The Race: A Celtic Legend (sort of)

Two great chieftains stand at odds, menacingly snarling at each other, mighty armies at their backs. The only thing separating them is a simple Celtic druid.

“I am the first son of Glamorgan, who was first son of Dafydd, who was first son of Griffold, so the kingdom is mine to rule,” bellows Dafydd of the Mountain, raising his might sword above his head in challenge.

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Llewellyn of the Glen merely spits at Dafydd’s feet in disgust.

“Dogs, every one of you,” he snarls. “I am the first son of Blundewey, who was first son of Varus, who was first son of Glendoch. I am the rightful ruler!”

Dafydd drops into a fighting stance, causing Llewellyn to swing his axe.

“Enough,” cries the druid, slowly rising to his feet. “We cannot have our lands torn apart by yet another war.”

The two chieftains slowly lower their weapons as the druid passes between them and walks to the edge of a cliff. With great ceremony, he points across the waters toward a small island on which stands a great castle.

castle

“The sea brings us great wealth, but it also makes us vulnerable to attacks from across the waves,” the druid intones. “The great ruler of this land must therefore not only be a mighty warrior on land, but also a true master of the seas.”

“That is I,” spouts Dafydd.

“I am the master of the sea,” scoffs Llewellyn.

“The sea shall decide who is best,” replies the druid. “The succession shall be decided with a race. The first to touch the shores of that island shall rule over all.”

The two chieftains grunt their ascent and turn their armies in opposite directions toward the pebbled beach at the base of the cliff.

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Resting against the shore, two great ships swallow up the dwindling sunlight. One ship is jet black and sports a great dragon that snarls at the waves. The other is blood red with a horse that flails its anxious hooves into the surf.

The clansmen climb into their great ships, taking up their oars, brethren at their sterns ready to push them into the raging waters.

All noise stops, even the breeze, as the druid takes up his position and raises his arms to the sky.

“Let the gods of sea and air bless your efforts and deliver this land its rightful king,” the druid declares before violently dropping his arms to his sides.

With a mighty grunt and the hiss of resistant pebbles, the two teams push against the ships, forcing them into and over the arguing waves.

In each ship, the warriors pull mightily at the oars, the whine of the oar locks providing counter stroke to the rhythmic grunts of the rowers. The sea fights back, but the dragon and horse cannot be denied and slice their way through the offending currents.

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At first, the race is even, both armies in deadly earnest to claim the crown for their sovereign, but bit by bit, Llewellyn’s boat begins to pull ahead.

“Harder, you demons,” Dafydd cries to his men. “Pull harder or suffer the fires that Llewellyn has planned for your wives and children.”

Dafydd’s men strain harder against the oars, but the dragon continues to press onward, seeming to clip the tops of the waves sent against it.

“Give me your sword,” Dafydd orders one of his warriors.

“You cannot reach him with a sword,” the warrior cries, handing over his weapon.

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“I don’t have to reach Llewellyn,” Dafydd bellows, raising the sword above his head. “I have to reach the island.”

With that, he brings the sword crashing down onto the railing next to him, where but moments ago, his hand rested. CHOP!

Dafydd roars as his life blood spews across the deck and his severed hand cartwheels around his feet.

Stabbing the sword into the floor between him and his warrior, Dafydd quickly snatches up his hand and cocks his arm for a mighty throw.

“The druid said it,” he yells into the wind. “The first to touch the shores of that island shall rule over all.”

With all of his might, Dafydd throws his severed hand forward, watching it arc over Llewellyn’s boat on which it rains blood, toward the island. Everyone behind him rises to their feet to see the fleshy ballista arc…arc…arc…and…

SPLASH! Into the water a good 30 feet from shore.

Everyone on Dafydd’s boat is crest-fallen, as blood gushes from his open wrist onto the deck. Clenching his remaining fist in anger, Dafydd turns to his warrior.

“The other hand!”

“What?” the warrior cocks his head.

hand

“Cut off my other hand and throw it,” Dafydd commands.

“I’m not going to cut off your other hand,” the warrior complains. “How will you hold a sword or feed yourself?”

“When I am king, others will defend and feed me.”

“I don’t know,” the warrior whines. “Should we put it to a vote? Everybody raise a hand-”

Dafydd grasps at the warrior’s vest but really only knocks him to one side.

“Cut off my other hand or I will cut you in half right here!”

The warrior looks at him as if asking “really”. Dafydd just holds his fist against the railing and nods at the sword.

The warrior raises the sword above his head and…

“Nothing will stop me,” Dafydd declares through gritted teeth.

CHOP!

Dafydd screams into the night as the warrior grabs the hand and throws it for all he’s worth.

SPLASH! It doesn’t even travel 30 feet from the boat.

Dafydd stares at the warrior, eyes unbelieving what has just happened.

“Nothing will stop me,” he repeats, “except a warrior that throws like a girl!”

Resigned to his fate and starting to feel the effects of the blood loss, Dafydd slumps against the deck.

“I guess that’s it then,” he sighs to no one. “Llewellyn will be-“

“You could touch the island with your foot,” the warrior thinks out loud, slowly reaching for the sword.

foot

“I am not giving up my-“

CHOP!

“Aaaaaaaah!”

SPLASH! The foot quickly sinks and resurfaces to float against the nearby hand.

Through a haze of agony, Dafydd looks up to find the warrior approaching with the sword. With his arm stumps and one good leg, he backs toward the rowers.

“No, no, no!”

CHOP!

“Aaaaaah!”

SPLASH! Another foot.

The night is filled with the cacophony of CHOP! Screams! SPLASH! as shins, legs, forearms take flight one after another, only to fall short.

In the distance, Llewellyn’s men puke over the side of their boat as it slowly fills up with blood and human tissue, their puke coursing streams between the severed body parts.

A soldier on the battlements of the castle, however, sees a fuzzy round ballista finally strike the shore, rolling up the beach and coming to rest against a bolder.

Face contorted in perpetual agony, a small rivulet of blood makes its way from the hairline of Dafydd’s decapitated head. As the blood reaches his right eye, the eyes suddenly fling open and look around.

Macbeth

“I did it!” Dafydd cries into the night. “I won! I won! I am the king of-“

He is suddenly distracted.

“Oh, shit.”

A raccoon grabs Dafydd’s head and drags it down the beach.

And thus began the reign of Llewellyn the Fully Assembled.

(Images are property of owners and are used here without permission because the druid said it was okay.)

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