THE CHRONICLES OF PRYDAIN PDF

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The chronicle of Prydain is a fantasy. Such things never happen in real life. Or do they? Most of us are called on to perform tasks far beyond what we believe we. The Book Of Three - The Chronicles Of Prydain 01 Lloyd Alexander The Chronicles of Prydain Book One THE BOOK OF THREE. The Chronicles of Prydain has 29 entries in the series.


The Chronicles Of Prydain Pdf

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Editorial Reviews. Review. "An exciting, highly imaginative, and sometimes profound fantasy of site App Ad. The Chronicles of Prydain by [Alexander, Lloyd]. The Prydain chronicles by Lloyd Alexander; 1 edition; First published in ; Subjects: Accessible book, Protected DAISY, In library. American literature for children." The Chronicles of Prydain by Lloyd Alexander;. The Book of Three. The Black Cauldron. The Castle of Llyr. Taran Wanderer.

Only the Free Commots , a collection of villages that answer only to the High King, are outside any subject king's jurisdiction. Underneath and within Prydain is the kingdom of the Fair Folk, a diminutive supernatural race that mostly keeps to its own affairs. The Fair Folk have no love for the Death-Lord Arawn , however; and they occasionally aid the humans of Prydain against him. In addition to the races of men and Fair Folk, Prydain is home to the Sons of Don and their descendants who are ostensibly related to the gods of Welsh mythology , though this is never overtly stated in the series.

Other varieties of creatures such as the undead Cauldron-Born , the monstrous birdlike Gwythaints, and oddities such as the furry, human-like Gurgi whose race is undetermined also inhabit Prydain. Reception[ edit ] Having garnered a Newbery Medal and a Newbery Honor, Prydain is widely recognized as a valuable contribution to children's literature.

Decades after their publication The Chronicles of Prydain hold their own in sales and readership. The Book of Three[ edit ] Taran A young man who grows from early adolescence to an adult over the course of the series and lives with the enchanter Dallben and the aged warrior Coll.

He is charged with taking care of the oracular pig Hen Wen and throughout the series is known under the title of Assistant Pig-Keeper. The series follows his coming-of-age journey.

Princess Eilonwy Eilonwy is a friend and later the love interest of Taran. When she is being formal, she calls herself "Princess Eilonwy, daughter of Angharad , daughter of Regat of the Royal House of Llyr " in reference to her mother and grandmother respectively. Her father, Geraint, was a commoner. The women in her line are formidable enchantresses. Eilonwy is described as having red-gold hair and bright blue eyes. She is very smart, witty and sarcastic, but at the same time quirky and scatterbrained.

Her speech mannerisms are very distinctive: she often employs unusual similes and metaphors. She has a preference for going barefoot The Castle of Llyr , and when she has to wear shoes, they are usually sandals The Book of Three. He is referred to as a king , but it is made clear that he is a very minor king of a tiny kingdom at best, much less important than the High King who rules Prydain.

As a result, he often leaves it to go wandering as an unofficial bard. Though he returns from time to time to rule, he once mentions that he gets the feeling that the people of his country get along just fine even if he's not there.

Though he is sometimes prone to boasting, he carries an enchanted harp, which keeps him relatively honest; the strings of the harp will break whenever he tells a lie. Gurgi Gurgi is described as being some sort of cross between man and beast , having long arms, covered with fur and leaves, and ever hungry. His manner of speech is filled with rhymed pairs of words "crunchings and munchings", "Smackings and Wackings", "sneakings and peekings" , and redundant phrases "see with lookings!

Gurgi is humble and loyal toward his human companions, at first submitting even to Taran as a "noble lord". In the course of the Chronicles, he plays a highly important role by accidentally finding hidden items which ultimately occupy a vital keyrole in the storyline. Doli Doli is one of the Fair Folk, a nation of faeries , and other magical beings who live in an extensive underground kingdom that spans the entire country of Prydain. Doli is described as a short, stocky dwarf who carries a number of weapons including a battleaxe.

He is adept in many skills including hunting, fighting, and stealth. When first met, he is described as the only one of his kin who doesn't have the power to turn himself invisible.

After aiding Taran's companions and the House of Don, he is rewarded by Gwydion with this ability, although each time he uses it, it creates an uncomfortable sensation inside his ears. Hen Wen Hen Wen is a white sow. She is an oracular pig with the ability to prophesy about future events and reveal hidden information. Originally she belonged to Coll , but most of her maintenance was delegated to Taran when he received the title of Assistant Pig-Keeper in The Book of Three.

Dallben Dallben is described as an ancient man with a long white beard. He lives on the farm known as Caer Dallben , where he acts as protector of Coll 's oracular pig, Hen Wen.

He also is the guardian and mentor of Taran , the protagonist of the Prydain Chronicles. When first introduced in The Book of Three , he was already years old. Those who know him recognize him as the most powerful enchanter in Prydain, [12] and while his displays of power are quite potent they are used sparingly.

Or do they? Most of us are called on to perform tasks far beyond what we believe we can do. Our capabilities seldom match our aspirations, and we are often woefully unprepared. To this extent, we are all Assistant Pig-Keepers at heart. And so it had been horseshoes all morning long. Taran's arms ached, soot blackened his face. At last he dropped the hammer and turned to Coll, who was watching him critically.

As if we had any horses! Sparks sprayed the air. But the more he pounded, the more the metal twisted and buckled, until, finally, the iron sprang from the tongs and fell to the ground. Taran stared in dismay. With the tongs, he picked up the bent iron and examined it. You must hold the tongs so.

When you strike, the strength must flow from your shoulder and your wrist be loose. You can hear it when you do it right. There is a kind of music in it. Besides," he added, "this is not the metal for weapons. We have no battles at Caer Dallben. You must know the art. A trace of a smile appeared on his face, as though he were savoring something pleasant. He seized a poker and brandished it, slashing at the air and dancing back and forth over the hard-packed earthen floor.

While Coll shouted instructions, they set to parrying and thrusting, with much banging, clanking, and commotion. For a moment Taran was sure he had the better of Coll, but the old man spun away with amazing lightness of foot.

Now it was Taran who strove desperately to ward off Coll's blows. Abruptly, Coll stopped. So did Taran, his poker poised in mid-air. In the doorway of the forge stood the tall, bent figure of Dallben. Dallben, master of Caer Dallben, was three hundred and seventy-nine years old. His beard covered so much of his face he seemed always to be peering over a gray cloud.

On the little farm, while Taran and Coll saw to the plowing, sowing, weeding, reaping, and all the other tasks of husbandry, Dallben undertook the meditating, an occupation so exhausting he could accomplish it only by lying down and closing his eyes.

He meditated an hour and a half following breakfast and again later in the day. The clatter from the forge had roused him from his morning meditation; his robe hung askew over his boney knees. I think you had best come with me. There, in Dallben's chamber, moldering tomes overflowed the sagging shelves and spilled onto the floor amid heaps of iron cook pots, studded belts, harps with or without strings, and other oddments.

Taran took his place on the wooden bench, as he always did when Dallben was in a mood for giving lessons or reprimands. But wiser heads than yours will determine when you should learn it. Time flies quickly; things always happen sooner than one expects. And yet," he murmured, almost to himself, "it troubles me. I fear the Horned King may have some part in this.

He drew a ponderous, leather-bound volume toward him, The Book of Three, from which he occasionally read to Taran and which, the boy believed, held in its pages everything anyone could possibly want to know. And, of course, their war leaders who command the warriors. His war leader is the mightiest hero in Prydain. You told me of him. Prince Gwydion! Yes," Taran went on eagerly, "I know For the moment I am less concerned with the realms of the living than with the Land of the Dead, with Annuvin.

Even Dallben had spoken it in a whisper. It is a treasure house, not only of gold and jewels but of all things of advantage to men. Long ago, the race of men owned these treasures. By craft and deceit, Arawn stole them, one by one, for his own evil uses. Some few of the treasures have been wrested from him, though most lie hidden deep in Annuvin, where Arawn guards them jealously. Long ago they voyaged to Prydain from the Summer Country and found the land rich and fair, though the race of men had little for themselves.

From there, they helped regain at least a portion of what Arawn had stolen, and stood as guardians against the lurking threat of Annuvin. They do so even today.

Math, the High King, is descended from the House of Don. So is Prince Gwydion. But that is all by the way. Prydain has been at peace as much as men can be peaceful until now. But he is a man of evil for whom death is a black joy. He sports with death as you might sport with a dog. Dallben shook his head. He wears an antlered mask, and for this reason he is called the Horned King. His purposes I do not know.

I suspect the hand of Arawn, but in what manner I cannot tell. I tell you now for your own protection," Dallben added.

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Whatever notions you may have, I advise you to forget them immediately. There is unknown danger abroad. You are barely on the threshold of manhood, and I have a certain responsibility to see that you reach it, preferably with a whole skin.

So, you are not to leave Caer Dallben under any circumstances, not even past the orchard, and certainly not into the forest not for the time being. Do you set yourself to be a glorious hero? Do you believe it is all flashing swords and galloping about on horses? As for being glorious I wish I might be like him! This is one of those cases. I could tell you why, but at the moment it would only be more confusing. If you grow up with any kind of sense which you sometimes make me doubt you will very likely reach your own conclusions.

Dallben had already begun meditating again. His chin gradually came to rest on his collarbone; his beard floated around his ears like a fog bank; and he began snoring peacefully. The spring scent of apple blossom drifted through the open window. Beyond Dallben's chamber, Taran glimpsed the pale green fringe of forest. The fields, ready to cultivate, would soon turn golden with summer.

The Book of Three lay closed on the table. Taran had never been allowed to read the volume for himself; now he was sure it held more than Dallben chose to tell him.

In the sun-filled room, with Dallben still meditating and showing no sign of stopping, Taran rose and moved through the shimmering beams. From the forest came the monotonous tick of a beetle. His hands reached for the cover. Taran gasped in pain and snatched them away. They smarted as if each of his fingers had been stung by hornets. He jumped back, stumbled against the bench, and dropped to the floor, where he put his fingers woefully into his mouth.

Dallben's eyes blinked open. He peered at Taran and yawned slowly. Now you know better. Well, that is one of the three foundations of learning: I'm certainly not to be anything. I'm not anything even at Caer Dallben! From this moment, you are Taran, Assistant Pig-Keeper.

You shall help me take care of Hen Wen: If you want to be something with a name attached to it, I can't think of anything closer to hand. And it is not every lad who can be assistant keeper to an oracular pig. Indeed, she is the only oracular pig in Prydain, and the most valuable. A black, buzzing cloud streaked from the orchard, and bore on so rapidly and passed so close to Coll's head that he had to leap out of the way.

An instant later Taran heard a loud clucking and squawking from the chicken run. He turned to see the five hens and the rooster beating their wings. Before it occurred to him they were attempting to fly, they, too, were aloft.

Taran and Coll raced to the chicken run, too late to catch the fowls. With the rooster leading, the chickens flapped awkwardly through the air and disappeared over the brow of a hill. From the stable the pair of oxen bellowed and rolled their eyes in terror. Dallben's head poked out of the window. He looked irritated. Quickly, help me find them. Taran was both frightened and excited. Dallben, he knew, would consult Hen Wen only on a matter of greatest urgency.

Within Taran's memory, it had never happened before. He hurried to the pen. Hen Wen usually slept until noon. Then, trotting daintily, despite her size, she would move to a shady comer of her enclosure and settle comfortably for the rest of the day. The white pig was continually grunting and chuckling to herself, and whenever she saw Taran, she would raise her wide, cheeky face so that he could scratch under her chin. But this time, she paid no attention to him. Wheezing and whistling, Hen Wen was digging furiously in the soft earth at the far side of the pen, burrowing so rapidly she would soon be out.

Taran shouted at her, but the clods continued flying at a great rate. He swung himself over the fence. The oracular pig stopped and glanced around. As Taran approached the hole, already sizable, Hen Wen hurried to the opposite side of the pen and started a new excavation.

Taran was strong and long-legged, but, to his dismay, he saw that Hen Wen moved faster than he. As soon as he chased her from the second hole, she turned quickly on her short legs and made for the first. Both, by now, were big enough for her head and shoulders.

Taran frantically began scraping earth back into the burrow. Hen Wen dug faster than a badger, her hind legs planted firmly, her front legs plowing ahead. Taran despaired of stopping her. He scrambled back over the rails and jumped to the spot where Hen Wen was about to emerge, planning to seize her and hang on until Dallben and Coll arrived.

The High King: The Chronicles of Prydain, Book 5 (50th Anniversary Edition) (Hardcover)

He underestimated Hen Wen's speed and strength. In an explosion of dirt and pebbles, the pig burst from under the fence, heaving Taran into the air. He landed with the wind knocked out of him. Hen Wen raced across the field and into the woods.

Taran followed. Ahead, the forest rose up dark and threatening. He took a breath and plunged after her. Ahead, Taran heard a thrashing among the leaves. The pig, he was sure, was keeping out of sight in the bushes. Following the sound, he ran forward. After a time the ground rose sharply, forcing him to clamber on hands and knees up a wooded slope.

At the crest the forest broke off before a meadow. Taran caught a glimpse of Hen Wen dashing into the waving grass. Once across the meadow, she disappeared beyond a stand of trees. Taran hurried after her. This was farther than he had ever dared venture, but he struggled on through the heavy undergrowth.

Soon, a fairly wide trail opened, allowing him to quicken his pace. Hen Wen had either stopped running or had outdistanced him. He heard nothing but his own footsteps. He followed the trail for some while, intending to use it as a landmark on the way back, although it twisted and branched off so frequently he was not at all certain in which direction Caer Dallben lay. In the meadow Taran had been flushed and perspiring.

Now he shivered in the silence of oaks and elms. The woods here were not thick, but shadows drenched the high tree trunks and the sun broke through only in jagged streaks. A damp green scent filled the air.

No bird called; no squirrel chattered. The forest seemed to be holding its breath. Yet there was, beneath the silence, a groaning restlessness and a trembling among the leaves.

The branches twisted and grated against each other like broken teeth. The path wavered under Taran's feet, and he felt desperately cold. He flung his arms around himself and moved more quickly to shake off the chill. He was, he realized, running aimlessly; he could not keep his mind on the forks and turns of the path. He halted suddenly. Hoofbeats thudded in front of him. The forest shook as they grew louder. In another moment a black horse burst into view. Taran fell back, terrified.

Astride the foam-spattered animal rode a monstrous figure. A crimson cloak flamed from his naked shoulders. Crimson stained his gigantic arms.

Horror stricken, Taran saw not the head of a man but the antlered head of a stag. The Horned King! Taran flung himself against an oak to escape the flying hoofs and the heaving, glistening flanks. Horse and rider swept by. The mask was a human skull; from it, the great antlers rose in cruel curves. The Horned King's eyes blazed behind the gaping sockets of whitened bone.

Many horsemen galloped in his train. The Horned King uttered the long cry of a wild beast, and his riders took it up as they streamed after him. One of them, an ugly, grinning warrior, caught sight of Taran. He turned his mount and drew a sword.

Taran sprang from the tree and plunged into the underbrush. The blade followed, hissing like an adder. Taran felt it sting across his back. He ran blindly, while saplings whipped his face and hidden rocks jutted out to pitch him forward and stab at his knees. Where the woods thinned, Taran clattered along a dry stream bed until, exhausted, he stumbled and held out his hands against the whirling ground. He was lying on a stretch of turf with a cloak thrown over him.

One shoulder smarted painfully. A man knelt beside him. Nearby, a white horse cropped the grass. Still dazed, fearful the riders had overtaken him, Taran started up. The man held out a flask. His eyes were deep-set, flecked with green.

Sun and wind had leathered his broad face, burnt it dark and grained it with fine lines. His cloak was coarse and travel-stained. A wide belt with an intricately wrought buckle circled his waist. He is a great war leader, a hero! He is not The golden pommel was smooth and rounded, its color deliberately muted; ash leaves of pale gold entwined at the hilt, and a pattern of leaves covered the scabbard.

It was truly the weapon of a prince. Taran dropped to one knee and bowed his head. From all Dallben had told him of this glorious hero, from all he had pictured to himself--Taran bit his lips. Gwydion caught Taran's look of disappointment. Come," he ordered, "tell me your name and what happened to you. And do not ask me to believe you got a sword wound picking gooseberries or poaching hares. I saw the Horned King himself! It was horrible, worse than Dallben told me!

Does Dallben know you are in the forest? Is Coll with you? And they are too wise to let you wander here alone. Have you run off, then? I warn you; Dallben is not one to be disobeyed. Now she's gone, and it's my fault.

I'm Assistant Pig-Keeper What has happened to her? I have been followed, spied on, hunted. And now," he added with a bitter laugh, "she has run off. Very well. She will be found. I must discover all she knows of the Horned King. Give me a sword and I will stand with you! Do you think a lone warrior and one Assistant Pig-Keeper dare attack the Horned King and his war band? He is the man most to be dreaded in all Prydain. Will you hear something I learned during my journey, something even Dallben may not yet realize?

Thread by thread, the pattern forms. There are chieftains whose lust for power goads them like a sword point. To certain of them, Arawn promises wealth and dominion, playing on their greed as a bard plays on a harp.

Arawn's corruption burns every human feeling from their hearts and they become his liegemen, serving him beyond the borders of Annuvin and bound to him forever. I know beyond question that he has sworn his allegiance to Arawn. He is Arawn's avowed champion. Once again, the power of Annuvin threatens Prydain. Gwydion turned to him. And one of us will die. That is my oath.

But his purpose is dark and unknown, and I must learn it from Hen Wen. I think I can find the place. It was just before the Horned King We sleep here and I shall be off at first light.

With good luck, I may have her back before I let her escape and it is I who must find her. If the Horned King rides toward Caer Dallben, I cannot send you back alone and I dare not go with you and lose a day's tracking. You cannot stay in this forest by yourself. Unless I find some way Dallben and Coll will see I can do what I set out to do!

For a little while at least. He unpacked provisions from the saddlebags. Excitement robbed him of appetite and he was impatient for dawn. His wound had stiffened so that he could not settle himself on the roots and pebbles.

It had never occurred to him until now that a hero would sleep on the ground. Gwydion, watchful, sat with his knees drawn up, his back against an enormous elm. In the lowering dusk Taran could barely distinguish the man from the tree; and could have walked within a pace of him before realizing he was any more than a splotch of shadow.

Gwydion had sunk into the forest itself; only his green-flecked eyes shone in the reflection of the newly risen moon. Gwydion was silent and thoughtful for a long while. His voice from the shadows was quiet but urgent. Who are your kinsmen? I don't know who my parents were.

Dallben has never told me. I suppose," he added, turning his face away, "I don't even know who I am. Our meeting was fortunate," he went on. It makes me wonder," Gwydion went on, with a laugh that was not unkind, "is there a destiny laid on me that an Assistant Pig-Keeper should help me in my quest?

Sleep now, for we rise early tomorrow. The cloak Taran had slept in was damp with dew. Every joint ached from his night on the hard ground. With Gwydion's urging, Taran stumbled toward the horse, a white blur in the gray-pink dawn. Gwydion hauled Taran into the saddle behind him, spoke a quiet command, and the white steed moved quickly into the rising mist. Gwydion was seeking the spot where Taran had last seen Hen Wen. But long before they had reached it, he reined up Melyngar and dismounted.

As Taran watched, Gwydion knelt and sighted along the turf. Despite Taran's disappointment at finding the Lord Gwydion dressed in a coarse jacket and mud-spattered boots, he followed the man with growing admiration. Nothing, Taran saw, escaped Gwydion's eyes.

Like a lean, gray wolf, he moved silently and easily. A little way on, Gwydion stopped, raised his shaggy head and narrowed his eyes toward a distant ridge. She might have gone anywhere in Prydain. Here, Great Avren flows.

See how it turns west before it reaches the sea. We may have to cross it before our search ends. And this is the River Ystrad. Its valley leads north to Caer Dathyl. Hen Wen would shun this above all. She was too long a captive in Annuvin; she would never venture near it. She belonged to a farmer who had no idea at all of her powers. And so she might have spent her days as any ordinary pig.

But Arawn knew her to be far from ordinary, and of such value that he himself rode out of Annuvin and seized her. What dire things happened while she was prisoner of Arawn it is better not to speak of them.

But how did she escape? A warrior went alone into the depths of Annuvin and brought her back safely. Gwydion looked closely at him. It was Coll," he said. A hero? I have never known courage to be judged by the length of a man's hair. Or, for the matter of that, whether he has any hair at all.

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This, too, Hen Wen would avoid at all cost. It is the abode of Queen Achren, She is as dangerous as Arawn himself; as evil as she is beautiful. But there are secrets concerning Achren which are better left untold. From what little I can see, she has run straight ahead. Quickly now, we shall try to pick up her trail.

As they reached the bottom of the slope, Taran heard the waters of Great Avren rushing like wind in a summer storm. Stay close behind me," he ordered. Gwydion made no more sound than the shadow of a bird. Melyngar herself stepped quietly; hardly a twig snapped under her hoofs. Try as he would, Taran could not go as silently.

The more careful he attempted to be, the louder the leaves rattled and crackled. Wherever he put his foot, there seemed to be a hole or spiteful branch to trip him up. Even Melyngar turned and gave him a reproachful look. Taran grew so absorbed in not making noise that he soon lagged far behind Gwydion. On the slope, Taran believed he could make out something round and white. He yearned to be the first to find Hen Wen and he turned aside, clambered through the weeds to discover nothing more than a boulder.

Disappointed, Taran hastened to catch up with Gwydion. Overhead, the branches rustled. As he stopped and looked up, something fell heavily to the ground behind him. Two hairy and powerful hands locked around his throat. Whatever had seized him made barking and snorting noises. Taran forced out a cry for help. He struggled with his unseen opponent, twisting, flailing his legs, and throwing himself from one side to the other.

Suddenly he could breathe again. A shape sailed over his head and crashed against a tree trunk. Taran dropped to the ground and began rubbing his neck. Gwydion stood beside him. Sprawled under the tree was the strangest creature Taran had ever seen. He could not be sure whether it was animal or human. He decided it was both. Its hair was so matted and covered with leaves that it looked like an owl's nest in need of housecleaning. It had long, skinny, woolly arms, and a pair of feet as flexible and grimy as its hands.

Gwydion was watching the creature with a look of severity and annoyance. He is not half as ferocious as he looks, not a quarter as fierce as he should like to be, and more a nuisance than anything else.

Somehow, he manages to see most of what happens, and he might be able to help us. He was covered with Gurgi's shedding hair, in addition to the distressing odor of a wet wolfhound.

Yes, yes, that is always the way of it with poor Gurgi. But what honor to be smacked by the greatest of warriors! Had Gurgi owned a tail, Taran was sure he would have wagged it frantically. Oh, joyous crunchings and munchings! Many years from now, when the great princes revel in their halls what feastings they will remember hungry, wretched Gurgi waiting for them. Have you seen a white pig this morning? They would not be cruel to starving Gurgi oh, no they would feed him You will save miserable Gurgi from hurtful choppings!

Sun and wind had leathered his broad face, burnt it dark and grained it with fine lines. His cloak was coarse and travel-stained. A wide belt with an intricately wrought buckle circled his waist. He is a great war leader, a hero! He is not The golden pommel was smooth and rounded, its color deliberately muted; ash leaves of pale gold entwined at the hilt, and a pattern of leaves covered the scabbard. It was truly the weapon of a prince. Taran dropped to one knee and bowed his head.

From all Dallben had told him of this glorious hero, from all he had pictured to himself--Taran bit his lips. Gwydion caught Taran's look of disappointment. Come," he ordered, "tell me your name and what happened to you. And do not ask me to believe you got a sword wound picking gooseberries or poaching hares. I saw the Horned King himself! It was horrible, worse than Dallben told me! Does Dallben know you are in the forest? Is Coll with you? And they are too wise to let you wander here alone.

Have you run off, then? I warn you; Dallben is not one to be disobeyed. Now she's gone, and it's my fault. I'm Assistant Pig-Keeper What has happened to her? I have been followed, spied on, hunted. And now," he added with a bitter laugh, "she has run off. Very well. She will be found. I must discover all she knows of the Horned King. Give me a sword and I will stand with you! Do you think a lone warrior and one Assistant Pig-Keeper dare attack the Horned King and his war band?

He is the man most to be dreaded in all Prydain. Will you hear something I learned during my journey, something even Dallben may not yet realize?

Thread by thread, the pattern forms. There are chieftains whose lust for power goads them like a sword point. To certain of them, Arawn promises wealth and dominion, playing on their greed as a bard plays on a harp. Arawn's corruption burns every human feeling from their hearts and they become his liegemen, serving him beyond the borders of Annuvin and bound to him forever.

I know beyond question that he has sworn his allegiance to Arawn. He is Arawn's avowed champion. Once again, the power of Annuvin threatens Prydain. Gwydion turned to him. And one of us will die. That is my oath. But his purpose is dark and unknown, and I must learn it from Hen Wen. I think I can find the place. It was just before the Horned King We sleep here and I shall be off at first light.

With good luck, I may have her back before I let her escape and it is I who must find her. If the Horned King rides toward Caer Dallben, I cannot send you back alone and I dare not go with you and lose a day's tracking. You cannot stay in this forest by yourself. Unless I find some way Dallben and Coll will see I can do what I set out to do! For a little while at least. He unpacked provisions from the saddlebags. Excitement robbed him of appetite and he was impatient for dawn.

His wound had stiffened so that he could not settle himself on the roots and pebbles. It had never occurred to him until now that a hero would sleep on the ground. Gwydion, watchful, sat with his knees drawn up, his back against an enormous elm. In the lowering dusk Taran could barely distinguish the man from the tree; and could have walked within a pace of him before realizing he was any more than a splotch of shadow. Gwydion had sunk into the forest itself; only his green-flecked eyes shone in the reflection of the newly risen moon.

Gwydion was silent and thoughtful for a long while. His voice from the shadows was quiet but urgent. Who are your kinsmen? I don't know who my parents were. Dallben has never told me.

I suppose," he added, turning his face away, "I don't even know who I am. Our meeting was fortunate," he went on. It makes me wonder," Gwydion went on, with a laugh that was not unkind, "is there a destiny laid on me that an Assistant Pig-Keeper should help me in my quest? Sleep now, for we rise early tomorrow.

The cloak Taran had slept in was damp with dew. Every joint ached from his night on the hard ground. With Gwydion's urging, Taran stumbled toward the horse, a white blur in the gray-pink dawn.

Gwydion hauled Taran into the saddle behind him, spoke a quiet command, and the white steed moved quickly into the rising mist. Gwydion was seeking the spot where Taran had last seen Hen Wen. But long before they had reached it, he reined up Melyngar and dismounted.

As Taran watched, Gwydion knelt and sighted along the turf. Despite Taran's disappointment at finding the Lord Gwydion dressed in a coarse jacket and mud-spattered boots, he followed the man with growing admiration. Nothing, Taran saw, escaped Gwydion's eyes. Like a lean, gray wolf, he moved silently and easily.

A little way on, Gwydion stopped, raised his shaggy head and narrowed his eyes toward a distant ridge. She might have gone anywhere in Prydain. Here, Great Avren flows. See how it turns west before it reaches the sea.

We may have to cross it before our search ends. And this is the River Ystrad. Its valley leads north to Caer Dathyl. Hen Wen would shun this above all. She was too long a captive in Annuvin; she would never venture near it.

She belonged to a farmer who had no idea at all of her powers. And so she might have spent her days as any ordinary pig. But Arawn knew her to be far from ordinary, and of such value that he himself rode out of Annuvin and seized her. What dire things happened while she was prisoner of Arawn it is better not to speak of them. But how did she escape? A warrior went alone into the depths of Annuvin and brought her back safely. Gwydion looked closely at him.

It was Coll," he said. A hero? I have never known courage to be judged by the length of a man's hair. Or, for the matter of that, whether he has any hair at all. This, too, Hen Wen would avoid at all cost. It is the abode of Queen Achren, She is as dangerous as Arawn himself; as evil as she is beautiful. But there are secrets concerning Achren which are better left untold.

From what little I can see, she has run straight ahead. Quickly now, we shall try to pick up her trail. As they reached the bottom of the slope, Taran heard the waters of Great Avren rushing like wind in a summer storm. Stay close behind me," he ordered. Gwydion made no more sound than the shadow of a bird.

Melyngar herself stepped quietly; hardly a twig snapped under her hoofs. Try as he would, Taran could not go as silently. The more careful he attempted to be, the louder the leaves rattled and crackled.

Wherever he put his foot, there seemed to be a hole or spiteful branch to trip him up. Even Melyngar turned and gave him a reproachful look. Taran grew so absorbed in not making noise that he soon lagged far behind Gwydion. On the slope, Taran believed he could make out something round and white.

He yearned to be the first to find Hen Wen and he turned aside, clambered through the weeds to discover nothing more than a boulder. Disappointed, Taran hastened to catch up with Gwydion. Overhead, the branches rustled. As he stopped and looked up, something fell heavily to the ground behind him.

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Two hairy and powerful hands locked around his throat. Whatever had seized him made barking and snorting noises.

Taran forced out a cry for help. He struggled with his unseen opponent, twisting, flailing his legs, and throwing himself from one side to the other. Suddenly he could breathe again. A shape sailed over his head and crashed against a tree trunk. Taran dropped to the ground and began rubbing his neck. Gwydion stood beside him. Sprawled under the tree was the strangest creature Taran had ever seen. He could not be sure whether it was animal or human. He decided it was both.

Its hair was so matted and covered with leaves that it looked like an owl's nest in need of housecleaning. It had long, skinny, woolly arms, and a pair of feet as flexible and grimy as its hands. Gwydion was watching the creature with a look of severity and annoyance.

He is not half as ferocious as he looks, not a quarter as fierce as he should like to be, and more a nuisance than anything else. Somehow, he manages to see most of what happens, and he might be able to help us. He was covered with Gurgi's shedding hair, in addition to the distressing odor of a wet wolfhound. Yes, yes, that is always the way of it with poor Gurgi. But what honor to be smacked by the greatest of warriors!

Had Gurgi owned a tail, Taran was sure he would have wagged it frantically. Oh, joyous crunchings and munchings! Many years from now, when the great princes revel in their halls what feastings they will remember hungry, wretched Gurgi waiting for them. Have you seen a white pig this morning? They would not be cruel to starving Gurgi oh, no they would feed him You will save miserable Gurgi from hurtful choppings!

Gurgi is so quiet and clever, and no one cares about him. But he listens! These great warriors say they have gone to a certain place, but great fire turns them away. They are not pleased, and they still seek a piggy with outcries and horses. Oh, terrible hunger pinches! Gurgi cannot remember. Was there a piggy? Gurgi is fainting and falling into the bushes, his poor, tender head is full of air from his empty belly.

After the way you jumped on me, you deserve to have your head smacked. Gwydion turned severely to Taran. Leave him to me. Do not make him any more frightened than he is. Then I will surely come back with wrath.

Remember, I want no mischief from you. He feels so sorry for himself that it is hard not to be angry with him. But there is no use in doing so. The Horned King has ridden to Caer Dallben. Until now, he had paid little mind to his home. The thought of the white cottage in flames, his memory of Dallben's beard, and the heroic Coll's bald head touched him all at once.

A beetle could not creep into Caer Dallben without his knowledge. No, I am certain the fire was something Dallben arranged for unexpected visitors. Our quest grows ever more urgent," Gwydion hastily continued. He will pursue her. They dismounted and hurried on foot in the direction Gurgi had indicated. Near a jagged rock, Gwydion halted and gave a cry of triumph. In a patch of clay, Hen Wen's tracks showed as plainly as if they had been carved. Had I known he would guide us so well, I would have given him an extra share.

The air had suddenly grown cold and heavy. The restless Avren ran gray, slashed with white streaks. Clutching Melyngar's saddle horn, Taran stepped gingerly from the bank. Gwydion strode directly into the water. Taran, thinking it easier to get wet a little at a time, hung back as much as he could until Melyngar lunged ahead, carrying him with her. His feet sought the river bottom, he stumbled and splashed, while icy waves swirled up to his neck.

The current grew stronger, coiling like a gray serpent about Taran's legs. The bottom dropped away sharply; Taran lost his footing and found himself wildly dancing over nothing, as the river seized him greedily.

Melyngar began to swim, her strong legs keeping her afloat and in motion, but the current swung her around; she collided with Taran and forced him under the water. With every gasp, the river poured into his lungs. Gwydion struck out after him, soon overtook him, seized him by the hair, and drew him toward the shallows. He heaved the dripping, coughing Taran onto the bank. Melyngar, reaching shore a little farther upstream, trotted down to join them.

Gwydion looked sharply at Taran. Are all Assistant Pig-Keepers deaf as well as stubborn? If Melyngar hadn't sat on me Melyngar's hoofs clicked over the stones. Taran, snuffling and shivering, looked toward the waiting hills.

High against the blue, three winged shapes wheeled and glided. Gwydion, whose eyes were everywhere at once, caught sight of them instantly. The abrupt change of direction and Melyngar's heaving burst of speed threw Taran off balance. His legs flew up and he landed flat on the pebble-strewn bank. Gwydion reined in Melyngar immediately. While Taran struggled to his feet, Gwydion seized him like a sack of meal and hauled him to Melyngar's back.

The gwythaints which, at a distance, had seemed no more than dry leaves in the wind, grew larger and larger, as they plunged toward horse and riders. Downward they swooped, their great black wings driving them ever faster.

Melyngar clattered up the river bank. The gwythaints screamed above. At the line of trees, Gwydion thrust Taran from the saddle and leaped down. Dragging him along, Gwydion dropped to the earth under an oak tree's spreading branches. The glittering wings beat against the foliage. Taran glimpsed curving beaks and talons merciless as daggers. He cried out in terror and hid his face, as the gwythaints veered off and swooped again.

The leaves rattled in their wake. The creatures swung upward, hung poised against the sky for an instant, then climbed swiftly and sped westward. White-faced and trembling, Taran ventured to raise his head. Gwydion strode to the river bank and stood watching the gwythaints' flight.

Taran made his way to his companion's side. His face was dark and grave. He had clumsily fallen off Melyngar at the moment when speed counted most; at the oak, he had behaved like a child.

He waited for Gwydion's reprimand, but the warrior's green eyes followed the dark specks. No one stays long hidden from them. We are lucky they were only scouting and not on a blood hunt. He will not be idle. I have no doubt he knew the moment I rode from Caer Dathyl. The gwythaints are not his only servants. For generations they have been trained in this.

Arawn understands their language and they are in his power from the moment they leave the egg. Nevertheless, they are creatures of flesh and blood and a sword can answer them. It is said he steeps them in a cauldron to give them life again if it can be called life.

Like death, they are forever silent; and their only thought is to bring others to the same bondage. Yet from time to time Arawn sends certain of them outside Annuvin to perform his most ruthless tasks. He has destroyed their remembrance of themselves as living men. They have no memory of tears or laughter, of sorrow or loving kindness. Among all Arawn's deeds, this is one of the cruelest. They led over a barren field, then to a shallow ravine. The weary and discouraged Taran could barely force himself to put one foot in front of the other, and was glad the dusk obliged Gwydion to halt.

Gwydion tethered Melyngar in a thicket. Taran sank to the ground and rested his head in his hands. Time is too short to ponder each one. There is an ancient dweller in the foothills of Eagle Mountains.

His name is Medwyn, and it is said he understands the hearts and ways of every creature in Prydain. He, if anyone, should know where Hen Wen may be hiding. Others have sought him and failed. We should have only faint hope. But that is better than none at all. From a distance came the lonely baying of hounds. Gwydion sat upright, tense as a bowstring. And so," he mused, "Gwyn, too, rides abroad. Gwyn the Hunter rides alone with his dogs, and where he rides, slaughter follows.

He has foreknowledge of death and battle, and watches from afar, marking the fall of warriors. Flung across the sky, the sound pierced Taran's breast like a cold blade of terror. Yet, unlike the music itself, the echoes from the hills sang less of fear than of grief. Fading, they sighed that sunlight and birds, bright mornings, warm fires, food and drink, friendship, and all good things had been lost beyond recovery.

Gwydion laid a firm hand on Taran's brow. But do not listen overmuch to the echoes. Others have done so, and have wandered hopeless ever since. As Gwydion rose and went to her, Taran glimpsed a shadow dart behind a bush. He sat up quickly. Gwydion's back was turned. In the bright moonlight the shadow moved again. Choking back his fear, Taran leaped to his feet and plunged into the undergrowth. Thorns tore at him. He landed on something that grappled frantically. He lashed out, seized what felt like someone's head, and an unmistakable odor of wet wolfhound assailed his nose.

And you should know better than to jump into thorn bushes without first making sure what you will find. Save your anger for a better purpose You may be many other things, Taran of Caer Dallben, but I see you are no coward. I offer you my thanks," he added, bowing deeply.

Not even a small munching for helping find a piggy! I wouldn't be surprised if you'd gone and told him The lord of the great horns pursues wise, miserable Gurgi with leaping and galloping. Gurgi fears terrible smackings and whackings.

He follows kindly and mighty protectors. Faithful Gurgi will not leave them, never! They cross water, but only clever, unthanked Gurgi knows where. And they light fires with fearsome blazings. Gwydion saddled Melyngar and, clinging to the shadows, they set out across the moonlit hills. Gurgi led the way, loping ahead, bent forward, his long arms dangling.

They crossed one deep valley, then another, before Gurgi halted on a ridge. Below, the wide plain blazed with torches and Taran saw a great ring of flames. Disregarding him, Gwydion motioned for them all to descend the slope. There was little need for silence. A deep, hollow drumming throbbed over the crowded plain. Horses whickered; there came the shouts of men and the clank of weapons. Gwydion crouched in the bracken, watching intently. Around the fiery circle, warriors on high stilts beat upraised swords against their shields.

The baskets another ancient custom best forgotten. And there," he exclaimed, pointing to the columns of horsemen, "I see the banners of the Cantrev Rheged! The banners of Dau Gleddyn and of Mawr!

All the cantrevs of the south! Yes, now I understand! Flames seized the osier cages; billows of foul smoke rose skyward.

The warriors clashed their shields and shouted together with one voice. From the baskets rose the agonized screams of men. Taran gasped and turned away. Until now, he had not spoken. Even Gurgi had been silent, his eyes round with terror. His face was grim and pale. The Horned King has raised a mighty host, and they will march against us. The Sons of Don are ill prepared for so powerful an enemy. They must be warned.Sun and wind had leathered his broad face, burnt it dark and grained it with fine lines.

That exposed him to its castles, scenery, and language, which became "part of the raw material for the Prydain books". No one stays long hidden from them. Yet, you fought well enough, Taran of Caer Dallben. Indeed, she is the only oracular pig in Prydain, and the most valuable.