Nebraska Center for Writers

by Steven A Arts

INSIDE THE COTTAGE BY THE RIVER sat a man and a boy. It was winter in Cymry, the name for the old country now known as Wales, and was therefore a time for the telling of tall tales. Arthur Rawn, the father, looked into the eyes of his anxious young son, Gwynn.
"Would you like to hear a true story, boy?" Arthur asked Gwynn.
"That I would."
"Well, since your name is Gwynn, I'll tell you a story about your namesake, Gwynn ap Nudd. I take you've heard tell of him?"
"Naw. Who was Gwynn ap Nudd, da?
"He is a demon who lives in hell, boy. Now, be quiet and let me tell you the story."
"All right."
"This very thing happened to me as I was walking along the old Glyn Cuch two summers ago," began Arthur. The Glyn Cuch is a river in southwestern Wales. "You've no doubt heard tales told of the Otherworld, that which our forefathers called Annwn. Some in the church would call that place by the name of hell.
"Anyway," continued Arthur, "I was walking me dogs down by the Cuch, minding my own business, when I happened upon the most fierce-looking man my eyes ever did behold. It appeared to me a man such as never I'd seen before, nor since then. I could tell right away that he wasn't an ordinary fellow.
"His skin was as black as coal and his face was covered with gruesome wounds; not all of them healed up properly, either. The man, or devil, I could not tell which he was, stared at me from the riverside. And he sat upon an awesome eight-legged horse."
"How could a horse have eight legs?" asked a skeptical Gwynn. "I've never heard tell of such things before."
"We are speaking of the Otherworld, lad, where anything is possible."

Reprinted with permission
from Waxing and Waning
Copyright © 2001
by Steven A Arts

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Nebraska Center for Writers