Book Three in the Crach Ffinnant series, ‘Ravens and Dragons’ is due for release shortly and thus, Book Four begins, it is 1402. Here is a short extract.
Of course, Reginald de Grey protested at his treatment, being manhandled and verbally abused, but Emrys reminded him that a sharp knife would soon stop his moaning. De Grey became silent and morose, not at all his usual arrogant self. Sitting alone isolated from the others with his back against a tree, closing tired eyes, trying to block out the catastrophe he found himself to be in, he prayed for sleep to come, but it would not. Instead voices of rebels, speaking in Welsh, a language he did not understand, echoed in his ears, he knew not what they were talking about. Paranoid thoughts began to enter his mind. ‘What if the rebels killed him before they arrived at Glyndwr’s camp? What if he were to reach there, and Glyndwr decided to kill him? There was no love lost between the two and he was, after all, responsible for Glyndwr’s problems with the King in the first place. What if Henry refused to pay the ransom?’ He had so many questions and all were without answers. Once again, he tried to sleep, without success.
The night came and with it, a further drop in temperature. Emrys and his men huddled around a fire, blazing in the dark, causing shadows to dance amongst the trees. Lookouts were relieved by others and came to sit at the fire to thaw themselves out. Emrys decided to allow the prisoners and Reginald de Grey to come closer to the blaze. He did not think Owain would be too pleased with him if he let them all freeze to death.
In the morning, as dawn broke on the horizon, the rebels stamped the fire out, burying the embers in an attempt to conceal any evidence of their camp. The prisoners were cajoled and bundled onto horses and re-tied. Reginald de Grey once again protested at the treatment he was receiving so Emrys reminded him of what would happen if he were not quiet, waving a knife menacingly under his nose to emphasis the point.
Emrys took hold of the pommel on the saddle and hauled himself up onto his horse. Turning in the saddle and lifting his harm, Emrys waved to his men. All silently moved into the forest. Reginald de Grey looked around to see if there was anything of note, but all that met his eyes were trees, hundreds of them. The procession rode on through the forest in silence for at least half a day before entering a clearing. They had arrived at the rebels’ encampment. Reginald de Grey saw the rebels were well organised. They had built huts and stables in a semi-circle which housed some of Glyndwr’s army and their horses. A communal kitchen sat on the other side, pots hung over fires where some men stirred pans with wooden spoons, whilst others sliced up venison for the meal. At the far side of the compound was a blacksmiths’ barn, alive with the hammering of hot iron. Amongst sparks that flew here and there, were two large Welshmen, working at anvils, covered in sweat. Rows of mountain ponies were tethered to long ropes, heads deep in nosebags, enjoying grain. With thick coats they were content in the winter cold.
Emrys dragged Reginald de Grey from his horse and holding him by the shoulders, said. “And now, my fine feather peacock, time for you to face justice!” He pushed him towards the largest of the buildings. “Move!”
Owain Glyndwr stood on the veranda. He quietly waited, watching Emrys shove and push Reginald de Grey through the snow towards him. The fine Lord was not looking his usual preened and arrogant self – indeed, just the opposite.
I stood next to Owain and although he rarely flew into a temper, I could sense he was seething at the sight of Reginald de Grey.
“Well, my Prince, here he is, at last!” I said.
Owain did not answer immediately, he was glaring at Reginald de Grey, tapping irritated fingers on the hilt of a dagger which hung at his waist belt. My Prince then replied quietly, as if trying to contain anger bubbling under the surface. “It is him. I have a mind to forget all about a ransom!”
“My Lord!” Emrys bowed his head and pushed Reginald de Grey to his knees in front of us. “This is Baron de Grey of Ruthin.” He paused. “An old friend?” He asked, sarcastically.
“So, what will I do with you, Baron? Cut your throat? Bury you in a tree alive? I have so many options.” Owain stepped towards the Baron and fetched him a hard slap with the back of his hand, full in the face. De Grey was knocked from his knees at the force of the slap. His nose bled and a cut opened on his lip as he lay prostrate in the sludge and snow.