Ok. This is, or at least it could be a, Once Upon A Time, story, but hey, that opening is really over worked and some one not so long ago even made a TV series out of it. So I’ll start the story this way.
This story takes place about 1400 years ago, or maybe 1500, or 1600 or, well, let’s put it this way. It takes place sometime after the Roman occupation of Britain and before Straparola da Caravaggio, possibly about the time that Robin Hood was supposedly robbing the rich to give to the poor.
So.

Sometime after the Roman occupation of Britain there lived a king and queen who reigned over (Tir ar y môr), Land Upon Sea, an island it is told, that lies off the coast of Wales’ Llŷn Peninsula just beyond the mist. Some say it is now Bardsey, Island of 20,000 Saints, but if it was it was before the saints came marching in. (Sorry. Couldn’t help myself.)
It was then, also known as the Land ‘O’ Apples and there are still orchards there I have read.

The King’s name was Afal, who was a native of Wales and the queen’s name who was born in Norway, was Eple whom of course took the Kings surname Perllan, a most Welsh name.
The island then was covered with apple trees which many centuries after this story some Monks took claim too, rebuilding a nearly dying grove. In our time but a single tree, gnarled and dying had survived but once again the line of apples has been rejuvenated.

Now the King and Queen had a daughter, their only child, whom, had things not gone aloof would have become the queen and she would have found a king and so on as tales that continue go. But things did go aloof and things didn’t quite happen the way they might have, and this is what did happened.
The King and Queen named their daughter, Eple Afal Gren Perllan, and if there was no other word for beauty it would have been her name to describe it, for no other child in all the lives of all the people of the island was there ever any child more beautiful.
Her beauty was legend by the time she became of age to be courted and the number of suitors who came calling cannot be counted. They came from all over the island and far off lands, including the queen’s homeland, Norway. And, it should be told that not all of them were of desirable character. In fact one was absolutely despicable and pledged he would have Princess Eple Afal Gren as his bride. Lord Enmeget Grimmand.

Of course, Lord Enmeget Grimmand put forth his best character and for a while seemed a fitting match, but Eple Afal Gren’s eye was set upon a very handsome lad, Prince Hav Herrar of Fearann Cuan, said to be far out to sea northwest of the Hebrides Islands. But because the King and Queen knew little of that place they tried to convince the Princess to choose another.
The Princess would have nothing to do with changing her mind. Prince Hav was her choice and that was that. At last the King and Queen agreed and when the news went out and found its way to Lord Enmeget Grimmand he went berserk with anger. Grimmand feigned a reluctant departure after telling the King, face to face, as close as faces can get without touching, that he would have his revenge.
Three days later, actually three nights later, during a celebration of the Princess’s engagement, which would last a year, a band of brigands crashed the party and kidnapped Eple Afal Gren and stole her away into the night.

Of course there was not a single doubt who caused this to happen and King Afal called upon the bravest of his people to go out and return the princess. And many applied for the challenge, but Prince Hav stood before the King and Queen and said, “Eple Afal Gren is my betrothed. For that it is on my shoulders to rescue her.”

There was a long silence then when the King stood and granted the challenge to the Prince of Fearann Cuan a great cheer erupted into the night. It was so loud that the kidnappers heard it all the way from their ship and Lord Enmeget Grimmand cursed Prince Hav. Until then no one knew that he was an evil sorcerer, but when his voice echoed out upon the sea all cringed in fear.

“Come, Come if you dare Prince of the Sea People, but if should succeed in rescuing Princess Eple Afal Gren you both shall spend the remainder of your mortal lives as creatures of the sea.”

Exactly what he meant no one knew but Prince Hav, despite the threat went out in the night to rescue his betrothed. How Hav found his way to the kidnapper’s ship remained unknown until after all was done. But he did come and climbed aboard Lord Grimmand’s Bark.
There are tales of great and horrifying battles told across the ages, but none would equal the one between one hero and a band of fifty brigands all who tasted the blade of Prince Hav and many went to the bottom of the sea. Those who survived surrendered peacefully at last. But in all this time Lord Grimmand hid bellow in his cabin. When he emerged he bore a brace of pistols and would have shot Prince Hav and Princess Eple Afal Bren had not the ship lurched tremendously and threw him to the deck. Both pistols flew from his hands into the sea.

But the lord Sorcerer was not beaten. “I condemn you both to lives as creatures of the sea.” He cried out.
But just at that moment there came over the gunnels a double dozen men, half human, and half fish with grand flukes at the end of their tails and mains upon their heads as gold, or black or red as gold, black or red can be.
Princess Eple Afal Gren looked upon them in great awe then she laid eyes on her betrothed and he too had grown a tail.
“So the sorcerer’s curse has taken you.” She cried out in horror.
“Nigh my Lady. I have always been a creature of the sea, a prince among the Merfolk.
But it seems you are not aware of my nature. Thus my Lady, for honour sake, I release you from your promise.”
But even as Hav freed his beloved her legs melted together and became a fishes’ tail with the grandest of all flukes and her golden hair turned brighter than the sun.
“But I am human. But I do not feel cursed for now I am too, a mermaid and…” the princess said somewhere between awe and joy. “You need not release me Prince Hav. Honour will come with a marriage between us and in time you and I shall be King and Queen of Land ‘O’ Sea and Fearann Cuan.
Countless ages later monks landed upon the shores of Land ‘O’ Sea and found, not far inland, the ruins of a great castle and the remanence of a once lush orchard of apples, but naught did they discover about the people who had once lived there until they scraped in the ruble of the castle and found a parchment with this story written upon it. ▪

Donald Harry Roberts
It only took 61 of my 67 years on planet earth to find myself and now that I have, it’s wonderful. I have discovered who and what I am and what I wish to share with the wide, wide world. As soon as my life accomplishments are fulfilled I am getting the heck outa Dodge, but not too soon I hope…I have a mess load of stories yet to write.

Opal March Cover

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