In one scene she runs into the 'Ellylldan' (Pronounced elch-chlith-dan.) These were evil sprites with glowing eyes and fire at their fingertips, reputed to lure unwary travellers to their doom by leading them into the bogs where they were lost for ever. Yes, Wales has her fair share of imps and demons - also lost civilisations. Not far from Aberystwyth, where I used to live, at low tide one can see the remains of a submerged forest. This is all that remains of Cantre'r Gwaelod, or Maes Gwyddno as it would have been known at the time 'Dancing With Fate' takes place. The legend is simlar to the 'Atlantis' story and tells how the little town was drowned when the appointed watchman attended a banquet given by the king, became intoxicated and left the water gates open. The town sank beneath the sea and it is said that if one stands on the beach on a quiet evening one can hear the church bells chiming beneath the waves.
Of course Wales has long been associated with the druids and Merlin (or Myrddin) who was ruputedly born in Caerfyrddin, a small mid Wales town which is named after him. (The English version is Carmarthen.) The symbol of Wales, on the Welsh flag, is the red dragon, and there is an interesting legend telling how this came about. King Vortigen was a British Monarch of post-roman Britain. After an incestuous affair with his daughter, he was obliged to flee to the county of Gwynedd where he was advised by his wizards to build a fortress, or 'dinas', now known as Dinas Emrys. He decided to strengthen his defences by building a tower, but each time the timber and quarried stones were carried to the site they disappeared over night.
His wizards recommended a human sacrifice of a 'fatherless child' and the child Merlin was brought. Before he could be put to death he announced that a lake lay the middle of the foundations. and beneath the lake two dragons fought, a red and a white one, representing the Britons and Saxons. He told the king it was pointless to try to build his tower on top of dragons, and he should leave and go somewhere safer. Vortigen realised there was something supernatural about the child and fled to the Lleyn Peninsular, after giving Dinas Emrys to Merlin. (Emrys is a form of Ambrose, derived from the Latin 'Ambrosius' pertaining to the gods, and is another name by which Melin was known). The red dragon later became the Welsh National emblem.
Then there is the legend of Devils's Bridge, also not very far from Aberstwyth, where I lived. It is actually three bridges one above the other, spanning a deep gorge with a spectacular waterfall and a deep pool known as 'The Devil's Punchbowl'. It is said the orginal bridge was built when an old lady lost her milk cow one day. The animal somehow managed to cross the river and she knew she could not wade across herself fearing she would be swept into the whirlpool. Suddenly Old Nick himself appeared and told her he would buld a bridge across the chasm if she gave him the soul of the first thing to cross it, knowing she would have to walk across to fetch her cow. She agreed, but was not as simple as she looked. Once the bridge appeared, she put her hand in her apron pocket and threw a crust of bread across the bridge. Immediately her little dog ran across to retrieve it. The devil, realising he was beaten, disappeared in an evil smelling cloud of smoke and was not seen in those parts again, leaving the old lady to fetch back her cow.
There are so many myths and legends of Wales, I could go on much longer. No wonder I love fantasy so much, growing up and living in wild and spectacular countryside, with such a wealth of stories to draw on, how could one fail to be inspired?
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