OF ILLUSORY APPARITIONS

Gwytin Gwestiniog lived by Llangorse Lake. One day he saw a band of women dancing in his field of oats. He was not best pleased by the sight and chased after them until they plunged into the lake and disappeared beneath its surface. From this he realised that these were not ordinary women who were trampling down his oats. The same thing happened a second day and, where a more sensible man might resolve to leave well alone, he chased after them again with the same result. These events repeated themselves for a third time but, as they disappeared into the water, he seemed to hear a voice in his head telling him that, if he had only chased them at night time, he might have caught up with them.

So, the fourth day, he waited until darkness had fallen before he went to his oat field. Sure enough the ladies were dancing again. He raced towards them and they again headed for the lake, but one seemed to be falling behind her companions and he was able to grab hold of her dress. When she turned to face him he was struck down by her beauty and he fell to his knees and begged her to marry him.

“I will gladly serve and obey you with all devotion until the day when you hear shouting beyond the river Llyfni and you strike me with your bridle.”

“Well that will never happen.” said Gwytin. So they were married and lived contentedly for many years and had many children. The youngest boy, Triuncin, was born with a slight deformity of the leg and was therefore known in the vicinity as Triuncin with the crutch.

When Triuncin was about seven his father was at dinner when he heard a terrible screaming from over the river. Fearing that someone was after his cattle he rose quickly from the table and grabbed the bridle off the wall.

“Will you leave the food I have prepared for you to go cold?”

In his fear and anger Gwytin struck his wife with the bridle. “What’s more important, my cattle or your food?”

He ran to his horse and then rode to where his cattle were, over the river but when he got there they were grazing contentedly and there was no noise other than the splashing of the river and Gwytin’s heartbeat. Realising his mistake he desperately turned his horse around and rode back to his farmstead, only to see his wife and children running towards the lake.

Desperately he rode but he was in time only to hold onto one, Triuncin with the crutch.

The boy grew up to be ambitious, despite his lameness, and he chose as his lord the king of Dehuberth in south Wales. But it was not long before he found this man’s boastfulness unbearable. One day the king was looking at his household at dinner and he smiled. “It seems certain to me that there is not a province or realm under heaven that could resist me.”

Triuncin himself could not resist replying: “Lord king, you should know that Brychan, the king of my native land, so excels that you nor any other king could defeat him on a day when, at dawn, the tops of the mountains are clear and the rivers in the valley are still shrouded in mist.”

Naturally the king was enraged by this and ordered Triuncin to be bound and committed to the king’s dungeon until it was decided what to do with the fellow. His friend, Madoc, interceded on his behalf. “Surely a man cannot be condemned until he is proved a liar. All he meant was that no one can defeat Brychan on a fine day. Let us put it to the test with Triuncin at our head to prove that he has stomach for the task.”

This was greeted with shouts of agreement from the king’s household and soon he found that he had no choice but to invade Brychieniog. So they rode out with Triuncin forced to lead the way but, shortly after they crossed the border, a thick river mist came down so that each rider could barely see the horse ahead of him. When the mist cleared it was found that Triuncin was nowhere to be found. Some say his mother had come to rescue him; others were not so charitable.

Meanwhile, Brychan was sitting in his bath when news came of the invasion. He had a habit, well known among his court, of a fearsome temper, prone to striking out with whatever was at hand when bad news was brought to him, even if he regretted it later. He had been known to throw pots, dishes, even a spear if one was to hand. For a long time even his bravest warriors were disinclined to bring him the news but eventually a youth was persuaded to approach the king. Brychan, furious, jumped out of the bath, picked up a large stone and threw it at the boy; fortunately, in his temper, he missed. Then he calmed down and listened to the report.

Quickly he assembled his army, fell on the enemy and slaughtered them; all were exterminated. Then he gathered the right hands, the right feet and the penises of the dead warriors and built three cairns, one over each pile, as a discouragement to anyone else who thought they could easily invade his kingdom.

 

 

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