The Tale of Blackened Summer – Owain ap Nudd
A personal account by Owain ap Nudd
And it came to pass on a bare moonlit night, ninety score years and nine since the birthing of the first of the line of Nudd, that the Lords of Blackened Summer met in a great hall made from the thigh-bones of drowned maidens.
The Lands of Blackened Summer had withered under their fell gaze, and they sought new lands to conquer. And the Lords said to Dwncyn Bone-face their steward:
“Bring to us the scrying bowl of copper and tin, that we shall see the finest and brightest lands and take them for our own”
And the scrying bowl of copper and tin was brought, and filled with the tears of the Seven Faithless Witches that the Lords should see all the lands in all the worlds under all the suns.
The Lords watched the bowl and their eyes gazed on many fine lands strewn with gold and spices and honey. Nine years they searched, and at last their unkind eyes fell upon Albion.
Fair was this land, with forests of deer and rivers of fish. A fair Queen ruled and a wise Prince counselled her. Doughty its warriors, wise its scholars, forthright its people, plentiful its ale, and full-breasted its maidens.
And the Lords of Blackened Summer lusted for the land of Albion, for the fairest land it was under the sky. And they contrived among themselves with the blackest of sorcery to vomit forth the Lands of Blackened Summer into Albion, and to pour from their bellies seven great armies of envious dead men to slay and ravish the lands of Albion.
And slay and ravish they would have, but for the wise men of the Court of Albion. The wise men foresaw the army and petitioned the Queen, saying
“The Lords of Blackened Summer would take Albion for their own, let us prepare a feast and surfeit of battle for them, that they should know the courage of our warriors”
The Queen saw that her councillors spoke truly and sent her kinsman Huw Big-Knife and his teulu to meet the Lords of Blackened Summer in a field of great stones thrown by the last of the race of giants. Mighty was the battle laid there, and Huw Big-knife struck Tegid Four-Hands, the Warmaster of the Blackened host, with Seven Ungentle Blows so that his four hands landed in four lands beyond the wit of men. And the Lords of Blackened Summer spoke words of black bile and called their armies back to their bellies and out of the lands of Albion. The armies went, but the foul sorceries remained, as foul as the magics of Eomer the Damnable and his Court of Puling Catamites.
And hearing of the Seven Ungentle Blows struck by their kinsman, the maidens of the court cried tears of joy and anguish, and Tyberis the Immortal seized the tears and held them in his hands, and no man knows what he did with them, even to this day. And the wise men of Albion with strength and enchantment and mysteries made to break the sorcery that the Lords had woven. Three uncaring moons passed over their toil, and at the last the enchantment withstood them.
And Cadwrn Wledig who was wiser than the owl and the snake spoke, saying
“The spell shall be broken only by the brightest teulu of the world, and in the Lands of Blackened Summer. Let messengers go to the peoples of Albion, and let their champions and uchelwr come forth and we shall make a teulu that shall shake the stars in the sky”
Thus the Heroes of Albion assembled in the great hall of Castell Wyn. And a teulu of such grace and prowess had not been seen in the lands of Albion since the time that men were giants and could wade the sea to Erin.
And the teulu of Albion were Scaliawn Great-blooded from whose loins poured forth creatures of the forest, and Cai ap Ioilar whose vengeance boiled the sea and cracked the stones, and Hynrich Steel-Face who wore a mask lest he be mistaken for an angel and worshipped, and Trychlwr Flame-Gaze whose eyes ravished the forests of beyond, and Owain ap Nudd, the eldest of the Three Unhappy Brothers, and Tyberis the Immortal who foresaw the first and shall mourn the last, and Rawnt the Beast who howls the spirits from slumber each Spring, and Fryderi the Golden whose gaze brought forth bright flowers and honey, and Sho the Demon whose heart mended the sorrows wrought by his aspect, and Who the Stranger that no man knew save the holiest hermit of Cwmor Tyn Gedd, and Fits Wood-Leaper of no land and all ways, brighter than the spear he bore, and Pelyras Fallen, whose fell-handed lord had cursed to dissolution and drunkenness, and Wiliam the Green who calmed beast and flower with his manner, and Farymyr the Magus of the North whose eye was upon his staff and whose lands were flattened by its gaze, and Otto the Bondsman whose faithfulness lasted beyond the farthest minds of men, and Valcaer the Silent who says three words every nine years that are heard only by the basest and most virtuous, and Dionyrsis son of the Vine who may only be harmed by a blind man’s last spittle, and Diana Long-Arm, whose unseen fingers moved the stars in Autumn, and Lery the Good Neighbour whose cups reflected two moons, and Focsglove the Fertile who called the forest deer to her lap.
The Lords of the Dragon Nation saw the teulu, and said
“How can we keep the Bright Spear, when such a teulu is in the world”
and they gave the spear to Fits Wood-Leaper so that the arms of the teulu might match their countenance.
The teulu set forth from the lands of men and journeyed through Annwn and the Forests of Lost Children and the Mirrored Lands. And what they saw and what they did in these lands no man yet knows. And thus they came to the Lands of Blackened Summer.
Legions of envious dead watched the Spell-Stone of Blackened Summer for their lords, and the teulu set upon them like furies, while Scaliawn Great-blooded seized the stone in his mighty claws and rent it into a score of shards. And each shard he ground to dust and ate, that the Lords of Blackened Summer might never again tread the lands of Albion.
And a battle took place that night that made the stones and trees hide themselves in tremulous terror, and the spirits of the place pull their eyes from their heads. Blood flowed in rivers and the limbs of the envious dead made piles higher than the Stone of Caer Glas.
And when the battle was done, and dawn broke across the lands of Blackened Summer, the legions of envious dead were routed to the farthest corners of the land, there to lick their wounds with dust-covered tongues.
And Hynrich Steel-face spoke, saying
“The road we came to this place upon is clogged with the legs of dead men, and the road onward is clogged with the arms of dead men. How shall we find a way back to Albion?”
The teulu had no answer, so they sent out the fleetest of them to find a way back to the Blessed Land. Fryderi the Golden went to the North, and Sho the Demon went to the South. Who the Stranger went to the East, and Fits Wood-Leaper to the West.
And came back only three, for Fits Wood-Leaper had found the palace of Blackened Summer and struck the walls with the Bright Spear and brought the roof down upon his head and the heads of those within. And the Maidens and women of all lands cried tears for the passing of one so bright.
No road home was found, but two places were seen in the uttermost distance. One was a manor, with bright music playing, and the other a grove of the darkest of Tylwyth Teg.
Pelyras the Fallen, and Dionyrsis son of the Vine, and Who the stranger spoke saying
“We shall not find a road home, but stay here and heal this place so that it shall be again a fitting home for men”.
And with joy and sorrow they went their way. And what they did is a story for another day.
And the teulu went to the manor, and a bard of old was playing there. The bard spun a tale of Albion and life and death, and none were there that did not cast their tears upon the ground to hear it so. And they brought the bard with them.
The teulu went then to the grove of the Tylwyth Teg and Tyberis the Immortal wove a mighty magic to call them. Wilder were they than the beast of the mountain, and they longed for blood to nourish themselves.
And the bard played a mighty reel, and the Tylwyth Teg danced a mighty dance, and the veil between worlds was sundered. The teulu awoke in the palace of Cadwrn Wledig. But Cai ap Iolair was not with them, and what happened to him no man may say.
And a great joyous carousal flourished in that fair hall, and the peoples of all nations came to see the teulu of Albion in their great victory. And the teulu drank and caroused, and wise men talked of philosophy and magic, and the beastmen rutted most lustfully, and the Queen birthed a fine son so great was her joy. The hall itself danced to the sounds of the bards there assembled, and many fine speeches were heard in those days.
And Albion did prevail.
And this is the end of the Tale of Blackened Summer.