- 12. Daughter Of Conwy – Episode 11
- 13. Daughter Of Conwy – Episode 12
- 14. Daughter Of Conwy – Episode 13
- 15. Daughter Of Conwy – Episode 14
“Are you sure you don’t mind?” Iona asked as she followed Merlyn up the steep zigzag of rocky pathway into Conwy Castle later that afternoon. “It’s very kind of you to offer to show me the way, but surely you must be wanting to get home?”
“Not at all,” Merlyn replied. “It will be an adventure.”
Inside, they found themselves amongst the crumbling towers of the ruined castle. A long sweep of a banqueting hall opened up below them, spanned by the remains of great arches that had once supported a roof, and now held nothing more than wild grasses and moss clinging to crevices, along with a few expectant seagulls.
Above them, battlements loomed, the walkways where soldiers once guarded the town broken and decaying. The whole place looked as if it had been entirely abandoned to the elements. Iona itched to start work on her sketchpad.
“The historians will be through here,” Merlyn said, hurrying her along, aware of the curious glances they were attracting from the visitors wandering around the ruins. “In the royal apartments.”
“That sounds very grand,” Iona said with a smile.
“And very ruined,” Merlyn replied. “Taid says there was once a ravine, right down to the sea, that split the castle in two. You could only get across it by drawbridge. The King and Queen had their own exit to the sea, so they were quite separate from the rest of the castle.” She grinned. “In case we Welsh attacked, of course.”
“I wouldn’t have liked to try to get in here,” she said, peering inside a tower to where the remains of a fireplace could be seen halfway up the wall. “It looks as if it must have been very cold.”
“Freezing,” Merlyn agreed cheerfully. “I’m sure the soldiers who had to parade the battlements wished they were as far away as could be.”
They passed by a well, cut deep down through the rock to provide fresh water in times of siege, and through another small arch into the royal apartments. This was falling into ruin, too, with the four surrounding towers, far taller than the rest, looking as if they might collapse at any moment.
After inspecting the inside of the towers without success, Merlyn led Iona through yet another arch into a small area at the very end of the castle, right on the water’s edge.
“You can see the bridge!” Iona exclaimed. “It must be exciting to look down on it, and see its construction.”
She set off towards the parapet overlooking the network of scaffolding, but stopped, halted in her tracks by the young man there before her. He was sitting on a low bench just in front of the parapet, piece of paper in hand, utterly absorbed. He looked up at their approach, light glinting on his spectacles.
“Oh!” Iona found herself blushing. It was her rescuer of this morning, who was eyeing her with no less admiration than before.
“No brother this time?” he remarked good-humouredly, his eyes travelling to Merlyn with a smile.
“No,” Iona replied awkwardly. “You must forgive Rhodri for his rudeness towards you. He was only trying to protect me.”
“I’m sure he was.” He looked at the two of them enquiringly. “Taran Appleford,” he announced, holding out his hand to them each in turn.
“You are exactly who we are looking for!” Merlyn exclaimed as the introductions were completed.
“We’ve been to the Snowdon View,” Iona explained. “Your mother suggested you might be able to help me.”
“Oh?” His voice was grave, but behind the spectacles his eyes were gleaming.
Iona glanced towards Merlyn. She had tactfully sent Elspeth, who had been weary and cross after carrying the easel around all day, for a soothing panad and a gossip with her sister in Conwy. Dragging Merlyn into this was hardly fair.
“I won’t say a thing,” Merlyn supplied.