His face, scarred and pock-marked by disease, made him look much older than his years. He raised his hand and with a grubby nail perched on the end of a chunky finger, he picked and scratched at a spot on his cheek until it bled. Then wiping the bloody finger across his chest, he left a trail across his blouse, as would a leech questing succour. Henry coughed and grabbed his stomach, moaning under bated breath, causing the digesting silence to come to an abrupt end.

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“You are unwell, My Lord?” Edmund Holland, Earl of Kent, who was seated to his left, enquired. “Perhaps a drink of water may assist?” Edmund beckoned the King’s glance towards the flagon on the table.

“Blast you, Edmund! For an educated man, you are a dullard, sir. A buffoon!” Henry berated the Earl of Kent, spitting contempt at the mere idea of such a thing. Drink water, indeed! “Fish urinate in water, Edmund, and I will not touch as much as a drop.” He spat on the floor to add theatricals to his disgust. “I will have wine. Bring me wine!” Henry called for service. “Water indeed!” He laughed and sniggered at his own joke.

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Thank you for dropping by……………………….

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CRACH FFINNANT – RISE OF THE DRAGON -TAKES FLIGHT TO SANTA IN TIME FOR XMAS

So excited … two books out in less than a year! Thanks to Words Matter Publishing for believing in Crach, Debbie Eve for illustrations and putting up with my obsession. The follow-up to Volume One, Crach Ffinnant – The Prophecy is here! Volume Two, Crach Ffinnant – Rise of the Dragon is now available on Amazon as an eBook and will be in paperback shortly. This is a series with some way to go yet, but join us in Crach’s new adventures with Owain Glyndwr and the evil Henry IV in CRACH FFINNANT – RISE OF THE DRAGON

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Back in February of this year…….

 

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CREATION IN NARRATION

CRACH DISCOVERS HIS TRUE DESTINY

I am throughly enjoying narrating my creation, Crach Ffinnant – The Prophecy. An authors imagination in writing comes alive on paper bringing the reader into the writers world. Narrating one’s own story is an exciting adventure as I once again enter the realms of 1375, telling the tale in my own voice. I am not including an audio sample here as I do not want to spoil the upcoming audio book, but I have reproduced the chapter for folks delectation. The reason I am sharing the script is I was very moved emotionally whilst narrating. I wonder if anybody might know why?

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The hour was late this morning when my weary eyes slowly opened to the warmth and safety of Master Healan’s home. Stretching my still sleeping legs as far as it was possible anatomically, I yawned and sat bolt upright, taking in my new surroundings. Master Healan’s cot was empty, his sheepskin folded tidily in preparation for the next night. The fire still burned with a cooking pot steaming over it, suspended by a chain secured to the wall above the hearth. Master Healan was nowhere to be seen so I decided to return to the warmth of my bed to snuggle beneath the sheepskins a while longer. My thoughts wandered to the mountains and valleys of my home, to the green pastures and impenetrable forests, vision after vision before my eyes. In no time at all, I was asleep again. I was awoken by a gentle tap on my forehead and to the sound of a very quiet voice speaking my name. I opened my eyes slowly to see the face of Master Healan smiling down at me.

   “If your eyes are awake, then the rest of you will follow!”

  He laughed and I grinned at his humour. Throwing back the sheepskin, I hopped off the makeshift cot. My bare feet struck the cold floor and I hopped back up again, seemingly much quicker than was my descent. Once back on the cot, I quickly put on my boots, not wanting to repeat such an uncomfortable experience! Master Healan laughed again, inviting me to join him for breakfast. As I sat down to the table, he ladled steaming broth from the cauldron into a bowl, passing it over to me. I nodded my gratitude. Crusty bread helped soak up this delicious meal of broth made from herbs and vegetables. Not only was it tasty and filling but each mouthful seemed to invigorate every cell in my small body.

  The supping of the broth brought back memories of how both Llwyd ap Crachan Llwyd and Fwynedd the Shepherd had secretly fed me wormwood. I especially remembered Fwynedd and his manic hilarity when I realised how our journey had seemingly been shortened. That was, of course, after he had shared the secret with me.

Not a word passed between us whilst we ate heartily, washing our repast to digestion with a jug of small ale. There was the occasional slurp, gulp, and burp, but words had no place at a table when a man was at food.

  “I have some work to do later, Crach, but I would like to carry on from where we left off last evening, if that would sit well with you?”

   I nodded my agreement.

  Later that day at evening-time, it was my turn to listen to his story. Sitting on the chair, tilted back towards the table, I straddled my legs against the hearth and waited to listen. Master Healan began his story

 “First of all I will tell you of my friendship with your Master, my friend of many decades, Llwyd ap Crachan Llwyd.”

 He scratched his forehead with a long fingernail sprouting from a spindly finger which was ingrained with the soil of his work. He then continued his tale.

 “My name in Welsh is Myrddin Goch ap Cwnwrig. Many years ago, far too many for the counting but much in the remembering, Llwyd ap Crachan Llwyd and I were both apprentices to our Master, Gruffyd ap Morgan Gruffyd. From around our tenth year, we grew together. Although I had been an apprentice for some nine months before Llwyd ap Crachan Llwyd, we were equals in so many ways and mastered our crafts quickly and naturally.” He glanced over at me, raising his eyebrows and said. “Mind you, we did not have the natural earth magic that flows through the veins of a dwarf!” Smiling, he continued.

  “When our apprenticeships concluded, your Master was sent into the mountains of Gwynedd to further his knowledge and hone his skills in earth magic and healing, whereas I went to Bala and learned much of what I practice now, the making of potions to heal the sick. We both carried on with our work for a few years but in March of 1349, a great plague swept across England and also penetrated every corner of Wales. Within a year, one in four people had died. Every family in Wales lost somebody to this Black Death.”

   I saw tears in his eyes, one rolled down his cheek. He rubbed it away with the back of his hand and continued his story.

  “It was a time of great sadness and a time that proved futile as we all tried in vain to find a cure. Welsh villages and towns rang with tolls of sadness from the rumble of the cart of death. Funeral pyres burned from one end of the land to the other, their dark smoke billowing skywards, darkening the light of day and choking our breath. If ever there was a time for magic that was it. The need for a cure was so great but all efforts to discover one had failed. From all over Wales came the healers, magicians, prophets and seers to gather together at Bala Lake in March of 1350, exactly a year after the Black Death had arrived.”

   He leaned forward and asked me to pour him a bowl of water from the barrel in the corner. I passed it to him and he reached out, took the bowl and drank thirstily. He wiped his mouth, using the back of his hand, and then sneezed very loudly before saying softly.

  “I hope this story does not bore the heart of a young dwarf.”

 “On the contrary.” I replied, motioning with my hand for him to carry on. “Please continue, Master Healan.”

   “Thank you, Crach.” He settled back into his chair and taking a deep breath carried on speaking.

  “Well, we all met as the moon was full. I remember the reflections on the lake as if it were yesterday. It was stunning in its natural beauty. A number of very important things happened over the following few days and nights. We shared our knowledge and ideas with each other while sitting around an enormous bonfire. Whilst we did not find a cure for the plague, we did discover various herbs that would slow down the infection and give some relief to the sufferer on their journey.  A cure has never been found and, as you know, although it is not as prevalent, the disease is still with us today. There was also a most interesting phenomena that occurred on our second night together.  In the very early hours as we meditated, several of us saw the same visions.”

  He began to perspire, small beads of sweat forming across a wrinkled forehead. Adjusting his position and sweeping his hanging, long, grey hair behind both ears, he again continued.

  “We saw great visions foretold across the sky in the shapes of many horsemen carrying English flags, galloping and splashing in foamy white waves, through the valleys and over the mountains of our country. It was as if the heavens had spilt wide open to reveal these visions. The wind began to pick up and the clouds flew faster over our heads. Our feet felt stuck to the earth, we were unable to move or even able to close our eyes. We had no option but to watch and see what the heavens insisted be revealed.”

  Master Healan coughed and looked up at the ceiling, his eyes remembering.

  “Castles, huge and built of stone, drifted across the sky. We recognised most of them, a ring of impregnable castles from Builth in mid-Wales, to Caernarvon in the north-west and to Flint in the north-east. These ten castles were built one hundred years previously by the long-dead English King Edward and were the physical embodiment of the power of the English rule, designed to intimidate and subjugate our people of Wales. The visions of the night ended as the castles disappeared amongst the clouds and the dawn started to break over the horizon. We all fasted during our time together in order to focus our attentions on meditation. On the second night, more visions were revealed when the skies and heavens opened again.” He stood up from his chair and leaned against the table, staring into my face with a look of concern and compassion etched across his features. Speaking quietly he said.

  “We all agreed that the first night of visions were almost a historic reminder of the chains that bound our country in submission to the English Lords. On the second night, the heavens revealed the arrival of a man who would lead us all to freedom, a man now already born in this year of 1349, and twelve months on from the plague’s arrival. Clouds turned dark and light sped across the skies, thunder echoed in the distance as lightning bolts flashing earthward, illuminating the mountains surrounding the lake. One bolt lit up the skies above our heads, like a tree with roots spread. One shot into the centre of the lake, urging geysers of water towards the heavens. As the water fell back to the lake in a spray that completely filled our vision, golden crowns began to fall, one after the other appeared and disappeared. Then, emerging through the mist, came a knight on a white charger, clad in full armour. He bore the insignia of our ancient royal heritage on his shield. As his mount reared with steam emanating from flared nostrils, he held a huge battle sword above his head and then the vision was gone.”

   I watched him closely and could feel a great sense of sadness as the story further unfurled. He sat down again, leaning both elbows on the table while he cradled his chin on interlocked fingers.

   “On the third and final night of our gathering, again the heavens opened. At first it seemed as if the visions of the first night were reappearing. The skies above our heads were embraced by galloping horsemen in full armour but this time it was not English flags fluttering above their heads but those of the Welsh Princes. Castles reappeared but no longer did the insignia of the English rule fly upon the turrets, it was the flag of the Welsh Princes. It became clear to us that a war with the English haunted the future. We did not know when but as the prophesied leader of our revolt was still a child, whatever was predicted lay in our distant future.”

  Master Healan leaned back from the table and folded his arms across his chest, tapping on his shoulder with gnarled fingers.         

  “The final part of my story ends with all the prophets, healers, seers and magicians returning to their homes across Wales, but not before it had been decided that we needed to know more and particularly the precise time when these events may take place. As you know, you’re Master and my friend, Llwyd ap Crachan Llwyd, is skilled at reading the stars and back then our gathering relied upon him to define the events and their approximate moment of arrival in our future. That was twenty-five years ago and it is only he and I that still live, the remainder of our number are long gone. Thus it is only he and I who remember these nights of discovery and we have been bound by the heavens to keep this knowledge sacred until the time the prophecy would come into being. Your Master recorded all the events on one of the scrolls you brought here to me.  The contents of this are, of course, well-known to me because I was there. The contents of the other two scrolls, I am not familiar with.”

  He scratched his bearded chin and wound loose wisps of long white hair behind his ears. He then smiled at me from across the table.

  “There is one more thing I will tell you now, Crach, but I will reveal all to you soon that is when I think you are ready. Your visit was foretold in my dreams on a number of occasions when your Master came to me, but he also told me that you would ride at the side of our new Prince.”

    I gasped in astonishment at what he just said and interjected.

  “Me!  A dwarf! Ride alongside a Prince!” I sarcastically summarised his words.

   “Yes, Crach!” He looked straight into my eyes repeating his words and telling me that perhaps my destiny would soon become clearer.

      

      I stood up from my chair feeling rather confused, if not a little frightened, by his story. I nervously fiddled with a log stacked on the pile leaning against the wall before placing it in the grate, stepping back as sparks flew from the embers beneath. Master Healan raised himself from the chair and slowly stepped across to me, placing a warm aged arm around my shoulders. Squeezing me gently, he pulled me into his hold and said.

  “You see, I told you I was expecting a dwarf, and it is you. Your path is decided by the heavens, Crach. All that remains now is for you to fulfil your part in that which is foretold. Will you do that, Crach?”

  He examined my face quizzically while waiting for a response. I smiled at him, knowing my answer, as did he.

 All through my life, and before, burdened with onerous taxation and restrictive land policies, the Welsh people, my people, were, and still are, chaffed under English domination. Our Welsh myths and legends, as sung and related by bards and minstrels, foretold of a ‘national redeemer’. We had all prayed for a man who would rise up and now it appeared, according to prophecy, I was to ride at his side! This was a bit much for a simple dwarf such as myself to believe, but believe it I must. There was no choice. My destiny had seemingly been written before my birth into this world.

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AUTHORS HELPING AUTHORS – PART TW0 ‘

‘YOU LIKE ME AND I’LL LIKE YOU’

 

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Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, ReverbNation, SoundCloud, Fandalism, whatever the platform, we can like or dislike posts we see, and select to follow or subscribe to the author. Often moderate success is determined by how many likes, followers and subscribers we may have and in addition, the number of views a post may get. At the top end of the scale there are those with thousands upon thousands of followers and at the bottom, folk with only a few. It does not matter if you are an author, musician, actor, poet, artist or whatever, you have to start somewhere and the opportunity to expand our personal networks on-line is where we begin. A craze at the moment flooding author and book sites particularly on Facebook, is where authors request ‘like for like’ with other authors on FB pages and Websites. It is very helpful in sharing each others work, raising profile and of course ‘likes’. A dilemma for many is, it can be time-consuming to respond to hundreds of posts, but it does work and one can see the effects after only a few days. The trick is to time manage how much ‘liking‘ and ‘responding’ we activate and this is made easier as every time we ‘like’ within a stream of content, we are notified of all comments on that post. So if you belong to several groups and lets say, some are featuring ‘like for like’ posts, of which you are part of because you have commented, you receive a notification. It then becomes simply part of one’s daily on-line administration of your networking and can be easily managed. We have to remember, huge followings do not happen overnight, and expanding our personal network within the global family takes time. Patience is essential, as is focussing limited time productively when networking and more importantly, maintain a positive attitude.  Nothing like others liking you to increase self-confidence. Good luck!

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AUTHORS HELPING AUTHORS – Part One

WONDER OF SOCIAL MEDIA

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In this day of rapid communication and exchange of information across the world-wide web, the art of self-help and helping others has grown considerably. In my younger days when I first started to write and perform, this technology did not exist and in later years began to emerge to the point we are at now. Yet that point is constantly evolving day by day as change is an ever constant feature of evolution. So time never stands still and for a writer  nowadays we have to be proactive in our own promotion. Before the web this was almost impossible. Be we self-published or fortunate enough to have a publisher, we still have to create publicity on a regular basis across the web. Facebook, Twitter, MeWe, Instagram, Blogging and so many other pathways giving instant access to a very important theme… each other! Personal communication through friends networks and like-minded groups enable us to exchange so much in the way of support, professional, personal and emotional.

Of course the web is growing rapidly as are the opportunities to enjoy the advantages of great choice. It is a little like fishing of course in that, not all you reel in will you keep as its value to you will be minimal. Trial and error is the only way to find what is good and works for you. The growth in groups across Facebook alone is providing all authors, writers, poets and performers to network with each other, share ideas and more importantly offer help. Words Matter Publishing offer various ways to support their authors, not least of which being an Authors Support Group where we are able to share ideas and support each others work under the safety and guidance  of WMP. There are so many possibilities for expanding our own work by learning from others, what has worked for them and what has not, everything is worth a shot. Some of my colleagues are very creative, exploring new ideas, giving it a go and then sharing with the rest of us. So use this wonderful opportunity and try, it really does not matter if you make mistakes, somebody from somewhere in this vast web of life will be there to help! We can learn and should, from the experiences and mistakes of others, that’s what it is all about.

NEXT TIME

AUTHORS HELPING AUTHORS – PART TW0 ‘

‘YOU LIKE ME AND I’LL LIKE YOU’

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MORE FROM CRACH FFINNANT – VOLUME TWO – RISE OF THE DRAGON – COMING SOON FROM WORDS MATTER PUBLISHING

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I took my time walking or rather slipping and sliding across the shale-blanketed incline. The sky, grey and overcast, shared drizzling rain, stinging my face like hundreds of midges flying in the wind. An early morning sun, hidden from sight, lurked somewhere high above in the vast sky. It looked like a grey day ahead. Stooped, in an attempt to shield my eyes from the rain, I struggled on, the path beneath becoming more and more precarious with each step, sloppy and wet, legs like jelly, feet slipping, and shale sliding under the soles of well-worn boots. A sound staff in my right hand provided some support, but even that slipped as well. This was a journey inevitably slower than in more clement conditions.

It was an important day, and I needed to be alone with so much to consider, both from what had passed and what was yet to come. Hence this journey to the secret cave.

Begging pardon from Owain, with the trial concluded and Usk and Edmund on their way back to London, I left Syncharth with a bedroll, trusty staff, and food for a few days. Of course, I could have used a time portal to get to this sanctuary quickly, but I needed time to think and walking always aided a clear head. Riding was out of the question for this trip, so Merlina, my old friend, and steed grazed in the paddock at Syncharth as I set out alone before the sun had risen this morning. The rain became heavier, huge drops splashing upon rocks, soaking my outer layer of clothing, my boots getting wetter with each step. I noticed an overhang of rock about two hundred paces in front of the track, halfway up the next turn in the ridge contour. Deciding this would make a good shelter until the rain passed and the sky cleared, I made my way towards it.

Sitting under the overhang gave good cover from the rain. The roof jutted out from a rock face over boulders of varying sizes, providing a natural shelter for all who may pass by. Animal droppings scattered here and there informed me of recent visitors – rabbits, fox, and badger, but I was the only inhabitant that I could see today. Wolves, wild boar and bears roamed in the mountains and it was not unusual for lone travellers to be killed, especially in winter when it was hard to find game. A comforting thought for me, of course, was that now it was the height of summer, the month of August halfway through its time, so the chances of me becoming repast for a carnivore lessened, but not entirely, as there were always chance encounters.

It certainly seemed as if the rain would not let up, never stopping, simply fluctuating between light and heavy, yet ever constant. At least my clothes and boots now had a chance to dry out a little. When it became obvious I would be needing this shelter for longer than I would have liked, I lit a small fire in a recess, hung my outer clothes to dry and boiled some water for a mug of herbal tea. I always carried valerian root in my medicine pouch. It helped to calm me, especially when I was worried, and I was worried.

The ‘dragon was on the rise’ just as predicted by The Prophecy, The Prophecy which I and others had given their lives to serve. War loomed on the horizon between England and Wales, storm clouds gathered, and next month Owain would be crowned Prince of Wales. I knew this event would mark a turning point in history; it could not do otherwise. Wales had been dominated by unjust rule since Edward I. Stamped upon, ignored and ill-treated, it would soon rise, united as one, behind Glyndwr, the true Prince of Wales. But what of the outcome of such actions? This, together with other concerns, flooded my mind. I took a healthy sip of valerian tea and stared down the mountainside.

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Crach Ffinnant – Volume Two – Rise of the Dragon – COMING SOON FROM WORDS MATTER PUBLISHING

SNIPPET FROM CHAPTER ONE

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Tan-y-Mynedd suddenly stopped and sat down with a thump on his great haunches. Fortunately for me, by sidestepping intuitively, I avoided being crushed but fell head-over-heels, tripping over a rock jutting up from the cave floor. Tan-y-Mynedd turned his huge head and seeing me sprawled upon the ground, boomed with laughter. Suddenly I felt a strong hand grip my shoulder as its owner lifted me to my feet.
“Well, I never!” A familiar voice sounded.
Even though my ears rang from the fire-dragon’s guffaw at my clumsiness, I recognised the voice instantly. Gathering as much composure as I possibly could after such an
embarrassment, I looked up and there he stood, Fwynedd the Shepherd.
“Crach! How good to see you after so many years, old friend. Do you remember, I told you we would meet again?”
Fwynedd the Shepherd, my guide so many years ago at the beginning of my adventures, patted me on the shoulder. His words reminded me of our last evening together in
the shelter of our cave on my last night in Wales before I became a mute performing dwarf in a travelling circus. Yes, I did remember him telling me we would meet again and here we were at the Council of Blue Stone with The Prophecy still unfurling after so many years.
“Fwynedd!” I exclaimed with joy, as we grasped each other’s wrists in warm welcome. “You certainly did say we would meet again and here we are. You are looking well,
although much older of course!” I laughed.
“I have walked through portals in such timelessness for so long now, Crach, I do not remember the years as they seem to not remember me either.” He smiled with a familiar twinkle in his eye.
The years clearly did not remember him. His hair and legendary beard were now as white as driven snow, curtaining a well-weathered bronzed face. His cheekbones were high and slender, and his face as deeply lined and craggy as the walls of this great cave in which we now stood. With shoulders stooped, Fwynedd the Shepherd seemed less tall than the great height I remembered him to be, but not by much, I will wager. Fwynedd, waving his arm, silently beckoned me to look around at the folk gathered in this sacred place. I had seen the dwarves earlier, of course, seated at the great table. Glancing
around the enormous chamber, I saw at least another two dragons, and I thought maybe I could see a third. I had never seen nor known more than one dragon in my entire life, and that was Tan-y-Mynedd. I mused quietly, wondering how four dragons could be gathered together in the same vicinity, given the dragon has a reputation for being a solitary creature, their propensity to fly into rages and the likelihood that in one puff of a flared nostril they can fall out with themselves without even thinking. This could be very interesting indeed, with four of them under one cave roof! I could not help but titter under my breath at the very prospect of such a thing. I then noticed Carron who was busying himself nattering away to other ravens, all gathered in deep conversation high on a precipice above my head. I did wonder how he had arrived ahead of me – ‘raven magic’!

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