‘Three Tales for Europe’ was first published as ‘The Cloak of Kings’ Beards: Three Welsh Folk Tales.’ In New Writing: The International Journal for the Practice and Theory of Creative Writing, 24th September 2018, and appears in Pugnacious Little Trolls by kind permission of the editor. ‘The Cloak of Kings’ Beards’ is its concluding section.

from Three Tales for Europe: The Cloak of Kings’ Beards

There were once two kings on the Island of Britain whose names were Nynniaw and Peibiaw. One bright, star-lit night these kings went walking in the fields, and Nynniaw said, ‘See what a fair and ample field is mine.’

‘What field is that?’ asked Peibiaw, and Nynniaw replied: ‘The night sky.’

‘Then see,’ said Peibiaw, ‘the flocks and herds grazing the night sky, for all of them are mine.’

‘What flocks and herds are these?’ asked Nynniaw, and Peibiaw replied:

‘All the stars you see: a blazing fire, each one; and the moon standing guard over them is their shepherd.’

Nynniaw said, ‘They shall have no pasture in any field of mine.’

‘They shall graze their fill,’ said Peibiaw.

‘They shall not graze at all,’ said Nynniaw. Thus each king contradicted the other, until there was a blazing row between them, and the row grew into a deadly war, and the hosts and realms of each were all but laid waste in the fighting.

Rhitta the Giant, King of Wales, heard about the carnage wrought by those foolish kings, and resolved to mount an expedition against them. So with the support of his army and the consent of his people, he arose and marched against those kings in their pride and rage and pillage, vanquished them, and broke their swords. But when the remaining kings of Britain heard what he had done, they mustered their armies to avenge the disgrace that Nynniaw and Peibiaw had suffered. They advanced, attacking Rhitta the Giant and his men, but although they fought bravely, Rhitta and his army took the field. ‘This is my fair and ample field,’ said Rhitta, and he and his men cut off the beards of Nynniaw and Peibiaw and all those other kings.

The kings of France and Spain and Ireland heard what he had done, and they also took arms to avenge the humiliation of the British kings. Again there was fierce combat, but Rhitta and his men won the field unscathed, and cut off the beards of these kings also. ‘These are the livestock that grazed my field,’ said Rhitta, ‘and I have driven them all away: they shall have no pasture here.’

Then, with the beards of the kings he had shaved, Rhitta made himself a cloak which covered him from head to toe, and he was twice the size of the largest man ever seen. And by his victory, law and order, wisdom and righteousness were established between princes and their rivals, peoples and their neighbours, throughout the British Isles and even the whole of Europe. So may this peace endure over rulers like those foolish kings, lest they wage war again without need or cause; and may it always be so.

I am the author of three short story collections. Reasoning and For His Warriors, originally published by Gwasg y Bwthyn, Caernarfon, with Welsh Books Council support, now join Prayer at the End and Pugnacious Little Trolls in revised editions at Cockatrice Books. My anthology of fiction, Dangerous Asylums, including work by Gee and David Williams, Glenda Beagan, Carys Bray, Simon Thirsk and others, was published by the North Wales Mental Health Research Project, October 2016. I am a contributor with Nigel Jarrett, Rachel Trezise, Tristan Hughes and others to Brush with Fate, an anthology of Welsh fiction translated by Hala Salah Eldin, and to Land of Change, an anthology of radical writing forthcoming from Culture Matters. My work has appeared in Albawtaka Review, Annexe Magazine, Blue Tattoo, Cambrensis, Catharsis, East of the Web, The Harbinger, The Interpreter’s House, New Welsh Review, New Writing, Otherwise Engaged, The Swansea Review, Tears in the Fence, and elsewhere. I am a member by election of the Welsh Academy.

I am the translator of Going South: The Stories of Richard Hughes Williams (Cockatrice, 2015), Hallowe’en in the Cwm: The Stories of Glasynys (Cockatrice, 2017), and A Book of Three Birds, the seventeenth-century classic by Morgan Llwyd (Cockatrice, 2017). In addition, I have translated fiction by D. Gwenallt Jones, Angharad Tomos, and Manon Steffan Ros.