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Nisien and Efnisien

by Karen Davis
Nisien and Efnisien, sons of Penarddun by Eurosswydd, who had captured her husband Llyr and held him hostage until she slept with him. They were twins, and half-brothers by Penarddun of the royal Bran, his sister Branwen, and Manawydan. Efnisien mutilated the horses given by the Irish king Matholwch as a bride-price for Branwen, for Efnisien felt that such a marriage was a mortal insult. This act nearly precipitated warfare, but Matholwch was appeased by the gift of a cauldron that could resurrect the dead. Branwen wed him, and went to Ireland, where she bore him a son, Gwern. But she was then imprisoned, and the Welsh had to go and rescue her. Peace was achieved through the efforts of Manawydan.

Some Irish lords objected, and hid themselves in flour bags to attack the Welsh. But Efnisien, scenting Irish treachery, cast them into the fire, and then cast Gwern himself in (avoiding the geas against shedding kinsmen's blood thereby). A war broke out, and the Irish replenished themselves through the cauldron. Efnisien, repenting, sacrificed himself by feigning death and being thrown into the cauldron, which he then broke, dying in the process.


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