‘Carasswn disgynnu yg Cattraeth gessevin
Gwert med yg kynted a gwirawt win’
I could wish to have been the first to shed my blood in Cattraeth
As the price of the mead and the drink of wine in the Hall.
It has been a night and a day since Cattreath. Still, the men outside my kennel cheer and cavort, Bladulf’s harsh, brusque voice carrying over the crowd as he demands more mead, more meat, and more of the Anglo’s starchy cakes of bread. Still, I lay amongst Bladulf’s hounds in the filth of a hut-turned-kennel; the holes in the thatch roof letting in the chill and Bladulf’s screeching alike. If Precent were here, he would say that this is no place for the ‘premier poet of all of Britain’ in his boisterous way.
But my foster brother, with whom I was raised in the court of wise Eudav, is dead. His body lays, feeding the crows on a battle field not two spear throws to the northwest. His and two-hundred and ninety-nine more… At least they feed our crows, as is their right. My body should be there amongst them and yet here I sit, in my shame. To make things aright I must return to Hen Ogledd, to Din Eddyn and the hall of Mynnyddog and tell the tales of my battle-brothers upon the field of Cattreath.
Then, I shall retire from poetry… and never sing again.
I have been stripped of my chain hauberk, my crimson robe, my spear and shield. Through the patchwork thatch I can see that the sun is setting, and hear the men outside calling for yet more ale and mead… Perhaps tonight they shall finally sleep, and I will be able to find a way out of this place and back to the north.