Thursday 1 March 2018

Flower Face - the story of Blodeuwedd

by Catriona Troth

Way back in the long ago, Prince Lleu had a curse- or some say an obligation - placed on him by his mother, Arianrhod, never to take a human woman as his wife. Well, Lleu did not like this; so he summoned the two sorcerors, Math and Gwydion and bade them conjure him a wife.

So Math and Gwydion took the flowers of the oak and the flowers of the broom and the flowers of the meadowsweet, and of them made the fairest and most beautiful maiden anyone had ever seen. And they named her Blodeuwedd.


Wait, what? Blodeuwedd? As if it wasn’t bad enough that you conjure me up from a bunch of flowers for the express purpose of marrying this bloke Lleu, to cap it off, you’re going to call me Flower Face? Thanks a bunch.

Can we think about this for a minute? The guy’s mother doesn’t want him to take a wife. Which, as I see it, can only mean one of two things. Either mum is some seriously needy cow – in which case: Red Flag Warning. Or she knows something about her son. In which case, also, guy to avoid.

Did I get any say in this? Not Pygmalion likely. Magicians don’t have rules against sex trafficking. Why am I not surprised?

And the gilt was on this particular slice of gingerbread? Turns out Lleu is immortal. Or at any rate, he cannot be killed “during the day or night, nor indoors or outdoors, neither riding nor walking, not clothed and not naked, nor by any weapon lawfully made.”

Looked like I was stuck with the guy.

In the circumstances, could anyone blame me for taking up with the first presentable man who treats me like a woman and not his personal possession? King Gronw, it has to be said, was exceedingly handsome. And if Lleu was going to spend his time riding around Cymru, well, he shouldn’t be surprised if I made my own entertainment.

Okay, it was a teeny bit naughty of me to wheedle out of Lleu what the chink was in his immortal armour. (There always is one – magic’s like that.) And even naughtier to let it slip to Gronw, who had his own reasons to want Lleu out of the way. But I didn’t actually tell him to kill my husband at dusk, wrapped in a net, yada yada yada...

Anyway Gronw fluffed it. He only managed to wound Lleu, who turned into an eagle and flew away. And after you two magicians returned him to human form and nursed him back to health, you came after me (of course).

And how did you decide to punish me? You turned me into an owl. A bird hated and harassed by all other birds, you said. A bird who can only fly at night.

Well, suits me fine. Know something else about owls? We have extraordinary night vision and nearly silent wings. All the better to hunt you bastards down.

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