Branwen, daughter of Llŷr

2012

  1. They couldn't compel her after the first child.
  2. She refused to live according to their conditions.
  3. The strange princess from beyond the sea, with her wild behaviour and unexpected customs, would not be subdued by their musicians and storytellers.
  1. She began to absent herself from audiences and appointments.
  2. For hours on end, sometimes for days, she would disappear from her rooms, sneaking away through the gardens of the royal palace.
  3. Turning her back on the galleries and salons.
  1. It was easier than she thought to shrug off the demands of her role.
  2. In a servant girl's clothing, she became invisible.
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  1. She travelled unchecked through the hallways and corridors of the palace.
  2. She passed through anterooms and waiting areas, stairways and terraces.
  1. She discovered: scientific apparatus, arcane weaponry, radio equipment, shrines to forgotten gods.
  2. Some rooms contained nothing but the keys to others.
  1. At all times, there was the endless succession of doors.
  2. Of course she was aware that she was looking for her son.
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  1. For years, he had been in the custody of nursemaids and specialists.
  2. They were grooming him for a life of kingship, locked away in secluded towers.
  3. Or dispatched to distant hands and unsmiling tutors.
  4. This was the way of her class.
  1. Once, she saw a boy who would have been the right age.
  2. His agile gait, fluid and swift, reminded her of a cousin.
  3. Back when they were children hunting stags on the mountains.
  1. It was impossible, she realised that.
  2. But she followed him all the same.
  3. Tracking his steps through torch-lit passageways, storerooms and cellars, descending spiral stairs.
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  1. Until, at length, they arrived at the halls where the castle's food was prepared.
  2. After that, she returned day after day, and when she was ordered to work, she worked.
  1. She scrubbed table tops and cooking pots, plunging her manicured hands into water heavy with grease.
  2. She stirred the contents of kettles and stoked the fires. She bent her back to carry fuel, bolts of linen.
  1. Then in the evenings, when the porters washed down the walls and floors of the kitchens, she retreated to her royal apartments
  2. Sitting at her high window, she watched starlings flood the courtyards, rooting for crumbs with slender bills.
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