The Welsh are one small portion of the Celtic peoples who settled Britain long before the Roman invasions. The Welsh language is an Indo-European one related to other Celtic languages such as Manx, Cornish, and Breton, as well as Irish and Scottish Gaelic. "Y Cymri," meaning "the companions," is what the Welsh call themselves. The people of Wales are very proud of their language and heritage; most public signs, for example, appear in both Welsh and English. Other Welsh speakers live in England, the United States, Australia, and a small region of Argentina called Patagonia.
The Celtic ancestors of the Welsh moved into the British Isles between the 5th and 6th centuries B.C.. They established separate tribes around one or two small enclaves and created a hierarchy of nobility, warriors, commoners and slaves. Many elements of this family structure remained intact through the Middle Ages.
Today, almost three million people live in Wales, many in the large cities of the south such as Cardiff. Dairy and sheep-farming dominate the north and centra! portions of the country. Industry and mining, which sharply decreased in the last decade, cover most of southern Wales. With the depletion of many 19th-century mines, foreign investments poured into the industrialization of south Wales; the Japanese led the way in this venture. While this provided employment, the environment paid a heavy price. Many towns all over Wales now concentrate on tourism as a means to make money without harming the land.
Politics & Economics Edit
Less than 5% of all visitors to the British Isles visit Wales, and more's the pity, for they miss seeing a land where the warm, slow, steadfast pace of rural life still exists. Yet, Wales is also a land in a state of transition. New sectors of science and technology, along with heavy foreign investments, are replacing the old mines and heavy industry of the south, and in most cases, the British government actively recruits these investors. In the north, however, many families are changing the venues of their farms from sheep and dairy herds to tree farms and tourist accommodations in order to survive. Despite generous multinational incentives, unemployment remains high in Wales. The average personal income hovers around $22,000... but the average house costs around $131,000. Formal schooling is compulsory until age 15, and about 3% of the population take part in higher or continuing education. Almost 20% of the population speak Welsh fluently, and the language has enjoyed a revival in recent years.
Over the years, administrators have divided Wales into various regions. The latest division occurred in April 1996, cutting the country into 22 sectors. Local officials answer to executives in Cardiff who in turn are accountable to London. Historically, Wales was an independent kingdom between the 5th and 13th centuries; previously, it was a Roman territory. From 1267 to 1282, the country briefly enjoyed nominal autonomy under the Treaty of Montgomery, but the English recanted their bargain and brutally subjugated the land. Only under the rebel leadership of Prince Owain Glyndwr in the second decade of the 15th century did the Welsh ever approach independence. Since 1535, Wales has been an official annex of England, and since 1801, a constituent of the United Kingdom.
Any reader of Welsh history will quickly note the ebb and flow of resistance against English rule. In the 20th century, desire for self-government coalesced into a formal political movement called Plaid Cymru, or the Party of Wales. Formed in 1925, this socialist group aims to secure self-government for Wales, ostensibly to preserve Welsh culture and international rights for the country. Plaid Cymru currently holds 10% of the 38 Welsh seats in the British Parliament and continues to publish a newspaper and various bulletins, supporting itself chiefly on voluntary contributions.
Climate & Geography Edit
Like much of Britain, Wales has a temperate climate, warmed by currents from the South Atlantic. Temperatures range from near freezing in the winters to sunny 60s and 70s in the summer-time. Rain and overcast skies are common, and a chilly summer shower is not unusual. High peaks such as Mount Snowdon have snow at all times of the year.
The land of Wales forms a peninsula on England's western border, covering about 8000 square miles (12872 square km), roughly 160 miles (254.44km) long and 60 miles (96.54 km) wide. Counterclockwise, the Irish Sea, St. George's Channel, and the Bristol Channel surround all but the eastern portion of the country. Major rivers include the Dee, the Conwy, the Teifi, the Wye, the Severn, and the Tywi.
Wales is well-known for its hauntingly beautiful mountains and valleys. The Cambrian Mountains bisect Wales from north to south, and the highest peak is Mount Snowdon at 3560 feet. Other major mountains and ranges include the Brecon Beacons in the southeast, and Cadair Idris and Carnedd Llewellyn in the northwest. Most of the country's lowlands fall along the coast from the northwest to the southwest, and along the English borders.
Twenty-two "unitary authority boundaries" divide Wales into counties; this is only the latest in a series of territorial divisions since the Act of Union in 1535, which joined Wales with England.
Ynys Mon, the Isle of Anglesey Edit
Just off the north-west coast of Wales lies the beautiful and mysterious island of Anglesey. During the Middles Ages, Anglesey served as an agricultural center with its fertile fields and waters thick with fish and marine life. Anglesey is also home to a town with the longest name in Britain: Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllandtsiliogogogoch, or Llanfairpwll, as locals, especially sign-painters and mapmakers, usually call it.
The history of Anglesey stretches back 9000 years in prehistoric times. Celts established Iron Age culture on the island and held it for a time even against Roman invaders. The Roman historian Tacitus wrote about the druids "pouring out frightful curses with their hands raised high to the heavens." This terrified most of the Romans, and many refused to fight thereafter.
By A.D. 300, the Irish replaced the Romans as masters of Anglesey, holding the island for about 100 years. Perhaps this is the time when Princess Branwen of Cymru married Matholch, king of Ireland, a story that ends in sorrow according to The Mabinogion. Rumors abound that her kinsmen buried her on Anglesey. Vikings and the English followed the Romans. The English starved the Welsh into submission through a blockade. The castle of Beaumaris still stands as testament to Edward I's efforts to subdue the island,
On the island's coast, Dwynwen's Well is a favored site for those who doubt the fidelity of their lovers. A magic eel reportedly swims beneath the well's surface. A concerned sweetheart must sprinkle breadcrumbs on the surface of the water and cover these with a handkerchief. If the eel appears and takes the hankie, the unfortunate one knows her lover has been unfaithful.
Today, Anglesey is a gateway by sea to Ireland and still retains natural delights in its flora, fauna, and numerous historical sites.
From the mountains to the sea, over 33,000 kilometers (20,460 miles) of roads and 1,508 kilometers (935 miles) of rail connect all points in Wales, Travel through the crags sometimes takes a while longer than expected, but the views are always breathtakingly spectacular. Recent innovations include the "Great Little Trains of Wales," which take riders to picturesque points such as Mount Snowdon. Roads and railways connect easily to destinations in Scotland and England as well; the London connection for North Wales is Euston Station, with Paddington Station serving South Wales.
While Wales has major airports in Cardiff, Swansea, and Welshpool, most visitors choose to fly into Manchester, Birmingham, or London, then catch the train or rent a car. A train journey from London to North Wales takes approximately three hours; the journey from London to Cardiff is a mere two hours. The M4 motorway provides a direct route from London to Cardiff; smaller roads such as the A487 and A470 connect Cardiff with points north.
Travel by water is also possible. The coracle, a small round boat, enjoys a great revival in Wales. Lakes and rivers host great fishing and sailing opportunities, not to mention the pleasures of miles of coastline and canals. Ferries also run several times daily from Swansea to Cork and from Holyhead to Dublin.
Known gwrwgl in Welsh, coracles have seen use since pre-Roman times. Ash or willow laths form the framework of the small boat, which is then covered in skins or thick cloth soaked in pitch or tar for waterproofing. Fisherfolk can easily carry the lightweight coracle before launching and sailing with the current. Coracle sailors use one or two paddles, depending on whether they're casting a net. Today, visitors can see Welsh coracles in use for fishing on the Rivers Teifi, Towy, and Taf.
Welsh Cuisine Edit
No discussion of Wales' culture would be complete without delving into the culinary world. Welsh rarebit, a sauce of cheese and beer on toast, and Welshcakes, fried biscuits with spices and currants, are fares commonly known outside the country's borders. What fewer people know about are the many delicious varieties of cawl,a thick broth made from meat, tubers, herbs and leeks; Glamorgan sausages, breadcrumbs, cheese and seasonings, shaped and baked; or the delicious game birds, beasts and fish that serve as main courses. A rich honey-glazed cake called Bara Brith usually ends off the meal or serves as a luscious snack at tea time.
Lovespoons, Wise Musings, & Leeks EditLovespoons are the traditional Welsh betrothal gift of a gentleman to his ladylove. The man carves the spoon from a single block of wood with elaborate knot work, key patterns, hearts or whatever he imagines his lady might fancy. Lovespoons vary in size and complexity from delicate pieces that fit in the palm of a hand to those more than a foot in length. Common symbols in lovespoon designs include diamonds (for good fortune), dragons (for protection), keys (for security), knots (for everlasting love), and ships (for good passage through life). The married couple usually hangs the spoon over their hearth as a symbol of the unity in their house.
Many bits of wisdom and homilies punctuate the Welsh language. Triads are common wise sayings and bits of advice. As the name implies, they create metaphors or similes using three items for comparison, "Three cold things of the world: A greyhound's nose, a marble pot, and a miser's hearth" is an example. Penllion are popular verses, usually short and with a simple meter, that convey some sort of emotion or feeling. Englyn more closely resemble epigrams or epitaphs, usually one line with a slightly more complicated meter than penllion. While most such adages date from the 18th and 19th centuries, the styles and ideas behind them linger from ancient times.
Finally, no discussion of Wales would be complete without mention of the leek. This noisome vegetable boasts many tales; traditionally, it was a mainstay of the Welsh diet. Under leadership of St. David, soldiers wore them as crests on helms, and this habit continued during the Battle of Agincourt and the rulership of the Tudor monarchy.
Of Myths & Men (Changelings & Mages) Edit
The fae population far outnumbers the mages. Members of both groups tend to congregate in the northern portions of Wales. Exceptions to this include the Technocracy who are gathered in Cardiff and the Dauntain in Glamorgan. Other than with the Rheibau ferch Llandona, many of who are kinain, little interaction takes place between mages and fae.
- 1000?: Gwynedd (northernmost principality in Wales) becomes stronghold of Druidism (some of which were Wyck) and other mystickal traditions. Remains so even during Roman and Norman invasions because of the difficult terrain and the fierce independence of its people.
- 92: Caer Bala enchanted and submerged under what is now Bala Lake.
Caer Bala Edit
Ah, Caer Bala. Now you must know first that Bala Lake is the largest natural lake in its area, just southeast of Snowdonia. Lovely it is, shining in the afternoon sun a sweet blue. Yet in the old times it was no lake but a thriving town with a wealthy prince. Burne the Mean. Miserly and rotten he was, having made his gold from the work of the subjects he exploited, nor did he ever part with a coin of it. And under his rule, the people themselves grew so crass and greedy as Burne himself.
Each year at Samhain, when the walls between the worlds grow thin, Prince Burne called all his people to his palace for a festival, though a meaner and less festive festival could no bard imagine. And while the folk took what pleasure they could take from stale bread and mean-hearted games, a little black sow with a ringed tail crept into the throne room. And it looked at Burne the Mean and said, "Vengeance shall come."
Burne, he looked the sow in its dead black eyes and said, "Who are you, talking pig?" And the sow said, "I am the woman you used most cruelly, a year ago this night. Vengeance shall come." Burne, he shouted in his fear, "It will not come if I visit it on you first!" And with that he struck at the pig with a club, but as he hit, the sow leaped and tore out his throat. Then the pig cried, "Vengeance has come!" It turned to dust, it did, covering Burne as he lay still as a stone on the floor.
What was the pig? Well, one of the living dead, the vampires, it might have been. Or a wraithly dead soul risen once more to bring its vengeance to the world. Not a word have I heard of why it sought revenge on Burne. But all this matters less than what came after.
So Burne died without wife or heir, and at once did the folk of Caer Bala give thought to his gold and who would get it. None knew where he had it hid but somehow they got the idea it was under his rich palace. Hardly had the undertaker put the pennies on Burne's eyes, when they set about tearing down the place.
They tore all the palace down, almost around their own fool heads. And in the foundation they found a copper plaque, and on it they read: Who disturbs the roots of my house shall drown in gold. Well, think if you can of an inscription more likely to make them pull up the plaque, eh? They tore out this copper plate by the roots, and from below flooded out a torrent of water, as if a plug were pulled!
The people did not die, for a magic pool it was, or so my grandsir did tell me. Might it have been a sarn (trod) to the deep blue seas of the Dreaming, and Burne the Mean its guard? Be that as it might, the waters turned these greedy folk of Caer Bala into fish, a lovely kind of fish called a gwyniad, which you may see there yet. And in the setting sun their scales gleam gold.
Now my grandsir, a fine old man from just over the border in Shropshire, did say that a hundred years ago a couple of men met a talking fish in Bala Lake, This is how he told it:
"Look you, I could not say just exactly what it was like, I was not there, you know, but it was a gwyniad like you see in the lake. Its voice was so sweet and musical as a trilling nightingale, a lady's voice, that these fellows felt drawn to her there and then, the both of them. And she told them as how her folk kept a treasure at the bottom of the lake, great glittering lumps of gold, and dear knows what. And she would give them all as much as ever they liked, if only they would come to her in the water and take it out of her mouth.
"So in they waded, nearly up their chests, and she ducked down and brought up a lump of gold, very near as big as her head. And the chaps were just a-going to take it off her, but then the one of them noticed her sharp teeth, not fish sort of teeth, and so he hung back and made for shore. And the other, he reached for the gold, and the fish, my word! She bit him a good hard one on the wrist.
"He slipped under the water with the gold, and the fish ducked down. In a moment a lovely dark-haired woman with blazing green eyes came up out of the water and onto shore, with not a stitch on her. She ran past without a look and ducked into the trees. They never saw more of the other man again, nor did they get any of the gold, nor has anybody ever seen the woman since."
Oh, yes, Bala Lake has many a legend around it. At night, they say, you can get out on the lake and hear a temple bell ringing far below. And there swims a fish who carries a sword belted to its body, an iron sword given to it by a hero of old; and no one can catch this fish but that it cuts itself free with the sword, and it will give up the treasure only to the hero himself.
Cymru was once a rugged land, look you, and still is in the minds of its people. And in those minds it is, that the land remains strong and vital. The Dreaming is yet strong in Wales!
- 19: Mighty half-sidhe, half-magus Glamorgan drives giants from Glamorgan with "shining sword." Giants retreat into Cambrian Mountains. Glamorgan builds Cardiff Keep.
- 75: Romans occupy Cardiff, build a fort. Glamorgan and his court flee the Roman Banality to Brecon Beacons area, where they build Caer Caemyffon on the glacial lake Llyn y Fan Fach.
- 140-143: Gwynedd remains the stronghold of Druidism and other traditions while Romans invade area.
- 150+: Pictish shamans battle Celts; some on each side lock many enemies deep underground, where some may still remain.
- 330: Sacred Congregation members and Sons of Mitras (early Celestial Choristers) move into Wales.
- 400-500s: The Dream Realm, Camelot, begins to take shape.
For the proof, I give you Camelot. There are not many who remember that the legend of King Arthur rose first in Cymru, in the incomparable tale of Culhwch and Olwen, which is too long to tell here. What I say is, the tales of Arthur spring from this land of Wales, no matter the Dark Age versions you hear now, the propaganda made up by the Technocracy.
The real legends, the true heart of Camelot, have grown large in the Dreaming. All the visions of Arthur's myth exist there together, and all are right. The people of the stories do live there, as you and I here, but in their many aspects, and we who reach them see only one aspect at a time, as you may see only one glittering of the many facets of a diamond.
In the Dreaming, lives Vortigem, who usurped the throne of Britain from its rightful heirs, Aurelius Ambrosius and Uther Pendragon, so that the Saxons overran the country. There, too, lives Merlin in all his variations, Merlin who foresaw Vortigem's death, Arthur's birth and coronation, and the rise of Camelot and the Round Table, who created three magickal pools in Britain, such as the Brianne in Wales. With these pools, Arthur conquered and united all Britain.
Lancelot and Guinevere live in that dream realm, too, in all the stages of their doomed love, as do Gawain and Perceval, Bors and Ector, and all the knights of the Round Table. And across that hazy and multiplying land of Camelot are hid the 13 Treasures of Britain, which Merlin took there for safekeeping.
But nowhere in all that land will you find an Arthur, save only a mere shadow, a placeholder, if you will. You see only a silhouette, hear only a kind of dream-voice, an idea. And all the rest kneel to this shape, seeing Arthur in their mind's eye, a dream's dream. Where is the real Arthur, if ever there was a real Arthur? It may be the once and future king will not return, no, not until all three of the pools of magick are restored, and of the three, one is dry, and one lost.
- 410: Romans withdraw from Britain; rise of Welsh tribes in Gwynedd.
- 461: Emrys, a magus, appears at Caer Caernyffon to prophesy Glamorgan's fall, and is ejected. Months later, a black boar fatally gores Glamorgan. Unrest ("the Kniving Times") follows among Cymrian fae, 462-540.
- 500-15: A few Welsh tribes choose kings and queens; some are secretly mages or fae. Seelie and Unseelie courts control remote parts of Wales; fae principalities established outside major human cities and towns: Gwynedd — Myrddin (not Merlin); Glamorgan (& Kingdom of Wool) — Caerna; Powis — Taliesin of Rheged; Dyfed — divided between Caerna and Taliesin.
- 520: Myrddin entrusts Gwynedd and Pool of Brianne to Caerna for safekeeping, then disappears in 522.
- 527: War of the Black Torc, fought primarily in Kingdom of Wool (England).
- 537: Battle of Camlan: In one version of Dream Realm Camelot, Arthur and Mordred fight and perish during this battle. Arthur possibly spirited away to Avalon (Afallach), or, in some versions, to Glastonbury (England) or Carnedd Arthur (Snowdonia).
- 550: St. David's monastic settlement built. Unseelie slowly withdraw as Church strengthens in Dyfed. Many move into Glamorgan to serve Morgan le Fay.
- Late 500s: St. David converts Wales to Christianity.
- 602-653: Many fae rulers enter seclusion (or Arcadia) as Christian influence grows and cities fill, Morgan le Fay retreats forever to Horizon Realm of Avalon in 652. Unseelie Prince Carniog takes Glamorgan throne.
When the Romans retreat from Wales and Glamorgan dies, we begin the history not just of Wales, but of the Welsh, and of the Cymrian fae, them we call the Tylwyth Teg, the fair family. A sad history it is, for both mortal and fae. Yet I recall its great glories as well, Camelot and Caledfwlch, and Gwaelod, all lost now like scattered sands upon a beach. Hiraeth, we call that mood: nostalgia and longing. Listen, you Kithain and mages, and you too will know hiraeth.
They were great rulers in those times, many of them: Taliesin, who came of Urien's court in Rheged, ruled Powys, or "Powis," as they spelt it then. Taliesin wove a great freehold from a single strand of his blond hair, they say; his name means "shining brow," you know. Then Queen Caerna of the Borderlands, she was said to be a direct descendant of the Tuatha de Danaan themselves, the first settlers of this land before the humans came. Caerna ruled what they called then the Kingdom of Wool in England, later to be called the Kingdom of Smoke; and in Wales, where we fae have principalities rather than kingdoms, she started with Glamorgan, and shared Dyfed with Taliesin, to whom she was most kindly disposed.
Some question whether the wizard Myrddin and Merlin were the same or not. They weren't, but Myrddin, whoever he might have been, was indeed a great magus, but a touch of Kithain blood was in him, I think. He must have had, for slim was the chance that any mortal otherwise could rule a principality! But Myrddin had discovered Llyn Brianne, the Pool of Brianne, one of the three magickal pools I did speak of, found (at that time) in the good soil deep within a cavern by the Swallow Falls of the River Llugwy. With its magic, he might have ruled the mortals of Wales. But instead he used it to establish a wondrous secret freehold in Gwynedd.
Yet Myrddin had not much interest in ruling Gwynedd, for soon he felt Banality threaten, or whatever it is that threatened mages then. He gave over the precious Llyn Brianne and his whole principality to Caema, who was none too sorry to take either, I will guess. She asked him why he gave them over and where he would go, but he said not a word.
Then Myrddin packed a fortnight's worth of food, a hot coal, and a lodestone. He rode on a pale horse to the ruins of Segontium, a Roman fort on the coast near what is now Caernarfon. And then, it is said, Myrddin rode on his horse straight into the sea. The surf rose for a day and a night, and then the sea went calm. Not a bit of Myrddin did anyone see for many centuries, and even that later sighting lacks a bit of the complete honest truth, if you want my opinion. But I shall get to that in time.
By the by, a bad area did that beach become from then on, at least some say. Wales fell to English rule there on that same beach in 1283, when Edward I's army slew the last native Welsh prince, Llywelyn ap Gruffydd. Edward built Caernarfon by way of driving home his victory, and an ugly and Banal place it is; and to humiliate the Welsh, he declared his eldest son "Prince of Wales," as all the English kings have done since.
Morgan Le Fay Edit
Some have spoken of the War of the Black Torc. By way of reminder for those not present then, the Torc appeared in Albion Pool in Wessex. The year 527, this was. Unseelie Prince Carniog of Lyonesse gained the torc by chance; then Carniog and Morgan le Fay used it to enslave many Seelie fae, confining them to Carniog's undersea court for centuries. Worst, Morgan le Fay did foully deceive Prince Rhys of Glamorgan, who was son to Queen Caerna. She entrapped him, and Prince Carniog confined him in the Black Torc itself.
Queen Caerna went to war to rescue Rhys. She failed, and lost Glamorgan to Morgan le Fay. As Morgan walked into the principality freehold in 527, in the same instant it happened that in Gwynedd freehold, many miles away, the Brianne pool vanished, and none found it for many a year.
Morgan le Fay has probably as many aspects to her as do Arthur and Merlin and the rest. (See Camelot) Much of her role in the history of our kind is rumor and anecdote, for she took many witnesses with her to Avalon and slew most of the rest. A cruel woman she was, as I heard it, and virulently opposed to Christianity. Now you all know, as I know, that the worship of Christ does not, in itself, equal Banality. But in that time, among those early missionaries, it must have done as they tried to quash the old ways, for the fae retreated as the Church advanced.
Oh, I know many of the tales: Morgan sealing compacts with the Devil, Morgan inspiring the redcap who became the first vampire (hah!), Morgan warping reality to suit her madness, so many versions there are, I cannot think that anyone knows them all. But whatever the truth of Morgan's nature, I know the truth of her departure.
In her freehold's great throne room she called together all her court, the highest to the lowest. And there also she invited Prince Carniog, from his dark court off the coast in sunken Lyonesse, her close ally, and yet the tales tell of deep disdain between them, each for the other.
Morgan took a silk purse from her sash, and with a flick of her wrist she cast it open. It grew to the size ofthe room, and she ordered all her servants and courtiers to walk into it. They dared not refuse. When they entered, she popped the purse closed, shrank it to hang on her sash, and told Carniog, "This realm is yours, to hold or lose."
And she gave him a long sword of shining silver, "This be the Sword of Glamorgan, who did conquer this realm six centuries ago. Mark well these words: The sword be invincible within Cymru; but should ye set foot beyond the country's borders, the sword shall turn on thee, and disaster shall surely follow,"
Then Morgan made to him a terse farewell, opened a path to the gates of Avalon, and departed. Prince Carniog went no more to his court in Lyonesse, and I know no tale that tells what came of his absence there. But many are the stories of his vile attacks on his Seelie neighbors in Powis and Dyfed, and of his worrying fear over the growing power of Powis.
It is not much that I've said so far about Carniog himself, but I will tell you of him before long, for of his long, troubling, evil reign in Glamorgan I have heard much.
- 654-954: Glamorgan under Carniog becomes haunted, near deserted.
- 730-821: King Offa builds dike along Mercia-Wales border.
- 879+: Germanic shamans (proto-Verbena) settle in Wales throughout Dark Ages. Early Hermetics come seeking solitude or esoteric knowledge.
- 888: Hermetic magus Abernaeron bani Ex Miscellanea rediscovers Pool of Brianne in remote Snowdonia. Taliesin, ailing Prince of Powis, assigns fae and ghille dhu protectors to Brianne.
- 891: Taliesin dies. His daughter, Rhonwen, becomes Princess of Powis. Rhonwen and Abernaeron marry, build Caer Caledfwlch. First Festival of Talecraft,
- 940s: Height of Caledfwlch influence. Preparations for war against Carniog in Glamorgan.
- 950: Avalanche destroys Pool of Brianne and guardians.
- 951: Deaths of Rhonwen and Abernaeron. Caer Caledfwlch falls to Carniog.
The Pool Brianne has moved from place to place over the centuries, and often vanished for long years. Those who find it are marked by destiny, for always there is a tale in the finding. Although, as I think on it, if some poor fool found the pool and did nothing with it, no one would hear of him, and a thin tale that would be, eh?
Be that as it might, this particular finding of the pool now, in 888, that is quite a tale, grand and sad at once. The mortal wizard Abemaeron had befriended a stand of the ghille dhu, the green men. They led him to the pool, which at that time lay halfway up beautiful, icy Mount Snowdon. The wizard sensed the pool's power at once, but more goodness he had than ambition. Rather than use its powerfor selfish ends, he brought the news to the Powis freehold of Prince Taliesin, whom Abernaeron had talked with at times before.
Now not long before, Prince Carniog had sent a sluagh assassin to strike Taliesin with a slow fae poison. The courtiers at Powis caught the assassin and turned her in to a slug, too late to save Taliesin. His end lay clear before him. The great man could have used the magic of Brianne to save himself, perhaps, but he wished that its power should serve his kingdom, not himself. So he appointed the ghille dhu official stewards of the pool, and a worthy task he set Abernaeron: how best to use Brianne's magick. And while the wizard studied and thought and planned, Taliesin withered away.
He had a daughter, the prince did, a fair maiden with golden hair and fine gray eyes, named Rhonwen.
Rhonwen had the beauty of the fair folk and the vigor of her human father. She and Abernaeron tell in love at first sight, as the tale would have it, and Taliesin blessed their union with almost his last breath. Upon their marriage, the two conceived a great and wondrous working, the building of a new freehold near the Pool Brianne. In a single night under the full moon they built atop Mount Snowdon Caer Caledfwlch, a glorious castle and shining summer city surrounded by snow.
Caledfwlch became the cultural center for all the Kithain of Cymru. Of the poetry and songs of its bards, and the wonders of everyday life there, I need say nothing, for you have all heard those songs and marveled at the tales of those wonders. My sad task it is to tell of Caledfwlch's fall, and of the demise of the lovers who built it. Caledfwlch and Queen Caerna's domains were always the checks upon Prince Carniog's ambition. Around his thin neck Carniog wore the Black Torc, which enslaved its victims, and at his waist he wore always the sword of Glamorgan, which protected him from harm so long as he never left Cymru. But he could not be everywhere at once, and he lacked enough troops to hold the lands he took; for all the fair family despised Carniog. No greater scoundrel ever rose from the deep ocean that covers Lyonesse, that strange, darkly beautiful realm. Carniog was handsome and lithe, but arrogant beyond belief, and thought of all surface folk as mere livestock. He bred them into monstrous forms, for purposes none know even now. Many in Glamorgan fled the king when he took it. So he ruled as a turtle, behind high walls and deep trenches, and he schemed endlessly to conquer his hated rivals by treachery.
The other principalities became more worried by the year as Carniog's schemes grew ever bolder. In Caledfwlch, Abernaeron and Rhonwen spent much time kenning his defenses and drilling their armies. Yet we Seelie in Cymru have always been honorable folk, and to declare war without overt cause sat well with nobody. So Caledfwlch hoped for peace but prepared for war.
At last, when the tercentenary of Carniog's rule in Glamorgan was only a few years off, the chief of Mount Snowdon's snow giants arrived in the Caledfwlch court. These giants were a foul, greedy, thick-headed lot, never friendly to the fair folk, and none at Caledfwlch trusted them. But strength the giants had, colossal strength beyond any troll of today, and so none dared ignore them. I am glad they are gone, these days.
This giant chief, Mog was his name, told Rhonwen, "I have learned from kinfolk in Glamorgan that Carniog plans to invade Powis. We fear the Shining Sword of Glamorgan, which killed many of our kind long ago. We shall help you defend your freehold." It seemed a harmless offer on its face, and the giants did not ask to he let in the freehold; and so Rhonwen and Abernaeron accepted Mog's offer.
The giants began heaping great ice boulders in a huge pile on the slope of Mount Snowdon. "Ammunition," they said, and the rulers did not doubt it, for the snow giants did often throw such boulders as weapons. Then one cold night Mog and his treacherous tribe, who had been in Carniog's pay all along, let loose the boulders in a roaring big avalanche. This killed the guardians of the Brianne, covered the pool and shut off its magick. Then the giants fled Powis, and not a bit do I know of what became of them. When the fae tried to dig out the pool, it was gone.
With its source of magickal power gone, Caledfwlch's defenses gradually faded. The next year, Prince Carniog himself broke through the freehold walls and slew right and left. With the Torc he had enslaved a weak-kneed magus, Prester Fflydd was his name; at Carniog's behest, Fflydd transformed Abernaeron into a small white fox. By a sad mistake of the magickal effect, Rhonwen thought Abernaeron had died. Heavy was her heart, as all her life's work fell to pieces around her, so heavy that she fell into despair and she swallowed a quick poison.
Oh, oh, it is little heart I have to recite all these sorry events. Let me only add that Caer Caledfwlch fell, and of all those fine folk, Abernaeron alone did survive, and he only at Carniog's pleasure. The Unseelie prince let the fox roam free on Mount Snowdon. They tell me the fox did dwell upon that mountain, all alone, for the rest of his life, and finally vanished 15 years later.
Battle in Cymru Edit
- 952: Led by Queen Caerna, Gwynedd and Kingdom of Wool battle Carniog for control of Powis.
- 953: Powis, controlled by Prince Carniog, grows dark, unpredictable, and dangerous.
- 954: Battle of Carniog's Doom: Principalities of Dyfed and Gwynedd, Kingdom of Wool and refugees from Powis ally to defeat Carniog. Mage allies assist to avenge Abernaeron. After Carniog's defeat, High Queen Caerna rules united Welsh principalities.
Only one piece of good news was there from the tragedy at Caledfwlch. That was the union, long overdue, of the other principalities to topple Carniog, and Queen Caerna of Gwynedd led them.
The armies clashed upon the white beach east of what is now Cardiff. Caerna led the feared Gloaming Covey of Claerwen, with their enchanted emerald swords that clashed with the deadly sun-swords of Glamorgan. Sidhe of Dyfed summoned griffins, and a magus of Powis called upon old debts owed her by two Penn-y-Cabar wyrms. The sinuous dragons cast their great shadows against the sun, and the Glamorgan swords went out like spent candles.
In response, Carniog lit a great bonfire with the bodies of his fallen enemies. Holding magickal prisms before the flames, he focused the light into thin beams that sliced the wyrms right down the belly. The ancient dragons fled, leaving only fae enraged by the profanation of their dead. Yet rage did not help them, for Camiog used the Torc, and he kept hold of the Shining Sword. Against it none could stand.
The turning point came when, there on the beach, the deceitful magus Prester Fflydd turned on his master. No one knows why, but I think he may have given in to some kind of fae cantrip. Fflydd struck at Carniog from surprise, and though the mortal could not damage the Unseelie Prince, he did scratch the Black Torc.
Now hearken to what did happen: Carniog slew Fflydd on the instant. But the Torc, once scratched, turned loose good Prince Rhys, that Camiog and Morgan le Fay had entrapped in it those centuries ago. He emerged quite mad, yet in a froth he shouted to his mother, Queen Caerna, remember, "If he leaves the bounds of Cymru, he is doomed!" Then Rhys, too, fell dead on Carniog's Shining Sword. But his death was not in vain.
Queen Caerna heard her son's last words, and she knew at once what to do. Prince Carniog stood on the beach, within a few paces of the surf. Caerna gave quick commands to a magus of Powis, Clothra Seabreeze. Clothra chanted a spell and shed a drop of her blood to the sea-spirits, and down on the beach the surf rushed up to flow over Carniog's feet.
It was no more than knee-deep, that water, and yet it meant that Carniog now stood offshore, beyond the bounds of Cymru. Carniog realized it and screamed, and at that moment, the Shining Sword of Glamorgan turned in his hand and struck him down. He fell into the surf, the Black Torc and Shining Sword slipped from him, and the whole sea went dead black for a day and a night. And that is the last that anyone has seen of Carniog for 10 centuries since.
Queen Caerna Edit
- 1024: High Queen Caerna falls ill and her court grows weak.
- 1066: Welsh battle for independence prompts construction ofnumerous castles; many owned by mages and noble fae. Battle of Hastings.
- 1093: Robert FitzHamon, knight of William the Conqueror, given land in Cardiff. Builds Norman fort.
- 1160: Zurenzialle of House Merinita (Order of Hermes) disappears. Mages later find evidence that he is a changeling passing as human.
- 1170: Madoc, son of Owen Gwynedd, Prince of Gwynedd, lands in what is later Mobile Bay, Alabama and teaches Welsh to Native Americans.
I must stop here a while to speak of Queen Caerna. She was no bad woman, and in many ways a fine fae ruler; against Carniog, all Cymru trusted Caerna to do the right thing. But no great glory did her long reign bring Cymru, not to match that of Caledfwlch or Gwaelod. Caerna seemed always a hit close to the precipice of Banality, or what passed for Banality in those times. Nowhere do you see this more clearly than in her fondness for that most Banal activity, political intrigue.
Not many of the fair family have truck with intrigues, but not only did Caerna maneuver and connive always to extend her power, perforce she also lured opponents into the same dull maneuvering. This we see on Taliesin's death, when Caerna sought the throne of Powis to go with her other lands. But as she schemed tor power, so she made enemies, by the very act of her scheming, perhaps. No throne would these enemies allow her; instead, they clamored for Rhonwen to take the throne.
But the sad end of Rhonwen left her supporters without spirit, and Caerna grew strong in the following war against Carniog. She became high queen over all Cymru as well as her own Kingdom of Wood in England. Still, though long and decent was her reign, it brought no great time for the fae. Sad, in a way, for in many of these same centuries of her reign, mortal Wales was enjoying its only prolonged stretch of independent sovereignty before falling to England. And there are English who will tell you today, that Wales too did not achieve much in its centuries of freedom, the liars.
Grimsfen Tor & After Edit
- 1215: Loss at Grimsfen Tor: Scientific mages defeat Caerna and Hermetics, seize vital Node. Caerna disappears. As new high king, Gwyddno takes throne of Powis, renames it "Powys."
- 1282: Edward I conquers Wales.
- 1300s: Mabinogi, bardic legends of historical figures and magic, written down.
- 1315: King Gwyddno's centenary. Cantrev Gwaelod, the "Jewel of Powys," reaches peak ofglory; contains 16 freeholds, including Caer Ceredigion.
- 1348: The Shattering; rise of Order of Reason. The Black Death. Sidhe flee to Arcadia, while commoner fae find refuge. Gates to Arcadia shatter.
- 1349: The Flooding of Gwaelod. The Awakened kings welcome surviving Kithain, who establish new freeholds in Snowdonia.
Well, now, poorly went the day for Caerna's fae and the Hermetic mages who fought at Grimsfen Tor, but since others has already summarized the battle, I will not go into it. The long and short of it was that Craftmasons bulldozed both groups with deadly pikes and war machinery.
Now, until Grimsfen Tor, Queen Caerna had been ailing, and the land itself had come to echo her sadness. Wild rivers once teeming with fish ran barren, flowers wilted, forests grew dark and rambling. Even mortal Cymrians warred upon each other, burning the earth and forgetting the wise lays of old.
With the fabled loss at Grimsfen Tor and Caerna's disappearance, the charmed places of Cymru faded one by one. The world of men grew stronger, and Glamour grew scarcer.
The throne empty, there was no more likely successor than Prince Gwyddno Garanhir, from the Land of Forgotten Plains. His support among the fae peaked as he moved the court from Caer Nantgwyllt in the Cambrians near Elan Valley to Caer Cerdigion. For a time, High King Gwyddno staved off Banality, creating anew the High Age that Cymru had known when Caerna was in her prime. With Cerdigion, all seemed right — but not for long.
Caer Cerdigion Edit
Caer Cerdigion: the Jewel of Powys, Cymru's Crown. Bards love to describe glorious Cerdigion, for nothing but Arcadia could exceed her in beauty and Glamour, and nothing but the Shattering could exceed the tragedy of her fall.
'Twas a great pity, Cerdigion's Dan. I have not the time now to repeat the sad tale of the Flooding of Gwaelod; what I will tell you is what bards tell me: Some of her freeholds live still, perhaps in the Dreaming, perhaps enchanted at the bottom of Cardigan Bay.
When Cerdigion and the rest of Gwaelod drowned, the Cantrev lost lives as well as great Glamour. Poor King Gwyddno died, as did his courtiers who were holding a great feast the night that Sethennin Feddw tore open the gates of Cardigan Bay. Now, King Gwyddno had always claimed that in a vision he'd given Myrddin one of the 13 Treasures of Britain, what's now known as the Hamper of Gwyddno: a cornucopia of bread. This legend seems a bit out of sorts. If I were Myrddin coming to Gwyddno in a dream, I should have demanded Caer Cerdigion, certainly one of Britain's greatest treasures, and not some overblown bread-making machine. Nonetheless, no one's sure if the Hamper was lost in the Flood, or if Myrddin really does have it. I'd wager, though, that skindiving in Cardigan Bay's the way to find out.
Don't lose hope, now. You see, on and off, stories about the Well of Cob surface, a deep well lost at the bottom of Cardigan Bay that, should its slate lid be removed, the bay waters will drain away, and the ancient freeholds of Cantrev Gwaelod will be restored. It is equally said that monstrous sea chimera guard the well, for they do not want their homes in the bay destroyed. Some eshu repeat tales that the Well of Cob taps deep into an underground network of lakes, and these eventually run through England into Scotland and Loch Ness. Nessie, they say, sometimes winters in these granite caverns far beneath our feet.
Now, Gwyddno was the last high king of the land, though many had preceded him in forgotten ages ago, and high queens like Caerna have succeeded him since. During Caerna's rule, the Awakened kings fled east to Snowdonia and established a kingdom over which they shared rulership. These kings were twins, two great mages with fae blood whose names are now lost to legend, known simply and forever as the Awakened kings.
The Awakened Kings & Yvana ferch Dewys Edit
Probably Verbena shamans, they lived in peace with the fae there, and they proved wise and just rulers. So loved they were that Caerna sometimes invited them to partake in Kithain celebrations at Caer Nantgwyllt.
Now, we'll dart ahead a few years to the Flooding of Gwaelod. The great hero Yvana ferch Dewys, seneschal of Snowdonia, saved the flood victims by leading them along high ground north to Mount Snowdon. (That is why to this day, we call changelings who give comfort to the needy and show strong leadership "Dewyskith.") Dewys led the Kithain to Snowdonia, where the Awakened kings welcomed them. There, the kings sought to assist Dewys in settling the dispossessed Kithain by allowing them to establish freeholds throughout the area.
One freehold survived the flooding: Caer Badrig, whose story, along with the others of the Cantrev Gwaelod, is told in the eshu's record of events, The Black Book of Carmarthen. You may recognise this name, for mortals later stole the book and spun tales around its words. Though lost now, it is said that the Carmarthen contains prophecies as well as histories.
Owain Glyndwr Edit
- 1349-1969: The Interregnum.
- 1350-1416: Wizard Owain Glyndwr, descendant of Welsh princes.
- 1352+: The Alliance: Seelie and Unseelie cease hostilities.
- 1404: Owain Glyndwr's Rebellion.
- 1408: Failure of Owain Glyndwr's Rebellion as French make nice with Henry IV.
- 1416: Owain Glyndwr disappears.
Mysteries and beauty remain part of Cymrian heritage, whether that heritage belong to mortals or to Kithain or, for that matter, to mages such as the Ecstatics.
Some legends have it that Owain Glyndwr was a wizard, some that he was Kith, some that he was a mortal bom to a line of Welsh princes. I believe him to be a mortal favored by Kithain, a fae-friend. Whatever he was, it is true that early in our history, he rebelled against the English Marcher Lords, the English barons who controlled the border territory "Marches" between England and Wales. After Edward proclaimed his English son "Prince of Wales," resentment grew. In 1400, Glyndwr proclaimed himself Prince of Wales and led a rebellion against the English with the help of Celtic allies in Scotland, Ireland, France, and Northumbria. I shiver to think of what might happen to such a one as Glyndwr today, though there are many nationalists who'd like nothing more than to follow his path.
In 1404, Glyndwr captured Harlech and Cardiff and established a parliament in Machynlleth, where (I'm told) there's now a Chantry of mages who run the Centre for Alternative Technology (low-energy houses, organic gardens, and the like).
Victory was fleeting. But four years later, Glyndwr's French allies formed a truce with the English, and the Rebellion failed. Now, there's no mystery in this, but in what follows... perhaps.
When his rebellion collapsed, Glyndwr disappeared. Some say he fled to the same caves near Llyn Brianne where Twm Sion Cati lived as an outlaw. Strong opinion among sage Kithain holds that one of the first tests of the Alliance between Cymrian Seelie and Unseelie was the saving of Glyndwr. To ensure good faith, both courts worked together to spirit Glyndwr away to the now-fallen Caer Dolbadam. Records of his passing away were lost when the ancient Wyrm Dyrnwdd succumbed to a draconic form of Bedlam and attacked the keep.
If Glyndwr was indeed a wizard, he may still live. The beauty of the mystery is that Wales' last native leader might yet bide his time, awaiting the right moment for the resurgence of Cymru.
The Redcap Rebellion Edit
- 1486: Gwylliaid Cochion Mawddwy (Red-Haired Bandits of Mawddwy in Gwynedd) arise.
- 1535: Wales becomes part of Britain
- 1548: Redcap Rebellion: Splinter group of Gwylliaid Cochion Mawddwy marches into England and kills fae courtiers in Kingdom of Wool.
- 1555: Christmas Day: A human army captures and kills 100 Gwylliaid bandits.
Now, long for the redcaps were the years after Glyndwr's Rebellion and the mortal Wars of the Roses. They fought a few skirmishes here and there, but there was nothing to satisfy a battle-lust born of faerie nature.
In general, Cymrian fae were at peace with themselves, and when they weren't, they were fighting to survive the ravages of steadily growing Banality and mortal populations. Burgess lords were continually ordering their redcap subjects to stand down, for they wanted no undue attention.
In this climate, the redcaps grew restless, and, really, one cannot blame them, for it's in their natures to fight, not to pick peacetime pansies. Cymrian redcaps secretly came together, some of them murmuring threats against English mortals, often praising their fine, plump flesh.
In 1486, a steadily growing band of renegade redcaps and mortal bandits known as the Gwylliaid Cochion Mawddwy (Red-Haired Bandits of Mawddwy) met in the mountains of Gwynedd and began to terrorize the people of Meirionydd and Montgomery. There, they chased young children, thieved from passersby, ripped out throats of cattle, sullied wells with decaying entrails, and the like.
Over the next half-century, the population of redcap bandits grew until everyone feared the mountains of Gwynedd and the surrounding areas. Few fae would venture near, afraid that the entire changeling population there had entered Bedlam.
Decades passed. The redcaps of the Gwylliaid Cochion Mawddwy grew even more restless until, in 1548, a splinter group opposed to England's recent consumption of Wales marched into England and murdered 20 fae courtiers of the Kingdom of Wool. Changelings of various Cymrian caers across their march tried to prevent the event, but the Gwylliaid Cochion Mawddwy of the so-called Redcap Rebellion persisted.
It so happened that the courtier victims were most unloved by the High King Albion of England. Had they been in the fae king's favor, I would wager that entire Welsh Kithain populations would have been wiped from the face of the earth. As it was, Albion set the mortal authorities on their tracks as the redcaps returned to Wales. With hidden assistance from certain English trolls, the mortal army, led by Baron Lewis Owen and Sir John Wyn of Gwydir, captured and hanged over 100 of the Gwylliaid Cochion Mawddwy on Christinas Day, 1555. This date is still celebrated throughout the Kingdom of Smoke, where English fae string up red berries on Yule and hang them over doorways to prevent Bedlam from entering their freeholds.
The Witch Daughters of Llandona Edit
- 1565: Earliest Rheibau ferch Llandona form Chantry in Snowdonia. Many reclusive fae already live here (dating back to Flooding of Gwaelod) and contest the Rheibau's arrival through pranks.
- 1589: Rivalry between fae and Rheibau ferch Llandona (Verbena) develops full force after years of escalating pranks.
- 1590: Snowdon Pact forged.
A Verbena coven now lives in Anglesey which has forgotten its roots in Snowdonia's past. There, the earliest Rheibau ferch Llandona, or Witch Daughters of Llandona, set down roots, and retreated far from the travails of life on the Marches, where they originally lived.
Now, in the mid-15th century, the Awakened kings had left Snowdonia, persuaded to fight the Order of Reason by the tales the March of the Nine brought with them. (These nine mages, whose tale is recounted elsewhere, led a failed attempt to convince the Awakened throughout the world to resist the Order of Reason, now known as the Technocracy).
So the Rheibau ferch Llandona formed a Chantry near the ruins of Caer Dolbadarn, near Llanberis. They were retreating not only from the contested Marches, but also from the witch trials they'd foreseen in Britain's near future. When they arrived, they encountered the fae who'd settled in Snowdonia after the Flooding of Gwaelod centuries before. These fae'd been around so long by then that they considered themselves Snowdonian natives, and thus wanted nothing to do with the Rheibau.
A year passed, and the Rheibau had to endure all manner of pranks intended to inconvenience them into leaving. I'm sure the pookas in the audience could regale us with stories from The Snowdon Cycle, that is, the tales of all the pranks that the Snowdon pookas conceived and carried out in the years that followed. So the Snowdonian changelings did not surrender for several decades. They didn't want the Rheibau bringing trouble into their land about as much as they didn't want trouble from the Rheibau themselves.
Finally, the pranks became so intolerable that the Rheibau confronted the Snowdonian fae directly. "Look you," said the Rheibau. "we will promise to protect Snowdonia from mortal development in exchange for the use of the Glamour in these mountains. But you will have our protection only if you give up your pranks."
The changelings looked at each other, then at Gloddfa Ganol the Wizened, the troll lord of Snowdonia at the time, and nodded in agreement. From the tales, the pookas stood across the room shaking their heads, arms crossed, pouting. Gloddfa agreed, and the Snowdon Pact was cast, a geas of sorts upon each party.
Now, legends of the Black Dog, though mostly thought of as English, arose from one of the guardians that the Rheibau posted at the borders of Snowdonia. Other guardians, though not under the Rheibau's control, included unicorns, griffins, and Cymrydd the Wyrm, who was a weak descendant of the great dragons of past ages. For their part, the Kithain met their agreement, allowing the Rheibau use of the Quintessence atop Snowdon's peak while not playing any, well, almost any, pranks on their benefactors.
The Brecon Retreat Edit
- 1665-6: Great Plague. The Brecon Retreat.
One of the most shameful times in Kithain history, the Brecon Retreat. The Alliance had lasted over three centuries when a magickal plague broke out among Cymrian Kithain. Some mages say the plague resulted from a duel between two Verbena Masters of life magick, while others think that some irresponsible English Hermetic twisted a Welsh Verbena's work while experimenting on diseases in his laboratory. Whatever the cause, the plague arrived in 1665. The borders were sealed at about the same time British mortals were beginning to die. The Seelie blamed the disfiguring disease on the Unseelie, the Unseelie on the Seelie. Distrust erupted, skirmishes were fought, blood was spilled. Months passed in chaos. Then one Unseelie freehold from the empty moors of the Black Mountain in Brecon Beacons began a rumor that the Seelie sluagh were plague-carriers. Nobles rode out early one day on their hunting horses, and came back that evening with the head of a sluagh.
The Black Mountain Unseelie continued to hunt sluagh even after the plague abated. Seelie hid sluagh in freeholds and fortresses, but the unfortunates caught outside were hunted to extinction. Worse yet, some Seelie even began to believe the rumors, and sent the sluagh out to be tracked.
One by one, disenfranchised sluagh made their way to the Dan-yr-Ogof Caves in Brecon Beacons, where they were told safety lay. Hundreds of sluagh crept through the labyrinth of caves there, waiting for the hunters to hear of them, waiting for revenge.
The Unseelie never came, so the sluagh organized themselves into an army and marched to the fortress of Carreg Cennen on the slopes of Black Mountain, where the Unseelie freehold was located. One by one, they slipped through cracks in walls, through arrowslits and under doors, hundreds of them. They strangled Unseelie in the night, so that not a one of them was spared.
Snitch's Last Hurrah Edit
- 1723: Snitch's Last Hurrah.
Quite a while it took the Welsh fae to recover from the dark days of the Brecon Retreat and the Great Plague, But the trouble wasn't over.
In Snowdonia, the Rheibau ferch Llandona had decided to follow what was becoming common practice then, allowing other types of mages into one's Chantry. Until then, theirs had been all Verbena. Now, they'd invited members of the Fellowship of Pan from England to share their Chantry and the Quintessence atop Mount Snowdon.
Well, the Snowdonian changelings were none too happy about this development, you can be sure. There was a lot of talk about tossing the Rheibau out, and then a lot of talk about just how that might happen. Finally, a pooka wilder named Snitch came up with some ideas that he somehow forgot to present to his freehold's grumps. Would the Rheibau miss their Eye of Garanhir? Would they mind if Snitch made their Chantry glow like the moon at night? Would it make a big difference to them if the mountain people of Beddgelert could hear the Rheibau's voices l0 miles away?
This event in history is known as Snitch's Last Hurrah. It could also be called 'Oops'.
Oh, Snitch and his little minions made these things happen, bang, bang, bang, like that. And, like that, who notices? The Order of Reason. Mages begin to filter into Snowdonia, investigating the oddly glowing Chantry. The Rheibau pack their bags and left that night. Snitch's Last Hurrah left the Snowdonian fae without the protection they'd enjoyed for the last few centuries. Worse, it attracted the very mortal attention they'd hoped to avoid.
For their part, the Rheibau considered the Snowdon Pact void. What happened to them? It is said they ended up in Anglesey after a series of adventures throughout northern Wales. Snitch was upbraided and later set in charge of keeping mortals away from Snowdonia. Such responsibility was never a pooka's friend.
The Mines of Llywyn Llywd Edit
- 1760s: Banality enters Wales: open-cast mining, poor conditions for workers.
- 1800s: Methodism, chapel and temperance firmly established in Welsh culture.
- 1830s: Bute family inherits land in Cardiff area and begins to develop Cardiff as a port.
- 1839: First Rebecca Riot: farmers dressed as women protest rents in South Wales; pookas inspire idea of dressing up.
- 1843: Second Rebecca Riot.
- 1851: Methodism takes root; very mundane communities.
- 1864: Nockers form Black Jewel Freehold near thriving Llywyn Llwyd mine at border of Dyfed and Powys.
For a century the mortal Welsh, with all their mines of slate and copper and iron and coal, had happy relations with nockers. Human miners took the mysterious knocking sounds as good omens; they thought the nockers led them to good seams and kept their machinery in good working order.
Of all the mines in Wales, the finest friendship between miner and nocker blessed the rich coal shafts of Llywyn Llywd in the Rhondda Valley. No coal mine has ever been thought magical, for there is no harsher workplace on this green Earth. But wonder at the world comes always from people and Kithain, whether or not their place inspires it; and those Llywyn Llywd miners knew wonder. Even some of the mine owners, who are, by and large, the most deadly Banal folk who ever drew breath, even a few of this mine's owners had a touch of innocence to them, for they came of the proud and happy Morgenstern family.
We have most of us heard of Lloyd Morgenstern today. But I tell you that it was a much different Morgenstern who helped bring industry to Wales. No one would call Hugh Morgenstern (Lloyd's grandsir) a man filled with wonder, but he treated his workers a fraction better than the other owners. And he took a fancy to coal carvings, which is to say, polished lumps of anthracite carved with pictures of miners, or their wives, or sometimes even fanciful ideas of nockers.
The carvings, it may be, drew the nockers to consider Llywyn Llywd their favorite mine. Or it was the miners' genial regard for the nockers, perhaps. Never mind. The Kithain established a fine freehold in the mine, is all, one of several I have heard of in such places. Black Jewel Freehold lay off a deep side tunnel visible only to the fair family and to mortals with the faerie sight. Sometimes, as I hear it, the nockers would lure an unsuspecting miner down their tunnel, treat him to the night or week of his life, heal his lungs of the cruel coal dust, and send him back, befuddled and yet starry-eyed, to the mortal world, where only an hour or so had passed.
Yet the Black Jewel, too, has gone away, and all its Kithain with it.
I do not worry that you will think life in Llywyn Llwydwasall beer and skittles. Not a soul alive now can imagine that coal mining was anything other than the filthy, exhausting, killing life it was. That book of Richard Llewellyn, How Green Was My Valley... it is truth indeed that book tells.
But at various times people tried to improve working conditions in the mines, and that time in this tale was the 1980s. You will hardly believe this, but none other than young Lloyd Morgenstern, grandson of Hugh and son of Clive, and incidentally heir to ownership of the entire mine, Lloyd worked as hard as any to improve the miners' lot. For he himself was of the fair folk.
Some of you gasp, and I daresay you should. This is the truth: Lloyd was a nocker. He had his Chrysalis down in the mine, during an inspection, and in his fear he raced of down the tunnel straight into the Black Jewel. The nockers took the fledge through his Saining; he swore vassalage to House Dougal; he returned home and set about improving the miners' conditions. Yet a hard task that was, and Lloyd too new awake to do it. His own father rejected his proposals and threatened to dispatch the young man to an overseas office. All impatient, Lloyd grew desperate.
One sad December night down in the mine, as I heard it, Lloyd went bad. Not the Bedlam, not Banality, but worse: total disillusionment. Lloyd freely threw over his fae nature and swore to destroy the wonders he had learned to see. He was not sane, that young man. He became one of the Dauntain, the Autumn People. In that one night, he destroyed all the nockers of the Black Jewel, and their freehold as well, so that no trace remains.
Lloyd turned to staunch opposition of the miners' cause, and in due time he inherited the mine. He started shutting down other mines, destroying their freeholds, and hunting down the Kithain. Now quite the rich man Lloyd is, and clever too. And still everybit the Dauntain. A sad story, sad it is.
- 1883-1978: Architect Sir Clough Williams-Ellis. Built bizarre Italianate village of Portmeirion "to my own fancy on my own chosen site" in northern Wales (1940s-70s), Site later becomes a minor freehold (1979).
- 1913: Cardiff is world's busiest coal-exporting port, shipping coal in via rail from South Wales mines.
- 1914-18: World War I.
- 1920-39: Great Depression.
- 1939-45: World War II; Welsh coal mining industry takes an upturn.
- 1950s: Welsh mages fight uphill battle for positions in English government.
- 1955: Cardiff becomes Welsh capital during decline of industry in Wales (especially coal and docks).
- 1959: Changelings introduce red dragon on Wales' new flag
- 1965: Welsh Syndicate opens Big Pit mining and industrial museums in Blaenafon, South Wales.
- 1967: Welsh Hermetic mages Rowena Jones and Morgan ap Maen get Welsh Language Act passed.
- 1969: The Resurgence: humans walk on Moon; lost trods, pathways, freeholds restored. Noble fae return to Earth.
- 1970s: Syndicate reciprocates by forcing decline in steel and coal industries in Wales (create mass unemployment, return to Banality). Virtual Adepts partially alleviate this in the '80s with a movement toward high-tech industries.
- 1970-73: The War of Ivy, Welsh commoners do not respect Welsh sidhe, but accept them more willingly than English.
- 1973+: High King David rules the fae from fortress Tara- Nar (North America); Britain joins the European Community.
- 1980s+: Hermetics work on improving higher education in Wales.
- 1984: Year-long miner's strike fails; union power de- clines.
- 1991: Llywyn Llwyd mine abandoned. Fall of the Black Jewel Freehold and Lloyd Morgenstern.
- 1996: Verbena of Anglesey report that a unicorn has emerged from the deep wilds of the forests in Anglesey.
Let me just tell you two things more.
First, remember: The Dreaming still lives strong in Cymru! If only we can drive back the Technocratic bastards and their Banal lot of followers and name a high king or queen, then much good will come of it. After all that has blighted the heart and soul of our homeland, there is wonder yet in Wales.
Second, I'll tell you a funny little Cymrian tale that some of you foreigners may not have heard, and then I'll be off. I heard tell of an old rnan of Llangolen who came home after a long journey through the woods, where he sat by the hearth with his old wife and their black cat. The old man said, "The strangest thing did I see today. A fog came over the wood as I walked, and I lost my way. I saw a light and made for it, and I came upon a large oak tree. I climbed the tree to look for the light, and down in a hollow of the tree I saw a ceremony. A funeral, it looked to be, except the mourners were not people, but cats."
Here the old man stopped in his talk, for the black cat at his feet was staring at him ever so hard. "Yes," the old man went on, "the mourners and pallbearers were cats, and the pall were marked with a crown. And all the cats were crying, Peter is dead, Peter is dead."
The old man got no further, for his black cat suddenly cried out, "By Jove! Old Peter's dead, and I'm king of the Cats!" He rushed up the chimney, and they never saw him again. Thank you all.
The Fae Edit
See the Article Cymru.
The mages of Wales fall into three main camps. The first camp remains loyal to the Traditions, These men and women descend from groups of mages present in Wales before the end of the Grand Convocation in 1466: remnants of the Hermetic House Merinita, practitioners of the Wyck and proto-Cultists of Ecstasy who arrived during Roman times.
A small number of Technocracy representatives form the second camp; mostly from the New World Order, they look to capitalize on Wales' new drive towards tourism, digital communications and international corporations.
The third and smallest group are representatives of the Harbingers of Avalon, a tiny cabal within the larger frame of the Technocracy, devoted to the renewed hegemony of Britain. The Tradition mages know nothing of this latter group, confining themselves instead to a revival of ancient lore and primal ritual to invigorate their own dwindling powers. The Technocracy as a whole knows little about the Harbingers. The Harbingers seek to build a new Camelot, one that enforces rigid law and order so Britannia might once again rule the world. As the Harbingers work directly against the aims of both Tradition mages and the Kithain, a troubled future looms in Wales.
The Awakened of Wales, small in numbers, are generally a private lot. They guard their secrets from outsiders and even potential allies. The earliest will-workers in Wales were the Wyck; their alliance with the fae gave birth to a powerful family of mages called the Rheibau ferch Llandona, the Witch-daughters of Llandona (singular, Rheibes ferch Llandona). Later Roman and Norman invasions brought Seers of Chronos and Hermetics to Cymru. The Technocracy had little interest in Wales until the 19th century, when Welsh coal mines promised extraordinary profits. Recent Technocratic interest relates to Welsh advances in communication and computers.
Factions of Tradition mages, such as the Rheibau ferch Llandona, pay lip service to their modem counterparts like the Verbena, but most are reluctant to take part in the Ascension War. If the Technocracy can strengthen its hold on the mind-set of the average person through welcome increases in science and technology, the Rheibau ferch Llandona may not have a choice. The Harbingers of Avalon bid for power from behind carved doors with public school charm and judicious use of the pound. They worry little about the threat of the "quaint" magick of the Verbena and others. They, instead, worry about transforming Wales from a land of pastoral wonder into a stoic nightmare of upper-crust propriety. Once Britannia returns to her preeminence in the world order, more than enough time will remain to rein in the rebellious peasants.
Mage Paradigms Edit
In the culture of Wales, the beliefs of the rural populace have great power. Welsh folk magic covers a wide breadth of abilities, including conjuring, charming, summoning and divination.
Willworkers in this land rely heavily on these superstitions and convictions to avoid Paradox. To put it simply, as long as True Magick imitates the rustic beliefs of "folk magic," it is coincidental.
Who's Who Edit
The mages of Wales neither directly oppose nor assist each other. The Rheibau fetch Llandona in Gwynedd act in unison, but has only passing interest in the Caerleon Linguistics Academy. Likewise, the Harbingers of Avalon work independently from the New World Order, the dominant Convention in Wales. More-over, the Tradition mages are too caught up in their own work to give much thought to the Technocracy.
The definite wildcards are the Nephandi and the Marauders. Lady Jane Bowden is an unchecked force of destruction; she will gladly annihilate anything that stands in her path to power. Finally, while Jack O'Kent has a reputation for heroism, he is nonetheless volatile and unpredictable. He could easily unleash a dangerous series of backlashes affecting both mages and fae.
The Traditions Edit
As you know from general history, since the end of the Grand Convocation of 1466, nine codified Traditions exist that sprang from ancient roots such as the Seers of Chronos and the Houses of Hermes. The Verbena we follow also count among these nine.
You know how important chapel is to the average Welshman, so it's a wonder more Celestial Choristers haven't been nagging us. Our historians have discovered some influences from these singers, and I believe a few attend the eisteddfodau on occasion, but none have made contact with us here at Llandona within my lifetime.
Gavin Marius, the father of Llandona, once served the Seers of Chronos who gave birth to the Cult of Ecstasy. The Tradition has changed over the years, and I must admit today's cultists exhaust me. How can anyone possibly learn about life without a pause for breath? I do admire their tenacity, but fear many end up with scorched hearts and minds.
While the Houses of Hermes have dwindled to almost nothing, we Rheibau ferch Llandona respect our ancient shared heritage with House Merinita. Many modern Hermetics possess tremendous power, and as you know, many still come seeking to wed children of our lineage. If they have one flaw, though, it is their hubris, so realize from the start you might be dealing with an obnoxious prig should you choose to contact them.
Stories of weird science and scientists litter the history of Britain, but I know little about the Sons of Ether and the Virtual Adepts. Perhaps some of these mages have found a niche with the growth of technology in south Wales. These Traditions love gadgets and techno-wonders and babble above all else. They are humans out of touch with the natural world...and perhaps out of balance within themselves.
The Romans dubbed our ancestors "Verbena," and while we have other influences at work in our history and culture, we identify most closely with this Tradition. And while we Rheibau ferch Llandona are reluctant to get involved with the Ascension War, I'd gladly do anything I could to aid a Verbena sister or brother in times of need. Blood ties, you see, sometimes overrule matters of the heart and conscience.
The Technocracy Edit
From Sir Mortimer Evans, Seat of Cardiff, to Lady Victoria Holmes, Seat of Pembroke, All Good Greetings!
Cardiff displays excellent potential for reclamation and development, and as our contacts there report, agents of the New World Order are moving into position to capitalize on the possibilities. My fear, though, is that the New World Order will continue to conduct its "need to know" policy of non-information, cutting us off from crucial knowledge. This is distressing in the extreme. As you know, I do not believe in dissemination of wisdom among the masses and of course we have an ideological imperative to keep the secrets, and to some extent, the existence, of our own order private. But for the sake of commonality and the preservation of unity, I find it deplorable that the New World Order keeps secrets from those of us who deserve to know. We may wish to, shall we say, insinuate ourselves into its activities.
The Harbingers and its agents at Zero Division remain a hidden faction within the Technocracy, and whereas it prefers thuggish street fights and queer experiments, we espouse diplomacy, decorum and civilised autocracy. Only through these means will Britannia once more rule the world. But have I ever mentioned that the seat you hold once belonged to a defector? Your predecessor, one Lady Jane Bowden, had the misfortune to fall in with some distinctly undesir- able persons, dabbling in a bizarre occultism I have never encountered. I fear she has fallen into the grasp of something dark and wicked. I accompanied one of the members of Zero Division when he confronted her during the annual Eisteddfod Ball. Dreadful mess! She knew that we suspected her engagement in unnatural activities and was long gone. In her basement were the most disgusting things you could imagine: bottles of blood, weird powders, even a few newts and snakes. It sounds like a horror story, but I can assure you it was quite real.
Iteration X has developed here in Wales quickly and efficiently, maintaining a quiet presence at not only certain universities but within the business community as well. I can likewise see great potential in gadgetry for Zero Division coming from Iteration X. We might do well to cultivate our opportunities with this group
As you know from the statistical reports I sent out last month, our only medical school is at the University of Wales in Bangor. Furthermore, CIA documents note that only one doctor exists per 10,000 people in Wales. I hope you will agree this is not satisfactory, and that we must take steps to remedy the situation. Perhaps you and I might consider endowing a chair for medical studies in the near future. The health-field industry provides an ideal medium of growth for the Progenitors to thrive.
The Syndicate holds the purse strings of the world in its hands. I am sure it monitors our general existence and activities as members of the Technocracy, but I doubt it knows of our higher purpose. And even if it did know, why should it oppose us? We seek to restore the might, majesty and wealth of imperialism, the grandeur of the age of Victoria and Disraeli. Surely it could not ask for more!
I don' t need to remind you that exploration, the province of the Void Engineers, has distinct merit. Recall if you will the effects that Raleigh and Drake wrought from their discoveries in the New World. What of the brave journeys of Stanley and Livingstone and other explorers of the Orient and the Dark Continent? Great Britain would not have established such a grand empire had it not been for the visions and wherewithal of great men such as these.
Wales is a place of peace and purity, and is most tempting for corrupters. Lady Jane Bowden, owner of the Bron Methlyn bed and breakfast, generally works alone. But she isn't adverse to having help from another barabbi or infernalist. Lady Jane would love to take hold of one of the Rheibau ferch Llandona, bring her into the fold, then send her home to destroy everything Llandona Coven has sought to build. The barabbi also plot on how to expose the existence of the Harbingers of Avalon to the Technocracy at large.
Welsh legend has often treated the insane as divinely gifted; thus, Wales has the potential to be a rich haven for Marauders. The stories behind dragons, Cadair Idris, Moel Arthur and Carreg-y- Gwlch may have nothing to do with the Kithain after all....
Vampire: The Masquerade Edit
Wales has long been a favored haven of Clan Gangrel, since the wilderness affords good hiding and both the cities and towns offer prosperous hunting. Notable Welsh Kindred include Art Morgan and Prince Rhun of Tintagel. Other clans shun this uncivilized region of Britain, though the occasional Toreador might enjoy the clubs, museums, and spa resorts.
Werewolf: The Apocalypse Edit
The Dryn a drowd yn flaidd are the Welsh branch of the Fianna, closely allied to the pro-British Brotherhood of Herne. Most Fianna consider these Welsh cousins bizarre and perhaps too intertwined with the fae for their own good. Occasional skirmishes break out between Irish and Welsh Fianna over wars long forgotten.
With the growth of new industry, Wales may become a quiet breeding ground for the Fomori. One Fomori already has an establishment near Swansea, and he will no doubt extend his influence as he grows in power. Cardiff and Newport seem ideal for Pentex expansion, especially if the corporation capitalizes on the Dauntain and Technocracy influences already in place.
Wraith: The Oblivion Edit
Welsh legends abound with stories of the restless dead. Among these are tales of the White Lady of Bro Gynin, a beautiful woman who looks for true and faithful pairs of lovers to reward with treasures. Mysterious blue lights near the town of Ruthin also inspire the wonder of uneasy spirits. Whether from death in battle or ancient evil ritual, the dead seem to wander all over Wales.