THE WHITE STAG
Based on the Mabinogion story “Geraint, son of Erbin”
Dennis W. Williams
The story is set within two periods of time – 1872 and 2013.
1. 1872 – Tir Arthur Hall, WALES
From where they stood, the landscape offered a wonderful vista with its acres of pasture and arable land ultimately climbing the slopes of the Nywber mountains forested with oak, beech, pine and larch, and beyond that on to heathered moorland with its multitude of game and acres of black-hearts. “Yes oh yes”, Lord Arthur thought to himself “this indeed is a special place to be”. The year was 1872 and this was his estate of Tir Arthur, covering some 12,500 acres in the heart of Wales.
In his company on the forecourt of Tir Arthur Hall were his three sons, Llewelyn, Gwydre and Hari. His left arm outstretched, pointing straight ahead at the same time addressing all three, “This is history, this is now and this is the future.” A pause followed as if Arthur anticipated his sons’ pleasure each and every time he addressed them with such comments, “It is a common opinion with unlearned and superficial minds, that from whatever period nobility may be traced, and how wide ‘soever its pale extended, it must always be regarded as belonging to, and exclusively attached to civil or aristocratic institutions. It is up to us, indeed, to yourselves gentlemen, to ensure this institution perpetuates, for as well as its history and the present, this will always be the future”
Taking a deep breath of air, Lord Arthur turned to again view the expanse of land at the same time emitting a pleasant smile, pleased with what he had said to his three sons.
Lord Arthur turned on his heel and started to make his way to the Hall then turned to his sons once more “You are familiar with the famous banquets we had in this great house?”
Almost in unison his sons nodded, saying “Yes father” and he, placing one hand on his head in disbelief at what he had asked, replied,
“What am I saying asking such a question? Yes, but of course you do! “
His eldest son Llew questioned him “What are you proposing to do Father?”
“Well, as you are well aware, over a period of years I held seven such banquets at Easter and five at Christmas. So, there shall be another, but this will be at Whitsuntide, for this Hall is most easily accessible to most if not all of my intended guests since the arrival of the Iron Road”.
He then continued on his way with a brisk step into the Hall and summoned Penman his steward to the study to inform him of his planned intention for a banquet in the tradition of the great Welsh feasts.
“You must draw up a provisional guest list for the invitations, not forgetting Lord Iȃl and Madog of Hendwr, for those two have never had the pleasure of attending one of my banquets. I want this to be a banquet my guests will remember for all time”.
2. 2013 – The Lay by - Cafe car park.
The chauffeured BMW M5 Saloon made its way from Manchester airport along Aviator Way. Its passenger, known only to the chauffeur as Mr Hawk, commuted regularly between Scandinavia, Manchester and London. Over the past few years North Wales had been added to his itinerary and this was where he was now headed for, cruising the M56 merging with the A55 eventually along lesser highways to his intended destination. Hawk was a distinguished looking forty-plus with coal-black hair which appeared not to have greyed with age. His complexion, a medium tan, highlighted his supreme fitness. To his close allies he was known as Sparrowhawk. There was never any conversation between Hawk and the chauffeur.
A small interior light was switched on which Hawk used to browse through documents from his briefcase. Within the hour they arrived at a small roadside cafe in a lay by on the outskirts of Newroc, a town in North Wales. The BMW turned into the car park.
They waited a few minutes before another car, a Range Rover Freelander drew up alongside. Some two minutes passed before the chauffeur got out as did a passenger from the second car, a short squat man. A moment later a second passenger alighted from the Freelander. In contrast to Hawk he had striking blond hair with a matching pale complexion, almost glowing in the slowly fading light of early evening. With one hand inside the breast of his jacket his alert eyes scanned the surroundings three hundred and sixty degrees.
The boot of the BMW was opened by the chauffeur and the short squat man started taking out three cases which he then placed neatly into the boot of the second car. In the meantime Hawk had climbed out of the BMW and into the back of the Freelander.
When the process of exchanging both passenger and luggage was complete, the vehicles started up to leave, and as if in a well-rehearsed routine the BMW turned right to return to Manchester whilst the Freelander turned left. Not long following the departure of both vehicles, another BMW, an AH 7, started up. The vehicle’s occupants were Arthur, boss of the Round Table Private Investigation Company in the town of Newroc, his wife Gwen plus Geraint, well-built, rugged, handsome and noted local tough-guy who also is a former Stock-Car racing champion. Driving the car was Bryn. They had parked in between other vehicles at the cafe in the lay-by and, unseen by the occupants of the BMW M5 and Freelander, had observed what had taken place. Angrily, Arthur asked “Who’s the fucking albino Geraint?”
“No idea boss” he answered. “Never seen him before. Come to that, who was the dark haired bloke ‘cos I didn’t know him either but he does remind me of someone.”
Again Arthur questioned “I don’t like it one bit. What the fuck’s going on? These people are moving too fast for my liking, bringing extra shit in to our territory and no one knows who the bastards are. We’ve got to put a stop to this”. To the driver, “O.K. Bryn, let’s move”. The AH 7 then made its way taking the same route as had the Freelander.
3. 1872 - Tir Arthur Hall
As the days rolled by nearer the Banquet, domestic servants were unable to control their excitement with all the preparation. The two cooks, sisters Megan and Bessie Jones, both in their early forties, were well experienced with the necessary planning. Everything was well in hand.
In the lounge, Lord Arthur sat in a comfortable fireside chair reading his daily newspaper in front of a blazing log fire. Opposite sat his wife, Lady Gwen. There was a knock at the door and Penman entered. He bowed to Lord Arthur and Lady Gwen saying “Begging your pardon my Lord and Lady”, then addressing Lord Arthur, “I would appreciate sir if you would be so good as to go through this guest list for the banquet and let me know if I have missed someone and need to add to it”.
Lord Arthur placed his newspaper to the side and took the guest list from Penman. “Yes, certainly Penman. I will return it to you later with any additions plus”, winking with a mischievous smile to his wife, “any we may need to strike off of course”.
Looking slightly embarrassed but well used to his Lordship’s teasing wit, Penman thanked him and left the room.
“Oh you are such a tease Arthur” smiled Gwen.
“It’s surprising how some appreciate light humour and besides, there is much excitement with the preparations for the banquet. Personally, I think the servants are as excited as we are my dear” said Lord Arthur with satisfaction.
“I don’t know about you Arthur, but I can’t help thinking that maybe this banquet is being arranged with some ulterior motive in that mind of yours”.
“Whatever do you mean my dear”?
“Finding a young lady who would prove a suitable wife for Llew”.
Chortling his reply “Who my dearest Gwen is now teasing whom”? said Arthur returning to read his newspaper.
The weeks went quickly by with arrangements to complete and finally, the day of the banquet arrived. Local Livery Coach companies were busy during the whole of that day transporting invited guests with teams of Clarence coaches and horses. All guest rooms at the Hall were taken and overnight arrangements had been made for others to stay at local Hotels and Inns within the town of Newroc.
4. 2013 - Sparrowhawk arrives in town.
Word had spread like wildfire that the Sparrowhawk had returned to Newroc. A hero to the local people, many of whom came out of their houses to greet him and his accomplice, the Norsk albino, known as the ‘White Stag’. Young kids were waving, shouting and chasing the Freelander - at the very least in the hope for cash handouts which the albino was always ready to ply them with , and others in the vain hope of samples of the goods he always carried with him.
5. 1872 - The Banquet
The long-awaited day finally arrived. Guests from all parts of Wales were in attendance, old friends re-uniting acquaintances whilst new relationships were forged. Lord Arthur’s intention was to re-create a banquet of medieval Wales combined with contemporary Victorian. Of course there was an element of flaunting status and always the best way to achieve this was through an elaborate and expensive dinner. To begin, revellers assembled in the Presence Chamber for the partaking of bread and salt, an age-old symbol of hospitality. A party of fully-costumed local ladies acted out as Ladies of the Court and along with the Court Steward, escorted guests into the Banqueting Hall where they would entertain in both Welsh and English, and lead the evening’s feasting accompanied by a tasting of mead.
The first course of the banquet was a soup of choice, the Vermicelli soup prepared with tomatoes, onion, and garlic proved a popular choice that evening at Tir Arthur Hall as was the Julienne soup, characterised by its finely cut vegetables.
For the second course guests were served seafood; broiled or baked salmon, trout, lobster, or whitebait.
The main course included venison, poultry, and vegetables. In addition to this, braised beef, a spring chicken, lamb, tongue, and mutton were on offer and vegetables that accompanied the meal included broccoli, cauliflower, potatoes, and carrots. Baked bread was served with the entrée, and a thick gravy and Yorkshire pudding were prepared and served with roasts.
The final course was a dessert consisting of imported strawberries and cherries, the extravagance a further sign of high status which Lord Arthur immensely enjoyed flaunting. It ended with sweet wine, coffee, tea, hot punch, and water.
During the course of the evening Lord Arthur’s chief huntsman, Rhys, approached him and arching his back to whisper in his ear “Sir,” nodding his head sideways drawing his Lordship’s notice to the presence of a young man, “this young man says he has something very important to tell you.”
“Who is he?” asked his lordship.
“The son of your woodsman sir”.
“Mm,” Lord Arthur ponders, “very well, let him approach me”.
Rhys tells the young man that his Lordship will hear him.
“Well young man, my huntsman tells me you have some very important information to report to me”.
“I do sir”.
“What could be that important to interrupt me at this great banquet?” enquired his Lordship.
“It’s a stag sir”.
Abruptly his Lordship replied “A stag? What’s so important about a stag? I’ve seen and shot dozens of them in my time so why tell me this?”
“Because” answered the young woodsman “this one is a stag the like you have never seen sir”.
“Well, press ahead and tell me so that I can continue with the banquet.”
“It is a white stag sir.”
This both startled and excited Lord Arthur. “A white stag you say? Good Lord! I’ve never seen a white stag on my land before. How on earth can this be?” Pressing for confirmation he continued to question the woodsman. “Are you certain of this?”
“Never so certain of anything in my life sir. He is pure white my Lord, and he does not herd with any other animal through stateliness and pride. This is why I come to see you your Lordship, to know your wishes as to what best to do.”
For a minute Lord Arthur remained quiet in pensive thought, his right hand massaging his bearded chin, occasionally engaging the eyes of the young woodsman . “Right young man, this is what I will do. I will call both my huntsman and squire to arrange a hunt tomorrow morning for this white stag. This will give some of my guests an extra fillip.”
Lady Gwen was quite taken by the woodsman’s news and asked her husband if she too could ride on the hunt. He agreed fully with her request but stressed the importance that she should rest well that night knowing full well the excitement of that day together with the reported sighting of a white stag fuelled his adrenalin to a point he was certain would deprive him of rest his mind and body required.
His Lordship summoned Rhys the huntsman together with Elfrey the Squire. They were joined by the company of the remaining male guests and the talk centred on the arranged hunt the following day in pursuit of the white stag. Before the guests retired it was discussed what should be done with the stag once killed and the decision was to cut it’s head off and for this to be carried out by the successful hunter who would also have the honour to present this to the woman he loved.
6. Following morning.
A large assembly of men and horses were gathered on the yard of the Hall and the bay of the hounds displayed the excitement felt by all present. Lord Arthur was slightly disappointed at the non-appearance of his wife who the previous evening seemed keen as mustard to ride along with the hunt, but guessed that yesterday’s events had over tired her.
A while after the departure of the hunt Lady Gwen awakes and goes to the window of her bedroom. It is daylight and realises she has missed the setting off of the hunt for the white stag. Slightly dazed from her heavy sleep following the previous night’s entertainment she curses herself for having overslept and rings the servants call bell for Mai her maid to attend. When Mai appears Lady Gwen tells her to run as fast as she could to tell the stable boy to saddle two mounts. Soon, both Lady Gwen and Mai are dressed accordingly riding at a canter.
Having crossed the river Eed they followed the track of the hunt but knew full well it was an impossibility to catch up with them, but to hear the horns sound and hounds barking their excitement having picked the scent of the white stag would in itself be reward enough. By this time they had been joined by Geraint.
Reaching the edge of the forest they stopped riding, startled by a loud sound. Three figures on horses emerged from the forest but none could be identified as the early morning mist still awaited the sun’s golden face to tease it out. The riders came to a halt some thirty to forty yards away.
A skirmish followed with some loud shouting. The sound of a double-barreled shotgun was heard to discharge.
7. 2013 - The 8 2 4 Nightclub and Restaurant
It was quite a classy restaurant within the 8 2 4 nightclub. Geraint, Bryn, Gwen and Mai were seated at the table having just finished the starters. It wasn’t often they visited this club but Arthur had requested that they do a little recce, hopefully to get some picture of who was who and what may be going on. A door behind them opened and a smart woman entered. She was strikingly beautiful and was anything between twenty-five and thirty. Geraint sat there gaping that well-used male expression and she turned, noticing this, she smiled the sort of smile that comes easily to an attractive woman. He returned the smile and nodded, appeared to mouth a word or two before she continued walking to seat herself at a table with an older couple.
Geraint notices who he thinks may be the dark-haired man who transferred from the BMW M5 Saloon to the Freelander at the lay by car park. He was standing in a dimmed light near the nightclub’s office door with a female together with his bodyguard, a short-statured guy, and lightheartedly informs the others, “This guy has a PORG as his minder”.
Gwen asks “What do you mean by a PORG?”
“Person of restricted growth. It’s a term used for midgets and dwarfs, that sort of thing you know. I don’t think it intends to offend”, then mentions to the other three who he thinks he’s recognised and they turn to gaze at the group. The short-statured guy walks towards their table and Geraint, noticing this, warns his companions “Oh oh, here comes the PORG”.
The PORG says to them “You people appear to be very interested in those good people in my company over there. Who the fuck are you and what are you after?”
Mai asks him who the dark-haired guy is. The PORG refuses to disclose any name to which her reply was that she would go and ask him herself but the PORG physically stops her. Mai struggles upwards against his pushing hands, getting up from her chair saying “I’m going anyway. Who are you to stop me? I just need to know who he is, that’s all.”
The PORG answers “There is no way you can consider yourself to be worthy of his company, you are nobody while he is someone very special” at the same time swiftly drawing his hand across Mai’s right cheek slashing it with a Chinese knuckle duster which fitted on the four fingers of his left hand gripped in place with the thumb, its top shaped pagoda-like making it sharper to increase the pain of the inflicted wound.
Geraint seeing that this action has drawn blood from Mai’s face makes to stand up shouting at the PORG “What the fuck’s going on? Just fucking st....” but the PORG’s reaction is rapid, using the weapon on Geraint inflicting a similar wound as that to Mai, again drawing blood. Shocked, Geraint slumps to his chair. This done, the PORG calmly makes his way back to the office, the door of which is held open for him and closed once he has entered.
Angered more by Mai’s wound than his own he placed his right-hand inside the left-side of his jacket where his 9mm Glock was shoulder-holstered, Geraint says to Gwen “The bastard, he had no right in doing that. I feel that I should go after him but that door must be solid steel so best stay put for now”.
“That is the wisest thing to do Geraint,” said Gwen assisting Mai to clean the blood from her face. “This is not the time to get involved with these people”. She places one hand on Geraint’s right arm to prevent him drawing his gun. “Please don’t do anything silly in here Geraint. Opportunity will show itself again. I’m so sorry though that you both have suffered pain”.
“Believe me Gwen”, said Geraint angrily, using a handkerchief to wipe blood from his own face. “I will meet up with him yet, at some place where all things will be equal. Yes, believe me, I’ll fucking do him.”
The four of them settled down to continue with their meal. They had reached the coffee stage when Geraint felt a hand on his shoulder. He looked up and noticed it was the man from the table where the, what he mentally-termed strikingly beautiful woman, was seated. Geraint wasn’t taken by him at first and said “What’s this about?”
“I apologise for interrupting your meal sir” said the man, “if your company feel able to excuse you for now, would you please join me at my table, I wish to have a word with you regarding something very important”.
Geraint eyed the other three. Their facial expressions and head nods expressed their willingness to dismiss him pro tem, curiosity being the guiding factor plus they knew that Geraint was well able to look after himself should a situation turn nasty, not withstanding his confrontation with the Porg..
The man added “I will try not to keep you too long from your friends sir”.
On that Geraint had no hesitation but to go to his table.
At the table the man introduced himself as Earl Jones, then to his wife Rhiannon and the young woman was his daughter, Enid. Now that he was closer to her, Geraint thought he had never seen a woman more perfect as regards beauty, elegance and grace than she. He was certainly wowed with meeting her and being so near to her as he was now. She gave him a warm smile. Thinking what his current thoughts were he hoped she wasn’t able to read his mind.
Earl Jones told Geraint that he once owned a large successful business empire along with his brother which had taken years of hard graft to achieve that status. His brother died and his share of the business was to be given to his brother’s son, who was also called Earl, when he became of age.
He continued “When he reached maturity he made my life a misery, almost destroying the business which was flourishing before he inherited his father’s share. In the end, it all became too much, my health suffered and my wife and daughter begged me to end the association with my nephew and effectively, the business. Needless to say, he has never paid me the share of the company that was rightly mine and which he promised to settle with me.”
“What about legal action? Surely there must be some way” asked Geraint.
“ No not really. I suffered a mental breakdown and just couldn’t be bothered with what I was informed would take maybe years to sort out. So here I am.”
“Tell me Earl” said Geraint, “Where do I fit into this? Don’t misunderstand me, I’m sorry for the circumstances you find yourself in, but how can I help? I’m a little confused by it all”
Clearing his throat, Earl continues “A tournament takes place on the outskirts of the town here every year on the Oval track. This is taking place in a few days and I, erm, well, to be quite honest with you Geraint, I’ve been told how good you are at Stock-Car racing and that sort of thing.”
“I’m beginning to see some kind of picture here” said Geraint. “Tell me Earl” he continued, “Does this have anything to do with that dark-haired guy that’s arrived here in the last few days? I heard talk they call him the Knight. And the people of the town here, they treat him as if he were some kind of God. If you ask me, something weird’s going on, appearing to be preparing for something special. Lots of preparation on some old bangers, welding torches burning day and night so I’m told”.
“Yes” replied Earl. “You are quite right. Your connection with Stock-Car racing would come in very useful for what I have in mind.”
“Tell me exactly what this is about then” demanded Geraint.
“Well, it’s not exactly Stock-Car racing but what we call Banger Jousting”
“Banger Jousting?”, said Geraint in disbelief. “My mind conjures up something on a medieval scale here. Gory and deadly at the very least. Tell me more then Earl”.
“You are right to say there is a Medieval connection. It has to do with lances but these are securely clipped to the side of the car on a swivelling steel ball which is controlled with a lever from the inside of the car by the driver.”
“Jesus f....” Geraint almost blasphemed. “.... people are going to get killed and you seriously expect me to take part in this?”
“It’s not quite as lethal as what you imagine” said Earl quickly to calm Geraint’s fears, “though I wouldn’t discount it’s without danger.”
“Believe me, it’s comforting to hear that!” replied Geraint looking downwards shaking his head.
Attempting to assuage Geraint’s fears and fearing his refusal Earl adds “The lances are so placed that they would penetrate the outer metal body of the car only and not the driver. Approximately twelve inches back from the tip of the lance is a titanium disc which is some twelve inches in diameter. Very light in weight is titanium but one of the highest strength to weight ratios with a high tensile strength. If the tip of the lance has penetrated the metal body work the disc will add further to the damage at the same time preventing the lance itself from penetrating further . The swivel is limited to lateral movement of about thirty degrees and a vertical tilt of no more than three hundred millimetres up or down from its horizontal position. At most it will cause damage to the side and front of the opponent’s vehicle. There is no way that the lance could reach the driver’s head nor his body.”
Scratching his shaking head Geraint replies “Phew, Earl, it’s something I’d love to take part in, but I don’t know. Tell me, honestly now, has anyone ever been seriously injured doing this?”
Earl reassures Geraint “Look Geraint, over the years this has taken place there hasn’t been a single fatality. Just a few shaken up that’s all. And the odd car here and there written-off” he continued with a wry smile. “Seriously, believe me, these vehicles are scrutinised by officials who are as meticulous as if they themselves were participating.”
“I don’t know why but I’m beginning to warm to your suggestion Earl. I must be off my rocker man” said Geraint. “So, tell me then, what is the crack?”
So Earl tells him the tradition involved with this tournament. “As you yourself witnessed, much work was going on adapting these cars in readiness. My nephew, young Earl, organises this annual tournament on the Oval track at Pentre. The procedure is that young Earl will place a silver rod in the centre of the track. Then he will place a golden statuette of a sparrowhawk on this which is the main prize. But, and here is the main clause for all drivers, no man can participate unless he takes along the girl or woman he loves best. And the dark-haired person you enquired about, they call him the Knight of the Sparrowhawk for he has won the tournament two years in succession. Quite a man to beat, but I have a decent Banger prepared for you Geraint which will compare to anything he will be driving.”
A concerned Geraint says to Earl “But I don’t have a woman let alone one I love that I could take along with me, so that would surely rule me out.”
Meanwhile, at the other table Bryn’s phone rings. He takes the mobile out of his pocket, sees it is Arthur calling and presses the accept call button to hear his irate voice. “Bryn, where the fuck is Geraint? I’ve been trying to ring him this last half an hour but his phone is switched off.”
“He’s with some people at another table, some guy with his wife and young daughter. Nice bit of stuff Geraint took a fancy to,” he laughs.
“It’s no fucking laughing matter Bryn. He’s thinking with his dick again. As soon as he’s free, tell him to call me.” Call ended.
Geraint notices Earl’s glance towards Enid. “Well, I’m confident that a woman to accompany you can be arranged.” answered Earl.
Nervously Geraint asks “Well, erm, with your permission of course, would you and your good lady wife allow me to champion your daughter Enid?” quickly adding “and of course with Enid’s approval.”
Earl looks firstly to his wife for confirmation to Geraint’s proposal which was delivered with a shy smile and a nod of the head, and the same but not quite as shy from a pleasantly surprised Enid.
“We will be happy to agree with that Geraint. So that’s settled then is it?” he says pleased.
Geraint looked well pleased, didn’t say a word on account of excitement, perhaps amazed by what he had just accepted to take part in and kept nodding his head at the same time looking at Enid.
“So, on the morning of the race you need to be at Pentre track early to allow yourself some practice time on the track. And it is also then that the Knight of the Sparrowhawk will make his appearance and to request the woman he loves best to take the sparrowhawk. The Sparrowhawk has won these last two years, and if he is successful a third year, he will be called the Knight of the Sparrowhawk for all time.”
This decision was followed by a few drinks and Geraint and Enid finding much to talk about seemingly comfortable in each other’s company. He introduced her to his three friends, Gwen, Mai and Bryn who had joined Geraint’s company at Earl’s request and apologised to them for delaying Geraint’s return to their company. There also followed a lengthy discussion between Geraint and Earl regarding the track. Although he had raced on it a number of times over the years he still wished to know the current condition. Earl assured him that the new tarmac surface was a vast improvement on the previous dirt-track.
Later than he had hoped, Geraint called Arthur who in no uncertain terms gave him a piece of his mind. Well used to Arthur’s rantings this rolled off him like water off a duck’s back. Arthur informed him that he had received information from a reliable source details of who the albino was and that it was a matter of urgency that they track him down. “I’ve got Frank Odiar coming over. He’s been in touch with me and I’ve offered to assist if you know what I mean” Arthur informs him.
“I know what you mean all right, but is it as straightforward as that? You know, all above board like?” he asks. Arthur reassured him everything would be fine.
Geraint then explained about the Banger Jousting races the following week to which surprisingly, Arthur said he would attend.
8. 1872 Lord Arthur on hunt for the white stag.
Hunting was very popular in Indian Army units when Lord Arthur served in Peshawar as a Colonel in the Royal Welsh Fusiliers. This was very similar to hunting in Britain, though the quarry was more often than not a jackal which greatly amused guests at Tir Arthur Hall from time to time with the oft-told tale.
The huntsman rode up to Lord Arthur informing him that one of the men had been badly hurt. Visibility wasn’t too good due to surrounding mist but it appears he was approached by three riders on horseback but the circumstances as to the cause of his fall from his mount remained a mystery.
His Lordship insisted that he be taken back to Tir Arthur by one of the men to be seen to by Lady Gwen and the maids for now and he would follow very soon.
The rain was unrelenting as Lord Arthur continued his pursuit for the ‘White Stag’, steering it towards the hunting stations. The men assigned to the stations unleashed the dogs on the stag and the last to be so was Lord Arthur’s favourite dog Cafall, a dark-grey staghound with unusual silver eyes, said to be able to see the wind.
By now the hounds were in frenzy with the scent. Cafall had gone well ahead of the rest of the pack and at the second turn the stag was steered into the path of Lord Arthur’s party who set upon him. With careful aim, his Lordship prepared to claim the prize of the hunt. No other huntsman dared now to intervene. The death horn for slaying the ‘white stag’ was sounded and the huntsmen gathered round. In accordance with tradition and privilege Lord Arthur proceeded to cut the stag’s head off. The hunt ended with the feeding of the dogs.
On their way back the huntsmen talked nothing else but the stag’s head and who would receive it. Of course, each said it should be given to his lady, the banter continuing until they reached the outskirts of Newroc.
They paid a visit to one of the local Inns to celebrate but Lord Arthur informed them he would not go along as he felt a duty to return to the Hall to ascertain how serious the injuries sustained by the huntsman.
9. 2013 - Arthur and Frank O’Diar on hunt for the Norsk albino, the human ‘white stag’
Arthur had invited an old friend, a Frenchman, or to be more precise, a Norman, Frank Odiar, over to Wales to discuss some business which required closure. They arranged to meet at the Celtic Life Hotel on the North Wales coast where anonymity would certainly be safeguarded.
Their association went back some years when both served with UNAMIR, United Nations Assistance Mission in Rwanda as well as UNAMSIL in Sierra Leone. Neither mentioned past events which most certainly had involved mercenary-type missions.
They had remained in regular contact over the years, offering each other advice when required, and when the heat in the kitchen became very hot, the assistance became practical.
A meal followed by a few drinks helped the discussion move along. Arthur informed Frank Odiar with sensitive information regarding the Norsk albino. He was a wanted man in Normandy as well as other regions in France, had eluded the grasp of Odiar and his French State Police special team for some time. With information received from Arthur he was once more within his sights and this time, there would be no room for failure.
10. 2013 - The Banger-Jousting Race Day
At the Pentre track the sound of souped-up motors had been in the air since first light of day and carried for miles. Geraint had arrived early, the adrenaline in his body driving his pulse rate to the limit. His superb personal fitness allowed his body to respond to the stressful stimulus by calming down through deliberate, controlled relaxation.
He could see that Earl was there as expected, carrying out some final touches to the engine. Once Earl had finished the essentials he turned to Geraint to shake his hand. “Good morning Geraint,” looking up at full daylight breaking over the track, “just the weather for it after the rain we had overnight. What do you think?”
Looks skywards “Yeah, it looks o.k.”
Walking over to the motor Geraint would be driving that day, Earl said “Well, here she is lad,” tapping the bonnet, “she has a Sierra one point eight pinto engine type nine gearbox. As you can see it has a few battle scars.” He invites Geraint to sit in the driver’s seat. “Now, this is the technology that sets these cars apart from all others” as he pointed to the lever in the centre at the front protruding from what was a dashboard and it was this which controlled the lance on the outside. Geraint immediately set to work moving the lever from left to right to get a feel of the required strength to operate. He looked on the outside of the car but could not see the lance itself. Earl is quick to put him in the picture.
“The lance will be bolted on to the swivel part a little later, it doesn’t take long to do. In the impact of collision they damage easily but we have a large number of spare ones.”
Geraint turns ignition on and revving the throttle putting his head to one side evaluating the engine sound. “Yes, sounds great. When can I have a few laps?” he asks Earl.
Earl taps his mobile “I’ll contact the Senior Race Marshall” and eventually clearance was given from the Marshall allowing Geraint to have his practice laps.
A few laps and Earl was very impressed. Geraint pulls up at the allocated pit-stop. “Great” says Earl. “How did it feel to you?”
Smiling, he confirms it was really good and expressed his excitement to start. During the last few minutes Enid had arrived and Geraint greeted her with a passionate kiss and embrace. “Careful now” she says to him, “it’s the race that should be uppermost in your mind now.” Enid’s mother had also arrived as had a number of other friends and Geraint was pleased to notice that Arthur was there as promised.
Some cheering was heard and heads turned to see the arrival of the Sparrowhawk to the track and once things had settled down he took a microphone in his hand from one of the course Marshalls declaring that he was more than ready to ask his woman of choice to take the sparrowhawk, which effectively meant to back his challenge.
“No, no, don’t take it” shouted Geraint with his arm around Enid’s middle, he continued, “My woman here is far more beautiful and has a better claim for the sparrowhawk.”
There was much banter amongst the supporting factions with each claiming their man had the most beautiful woman.
The Sparrowhawk advances on Geraint, “Well my old friend, if you consider the sparrowhawk to be hers, then I challenge you to the Banger-Jousting against me.”
There was something in the voice of the Sparrowhawk that sparked a thousand names to flow in Geraint’s head, too many to pinpoint a recognisable one. He had called him ‘old friend’. The voice? a name? Something from many years back, and yet, he could not be certain as his concentration had to be focused on the contest.
11. 2013 - The Banger-Jousting Contest
A large crowd had gathered at the Pentre track, anticipating a great contest with its fair share of blood and thunder. On opposite sides of the track the vehicles lined up at a hundred and eighty degrees to the other. In this position they were designed to meet face-on at the oval ends so that one circuit would give each contestant two attempts with the lance. The objective was not to turn laps, but to smash, destroy and ultimately immobilise the opposition, until only one vehicle is left.
Both cars revved up. A deathly-silence amongst the spectators. Geraint’s Sierra against the Sparrowhawk’s Lightning Rod Spedeworth F2. Both driver’s glanced at each other. The Chief Steward’s red flag was raised. Both drivers with a nod of heads acknowledged they were ready. This, the contest for the sparrowhawk, classed as the ‘demolition derby'. The green flag was raised and they were away, the crowd once more coming to life. The track was very short, a circuit of approximately one quarter of a mile, at each end the turns were tight so speeds attained were not high. Screeching tyres burned the tarmac. Approaching the first end lances could be seen making a move in readiness for the strike.The first passing appeared no more than a token one, neither driver willing a serious move, just measuring up where and how best to strike first.
As the second end neared it was all up for grabs and some success for both drivers as each made a hit with his lance, at the same time feeling the pain of the impact from shoulders to hips. This was Geraint’s brutal introduction to Banger-Jousting as the crowd began to warm to the sound of clanging steel and shouting approval for their own man. The third turn saw the Sparrowhawk’s experience come to the fore, lancing Geraint’s Sierra causing his body to jolt before he had the target in his sight, but at the next turn both had some success with good hits which required pit-stops to replace damaged lances.
It was beginning to heat up now. What began as beads of sweat soon turned to rivulets cascading length and breadth of the head. Reaching the neck it continued to midriff, then lower and gathering into a puddle, and for one moment the sensation made Geraint imagine his bladder had burst involuntary. If the adrenaline was pumping the spectators, for the drivers it was fast and furious, the heart feeling it was about to come exploding out through the chest wall.
At the next turn both made the most serious attempt yet to lance his opponent’s car to oblivion. There was some triumph for both as each car reeled slightly from the accuracy of the lances piercing the side between fenders and doors.
The Sparrowhawk was beginning to come to his own as he sped to the next turn slowing down on the first arc of the oval to give himself advantage of a lance hit without a return from Geraint. Sparrowhawk’s supporters warmed to this and encouraged him vociferously with their offensive outcries which became unrestrained.
Somehow, this proved to be the catalyst for Geraint’s turnaround in fortunes as he recalled the incident in the 8-2-4 Club with the PORG’s offensive using his Chinese knuckle duster wounding both Mai and himself. He thought to himself “No fucking way that PORG is getting away with what he did nor this Sparrowhawk whoever he is.”
Geraint straightened his Sierra. Revved up and away. As he made his way down his side he glanced the other side and managed to see where Sparrowhawk was. This was game on. He came on to the first arc slower allowing the Sparrowhawk to think he would be side on to his lance but then Geraint put his foot down harder surprising his opponent with a hefty lance to the side causing Sparrowhawk’s body to jolt backwards and then forwards. The pain he felt from neck downwards was nothing he’d experienced before.
Meantime, Geraint had made another circuit and before Sparrowhawk had time to sense further action, was caught by Geraint’s lance yet again. Geraint reversed a few metres then foot down hard and lanced him again. This procedure he carried out a number of times until the Sparrowhawk, with great physical difficulty, managed to open his door signalling his submission. Once out of his car he collapsed on to the track. Geraint’s supporters went wild with excitement. Their local favourite was back.
In a short time both contestants were surrounded by members of their respective team plus a mass of supporters. Geraint’s name was uppermost and he was carried shoulder high down to the service area. The Sparrowhawk was driven down by one of his team.
At the service point Geraint, in a foul temper, approached Sparrowhawk who was still very dazed, took hold of him by his leathers and said “I owed you a big one after what your fucking PORG said and did to my friend.” Still with a firm grip of Sparrowhawk’s leathers he continued shaking him, “Who the fuck are you anyway?”
“You really don’t remember me then do you?” he said to Geraint who answers,
“There’s something about you but I can’t pinpoint anything”.
“I’m Earl Nudd, does that ring bells for you?”
A surprised Geraint responds “Earl Nudd! I was sure I knew you. Always a bit of a nutter you was Earl. But how the hell did you come to be mixed up in all of this? Man, it just doesn’t make sense. You are the pits.”
“It’s a long story mate.........”
Before he has the opportunity to explain, Geraint interrupts “Your old man was Gwyn Nudd if I remember correctly, a brother to Earl, your Uncle.”
“Aye, that’s the family tree, for better or for worse.”
“And you let your Uncle Earl down in business didn’t you.”
Despite Earl’s apparent pains and struggle to converse the discussion continued for some time. Geraint convinced Earl into realising the hardship he’d left his Uncle Earl in and there was a hint of a promise to repay his dues.
Arthur informed them that Earl senior had called a doctor for Earl junior, concerned that he should be looked over in A and E as quickly as possible. There was also a call to the North Wales Police.
12 . 1872 - Tir Arthur Hall
The injured huntsman was carried in to Tir Arthur Hall where Lady Gwen had been summoned by Penman. She is certain that she recognises the injured man as Edern, son of Lord Gwyn Nudd, at one time a close friend of her husband’s.
It is not known how Edern sustained these injuries but Lady Gwen is certain they are serious. She could see that he was conscious so asked him “Did you have a confrontation with Geraint?”
“I did indeed Lady Gwen but this was not Geraint’s fault. The blame lies with the dwarf for insulting your maid, something which now I very much regret your Ladyship.”
Lady Gwen ordered Penman to seek assistance to carry Edern upstairs to a spare bedroom and for one of the maids to go up first so that a fire be made up.
Arriving back at the Hall his Lordship at once enquired as to the condition of the huntsman. Lady Gwen requested her husband to accompany her to the bedroom where the injured Edern had been taken to. On their way upstairs she congratulated her husband on the killing of the ‘white stag’ but was adamant that it’s head was not to be given away until the return of Geraint which Arthur happily acceded to.
It wasn’t long before Lord Arthur recognised Edern and truly shocked at the sight of his injuries, requests Penman to immediately summon Doctor Tudor to attend to him.
13. 2013 - Geraint takes Enid to meet Arthur and Gwen.
An anxious Geraint, newspaper in hand, phoned Arthur who answered “Geraint. How’s things then?” he asked.
“I’ve just read the local rag and the Albino guy you were so concerned to track has been found.... DEAD. He’s fucking dead Arthur. What the hell is going on? What are we getting involved in?”
“Calm down now Geraint, don’t get so agitated. There’s nothing for you to worry about now, o.k. Whatever happened to him has nothing to do with us.”
“Are you sure Arthur? You’re not pissing me about are you? I mean, one day you’re telling me it was a matter of urgency we track him down and now he’s found dead and you tell me there’s nothing to worry about.”
“Believe me Geraint, our hands are clean. What makes you think I’d be involved in something like this? You know very well we assign only to legitimate contracts.” A pause, Arthur listened to Geraint humming and harring before continuing, “Listen, tell you what, you and Enid come over for a meal this evening. It’ll give Gwen and myself opportunity to get to know her. Can you both make it then? About seven ok with you?” Geraint confirms they’ll be there.
Later that evening during the meal Geraint informed their hosts that he and Enid were planning to marry very soon. They continued eating at the same time discussing arrangements they had made. Gwen first, and then Arthur, congratulated the couple. Arthur jokingly tells Enid that before the big day he would supply her with a testimonial of Glyn’s finest and worst attributes at which she laughs.
The meal finished prompting Arthur to request he be excused for one moment and excitedly telling the bride-and-groom-to-be that he had just the very thing for their new home. He returned with a large box placing it on the floor saying “Enid, I think you should have the honour of opening this.”
This put Geraint on edge as he remembered the ancient story of the hunter who killed the ‘white stag’ was also given the honour of cutting its head off and presenting it to a woman of his choice. He couldn’t help but think about the Norsk albino being found dead, aware that at times Arthur’s humour had a dark side, but surely, he wouldn’t do such a thing, he couldn’t, could he? A head he thought, would fit neatly inside the box he’d invited Enid to open.
Arthur continued “Well, come on Enid my girl, let’s have you opening this then.”
Nervously, Geraint looked on as Enid opens the lid. Whatever was in the box is well covered. She takes the item out and places it on the floor. Excitedly, she looks up at Geraint who appears discomposed. Arthur grins from ear to ear. Gwen has a serene smile on her face. Finally, Enid removes the wrapping and at first is taken aback. Then she gives out a large laugh saying “It’s a ‘white-stag’, a wall-mounting stuffed one. It’s wonderful. It really is” She gets up to her feet and hugs both Arthur and Gwen kissing them and expressing her gratitude for a very unusual but apt present.
Geraint whispers to Arthur “Bloody hell Arthur, you had me worried then.”
Arthur laughs “What on earth were you thinking Geraint lad?”
Geraint felt more relaxed and the rest of the evening was engaged in talking and much laughter. Arthur and Gwen seemed very impressed and realised how fortunate Geraint was to be marrying this wonderful young woman.
Geraint’s mobile phone rings interrupting the discussion. He looked at his phone. It was his Mother calling. He tells the others to excuse him, went to the other side of the room to take the call. The conversation was out of earshot to the others. His call ended. He returned to his hosts and Enid noticed a change in his appearance. Suddenly, he looked grim and upset.
He informs them that his Father is very poorly and his Mother asked if he would go down to see them. They lived in Cornwall so decided he would travel overnight and that probably Enid would accompany him.
As the couple leave Arthur consoles Geraint “I hope you find everything’s ok with your Dad. He’s a strong man is my Uncle Erbin, ready to fight the biggest of battles. As soon as you are able to, please let me know how things are with him o.k.” at the same time placing a sympathetic arm around Geraint’s shoulders with genuine concern. “One day, all that has happened recently will be history. But remember, history is now and the future.”
“Arthur, whatever I may have said to you earlier, just forgive me eh!. As they say mate, you are a true legend my cousin.”
“And you Geraint are the new sparrowhawk” Arthur responded with a proud smile
updated by @dennis-wyn-williams: 02/13/16 02:00:40AM