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Blodeuwedd Tale

I was fashioned from flowers—I mean that quite literally. Two men, great magicians I am told, crafted my body from bud and blossom, petal and pollen. Nine kinds of flowers, of course, they knew that much: the tiny tassels of great trees, the sweet small meadow blooms, the wild-flowers woven with the wheat. And the hawthorn-bloom, white as winter. Hawthorn. Did they not know? The arrogance of Men, to believe they see.

When I awoke, they dressed me like a doll in pretty clothes. They gave me a pretty name, after my pretty face, whose pallor they mistook for snowdrops, asphodel, lilies.

Then they gave me to a man I'd never met.

They were so filled with what they had done. Did they think they could make him a wife as one makes a pair of shoes?

He was young, beardless and eager, bright of hair and quick of hand. He was handsome, yes, and well-pleased with my beauty. I hid my hatred then, and waited on the inevitable opportunity, all the while playing at the loving wife.

Then came the evening my lord was away, and the hunter appeared at my house. He desired me, and did not care to conceal it. And I desired him. How should I not desire my freedom?

That night in my husband's bed, we betrayed him. The hunter's help I would have, and enthralled to my beauty, he gave it freely.

Now my lord could not be easily killed, for the magicians had seen to that much. About him they had woven a strange unlikely fate—so unlikely that there should be no way he might chance upon his death, whether upon the battlefield or by illness, or by some improbable accident. What they did not see, was that if that is the only way he can die, it surely shall be the way he will die.

When he returned, I got it from him. You would think it would be difficult, getting a man to tell such a secret, that kept safe his life. No, he told me readily and in detail.

A year later it was prepared. It was absurd, really, how easily he was guiled into that ridiculous pose. Not inside nor outside, neither riding nor on foot, not this nor that, all cleverly overcome. He must have known one cannot tempt the darkness so, or that such middle-realms are no place for a mortal. As it was, Fate had been invoked, and must make her answer. The hunter, well-trained in his craft, did not err. The spear stuck fast in my lord's flesh, starting from his side, and his spirit fled.

Now I am revenged. The hunter I leave to his disappointment, the magicians to their sorrow. Whose spirit did they think came into that blossom-body? In their arrogance, they believed they created me. Me! I am old, older than Man who walks this earth, old as the bright spring that invariably finds it way to winter. For I am the White Lady, and death is my bride-price.


Ch'ang O