Mallolwch was not pleased to learn that his offerings had been so soundly rejected. “We offered him gold and whiskey with an e, what more does he want? I’m giving the throne to his nephew, even!”

His advisors whispered among themselves and eventually put forward an idea. “Sire, you know how Bran is, like, fifty feet tall at least?”

Mallolwch shrugged.  “Yes.  He’s super large and could just step on all of us, if he wanted.  But so what?  He also has a whole army!”

“Well, I was thinking,” the courtier began, swallowing nervously.  “Maybe he’s never been inside a house before?”

“I don’t see what you’re getting at. Of course he’s never been in a house. The house hasn’t been built that could…” Mallolwch trailed off, as he saw what the courtier was getting at. “You’re suggesting we build the biggest building ever, and offer it to Bran as a present?”

“Just so!”

“Hmm.”  Mallolwch leaned back and tented his fingers, considering.  “Okay.  I mean, it can’t hurt.  Worst case scenario, we’re right back where we started but we have the biggest building ever to show for it.”

#

And so the Irish constructed the biggest building ever, which had a roof so high Bran could fit in it, and also one hundred support pillars.  It was crazy impressive, the Maboginion assures us.

Also, Branwen sat her brother down and lectured him about the extent to which a protracted war would cause misery and death among the Irish peasants (who deserved better). It’s unclear whether Mallolwch sent Brawnwen to act on his behalf, or whether Bran found Branwen back on the east side of the impassable magnetic river.

Between the two of them, Branwen and the giant super-house convinced Bran to make peace. A great summit meeting was planned, in which the house would be formally presented to Bran and they would take a tour and there’d be drinking and so on.

Drinking and so on!  It’s the best part of every international incident.

However! There was a conspiracy afoot among the Irish nobles, who we’ve established as having been jerks. Hidden in one hundred leather sacks hanging from the one hundred pillars: one hundred Irish assassins!

However again! Before the official sit-down began, Bran and Branwen’s half-brother Evnissyen took it upon himself to inspect the super-house. Evnissyen, you remember, was the jerk who mutilated a bunch of Irish horses and started the whole Wales-Ireland feud. Anyway somehow he divined that the apparently decorative Irish sacks concealed hidden blades, and amused himself by sneaking up on the sacks and grabbing them.

“What’s in this sack?” he’d whisper, quiet so that none of the other assassins could hear.

The assassin in the sack would panic and make some kind of noise (“I’m just some flour!” was the most popular line the Mabinogion says). Then Evnissyen would squeeze the sack and pop the assassin within  like he was a melon.

He did this a hundred times, because he was a crazy murderous villain and there were a hundred sacks.

#

Later the peace summit happened! The hundred corpses maybe put a pall over the occasion, but since it was a secret plot, Mallolwch and his delegates didn’t know why they were there any more than Bran did.

Mallolwch officially signed over the crown of Ireland to Gwern, son of Branwen, and everyone cheered because it looked like war had been averted!  Well, not so much “war” as “Bran stomping on everyone,” but still.

After the ceremony Gwern stood at the head of a receiving line, accepting the well-wishes and envelopes of money, bar mitzvah style. Everyone was all smiles, until Evnissyen came to the front of the line.

“Nephew!” he boomed. “We’ve never met! I’m your uncle!”

“Which is why you called me nephew.” Gwern nodded. “That hangs together.”

“Want to see something no one would ever expect?”

“Sure, uncle –” Gwern was cut off, because Evnissyen picked him up and hung him, by the ankles.

“Ha ha!” boomed Evnissyen.

“Is this a Welsh thing?” asked Gwern, upside-down.  “Could you put me down?”

“This isn’t even the good part!” cried Evnissyen. Then, and I am not making this up, he carried Gwern over to a bonfire (still holding him by the ankles) and swung Gwern’s head into the flames.  “Ha ha!  I’m a crazy monster!”

Gwern screamed and died.

Everyone, Welsh and Irish alike, fell silent, paralyzed by shock, and then Branwen started screaming.

NEXT: THE BRAZEN HEAD?!


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Primary Sources: the Maboginion 10 (More atrocities!) — No Comments

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