The Twrch Trwyth
As the girl got closer and closer to the woods, she could hear the sound of something huge crashing about among the trees. The sound of hooves, the sound of a huge snout snuffling, and then with her sharp eyes she made out the shape of something gigantic smashing its way through the trees up ahead. It had two huge tusks, along with gigantic teeth that glimmered in the moonlight. It was an enormous wild boar, but far bigger than any that the otter-girl could imagine running about woods like these. It must be a magical creature.
As she drew closer, she became convinced of this fact, for between the great creature’s ears there lay something gleaming – a comb, and a pair of scissors.
Why were they there?
But before she could consider this any further the wild boar stopped its snuffling and looked directly at her.
“Who are you?” it demanded suspiciously. “You do not smell like an animal. Are you a human being in disguise, come to steal the comb and scissors from between my ears?”
“No, I’ve come to ask your help!”
“The Twrch Trwyth does not help just anyone. You must give me something in return.”
“What can I give you?”
“Find something beautiful that lies close by. It cannot be something living, it must be something that can be freely taken. Bring it to me and lay it before my nose and I will judge your worth by it. If I think it is a worthy gift, then, I will consider helping you. If it’s not worthy, why then, I’m probably going to eat you.”
So, now you too need to press pause, and go to search for a gift for the great wild boar. It cannot be something living, but something that can be freely taken, but it also must be something fine enough to please such a mighty creature. Can you solve this riddle and bring something that will encourage the wild boar to help you?
When the little otter returned, like you, she laid her gift before the great wild boar, there was a moment of pause while the boar sniffed at it. – something about reflecting on your gift here?
The little otter felt her heart hammering in her chest. What would the boar do if it disliked her gift?
Finally, it raised its huge head and breathed out through its nostrils – whoooooosh. The otter girl nearly fell over, the breath of the beast was so strong and so extraordinarily stinky. She tried not to show her disgust on her face.
“Your gift pleases me. Now, tell me, why do you need my help?”
“I have been spelled by the witch of the park. If I cannot find a way to break the spell by sunrise, I will be a stone otter on the animal wall forever. Please, do you know how to break her spell?”
The great wild boar sighed heavily, and the otter held her breath again, for the scent of his breath was really terrible.
Then, finally, he spoke.
“I am very old,” he said, “and I have been in this park for a long, long time, since before the park was a park. I came here when I was only a small piglet, and then, the city of Cardiff was not a city at all but a small town, ringed about by a wall, and here at the centre of it was the castle. This was a much larger wood back then, and I ran about in it, and grew larger and larger and larger. Men came to the wood to hunt me, but soon they were terrified of me. They tried to hunt me with spear and shield and sword but so many lost their lives that eventually they gave up and left me to roam this place in peace. And so I have remained here, as the town became a city, as the wood became a park, and still I remain. But I do not know how to break the witch’s spell. She is far older than I. Her magic runs deep in the earth. But there are other creatures in this park that are older than I am.
“If you go towards the visitor centre, you will find a man who rides on the back of an eagle. He has been in this place for much longer than I have. He may know how to break the witch’s spell. But be warned! He is an exacting and difficult man, and he will want to know exactly how you found your way to him. Count how many steps it takes for you to travel from here to there, and let that be the first thing you tell him.”
“Thank you,” said the otter-girl, and off she scampered, only this time she was very careful to count her steps — and you need to, as well!
1, 2, 3, 4, 5…