Unfortunately (or perhaps fortunately, as the case may be) I did not run into a single Cwn Annwn while in Wales. I tried, I really did, but they were fresh out in Tenby. Nor did I run into any Afanc (though granted I wasn’t near a lake so it wasn’t exactly Afanc territory), Water Leapers (giant frogs with bat’s wings), or Gwyllion (ghosts/night wanderers) – unless you count the human variety night Gwyll. Saw a few of those. I think they call them “teenagers.”
We did, however, eat in the oldest pub in Tenby – The Coach and Horses on Upper Frog Street (don’t you love the street names). The place is ancient. We’re talking 1600s or something. It’s tiny, it’s dim, and it’s everything Americans imagine pubs should be. Except it very bizarrely has random Thai decor scattered about the place and it serves truly excellent Thai food. Go figure.
What’s really cool is that Dylan Thomas used to drink there back in the day. In fact, one night he got so drunk he left his only copy of “Under Milk Wood” lying on the bar stool. The landlord had to ship it out to him in New York.
Note to self: Never get so drunk you leave your WIP on a bar stool. Unless you want to look like an idiot.
Tenby is so far removed from London life, it might as well be on another planet. It’s laid back in a way I haven’t experienced since living in Portland. The locals are friendly and welcoming, willing to stop and chat about anything and everything. Random strangers say “hi” in the streets, and the barista has your coffee order memorized by day two.
Not to mention he’s willing to put together a picnic of scones, clotted cream, and jam complete with proper cutlery and little ceramic pots. “Don’t worry. You can bring it back later.”
That so does not happen in London.
You might say, I’m a little bit in love with Tenby. And with Wales. I guess that’s to be expected, seeing as how I’m part Welsh.
But Mythos Monday is about myths, right? And so I present to you one of the coolest things I learned on my trip to Tenby, Wales. The tale of the Red Dragon of Wales (Told partially from memory with the help of the lovely Wikipedia). The dragon which now resides on the Welsh flag and is said to have graced the battle standard of King Arthur himself (there is some speculation that Camelot was in Wales).
In ancient times, a White Dragon invaded Wales and fought with the Red Dragon. The pained shrieks of the dragons caused lands to become barren, women to miscarry, and animals to die. So the king of Britain had a huge pit dug and filled it with mead (yummy). The dragons drank until they passed out. The king was able to imprison them.
For centuries the dragons sleep until a new kings decides to build a castle there. Every night the building is utterly demolished by mysterious forces. The king consults his advisers who tell him to find a boy who has no natural father and sacrifice him (nice, huh). The king eventually finds a boy who meets the criteria. The boy’s name: Merlin – the wisest and most powerful wizard to ever live.
Learning he is to be sacrificed, Merlin tells the king of the two dragons sleeping beneath the castle. The king then frees the dragons who continue their battle until the Red Dragon eventually triumphs, killing the White Dragon.
Merlin tells the king that the White Dragon represents the Saxons and the Red Dragon represents the king’s own people. The people who would eventually become the Welsh. The Red Dragon is also the symbol that foretells the coming of King Arthur.
Will the Red Dragon of Wales make a guest appearance in a future Sunwalker Saga novel?