Last week the Welsh crossed the Llinon on a very unusual bridge…

Bran felt disgusted. How could he have given his sister to such a toadeater?!

“The only terms immediately acceptable is if I take the throne of Ireland myself,” he growled. “Go away, and don’t come back unless you bring something different.”

So the messengers departed, and the men prepared to camp for the night. Bran sighed. He would have to sleep in the open once more, since his tent was too big to bring.

Back in the Irish camp, the men gave Bran’s message to Matholwch.

“Give up the throne to a foreigner? Never!” he cried. “My council, help me! What other terms could we offer?”

They glanced at each other, reading the unpalatable truth in each other’s faces. “Lord,” they said. “We can think of nothing else, except that you ask your wife’s advice. We don’t like to suggest it, but she will know her own brother.”

So messengers came to Branwen where she sat by a campfire, relieved of the grinding and baking of the kitchen, for now. They explained the efforts for a peace settlement to her.

For a moment, her heart swelled with outraged pride. Her brothers might not get revenge for her? Matholwch would roll cowardly onto his back, paws waving in the air? She looked round at the bustle of the camp. Several servants from the palace had come with them, to make their retreat easier. She knew each one of them now, by name. There was the widow, with only one son amongst a pack of daughters. There was the young maid Roisin, who had just got engaged to her soldier beau. She had never thought a royal maiden like her could come to care for servants, but she had.

If I refuse to help solve this matter, it will have repercussions for the whole country, not just for me.

She spoke loud and clear, “He has always wanted a house of his own. Not just a tent, but something with real walls and doors, so as to be out of the wind and wet. Offer to build him this, and it will be a great incentive for him.”

Without another word they turned and strode off. Branwen’s heart sank. Back to the status of a servant already, was she?

When he heard the offer Bran gasped. Could it really be true…?

“Indeed, it is, lord,” the young messenger reassured him. “He will build a house for you, and pay you homage.”

“Well, I must see my sister,” said Bran cautiously. “But yes, in the main part I do agree with what you have said.”