The Tintagel Cycle: The Blood of Kings

The following is a translation of fragments from a scroll discovered in a terracotta jar, found near the foundations of the ruined Tintagel fortress in Cornwall. It is noteworthy that Tintagel never fell to its enemies, but has long been in the process of collapsing into the sea despite surviving the dark years of the Saxon menace to Britannia. We have no historical knowledge of the Endellion who claims to be the author of the following events, although some of her claims are supported by Roman histories of the time. – Professor Stan Reece Rhys, Cardiff University, 1979.

I am Endellion, the bastard daughter of Caradoc ap Ynyr, and the wife of Aeron, King of the Dobunni Tribe. I have grandsons aplenty, and my children are spread throughout the tribes like streams of clear water – seen but unseen – if you take my meaning. My father always believed that people can change their minds about deep-seated passions, if they are exposed to new and fresh ideas.

I saw most of what happened during the years of Macsen Wledig and his ultimate journey to the purple and, while I was too young to remember some details, Caradoc told me his recollections, so that the record of those years should not be lost. Now, here in Corinium where life is quiet and the Saxons rarely intrude on our lives, I have realized that the world we knew is slowly passing away, inch by inch. Already, Macsen Wledig is spoken of as a hero of Cymru, would you believe? I can hear Caradoc laughing beyond the grave. He would have found the plethora of legends that have since been accepted as truth by many of the people to be a great joke.

I do not!

Someone must write down everything that occurred and, although I am merely a woman, Father assured me that I possessed both the wit and the wisdom, to record what I saw without flinching. Unfortunately, I fear I must change my name and my sex in the telling of this history but, as Caradoc was fond of saying, the end justifies the means, and who would put any credence in the maundering of a woman?

So I must begin!

I have a vague recollection of seeing the great man at Tintagel when I was very small, but I cannot remember when he came to our fortress. He was very tall – of that I am sure – for Caradoc told me that he was exceptionally large for a Roman. Yes, Macsen Wledig was a Roman, albeit he was born in Hispania, and his name was Flavius Magnus Maximus. On that log-ago day, I saw a figure with the sun behind it on the high walls of Tintagel at sunset, so that he wore a crown of blood. My heart fluttered like a dying bird and I felt my head hurt suddenly, the way it always does when my strange fits come upon me. This sunset was the very first time I felt the sight stir, that terrible gift to my life that was left to me by my mother, Saraid, the Witch of the Red Wells, who has been an invisible shade who has journeyed with me throughout the long years of my life.

Maximus’s armour glittered like gold in the dying sun, but Caradoc assured me that his friend had no love for greedy display and wore the plain plate and iron-ringed tunic of a soldier, although he was a senior officer and a master of the Cataphractii, the heavy cavalry which we have adopted since his death. His scarlet cloak appeared, to my childish eyes, like a curtain of fresh blood streaming out from his shoulders, blown by Tintagel’s winds. I remember the scream of gulls, like lost souls in the background of the pounding waves, and I thought of the sea-stallions leaping against Tintagel’s cliffs in a madness of rage. Oh, those memories are so sharp, yet disembodied, for my eyes saw but my mind had no means to understand what it viewed.

My father fought beside Maximus and was given the task of finding the woman who had haunted the great man’s dreams. You may have heard of the Dream of Macsen Wledig and thought it nonsense, but I swear that my father thought that the Roman’s night terrors offered a way to tie Maximus to these islands through marriage. Maximus already had a Roman wife and adult children, but this practice in those far-off days was not unusual and such multiple marriages were used to bind great and powerful men to nations or provinces for the profit of both.

So Caradoc was charged with the task of finding the dream wife who troubled Maximus’s sleep. I was still quite young, not yet a girl ready for marriage, but Father took me with him and I saw the world of Britannia for the first time. I was insulted by would-be Romans at Aquae Sulis, and met my dear husband, Aeron, at a hunt at Venta Silurum. I also experienced my first waking dream when I saw the mother of the demon Seed (whatever he may be) in a phantasm on the road out of Caer Fyrdden.
I met the poor and the indigent in our travels, but at a wooden fortress outside of Segontium, Caradoc found the object of his search. We saw Elen of Caernarfon in all her youth, beauty and arrogance as she stood beside her ailing father in a dingy hall that was lit by a smoky lamp. Her hair glowed like spun gold and her eyes were a greenish-blue, like deepening water.

I also saw her brother, Kynan, who would achieve fame as Conanus during Maximus’s wars. With Andragathius, Master of the High King’s Horse, Conanus was part of the trickery that slew the emperor, Gratian. Andragathius cut off that dissipated monster’s head . . . I am ahead of myself, but I swear that Conanus was a man to chill the blood even then, and time would see him become an enemy of my kin.
Caradoc told me how Maximus fell in love with Elen, a mad passion that saw his cold brain over-powered for a time. By all I heard, she loved him too, although their marriage was cruel and violent. Still, I owe Maximus for the first child of my heart, his daughter, Severa, who became my Father’s charge when he became Maximus’s regent.

Maximus was larger than life rather than a shadowy figure out of the mountains of Cymru In many bloody and terrible battles, he was to win the Grass Crown, a simple diadem of woven, dried grass given to him by his legionnaires as a sign of their complete loyalty and their endorsement of his right to the emperor’s seat in Rome. His marriage convinced the tribal kings to make a decision for once when he was crowned as the first High King of Britannia for many ages. In time, he left with my beloved Aeron to achieve even greater glory in Gallia, Italia and beyond when he became the Emperor of the West. Who can compare with such a life? Could any legend compete with the truth?


But my tale is only just beginning. So many deaths, so much courage and such great hubris followed Flavius Magnus Maximus wherever he travelled. My father, Caradoc, and I lived to see wonderful and terrible times, which I will relate to you with all the truth I possess.

Now, It’s time to return to the very beginning when Maximus was called upon by his masters to kill the Picts and Hibernians who preyed upon…