User:RabbiTechno/UnBooks:The Cy Clychs C'llan - Political Extremism in 19th Century and Modern Day Wales
In October of 1994, three student anthropologists disappeared in the woods near Builth Wells, Powys, while carrying out research for their PhD theses. A year later, their notes were found.
Helen Donahue, Michael Williams and Joshua Leonard were post-graduate students at Cambridge's prestigious Trinity College who had been studying Welsh hisoty and tribal customs. During the course of their research, Heather visited a little known library in Cambridge, the home of their university, where she came upon a book on Welsh history. As their professors had not recommended the title, she believed it would be of little interest to them; however, she borrowed it anyway and returned to her college accomodation with it.
Friends of Michael and Joshua say that the two young men seemed to be highly excited later on during the evening. "I saw Michael at around 6pm down by the college buttery," says Roy Hattersley-Thwart, who was a Trinity post-graduate student during the same time Michael was at the college. "He and I weren't what you might call close friends but we knew one another. He was looking really happy about something or other, so I asked him what was up. He said that Heather Donahue had sent a message to him and this guy he knew called Joshua Leonard, saying she had something to show them and inviting them up to her room later that evening. I immediately assumed exactly what he was thinking - I mean, Heather was no looker, but you don't turn down an offer like that, do you?"
I interviewed many others while writing an article for the Peterhouse student newspaper in the weeks following their disappearance but I could find nothing that shed any further light on the case. In time, the Police were also forced to give up their investigation and Donahue, Williams and Leonard were declared dead though no trace of them or their remains has ever been found. However, when their diaries and notes were discovered in a Hay-on-Wye bookshop just half a mile from Offa's Dyke - the 8th Century earthworks constructed as a futile attempt to keep the Welsh barbarians from mounting raiding parties into neighbouring England - in 1995 there was a resurgence of media interest and the investigation was reopened - officers interviewed the owner of the shop, a Mr. Thomas Wright, but he was able to supply them with no information other than that the documents had been received by him from a mysterious Welsh native who had simply emerged from the tangled forests just across the border. The native wore nothing but a loincloth which appeared to be made of badger's fur and, fearing that his wild appearance might alarm his genteel customers and drive them from the store, the bookseller handed him a few silver coins in return for the contents of the sack he had brought with him. Happy with the coins - which are commonly used in Wales to make jewelry and other trinkets - the native left, vanishing back into the forest and had not been seen in the town since. Officers had no reason to disbelieve Mr. Wright's version of events and so they were forced to reluctantly end their enquiries once more.
Mr. Wright agreed to be interviewed by me shortly afterwards. He told me that he had no idea of the significance of his purchase at first and had assumed there would be nothing of any importance or real value amongst the tattered books he'd bought. "It was only a week or two later, when it was raining and there were few customers around, that I remembered them," he told me. "I'd shoved them under the shop counter as soon as he went away, meaning to throw them in the bin later on but I completely forgot they were there. Like I said, when I remembered them it was a rainy day and I didn't have a great deal to do - as you can imagine, running a bookshop isn't exactly a stressful sort of job and when there's no customers about it can get quite tedious so I decided I might as well have a look at them. Just as I suspected, most of it was a load of rubbish, the sorts of things that only an illiterate people like the Welsh could ever believe to have any value which any civilised person would put to a better use by throwing them in a recycling bin so they can be turned into toilet paper.
"There were three books that caught my eye, though, because they were hand-written. They'd been damp at some point and smelled a bit smoky, like they'd been dried over a fire, which had made the pages stick together. I knew what they were immediately when I'd managed to separate them because the first thing I saw was a pasted-in photograph of Helen Donahue, so I phoned the local police station immediately and reported what I'd found. I recognised her from a story in the newspaper, right after she vanished with those two young lads. Terrible business, it was. I remember them passing through here on their way into Wales - they stopped and had lunch in the pub just over the street there -" Mr. Wright pointed through the window at the Crow and Whistle Inn which, as he said, was just over the street "- and a few of the locals tried to warn them. 'You don't want to go over the border,' they said, 'It's not safe over there. The Welsh aren't a decent Christian people like we are - you go there and you might never come back.' But you know how young people are, they don't listen to anyone; besides, being from a big city like Cambridge I suppose they must have thought we're just simple-minded, superstitious folk. But we know what those animals in Wales are like - we've had to defend ourselves from them since long ago when they sneak over the border at night to steal food and sheep. Sometimes, the sheep come back after a few days - got a very good homing instinct, have sheep - but they're changed. Something horrible gets done to them when they're in Wales, and I shudder to think what it is. They get made all nervous like, as if they're afraid something's going to creep up on them from behind all the time. Political correctness be damned - those Welshies aren't real human beings at all. They're beasts, I tell you!"
My interest was fired, and I made a resolution then and there that I would try to find out more in the hope of solving the grim mystery once and for all. Of course, that was easy to say at the time; it was only during the long drive back to Cambridge that I realised if I was to get to the bottom of it, I was going to need to travel into Wales' dark heart myself.
From this point on, the author has taken the liberty of fictionalising some sections for the sake of clear narrative.
- 1 Chapter One: Helen's Room
- 2 Chapter Two - Helen's Discovery
- 3 Chapter 3 - Getting to Wales
- 4 Chapter Three - Investigation
- 5 The Cy Clychs C'llan - Political Extremism in 19th Century and Modern Day Wales
Chapter One: Helen's Room
Michael knocked on the solid oak door of Helen's room in the medieval college building. He could hear voices - which he first took emanate from a radio - coming from within for although the door was several inches thick the mortar between the ancient stones from which the walls were constructed was crumbling, leaving cracks through which sound could pass. He smiled - with a bit of luck, the door wasn't going to be the only thick bit of wood around here tonight, but his expression soon turned to a frown when he recognised the voices as being those of Helen and Joshua. "I hope they haven't got down to it without me," he thought, "I hate sloppy seconds."
The door opened, revealing Heather who - he was pleased to see - was fully dressed in the standard clothing adopted by all female Cambridge post-grads; a baggy jumper and patched jeans. Her hair was neat, proof that nothing too strenuous had been going on.
"Oh, hi Mike," she said, motioning him towards a seat by her desk before disappearing into the small kitchen to make tea, "Do join us." He entered the room, shivering slightly due to the sub-zero temperature that characterises all of the University's older student residences even in summer. Joshua was sitting in an easy chair near the window with a large and apparently aged book open in his lap. "Hey Mikey," he greeted his friend in the grating way that Americans do, "Glad you could make it dude. Heather's sure got a treat in store for you, my man!"
Michael sat. "Been here long?" he enquired as nonchalently as possible.
"Just arrived, pal, just arrived - literally sat myself down when you got here," came the reply, "So dude, you guessed what this is all about yet?"
Briefly, he pondered his answer. After all, he didn't want to seem like he was jumping the gun - and besides, what if Heather had invited them both here for some other, unknown, reason? No - not a possibility, he thought. What was it the message had said?: "I have something I think you two boys are going to enjoy. Come to my room, tonight at 9. Be prepared for a late one!" There was really no mistaking her intentions, and she'd obviously filled Joshua in on her plans or he wouldn't have just mentioned the treat, as he called it, that Heather had for them. How obviously loaded with sexual connotations could any statement be? "I have a feeling I know what's going on," he said with an conspiratorial smile.
Heather re-entered the room with a tea tray containg a pot, three mis-matched cups and a packet of HobNobs biscuits. She sat on the floor, close to the chair occupied by Joshua. "So, you chaps had a pleasant day? Not been working too hard, I hope, Mike - Josh already knows why you're both here and I'm sure he'll agree none of us are going to be getting very much sleep tonight."
"Hell, I've sure had worse days I guess," Josh began. "I mean, I had a free morning so I decided I'd take a stroll into town, maybe visit The Eagle for a bite to eat and a pint of your English bitter. I went in and sat myself down, minding my own business, and the next thing you know who should come over but Professor Oldefart - I guess he'd been in there since they opened, and you know what that guy's like when he's got a drink inside of him. Well, a few drinks in this case, by the looks of him - the staff were looking pretty darn brow-beat and one of 'em was muttering somethin' along the lines of how they sure couldn't understand how it was that a guy of his age could possibly empty three bottles of Laphroaig and still be breathin, never mind arguin' the finer points of quantum physics.
"Anyways, to cut a long story short he started outlinin' some ruse he's got to get the college to fund a trip someplace, out to some remote badlands where he says there's evidence of Neolithic man communicatin' with aliens - reckons if he can get there late summertime and eats enough of the local mushrooms he'll be able to talk to them too."
Michael and Heather laughed. They'd both experienced being talked at by Professor Oldefart, one of the college's best known (and best avoided) characters, who made a habit of haunting the corridors where he would trap any student, staff member or figment of his imagination and deliver to them a long and half-baked lecture on any one of the several areas he was expert in - many of them subjects he had personally invented, such as his current favourites recreational pharmacology and experimental theology. It was a widely accepted fact among those that knew him that, while undoubtedly a man of considerable genius, the Professor was insane and that the college only kept him on because he provided valuable first-person witness statements for the Medieval History Department and because his faculty no longer had sufficient funds to pack him off to a care home.
"So, Michael - have you guessed why I invited the pair of you up here yet?" asked Helen, "I'm dying to hear what you think this is all about."
"Well, I kind of thought I'd worked it out as soon as I saw your message but then I had doubts," he told her. "I mean, this sort of thing doesn't really happen very often in real life, does it - or not unless you live in Pornfilmland, at any rate - " he couldn't help but notice the strange look on Helen's face, nor be aware that Joshua had looked up sharply from the old book, "- but...er...when I thought about the wording of your message, along with something Josh said to me when I got here...er...it seemed obvious. Oh shit - it wasn't what I thought, was it?"
"Holy crap man, are you some sort of a pervert or what?!" exclaimed Joshua. "Seriously boy, you need to take some cold showers or start puttin' bromide in your tea!"
Helen stared at him for a few moments, aghast. "You thought I was asking you here for sex...? Honestly? I'd be angry if that entire concept wasn't so absurd I'm finding it quite laughable. You really thought that? I'm speechless."
Michael's embarrassment was slightly tempered by the relief that he was not about to receive the kick to the genitals he had been expecting since somewhere around the fourth word of what he'd said, when he had realised just how mistaken he had been. But then the depression kicked in - did women really have to be so quite so crushing? Was it really so unlikely that anybody might ever want to have sex with him? So much for brotherly comradeship - Joshua wasn't even bothering to try to hold in his derisive laughter.
"And you can shut it, laughing boy," snapped Helen, turning on the American. "Young Michael here, being a male, cannot think with his brain and has to use his dick instead - the low quality of thought he has just demonstrated would appear to prove that his dick is not a very well-developed specimen, incidentally - but we should bear in mind that he was aided and abetted in coming to his smutty conclusion. By you, in fact. I'd like to know precisely what it was you said to him while I was in the kitchen."
"Hey hey hey! Don't start on me - I'm not the sex fiend round here!" he said, the stupid grin not so much wiped from his face as burnt off with acid. "I just told him that you had a treat in store for us guys - by which I meant what you found in this goddamn book!"
"Hmm. Well. Let's just make it clear that if either of you should ever find your filthy little minds following such pathes again; not a chance, OK? That's why we have the Internet - so people like you two can solve your sexual needs without some unfortunate woman having to lower herself. Or if you're both desperate, maybe you can help one another out, eh?" Helen said, bringing the discussion to an end.
Joshua, chastised, did his utmost to vanish within the assortment of handmade Indian cushions with which Helen, like all students, had tried to disguise the fact that the old chair was in a bad way; it hadn't been reupholstered since the day that a bear kept by one of the room's previous tenants - Lord Byron - had used the fabric to sharpen its claws. Michael, sitting on the chair by the desk, didn't have the opportunity to hide and turned bright red in an attempt to blend chameleon-like into the vermilion wallpaper behind him.
- Answer - they obviously think so. Bitches.
Chapter Two - Helen's Discovery
After an hour or so, the room's charged atmosphere had cleared somewhat and conversation started up once more. Helen got up and took the book from Joshua, crossed the room and leant against her desk with it open in her hands.
"Right," she said, "The other day, somebody mentioned that there was a collection of European History books in the Gherelion Library - I can see from both of your expressions that you've never heard of it, and nor had I. It turns out that it's right down at the end of that vault in the cellars, the same one where they store all those old brass and lead crystal flat screen monitors and steam-powered modems that Babbage left behind when he buggered off to Peterhouse. As it happens, Professor Oldefart's got some sort of laboratory running down there too - I didn't investigate too closely, there was a dodgy-looking Columbian bloke delivering a sack of something or other so I moved swiftly on. Anyway, I'd been informed that there might be a few books about Wales in there and to put it mildly I wasn't disappointed; it seems that we're not the first people at Trinity to have developed an interest in the god-forsaken place.
"Most of it was the usual rubbish - Speak Fluent Welsh in Just 10 Easy Lessons...Guaranteed! and The Caravanner's Guide to Welsh Campsites and all that stuff - but I did find a few interesting bits and pieces, one of which was this book here. I could have easily overlooked it, it was hidden away on a shelf at the back which was covered in so much dust it wouldn't have looked that out of place if one of the archaeology students dug it up at Pompeii, or if it'd been under the Doctor of French's ashtray for that matter. It looked old enough to possibly have some data we don't already know about so I grabbed it and went off to find one of the librarians because the room looked like the sort of place inhabited by the kind of spiders that are so big they can hold you hostage. Now, the reason I'm not surprised that none of us have ever heard of the Gherelion is that once I found a librarian she'd never heard of it either and you know what they're like - they usually know everything about everything with the possible exception of fashion, going by the cardigans they all seem to wear.
"But once I got it back here, it wasn't long before I realised I'd found something important. I opened it, expecting the standard stuff like maps with big grey patches where no explorer has ever been, pictures of strange beasts and all of that stuff; but then I noticed some Welsh words I hadn't seen before - about something called the Cy Clycs C'llan. Being published in Wales in 1950, before the country had any printing presses, it was all hand-written and the scribe had taken great care when writing the words - he'd even decorated them a bit with red ink and gold leaf like they do in old bibles, so it was obviously something he considered important and had great respect for. Now, I've searched online and checked all the usual sources but I can't find any other mention of this Cy Clycs C'llan, whatever the hell it might be, anywhere - so even if it turns out to be nothing, it's original research and got to be worth a few extra points towards the PhDs. What do you think?"
The three friends decided there and then that they would investigate further. After all, to complete a PhD thesis that has any hope of being successful, a student must contribute something new to human knowledge, and in this day and age it is increasingly difficult to come up with anything original. The Cy Clycs C'llan must have seemed a gift from God - here was a subject, so far as they could see, about which precious little was known and with any luck all they would have to do would be travel into Wales and ask around until they picked up the trail. So long as they could find a native willing to talk to them - which ought to be a simple enough matter, all they'd need would be some shiny beads and chocolate with which to bribe them - this could well prove to be the easiest PhD in the history of Trinity College.
The following four hours were spent brainstorming. How would they go about their research? How were they going to get to Wales in the first place, and what would they need to take with them? How much was all this going to cost, and would they be able to get a grant to assist them?
"Well, I'm shattered," Helen said eventually as the first rays of dawn began to shine like laser beams through Cambridge's dreaming spires, "Time for bed. Our own beds."
All three youngsters still felt a remarkable excitement the following day; so much so that Joshua found he woke unusually early for a student and was unable to return to sleep once 3pm came round. Instead, he decided to walk over to the refectory and see if lunch was still available.
Cambridge University is not so rich an institution as it once was, and it is a myth that its students dine in extravagant style. Wishing for the good old days that many of the older professors droned on about at some length, he made his selection from the paltry offerings. "Hmm," he thought, "looks as though I'll have to make do with pate de foie gras rather than foie gras itself. That caviar doesn't look like Beluga either, but I guess it'll just have to do." Worse still, when he reached the drinks counter, there was no Krug and so he had to make do with Dom Perignon.
He made his way out into the dining hall with his 17th Century sterling silver tray and spotted Michael seated behing what was left of a roast swan in aspic. "Hey dude, how's it hanging?" he enquired, taking the seat next to his friend, "You done anthing about that sex addiction of yours yet?"
"Fuck off, you twat," came the reply, "I'm not in the mood - hardly got a wink of sleep last night, couldn't stop thinking. Al this Cy Cllycs C'llan stuff was turning over and over in my mind. I mean, yeah - we've got to do it, it's bloody tricky finding anything to write a thesis on these days, but hell; it's Wales. We're going to need to go to Wales. That's serious shit."
"Hold it, buddy, I'm an American," Joshua stopped him, as though anyone using the phrase hold it, buddy could be anything other than an American. "Us guys don't know too much about anything outside our country, unless we've invaded it. I'd never heard of Iraq until a few years back, and to be honest with you I always thought it was in France. I ain't never even heard of Wales till recently - what's with the place, man? It's part of Britain so it can't be all that wild, right?"
Michael, as many Europeans would, used the opportunity to give Joshua a long look designed to imply that all Americans are of exasperatingly substandard intelligence and must be treated with patience like children. "Wales isn't really a part of Britain, or not in the way that other regions where the ethnic groups have been partially civilised - like Essex - are, anyway. It's technically owned by us, but only because the Welsh live as nomadic tribes in the forests and have no government to form any sort of opposition to our claims of sovereignty. We'd have probably got rid of the fucking place decades ago, only if we did we'd only have Gibraltar, the Falklands and a few other poky little shitholes left in the Empire and then people would see we're really nothing but a poky little shithole ourselves.
"Wales isn't like the rest of Europe. Not even Ireland or Cornwall. Over there, if you can't feed yourself you don't buy some fertiliser and spread it on the fields, you sacrifice a virgin to some dark god or another. They're kind of...well, primitive. It's not a place many people would want to go."
At that point, Helen joined them having entered the hall and got her lunch without their noticing. "Boys," she said, sitting opposite them.
"Oh, hi Helen," Joshua greeted her. "Mikey's just giving me the low-down on Welshland, and from what he's been telling me it sounds kinda like he's trying to back out." Michael shook his head: "I'm not," he protested, "I'm just trying to get it across what Wales and the Welsh are like."
"Sounds to me like he's telling you the truth, Josh," Helen said. "We're civilised people, you Americans and us Brits. The Welsh aren't like us - they're virtually medieval. Stone age, even. If we're going there, we can't do so lightly; we need to plan."
"Even nowadays, we don't know much about the country, even its geography," Michael added. "Every few years, an explorer will try to find a safe way through to form a land route from the Irish Guinness Mines to London - but they never come back. Helen, you know about those missionaries that vanished, don't you?"
"Which? A lot of missionaries have vanished in Wales," she said.
"Oh, the famous ones - you know, Fotherington-Whatshisface and that lot. Wales is pagan," he went on, "I'm pretty sure there isn't a church in the whole country and if you tried to build one neither it nor you would last long. They still sacrifice stuff to their gods - including their own children, it's said. Anyway, like I was telling you; in 1991 some missionaries went there with the intention of Christianising them. We know they made it, because they sent a letter from Hay-on-Wye saying the weather looked good and they were going to make an assault on the North Face of Offa's Dyke the following day. They made it - conditions were so clear the locals could see them as the clambered over the top and the following day they sent back one of their number with a message saying they were encamped at the edge of the forest. I've got the message in one of my books, it's pretty grim stuff. Hang on - I might have it on me, now I think of it."
He reached under the table and brought up his book bag, from which he extracted a tattered paperback. "Here we go - read it for yourself," he said, opening the book roughly halfway and holding it out to Joshua who took it with an intrigued and slightly worried expression. The words did nothing to lessen the American's fear as he read them, filling him only with a deep sense of dread.
"Hey, you guys - you're having me on, right? This is 1994, shit like that doesn't even happen in Africa these days man!" Joshua interrupted, "Let's all have a laugh at the gullible colonial, yeah yeah - I know what you Brits are like. Wales can't be like that no more - when was this letter written?"
"1991," Helen and Michael said at the same time. ""So you see what Michael means," Helen went on. "Wales isn't too be taken lightly, and if we can get funding for this trip don't think you're getting an all-expenses-paid holiday. Oh - and if we do go, we're going to need guns. Big guns."
Chapter 3 - Getting to Wales
Chapter Three - Investigation
The Cy Clychs C'llan - Political Extremism in 19th Century and Modern Day Wales
The Black-Faced Men of Maenclochog
The following text is taken from notes compiled by the three students. Though written in the style of fiction, it is based on evidence discovered by them and is so detailed that it serves to reveal just how much information they must have gathered.
Huw ap Llwhyd had been in the Phyllwchdarw a Dduliwch public house since midday. Now, as it approached seven in the evening, a wintry storm was blowing up outside, giving the lonely village of Llanfair Caereinion a dismal air despite the crisp whiteness of the snow. Leaving the bar for the briefest of moments so Jones the Thief - who had been nursing a half-pint of Nhrwnc-Llygoden Fawr XXX all afternoon and peering at him with his sharp, beady eyes from a dim corner where the light of the inn's candles could not quite reach - wouldn't steal his drink. Huw crossed the time-worn flagstones of the pub's floor and looked out of the leaded glass windows into the darkened street. Oh, it'll be a rough night this one, there's a truth," he muttered to nobody in particular, "I'd best be away home soon or my Myfanwy will be worried I've met my death in the cold - and anyway, during this dark time of year, a boyo can never be sure when the dragons might come down from the hills or if witches may be going about their evil business." He finished his drink and pulled on his heavy coat, home-spun by Myfanwy in their tiny hovel by the stream. Suddenly, a thought hit him: since he had decided to home return home early, he had some money left - so why walk home? He reached into the primitively-stitched leather bag within which he carried the few items he needed to carry about with him - a candle to light his way in the benighted lanes, a small crucifix to ward off the terrifying creatures that these primitive people believed haunted the darkness and salt blessed by the village priest to throw into infernal eyes should the Devil himself come to drag him off to Hell - and pulled out his laptop. Taking advantage of the pub's WiFi, he Googled "tacsi+Llanfair+Caereinion" and within moments had arranged his journey home, all online. After all, it was 2009.
More than a hundred years previously, a very similar scene unfolded in the Phyllwchdarw a Dduliwch. Very little ever changes in rural Wales, so if one was to be shown a photograph taken anywhere within the village at any point in history it would be almost impossible to date the image to within even a century; though one notable difference would be that in 1865, candle-making technology was unknown in the region and so the building would have been lit by burning rushes and magic. Geraint ap Rhys, the father of Llwhyd who would in turn have a son of his own and name him Huw, had been in the Phyllwchdarw a Dduliwch since midday. A storm was blowing up outside - as indeed a storm has done, almost every day that Llanfair Caereinion has existed, and Geraint left the bar and looked out of the window - though only briefly, so that Jones the Grandfather of Jones the Thief wouldn't steal his drink. "I'd best be away home soon or my Addfwyn-Morvudd will be worried I've met..." He stopped suddenly - something strange had caught his eye in the gloom outside. What on Earth was that, he thought to himself - it looked to be several sets of disembodied eyes and teeth, floating at head height along the lane. He rubbed his own eyes, and looked over at his drink wondering if the Nhrwnc-Llygoden Fawr Brewery had run out of yeast again and used psilocybe mushrooms as a replacement. But when he looked again, the strange apparitions were still there.
"Oh!" he exclaimed, using the exclamation commonly used by the Welsh in instances when most other races would say, "What the fuck...?" "Dafydd, Flewdwr, Jones the Baker, Cadyryeith, Jones the Shop, Manawyddan, Jones the Butcher - you boyos come over by here and look you at this!"
The men watched in amazement as the strange procession continued, each of them at a loss to explain what could possibly be going on. Eventually, after downing their pints, they had summoned sufficient courage to go outside and investigate the weird phantoms. None of them were prepared for what they found - a group of creatures the likes of which they had never before seen. They were human in form, and of average human size but what puzzled Geraint and his friends was that all of them had skin as black as night. Manawyddan, who had once spent Midsummer's Night alone on the hillside above the village and gone mad as a result, was a little braver than the rest and so he approached the incredible beings. "What manner of men are you, with your black faces, your glowing eyes and pearly teeth?" he asked. "We are the men of Maenclochog," came the reply - Maenclochog was almost five miles away, so far that none of the Llanfair Caereinion men had ever heard of the place - "Our mine is all used up and there is no other work so here we have come to seek employment."
"Oh! There's lovely," exclaimed Manawyddan, "Now, I think you boyos ought to come and share a drink. Do any of you follow the rugby?" It is thought that around 50 of the black-faced strangers went to Llanfair Caereinion that night yet somehow they all squeezed into the Phyllwchdarw a Dduliwch alongside Geraint and his companions. Before long the men had discovered they had much in common with one another - they all liked beer, they all adored Welsh rugby and they all hated the English and English rugby.
At ten, the group of men - those with white and black faces alike - decided they'd leave the pub and walk down the lane to Rhianwyn Patel's Bwthyn Tandoori for a vindaloo. Shortly after their departure, Angwydd ap Owain emerged from the pub toilets, where he had gone ten minutes previously. "Someone's stolen my pint!" he shouted when he got back to his chair, "I bet it was one of those black bastards!" Jones the Grandfather of Jones the Thief looked on, and took a sip from his now-full glass. Little did the people of Llanfair Caereinion realise, their small and sleepy community was about to be rocked by controversy and violence the likes of which they had never before seen - not even when Enrhydred Meredydd, Jones the Tailor's daughter, married an Englishman from far-off Chester.
- Translation: "Pitbull and Hammer."
- Translation: "Rat's Piss XXX."
- Including the locals' underwear.
- Translation: "Rhianwyn Patel's Tandoori Cottage."
A Village Divided
For weeks afterwards, Llanfair Caereinion was alive with chatter about the Black Men. Many asked who they were and if they had really come from Maenclochog - a rumour circulated that Penfro Pugh the Shepherd had seen a bright light falling to Earth one night as he tended his flock high up in the hills, and it wasn't long before people connected the two incidents and began claiming that the men came from another world. Others said that they had come out of the dark pine forests to the south of the village, where their dusky pigmentation allowed them to hide among the permanent twilight created by the trees' branches. They hid in this way so that they could leap out upon the animals that formed their diet, it was said, leading others to fear that the Black Men might start hunting the village's children. Rapidly, a fissure appeared running through the once tightly knit community and two distinct camps emerged.
- This fear died out once people were reminded that, due to the very high infant mortality rates in 19th Century Wales, Llanfair Caereinion's population of children numbered just three individuals - and each of them had been made so unappetising by pox, scurvy, dysentry and a host of other ailments that even fleas had stopped feeding on them.