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Mawgan’s Blog

‘Please mother. Please may I go with them.’

‘No Mawgan, you are too young,’ my mother said in reply. The look of concern, which crossed her features, saddened my heart. ‘There is too much danger.’

‘Well, he has to grow up at some point in time,’ said my uncle, King Branwalather in support. ‘He is a skilled enough swordsman.’

I had wanted to go with my uncle to learn more about how to fight the Jotunns. I was interested in warfare. But I was yet to reach my fourteenth birthday, and was facing strong opposition from my mother. Even the queen objected. ‘Even I stay here with your parents for safety,’ she said. ‘Listen to your elders, they are wise.’

My father, I could see, was torn. ‘I do not think this is the best idea, Mawgan. You are still so young. I will not be there to help protect you as my injuries from the last battle have yet to heal.’

I realised my father was persuadable. Alas, my mother was too protective of me, so I had to try harder. ‘I am strong enough, and fight well. I am almost as tall as uncle,’ I protested.

One of the knights of my uncle’s personal guard spoke up. ‘We will watch him. It is time for him to become a man. I was but twelve years old when I fought my first Jotunn.’

‘We will all watch out for him,’ said my uncle. ‘It is just a patrol we go on.’

My father hesitated. Then at last spoke. ‘Saddle up, Mawgan, you go with them. But here, take my sword.’ He held it out to me.

I took it from him, feeling proud to be so well trusted. I saddled my horse as swiftly as I could, and before he changed his mind.

I, Mawgan the man, refrained from kissing my mother, but she took my hand and squeezed it.

We set off and road along the coastal path, searching for any signs of Jotunns landing on the shores of our realm, Dumnonia. We came precariously close to the cliffs as they sloped down to the shore. The wind was getting up and the waves broke nosily on the rocks below. Surely it was too rough for the Jotunns to land. I was disappointed when we found nothing.

We rode all day and at last made camp in a forest. We had few servants with us, and so all helped in gathering the wood for a fire.

I was treated like one of the men, and even took my turn on watch during that long night. Owls hooted, and there were many sounds in the undergrowth. How would I tell the difference between them and someone creeping into our camp? I had been told to be vigilant, but I still had a lot to learn.

At daybreak, I awoke to a commotion. A messenger rode into camp. My uncle and the knights gathered around to hear what he had to say. His face was grim as he related his message.

‘Break camp!’ ordered my uncle. ‘We must set forth immediately.’

‘What has happened,’ I asked. No one answered me and I earnestly searched each of the faces of my uncle’s knights.  They all looked at me in sympathy.

‘Uncle?’

‘Come Mawgan, we must return. Something is amiss at your home.’

My heart beat loudly in my chest and my hands shook. I fumbled around trying to fasten my saddle straps. One of the knights came to help. He patted me on the shoulder. ‘Strength, Mawgan.’

By now I knew whatever had happened was serious.

It seemed to take forever to reach my home, a small but strong fortress. We were greeted by what was left of a troop of my uncle’s soldiers.

A soldier, blood trickling from a head wound, looked at my father and shook his head. ‘They took us by surprise, sire.’

My uncle put his hand firmly on my shoulder. ‘Prepare yourself, Mawgan.’

We found my father, mother and her sister the Queen of Dumnonia, my uncle’s wife, laid out in the great hall along with many others.

I looked down at my mother lying at peace, her spirit having moved on to another place, and I vowed I would help defeat the Jotunns, Skalle their leader in particularly, and whoever else was behind the raids.

My uncle was grief stricken and stayed with the queen all night. They had no children.

The next day Uncle came to me. ‘It is just you and I now, Mawgan. You are my only living relative, my heir, and now my son. If you had not come out on patrol with us, you would now be dead. This was meant to be.’

I took no consolation from his words, just felt a heavy emptiness growing inside me. I went to my room and cried. I was not as grown up and brave as I thought I was.

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