Saturday, June 12, 2021

LLudd and LLevelys

 Belli the Great has three sons, Lludd, Caswallawn, and Nynyaw. Afterward he is said to have a fourth son, Llevelys. After Belli death, Lludd becomes ruler, and rebuilds the fortification of London. London, according to this legend, got its name first by Lludd: Caer Lludd, later Lwndrys, before London.

Lludd's favorite brother, Llevelys, asks him if he might seek the hand of the daughter and heir of the deceased French king, to which Lludd agrees. The French nobles agree, and Llevelys marries the daughter, and rules the land.

To England come three plagues or difficulties. The first is the Coranians, who seem to be an untrustworthy group, at least in speech. The second is a "shriek" on May-eve that leaves people and animal scared and weaken. The third is a sharp decrease in food.

Lludd asks his counsels' advice, but they have no answer. Lludd then goes to his brother in France secretly so that the Coranian might not know the mission. The brothers meet near the coast of France, and speak on other matter, then both speak through a horn only the other can hear and avoid the Coranians hearing through the wind; but all the two brothers hear are hostile words. Understanding what is happening, Llevelys has the horn rinsed with wine, thus driving out the demon within the horn.

For the first plague, the Coranians, Llevelys gives Lludd insects with the instruction to crush some in water; call all the people together, including the Coranians; and sprinkle the charmed water on everyone. The Coranians would die, his people left unaffected.

The second plague, the shriek, Llevelys says is their dragon; and it is fighting another dragon. When Lludd returns, he needs to measure the land, find the midpoint, and have a cauldron filled with mead placed in a pit, covered with satin. Lludd is to stand there, watch the dragons fight on the ground, then in the air until they tire and fall and turn into pigs as they land in the mead, drink it, and fall asleep. Lludd needs then bury the pigs in the strongest place in his dominion. That will be the end of this plague.

The third plague is caused by a mighty man who consumes the kingdom's food. He causes people to sleep, as he steals the food; but Lludd is to have a cauldron of cold water by his side; and when oppressed with sleep, to plunge into the cauldron.

Upon returning, Lludd does as his brother advised; and gets rid of the Coranians and the dragons. Then he has a feast prepared, and then a giant appears, and puts the food into a large hamper. The king tells him to stop. A fierce fighting ensues with Lludd overcoming the giant. Fearing death, the giant says he will make a restoration equal to all he has taken. The king accepts this. From this time forward peace reigns in the land during Lludd's lifetime.



Belli or Beli Mawr is a Welsh ancestral figure. Llevelys is added, it seems, belatedly. Lludd and Llevelys might be brothers as in the honorific "Brother King", showing good relations between Lludd, king of Wales or England combined and Llevelys, a Celtic king on the Continent, such as in Brittany.

The Coranians are described as the Corieltauvi or Coritani, a group of tribes in East Midland, rather far from Wales. They are also described as "dwarf" from Asia, that is Romans. In my ignorance, I suppose they could be the Cornovii, another group of tribes bordering Wales.

The dragons, it is said, could represent the Brythons and the Anglo-Saxons.

The original poem appears to have been corrupted or the its meaning understood by the first listeners lost. The number three is significant in Celtic writing. A good poet would have combined elements that are associable, especially to the listeners. If in the third or forth century the poet said Romans and Anglo-Saxons, the people would have scratched their head. It would seem strange for the poet to lump the historically insignificant Corieltauvi, who were easily overwhelmed by the Roman — and possibly forgotten, with the Anglo-Saxons in the same tale no matter the time of composition. If this is a largely local tale (Welsh, with a Brittany connection), the foes might also be local. The giant could be a neighboring and hostile group of tribes that finally submitted to a Welsh king. The Picts suggested for one foe seems proper.

Wednesday, June 9, 2021

The Theta Option (4)


With the help of her skeletoid familiar, Jili located the object of her quest under deep snow. In a shallow cave, she laid out the pieces of Red Claw armor, and memory came flooding back. 

The daring amazon raid had the mission of killing her, as she was prophesied to destroy the Eolcan Empire. But a secret cabal wanted to turn the tables, using her against the dark realms. The Red Claw leader underestimated Jili's prowess at the age of six; a poison prick proved fatal against all attempts to counter it. 

Yet the leader had time to transfer command to her Second, called Caladra, who led the order still. She left her sword to her daughter Wayacth, herself a child at the time. By wrestling a demon lord over the side, she bought time for the force to escape with its dubious prize. 

Jili set up the scry disk and cast about for auras used by Eolca. She made contact with a remote outpost. 

"What is your call sign?"  the Red Claw demanded. 

In reply, Jili held up the helmet.

The amazon's eyes widened on either side of the nose guard, but only for a moment. "It is death to possess the armor. What is your intent?"

"To give it back," Jili said. Who would be foolish enough to try and sell it to them? "I've come a long way to retrieve it for you."

Two others came in view behind the speaker. "Remains?"

"None but dust, the effect of the poison used."

The other knew better than to ask how Jili knew that, or even what her name was. "Your location?"

"Beneath Skulls 603, where Eiridne fell in battle."

"Have you access to a teleport?"

"I do, but I'm not about to get arrested in Eolca. You can claim the armor in Lunari."

"We will be there," the other said in dire promise. The connection faced. 

Just then, a giant gorgon head descended along with a giant vampire bat. Each bore a passenger. Good: Team Dan wouldn't require Jili to take the theta option. In that disaster, when one lost control of a teleport, he faced months of travel over hostile terrain. 

Unexpectedly, the skeletoid attacked, but a serpent lashed out to bite off his head.

"Cripes!" Zena guided the gorgon head above the resulting cloud of deadly spores. "Find what you're looking for, Jili?" 

"Ready to depart." Jili slung the sack over one shoulder. She passed the scry disk up to Dan, aware that only the gorgon head could carry two. After she mounted, the bizarre flight ascended to the hidden ledge concealing the teleport. 

The rest of Team Dan helped them climb through tangled dead scrub. Cambris misted back into Dan's canister, and Stheno became part of the mace again. 

Bonnie broached the subject on everyone's mind. "Jili. . . .we can see why this was so important to you, but it's not like you killed the Red Claw leader. Are you coming back to Lunari with us?"

"Briefly." For a fact, Caladra and Wayacth would be there with a full honor guard. Caladra had inherited the conspiracy along with the red headband of leadership. Along with two others, they faced the wrath of the senate if it became known. Ironically, Wayacth's grandfather, the academy master, was one of them. The other was a Sybil called Luzia. 

"Well, men," Zena decided, "I can feel that hot water already. Let's punch in that code."

Hot water indeed, Jili thought, stepping onto the plate. 

Sunday, June 6, 2021

The Theta Option (3)


Previous: Team Dan jumps into the dark realms, burdened by a prophecy about infighting.

As an ill-fated guard plummeted past, Pete came in view down the side of the floating city, rapidly pulled up by Jili's magic cord. "That's good enough," he called. He clambered over the side of the old airship dock. "Hell of a place for a teleport down there--on a ledge carved into the Tekniker stone. Only a bird could reach it." 

"That's why no one knows about it," Jili said, doffing her witch disguise. "I couldn't use it, not knowing any destination codes."

Dan's collar lifted in the frigid moan of updrafts from the horseshoe void. It provided space for airships of old, which had given way to the age of the dragon. He pointed to a massive chain attached to surrounding mountains. "I take it this station can't move anymore, so they make sure the wind won't blow it around." 

"Like, deja vu!" Zena enthused. "I wonder if this one has a regular ghost ferry from Bodley Manor." She took some images on her pad. 

"Are you saying," Jili said with sudden interest, "the ghost ship can be boarded?"

"So there is one," Pete noted. "That's how we reached a different floatin' city. Hell of a ride. The question is where this one sails from." 

Dan looked across where chains clinked over some smashed crates. "Looks like this place saw some trouble. How'd you escape here, Jili?--seeing how you grew up here."

"I didn't. I was abducted by a Red Claw strike force."

After a moment of surprise, Ed stated the obvious. "Then you escaped from Eolca, and ended up in Khot." 

"Let's not get ahead of ourselves," Dan said. "Why did they kidnap you?"

"Their orders were to kill me, because the Eolcan Sybils prophesied I would one day destroy the empire. But a secret cabal wanted to use me against the dark realms."

"So why are we here?" Dan demanded. 

"I'll need recovering from the ground, because that's where my business is, and I doubt you'll agree with my plan." From her palm she blew dust that staggered Ed. A tossed pouch released a spell of confusion.

When the stars cleared, Zena rose. "She took the emergency flight suit from Ed. And the scry disk from Bonnie."

Bonnie surveyed the deepening gloom in the snowy valleys below. "Unless we conjure Cambris and Stheno for a ride, all we can do is wait for Jili's signal."

"Well, crud." Dan joined her. "We're nobody's taxi service." He pondered their own prophecy from the Well of Souls. "If that was the infighting, it could have been worse."

"It might be worse," Ed added. "You know we gotta go down there and see what she's up to." 

"Then we'll get ready." Dan tapped a steel canister, letting Cambris know it was dark enough to come misting out. Bonnie summoned the gorgon Stheno in human form.

"Impudence," the young princess said. Her serpents undulated restlessly. "You have brought me to a cold place, leader man, unlike the sunny clime of Greece."

"Cold is nothing," said Cambris, "compared to my embrace. "Let her who went below have a good reason."

Dan summoned the three fairies from the ring. "First things first. The fairies have to find Jili. Then we'll all go down and have a chat."