Standing Stone

© 2003

This is a boy love romance of ancient mystery and magic. There is no connection with fact and any resemblance to actual people or places is purely in the mind of the reader and not the author. The acts of love described here can not have ever taken place as the people did not exist. If you should find yourself walking among the barrows and in the rain upon the heath, eat not from any boy you chance to meet.

I am indebted to Teglin and Ganymede for showing me the way. I pray they find a sliver of the light they shine so brightly inside this simple story. Namaste ............


Andraste – a Celtic mother goddess concerned with warriors, victory and death (Morrigan to the Irish)

Annwr – the magic underworld of Welsh mythology, similar to Tir na n-Og (the Land of Youth) to the Irish – the denizens of Annwr enjoyed eternal life and the pleasures of the hunt. They could invite mortals in to join their lives of pleasure, but mortals trying to sneak in would often meet the other inhabitants: monsters and shades of those long dead.

Arawn – the King of Annwr

Ci – a boy owned for all his six winters

Cleneth – a warrior

Cymry – Ancient Wales

Dyfed – a Welsh peasant boy about 14 winters old

Gwydion – a supernatural wizard

Lochmaben, a village, and Clochmabenstane, a prehistoric stone, both in Dumfriesshire. The stone was a tribal assembly point

Love - Do not read any further if the prospect of love between a boy and man goes against your nature

Maponus – a Celtic god of youth concerned with music and poetry (Mac Oc to the Irish)

Nodens – a Celtic god of healing

Nwywre - the cosmic fluid, the ether, the light and the great creative and divine Principle that linked Heaven and Earth. Its union with the other elements created life, movement and spirit. A Gallic bard sang that it is smaller than the smallest and bigger than worlds because it is subtleness and power itself. Nwywre was the thread mysteriously linking the human world to the divine.

Sidh – the ancient burial barrow of kings and home to faeries, pl. sidhe

Tadhg – a boy of uncertain winters, perhaps almost ten

Worms - Tread softly, there will be dragons here...

Part three - Cardiff


Death is less bitter punishment than death’s delay.

Ovid (Publius Ovidius Naso) (43 B.C.–A.D. 17/18),

"Crows, Master! Blessed Crows!" the boy cringed at the leathered feet. He watched the toes with morbid fascination knowing sure what would come next. The toes first flexed and lifted up and turned inwards towards his head. He'd learned quick enough to roll and groan and grovel in the dirt. He'd learned at cost to let the toes connect first with his head. For toes denied the joy of kick were toes to truly dread. He tensed, he watched, he waited still, the arc of foot described. Then just as toes smashed on his cheek he screamed and rolled aside. He whimpered from the dirt barely a span away, "Master, please? It's crows! I saw at least a hundred."

He gasped to know the error he just spoke, too late he'd call the words back inside his mouth.

The toes repeated arc; he was powerless to move. The dirt and stones and groveling on his belly conspired to serve him up. The toes flexed up and just as they connected in his ribs, the voice of god, at least his god, rumbled deep against his pain.

"What woulds't thou know of hundred dog? Thou lies to eat I bet. Well eat thou might if hundred's right or else better eaten be. I'll add thee to the meat now under yonder tree."

The boy had watched the children made to cut the bellies open. Their guts pulled out, the screaming men hung living yet by feet and hands from lightning blasted trees' bare limbs.

The women made to serve in desperate hope to save their young from certain death. Then used and cast aside they watched in numbed and terrored wailing as babies' heads were smashed against the bole. The blood and brains and guts and pile of tiny leaking bodies cast around the tree made up the meat his master meant.

A shivered terror clutched his bowels, he sucked in what breath he could. "No Master, thou hath taught me well, a hundred sure or more. Ten fingers thee hath told me as thee cut some else away. And counting round with ten for every finger makes a hundred I am sure. Oh Sweet Maponus, please! It doesn't make a thousand? Thee told me once, I think I have it right. Just ten fingers for each finger."

The toes now prodded underneath his chest, not smashing hard, just turning him up and over. He waited for the stomp of death, he wondered if the nothingness could be worse than the something.

The rumbling voice had turned away and called out for a horse. "We'll see if thou has lost thy life or if thee yet might eat. A hundred blessed crows of death would be joyous now to see."

Rough hands grabbed him by the hair and down between his legs. He flew across the death fouled air and landed with a thud against the horse's withers. He clung to mane and belly hair, he'd learned the price of falling. Just moments more and tree'd be gone and Master'd slow and let him rise to sit against his chest. The terror eased, he prayed he'd counted right and crows had not already flown.

He'd found the cost of losing hold, he'd bounce then slide against the heated flank and find himself roughly rolling in the dirt. If hoof didn't crush his skull, some rider behind would snatch him up by hair or hand or foot, whatever stuck up more. Then suspended over speeding ground he'd pass from horse to horse until he'd fly again across the space and be once more across the withers of his Master's mount. The whole excruciating painful time, from fall to return flight, would barely let him get his breath. He'd learned to hold on tight.

The horse's sweating stink and snorted breath pounded into his chest against where toes had left their mark but a span of time ago. "Breathe in!" he told himself as jarring bounce against the ridge of bone forced his body to breathe out. He prayed that Maponus give him strength to hold and breathe and last another moment. He prayed the Master would soon realize the driving of the horse could cause it to be lame. As if in answer to his prayer he heard a thundered bark and horse reared up and slammed him down against the bone one final time. He fought to gather wits and breath all at one time.

He'd ridden thus, a sack of grain, a bundle more of sustained pain for almost all the days he could remember. Unless he ran. A dog among the hounds, his legs and feet and arms a bleeding mass of cuts and scrapes of stones and snapping teeth and nettles. One of the pack, intent on staying with the riders because at end of day food came only from the men. He'd earned a place among the dogs. He could growl and spit and threaten with the best. He'd shown that cunning and length of arms was almost as good as teeth. He gave way to just two brutes and they, content to see his belly when he accidentally crossed them, in turn protected him a little from the others. Most nights he found himself avoiding men around the fire and slinking to the place of dogs. He'd grovel to the brutes and as they made a little room for him he'd rub against their necks and ears. He'd sleep within their warmth, one arm often scratching belly.

A hand reached round his neck and jerked him up and somewhat shook him straight, his legs now dangled either side. He rode, his back against his Master's chest, his battered breast and belly within the circle of the arms and reins. He breathed a sigh, he could not now fall and soon his chest would fill again with air.

This day he heard the dogs behind and cursed his tongue again at telling counting of the crows. A palm slapped across his head and growl behind demanded, "Where dog! Where be these blessed crows?"

He pointed vaguely West. "There Master, among the blasted trees high in that crag. I heard them first then had to climb up to the clouds before I saw them hopping all around."

The hand that held the reins pulled horse towards the rocky crag, the other hand, unoccupied, seemed to seek his cheek again. As if it had no better action it could take, it smacked him one more time and drove his head back into his Master's chest. The growl repeated, "Hundred! Dog! Thou had better know thy fingers. A handful less and thee will wish thee hadn't seen a single one."

The horse walked them ever on within the glowering mists, it was as if the clouds had now climbed down to see the dog that soon might cease to exist.

The ground became more broken, rocks and trees replacing trees and grass. The horse was climbing on a little path when suddenly it shied and snorted. As if it smelled the coming death of dog it shook its head and shied full back and refused to climb again. The hand beat against its neck and toes dug savagely underneath its belly, but horse was far stronger than dog and refused the Master's beating. Each kick to drive it forward really forced it another step back along the trail. The growl above his head was warning. He tensed and made just enough of a jump that when the hand shoved him from the horse he landed on his feet. He grabbed the reins where they were dropped and tried to soothe the beast with a pat along the nose and a little word of comfort. The huge brown eyes just told him of the fear. The Master's hand then struck across his head and shied the horse again. It jerked the reins and turned and left the path and riders behind within the mist.

An open fist against his head propelled him upward on the path. A fearsome laugh announced, "Let the beast go, the other's will hold it down below. Thee can lead me now and show me blessed crows or the place thou has picked for death."

He scrambled up before the toes could join with hand and quickly headed up the rugged path. He smiled to hear the cawing in the air that said at least some crows remained. Perhaps the mist would shroud the trees and a simple handful of finger counted crows would now make do.

He led his Master onward over rocks and broken trees. He heard him just behind grunting with the effort. He stayed a distance just away, just ahead of hand and toes.

They broke into a blasted clearing devastated by some combination storm and lightning strike. The burned and blighted trees around the ring alive with blessed, blessed, black and raucous crows. "There Master! Hundred! Maybe more!" He cried and trembled once again before the leathered feet. Eyes alive for toes' telltale motion he quaked a little as he waited judgment on his counting.

Toes did not flex, they slowly turned and walked around his trembling form. Keeping ever watchful he began to despair that he'd not counted right. Toes stopped beside his head, the growl declared, "Dog, I think that thou has't died today!"

His body spasmed, his bladder burst, his eyes glazed over as toes began to flex.

"Died and gone to heaven! Crows! Blessed Crows indeed, thou should have claimed a thousand! Tonight thou eats the feast of Kings for the finding of this place."

Toes danced, the growl was laughing to the skies and shouting "CROWS!"

The boy collapsed into the pool of piss and tears he shed for lack of death, for death itself, for crows and trees and blasted rock, for staggered breath and fingers counting fingers. Another chance to go, another prayer to stay, a hundred hundred crows at least would watch to see the pain again another day.

The Crag

Hope tells a flattering tale,

Delusive, vain, and hollow.

Ah! let not hope prevail,

Lest disappointment follow.

Miss Wrother (fl. c. 1820)

He came vaguely round at shock of bone driving for his center. The withers of the horse had pounded here but a while ago. This pounding smelled less of horse and more of man, but his eyes would not obey. They jolted up and down and in and out, he could not get a focus. He thought he saw a blasted tree and crows hopping in the dirt but everything was upside down, he could not make it right. He groaned as breath was knocked again outside his body. He drifted back into the warming pool of piss.

His dream of warmth and sweet release from pain and death was shattered by the sudden shock of cold. He gasped and swallowed pure and liquid air; the water blasted in his chest. He choked and coughed, his feet finding gentle purchase they thrust his head above the surface of the river. He sputtered and retched and gave a giant gasp. The cold was striking deep between his legs, but gave his lungs the added strength to cough up all the water.

His Master's growling laugh upon the bank, "Thee would piss on me! I'll show thee the making of some water!" and before he had a chance to even gasp the flood of golden shower was pouring off his head and mingling with that trailing down his nose and in his gasping mouth. It was mixing with the water coming up and out to force the taste of bile and piss and blood deep upon his tongue. He knew to stand and drink the offered liquid. His eyes told him toes were close and ready for adventure.

"I carry thee from yonder crag upon my shoulder and thee woulds't pay me back with piss and groans! Wash thy filth and then wash me. I have a taste for clean to take thee to thy feast. Crows indeed! There must have been a thousand!" he jumped in near the boy and came up laughing. Grabbing him and pulling off the filthy tunic he smashed it roundly on the rocks and then rubbed it all over the boy's quickly shivering body. Taking off his own jerkin he spread his strong arms out and stood before the shriveled lad and waited for his washing.

The boy was almost frozen yet quick to act and taking up the jerkin began to rub the glistening muscles rippling underneath the skin and scars. He had to jump a bit to touch the tops of shoulders. He realized the jarring bone against his chest had been the same that he now rubbed, removing dirt and smell and any lingering piss from when he had been carried. He thanked Maponus that his Master laughed, that crows had stayed upon the crag, that river, though cold, was not covered o'er with ice. He prayed the mood his Master had would stay until the promised feast.

He felt the hands grabbing between his legs as he jumped and tried to reach his Master's neck. He shivered deeper at the touch and wondered that the cold had left anything there to grab. He jumped against his Master's chest and wrapped both arms around his neck and legs around his waist. He used one hand to rub the cloth against the neck and ears.

His Master grabbed him by his butt and simply held him reveling in the rubbing on his neck. He let the boy slide slowly down across his leather breeches. He felt the tiny bump as it dragged across his front and counteracted icy hold upon his own balls. His manhood stretched within his pants and he began to think of body's pleasure.

The boy felt the rising lump against his stomach as he slid. He shuddered that he soon might have to be more than a dog. He'd often hidden in the pack when his Master drank and need would stretch his pants. He'd managed to avoid that particular driving implement of pain. The ready wenches in the taverns, the captive children held before their sale had always been just close enough that he had but to disappear a moment. Today he feared that cold and river and crows had all conspired to leave him here alone to serve his Master's need. He wondered if his promised feast had been another way to serve his body pain instead of serve his hunger.

His Master tugged at sodden breeches' laces cursing that they would not come undone when sudden clatter on the bank and neighing of a horse was followed by a shouted greeting. "Sire! The village burns! The men swear they did not start it!"

The hands once intent on shedding clothes now were ready quick for battle, the matter of the boy in their way was quickly settled too. They struck a vicious blow against his cheek and boy was splattered on the rocks, no longer in the way. Toes led the Master up the bank, the boy could see them from inside the cloud called from atop the crag to sit within his head. The actual pain of face replacing pain anticipated, he groaned his hunger at his retreating Master.

"Give the dog a bone and bring him from the river. If his head be not cracked the fire might revive him some." The Master jumped upon his horse and clattered back across the way that they had come to find the blessed crows.

The rider followed after his leader giving the boy neither bone nor notice. The boy crawled slowly from the frigid stream and pulled his tunic after. He wrung out the cloth as best he could and slipped it over his head. The clinging, cloying, shivering cold seemed to drive what little lump remained between his legs out in a thousand tiny bumps across his arms and chest. He shuddered at the thought that he was left alone; alone beneath the crag, alone too near the ring of blasted trees, alone too near to crows. He stumbled from the river and tried to follow what he thought would take him back to safety. Painful safety sure, but pain that's known, albeit constant, is less frightening than pain that's only imagined. He walked and tripped and hit his head against a tree. Pain took him deep into itself.

He woke within the pack, the brutes stretched either side, compelling warmth had driven shivers out. He heard the men carousing drunk a little ways away. He lifted his head and saw the firelight across aways from where the pack had settled at his side. He listened to the shouts and laughs as one of the women captives was passed from hand to hand and made to serve the pleasure of the man who had her at the moment.

He heard the angry arguing, the growling of his Master. "The village burned! I know that lout!" He heard the smack of hand. "What burned it? That's what I asked thee now!" Another smack, this time with a squishy kind of sound. "I'll beat thy brains clear out between thy ears if thee will not tell me what thee saw."

"I can't Lord!" a gurgling, strangled reply was followed by another squishing smack, "I know not what it was. It came from within the sun and breathed a breath of fire and everything was burning. Then as we ran a shadow fell across the sky and smoke trailed off toward this crag. We thought that thee had sent the flame upon a blessed crow!"

"Eat thy tongue, thou lying piece of shit!" He heard the ring of bronze as the dagger was drawn from deep within its sheath. He heard the gurgled scream as hands grabbed head and tongue was plucked from deep against its root. He heard the frantic, thrashing, choking death as air was stoppered from the lungs by tongue jammed backwards deep into the throat. He heard the laughter of the growl as it called, "Bring another one! I'll have the story yet!"

He heard the fear and smelled the shit as the one dragged forth began to wail. "Sire it's true! We could not see the beast! It flew from in the sun and started the huts ablaze. It flew here to the crag! I'd swear it was a dragon lord!"

"Enough! I've heard enough of stupid tales. Put this one in the tree, we'll see what changes in his story is wrought by a night with blessed crows!"

The man was dragged screaming up the path. The boy could hear the climbing struggle, hear the pleading man, hear the boots crunching on the stone, hear the rope hurled round the branch. He heard the branch creak its own protest at bearing such a weight. He heard the whimpering man left swinging in the dark. He heard his Master's growl for someone to bring him a wench. He heard the breathing of the pack, the heartbeats of his brutes. He heard the air expelling from his own chest. He heard the fear of death and fear of missing death slide side by side into his aching body.

Somewhere in the dark of night a scream of terror rustled through the pack. The hounds all cocked an ear and listened to the crag. The scream was followed by another, this one stopped utterly in mid wail. The stopping matched with flash of light and deep deep mountains' roar and shortly after wave of heat and stinking taste of fired flesh rolled down the side of crag and flowed away upon the river. The younger hounds were stirred and looking round. The brutes judged the danger far away and nuzzled hand to stroke again and settled back to sleep. The boy shivered at the thought of what had made the screaming sudden stop.

He rose with dawn and making pact with brute, they slunk around the campfire's outer ring and started out to climb the crag and find the making of the light within the night. They climbed within the blasted ring of trees and crows to find hands hanging from a branch. No head, no body, no legs, just hands. Hands ending not in bloody ravaged stumps, but burned and blackened sticks of what must once have been the arms. The hands were clenched around the rope as if they had tried to climb away. The blackened sticks were broken jagged extending down and pointing toward the ground. The boy looked where they were pointing and saw a pair of dully shining sparkles hidden in the rocks. He crept forward signaling to brute to stay near at his side. The brute was backing down the trail and turned and tucking tail between its legs was dashing back again to the safety of the pack. Crows cawed from trees around but stayed well away from blackened limbs and swinging hands.

The boy reached slowly out and touched the shining sparkles. The heat they sent within his fingertips caused him to jerk hands quickly back. The jerking motion caught the tip of one and it flipped within the dirt and lay there almost pulsing as the movement rocked it on the ground. It was the size of both his hands. Shining blue and red and silver all at once. It seemed as flat as newly fallen leaf, yet had a way that said it might be still alive. He stared at it and slowly reached out once again. The heat still rising from it touched his hand before his hand touched it. He didn't pull away. He touched it slowly once again. It was warm within his fingers, but did not burn the skin. He picked it up and turned it gently round and round. He could make no sense of it. It was hard as stone and yet it bent beneath his fingers slightest pressure. It was as thick or thicker than any cloth he'd seen. He could not look right through it, but light seemed to shine behind, within and set the colors dancing. He rubbed it on his tunic to brush the dirt away. It sparkled now, a million dancing points of light across its trembling surface; the trembles more of hands caught deep by wonder in his brain.

He thought of shining fish, a moments sparkling in the sun when jumping after bugs. Then dropping back another sparkling moment as water splashed to make room for fish's return. He gasped to think that what he held might be a part of fish; like the tiny flashing plates shed on the ground when hounds or man stripped fish of scales to eat. This plate a giant scale, a giant fish had shed upon the crag. But there should be a hundred thousand scales to show where crows had plucked a fish so big of all its flesh. He only saw the two.

There was no owning to the boy, even life was not his, but borrowed from his master. His tunic had no pocket, the pack afforded him no place to stash even the simplest of things. He'd never tried to have or keep anything other the bones and bread he wrested from the men around the fire. Those too were soon enough passed to other dogs within the pack. He knew he had to show the Master one of the giant scales. He knew he had to hide and keep the other. The swinging hands gave him a simple enough idea. He took the scale still coated with surrounding dirt and set it where he'd grab it in a moment. The one he'd wiped and made to sparkle with the fires inside he took between his hands and moving to the base of tree he went behind and dug a slender hole. He said a prayer to Maponus to leave the swinging hands in place to help him find this tree again. Satisfied that he had done the best he could he scattered twigs and stones again upon the hidden scale. He grabbed the other and looking once again at what had been a man last night he turned and ran back down the trail.

"Master!" he panted at the side of the bed made out upon the grass in the shade of the largest tree. "Master! The man is cooked. The crows won't come near. And look! A giant fish as been there too!" He held the scale before him as an offering. He watched the toes as first they stretched and turned from other feet on top of blanket to see what he was saying.

"Blast! Dog! I sleep! Dost thou not know enough to wait? I would stick this wench again before I break my fast." The toes were turning back to rise above those other small and filthy feet.

"But Master!" he risked the wrath of toes. "This fish must have been gigantic!"

"Not so big as the sloppy hole within this wench! Arrgh, 'tis so wide and loose that none would know they even entered!!!" the growl announced his Master's anger. Toes rose from off the blanket and body followed quickly. He watched to see which way the toes would flex. He saw them start to move and released his breath, they headed for the wench's head not his. A scream announced that she was not familiar with toes intent before they made connection. A second scream and scrambling cry followed toes joy at finding solid pleasure.

"What is this thou babbles now of fish?" the toes turned towards his offered scale.

The scale was lifted from his hands and whistling admiration announced that Master was impressed with size of scale and size of fish.

"Dog! Take me where thee found this fish's scale and show me what thou mean that man is cooked! Now!"

The boy rose quickly and began to run back up the trail. He turned to see his Master hitching up his pants and sliding toes back inside their leather boots. He paused to let his master catch him up. Then just before the toes and hands were near he sprinted off again.

"See Master? The hands are here, the arms are cooked, the man has disappeared. I found the fish scale here underneath where jagged bones point down. Why are there not a lot of scales? If crows had stripped the man and killed the fish I think there would be many many scales scattered all around?" He tensed to see toes flexing once again. He watched them too intent, he failed to see the hand. It smashed again across the top of his head and sent him flying in the dirt and stones.

"Thou thinks, dog! Thy thoughts are not worth mulling. Thee stick to finding and telling me what's found. Crows have not touched the man, look the tender meat of fingers still is there. The blasted cooking surely means not crows. Now start looking up above in all the rocks clear to the top of crag. When thou hast found the entrance to the cave mark that thou can'st find it once again and quickly come and tell me. Tell no others of this fish or thou will meet him in the belly of the crows before thee takes another breath."

Toes helped him up from where he lay. He'd had enough of a chance to turn a bit and waiting for their kiss upon his ribs he rolled and grunted up and dashed into the rocks.

Gods and Kings

The sad, the lonely, the insatiable,

To these Old Night shall all her mystery tell;

God’s bell has claimed them by the little cry

Of their sad hearts, that may not live nor die.

William Butler Yeats (1865–1939)

He'd climbed above the clouds' enshrouding mists, he'd searched for hours in the rocks. His feet a bloody mess of scrapes and cuts he could scarce believe. He thought his skin so tough that he would never bleed from feet. The stones of crag were tougher still. He thought he'd never find an entrance to a cave. He reveled in the warmth of sun, then baked a little in its constant blaze.

He found a little bush of berries hidden in a sheltered place upon the Eastern slope. He'd feasted on the joy and wondered that the crows had not found it first. Just as he finished last of almost ripe and juicy fruit he heard a deeper caw from branches overhead. He looked into the sun to see a giant crow almost blocking out the light. He shielded eyes and scooted round the rocks to look where sun would not blind him so. He thought for sure his eyes were scorched, he saw a great and mighty raven; snow white upon the blue and golden shimmering in the sky. Then raven fluttered down and landed by a rock. He gasped to see a boy step from out of the same place. The boy shown with glittering splashings of the light much like the inner colors shimmering on the fish's scale. The flowing silver hair was much like his own, yet lacking knots and twigs. The rocks and trees and berry bush shivered on the breath of thought:

The dragon in his lair

Has dreams of one so fair

Yet when the two and one have need of thee

Thy life will finally released be

And pain and death

Will shun thy breath

And love's unbounded miracle

Complete Dove's sacred circle

The god boy Maponus stepped another step ahead. Then reaching one hand out the boy stepped ahead too and fingers touching fingers he collapsed into the light. The boy slept on the sun warmed rock and dreamed of warmth and death and sweet release from pain.

Gwydion stood within the faerie circle watching Dyfed and Tadhg play. The laughing boys were running through the oaks and wrestling in the grass. The ringing sounds of boyful fun had called squirrel kits and rabbit fawns back from their places in the ferns. They gamboled too upon the grass as if the world was new and all were happy in the circle of the oaks.

Dyfed's return from utter madness had seemed a blessing to the ancient wizard. He knew the hurt was far from healed, but pain inside young Tadhg's eyes at pure love causing pain in Dyfed was almost more than he could bear.

Tadhg had heard Maponus' charge and set his course, he touched Dyfed every second of the day when they were still and touched almost as much when they were occupied in exploration of the Wood or play. At first Dyfed shied from touch, but ever present Tadhg soon broke down the first of barriers and now the boys were nearly always connected. Gwydion too had earned a place within the hugs and sweet caresses. Dyfed still would stiffen as Gwydion's hand would extend in love, but now he walked into the waiting arms instead of running for mud's shelter within his self.

"Gwydion?" Tadhg asked from beneath the stronger pining arms of Dyfed. "Can we sleep here in the bower? The stones are nice and singing makes me happy, but I would know the peace that Dyfed learned here in the oaks."

"Yes, Gwydion! That would be grand. We can bathe together in the pool!"

"Thy thoughts are good Tadhg. Perhaps the hounds and kits and fawns would do us all some good. Let's stay here tonight, maybe the Faerie King will grace us with a dance."

The naked boys rolled together in the grass and Gwydion watched the skill that Tadhg showed, learned surely from his love with Cleneth.

Just as Dyfed's slender rod would rub and touch against the hot and softest skin of Tadhg, just as the lengthening, thickening place of boyhood wonder would start to poke its head out of its sheath, Tadhg would stop his body's varied motions and seem to catch and hold Dyfed in a still and calm embrace. His thigh or stomach, even arm, would rub a bit and send messages of pleasure through Dyfed's stretching skin into his brain. Then just before the realization hit that slender spike was thinking for itself, Tadhg would quickly roll away and laughing eyes tell Gwydion he knew just what he did. Dyfed would be suddenly running through the Wood or rolling in the dew and never realizing the source of brain's lost pleasure.

Once Tadhg stopped with Dyfed's hand captured between his legs. The younger boy's straining pleasure rod was tense and full of bone cupped neatly in the palm. Tadhg thrust his hips a time or two driving slender spike against the palm and in the fingers. He cooed sweet happiness in Dyfed's ear and spoke his pleasure in a whisper, "That feels so good. Thou makes me see the stars." Before Dyfed could scarce react, Tadhg relaxed his legs releasing hand and grabbing it up in his own he rolled away and pulled Dyfed to his feet. "Gwydion! Take us to the pool! Let's bathe in waters from sacred acorn in the circle."

Dyfed had no time to more than wonder that his simple touch had made Tadhg coo so lovingly and whisper beauty in his ear. They raced through Wood and captured Gwydion's hands and led him to the pool. Tadhg dropped to his knees before the ancient's feet and helped remove the boots. He motioned Dyfed to help with vest as he pulled on cord and trousers soon were shed. Gwydion stood before the kneeling boy, his wrinkled gray toned skin the opposite of glowing youthful softness just before him.

"Master, how dost thou be so old? Doth Annwr not capture youth in thee?" Tadhg asked, his hands softly caressing the inner thighs between the legs before him. Dyfed watched the slender fingers of his friend golden on the whiter skin of Gwydion.

"Youth is captured where youth is found. I came to Annwr already ancient. The apple holds me steady in my place, but offers no retreat."

"The apple, Master?" Tadhg asked. "Dost mean the apple that I eat?"

"Yes child, the everlasting apple gives to thee thy youth forever, to me it offers ancient days one after the other."

"But thy stones are not so ancient!" Tadhg gave a sly and flashing smile as golden fingers climbed the thighs and cupped the stones just hanging in their sac.

"Ancient still," Gwydion sighed, "Yet singing at thy touch." His limp and dangling manhood began to rise and stretch itself erect.

Dyfed watched in mind's confused fascination. Gwydion had not forced this touch. He'd never seen a rising cock except that someone would feel pain. Tadhg surely was in no pain. His smile and touch looked soft as the silk they lay in on the stone. The green eyes sought his out and he saw dancing pleasure in the flashes deep inside. He watched as Tadhg's hand began to climb the pole and gently rub it up and down.

Gwydion did not move. His hands would seek to caress the head and hair before him, but his mind told him to be still. The act of reaching out would surely turn Dyfed's mind back to fear and madness.

Tadhg stroked the straining gift within his hands and longed for its touch inside him. He too knew that Dyfed was barely ready for what he saw and going slow was part of healing. He stoked again and on the downward glide he squeezed and let the purpled head begin to show itself. He rolled the stones within his palm and willed them sing. Gwydion began a quiet humming within the notes sent inside his head by stones' response to Tadhg's touch. He fell into the glory of the love and Tadhg's gift and thought of ancient days and when he was still a youth. His first fumblings with his own Master had made him proud and made him feel so very loved. These expert touches made him sing inside that one so dear as this would offer him such gifts. His stones rolled and boiled inside their sac and cried a tear or two of joy. The first tear appeared at purple tip and Tadhg gently lifted it off on a single fingertip. He touched it to his tongue and dreamed it was a flood within his body. His hand returned to draw another tear and rub it on the shaft.

Dyfed moaned to see Tadhg touch the single drop against his lips. His own slender pole was tensely bouncing in the capture of his heartbeat on his belly. His hand touched it of its own accord. He watched the smile and love spread across Tadhg's face. His overloaded brain refused the calls to judge this mad and settled on the strength of love it saw and pleasure that it felt. He sank in the grass, one hand slowly stroking self, both eyes glued on Tadhg's face and smiling beam of love.

Gwydion groaned, his wakened stones bursting forth with juices once again alive at Tadhg's touch. They flooded out behind the tears and sprayed themselves across his chest, across Tadhg's still stroking hand, across the universe of stars exploding in his head.

Tadhg quickly gathered all the precious seed he could within his cupping palms. He bathed himself in glorious turning circles in the light; the seed spread on his chest, his thighs, his arms, his slender rod of boyhood. He finally lay in heaven's bliss illuminated from a shaft of sunlight parting oaks and bouncing from his glistening body into the rainbow captured in the mist of water rushing out of stone into the pool.

Dyfed's hand drew forth a single spurt of pure white seed. His mind told him to cup it up and lay beside his friend and offer his seed too.

Tadhg in his glowing, took the offered hand and placed it firmly on his still straining boyhood. He used his hips to repeat the gentle thrusting at the palm. The hot boy seed mixing with the ancient's drove the pleasure deep inside his brain. He cried out his love and rolled into Dyfed's arms and pure love's pleasured sleep.

Gwydion watched the gentle love of Tadhg heal another piece of Dyfed's fragile mind. He stepped into the pool and sat beneath the water's soothing falls.

Dyfed dreamed of love and peace and never tasting bitter mud again.

The water nymph's soft satin touch began to bath the ancient. The Wood was full of ringing laughter. The sunbeams dance upon the sleeping boys ignited fire within the ether. A dozen water lilies bloomed in dazzling pink and white heady fragrant splendor. The Faerie King stood in a lily pad.

"There is another one who needs thy help and will help thee. The pain of life struggles in his mind with dreams of pain releasing death. The evil wakes; sheer beauty in the heart of seraphs may not yet be enough. The Faerie will attend, thou must take them now into the world of woe. With love and strength and selfless sacrifice Maponus' gifts may still sing around the world."

The Water and the Stone

.. it is a fire that, kindling its first embers in the narrow nook of a private bosom,

caught from a wandering spark out of another private heart,

glows and enlarges until it warms and beams upon ... the universal heart of all

Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803–1882)

Dyfed woke first in the shimmering light of sunbeams falling through the oak. His mind tricked him that little ones were mudstuck to his chest. His eyes gave him pleasure to see Tadhg's dreaming peaceful face asleep against his breath. His heart thrilled to think this purest boy could find peace within his muddied heart. A twinge of cloud passed on his thoughts that spike and foulest need had tainted beauty. His mind fought back, nothing had been foul. The beaming smile of Tadhg had told only pleasure, never pain. The whiteness of the ancient's seed, his own whiteness too belied soul's corruption from the mud. How could a thing so sweet to all be related to the horrid terror rammed down his throat by perfect brown, perfect lines, abominable brother.

The cloud was sent away upon a breeze of joy. Joy at the waking eyes of Tadhg. Joy at the birth of spring held in those deep green spheres. Joy at Tadhg's instinctive hug and kiss upon his lips. Joy at unrelenting love's banishment of mud. He sighed and kissed him back.

A kiss was not a thing that Dyfed ever knew. His mother's kiss had stopped long before his consciousness awoke from infancy. This kiss of love was somehow learned within a moment's breadth of his first one. He thirsted now to kiss again. He reached one hand behind Tadhg's head and as he drew it near he blanched to see it cupping ear and cupping hair as that one had cupped his own.

That cupping touch had always meant the stoppering of breath. That touch had always turned so dark and cold and hard against his head; grabbing hair and squeezing hard and forcing immobility and jaws apart and tongue to call up hate and loathing with the gooey smear of yellowed ooze. That touch had driven blood from lips and gums back down against his heart. That touch had been complete, intent on monster's thrusting needs. His head, his hair, his ear, his mouth and throat were nothing more than object used for pleasure. Like the turning stick was used to make the furrow then tossed aside to sit in mud and rain and slowly start to rot, he had been nothing more than useless furrow, held quick to monster's puking spurts, then tossed aside to wait in mud to rot away until disintegrated he'd be thrown out and someone other tool would be forced to take his place. His eyes cried for the little ones.

Tadhg saw the passing cloud, he saw the sun peak out, he saw the lightning's hideous flash and pain begin to consume Dyfed. He gently touched his hand to head and ear and hair. He stroked and calmed and brushed his lips against the lips before him. He touched a tear, caressed a cheek and with his touch he grasped the lightning's blast and turned it back. He pushed it aside and placed the storm clouds just away, caused breaking sun behind the rain to shine a bit within. He savored tears shed out of love and kissed Dyfed once again.

The dam of hate released; Dyfed shook within his arms. Tears filled the rivulets across the glade and spilled into the pool. Tears shed for love of little ones, for love of Tadhg too. For love of breath and air and light, for love of stone and singing. Tears of life begun anew within a love's embrace: true tears of joy.

"Dog! Where's damned dog!" the Master's growl carried up among the stones upon the crag. "Dog! Hast fallen into the cavern?"

"Master, I am here. I search more for an entrance." The boy stood on a giant slab of rock and looked back down from up above. He shook the sleep from out his eyes, the sun and warmth of dream still fuzzy in his brain. Had he really seen a ghostly raven turn into a boy? Enough of nonsense, toes approached, he needed all his wits.

He turned and gasped to see the slit behind stones shielding berry bush. The cavern's eye stared back at him barely two spans away. The opening a cat's eye made between two sarsen stones leaning tall and touching near their peak. The blasted, fire blackened edges delving into deeper darkness. The white of stones surrounding made as if to hide it in the orgy of sun's brightness they reflected back against his searching eyes.

"Look thee well to find it then! I ride back to the burned village, see thou hast found it fore my return or thy eyes may never search again!"

He heard the Master's toes turn back down toward the river. He stood transfixed and couldn't shout that he had found it now. He shivered at the thought of losing sight, at least he'd not taste tongue. He sat and looked full at the slit and waited. He knew not why. He sat and waited as he'd never waited before.

Just before darkness took the crag he sudden knew he had to have the scale. He looked to see that he could find this spot again. He scrambled down and off the mount and slithered in the rocks. His knees and elbows marked his path with scarlet drops of blood.

Swinging hands creaked eerily on branch as if they still connected weight of man to wood. The boy shrugged a shudder off and quickly scratching up his treasure he raced back up the scree. The watching eyes of hundred crows and raucous cawing laughter drove him quickly on. His mind turned on a thought that finger's flesh still pointed at the sky and climbed the swinging ropes: crows aversion strange indeed.

He scrambled up the trail of drying blood and took his place waiting once again upon the rock. He hugged the scale into his chest, it held such deep warmth still.

Gwydion led the boys to sleep within the bower. The white of dogs was not about, the cheeping baby birds had flown. As Tadhg entered in the fire snapped alive and light was flickering against the upper branches. The blue of linen cloth was waiting on the pallet.

Tadhg and Dyfed slid beneath its beauty, Gwydion sat against the bower's Eastern opening and thought deep within the Faerie King's dire words.

He thought again of his own Master and those centuries ago. The dangers faced and horrors seen, the peace he'd found at last within the apple's core. Tadhg had not yet shared the apple, it seemed a simple thing. The boys had feasted on the cup and water's all embracing love. The apple waited just away, he wondered if the magic flowed from Tadhg and changed the apple's manner. If found among the rocks or stones or deep within the Wood, the apple gave itself away as any apple might. Its sweet and tender center yielding to the lips and tongue and teeth of any finder. Yet offered free from knowing hand to hand, the apple offered death's surcease, eternal life within the flame of body's present moment. Would Tadhg wish such life for his friend? Would he understand the hidden pact inside? He'd accepted apple knowing not, but in a state of longing death that was another form of stopping growth and knowing. The apple took his gift and granted difference back. Now Dyfed might yet make a choice.

He thought of how Clochmabenstane had sang its mighty song. The stone had rung the change as boy had blessed it with his honor. The knowledge deep inside the earth had filed his own self too. He settled into meditation, the morrow they would leave the Wood and Sidh. They'd go first to the Stone at Maen Llia.

Cleneth's mighty war steed pawed and snorted as it stood upon the hillock on the moor. Both boys astride, it barely felt the weight. The ancient at its side surprising in his speed afoot and stamina. The boys had alternated riding and running in the heather. They'd laughed and pranced and galloped forth and back. The steed had felt the glory of the wind and sun upon his withers.

The moor stretched out before them toward the sea. Two rivers made the valley either side. The boys were hushed and looking out across forever, the horizon melting lines between the heather and the sky.

Tadhg slipped from off the horse and spread his hands against the air. He slowly turned and turned as if he searched the visible edge of earth. He stopped and pointed South and West and looked at Gwydion. "There!" was all he said and started walking forward.

Gwydion had led them from the barrow and the bower, but not spoken of where or why they went. The boys content to let their minds explore and bodies revel in the warming sun had needed no reason why. Now Tadhg seemed to touch upon a mission. His strides across the moor were sure and strong. Dyfed watched and urged the steed to follow.

The Stone could feel the presence on the moor and singing deep within itself it wondered if the one who came was one who knew the ancient ways. It roused itself a little from its slumber and waited in longing expectation.

Tadhg saw the Stone, a sentinel to the valleys. It stood so high above the heath. He felt it reach out and touch his consciousness. He placed his hands palms together at his breast and sent the Stone his love.

The Stone was full awake to feel the offered love, no begging question came, no hate filled request for some ill revenge. Just love and joy and wonder at its presence. It called its singing up from deep between its roots.

Dyfed felt the pull of Stone against his love's chest and leaping from the horse he ran to Tadhg's side. He'd stop him from a mindless dash against the giant, he feared Tadhg had lost his sense and reason. Then Gwydion's hand was on his shoulder passing reassurance. He looked into the ancient's eyes and saw the flashing silver in the black and looking quick to Tadhg he saw the blazing golden flashes within the green. The smile of peace and love and joy upon that tender face was such he knew he couldn't stop. He knew he had to follow too.

Taking Gwydion's hand the two of them followed Tadhg's unhurried steady step across the moor. The ground was seeming now to rumble, the air was filled with voiceless sound just waiting to break forth.

Tadhg led them to the Stone and then around, around, around. Three full and ever closer circles.

The Stone began to push its song upon itself. The vibrations held just barely on the surface. The one who came filled it with love and walked the sacred circles. The Stone could feel the Golden Faerie Circlet. It knew the kiss of Faerie King, it caught a hint of the story Clochmabenstane had placed within the boy. It stopped the sun within the sky and waited on the falling breath of air.

Tadhg's hands were at his side, he stopped and opened palms and walked slowly toward the towering face of Maen Llia. He felt it start to tell him of the centuries. He felt the glory of the summers breeze, the bitter wildness in the winter gale, the beauty in the heather at his feet. His palms brushed against the face of all eternity.

The Stone poured its song against the sky.

Dyfed and Gwydion were knocked to the ground, the singing Stone seemed to consume the very air.

The Stone first drank of Tadhg's love, then poured itself back into the boy. It felt the gentle touch of god boy Maponus, it knew the smile of Arrwn's King Arawn, it tasted waters from the sacred circle and knew the healing touch of water nymph's. I touched the other two and filled them with names and faces, tastes and sights and smells of centuries when man had offered love.

It touched the boy upon his heart, it felt his breath, his blood, his body's ready gift. It felt the joy of rising spike of love's expression. It touched the secret acorn deep inside the pleasure. It pulled him close and filled him up and took and gave love's sweet ambrosia held waiting for millennia.

Tadhg felt Cleneth in the air. He knew of Dyfed and Gwydion held close beside. He felt the power of Stone against his secret stone and cried in ecstasy that Stone's release would fill him up. He joined the singing to the stars and found himself upon a high stone crag. He knew another there, a life of pain, a life just waiting for release. He smelled the death and life and wonder at a shimmering warmth. He rose among the stars and touched the everlasting love of Cleneth. He took that touch and passed it back and down against Dyfed's brow. He tried to touch the other, but the crag was lost in mists. He fell into the Stone's immense embrace.

Dyfed saw a fluttering of white, a boy stepped off the moor. The heather and horizon rippled on the falling breath of thought:

The Stone will walk Midsummer's Morn

And River Mellte with love adorn

To flow beyond four falls and in the gorge

And find the one to take it to reforge

a sword against his life.

Thou must stand against the strife

And holding love above thy courage

Break the hold of vassalage

Releasing death's attempt to smother,

For each to selfless catch the other.

To fall and fall and fall,

To hold the pure love out to all.

The god boy Maponus turned and touched the Stone. The sun jumped across the sky and kissed horizon's lips. A shining moon above them all illuminated night. A saffron cloth, an azure sheet, enclosed the sleeping boys. A golden dagger, a silver box, a horse's jingling bridle glinted moonlight on the moor.

Stone are standing here: