Friday, 26 July 2019
"Well," she said, "How can you be killed?"
I have been reading The Mabinogion. Medieval Welsh shaggy dog stories with something bizarre and D&D-able on every page. Here are some ideas for your next game:
"'I will give you a cauldron,' [said Bendigeidfran], 'and the property of the cauldron is that if you throw into it one of your men who is killed today, then by tomorrow he will be as good as ever except that he will not be able to speak.'" (From "The Second Branch")
"After [the feast] Pwyll got up to take a walk, and he made for the top of a mound that was above the court, called Gorsedd Arberth. 'Lord,' said one of the court, 'the strange thing about the mound is that whatever nobleman sits on it will not leave there without one of two things happening: either he will be wounded or injured, or else he will see something wonderful.'" (From "The First Branch")
"Math son of Mathonwy was lord over Gwynedd...At that time, Math son of Mathonwy could not live unless his feet were in the lap of a virgin, except when the turmoil of war prevented him." (From "The Third Branch")
"'You know of Math son of Mathonwy's special attribute,' said Gilfaethway. 'Whatever whispering goes on between people - no matter how quiet - once the wind catches hold of it then Math will know about it.'" (From "The Third Branch")
"'It is not easy to kill me with a blow. You would have to spend a year making the spear that would strike me, working on it only when people were at Mass on Sunday.'
'Are you sure of that? she said.
'Sure, God knows,' he said. 'I cannot be killed indoors,' he said, 'nor out of doors; I cannot be killed on horseback, nor on foot.'
'Well,' she said, 'how can you be killed?'" (From "The Fourth Branch" - I won't spoil the answer; suffice to say you will never think of it in a million years)
"'There is a mound called the Mound of Mourning, and in the mound there is a cairn, and in the cairn there is a serpent, and in the serpent's tail there is a stone. And these are the attributes of the stone: whoever holds it in one hand will have as much gold as he wishes in the other hand. And I lost my eye fighting that serpent.'" (From "Peredur, Son of Efrog")
"'Maiden,' said Peredur, 'where is the empress?'
'Between me and God, you will not see her again unless you kill an oppressor that is in the forest over there.'
'What sort of oppressor is it?'
'A stag, as swift as the swiftest bird, and there is one horn in his forehead, as long as a spear-shaft, and as sharp as the sharpest thing. And he eats the tops of the trees and what grass there is in the forest. And he kills every animal he finds in the forest, and those he does not kill die of starvation. And worse than that, he comes every day and drinks the fishpond dry, and leaves the fish exposed, and most of them die before it fills up again with water.'" (From "Peredur, Son of Efrog")
"The first [plague] was the arrival of a certain people called the Coraniaid. And so great was their knowledge that there was no conversation anywhere on the island that they did not know about, however softly it was spoken, provided the wind carried it. Because of that, no harm could be done to them." (From "Lludd and Llefelys")
"'God knows,' said the maiden, 'it's a great shame that you cannot be rescued; and it would only be right for a woman to help you. God knows I have never seen a better young man for a woman than you. If you had a woman friend, you would be the best friend a woman could have; if you had a mistress, you would be the best lover. And because of that,' she said, 'whatever I can do to rescue you, I will. Take this ring and place it on your finger, and put this stone in your hand, and close your fist around the stone, and as long you hide it, it will hide you too.'" (From "The Lady of the Well")
"Suddenly they heard a noise. They looked in the direction of the noise, and they could see a dwarf riding a big, sturdy horse, powerful, wide-nostrilled, ground-devouring, courageous, and in the dwarf's hand there was a whip. Near the dwarf they could see a woman on a horse, pale-white and handsome with pace smooth and stately, and she was dressed in a golden garment of brocaded silk. And close to her a knight on a great, muddy charger, with heavy shining armour on him and his horse. And they were sure that they had never seen a man and horse and armour whose size impressed them more, and all riding close together.
'Geraint,' said Gwenhwyfar, 'do you recognise the large knight over there?'
'No,' he replied, 'That massive, strange armour allows neither his face nor his features to be seen.'
'Go, maiden,' said Gwenhwyfar, 'and ask the dwarf who the knight is.'
The maiden went to meet the dwarf. The dwarf waited for the maiden when he saw her approaching him. She asked the dwarf, 'Who is the knight?' she said.
'I will not tell you that,' he replied.
'Why?' she said.
'Because your status is not that of a person for whom it is proper to speak with my lord.'
Then the maiden turned her horse's head toward the knight. With that the dwarf struck her with a whip that was in his hand, across her face and eyes, so that the blood flowed. Because of the pain from the blow the maiden returned to Gwenhwyfar, complaining of the pain.
'The dwarf behaved towards you in a very ugly way,' said Geraint. 'I shall go,' said Geraint, 'and find out who the knight is.'
'Go,' said Gwenhwyfar.
Geraint came to the dwarf. He said, 'Who is the knight?'
'I will not tell you,' said the dwarf.
'I will ask it of the knight personally,' he replied.
'You will not, by my faith,' said the dwarf. 'Your status is not high enough to entitle you to speak with my lord.'
'I,' said Geraint, 'have spoken with a man who is as good as your lord,' and he turned his horse's head towards the knight. The dwarf overtook him and struck him where he had struck the maiden, until the blood stained the mantle that Geraint was wearing. Geraint placed his hand on the hilt of his sword and turned things over in his head, but decided that it was no revenge for him to kill the dwarf while the armed knight could take him cheaply and without armour. He returned to Gwenhwyfar." (From "Geraint, Son of Erbin")