There he was, upon the beach of Llandanwg. His thumb was the brush upon the vast sand, near the waves of the sea. The man was drawing a Celtic Knot, wetting his hands to get the shade right. Though his feet did mess up with his own art, he kicked and even the sands between the lines of the knot until he was satisfied.
He went back on the others, making the shade harsher depending on where the sun was being directed. It wasn’t… Great, so to speak. It was mediocre at best, as the Celtic Knot had some unevenness.
He sighed, brushing his hands from the wet sand that was stuck, and washing it soon after. He watched the sea, smiling as the calm waves moved. He looked over his art once more, saying “After all the years I’ve been doing this, I’m still bad at it.”
He went back to the grassier plains near the entrance, taking his stuff, mainly his shoes and a lyre-like instrument with a plank in the middle, it being a fiddle-lyre. Before he played the instrument however, nearly putting it up on his chest, he heard a soft “Oi!”
He raised his head, tapping on the board of the lyre. He smiled as he heard the familiar voice. “I haven’t been out for a while, have I, your highness?”
“This is where you’ve been?! Again?!” The quiver in the speaker’s back shook as he moved, showing a bit of cloth. His bow was carried by someone else that was beside him.
Shrugging, the man said “What can I say, dear prince? I’m trying to experience art by the use of sand.” The nobleman was escorted by men with bows, alongside those who had spears.
The terrain of the whole kingdom cannot accept horses unless it is small, as it is rigid, high and steep enough that it makes anyone encumbered. It was impassable by animals who could not climb it. So, as a result, they opted to walk.
“Chrysostomos, come on… I don’t want to be without you on a hunt,” he whined, kicking the small rocks. “Come here, right now.”
Chrysostomos let the instrument fall from his hand. He observed the few men, shuffling with their weapons gripped tight or loosely hanged that it may fall. With a shrug, he said “If it is what the highness wants, who am I to say otherwise?”
One of the escorts told him, pointing the tip of the bow at him, “You slow arse bard. Just leap over here already!” Chrysostomos shewn him a blank face as they were turning back to go to the woodlands.
They were asymmetrical in formation, not much of a line or any such order. The bard jogged up, taking a rock. He touched his own shoulder, feeling the loss of weight and he widened his eyes. “Ah sh— did you see my cloak anywhere?”
The prince had a sly grin alongside him crouching. “I don’t know.”
The bard asked, raising his brow “Really now?” The prince only giggled. “I know you have it,” the bard said, tossing up the rock.
“If you know, then why don’t you get it?” the prince teased.
“You’ll give it to me once again later.”
“What if I don’t?”
Rolling his eyes, he shook the boy’s shoulder. Only a glimpse, he saw the cloth once more. Both of Chrysostomos’ brows went high and his lips in a thin line. “You will. You will.” He had his hands behind his back, exhaling.
The birds sang as they went inside the forest. Turning to the escorts, Chrysostomos asked “What will you hunt?”
“A large stag,” announced a hunter. They fixed up their quiver as it was slipping down to their elbow.
“A fox,” another spoke, yawning. Chrysostomos nodded. The hunter glanced at the back of the head of the noble. “How about you, dear prince?”
Twirling around and walking backwards, he cheerily answered “I’ll catch a wren!”
With a hint of concern, the bard said “You sure?”
“Alright then,” Chrysostomos exhaled. “It would be best if you try to pick something as large as you, you know?”
Distraught, the boy asked “I’m not that short, am I?”
“Don’t worry, your highness. You will grow soon enough.” He raised his instrument and watched as the prince glared at it. “Wanna give it a go?”
“You’re the bard, not I. You do it.”
“What song do you want me to sing?” Shrugging, the boy raised his arms to his head and said “Whatever you want.”
Groaning, Chrysostomos mumbles incoherently, miffed at that decision. “Let’s talk after your “unofficial hunting”. I need to talk about something."
Rolling his eyes, the noble said “Fine. That's what we always do anyways."
“Couldn’t even give me a topic,” Chrysostomos murmurs before turning the bowed lyre to his chest. Rather than horizontally lied down, like that of the violin, it was played vertically, showing the whole front of the instrument on his right side. He took his fiddle and played.
It started weak, thinking of what would be a good subject to sing about. Then he thought that it might as well be the current situation.
“’Tis you who asked for this. If you don’t like it, then you should’ve thought it out.” He took a breath before drawing out a long, loud sound from the instrument.
“Upon the kingdom of Gwynedd
Pwyll and his men came to the Vaughan Forest
They waited with baited breath
‘Til they started to go on their quest
With the string of their bows and the tip of their spear
They came for now to hunt.
The first thing they saw was a red deer,
And lo, they came to confront.
‘Twas a giant stag that they saw
The bowstrings, they draw
And with the release, they killed it with ease
So, they’ve gained a trophy and have a great feast.
They marched on and on
Passing over the sweetest of fawns
But Pwyll himself can see
The sly old fox that stole and flee
So, they ran and ran and ran
And their hunt, once again, had began
Quick on their feet, the fox retreat
To their home, in which there’s none they wish to meet
And while it ran, their mouth brought a piece of meat
Which they ripped off just for their treat
With that, they found the old critter
Their faces went red and bitter
They saw the hole the fox had dug underground
With a stab, it wailed and made a bound
Before it can escape
It seems that it ran too late
Dead is the red critter
By an arrow shot from a metre”
“What’s a metre?” Pwll asked, wiping the sweat from his brow. The bard stopped and thought about it. “We’ll talk about mathematics in another term, but a metre is about 3 feet. Nearly the same length as how far away we are to each other.”
When he heard the word mathematics, the boy was ready to fall and faint. “Not again…” Rolling his eyes, the bard chuckles before continuing the song.
“Still, the prince was unsatisfied
How he wants to be dignified
His eyes glint and have gone to the famous wren
So, here we are, hunting yet again
The wren, the wren, one of the largest birds
There are few quite small, and there are those absurd
In a momentous occasion we heard
The flock’s own loud caw
But we were ne’er deterred,
Now, our bows and spear we draw
It didn’t take much long to see
The prince’s prize-to-be
Its size was as large as cattle
And Pwyll readied for battle”
There was a bit of a pause as the man asked “Do you wish for help, your highness?” The boy shook his head and uttered “My hunt. Mine. No one else’s.”
Shrugging, he said “You heard the prince.” The escorts backed off, one throwing their own spear and the other their quiver, still filled with bows. “May God’s grace be with you,” he murmurs, putting the fiddle back on the instrument.
“With his men’s weapons and arrows
The prince fought the beast alone
First, he pulled his heavy, old longbow
And with the flap of the wren’s wing, he was blown
It rose above, up to the sky
They stared at each other and wondered who’ll be first to die
He attacked first, getting his bloodthirst
Wanting to see the bird burst
Yet he did not expect
The beak and his arm to connect
Sadly, the boy could not reflect
His own body, he could not protect
So he struck with his spear
Like the man who killed the deer.
The chest of the wren had started to bleed
The prince’s arm nearly torn by its deed
And the beast, oh the beast
It cut him with its talons
Many thought it was another that wishes to flee
But another peck at the prince seems to disagree
The prince in turn pierced its wing
Its loud cries made his ears ring
Although he pierced it
It wasn’t as deep, not one bit
So it prolonged the battle and the song
Still, the prince was quite strong.
Fast as lightning, he switched,
He as well seem to twitch
The spear was now on his right
This hunt had but shone bright
His eyes aflame and alight
As he feels the hunt’s greatest delight!
He won, he won
Although quite wounded, he won
Before the zenith of the sun
And now, the hunt is…”
Chrysostomos took a pause, playing with the fiddle. “And now, the hunt is done!” The boy faltered and swayed before he was assisted by Chrysostomos. The bard said to him “That was by far the worst song I’ve ever sang.”
“It was alright,” the boy panted. “I mean, the lyrics felt forced but the ballad was nice.”
“Lies. I only hear lies, that was not what I would want to sing at all.” Both of them sat at the ground. “Now then,” He brushed off the feathers from the boy’s head. “do you want the head? Or just take it as your lunch?”
Chrysostomos took care of his wounds, not seeing any fractures and only the bleeding arm. The boy help fold the makeshift gauze and said “I want it as a trophy, but not as a head.”
“Then what do you want it as?” Head tilted, eyes down as he thought about it. It took a while before Chrysostomos said “You’re not gonna get your answers on the ground,” as he thought to fix up the arm at morn.
“Can I just… I dunno, take it all?” There was another pregnant pause. “Shit.” The bard drooped. “I don’t have the expertise.”
“But you said you, um, well… Uh, what was it called? The dead body thing?”
“Morticians are different from taxidermists. The former takes care of the body and preserves it before it decomposes. The other is for display, like the head stand of the deer that will be in that man’s house.” He pointed at the man that was cutting its head.
Then it clicked. “Ah, right! You’ve wealth and you could hire one for just a few weeks. The art would be difficult though, since it’s a large beast, you know?”
“Yeah, I guess.” Pwyll stretched his arms as he said “But it would be great for a display.”
“Force them to keep that form as much as possible, then. I don’t think we can make it widen its wings in this day and age.”
“Wait, you can open the wings for it?! I never knew that!”
“Oh, do hope that they use something that could hold it together if you wish for such a thing.” Chrysostomos stood up, carrying the tired prince on his hands and letting the instrument unintentionally hit the boy’s back.
“The moment after we eat lunch, I will force you to use your left arm.”
Pwyll replied “It’s already enough. I don’t need anything more.”
“It seems that you haven’t heard of the sayings of archers.” Looking up with mouth agape, he asked “There’s a saying?! No one told me such a thing at all!”
“I don’t fully remember it, but I’ve heard the words “Don’t ever forget your left arm.” That’s the thing, I think.” Now sceptical, the boy narrowed his eyes. “You sure that isn’t just you spewing out nonsense again?”
“If I did, I would have thrown you now as hard as I threw the rock to a tree, trying to catch two birds with one stone literally.”
“I don’t believe that at all.” He held the man’s shoulder to not let him fall. “What about the left arm thingy? What do you mean by that?”
Sighing, the man told him “I thought you would’ve caught up after I’ve said that. Your wit truly is disappointing.”
The boy shoved him hard, letting him fall to the ground with his two feet. “I’m not that dumb! And secondly, what’s with you trying to look after my left arm if my right is fine already?”
With a laugh, he told him “If you want to brawl, you’d be predictable, and would weaken you if you ever neglect it. Also, your right arm is wounded.”
“Then what do you want me to do, huh?”
“Who’s your trainer at swordsmanship? Or anything melee.” There were the chirps of birds and the crunching of leaves that answered. Not much word said from the boy. The bard rubbed the front of his head.
“Why didn’t you tell me before? You’ve been doing well on your marksmanship but not on melee? You’ve been raised an archer but you haven’t been trained at all? What sort of child are you?”
Rolling his eyes, Pwyll said “It’s not my fault.”
Putting his hand on his hip, the bard asks “Then whose is it?”
“I dunno… Maybe my brother.”
Chrysostomos was bewildered by this. “Pray tell why. Why do you blame him?”
Shaking, the boy said “I— I don’t know, you’re the one who asked!”
“That’s not an answer.”