The Legacy of the Mask

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British Legends 

Goram and Ghyston Vincent – Local Giants

The South West of Britain has many striking geological and historical features – the rivers Severn and Avon, the Avon Gorge, Stone Henge, assorted iron age hill forts and the nearby Bath Spa – once Aqua Sulis to the Romans.

The Avon Gorge is a mile and half long and runs through a limestone ridge about 1.5 miles west of the centre of the city of Bristol, spanning 700 feet wide and 300 feet deep. It’s been used in the defence of the city on several occasions. It is spanned by the famous Clifton Suspension Bridge built by Isambard Kingdom Brunel. 

The gorge is mainly limestone and sandstone – it is believed to have been caused by glaciation during the Anglian Ice Age, and the limestone carries fossils from the Carboniferous Age 350m years ago. The Iron Age Dobunni tribe are believed to have dwelled in the area and there are the remains of three Iron-Age hill forts. (A variation of the myth held that the Giant Ghyst built the forts).

There are over twenty rare plant species that grow in the gorge and two unique species of trees, the rare peregrine falcons have returned to nest there since the 1990s. Much of it is a Site of Scientific Special Interest.

The As with many of such wonders there are myths aplenty surrounding their creation (nothing as mundane as ice – ages, glacial flow and tectonic movement). Giants were a common creature often blamed of tasked with the creation of these natural phenomena, and if the numberof myths about them are anything to go by the giants were plentiful, drunken and of a mind to fighting.

Here is the tale of Goram and Ghyston-Vincent – two brother giants who have left their legacy in the culture of Bristol, if not, in fact the scenery.

Goram and Ghyston (Vincent)

The most widespread version of this myth claims the Giant brothers Goram and Ghyston (later known as Vincent) were both enamoured of the lady Avona (who bears the name of the local river – the Avon – which is a story in itself). Avona offered herself to whichever one could drain the lake which once existed between Bradford-on-Avon (neighbouring county of Wiltshire), and Bristol.

Taking up the challenge Goram decided to dig a channel through the limestone hills via Henbury, and Vincent opted for a route just south of Clifton.

Goram, (in one version) finding the work hard and hot, downed huge quantities of ale (did he take it with him? Do Giants have public houses or make their own?) and fell asleep in his favourite stone chair.

Ghyston-Vincent – the better planner – paced himself and completed his channel – leaving is with the narrow gorge at Hazel Brook, and the Avon Gorge, through which the River Avon now flows. On completion the waters roared into the Severn, leaving only a trickle for the Hazel Brook.

Upon waking the Giant Goram, was upset at losing the affections of the Lady Avona and stamped his foot in a pit – leaving the Giant’s Footprint in the woodland above the Henbury Gorge, in what is now the Blaise Estate. He was so upset he threw himself into the Severn Estuary, leaving behind Steep Holm island (his head) and Flat Holm island (his shoulder).

Goram’s lake, near Henbury, was supposedly created when Goram stamped his giant foot, and the smaller lake is Goram’s Soapdish. Goram’s Chair is comprised of two flat topped walls of solid rock sticking out from the cliff-face – they look a lot like the arms of a comfy chair.

It’s not surprising he lost – it sounds like he’d been busy creating these other features as well as wooing the ladies.

Ghyston-Vincent wed Avona and named the gorge after her.

In some versions Goram was lazy and stopped for drinkies…

Other versions of the tale

A second version of the legend says the brothers were working together and Goram fell asleep and was felled by an accident blow from Ghyston-Vincent’s pickaxe. A variation of this says the giants were sharing a pickaxe for the work, and Goram was slain when he was resting when his brother threw him the axe. Giants throwing tools and rocks to or at one another are common British myths to explain monoliths.

Ghyston-Vincent then completed the work alone, going on to complete other stone-works such as the Stanton Drew Stone Circles in remorse and later returned to his cave and died from grief and exhaustion.

Yet another version states only Goram built the Gorge and there is no mention of Vincent. Goram, having completed the work fell over an iron-age barrow and plunged into the Severn Estuary.

A similar legend tells of a giant named Gorm threw rocks at his rival, and one particularly large one fell short, thus becoming Druid Stoke.

Goram was buried beneath the barrow tumulus at Charnborough Hill – although there is not much left of the barrow now.

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A dozen tumultuous years after the dramatic events at the Paris Opera House Raoul, Comte de Chagny is still haunted by the mysterious Opera Ghost – the creature of legend who held staff at the Opera House under his thrall, kidnapped Raoul’s lover and murdered his brother. In Raoul’s troubled imagination the ghosts of the past are everywhere, and a strange and powerful music still calls in his dreams.

 Madness, obsession and the legacy of the past weave their spell in this short, tragic tale based on the Phantom of the Opera. 

Approx 8000 words. 

Winner of the NN Light Reviewer Award for Fantasy 2019.

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Madame Giry finds herself embroiled in the tragedy unfolding at the Opera house; mystery and murder stalk the corridors and, it is said, a ghost haunts the place. Giry knows the truth, for she recalls the caged man she met so many years ago. This is her story, their story.

When murder and mystery begin at the Opera House one woman knows who is behind it, and what really lies beneath the mask. Secrets, lies and tragedy sing a powerful song in this ‘might have been’ tale.

Winner of the NN Light Book Heaven short story award 2020. 

British-born A. L. Butcher is an avid reader and creator of worlds, a poet, and a dreamer, a lover of science, natural history, history, and monkeys. Her prose has been described as ‘dark and gritty’ and her poetry as ‘evocative’. She writes with a sure and sometimes erotic sensibility of things that might have been, never were, but could be.

Alex is the author of the Light Beyond the Storm Chronicles and the Tales of Erana lyrical fantasy series. She also has several short stories in the fantasy, fantasy romance genres with occasional forays into gothic style horror, including the Legacy of the Mask series. With a background in politics, classical studies, ancient history and myth, her affinities bring an eclectic and unique flavour in her work, mixing reality and dream in alchemical proportions that bring her characters and worlds to life.

She also curates speculative fiction themed book bundles on BundleRabbit – for the most part the Here Be Series

Alex is also proud to be a writer for Perseid Press where her work features in Heroika: Dragon Eaters, Heroika Skirmishers – where she was editor and cover designer as well as writer; and Lovers in Hell – part of the acclaimed Heroes in Hell series. http://www.theperseidpress.com/
Awards: Outside the Walls, co-written with Diana L. Wicker received a Chill with a Book Reader’s Award in 2017.

Website  * Blog * Facebook * Twitter * Instagram * Bookbub * Amazon * Goodreads

$20 Amazon giftcard,

Free Audible edition of both books (UK, US, DE), 

Signed print copy (or large print – winners choice) of either book,

Free copy of Kitchen Imps and Other Dark Tales (fantasy) in either ebook, signed printed edition or audible. 

-1 winner each! 

Follow the tour HERE for special content and a giveaway!


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