Cledwyn and Aerona - Part I



 

Cledwyn was a fine young man whose mother had died, but not before he had learned from her that it was his destiny to marry but one woman, Aerona, the daughter of Brynmor the Chief Giant. And as soon as he heard the name of Aerona spoken, the youth blushed, and love for the maiden diffused itself through all his frame, though he had never seen her. He was well-born and close cousin to Brenin Cynfor of the Uch-luth himself, so he decided to go to the royal court and discover where Aerona could be found. He set off on his dapple grey horse, with his two brindle hunting hounds like two swallows sporting around him as he rode. His sword was sharp, his war-horn was of ivory, and sitting high on his large steed he was a fearsome sight. When he came to Brenin Cynfor’s village the gate-keeper hastened to tell the Brenin that the man at the gate was the goodliest he had ever seen.

 

Cledwyn was made welcome in the hall and explained his mission. Immediately messengers were sent out to discover the whereabouts of the giant’s daughter. A whole host searched for a year, but in vain. So Cledwyn decided to make his own search, together with a few faithful warriors selected by Cynfor from among his most staunch men: Bledig and Bedwyr and Emrys, and also Gwrhyr the Bard who knew all languages, and Menw the Derudh who could overcome monsters by prayer to Rhi Helvarch.

 

After some time they came upon a goat shepherd, who told them that the flocks he tended were the flocks of Brynmor. The giant, he said, killed all men who came courting his daughter, for his life would end when Aerona was wed. The shepherd was Brynmor’s own brother, who had suffered great wrong at the giant’s hands, and his wife was sister to Cledwyn’s own mother. Unknown to the giant, the shepherd and his wife bravely arranged that Aerona should visit them.

 

As soon as Cledwyn saw her he knew at once that she was the woman he had loved for so long. Her fiery red hair and olive skin, her bright eyes and rosy cheeks put him in mind of the loveliest flowers of the fields and groves, and wherever she walked the white blossoms of the meadow trefoil seemed to spring up where her light footstep touched the ground.

 

Cledwyn and his companions determined to win her at once. For three days they called upon the giant in his hall, and every day Brynmor hurled his spears at them. But the warriors stood their ground and hurled them back at him, to damaging effect.

 

Then, to gain time, the giant, fearing for his life, laid down a whole series of impossibly difficult tasks that would have to be accomplished before any man could win his daughter’s hand.

 

First they must obtain the sword of Wrnach the Black Giant, who forbade all men to enter his cartref.

Then they must find Mabon ap Modron, who had been stolen from his mother when he was only three days old.

Next they must gather nine scalps of flax hairs, the Eorlingas from the North, to thread the cloak that Aerona would wear on her wedding day.

Then they must obtain the beard of Dillus the Thief, to be woven into a leash which alone could tether Aned and Aethlem, the two great hunting dogs that would be needed for the hunting of the Great Boar of the Bog.

Then they had to hunt also the Great Boar of the Dunbog, Baedd Braff, whose tusk alone could shave the beard of the Chief Giant Brynmor.

Lastly they had to get the blood of the Black Derudh, which was also necessary for the shaving of Brynmor.


The warriors addressed themselves to these tasks. First, to gain admittance to the Cartref of the Black Giant, Bledig claimed to be a skilled sword-burnisher and Bedwyr a clever sharpener. In this way they and others of their company were allowed inside the home. Once inside the walls Bledig and Bedwyr boasted of their skills and bet the giant they they could cut off his head with one of their swords. The giant did not believe them and confidently thrust out his neck. In an instant Bledig cut off his head. His men sacked the cartref and bore off the Black Giant’s sword and all his treasure and took it to Cynfor’s hall.