Friday, July 15, 2011

Chapter Two – Airmyn

“The first stone is in place,” said Viviane, “Where do we place the second one?”
“The top-stone must be placed by the fenlands of Hatfield,” replied Merlin.
“And yet our man has refused the task.”
“He refused command of all the towers. That suits our purposes better. We want him to be close to this one particular tower.”
“Still, he sits at home while the tower is being built by someone else”
“He cannot refuse too long, fate will force his hand. How did your priestess do on her part?”
“She fulfilled the role of a loyal priestess.”
“No ties to the man?”
“Hard to tell yet.”

The next five months were blissful for Gwilym and his family. He had enough money left over from the tower job and the bonus to live in comfort, so he spent his days watching his boys grow. In exchange for church maintenance and some small renovations, Father Drew gave Gwilym and Bleddyn full access to his small library and, in return, Gwilym let Father Drew borrow his few scrolls of Greek epic tales.
Only in the evenings, when he was putting the boys to bed and then staying up alone, did Gwilym allow his mind to dwell on his lost Kaitlyn. What he remembered most was her constant smile. She had such a happy disposition that she looked on everything with a contented smile on her lips. He recalled the first time he saw her, in the Holy Land, making a pilgrimage. He had been fascinated by this smiling woman with the sad eyes and followed her through the medina. When he had moved in for an introduction, her smile faded away and was replaced by fear. She became hysterical and one of her companions had asked him to leave, telling him that her family had been killed by Saxons and that he looked like one.

He worked hard after that to slowly introduce himself to her in a non-threatening way and for brief periods until, one day, she had turned that smile onto him and melted his heart. They talked then, about their lost families, his father’s quest. And she told him about Wales, the green fields, the sea and the singing. And she had sung to him in her deep, soulful voice and he loved her. He told her that his mother was Welsh but that he had no memory of her, having lived with his father from his earliest memory. He took her to all the holy sites. She was impressed with his knowledge of their shared religion. At Cana they had married, and when she was pregnant with Bleddyn, they had traveled home, not wanting to give birth in Bethlehem.
Life was difficult for them in Wales. Her home village was destroyed and no-one knew her in other towns. Gwilym’s Saxon looks made it difficult to find work so they traveled often. But Kaitlyn never lost her smile and she made friends easily. She was frugal with the money Gwilym made, spun wool and made clothes, adding to the family funds whenever she could. She loved him and loved Bleddyn. Her smile had faded during the one miscarriage and the two lost babies that followed Bleddyn’s birth but it had always returned and she was determined to bring this next pregnancy to term and raise the next baby to be big and strong. Gwilym now took on that responsibility and watched all his children like a hawk.
Under Father Drew and Gwilym’s tutelage, Bleddyn’s Latin improved rapidly and he started making progress in Greek. As the long, summer days passed, most were spent scratching words in the smoothed dirt outside their home. Gwilym would scratch math problems for Bleddyn to solve. If Bleddyn asked about his father’s travels, Gwilym would turn it into a geography lesson. Walks around the village or the surrounding countryside would prompt questions that led quickly into science lessons. Bleddyn was awed at the knowledge his father had stored.
Jac and Llawen were crawling energetically everywhere. Gwilym made some wooden blocks for them to play with and carved letters and animals on their sides. Llawen would studiously stack these on top of each other while Jac would throw and try to catch them, then stare intently at the carvings. The twins were getting older and could join their brother and father most of the time, only leaving them to feed at their wet-nurses. The village women would laugh at and tease Gwilym when he would change and wash his babies, but his studied care in their raising soon garnered their respect. He was considered quite a catch in the village and many men approached him with offers of their daughters. Some of the daughters came themselves with their own offers but Gwilym turned down all comers. He was respectful in these denials and never made the ladies feel inadequate, but he was firm and returned home every night to sleep with his sons. The family accepted dinner invitations and gave some in return, surprising the guests with Gwilym’s uses of spices that turned the bland fare of Huish into fine feasts.
“Where did you learn how to cook lamb like this, Gwilym?” Father Drew asked one day.
“Salt isn’t the only spice in the world, Father,” he replied.
On being pressed further, he admitted to tasting many dishes in his travels and learning the judicious use of good spices. He showed Father Drew his treasures: A rack filled with many small jars of pungent powders. He then led the priest outside to his herb garden and taught him to pluck leaves and smell or eat them and guess which were in the lamb.

Father Drew and Gwilym had many conversations about their religious beliefs. Father Drew was determined to convert Gwilym into a pure believer while Gwilym was equally determined to open Father Drew’s eyes to the inconsistencies in their Bible.
“How can you argue against four men saying the same thing about one event?” asked Father Drew one evening. “Matthew, Mark, Luke and John all write about the birth, preaching, death and resurrection of Jesus.”
“You speak of the four Gospel writers as though they were four independent men coming to the same conclusions after witnessing the life of Jesus. Yet that is not what happened. If you look carefully you will see that sections in Matthew and Luke copy sections in Mark exactly. That means that they both copied from that Gospel. Like the story of the rich young man who wanted to get into heaven and was told that he had to give up all his riches. Read Mark 10:17 and then Matthew 19:16 and Luke 18:18. They are almost word for word.”
Gwilym pulled out an old copy of the Bible, much annotated. He pointed to various sections in all three Gospels and showed how they were the same. Then he pulled out a second book and showed this to the priest. “What my father did was create his own text, based on the Gospels, but in order of when it was written and without all the duplications. See how he crossed out the sections in Matthew and Luke that were already written in Mark?”

Father Drew blanched at this desecration but asked Gwilym to continue.
“Notice what is left? There are some sections that are unique to Matthew or unique to Luke, but there are also other sections that are the same as each other. These sections, most of which are sayings of Jesus, agree so completely, that they must have come from an earlier source. “Happy are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.’ ‘Ask and it shall be given to you, search and you shall find’” Gwilym showed some of these passages, circled in red ink. Father Drew was bent over his Bible, rapidly moving from book to book to make the comparisons.
“My father spent his life studying this and he was looking for this common source all over the world. That was why we spent time in the Holy Land. While he was there, he came to believe that this common source was Joseph of Arimathea, Jesus’ uncle.”
Father Drew perked up at this name. “Joseph came to Avalon after Jesus’ death, planted his staff where it grew into a thorn tree and founded the first Christian church there. Yes, I have heard of him. Is that why you are in Britain, searching for this lost Gospel?”
“That is something I am keeping my eyes open for, yes. But I came here for my wife. Kaitlyn was from Britain and she was homesick.”
“What do you have left, Gwilym? After you have cut out the duplications?”
Gwilym looked long and hard at the priest. Father Drew met his gaze. “It leaves me with what many priests would call a heresy, an abomination, blasphemy. I call it the true words of the early Christian disciples. My father rewrote the Gospels to show them in chronological order as written. May I have your assurance that word of what I’m about to show you does not leave this room?” Gwilym asked. Father Drew assented.
Gwilym went into the back room of his house and returned a few minutes later with a wrapped book. He opened this, revealing his father’s spidery script. The first page was titled: ‘The Gospel of Joseph.’ This comprised a collection of sayings of Jesus, starting with John the Baptist crying out in the desert and ending with many of the famous parables.
The next book was the book of Mark which detailed the growth of Jesus into a preacher, then the leader of the apostles, culminating with his death and resurrection.
Following this were small versions of Matthew and Luke with all the duplications removed that already existed in Joseph or Mark. Then there was the Gospel of John. Then the Gospel of Peter. Finally there was a new Gospel attributed to Thomas.
“That last Gospel was rejected by Rome. Why have you included it?” asked Father Drew.
“Because it continues the trend you can see by putting the books in order”
“It is certainly an interesting theory, but what can you gain from it, Gwilym? All you have done is rearranged the text and removed the duplicates.”
“When you place it in this order and you see the same story appearing twice, you know it is more likely to be true. Now that you can see that they no longer copy from each other, they are independent sources. Something that appeared to be obvious, because it was repeated three times, is now not so obvious because you see it only once. But other things that are repeated, are more likely to be true. Like Jesus being from Nazareth is repeated, but Him being born in Bethlehem is not. His being a carpenter is more true, but teaching in the Temple at 12 is not so likely.”
“And more interesting are the trends you see. Look at the story of His trial before Pontius Pilate. In Mark, Pilate asks what the Jews want to do with Him, they say: ‘Crucify Him!’ In Luke, Pilate declares three times that Jesus is innocent but Jews won’t allow His release. In Matthew he washes his hands of Jesus’ death, and the Jews say, ‘Let His blood be on our hands and on our children’s.’ In John, Pilate tries to release Jesus three times and is told by the Jews: ‘If you do so, you’re no friend of Caesar’s.’ Pilate hands Jesus over to the Jews to execute. By the time we get to Peter, it is Herod who put Jesus on trial and the Jews are the ones who crucify Him. Do you see the trend?”
Father Drew flipped carefully between each reading and read them all. Then he returned to his own Bible to read the sources. “So the Jews were made to seem guiltier as the stories are retold. Why?”
“The first Christians were trying to convert the Jews so they were telling the story in a way that made them look good. As they got into more and more conflict with the Jews, they changed the stories to make the Jews look worse. They separated themselves from the Jews. Also, Pilate converted later and was sainted in the Ethiopian church.”
Father Drew looked sternly at Gwilym. “You are speaking blasphemy, Gwilym. This is the Holy Bible, the word of God. You can not say that people changed the stories to suit themselves.”
“But the stories are different. Even in your Bible without the stories moved around, they are different. You saw that yourself just now. And if they are different, they were changed deliberately by some people for some reason. Why?”
“Perhaps they were just remembered wrongly?”
“Human frailties either way. The Word of God is in the Bible as Jesus’ words. No-one has tried to change those. But the stories about what happened to him have been changed. Putting them in order helps see how they might have changed. Thomas has been changed the most, and seems the least likely to hold much truth. I believe that is why the church in Rome rejected it.”
Father Drew looked troubled. “What do these trends say about Jesus’ rising from the dead, His being the son of God, the important questions?”
Gwilym gazed at his friend’s worried face and smiled. “That’s a question for another time. Read the passages yourself. When research flies in the face of faith, I think faith should prevail. Let’s leave that question for now.”
Father Drew smiled, then looked at Gwilym sidelong and said, “You have neatly avoided the question again. What then, is your quest? It cannot be simply looking for this lost Gospel of Joseph or you wouldn’t be spending time building towers.”
“My father’s quest was to find this first Gospel. He hoped that it would tell the truth about Jesus. I continue this quest in his name. But I don’t want to repeat his life: that of an itinerant pilgrim, scrabbling for life, at the mercy of anyone who comes by with power or money. I want my sons to have food to eat, clothes to wear and shelter from the weather. I also want them to see me accomplish things. I watched my father fail again and again until it killed him. My boys see me building towers that will stand forever.”
“What made you choose building?”
“When I was a boy, we entered Constantinople. I saw the massive walls, the Grand Bazaar, the palace, the water cistern. I vowed that one day I would build structures like that. Buildings that little boys would look up at in wonder and become inspired. So, as I traveled, I learned from these builders. And now, as I build, I learn from my mistakes and I get better. One day I will build something truly inspiring.”
“That is a worthy quest Gwilym. I hope one day you build a fine church, and that I am the lucky priest who presides in it. Now let me see your Bibles again, please.”
Father Drew settled himself in a chair in the corner of the room; conferring between his Bible and the books that Gwilym had shown him. The night grew darker, Gwilym lit a candle, and the priest continued reading the books, back and forth.
Finally Father Drew closed both books, rubbed his eyes and asked Gwilym, “May I borrow…”
“No, Father.” interrupted Gwilym. “I’m sorry, but that book is very valuable and can get me into a lot of trouble. I trust you to keep it a secret. You may read it any time in my presence. But I need proof of this Gospel of Joseph before I tell others about that book. I must proceed carefully. Anyone seeing me rewrite the Bible the way I have can accuse me of witchcraft or demon worship. There is too much risk. I must protect my children.”
The priest nodded his assent and then walked home, studying the stars.

Rumors of raids were making the townsfolk nervous. The new tower was manned by a contingent of the king’s soldiers who told stories of such raids that they had pushed back elsewhere. One day an alarm bell was rung from the tower and the entire village gathered at its foot. The signal fire was blazing in the cauldron on the tower’s roof. Swords and shields were distributed amongst the men, from boys of twelve to men of under fifty while the priest and older men took the women and children deep into the forest for safe-keeping.
The day was spent in suspenseful waiting, punctuated by nervous training exercises conducted by the soldiers. The boys found this great fun, but the men, knowing the fear and danger of earlier battles, trained grimly and hoped for the best.
Gwilym conducted the exercises diligently, impressing the soldiers with his skill and earning him a promotion to captain of the villagers. He remembered previous battles, the death screams of friend and foe. He knew the randomness of death and hoped that this battle would pass them by. He knew that this time he had three boys to protect, so he would be extra careful, but he also knew that he would allow no foes past him to threaten his boys. He had also grown to love the people of Huish and would die to protect them.
After a long day of waiting and training, a mounted soldier came to the village on his way to Brycgstow. “The raiders were driven back to their ships. They are sailing south from here. Stand down but keep a watch on the tower.”
All the villagers breathed a sigh of relief and joked now that the tension was broken. A messenger was sent into the forest and a tearful reunion with wives and children followed.
After that, the captain of the guards insisted on regular drills with the villagers to keep them in fighting trim. The farmers were annoyed by this due to their farms’ needs but the captain insisted. Animosity started to develop, culminating in an angry confrontation outside the village tavern. Words became barbs and some shoving threatened to turn into punches until Gwilym pushed his way between the combatants and asked for peace.

“Captain! The men have to tend their farms or there’ll be no food for anyone, including you, right?”
“Right” admitted the captain.
“And Lloyd,” Gwilym addressed the farmers’ chief combatant. “You need to know how to fight to protect your field, your stock and your family, right?”
“Right,” the farmer reluctantly agreed. “But what about harvest? It comes in t’next few weeks and we cannot be wasting time prancing about with spears or our food spoils in t’field.”
“And Captain,” Gwilym seemed to ignore the farmer. “Do your men not get a little bored watching and waiting all day? And spend too much time and money in this tavern”
“True enough,” agreed the captain.
“Then why not send your men into the fields when they are not on duty? Have them help the farmers in their chores. Allow them to taste some fresh country meals and feel the dirt they are protecting under their fingernails. Let the farmers get to know the soldiers and the soldiers know the farmers. And all of you help during the harvest with a minimal watch on the tower to call for help. That way, you all get what you want and we become a unified fighting force. A well-fed one, too.”
The captain smiled and looked at Lloyd. In turn, Lloyd pictured the captain milking his cow and burst out laughing. The men shook hands and the tension was released. The soldiers did as Gwilym suggested and bonds between farmers and soldiers were formed. Practices were more unified, fields and flock were well-tended and chickens stopped disappearing.

There were a few more scares that summer when the village waited, armed and ready for the foe that never came too close. The raiding ships always landed elsewhere and conducted their plunders on other people. But the system of temporary warning towers always brought help in a few hours so the raiders were driven off before they could establish a foothold in this part of the land.
Harvest became a wonderful celebration with soldiers and villagers working side by side with the farmers, bringing in record crops and hosting feasts for each other.
After the harvest celebrations, Gwilym took stock of his situation and visited the smithy. Haearn limped over to Gwilym and shook his hand. “Your leg is all healed I see, Gwilym. Lucky you’re not a smith.” He glanced down sadly at his twisted leg, one foot turned at right angles to the other.
“I’ve come to talk to your daughters, Haearn.”
“Which one?” inquired the smith.
“Both. It’s about my sons.”
The two girls came in from tending the garden and wiped their hands on their aprons. They stood side-by-side, waiting for Gwilym to speak first.
“Jac and Llawen are weaned now, it seems. You’ve both done a fine job. My boys will never forget you.”
“Well of course they won’t, Gwilym. They’ll still see us every day,” said Heulwen. “Just because our job is done, doesn’t mean we don’t still want to mother them.”
“Aye,” said Gwilym sadly. “Only, I have to leave the village to find more work. I’ve come back from Caerleon with a commission. I’m crossing the country to help build a tower there. I’m taking my family with me. We’ll come back to visit some day but it may be years.”
Both girls burst our crying, holding on to each other in their sorrow. Gwilym reached into his money-pouch and pulled out some silver. “I wanted to give you a bonus for your wonderful job with my boys. You raised them strong and healthy. You gave them a great start in life.”
The girls looked at him with tear-stained eyes and smiled sadly up at him. “Please bring them back one day to see their foster mothers. And let us say goodbye first,” choked out Heilin.

The day before Gwilym and his family left Huish, they held a feast outside to celebrate their friendship with the villagers. All came to say their goodbyes and feast on the pig which had been turned over a low fire all day, filling the village with its fine smell. Gwilym had spiced it well and added a huge stew pot brimming with vegetables, also spiced to his satisfaction.
Fred was the first to ask where he was headed. Kay had not brought him along to the new building sites. “There is a tower being built on the Ouse in a town called Airmyn. I can’t tell you why it’s being built inland, but Sir Kay wants one there. Anyway, there are problems that Kay wants me to sort out, so I go thither.”
“And whar be t’Ouse, Gwilym? I never heard of it.”                                          
“It lies across the land, to the north, about ten days journey by horse.”
“Would thar be work for me there, Gwilym?”
Gwilym looked curiously at Fred. He was a strong fellow, dark and hairy with eyebrows meeting over his stubby nose. He was well-muscled from years of hard work, about twenty-five years old and skilled with tools. He had taken over the work-site a few times in Gwilym’s absence and had handled himself well. “And what of your family, Fred?”
“Ma and Da can live wi-out me fer a while. And thar be no maidens here I fancy. So mayhap I can find me a lass in t’wild North country?”
Gwilym was embarrassed at finding out he knew so little of his foreman and silently vowed to ask more questions of his men in the future. He recognized that his reticence was driven by the animosity his Saxon looks engendered amongst these Welsh. He had always held himself aloof from the crowd in defense. But looking around him now at the feasting villagers, he realized that they had forgotten their earlier distrust and had grown to love him.
“Fred. If you can make your way to Airmyn, I’ll grant you fair work there for the winter. And I’ll speak your praises to any fair maidens I see there.”
Fred blushed and was tongue-tied for a moment. Then he hugged Gwilym tight and walked away, embarrassed. Gwilym was unsure if Fred would come, but he figured all would be clear on the morrow.
After most of the villagers had eaten and drunk their fill and had said their goodbyes and wandered off home, Heilin and Heulwen came by with their sleeping foster children in their arms. They brought them to their bed and laid them gently, kissing their brows and smoothing their sparse hair. They wept, hugged Gwilym, and demanded that he return some day to show his growing boys off to them. Gwilym promised, and they walked off home, looking back often at their sleeping charges.
Now only Father Drew remained with Gwilym and Bleddyn. He was holding a long wooden box. He presented this to Bleddyn with a humble smile. “It is time you started your own library, Bleddyn.”
Bleddyn caught his breath, looked to his father and the priest for confirmation then, with trembling fingers, opened the box. Inside he found three new scrolls. He opened them carefully and found a copy of the Latin scrolls he had been studying in the priest’s home. “You made these for me, Father?” he asked incredulously.

“What else is there for a priest to do at night?” replied the priest.
“Thank you so much, Father! I’ll treasure these always!” Bleddyn hugged the box of scrolls to himself and watched the priest with wide-eyed admiration.
Gwilym shook the man’s hand warmly and thanked him profusely. “Scrolls are the greatest gift you could have thought of, Father. I wish I’d done the same for you.”
“No need, Gwilym,” the priest replied, looking a little ashamed. “I also copied yours for myself. I hope you do not mind.”
“You didn’t copy my Gospel did you?”
“No Gwilym. You asked me to keep it secret and I have done so. But I am still thinking about it seriously. The story it tells is more in keeping with the early British church and less with the Roman one. I would like to help you in any way I can to find the truth. The stories I copied were from your Greek adventures. You do not mind that do you?”
Gwilym laughed aloud. “Not at all, Father! That Odysseus had some great adventures didn’t he? Enjoy them! Father Drew, you’ve given me a great head start in my career. I’ll never forget you.”
The priest smiled warmly, shook Gwilym and Bleddyn’s hands firmly, then walked off, leaving the family alone in their packed-up home.

The next morning, as they loaded their cart with their few possessions, the largest of which were the two scroll boxes, they were happy to see Fred ambling up the road, carrying a heavy bag. “Tha were serious last night, weren’t tha? Me ma said tha were just bein’ kind, and that I were a fool to believe tha.”
Gwilym clapped the man on his shoulder and told him to pack his goods in the wagon. “We’ll all be comfortable in the cart together.”
The three of them picked up the pallet, together with the sleeping babies inside and stowed it safely in the space left between the boxes. With a last look on the quiet village, they headed off on the eastern track to meet the Roman road.
The cart was not heavily laden so they made steady progress but the bumping threatened to wake the babies. Fred was getting more anxious and finally burst out, “Tha knows I’m t’better driver. Give me t’reins.” Taking these from Gwilym, he steered the cart around all the bumps in the road. They traveled away from the coast and through a country unspoiled by Saxon raids. While Bleddyn stared silently at all the new sights around him, Gwilym and Bleddyn discussed the new project.

“I’ll know more when I get on the site, but Sir Kay has given me a new charter that explains a lot. He likes these charters and gives them out to all the new builders.” Gwilym smiled at Fred who touched his nose significantly.
“That were a great idea of tha, gettin’ it all written down so none could argue. So what do this one say?” 
“Well, it’s curious. They want a watch-tower; I suppose it is one of a series of watchtowers leading from the north coast inland to warn of marauding Norsemen. But if it is just for passing on signals, why is it built to hold a garrison of men and to be defensible? There is a ferry there across the Ouse, so perhaps it's needed to defend the ford? We’ll have to see when we arrive.”
“And how will we be makin’ this tower better than t’last one?”
Gwilym thought long and hard. “There were a lot of problems last time and they seem to all stem from not knowing exactly what everyone wanted. The charter showed what the king wanted, and I did well following that exactly, but I think instead we need more of an overall understanding from the king, and allow the people who will be using the tower and the people who have to build it to have some say in what the real requirements are. And from there we can figure out exactly what we are doing and how to get it done.”
Fred was humming softly to himself and thinking hard about something. “What were you just doing?” asked Gwilym when Fred seemed to be finished.
Fred blushed deeply and mumbled, “Oh, just trying to remember what tha told me.”
“Please explain.”
“Well, tha knows I cannae write. I’m too stupid for that. Even your son can write and here I am, a grown man but too stupid. So I remember things by songs. I know, it be stupid but it’s me only way.”
“Fred. You’re not a stupid man. I’ve seen you grasp the concepts of building faster than any other man I’ve worked with. Ignorance of the skill of writing is not stupidity. Men were remembering things by song long before someone thought to write them down. These scrolls I carry are just the written words of long-ago songs. But sing me your song about tower building. I’d be privileged to be your audience.”
Fred alternated blushing and smiling and stammered out that it wasn’t a song about building towers. “I figure that t’song would work for any kind of buildin’, any kind of project for that matter. It be a song about gettin’ a group together and doin’ sommat…when they be not thy men…when tha not be in charge of them tha see?”
Gwilym smiled in genuine respect and asked the man, “Sing me your song. I think I could learn a lot from it.”
“Tha be the one teachin’ me. I’m just rememberin’ it. T’song’s not ready yet but I can give tha a taste for it.”
“Please do.”
Fred cleared his throat, then sang out in a clear tenor:

If tha want thy project to be no harder
Go to the king to sign thy charter
Make sure it says how small or large
And says quite clearly that tha’re in charge
It should show how it meets the kingdom’s need
And keeps all the others from their greed

It went on like this for a while, describing the charter, the list of stakeholders and some awkward verses about scope and requirements. Fred stopped then and said he had to work out those last verses better when he knew more about them and had seen how they work.
“Fred! You’ve done a great thing here. Please keep building on your song. When it’s done you’ll have the guide for Project Management. I can write it down for you in a scroll and you’ll be famous as a teacher of future Project Managers.”
“Ach! Tha’s just havin’ fun wi’ me now. Leave off.”
“No Fred. I’m quite serious. You’ve created something important. Please do keep it going.”

They traveled for nine days without incident, up the Roman roads, through the cities of Bath and Cirencester, and the ruins of Leicester and Lindum, finally arriving on the south bank of the Humber, where the road plunged down to the ferry. There were small settlements on either side of the river. Fred took the cart across on the ferry to the settlement of North Ferriby, where they spent the night.
The next day they followed the road along the river to the west until they reached the smaller ferry that crossed the Ouse. Once on the far side, they easily found the building site. There were logs and stone aplenty lying in neat stacks on the banks of the river, with a man guarding them. The man was tall and fair haired just like the ferryman and, as Gwilym looked around the town, he realized that this area was entirely occupied by Saxons! Now that he thought of it, so had Ferriby. Had he crossed the enemy lines by mistake and entered an occupied city?
Gwilym hailed the man and introduced himself. The man replied in heavily accented English. “Ya. I ben Wulf. I guard de supplies until Project Manager comes.”
The supplies looked as though they had been there for a long time with no signs of any work in progress. “Where are the workers, Wulf? I am the Project Manager.”
“Dere is no more money to pay dem so dey go avay. I vait only for Project Manager to come so I get paid and go home.”
“Show me the books please, Wulf.”
Gwilym looked through the scroll with all the annotations showing purchases and budget and realized what had happened. The person in charge of all these projects had purchased supplies for far more than they were worth and had not left any money for the construction of the actual tower. He counted up the supplies and found that they tallied exactly with what was shown on the scroll. He could calculate how much he owed the guard and realized that, after paying the man his wages, he would have enough left to pay Fred's and his expenses but none remaining with which to build the tower.
Gwilym counted out the right amount of silver, then added enough for another week, and asked Wulf to stay on guard while he rounded up the workers. Wulf seemed quite relieved at receiving this money and smiled broadly at Gwilym. He recommended a clean and quiet rooming house for Gwilym’s family and Fred. They drove off, Gwilym feeling quite disturbed.
They spent the remainder of that day finding a woman to take care of the babies during the day and a series of activities to keep Bleddyn occupied. Gwilym gave him a quest. “We were told that the Saxons were cleaned out of this area. Yet here they are. Find out how and why, where they come from, how many remain in Saxony, are more coming, why or why not. Find it all out slowly and carefully and tell me. Don’t let them know what you are doing. Oh, and learn their language while you’re at it.”
After settling his family and Fred in the rooming house and paying for the next month’s lodgings, Gwilym showed Fred the scroll Wulf had given him. “Do you recognize this scratching, Fred?” He pointed out a series of signatures next to the purchases of supplies.
“Why that be the sign of Tarrant!” Fred exclaimed. “What be that old devil doing here?”

The following morning, Gwilym and Fred surveyed the job site and asked Wulf to gather the laborers for a lunch meeting. Meanwhile, they looked over the charter Kay had provided and calculated that the materials provided should be plenty to build the tower with the height and width specified. There was even a capstone provided this time, lying underneath the neat pile of timbers. But how were they going to pay the laborers?
When all the men had arrived, they seemed to be in good spirits. Wulf must have told them of the silver he had received. Gwilym welcomed them all warmly, asked them to join the feast and talked to them of their homes and families, their farms and stores, their children and parents, the recent wars, everything, it seemed to Fred, other than the tower.
“So you’ve had war here for many years? English and Saxon waves passing through? That must have caused a lot of damage to your farms, your town buildings?”
“Ja!” they all agreed.
“A lot of profitable work for you builders, though?”
“No,” replied one with pretty good English. “Dere is little money here any more. People pay viz grain. All de livestock is gone in de vars. Ve are owed a lot of grain already.”
“And where will you sell that grain so you can survive?”
“Ve are arranging a boat to take it Londinium.”
“And where do the farmers keep their grain when they harvest?”
“Dat’s anozer problem. A lot of de farm buildings vere burnt. Dey are trying to rebuild. Grain is being eaten by animals and vill be spoilt ven de rains start again.”
“So,” concluded Gwilym, “you builders are rich in grain that is owed to you but it currently lies ready to rot in the farmer’s fields. The farmers need storage for the rich harvest they just had or their own food spoils. They could pay you in grain to build them barns, but then where would you store it? Eventually you will need to send it to Londinum on boats, so you’d like storage near the river?”
“Ja!” agreed the men, looking down and scratching their beards at their strange fortune.
“In my travels I once came across a grain cooperative that became quite rich when faced with a problem like yours.” The men looked up at Gwilym in hope.
“They built a tall building near the water. Farmers brought grain to the building and poured it in at the top. They were paid for what they delivered. Then they emptied it out of the bottom onto ships when the prices were right for selling. The building was called a silo. It was tall and narrow so that the newer grain was always on top. It was watertight and free from animals. Why not build something like this?”
The men nodded and looked hopeful. The spokesman asked, “But vere vould ve get de money to buy de stone? First ve haf to sell de grain.”
Gwilym shifted his gaze to the pile of building materials stacked behind him and turned back. “I have a solution.”
His proposition was simple. They would build the tower, adding an interior wall that divided it vertically down the middle. Half would become a grain silo, on which they would receive a 100 year lease. The other half would serve as spacious quarters for the few men Kay expected to be housed there. They would have the farmers deliver all their grain to this silo as it started to rise so that they could protect it from the elements on the job site. If farmers wanted to use the silo for their own purposes, they would sell the grain to the builder’s co-op for current prices and the co-op would store it and sell it at better prices in the future. Because they had no money for this part of the operation yet, they would simply charge a percentage for storage fees until their first few shipments sold in Londinium.
The builders listened grimly to this solution. They had hoped to receive silver from Gwilym as Wulf had, and they already had their own plans on how to profit from this and the previous building that they had done. A grain co-op was very different from what they had planned. They promised Gwilym that they would think about it and return the following day.

Early the next morning, Gwilym and Fred were delighted to see all the workers appear with their tools. They marched over to Gwilym and reported ready to work. Gwilym showed them the area where the digging must commence and most of them started right in, digging as though their fortunes depended on it. The spokesman from yesterday approached Gwilym and said “Ve need to haf de agreement in writing.”
Gwilym smiled and introduced himself to the man. His name was Athelstan and he watched hopefully as Gwilym pulled out the lambskin parchment he had been working on late into the evening. “This states that the Masons Grain Cooperative of Airmyn, in exchange for its labors in building the watchtower, leases one side of the tower for its uses as a grain silo, for the amount of 1 silver per year. This price may not be altered until the year 627. None of the materials purchased for the construction of the watchtower will be used to divide the silo from the watchtower; that must be provided separately by the masons.”
“Do you haf de authority to make dis decision?”
“Absolutely!” replied Gwilym with conviction. He figured he could convince Kay later when he showed him a completed tower and an intact budget.
“Den ve agree to dese terms. Vere do I sign?”
Gwilym showed him the space on the parchment for his signature and the man affixed an elaborate scrawl.
“While your men work on the foundation hole, we need to figure out how to build this tower. Who are the leaders of your workers?”
Athelstan introduced him to the leader of the foundation men, the woodworkers and the finish carpenter. Athelstan himself was the leader of the masons. “We’ll need to bring in a representative of the farmers and the shippers,” Gwilym said.
“Vy dem? Dey will be our suppliers and customers, not de silo builders.”
“Would you build a lovely, strong silo that cannot be easily filled by your suppliers, or offloaded by your customers?”
“Good idea. I vill get dem here on de morgen. Can ve still build de foundations?”
“I don’t see why not,” answered Gwilym. The foundations will need to be the same no matter what. We can’t move the site closer or further from the river to suit either since this is the only land we can work on. But which way is the prevailing wind here?”
“Down de river,” replied Athelstan.
“Then we build the square tower with the corners facing the wind, to reduce the pull of the winds and make this tower stand forever.”
The two went down to where the men were digging and staked out the foundation hole accordingly.

The following day Athelstan arrived with five grizzled veterans. Fred and Gwilym sat down with them on rough stools and a plank board and started to discuss the tower. The shipper and the farmer were already in disagreement about the location of the tower but Gwilym assured them that this could not be moved. It was primarily a watchtower and this decreed the location. The secondary purpose of silo must be subordinate.
“How do ye expect us to deliver our grain to the top of a tower?” complained the farmer.
“How do you get water from the bottom of the well, you fool?” replied the shipper. Gwilym suppressed a grin.
“And where do you weigh our grain?” asked the farmer of Athelstan.
“Ve vill veigh it as you off-load it from your vagon. Den ve vill bring it up to de top viz a pulley.”
“Then you’ll need a path that leads from the main road to the tower and then continues around and back up to the road. We will all be coming near to the same time and no-one likes to back up a cart.”
The men all looked at the building site and agreed that this could be done.
“And pave the road! It will get too muddy here with all these loaded carts coming through at the same time.”
“Since ven does it rain at harvest time, farmer?” complained the carpenter.
“You don’t want to see what a mess it will make if it does, believe me!” replied the farmer.
Gwilym intervened. “I think we’ll be throwing off a lot of stone chips from the masonry work, won’t we?” He looked at Athelstan and received a nod. “Let’s make sure that we place all the waste where we want the road to be.”
“I’m happy,” said the farmer. “When can we start bringing in our harvests?”
“Well I’m not at all happy!” argued the boatman. “The farmer can bring his carts to the foot of the silo. How can I bring my ships? Will you dig a stream for them?”
The men looked out to the river. It was a good hundred yards from the river and ten feet down to the water. They looked back at Gwilym expectantly. “The Romans use plumbum and clay to make channels for the grain to move. But others make aqueducts out of hollowed-out logs. I believe we could use that technique to move grain down this hill. We’ll build the main channel out of clay, then use a hollowed out log to move the grain from the silo to the main channel and from the channel to the boat. As you get richer, you can always dig that stream.”
The shipper and the masons nodded their heads.
Fred murmured to Gwilym, “Seems like every time tha solves one problem, three more appear. What can tha do about it?”
“I write them down, Fred. We have to burn them into this scroll.”

Gwilym had been busily writing this all down on the parchment. “Here are the requirements for this tower:
·         60 foot tall tower with roof dedicated to a watch and signal fire
·         Walls 20 feet wide faced with 2 foot of stone
·         Barracks inside with 600 square feet of living space (Three stories rather than one)
·         Stairs inside barracks allowing two men abreast to run up or down
·         Reinforced doors at second level of barracks
·         Strength of walls equivalent to tower at Huish
·         Stone wall separating silo from barracks
·         Clay-lined interior walls in silo half
·         Circular drive leading to foot of tower on the North side. Covered in stone chips
·         Entrance near top of silo on north side
·         Pulley system leading to top entrance of silo
·         Various doors near bottom of silo on southern face to allow for removal of grain from various heights
·         Channel system, lined with clay to send grain down to ships
·         Hollowed-out logs to move grain from silo to channel and channel to ship
Then men looked over these requirements, added some, refined others and came to an agreement about what was required for all to be happy about this tower. They shook hands all around and Gwilym nodded to an expectant Bleddyn who brought around a jug of ale and many cups. These were passed around and the men drank to the agreement.

“Now let’s write down exactly what this tower looks like,” said Gwilym.
The men all gathered around the second parchment. The overall placement and dimensions of the tower were set by Kay and caused no dispute. The placement and dimensions of the silo were hotly argued over. Half of the tower meant different things to the masons than to Gwilym. The masons expected that the interior dimensions of the silo should equal exactly half the exterior dimensions of the tower and they couldn’t be made to understand that the walls took up space.
Finally Fred spoke up. “This drawin’ down here shows a cross-section of t’tower, right Gwilym?”
Gwilym agreed.
“Then how about if I draw t’wall separatin’ t’tower from t’silo and t’masons pick which side they want?”
The masons were immediately suspicious and refused this trickery.
“Alright then, tha draw the wall and Gwilym will pick which side goes to t’tower.”
This brought a hurried consultation amongst the workers, farmer and shipper. They squatted on the ground next to the table and scratched out various options in the dirt until they realized what Fred was really proposing: the only fair way to divide the tower.
Finally Athelstan spoke to Gwilym. “You are de best writer here. You draw de separating vall and ve vill pick our side.”

Gwilym used his ruler to draw a wall from corner to corner that divided the tower neatly into barracks and silo. Athelstan picked one side and Gwilym drew the location of the stairs on the barracks side. Then he drew interior walls on the rest of the silo’s triangular section, indicating a smooth surface covering the wooden supports. There was still some grumbling as the men saw that their interior dimensions were smaller but Athelstan explained the fairness to them and they shut up.
Gwilym then worked with the farmer to decide where the road should go and where they should have an opening in the side to pour in the grain. Then he worked with the shipper on the placement of the openings leading to the channel. After computing in his head for a while, Gwilym wrote out a series of numbers, showing how much extra stone and clay they would need to line the silo and the channel to the water. “This you will need to supply,” he told Athelstan.
“Dis tower vill take all vinter to build,” replied Athelstan. “How do ve protect our grain until den?”
“Gather some building materials and build a temporary shelter here. Then, as we build the silo you can add grain as we go. You can use a temporary roof to protect it.”
When they had all reached agreement on every detail of the tower, Gwilym signed the bottom of both parchments and asked all men present to do the same.
He titled the first: Requirements of the Airmyn Watchtower.
He titled the second: Scope of the Airmyn Watchtower
Fred stared off into the distance, moving his lips, and Gwilym knew that he was composing another verse or two in his Project Management Guide song. Bleddyn brought more ale and then everyone broke off for lunch. 

Although Gwilym had solved the budget crisis and motivated the men to work for free, he had inadvertently created a new problem. The workers were happy to work on the main structure of the tower but less interested in finishing off the barracks and easily distracted by protection for their grain. To build the temporary structure they raised as a silo next to the tower, they kept borrowing key materials dedicated to the main tower, causing delays in removing them from one and placing them in the other. When the rains hit hard that winter, the men refused to risk the health of their grain by exposing it to the elements while transferring key materials. Gwilym saw that listing the requirements and scope of the project answered the question of WHAT must be done. It didn’t answer the question of HOW this was to be accomplished. He needed another tool to document the HOW.
The good side of this delay was that Gwilym had time to spend with his sons. The little boys were tottering around the town getting into scrapes but learning rapidly.
Bleddyn was slowly answering the questions Gwilym had given him about the presence of Saxons in this region. According to Bleddyn’s sources, the original inhabitants had been British but had been killed or driven off the land by a series of Saxon raids. These raiders had been driven off many times, but had returned recently and had signed a treaty with King Arthur to stay here unmolested as long as they protected this land from future invaders and assisted the king with treaty troops to help in other wars. That was why there were so few men here of fighting age.
Bleddyn had found an old story-teller and was spending many days with him learning stories and writing them down on the scrolls provided by Gwilym.
“Listen to this story, Da!” Bleddyn said one day, and related the tale of an old Babylonian king named Gilgamesh who wrestled with a wild man named Enkidu and had many adventures. “Were you ever in Babylon, Da?” Bleddyn asked when the tale was told.
“Aye. I passed through Babylon on my way to and from the Holy Land. In fact, it’s really part of the Holy Land since the Jews were exiled there long ago. The city is in ruins now. Did you get to the part of the story where there is a great flood?” asked Gwilym. Bleddyn nodded.
“It is another story of the great flood that Noah survived but it looks as though he wasn’t the only one. Babylon is between the two great rivers of that land: The Tigris and the Euphrates. If they both flooded because of forty days and nights of rain, that entire valley would fill with water and destroy everything. You can see signs on the surrounding hills that such a flood has occurred a few times in the past. That valley is over fifty miles wide. If you were living there in such a rain and flood, it would seem to you that the entire earth was covered in water.”
“Which story was written first, Da?”

“Remember that the Jews were exiled in Babylon for a long time. From what my father said, they wrote their Torah while they were in exile. The tablets that the tale of Gilgamesh was written on are really old. I don’t know for sure who copied who. Both flood stories appear in their books as events outside the main story. But, given the location, and the fact that flooding in the Holy Land would not have looked like it did in Babylon, I believe Gilgamesh was written first and the Jews incorporated it into their Torah.”  

Four weeks after the last of the snows had melted and the roads had been passable for two weeks, Gwilym spied a royal party crossing the river on the ferry. Bleddyn was reading nearby and Gwilym asked him, “What crest is on that banner, son?”
“Two golden keys on a blue field, Da!” shouted Bleddyn from below.
‘Kay,’ muttered Gwilym to himself. He was nervous about the deals he had made with the Saxons to get the tower built. He knew that he had overstepped his authority, and he hoped that Kay would acknowledge his brilliant plan, but he still had misgivings. He also knew that the tower was way behind schedule, partially due to his silo complications. Climbing down the tower to greet his sponsor, he wiped his hands and rehearsed his speech. He was still nervous when Sir Kay addressed him.
“When you didn’t come to Caerleon before the winter, Gwilym, I guessed you were just staying to finish up the last few parts of the tower. I was surprised when I took the ferry to see the tower still not even fully clad in stone. What’s the delay?”
Gwilym explained that he had been given only so much money to complete the tower and that a lot more should have been at the site to pay the workers. He had been forced to make a deal with the workers to get them to work for free. Unfortunately that cost some time as well.
Kay asked to see all the documents, and he spent the next two hours laboriously going over the materials accounts, the two contracts, and the charter and touring the job site. All the while, his face was impassive, and Gwilym was torn with suspense as to what Kay would say.
Finally Kay stood in front of Gwilym and surveyed him from head to toe. “You showed brilliance in the last tower you built for the kingdom, that’s why I gave you this job. And you repay me by turning into a little Duke. Making all the decisions in your dukedom with no regard to the king who sent you forth. Who do you think you are, Gwilym?”
Gwilym sputtered and tried to explain. “But all the money was stolen by Tarrant. How else could I have built the tower?”
“Look at the charter,” demanded Kay. “It tells you exactly what to build, when to finish it and for how much money. When you saw that the money was gone, you should have returned to Caerleon and asked for more money. You don’t have the authority to change the schedule of the project or the...the thing you are doing the…scope.”
“If I had returned to Caerleon the project would have been even more behind schedule.”
“That’s not true,” replied Kay. “You could have kept someone supervising the men with promises to pay and returned for the money. You made a decision that schedule and scope didn’t matter and that budget was all-important. That’s not your decision to make. I make that decision and I can tell you that schedule was most important, scope after that and cost least! Understand the limits of your authority. I give you three things: Cost, Schedule and Scope. You operate within those constraints. If something goes out of those boundaries, your fault or not, you come to me to solve it.”
“I’ve been told, ‘Don’t come to me with problems, come to me with solutions.’ I was going to show you a fait accompli and expected you to be happy with it.”
“Well, it’s not accomplished, is it? And even if it were, I’ve got farmers traipsing in and out of my tower for the next 100 years because of what you did. But a bigger question is the money. What happened?”
Gwilym went over the figures again with Kay. “Tarrant purchased his materials at higher than normal prices and then claimed that they were even higher. I’ve visited each of the suppliers and got them to return the extra they took to allow Tarrant to claim the exorbitant prices and I show those next to the price he claimed. Tarrant skimmed thousands of silver off the top of this tower and disappeared. Is there any word of him?”
“No. And it gets worse. He was in charge of ten towers in this district. I’ve passed two and they are just piles of building materials right now, mostly looted. I can only imagine that the rest are the same. Yours is the only one that even resembles a tower.”
Gwilym brightened at this but Kay scowled. “Before you think too highly of yourself, remember that if you’d told me the problem last autumn, I could have sent men to complete all the towers, or at least protect the materials.”
“This tower will be finished before the summer. The rains and snow delayed us longer than usual this year but we are making great progress now.”
“Find a place where I can spend the night. Then assemble the town for a speech.”

Gwilym set Kay up in the best tavern, then asked the men to assemble the various quarters of the town for a speech from the High King’s Seneschal. The news passed swiftly, and men, women and children quickly began to arrive from both sides of the river, assembling at the foot of the tower. When they had all arrived, Sir Kay passed through them all, wearing clean clothes and a washed face, and climbed to the tower’s highest point. A page held his banner aloft as he began to speak.

“Not long ago, this district was at war with the rest of Britain. Armies and fires swept the land. Fields were destroyed and livestock stolen. Those who didn’t die in battle starved from lack of food or froze from want of shelter.” There was nodding in the audience as people remembered the last few years. Some murmuring continued after Kay’s words ended as those who understood translated for those who didn’t.
“But you have sought peace from the High King. Arthur, my king, acknowledges you as his subjects and accepts your treaty gifts. And he seeks to seal this treaty with bonds that tie us together closer. Bonds that make you British, concerned with the welfare of all British. Bonds that tie us to you and make all of Britain concerned with your welfare. I come to help tie those bonds.”
More murmuring, some appreciative looks, some concern.
“What better symbol of these bonds, that move us from war to peace, from swords to plowshares, than this tower? This tower that watches for our common enemies while it keeps safe the grain of this district. When you look up at this tower you will see protection from our enemies and food for your stomachs!”
Smiles, pride and hope in the eyes of the crowd.
“My good project manager, Gwilym, has used his authority well and has made a contract between the army and this town to share the tower. But he mistakenly gave out a lease for 100 years. I want to add my signature to this contract but I cannot agree to one hundred years of friendship with this district.”
A collective breath held in nervous anticipation.
“For one hundred years is not enough time to stay friends and allies with this region. Gwilym should have given the lease for one thousand, one hundred years. And so I modify this contract.” Sir Kay held up the contract and added the letter ‘M’ in front of DCIII and then signed his name with a flourish at the bottom of the contract.
The crowd erupted in cheers and there were hugs all round. Gwilym smiled to himself and shook his head in amazement at what a skilled politician could do with ‘bad’ news.
As Sir Kay left town the next day to continue his inspection tour he told Gwilym, “Have the tower ready for a special dedication at Beltane.”

When the last of the building materials that had lain here all winter long were removed, the capstone, on which they had laid, was revealed. It was pressed below the surface of the ground and had to be prised up carefully. It was smooth on the side that had been facing up, but when the bottom was exposed and cleaned off, it revealed the signs of an ancient rune on that surface. It looked similar to the design on the Huish tower but it was not identical. This one took the form of a many-headed dragon. The men used pulleys to bring the stone up and Athelstan and Gwilym carefully placed it into position. The tower was complete fully a week before Beltane, allowing the men to clean it up to present it to Sir Kay at the dedication. The workers were still busy with the clay channel to the water, a task that Gwilym had forbidden them to work on until the tower was complete.
Merlin appeared at the job site the day before Beltane and handed Gwilym twelve more pieces of river jade to place between the tower and the capstone. And so, once again, Gwilym spent the evening of Beltane carefully hammering in the stones on the edges of his new tower. He remembered last year with Grainne and wondered what she was doing. He hadn’t seen Merlin enter the city. Was she with him?
Gwilym had remained celibate throughout the past year. Partly this was out of memory of Kaitlyn, partly out of fear of being tied down to a town that he knew he would be leaving soon. Partly it was out of loyalty to his sons’ mother and their questions about a new figure in their lives. And partly it was due to him being so busy with this project.
He placed the river jade, watching the Beltane celebrations below him. As he remembered last year’s love-making and his year of celibacy, he became aroused again, and kept glancing behind him to see if Grainne would come again. He inserted the last piece of jade, stood up and surveyed his work, disappointed but also a little happy to be here alone on top of his completed tower. He turned to give the district one last view before descending.
“Another wonderful erection, Gwilym.” Chills ran down his spine and all the hair on his head stood on end as he saw Grainne standing in the middle of the rune. How did she get there during his quick circuit of the top?
“How…?” he began, but was silenced with a slight wave of her hand and a glance at her regal bearing. She was looking with obvious pleasure at the hydra rune on the tower, but her double meaning was clear as she raised her eyes to admire him.
“Come,” she demanded and he felt himself being pulled into her presence. “Undress,” was her next command and he complied obediently. She reached up and caressed him carefully, running her hands down the side of his face while her thumbs traced his strong brow, his prominent cheekbones. Down his neck and across his broad shoulders. Around his bulging biceps and sinewy wrists while she placed his large hands on her hips. Back up to his hairless chest and defined abdomen. Around to stroke his ass, down his tree-trunk thighs and marble calves. Then back up to the second meaning of her first sentence. A groan escaped him as she stroked his manhood to rock hardness.
She reached behind her back and loosened her shift, allowing it to drop silently to the stone, revealing herself for him. Her breasts were fuller and her belly a little rounder than last year. Her flaming hair was full and curly and her waist was narrow before flaring into smooth, rounded hips.
Grainne reached around his chest to the backs of his shoulders, clamped on and hopped up, entwining her legs around him, straddling his lower belly. They kissed deeply, reveling in each others’ tongues. She lowered herself accurately onto his phallus and he felt himself entering her wetness, feeling the acceptance of his rough manhood into the soft confines of this woman, this priestess, this goddess.
She rode him in this fashion for a while, keeping him on the brink of ecstasy while working herself up in excitement. He helped her in her exertions by cupping her ass and moving with the rhythm she had set. At one stage she drew her upper body away from him, allowing him to reach out and squeeze her breasts. He watched in fascination as some milk dripped from one nipple, and he bent his head down and sucked gently on the sweet breast-milk. This sensation, added to the motions Grainne had already been using, brought her to a shuddering climax. Gwilym followed shortly after, then they both lay down in the center of the rune. A thin mist surrounded them; a repeat of last year…
This time he struggled hard against the more than usual weariness that followed his exertions and asked her, “What does this mean, Grainne? Why here, at Beltane, with me?”
“What better place than here? What better time? And who better to spend it with?”
“You’re avoiding the questions, Grainne. These are rune-stones. I’m placing them as capstones on these towers. I’m finishing them at Beltane, placing river-jade between them and the rest of the tower. Then you and I are consecrating them somehow. What does it mean?” His eyes were closed now and he struggled to keep his mind and ears open as the weariness spread from the top of his head down through his body.
“It’s important, Gwilym…” were the last words he heard as he slipped into a deep, dreamless sleep.

Early the following day, Sir Kay rode in with his three inspectors, and all were pleased again. The one who last time was drawing sketches of the wooden works was this time drawing the silo and the clay channel to the water. The accountant was frowning over the numbers while the third was admiring the capstone.
“Do you need me to finish off the other towers in this district, Sir Kay?”
Sir Kay looked keenly at the third inspector, who shook his head slightly. “No Gwilym,” replied Kay. “We have a more important job for you down in Londinium. The river gate known as Byllynsgate has fallen into disrepair and is in danger of falling into the water. It needs to be rebuilt using the same stones but with a better foundation. You are the man for the job. This time you must remember that money is far less important than scope. The tower must look the same. And Gwilym, the urn containing the ashes of Belinus must be kept safe and returned to the center of the tower. The tower must be finished exactly a year from yesterday. So worry less about money than scope and schedule. And build it to your usual level of quality.”
“Sounds like very skillful work, keeping track of the old stones and putting them all back in the same places. Working next to a river and over a stream. Living in an expensive city.”
Sir Kay smiled and added, “Since money is less important on this job and the work is difficult, we have agreed to double your usual pay.”
Gwilym nodded and accepted his commission. Sir Kay handed him a royal charter and Gwilym read it over with care. Added to the usual wording was a detailed drawing of the tower: an arch crossing the stream from two strong towers on each bank and a slender but tall tower in the center. The center tower was leaning dangerously towards one of the banks.

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