And so Camulaunos set off to the lands north of the
Using the black stones as footing he crossed that river and did not look down nor backwards, for he feared what he might see its depths. The land rose up further and the skies darkened. The air thinned and the biting winds knawed down to the bone, but onwards went Camulaunos clutching the three bristles of Mokkonos in his hand.
He reached the top of the mountain and instead of a high and windblown peak he saw a golden and sun drenched plain before him; golden sunlight pierced the whitest of clouds, silver light danced off the lushest of green grasses and trees smothered with fruit swayed gently in the breeze that caressed this place of the gods. He felt the cold and pain leave his body and was filled with warmth and comfort like he had never known before, not even of the warmest of late autumn evenings, not in the finest of cured hides nor in the arms of the loveliest of women.
Black ravens like the depths of night but with amber eyes wheeled overhead clucking and crocking at his movement. Deer of a kind Camulaunos has only ever dreamed of strode gracefully over the landscape, unafraid of his approach. The streams he stepped over writhed with the fattest of eels and the sparkle of salmon as big a child.
This was the land of the gods, a blessed place of the finest of things – and Camulaunos knew he was an intruder. He made his way across this wondrous place and dreamt of bringing his own family-tribe here to live like gods in peace, happiness and health. He dreamed of how grand they would be as they lived with the gods themselves and how they would shape their own destiny. All of this he dreamt and much more as he walked onwards so that he never did see the hall he approached until it was no more than a spears throw away.
Such a place had never before been seen by mortal eyes and such a place has not been seen since;
It had high circular walls four spear lengths high made of a pale dressed stone, upon that sat a tall roof made of the finest straw that shone like gold. Before him lay the doors; they reached to the eaves of the roof, a fine pair of them made from two planks of oak wood, a tree of such a size Camulaunos thought it must have been the first seed planted by Rigantona at the making of the world. Its edges were trimmed with bronze, each bolt in it made of iron and capped with bronze, two huge rings of bronze served as handles; each half a spear length across and decorated with inland patterns of swirling monsters and beasts chased by the gods themselves. Each figure picked out in gold and each eye picked out in amber. The frame and lintel surrounding the doors were each made of a single oak beam and each was intricately carved with the exploits of the gods; the Making of the World, the War of the Gods, Lugus and the Hawk, the Cursing of the Swallow and a great many things of which Camulaunos had never heard told by the fire.
Camulaunos moved towards the doors and slipped between them and into the Hall of the Gods.
He stood alone in that place, and was struck still by it. It was a huge circular room as big as the biggest settlement of Camulaunos’ people. Arranged around it were dozens of high thrones; each a great slab of black slate and each throne growing from the slab as if some strange cursed tree. Each seat high a high back and richly curving sides of which to recline. They were all swathed in fine furs and leathers, some from beasts Camulaunos himself had hunted others from things he couldn’t even begin to imagine. Each had soft pillows of pale furs on it, and some laying upon the rock beneath them. Furs and skins lay around each throne to be used when desired. Some it appeared were used as a place to lie by mighty animals at the feet of the gods. Camulaunos suspected these must have been the hunting hounds of the gods but feared all manner of unknown creatures reclined in this place too.
The centre of the room was dominated by a mighty tree that grew out from the ground and rose high to the roof and Camulaunos fancied it grew onwards still and into the sky. Its branches swept low into that hall and formed a canopy of shimmering green leaves above the heads of those who stood in that place. At it roots rested a cauldron, its surface bubbling over with crystal clear water that looked like the clearest of mountain streams, it flowed over the rim of the grand bronze cauldron and soaked into the roots of the great tree. A bronze and gold chain encircled the base of the tree and linked the pot and that tree together. Besides the tree was a long and broad table and upon it plates and bowls of meat and fruits, bottles of wines and beers, eating things of bronze and gold and a variety of platters and drinking vessels: horns, bronze goblets and the skull of some giant man-creature trimmed with gold.
Camulaunos was struck with awe and fear at that place and left it as it was, he moved off into the eastern part of the great golden plain, through filed of wheat and rye and barley, crops the like of which he had never seen and each rose up to his waist. The fat ears of golden grain knocked against him as the wind ran through them. On he went through herds of great cattle and fat strong swine. Onwards until he reached the stream Mokkonos had told him of. It looked no more than a spears length in breadth but taking the warning of the Boar in the Thorns he plucked a stone from the bank of that stream and threw it with all his strength across the narrow brook. The stone flew high into the air and landed in the middle of the stream. Hardly believing his eyes of the strength of his arm, he tried again only to see the pebble fall into the water and disappear from view in water that seemed no more than knee deep.
He took one of the bristle he carried with him and dipped it into the water, he then set it into the stream bank before his heart could beat three times that bristle had grown into a sweeping alder tree; its roots dug deep into the soil and the tips of its dropping branches brushed the grasses on the other side of the stream. He climbed up into its branches and across the sturdier of limbs to jump down onto the plain on the other side of the stream.
A short walk across the plain he came to the smaller hall of dressed limestone and golden straw that he now knew belonged to Ambactonos. Beside it he saw the oak pen and inside it he saw the well sized and fine looking sow Senua Vinda. He walked up to the pen and remembering the words of Mokkonos took a stone from the floor and made to throw it over the top of the pen, no mater how hard he threw that stone and no matter how high he tossed it, it would always fall and clatter against the side of the pen no more than half way up its side.
Again he took one of those bristles and this time wedged it into a crack on one of those poles. Within the space of three heartbeats it had grown into a fine and thick vine reaching up and over the top of the pen. Camulaunos took to its stem and climbed the oak pen. Once inside he took the last of the bristles and made to warp it around the neck of that swine to form a lead, as he did it grew in length and turned into a fine thing of leather and bronze; a soft and lengthy strap with which to lead the shining sow back to his people. Before him he found a small gate that opened with ease and so stepped back out onto the golden plains of Ambactonos with the sow at his side.
The moment she stepped out of that pen and onto the plains there was an almighty cracking sound as if the gods had seen to unmake the world and had begun tearing it to pieces; a hot wind blew through his flesh and the skies darkened over. The birds stopped their singing and it seemed as if the shine had fled from each thing in that place.
With this, Camulaunos fled.