It’s been a week since Ceridwen, the wife of King Tegid, was last seen in the Great Hall. It’s been a week since she last sang lullabies to her two children, spoke to her husband or ate, for that matter. No one in her household knew where their mistress was, or what she could be up to. Something was wrong in the house, something was on so wrong – and only Tegid Foel, wisest among kings, knew where his fair wife was. After all, they were married for many a year, and he learned to understand her – and to the best of his ability, foresee the difficulties. Now was the time to act, and he was ready to be as kind to her as he could, without being too soft-hearted, though, for he knew he had to reason her from her hysteric state.
She must be in pieces, he thought, making his way to her hut in the woods. She must be, for she has given birth, and having witnessed it twice before, he knew it wasn’t easy. She always had a hard time in labour, he recalled. When Morfran was born, she almost died, so hard it was. Little Creirwy’ s birth was easier, but with Creirwy, it was always easier. At nine, she was the perfect daughter, obedient and kind, clever and obliging, and so lovely- Tegid Foel felt his heart swelling with pride and love. His daughter was everything to him, and they were close – much closer than they were with Ceridwen, but who could blame her?
Marrying Ceridwen wasn’t easy. Living with her wasn’t easy. Nothing was easy when it came to Ceridwen, yet he cared, he loved and he never left her side. She was the best wife he could have wished for, and Tegid’s life was pure bliss – up to this day.
When he reached the hut, the sun was high up in the sky, the birds sang merrily all around- yet it was quiet by Ceridwen’s abode. Not a sound came out, and though Tegid Foel was keen at hearing, he could not discern a single sound. Something was wrong here, and it was up to him to make it right.
Three times he knocked, and no answer came. Cautiously he entered, and froze rooted to the spot: no one was inside, no one except a tiny babe, wrapped in silken covers, fast asleep in a cradle. Tegid knew this cradle well – nine years ago he carved it himself for Creirwy, and it hasn’t been used since then. Made of ash, and masterfully decorated, it was his first gift to his first child, his golden girl.
Upon seeing her, he thought he’d never seen a more wondrous child. She was beautiful even then, five minutes after being born – but this child took his breath away. She told him of course, that it would be a child born of magic, with no mortal father – and Tegid was no stranger to magic himself, being who he was- but he was quite unprepared for what he saw.
This child was, at the mildest, humblest words, radiant. His eyes, wide open, were the color of the summer skies, his expression – perfectly conscious, calm and serene. Tegid thought, taken aback by this, that the child not only saw him, but knew who he was. Kneeling by the cradle, Tegid smiled at the babe, and the babe smiled back, reaching its hand towards Tegid.
‘You’re brave, aren’t you, Taliesin?’ He murmured.
‘How did you call him?’
Tegid Foel looked up. Ceridwen stood there, her face pale as mist, eyes dark, hair falling in uncombed curls down to her waist.
‘Taliesin’ he said.’ I called him Taliesin. That is one radiant brow, innit?’
‘Taliesin’ she mused.’ Taliesin…That is the name he was born to have, then’.
‘Ceri, cariad’ the talk wasn’t going to be easy. But then again, with Ceridwen, nothing was.
‘It’s been nine days, love. It is time to let him go’.
‘I cannot, Tegid. I can’t and don’t ask me to’.
‘You know the prophecy, cariad. He has his way, and you have yours. He will always be your son, Ceri. Yours alone – and you can give him all the powers you want to help him’.
‘You used the songs, then. I heard you in the night. But then, Ceri…what have you to worry about? It is only half an hour downstream, the Prince is a nice boy, and his wife is barren. Give child a chance. He will be well looked after, you know that. Don’t you fret’.
‘Oh I know you, Tegid Foel’ she said impatiently ‘ You are trying to reason with me. But you forget – you are talking to a mother’.
‘We know each other ‘ he corrected her ‘ and I will reason you until you agree. The time is running out. Help him reach his destiny, take care of him from here. Nothing can change the fact of you being his mother. That will never change. You will meet again’.
‘We won’t. That is how the prophecy goes, Tegid. I tried changing it, bending it. But it seems my powers are not enough. I will never see my child, and that is final’.
‘One more reason to let him go. I made something…not much, but it should help. A coracle, that is what they call it. Willow and leather pelts…sturdy, though it doesn’t look it. Let me help’.
Carefully, he took the babe in his hands. Little boy smiled at him,playing with his long beard. Tegid kissed the child on the forehead and placed him on the soft furs and silks of the coracle.
‘May gods bless you, little one. Shine on, radiant brow.’
Ceridwen watched him nervously, her face a mask of desperation and pain. Tegid lowered the coracle, kneeling by the stream. The coracle took to the water, gliding gently towards the lake that belonged to Prince Elffin.
‘Don’t let grief fill your heart. Think of the children that need a mother back home. Come, let me calm you down’.
He held her in his arms. She cried. The sun was setting somewhere, and the coracle floated downstream. As Ceridwen calmed down, a cry came from the lake down hill.
‘Between God and me! That is one radiant brow!’
Tegid Foel smiled. The world regained its course again. Everything was right.