A long time ago, there lived a beautiful young woman, Bega – the virgin daughter of Bran, a powerful Irish King- whose beauty and fine reputation had become famous in the land. In order to seal a treaty with the neighboring king, Bega’s father promised her in marriage to the other king’s son. Now this son -Corban- was much older than Bega. He was known to be a drunkard and a glutton. He was cruel in his treatment of his servants, his horses and his dogs. However, for many years, the two kingdoms had been at war and at long last, there was a chance to make peace.
A great feast was held at King Bran’s castle to celebrate the treaty and to introduce the betrothed to one another. When Bega was presented to her future husband, he leered at her, he licked his lips provocatively and he squeezed her breasts as if he was choosing ripe fruit. Bega was terrified and her father, King Bran, was none too pleased either. However, a deal was a deal and if the exhausted lands were spared from further battle, it would be worth the price.
The night before her wedding, the fairies heard Bega weeping at her window and they decided to take pity on her. The fair folk had been friends for many years with the first men and women who came to settle in their realm, but they were no friends of the rival king and his wicked son. Their leader, Roslyn, approached Bega with a plan. Three of the fairies were sent to put the guards of the castle to sleep with a draught of drugged ale, three more were sent to fool Corban’s father into signing the treaty without the payment of the maiden as a condition, and a final three -including Roslyn, herself- spirited Bega away from the castle and her fate.
Over the green fields, over the hills and valleys, the fairies rode with Bega in their care. When they reached the seashore, Roslyn called a great sea monster from the depths to carry Bega to the Eastern Isles. For the fairies had allies in the kingdom of Cymru and had a friend in their great king -Emrys. Ahead of the sea monster, the fairies sent a gull to carry a message to Emrys, asking him to keep the maiden safely hidden from cruel Prince Corban. With tears of relief and thanks, Bega bid her friends goodbye and climbed on the back of her conveyance.
Three days later, she arrived on the shores of Cymru, tired and hungry but safe and well. As the sea monster departed, a group of mounted men approached from inland. The tallest of the men dismounted and came to her. He was handsome and well dressed, with a neatly trimmed beard, straight teeth and clear blue eyes. He smiled and held out his hand to Bega who until this point had kept her face lowered in respect. However, when she raised her eyes to the handsome stranger, he immediately saw how beautiful she was, despite her fatigue and disarray.
“My lord,” she said, humbly. “I am Bega. I’ve fled from my home in Ireland to escape a most terrible fate. If you would be so kind to take me into your care, I will gratefully become the lowest of the serving women in your household. Only do not send me back home, for I would rather die.”
King Emrys smiled and lifted her to her feet. “I’ll do better than that, maiden. My friends the fairies have told me all about you, all your good qualities –your virtue, your kindness and charity. At their good report, I swear I had fallen in love with you already. And so I was prepared to ask for your hand in marriage. Now if you would have me, I see that I would be rewarded with your beauty as well. What do you say? Do you think you could love a man like me?”
At his words, Bega began to weep again and Emrys was troubled. “I have gone too far,” he said miserably.
“No, my lord. These are tears of joy I weep, for you make me a happy woman this day. Your friends are my friends, as well. And if they trusted me to your care, then I am sure that I could love you. I will gladly be your wife.”
At these words, Emrys embraced her, sealing their promise with a kiss of true love. He then lifted her onto his horse and carried her back to his castle to rest and recover from her ordeal.
Preparations for the royal wedding were immediately begun. Bega was bathed and clothed in a fine silk gown and jeweled with precious gems given to her by the dowager queen -Emrys’ own mother. Her maid servants wove flowers into her hair and rubbed oils into her already flawless skin. Within a fortnight of her arrival, King Emrys and Queen Bega were married and settled into courtly life.
Meanwhile, when Bega had been discovered missing, Corban had wanted to go to war against her father, King Bran. His own father produced the signed treaty with the alteration removing the condition of marriage. At the sight of it, Corban flew into such a rage that his heart, weakened by his gluttony and drunkenness, burst on the spot and he died.