by thefourpartland

The third installment of a 30k word short story set in The Four Part Land. It takes place 400 years in the past from the time of Tarranau and Chloddio, and details the collapse of Hymerodraeth Heula, the Empire of the Sun.

Two months had passed since that first call to vengeance, and it was now late autumn, and the training was on well apace. The flow of new recruits had almost stopped, for which Locsyn and the others were grateful, but every day they looked around at the mass of infantry training in the squares, and wondered how many of these newcomers would survive the first battle. While none of the veterans had had experience fighting against the soldiers of Niam Liad, all of them had faced the similar hit and run tactics of the raider kings of the northern mountains. For a large army, it was frustrating in the extreme, as the warriors would jog up, toss a few spears, and then sprint away, always retreating and giving ground until they were backed up against the mountains, and then the raiders just disappeared into the tors, going to ground in the many caves and crevasses. At least this time, the soldiers could be forced to defend their capital. If that hadn’t been the case… Taflen shook his head and let the though dissipate. Getting worked up months before the campaign started served no one.

The winter months passed in much the same way, day after day of training, but now the officers were confident enough in the new recruits skills to let them engage in squad level skirmishes. Due to their skill, the squad of Gwewyr, Locsyn, Gwyth, and the others was often used as a measuring stick, not that it made the poor recruits feel any better. Llofruddiwr alone could often ‘kill’ the opposing squad of six men, and the veterans would send him out there, then take bets on which of the young soldiers would be the first to fall to the dancing assassin. It was a lively business, and made the bar conversations all the sweeter as Rhyfelwyr or Taflen recounted how he had fleeced an officer or two to pay for the night’s drinks.

A new light had come to Gwewyr’s eyes, and each evening, he found it a little harder to return home to the five families, of which he was now the head. The camaraderie of the army, of veterans who had seen it all and lived to tell about it, that was where he felt at home, not among a household full of noise and fury. But he owed a duty to his family, to his lost brothers, and how could he let the remaining children grow up without a father, without someone to hold the house together? As the day marked for departure grew nearer, the burden began to weigh heavily on him, and his performance on the sparring ground and training the recruits suffered visibly. Locsyn and Rhyfelwyr had looked at one another and shrugged. They knew what was going through Gwewyr’s head, but they weren’t sure how to help him. This struggle was one for him and him alone, for a friend’s shield turns aside emotions not at all.

In the end, it was the wives at home who decided the matter for Gwewyr. They had noticed his predicament, well before Gwewyr had, and spent many hours discussing it. And so it was that when he returned home one evening, a month out from the campaign, that he was confronted by all five wives, and told in no uncertain terms that he was going, and that he better stop moping around the house. They were fed up with him acting like a little child whose favourite toy was in danger of being taken away, and that they could survive without him just fine. After all, how’d he think they got on when the brothers went out on prior skirmishes and battles? Gwewyr thanked them all profusely, wrapping each in his arms, and there was a small celebration that evening, although it ended poorly when Gwewyr’s wife slipped out of the room crying. She had seen four husbands die fighting, and had thought that with Gwewyr’s retirement, she was finally past the danger of losing her husband. Now, that danger had once again surfaced, and she had agreed to countenance it, and that was too much for her. Gwewyr knew of whence the tears came, and emotions struck at him too, memories of five boys playing in the street, toy soldiers off to imaginary wars. Gasping, he grabbed the strongest liquor in the house, and began downing it straight from the bottle, hoping that a drunken stupor would cleanse his mind of all that ran through it. It didn’t, and Gwewyr ended the evening on the steps of his home, bawling out his eyes, looking very much an old and broken man.


  1. David G Shrock on 10.19.2010

    Nice easy pace so far. It’s helpful that the names are visually different making them easier to recognize.

  2. The Four Part Land on 10.19.2010

    If you translate the names back out of the Welsh, they all mean something related to their character. It’s how I create the names in the first place.

    Gwewyr was probably the character that I had the hardest time writing. The ending he has in the story is not the one that he was supposed to have.

  3. #TuesdaySerial Report – Week 25 – Oct 19, 2010 | Tuesday Serial on 10.20.2010

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