My poem, It’s Not Sustainable – A Poem, was also published on lineofpoetry.com where it received a gold medal first place. If you are a poet, why not visit www.lineofpoetry.com and subscribe. Dedicated to poetry, (obviously), the site members, all fellow poets, vote for their favourite poems of the week and give helpful critical feedback on ones writing.
Thomas was thirteen. He didn’t believe in magic; he thought that dragons were only in fairy tales, and he didn’t believe in wizards either, it was the 21st century after all. His father had left when he was only two weeks old and taken his two-year-old brother Jonathan with him, so he had never met his father or seen his brother except through baby eyes. Now Thomas was a typical thirteen-year-old, full of angst, rebellion, defiance, and a mistrust of adults, especially men.
However, in the space of a few hours one weekend, he went into a cave which was not there, met a sixty-foot Purple Dragon called Howel, who spoke with a very posh full-on Oxford accent, met a wizard called Flintock, the son of a tribal chief of the Yoruba peoples from Benin, in West Africa, a hideous beast called a trygall, with scales like a fish, flaming red hair and terrible looking teeth, and he had seen real magic performed before his eyes. Apart from all that, it was a normal weekend.
He had arrived in the land of Trymyll, a mythical and magical land in a slightly different dimension to planet Earth as we know it.
A few weeks on and he had been reunited with his father and brother. His father, Llewellyn the Brave, was an immensely powerful wizard, his brother, who despite being an acolyte for over ten years, was not. However, together, Tom and his brother Jonathan soon became very accomplished wizards, and now have their very own dragons, Bevon, a fine Red Dragon who was partnered with Jonathan and Ren, a magnificent Golden Dragon partnered with Thomas. And, just in case you didn’t know, Golden Dragons are the most magical creatures that ever existed and Red Dragons are very magical, fiercely loyal, and formidable warrior dragons.
Jon is feisty and always up for a fight, so his Red Dragon Bevon suited him well. By contrast, Tom is a healer and restorer and always tries to find a non-violent way out of trouble, both he and Ren have amazing and powerful mind-bending powers, they can see into the depths of most people’s minds and subtly bend them to do their will when required. Working as a team, Tom and Jon are nigh on invincible, working on their own inevitably led to trouble or disaster. But they are young, only thirteen and fifteen, so they are bound to get into trouble sometimes.
They have just battled with an unknown and enormously powerful dark wizard who calls himself ‘The Master’. He has been defeated but not eliminated. After the battle, in which three high elders were lost, it is revealed that Flintock the Elder has a deep secret. He divulged this to Llewellyn, but not to the boys. He thinks they are too young and immature to handle the truth.
We left the last book, Thomas, Wizard’s Son, with the news that Llewellyn and the boys are going back to Wales to visit their home and the boys’ mother.
If you are new to the Tales of Trymyll series, then there is a use full extra chapter at the end of the book which is worth reading now, The Land of Trymyll will give you an insightful overview of Trymyll and some of the main characters. It is worth reading before you start on the main story, but not compulsory!
Chapter 1 – Home again.
Four people stepped out of a cave halfway up the mountain at the back of a village in Wales. No one else could see the cave, mainly because it wasn’t there. They were dressed in the clothes of the twenty first century, jeans and tee-shirts, boots and jackets, their ‘wizard clothes’ had been magically transformed at the cave entrance in Trymyll ready for their return.
There were Llewellyn, Flintock, Jonathan, Thomas and a small Jack Russel dog called Howl. Howl was really a sixty-foot Purple Dragon called Howel, but he appeared as a dog so as not to draw attention to himself. He did, however, consider this to be a most demeaning and incongruous guise, and was always in a particularly bad mood when in doggy mode. Jonathan carried a cockerel, the alternate metamorphosis of a Red Dragon and Tom had a sparrow hawk sitting on his shoulder, who was, of course, Ren, his magnificent Golden Dragon. Jonathan slightly resented the others, a dog easily merges into the reality of normal, a sparrow hawk, whilst not a common bird to have as a pet, still looked a whole lot cooler than a cockerel, not an easy pet to wander around with in rural Wales.
For those who have not studied dragons, they are in the main very magical, intelligent, and wise. All dragons have an alternative shape which they can change into when required. For Purple Dragons, this is a small dog, not unlike a Jack Russel, for Red Dragons, it is a hen or cockerel, according to their gender, and for Golden Dragons; the most magical of all dragons, it is normally a sparrow hawk. However, being so magical, they can take on whatever shape they wish, even appear as a human if they so desire.
They stopped at the cave entrance and looked across at the valley and the mountain beyond. The air was different here, it had an industrial smell, a mix of rusty iron, diesel fumes and coal. The mines closed years ago, but still, the stench hung in the air. To all except Flintock, it still smelt like home, so they breathed it in like it was a new rose on a summer’s day.
Yes, they were now ‘home’. This is where Llewellyn’s wife Gwen lived, in a small looking miner’s cottage at the end of a terrace of cottages on the edge of the village. The boys were excited. The last time Tom had seen his mum, she was in a wheelchair, ‘crippled by life’ she used to say, with an oxygen bottle fastened to the frame to help her breathe.
Tom ran on ahead into the house, and fell into his mothers’ arms, tears running down his face, he hadn’t seen her for eight months and had missed her terribly.
“Ma, ma, we’re home!” he sobbed, “all of us, dad, Jon and Flintock as well.”
His mum hugged him and kissed him dearly on the top of his head. Next, it was Jon’s turn, he was not as sentimental as Tom, so his greeting was a little more restrained but no less warm. Finally, their dad arrived. He flung his arms around Gwen, lifted her clear off the ground and spun her round in a deep embrace.
“Sorry it’s been so long; we have had big problems in Trymyll so we couldn’t get away. All sorted now, a lot of it by the boys, they’ve made me immensely proud.”
After a decent interval of a few minutes, Flintock came in, he also embraced Gwen, “Well, look at you Gwen, you’re looking so well now. No wheelchair, no oxygen.”
“Well, a miraculous cure came over me as soon as young Tom was gone, must have been him that brought me down!”
They all laughed. They all knew it was part of what Howel called, ‘the deception’.
“Oh, and thanks for your deposits, I found them in the garden. You know I don’t need any more gold, I have more than a lifetimes supply, several times over,” Gwen said addressing Llewellyn.
“That wasn’t me,” said Llewellyn, “We’ll tell you all about it later, but the gold came from Jon and Tom’s dragons, allow me to introduce them.”
Ren apparated to Tom’s shoulder, “This is Ren,” said Tom, “he’s a magnificent Golden Dragon, the most magical of all dragons.”
“And this is Bevon,” said Jon, “an equally awesome Red Dragon, a proper battle dragon.”
“Oh dear, where can we keep them? They can’t stay in that form for long, they’ll get a cramp,” Gwen laughed.
“Oh, don’t mind me,” said Howel, “they have been like that for about twenty minutes, I had to stay in this shameful guise for two whole months.”
“Oh! Hello Howel, come and cuddle mummy then.”
“No,” was the prompt and bad-tempered reply from the small white, black, and tan Jack Russel dog, who, to demonstrate his foul mood, cocked his rear leg up and peed on the table leg.
Llewellyn stepped in, “Don’t worry, Ren will apparate all three away to the mountains where they can’t be seen, they’ll be fine.”
“Right, in that case, I’ll get the kettle on, you must all be thirsty. And I’ve baked a batch of crystallised ginger rock cakes as well because I know how much you like them. But make it soon, I don’t want the other two pooping on my carpet!”
“But how did you know we were coming?” inquired Tom.
Gwen just tapped the side of her nose as if to say, “that’s for me to know.”
“I sent a message last night so your mum would know we were coming,” Llewellyn said by way of explanation, but without explaining how you get a message from Trymyll to Wales.
Ren spoke directly into Tom’s mind. “If you need us, just call me in the normal way and we three will return in an instant.”
“Thanks, Ren,” thought Tom, “but we should be okay here, after all, this is my home, or at least it used to be, I’m not quite sure where home is nowadays.”
Bevon also said his telepathic goodbyes to Jonathan and the three dragons then disappeared, reappearing in a well forested part of the mountains a couple of valleys away.
The others then sat in the cottage talking for a while. Once Flintock had had his tea and cake he announced, “I’ll be off then; I’m going to visit my people to see what’s happening with them. I’ve heard some bad reports. I’ll see you all in about a week.”
“Stay safe my friend,” Llewellyn said.
They said their goodbyes, Flintock gave Llewellyn a hug, and then Gwen, Jon, and Tom, then he disappeared as well.
Flintock was the son of a tribal chief of the Yoruba peoples from Benin in West Africa. His tribal name was Funsan Njau Osei, he was taken to Trymyll as a boy because his natural and latent magic powers frightened his people. He was brought there by his great-uncle, Faraji Mwita Osei, a hidden wizard.
Now Gwen, of course, knew all about wizards, you can’t be married to one for nearly twenty years without finding out about them, so the three dragons and Flintock all vanishing did not phase her at all.
Chapter 2 – Bunter the Bully.
“Well Jon, you got your Wizard’s Robes yet?” his mum asked.
“Oh yes, and Tom as well, we’re both quite good at magic now,” he said as modestly as he could.
“Tom as well? But he’s only been gone a few months.”
Llewellyn intervened, “They are both powerful, talented, and gifted wizards now. They were made wizards by the Elder following some very impressive adventures which I’m sure they will tell you all about over supper. Now, you two, why don’t you go down to the village? School finishes in a few minutes, Tom, you could go and make your peace with Mrs Glyn. Jon, you tag along, and we can all catch up later. And no magic!”
“We know that da,” they replied, “I’ll catch up with me mates as well and I’ll introduce Jon to chocolate,” Tom answered, and with that, Llewellyn and Gwen were left alone.
They arrived at the school, a grey, uninteresting building, designed by the uninspired, built by the indifferent and finished to unimpress. Unopenable double glazing set in dark concrete slabs with spray paint graffiti as far as an arm could reach. A coal black flat roof sat upon the building, this piled high with snow in the winter, leaked whenever it thawed or rained, making the top floor classrooms incredibly cold in winter, and heated them to an unbearable and stifling heat in the summer.
It was a few minutes before school ended for the half-term week. Tom and Jon arrived at Mrs Glyn’s class just as the bell rang. There then followed a tsunami of teenagers out from every classroom, all hastening for the exit and freedom from the tyrannical overlords they called teachers. The smell of body odour, sweat, and hormonal teenagers lingered long after they had left the building.
“Hello Mrs Glyn, can we come in?”
“My word, young Tom, how are you? How’s life in Cardiff? Which school are you at there? How’s your dad?” The questions flowed out so quickly; Tom didn’t have time to say a word.
“Well, I’m good thanks, this is my brother Jon.”
“Oh my, he looks just like you! But taller.”
“Cardiff’s great,” he lied, “but we don’t go to a school there, we are privately tutored,” he said, almost telling the truth.
“Well, I hope your maths is a lot better now, you missed a very important test the day after you left.”
“Oh, it’s much better now thank you.”
“Well, quickly tell me what’s the square root of 169?”
“Thirteen” he replied without thinking, “and 169 squared is 28,561, and while we’re on the subject, the square root of 13 is 3.606,” using, of course, the wisdom of the wand, not his brain.
“Oh my!” she exclaimed, quite shocked, “You have improved. But what about your Welsh? You could hardly speak a word last time we met.”
“Mae fy iaith Gymraeg yn dod ymlaen yn eithaf da mewn gwirionedd, diolch.” Tom replied with his best Welsh accent. (My Welsh language is coming on quite well actually, thank you.)
Again, he didn’t actually know the language, but the wand had fed him the correct words, intonation, and accent.
“Oh my, oh my!” Mrs Glyn exclaimed.
“That’s partly why I’m here,” he said sheepishly, “I want to apologise for my rebellious attitude and behaviour when I was in your class, I know now, that although you were hard on me, it was because you really cared, and wanted me to do well. I’m sorry I didn’t realise it at the time. So, I want to both apologise and say thank you.”
“Well, well,” she said, a little tear in her eye, “thirty-seven years in teaching and no one has ever come back and said that to me, I’m quite overwhelmed, thank you very much. How have you had this most pleasant change of attitude if you don’t mind me asking?”
“Well, I’ve had a bit of counselling, and that made me understand a lot about myself and my psychological makeup,” he fibbed, not even knowing what he even meant. He could hardly tell her that a Golden Dragon told him. She would think he found out at the local Chinese takeaway.
Tom surprised himself by moving forward and giving her a hug, which she accepted graciously. She smelled quite pleasant compared to the kids in school, she was wearing a sweet cologne and did not smell of lavender water like most old ladies!
“And no one’s ever done that before either, so thank you very much again,” tears now flowing readily down her plump rosy cheeks.
“I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to make you cry.”
“Tears of happiness, tears of joy,” she said.
“Well, thanks again for all you did, and sorry again,” Tom repeated, he then touched her hand tenderly and left.
They were almost out of the building when Jon said….
“What was that all about? Yuk!”
“Ren showed me things I never imagined when we had our meeting of minds, he took me right through my childhood back to when I was just born. But also, he made me see things from a different perspective, including Mrs Glyn, who I always thought hated all kids and especially me, but Ren made me see that she loves kids, she’s dedicated her life to improving them and making them better. That’s why I had to go and see her.”
“Well, perhaps you should have taken her a dozen red roses or a crock of your gold as well.” Jon teased.
“Come on, let’s go down the town.”
The school was set at the top of the slope, behind it were great slag heaps of unwanted earth and coal, now well planted with trees and shrubs to avoid any landslips. They walked down towards the town. On the way down, they came across Bunter and his little gang of bullies. He was called Bunter, though not to his face, because he was, as they say, quite heavy for his height.
“Well, look at what the cats dragged back into town? If it’s not Jones the ginger wimp and, by the looks of it, his equally wimpy and long-lost brother.”
Tom and Jon stopped dead. At first, they didn’t quite know what to do or say. They could hardly run away, that would look bad, but they couldn’t fight them either, there were too many of them.
They both had their wands, they never left them. Tom made his wand appear, but up his coat sleeve so the little gang could not see it. He held his crystal and stared at the boys. He sent out an aura of fear into Bunter, so powerful was the fear and trepidation that Bunter burst into tears and messed his pants all at the same time. His little gang just roared with laughter at the bully as he ran away, red-faced and sobbing, a smelly brown mess running from his trouser legs and plopping on the pavement.
Jon and Tom then just walked away. Smiling.
“What did you do then?” asked Jon.
“Just filled him with fear and dread so powerful that he messed his pants.”
“He won’t like it; he won’t let us get away with it. I know all about bullies, he’ll try to get us back.”
“Get away with what? We didn’t do anything that anyone would know about. He just pooped himself, hardly our fault. Nothing to do with me I have no idea what you’re talking about.” Tom said laughing, they both laughed.
Then Tom stopped. They were outside ‘The Tuck Shop’. The village’s little sweet shop newsagents and general store.
“Come on, I’ll buy you some chocolate, it’s a taste so good, you may just die of pleasure!”
“Afternoon Mr Evans,” said Tom, “can we have a couple of bars of your finest milk chocolate please?”
“Hello young Thomas, glad to see you’re back, this must be your big brother, my mind’s gone blank, what’s your name?”
“Oh yes, I remember now, not that we ever met, but your mum spoke of you often. You two back to stay?”
“No,” said Jon taking over the conversation, “Just here for a week or so and then back to Cardiff again.”
“Your mum misses you two, can’t be easy for her not seeing her boys for so long.”
The boys didn’t want to pursue the conversation, so Jon finished with, “Well we’re here now, mum wants us both to have a better education than the local school can provide, so she sent us to Cardiff to be with our dad. But we promise to visit a lot more often now.”
Mr Evans was nice, but nosey, always wanting to know other people’s business, the village didn’t need a local newspaper, not with Mr Evans in the shop.
“Shame about your mum and dad splitting up, such a pity,” Mr Evans said, trying to dig for gossip.
“They never split up, dad works away and gets back when he can, he’s got a very important job, so it’s not easy to get back all the time, they never have split up and never will,” Tom said with some force and anger. Mr Evans decided it was time to stop digging.
They removed themselves to the park. Jon had never seen a park before as such things do not exist in Trymyll. So, he’d never sat on a swing, been down a slide or on a round-about, “Oh, so this is the famous park, where the Saturday night ritual of chips and a burger happens.”
“The very one,” Tom said, almost with pride, “we’ll come down here tomorrow night and get some chips. You’ll see, it’s life itself, it’s an event.”
“And, if I remember correctly, chocolate is better than life.”
“Yup, sure thing, here, try some.”
Jon carefully unwrapped the blue paper from the bar and then gently took off the silver foil from around the chocolate bar.
“So, according to the wrapper, there’s a glass and a half of milk in every bar. How’d they do that then?”
“No idea, just take a bite and let it melt on your tongue.”
Jon took two squares of chocolate and popped them into his mouth. The chocolate slowly melted sending a rush of extreme pleasure through his entire body, every hair stood on end and every nerve in his body tingled with pleasure, he had goosebumps on his goosebumps.
“Mmmmmm, Mmmmm. Oh, my goodness, that is so good, I’ve never tasted anything like it. Mmmmm.”
Chocolate ran down his chin and onto his tee-shirt. He pushed it back up his chin and back into his mouth, not wishing to miss even a fraction and then tucked into the rest of the bar.
“Well, chips had better be good, because that was indescribable!”
“It’s not the chips, it’s the ritual.”
Once they had eaten the chocolate, they headed back to the cottage. It was a small cottage on the outside, officially it had two bedrooms upstairs, two rooms downstairs, just a front room and a kitchen with an outside toilet in the garden. To the passer by, that’s exactly how it looked, but on the inside, it looked slightly larger, upstairs there were four bedrooms and two bathrooms, one en-suite, downstairs there was a good-sized lounge, a dining room, study, kitchen come breakfast room, utility room and a toilet on the inside; produced using hammerspace a magic non-reality where something is bigger on the inside than on the outside.
Jon excitedly told his parents about his chocolate experience, telling it as if they had never heard of chocolate before.
“Oh, and sorry about the chocolate stains on my tee-shirt.”
“No worry, I’ll soon get that stain out. Anything else you want to tell us about?” mum asked.
“No,” they both said cautiously.
“Well,” said Llewellyn, “it’s just that we have heard reports of a confrontation in the village between two ginger-haired boys and a gang of youths which ended in their leader, Bunter, I believe he is called, crying like a baby, and pooping his pants. Do either of you know anything about that?”
“Well,” said Tom, “we only talked, no one saw us doing anything, my wand was up my sleeve and out of sight.”
“I thought I told you no magic.”
“Anyway, how did you find out?”
“Your mother has a fire in the grate, so I was watching you two to make sure you came to no harm. Nice trick though. Very discrete, no harm was done and no one any the wiser. So, well done boys. I don’t like bullies, never have, never will. Now, no more magic! Do I make myself clear?”
“Yes da,” the boys said in a resigned sort of voice.
“Well boys, it’s nearly supper time, I hope you still have appetites after your chocolate fest,” mum said with a smile, “I know it’s Friday, but I’ve done a full Sunday roast for us all. So, let’s go eat.”
Tom had missed his mums’ roast dinners, so this was special. A nice leg of Welsh lamb, crispy, crunchy roast potatoes, roast parsnip, carrots, and peas. This was followed by spotted dick and custard, Toms’ favourite.
Over dinner, the boys spoke excitedly about their adventures in Trymyll, missing out on all the bits which put them in any danger. They talked about dragons, some of the troubles they had with Llewel the Loser. Arvel Mordecai and the Golden Dragons he had captured and some of the story of how they released them, missing out the bit about there being three dangerous Blue Dragons involved. They told of their dragons, how Jon and Bevan had got to know each other and the fun they had in the quarries, the fight they had had with twenty, no, at least thirty of the fiercest Blue Dragons you ever did see, but Bevon had seen them all off. Tom told of his encounter with Ren, how there had been a meeting of minds and how he saw right back to when he first opened his eyes and saw his father cut the cord, and how he even saw Ren breaking out of his egg through Ren’s eyes. He even told of how he saw his dad and brother leave when he was a few days old, choking up a bit as he told it. They both told of the battle with the Master, how their dragons had been so brave in the fight but missing exactly how they were involved so as not to frighten their mother. They talked well into the evening until it was eventually time to turn in for the night.
“Right, cocoa all round, then it’s off to bed. I hope you don’t mind, but I’ve put you two in the back bedroom with twin beds, but please don’t sit up there talking all night, we want to have a full day tomorrow,” Gwen said.
The next morning, they were all up and down for breakfast before seven o’clock. Over breakfast, dad had a few things to say.
“Right, listen up. As you know, I was the Health and Safety Manager at the mine for many years. In case anyone asks what I do now, tell them I am now working for the ministry, Department of the Environment that is, I’m a consultant in Health and Safety. You told me yesterday that Mrs Glyn thinks you have home tutors coming in, having such a good job will explain how we can afford it. Now some good news, your mum and I spoke about it at length after you went up last night, when we return to Trymyll next week, your mum is coming with us. Her funds, as we call them, are being professionally managed, and will continue to supply those in need in her absence. Any questions? No? Great. Now let’s get on with Saturday. What do you boys want to do?”
“What?” Tom said excitedly, “You’re coming with us? That will be fantastic. Will you be okay though? Trymyll is a magical world, you will be what they call a phobl, you’ll have no magic.”
“Oh, don’t you worry about me, I have three strapping wizards to look after me, and Flinty as well most of the time, I’ll be fine,” his mum replied.
“You sure?” Tom added.
“Of course, I am. Don’t worry, I’ll be fine,” she added.
“So, where are we going?” Llewellyn asked again.
“What about the zoo? Jon’s never been to a zoo. How about a day at Folly Farm?” Tom suggested.
“Okay, all agreed, we’ll go to Folly Farm. But we must get the bus there, and again, no apparating and no magic please!”
“But that will take ages,” whined Tom.
“I know it will, but we can apparate back if we are sure no one’s watching,” his dad said, “Check the bus timetable on the interweb thingy.” Llewellyn hadn’t quite got the language of computers yet; he was a bit of a Luddite and didn’t understand them.
Five minutes later Tom was back, “It’s a seven-hour journey, five of which we will be walking!”
“Okay, plan B, we’ll get a taxi.”
“But that will be expensive!” their mum interjected.
“I think we have enough, you are after all the richest women in Wales.”
“Well, I won’t be for long if you keep getting us taxis everywhere.”