THE EYE OF ANYR

Arthur was worried. He had just slaughtered the Angles who had been threatening his eastern borders. There were no other immediate dangers and that meant the pressure was off and the confederation of armies that he had so carefully built up was falling apart. It is a common problem. When we are faced with an overwhelming danger we will join together and work for the common good. When that danger has passed we prefer to squabble amongst ourselves.

The little Kingdom of Ergyng, well, it called itself a kingdom, it was little more than a collection of huts tucked away between the River Wye and the Black Mountains, was threatening to break away from his federation and join the North Welsh alliance, who were offering the so-called king of Ergyng large amounts of gold and a chieftain cannot get enough gold. Not just for his own use but because he has to keep his warriors happy. Otherwise they will wander off and join another chieftain.

He called his advisers around him and discussed what he needed to do. Because he was a strong king he had already made up his mind but he was also clever and he knew that men enter a dangerous enterprise with a better heart if they feel they have been part of the decision making process. His advisers were also clever and they knew he had made up his mind and that mind was to send his army against Ergyng and wipe the royal family from the face of the earth. A strong man has always to keep proving that he is a strong man. They all spoke in favour of the plan.

Only one voice was raised in opposition, that of the king’s son, Anyr. Of course he was not Arthur’s only son. It is part of a king’s duties to sire many children and Arthur had not been slow in this aspect of the work. But Anyr’s mother had been held in high affection by Arthur and the young man had grown up wise and handsome. He reminded Arthur of himself at that age.

Now the boy stood up in the assembly, the first time that he had done so, and spoke. “Father, there is another way. I am sure peaceful negotiations will solve this problem. Surely that is better than weakening ourselves in warfare.”

There was an embarrassed silence. The assembly was annoyed at Anyr’s youth and that he clearly had no idea which way the wind was blowing. But Arthur was a clever man and he guessed what had brought this about. The trouble was that there were so few royal lines about so that, on feasts and festivals, they kept running into one another. There had been one such feast just a few months before, a celebration of their victory. Arthur had noticed the way Anyr had smiled at the daughter of the King of Egryng. He had also noticed how the young woman had smiled back. At the time he had thought no more about it but now he put two and two together.

“Anyr, your clemency does you credit but it is perhaps better coming from a churchman than a warrior.” There was the expected laughter around the room.

“If I let this man get away with treachery, even be seen to be rewarding him with it by treating him as an equal, then the next petty king will want to have a go. Before long I will have no federation left and the creatures from the East will be feasting in our halls and ravishing our young women.” But even the roar of assent around him did not make Anyr sit down.

“Are people’s lives to be ruined because you cannot admit your mistakes?”

Arthur brought his fist crashing down onto the arm of his chair. “There has been no mistake other than the one you have just made now.”

“If you had just given them the credit they deserved for their help in our victory…”

“They will get all that they deserve from treason and that is the end of the discussion.”

And so it was but Arthur went to his bed angry and with a great sense of dissatisfaction. The boy was too young to challenge him like that. What would his advisers think? He found it very difficult to sleep.

So it was only from a very fitful doze that he was awoken while it was still dark the following morning. Although he was a brave man his heart clenched because only something very serious could justify waking up a king so early in the morning.

“My lord, we are sorry to wake you.” He kept his composure and just looked at them with what he hoped looked like an annoyed glance.

“Your son Anyr, he has taken a horse and ridden from the palace. From the looks around him and the conversation of yesterday Arthur did not have to ask where they thought he had gone.

“If he warns the people of Ergyng we will lose many more good men than we need to.”

Arthur knew the truth of it. “Get the army ready and tell my bodyguard to ride immediately. They have the best horses. Tell them to stop the boy, whichever way they see fit.”

Perhaps Anyr did not have such a head start, perhaps it was what we often see in races, a chasing pack will often catch the solitary out in front. Perhaps the weight of what he was doing hung heavily on his shoulders, perhaps the chasing warriors thought of what would happen if he got away from them. Whichever way it was they caught him near the place we now call Wormelow. Anyr saw the inevitable and got down from his horse ready to fight. It was ten against one but still, killing a king’s son is a big thing to contemplate and Arthur’s bodyguard hung back, unsure of how best to proceed. Anyr was young and could not face the uncertainty. He decided to attack and that decided his fate.

When Arthur rode up he wept bitter tears. After Ergyng was subdued he came back to that place and had a great tomb of earth raised up over Anyr’s grave. Whatever he had done he was still his son. He ordered a nearby spring to be diverted so that it flowed around the mound so that it could be seen for miles around. In later years people said that no one could measure its length because the way it shimmered with the water made it appear mysterious. The spring that sourced the brook became known as the eye of Anyr, though this was a hard joke because it was the eye of Anyr that had got him into trouble in the first place. The local people were proud and remembered for a long time that a son of Arthur was buried there at the place they called Wormelow Tump. But even the longest memories fade and, in the time of Victoria the council decided they needed to widen the road and flattened the Tump. Nothing of interest was found.  

Arthur was worried. He had just slaughtered the Angles who had been threatening his eastern borders. There were no other immediate dangers and that meant the pressure was off and the confederation of armies that he had so carefully built up was falling apart. It is a common problem. When we are faced with an overwhelming danger we will join together and work for the common good. When that danger has passed we prefer to squabble amongst ourselves.

The little Kingdom of Ergyng, well, it called itself a kingdom, it was little more than a collection of huts tucked away between the River Wye and the Black Mountains, was threatening to break away from his federation and join the North Welsh alliance, who were offering the so-called king of Ergyng large amounts of gold and a chieftain cannot get enough gold. Not just for his own use but because he has to keep his warriors happy. Otherwise they will wander off and join another chieftain.

Arthur called his advisers around him and discussed what he needed to do. Because he was a strong king he had already made up his mind but he was also clever and he knew that men enter a dangerous enterprise with a better heart if they feel they have been part of the decision making process. His advisers were also clever and they knew he had made up his mind and that mind was to send his army against Ergyng and wipe the royal family from the face of the earth. A strong man has always to keep proving that he is a strong man. They all spoke in favour of the plan.

Only one voice was raised in opposition, that of the king’s son, Anyr. Of course he was not Arthur’s only son. It is part of a king’s duties to sire many children and Arthur had not been slow in this aspect of the work. But Anyr’s mother had been held in high affection by Arthur and the young man had grown up wise and handsome. He reminded Arthur of himself at that age.

Now the boy stood up in the assembly, the first time that he had done so, and spoke. “Father, there is another way. I am sure peaceful negotiations will solve this problem. Surely that is better than weakening ourselves in warfare.”

There was an embarrassed silence. The assembly was annoyed at Anyr’s youth and that he clearly had no idea which way the wind was blowing. But Arthur was a clever man and he guessed what had brought this about. The trouble was that there were so few royal lines about so that, on feasts and festivals, they kept running into one another. There had been one such feast just a few months before, a celebration of their victory. Arthur had noticed the way Anyr had smiled at the daughter of the King of Egryng. He had also noticed how the young woman had smiled back. At the time he had thought no more about it but now he put two and two together.

“Anyr, your clemency does you credit but it is perhaps better coming from a churchman than a warrior.” There was the expected laughter around the room.

“If I let this man get away with treachery, even be seen to be rewarding him with it by treating him as an equal, then the next petty king will want to have a go. Before long I will have no federation left and the creatures from the East will be feasting in our halls and ravishing our young women.”

But even the roar of assent around him did not make Anyr sit down. “Are people’s lives to be ruined because you cannot admit your mistakes?”

Arthur brought his fist crashing down onto the arm of his chair. “There has been no mistake other than the one you have just made now.”

“If you had just given them the credit they deserved for their help in our victory…”

“They will get all that they deserve from treason and that is the end of the discussion.”

And so it was but Arthur went to his bed angry and with a great sense of dissatisfaction. The boy was too young to challenge him like that. What would his advisers think? He found it very difficult to sleep.

So it was only from a very fitful doze that he was awoken while it was still dark the following morning. Although he was a brave man his heart clenched because only something very serious could justify waking up a king so early in the morning.

“My lord, we are sorry to wake you.” He kept his composure and just looked at them with what he hoped looked like an annoyed glance.

“Your son Anyr, he has taken a horse and ridden from the palace.” From the looks around him and the conversation of yesterday Arthur did not have to ask where they thought he had gone.

“If he warns the people of Ergyng we will lose many more good men than we need to.”

Arthur knew the truth of it. “Get the army ready and tell my bodyguard to ride immediately. They have the best horses. Tell them to stop the boy, whichever way they see fit.”

Perhaps Anyr did not have such a head start, perhaps it was what we often see in races, a chasing pack will often catch the solitary out in front. Perhaps the weight of what he was doing hung heavily on his shoulders, perhaps the chasing warriors thought of what would happen if he got away from them. Whichever way it was they caught him near the place we now call Wormelow.

Anyr saw the inevitable and got down from his horse ready to fight. It was ten against one but still, killing a king’s son is a big thing to contemplate and Arthur’s bodyguard hung back, unsure of how best to proceed.

Anyr was young and could not face the uncertainty. He decided to attack and that decided his fate.

When Arthur rode up he wept bitter tears. After Ergyng was subdued he came back to that place and had a great tomb of earth raised up over Anyr’s grave. Whatever he had done he was still his son. He ordered a nearby spring to be diverted so that it flowed around the mound so that it could be seen for miles around. In later years people said that no one could measure its length because the way it shimmered with the water made it appear mysterious. The spring that sourced the brook became known as the eye of Anyr, though this was a hard joke because it was the eye of Anyr that had got him into trouble in the first place. The local people were proud and remembered for a long time that a son of Arthur was buried there at the place they called Wormelow Tump. But even the longest memories fade and, in the time of Victoria the council decided they needed to widen the road and flattened the Tump. Nothing of interest was found. 

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