Gwawl Excerpt

Published on 27 February 2024 at 14:23

I´m excited to announce that my Welsh myth, The Tale of Gwawl, Son of LLwybyr, should be released May 2024. Here´s a little sneak peek for you - I'm hoping I captured some of the vagueness, humor, and general vibe of the Mabinogi.


"So Teleri and Llwybyr were wed amid great rejoicing. The entertainment throughout was most delightful, and the food and wine without compare. When the merrymaking was over and the time had come for the guests to depart, then Llwybyr presented each and every one with an extravagant gift. To Gwyddno son of Elphin, his new father-in-law, he gave five hunting steeds of Annwn and other such rarities he thought might please him. And not a man or a woman left Caer Gwyddno without receiving some priceless jewel or other treasure from Teleri the bride. People still talk about that marriage feast and count it among the five greatest banquets ever celebrated in Ynys Prydein.

Since it was agreed that Teleri would not follow her bridegroom to his own land but reside permanently at her father's court, Gwyddno offered to give his son-in-law governance of one his largest cantrefs, as well as a court of his own where he might dwell when he was in Wales. But, because of the stringent vows he had made to his father Arawn, Llwybyr was forced to decline these offers. But he assured Gwyddno that Teleri would not be left at a disadvantage, though she could not remove to Annwn with him; indeed, she was as fully entiteld to his own wealth and dominion as if she were present at his own court. So when he heard these things and saw how earnest was Llwybyr son of Arawn- and that the richness of his gifts and his appearance would testify to the truth of his words- then Gwyddno was content and let things be as they were.

Teleri and Llwybyr passed that year at their pleasure. Towards the end of that time- just as Llwybyr had foretold- a son was born to them, whom they called Gwawl. His parents delighted in him, for he was a big, handsome baby, yellow-haired and fair-skinned- and moreover he seemed to grow at twice the rate of other children. By the time he was two years old, he could walk and talk as well as any four-year-old. But just four weeks after his birth, Llwybyr was compelled to return to Annwn, which he did of course reluctantly and with great sorrow. Meantime, Teleri found some noble foster parents for her boy, and there Gwawl grew up till the age of nine years....

And so things went for some time. Then it came about that Llwybyr son of Arawn was again staying at Caer Gwyddno with Teleri his wife. The time had come for him to set out for the court of Arawn his father, and on that morning, he was outside Caer Gwydddno, he and all his men about him. Llwybyr was astride a tall dappled-gray horse (it was one of the beasts brought into Britain from Annwn). The horse's saddlecloth was blue, broidered with silver, and its headset was jeweled and gilded with a gold tubular bridle. About the horse's legs pranced Llwybyr's pack of hounds, black with whit chests, and each with ten reddish-gold on its throat. Llwybyr himself was magnificently dressed, in gold silk brocade with a mantle of scarlet which Teleri had fashioned for him with her own hands. He wore a gilded scabbard and sword-belt, and jeweled combs in his hair. The garb of his men and the trappings of their steeds matched his for beauty, so that no such company had ever been seen before.

Now as they stood ready for their departure Teleri came out pf the fortress to bid her husband farewell. Of course, her heart was heavy at the thought of seeing him leave once again, for the joy of the three years and three days they had spent together seemed as naught against the bitterness of the twenty-seven years they had dwelt apart. So after he had kissed her and bade her stay well, Teleri said she would do so provided he were not so slow in coming this time.

"Better it were we had never been wed," she lamented. "How can I bear with nine more years of your absence? I grow older by the day!"

"Don't be troubled, and don't speak so bitterly, lady," said Llwybyr. "For though the nine years you speak of are but a day in Annwn, I swear to God it seems as long to me there as it does you here."

"Would it need not be so!" cried Teleri. "Is there nothing to be done? Would to God I might come away with you, that we need never more be parted!"

The instant she uttered these words, a great darkness fell upon the land, like a veil of thick mist, and with it a terrible din and clamor. And suddenly, with a great cry, Llwybyr and all his host had vanished out of sight. Then the mist cleared but there was no sign of Llwybyr. Then Teleri, realizing what she had done and seeing the evil she had brought upon them wailed aloud.

"Alas for the folly of those words! And for the disasters yet to come! I swear to God I would rather have given up my head than suffer this misery."

And she wept as though she didn't care whether she lived or died.

Then one of the servants, coming up to her, said: "Lady, should we not take our swiftest horses and set out at once to search for the lord Llwybyr, your husband? It may well be he is not dead at all, nor has any harm befallen him. Take heart my lady, and do not despair-"

But all their consolations were to no avail; Teleri only wept the more. At last, the servants began to murmur among themselves, concluding that the great calamity which had come upon them had driven her mad, and that surely there was some fell magic behind this. Teleri saw their confusion and calling them to her, said: "Indeed, it is a curse that has befallen us, and it was my own stupidity that brought it to pass. Would to God I had never uttered those words!"

"What words, lady?" asked Ysgudydd, one of the chief stewards. But Teleri made no answer for at that moment the grief and horror of her plight, and the shame over what she had done so overwhelmed her that her heart broke because of it and she sighed aloud and fell dead on the ground. Those words were the second of the Ten Disastrous Utterings that were spoken on this Island. The First Uttering before Teleri's was that of Gwastad son of Modron, after which the fell wave overtook him and slew him in his house. And the Third Uttering was that of Eiladar son of Clust, whereafter the spell of blindness was broken that lay upon him, and he saw the great oak at Nantllew and died of it."

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