Thursday, June 3, 2021

The Dream of Maxen Wledig

Maxen Wledig was emperor of Rome, and under him were 32 kings. One day he ostensibly went hunting, but his real purpose was to put himself on equal footing with his vassal kings. In the field, it being a hot day, he took a nap. He dreamed he came to the highest mountain in the world, then followed a plateau until he came to a long slope where rivers ran down. Following the biggest river he came to a city, where boats were anchored. One boat stood out among the others for its magnificence. He boarded it, and it carried him to the fairest island in the world. After further travel he comes to a castle. The gate is open, and he sees precious jewels everywhere, and gold and silver. Two youths play chess; a richly dressed old man carves chessmen; and a beautiful young maiden rises to meet him. He throws his arms around her neck, then they sit and converse. Then they are cheek to cheek. Then the dogs clashing on the shields and neighing horses wake him up.

The emperor remains listless for a long time, and neglects his duty. This causes the people to revile him. He calls the kings and explain that his dream, his inability to meet the young maiden, is the cause of his trouble. They recommend he send out messengers to seek the maiden, but after a year they do not find her. It is suggested, then, that he should go to the place he had the dream. He does, then he sends out a group of messengers, who journey long to the castle in his dream, and meet the same people, including the maiden. One announces to her that the emperor would make her his empress. She requests he come to her.

Going back to Rome, they recount their travel; and the emperor sets out to the maiden. On the way, the emperor conquers Britain from Beli, and comes to the castle of Aber Sain. He sees Kynan and Adeon playing chess, and their father Eudav carving. Also he sees the maiden, Helen, who becomes his bride that night. The next day she asks her portion, which she gives her father: Britain. Two castles are built for her. Maxen builds another. He remains in Britain seven years. According to Roman law, an emperor who is absent that long can be overthrown, so a new emperor is named. Maxen sets out to recapture the empire, and on the way vanquishes France and Burgundy, then besieges Rome for a year, but cannot take it. Then come Helen's two brothers from England with a small army. They measure the walls, and make ladders; and when both emperors leave off the fighting, the brothers' army invades and conquers the city in three days. But they conquer Rome for themselves. Maxen needs to ask for the city, which is given to him. He allows the brothers to conquer other lands, which they do until old. Adeon returns to Britain. Kynan remains at Armorica, and cut out the tongue of the women so that they do not corrupt his own speech. This explains why the British tongue is still heard in Armorica. The conquered men are already dispatched.

* * * * *


The Dream of Maxen Wledig is also know as The Dream of Emperor Maximus. The tale recalls events in the late fourth century. Before he ruled as a co-emperor, Magnus Maximus(383-388) was a general in England in at least 380. In 383, he took men from Wales to Gaul. There are no further record of Roman troops in Wales afterward. He went as far as Rome, but was stopped by a combined force. An agreement was reached that he would rule Gaul, Britain, Spain, and Africa.

Armorica is the ancient name of Brittany. The author of the tale attempts to explain why the language of the Britons is found there. Armorica means, "before the sea". The "mori", Fr. mer, is sea.

I mentioned that the principal figures in the tales appear originally to have been gods. That is not true in this tale, of course. The son of Magnus Maximus was King Anwn Dynod, a variant of a name that also appears in the tales. The writers enhanced the stature of rules so that they appear godlike. It is possible, too, as was said earlier, that some gods ended as superhuman beings.

Castles came later than this period. The writer might have written "fortified places".


Wednesday, June 2, 2021

The Theta Option (2)

 Previous: the assassin Jili has teleport codes to an enemy floating city.

The Archonage, gateway to the dimensional hub

Because Team Dan received an emergency summons, they decided to launch their dark realms mission ahead of time, obviating the need to go home and gear up. The broad, recessed teleport dish glowed with standby power, awaiting arrival of a team in dire straits. Overseers in an overhead booth stood ready to switch on the alternate receiver code. All outbound teams would use it if the primary code didn't work, alerting them that some invader was trying to come through.

Bonnie pulled Zena away from autograph seekers at the barrier fence. "Come on, lady. That team could come through any minute." She frowned at an ad, having picked up enough Lunari to read it. Want to converse with Team Dan in their native tongue? Learn English! Slick operators knew enough to pass as instructors, but it was mostly Earth slang, especially Zena's crazy one-liners. The group's favorite reporter, a plump girl called Marnee, asked them for a pose.

"I feel old," Dan lamented. "They're calling this the comeback tour."

After scry balls captured the pose for the evening newscast, Bonnie motioned for Marnee to approach. "Take an image of this." Her pad presented a picture. "Zena after rolling out of bed."

"Bonnie!" Zena clapped a hand over her eyes. "I can't look." 

Suddenly the portal blazed with four incoming figures, survivors of a group of five. One man limped out with an arrow in his leg, his clothes smoldering. The team's wizard helped him aside as base healers rushed in.

Dan trotted over to the leader, whose arm was bandaged. "Gracious, Turim--where did this happen?"

"Library," the man said sheepishly. "I thought we could handle it." Located on the Archon plane, the Library repository of arcane knowledge made incantations into reality.

"Been there," Dan said. "A book was thrown at me that sent me to Earth. I crashed onto a car hood and set off every alarm in the parking lot."

"What's a car hood?" Turim asked.

A tone sounded, signaling an impending arrival. The Tekniker devices would not process a partial teleport. Whoever or whatever got caught in the field was passed along after the primary transport.

"Watch out!" Turim bellowed. "It's one of them!"

All but Team Dan rushed into a field shelter next to the dish. In a second flare of blue light, something came through.

"Devil dog," Bonnie said. "Seen it, done it." She took a bite of a fritter, having missed lunch. 

Zena jumped for attention. "Hey, lover, come to auntie!" She went to one knee and extended hands, conjuring the frosty animus of a spell. The slathering, red-eyed beast charged, preparing to spout flame. It slowed under a withering barrage of super-cooled air, its front part going icy white.

Bonnie finished off the fritter, wiping the hand on her skirt, snatching the Mace of Stheno with the other. But the gorgon wasn't needed here. The barbed ball rocketed forth to snap off the frozen head.  Crowd noise quieted to the level of awed disgust. Reporters got it all on scry balls. 

"Cripes!" Zena rose unsteadily. "Like that burned through a third of my reserve."

Bonnie picked two pills from her wizard kit. These replaced metals used up in magic, where they were stored in specialized areas of spell casters' brains. They didn't work as fast as potions, but were a lot cheaper. 

Leaning against a column with Ed, Pete had arms crossed. "Are we ready to get on the road?"

"We are," Jili said. She was disguised as an old witch so enemies wouldn't know she was away from Khot.

"Boogity." Pete was first into the teleport dish.

Monday, May 31, 2021

The Theta Option


Zena swept her pad across the majestic vista from atop the Well of Souls. Lunari had no internet, of course, but the pics could be downloaded to a portable printer at the villa. Selling them was yet another way to pay the rent for two girls fond of shopping. She dropped the pad into a pouch. "Do you think Ser Magus will ever sell us the villa?"

"Why should he?" Bonnie said. "He's making a mint."

Zena sat cross-legged on sun-warmed stone and punched up an Elvis tune she'd grabbed during the last visit to the L A studio. The jazzy strains of Such A Night caught the attention of some admiring tourists farther down. The inevitable reporter joined them, holding up his scry globe to record the scene for the evening news. Team Dan, after a long hiatus, was jumping somewhere into the dark realms.

Amused at how Zena played the crowd, Bonnie squatted beside her. "Dan is sure taking his time with the oracle. He must be worried about our mystery team member, whoever that is."

"Like I'm not worried. We've got Cambris and Stheno on call." She referred to a vampire and a gorgon.

Cold air rushed up from the forbidden depths of the mountain. Along with the  moan of currents came the tinkle of wind chimes on a lower ledge, where coins tossed by supplicants were gathered.

The old green-skinned Lunari woman studied Dan across the small table. "You have been strange places, Ser Dan--including the magical reaches of this mountain, where none have been before."

Dan laughed. "Long story. It involved escape from a floating city by conjuring an ice elemental. This was her link from the fairy plane." The oracle seemed troubled. "Problem?"

"Your new team mate. She seeks redemption at any cost. I see fighting among your own."

An intra-team rumble? Given their talents and weaponry, that couldn't end well. "I may have second thoughts about that." 

"Nay, team leader Dan. The girl is more important than you know. Give her this quest."

Dan sighed. "Okay, then I'll eat my doubts." He rose and approached the fenced edge of the void, making sure the oracle saw his generous offering as the coins glittered out of view. 

Just outside the pavilion, a figure stood up and threw off her shrouds, coming out of the stealth spell, revealing Jili of Khot.

"Well," Dan said, "as I live and breathe. At your discretion, that is, being the world's top assassin." Despite wanting to look cool and collected, he pushed at his shades. "I suppose you heard that." And made sure he knew it. 

"Redemption has no price tag. I don't see a problem as long as we're agreed." She made her way down one of the trails, skillfully blending into the environs even without stealth magic.

"That's just what worries me," Dan muttered. Jili hailed from the dark realms. She wielded twin swords with unmatched speed, was a mistress of poison, even reanimated fallen foes to command. Add to that impressive list a skeleton familiar with its own mystic weapon.

"Dan!" Zena, modeling her own shades for the fans, sauntered up a side path with Bonnie. "Was that Jili? I can't believe she's doing a gig with us."

"Strange but true," Dan said, arms crossed as he contemplated marbled skies. "For one thing, she has the teleport code."

"Wow," Bonnie mused. "She is a super thief."

Dan turned his shades to her. "Well, in this case, she grew up on the floating city we're going to. Let's get over to the Archonage and go over final plans." He didn't like that word "final".