Red and White: Part 2

Last week, King Vortigern demanded answers to his building failures from a young boy…

“Several centuries ago, before the Romans came, Beli the High King of Britain was succeeded by his son Lludd,” the boy began. Several of the older men nodded. “Ludd had many siblings, but the one he loved best was his brother Llefelys, a wise and learned man. Now it came to pass that the king of France died, leaving one daughter, the heiress of France. When Llefelys heard of this, he came to his brother, suggesting that he make an offer of marriage to the princess, so as to increase the glory of the house of Beli. Lludd was pleased with this idea, and with his brother’s support Llefelys set sail for France. His offer of marriage was accepted by the French lords, and so he married the princess and became king of France.”

“Now after a certain time, there fell three plagues on the island of Britain, all very close together. The first was a fearsome race of people. Invaders, who appeared overnight and stayed. Their hair was as black as night and they towered over every Briton. They took everything good in the land for themselves, the very best of the crops, the animals, and the houses, while the Britons were forced out to live under the stars.

But the worst thing about them was that they were magic. Every one could hear every single word that was spoken in the island. And so it was impossible to drive them out, because they always had wind of every single plan before it could be put into action.

“The second plague was a blood-curdling shriek. Louder than a baby, more fearsome than the cry of a vulture, more chilling than the baying of a wolf. It came on May-eve, and every May-eve after that. When every pregnant female in the land heard it, whether human or animal, they would lose their baby. Not only this, but the men lost their battle courage, leaving them wan-faced and trembling, the young people went mad, and the crops withered in the fields.

“The third plague was minor by comparison, but severe to the heart of Lludd. Whenever he held a dinner or a feast, almost all of the prepared food would disappear, leaving only enough for one night. Thus he couldn’t provide suitable hospitality for his nobles and vassals, which was a great disgrace.”

“Whispers began to go around the land. Rumours about the king began to spread. Why couldn’t he get rid of these plagues? Was there something wrong with him? Maybe – shocking thought – something was wrong with the king, and these plagues would continue until they got rid of him?”

“Lludd knew what was being said, of course, and his face grew pale and his chin drooped onto his chest. He did not know how to save his reputation, or help his people. Then one day, at dusk, he took his most loyal warriors and embarked for France. He needed help.”