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.

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Editorial Reviews. Review. "An exciting, highly imaginative, and sometimes profound fantasy of Kindle 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.

But the day that Hen W.. People write my article newspapers type manual practical, hindi, urdu, English and french, a language like german and Australian languages: supported by spain and italian. Epub electronic summary of the booklet The Book of Three The Chronicles of Prydain, 1 by Lloyd Alexander whole ebook review record by site site collection agencies. No cost ebook pdf kindle reader online book epub electronic brief summary of the book The Book of Three The Chronicles of Prydain, 1 by Lloyd Alexander total ebook review report by site site collections. For mobile or android The Book of Three The Chronicles of Prydain, 1 by Lloyd Alexander for iphone, apple ipad tablet txt format complete version, report with page amounts theory, art, torrent. The Book of Three The Chronicles of Prydain, 1 by Lloyd Alexander queries short training entire character types report with investigation information dummies consisting of all chapters gratis, sparknotes author, part introduction. September 11, I even made a school diorama for the first book, The Book of Three. Book 1: The Book of Three. Better World Books:. The Castle of Llyr Alexander, Lloyd. Book 1. Book 2. Book

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! 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. I must return to Caer Dathyl immediately. Taran sprang up. The first horseman spurred his mount to a gallop. Melyngar whinnied shrilly. The warriors drew their swords.

Gwydion was at Taran's side as the first rider bore down on them. With a quick gesture, Gwydion thrust a hand into his jacket and pulled out the net of grass. Suddenly the withered wisps grew larger, longer, shimmering and crackling, nearly blinding Taran with streaks of liquid flame. The rider raised his sword. With a shout, Gwydion hurled the dazzling mesh into the warrior's face. Shrieking, the rider dropped his sword and grappled the air. He tumbled from his saddle while the mesh spread over his body and clung to him like an enormous spiderweb.

Gwydion dragged the stupefied Taran to an ash tree and from his belt drew the hunting knife which he thrust in Taran's hand.

The great sword swung a glittering arc, the flashing blade sang above Gwydion's head. The attackers drove against them. One horse reared. For Taran there was only a vision of hoofs plunging at his face. The rider chopped viciously at Taran's head, swung around, and struck again. Blindly, Taran lashed out with the knife.

Shouting in rage and pain, the rider clutched his leg and wheeled his horse away. There was no sign of Gurgi, but a white streak sped across the field. Melyngar now had entered the fray. Her golden mane tossing, the white mare whinnied fearsomely and flung herself among the riders.

Her mighty flanks dashed against them, crowding, pressing, while the steeds of the war party rolled their eyes in panic. One warrior jerked frantically at his reins to turn his mount away.

The animal sank to its haunches. Melyngar reared to her full height; her forelegs churned the air, and her sharp hoofs slashed at the rider, who fell heavily to earth. Melyngar spun about, trampling the cowering horseman. The three mounted warriors forced their way past the frenzied mare. At the ash tree, Gwydion's blade rang and clashed among the leaves. His legs were as though planted in the earth; the shock of the galloping riders could not dislodge him.

His eyes shone with a terrible light. The sword whistled, one rider gave a choking cry. The other two did not press the attack, but hung back for a moment.

Hoofbeats pounded over the meadow. Even as the attackers had begun to withdraw, two more riders galloped forward. They reined their horses sharply, dismounted without hesitation, and ran swiftly toward Gwydion.

Their faces were pallid; their eyes like stones. Heavy bands of bronze circled their waists, and from these belts hung the black thongs of whips. Knobs of bronze studded their breastplates. They did not bear shield or helmet. Their mouths were frozen in the hideous grin of death. Gwydion's sword flashed up once more. Take Melyngar and ride from here! In another instant, the Cauldron-Born were upon them. For Taran, the horror beating in him like black wings came not from the livid features of the Cauldron warriors or their lightless eyes but from their ghostly silence.

The mute men swung their swords, metal grated against metal. The relentless warriors struck and struck again. Gwydion's blade leaped past one opponent's guard and drove deep into his heart. The pale warrior made no outcry. No blood followed as Gwydion ripped the weapon free; the Cauldron-Born shook himself once, without a grimace, and moved again to the attack. Gwydion stood as a wolf at bay, his green eyes glittering, his teeth bared.

The swords of the Cauldron-Born beat against his guard. Taran thrust at one of the livid warriors; a sword point ripped his arm and sent the small knife hurtling into the bracken. Blood streaked Gwydion's face where an unlucky blow had slashed his cheekbone and forehead.

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Once, his blade faltered and a Cauldron-Born thrust at his breast. Gwydion turned, taking the sword point in his side. The pale warriors doubled their assault.

The great shaggy head bowed wearily as Gwydion stumbled forward. With a mighty cry, he lunged, then dropped to one knee. With his flagging strength, he fought to raise the blade again. The Cauldron-Born flung aside their weapons, seized him, threw him to the ground, and quickly bound him. Now the other two warriors approached.

One grasped Taran by the throat, the other tied his hands behind him. Taran was dragged to Melyngar and thrown across her back, where he lay side by side with Gwydion. Why did you not flee, as I ordered? I knew I was powerless against the Cauldron-Born, but I could have held the ground for you. Yet, you fought well enough, Taran of Caer Dallben.

I remember the net of grass you wove before we crossed Avren. But in your hands today it was no grass I have ever seen. The wisp of grass yes, it is a little more than that. Dallben himself taught me the use of it. Alas, they are not great enough to defend myself against the powers of Arawn. Today," he added, "they were not enough to protect a brave companion.

Snatching the whip from his belt, he lashed brutally at the captives. If we should not meet again, farewell. Fording the shallow River Ystrad, the Cauldron-Born pressed tightly on either side of the captives. Taran dared once again to speak to Gwydion, but the lash cut his words short. Taran's throat was parched, waves of dizziness threatened to drown him. He could not be sure how long they had ridden, for he lapsed often into feverish dreams.

The sun was still high and he was dimly aware of a hill with a tall, gray fortress looming at its crest. Melyngar's hoofs rang on stones as a courtyard opened before him. Rough hands pulled him from Melyngar's back and drove him, stumbling, down an arching corridor. Gwydion was half-dragged, half-carried before him. Taran tried to catch up with his companion, but the lash of the Cauldron-Born beat him to his knees. A guard hauled him upright again and kicked him forward.

At length, the captives were led into a spacious council chamber. Torches flickered from walls hung with scarlet tapestries. Outside, it had been full daylight; here in the great, windowless hall, the chill and dampness of night rose from the cold flagstones like mist. At the far end of the hall, on a throne carved of black wood, sat a woman. Her long hair glittered silver in the torchlight. Her face was young and beautiful; her pale skin seemed paler still above her crimson robe.

Jeweled necklaces hung at her throat, gem-studded bracelets circled her wrists, and heavy rings threw back the flickering torches. Gwydion's sword lay at her feet. The woman rose quickly. Someone shall answer for this neglect! At the pressure of her fingers, a comforting warmth filled Taran's aching body. Instead of pain, a delicious sensation of repose came over him, repose as he remembered it from days long forgotten in Caer Dallben, the warm bed of his childhood, drowsy summer afternoons.

She sets a trap for you! For an instant he could not believe such beauty concealed the evil of which he had been warned. Had Gwydion mistaken her? Nevertheless, he shut his lips tightly. The woman, in surprise, turned to Gwydion. Your wound excuses your conduct, but there is no need for anger.

Who are you? Why do you Beyond that When Achren was overthrown, Arawn, who had grown very powerful, took the Iron Crown of Annuvin and became its king.

Achren became a servant beneath him but always plotted his downfall. He later came into possession of the Black Cauldron with which he created a powerful undead army known as the Cauldron-Born. He then attempted to conquer Prydain, the fictional country where the events of the story take place. He was thwarted in this endeavour by the Sons of Don, a race of warriors from the Summer Country who stood between him and world domination ever since.

Achren Achren is the former Queen of Prydain , who ruled many years as a harsh and vengeful tyrant, both as ruler and then as the Death-lord Arawn 's consort. She originally ruled from her citadel in Annuvin , near Mount Dragon, and later moved to the fastness of Spiral Castle after Arawn gained power. She secretly despises the Death-lord, who stole from her the crown of Annuvin. She is also taken with Gwydion ; even though he does not reciprocate her feelings, she remains largely loyal to him after losing her powers.

While going her own way to avenge herself on Arawn in The High King , she ends up giving vital aid to Taran's companions in the latter part of their campaign against Annuvin. While saving Taran's life from Arawn, who has transformed himself into a poisonous snake, she is killed by his venomous bite.

Medwyn Medwyn is a protector of animals, similar to the Biblical Noah. He lives in a secret valley in the mountains of Prydain that no human can find. The Cauldron-Born An army of undead soldiers, once mortal men until their corpses are boiled within the Black Crochan, a large magical cauldron. They are practically unkillable, with their only weakness being that their strength depends on their proximity to Annuvin, which ebbs as the distance increases. The Gwythaints A race of once-gentle large birds captured and perverted by Arawn to become his eyes and claws in the skies of Prydain.

He is brash, hot-blooded, and loud, but also brave, honorable, and well aware of his faults. Though he may not initially listen to wise counsel, he will take it to heart when he finally does. King Morgant Morgant is the ruler of the kingdom of Madoc. While he manages to capture Taran and his friends, his plans are thwarted by Prince Ellidyr's sacrifice and by Gwydion himself; and he is slain in battle by King Smoit.

Kaw Kaw is a crow and was originally the pet of Gwystyl, a Fair Folk officer. He is subsequently given to the series' hero, Taran. Kaw can talk, although only in one-word sentences, and his role in the story is to give information, to spy out the land while flying and sometimes to retrieve lost objects from difficult places.

He has a mischievous temperament, often playing tricks on his human friends and talking more freely than he should. Ellidyr Ellidyr is described as a prince , the son of a king who had nothing left to leave his son but "his name and his sword.

Adaon , with the aid of a magic talisman , sees this as a "black beast," sitting on Ellidyr's shoulders and tormenting him. At the end of the story, however, after realizing his follies, Ellidyr willingly sacrifices his own life to destroy the Black Cauldron. Gwystyl Gwystyl is one of the Fair Folk. He is described as resembling "a bundle of sticks with cobwebs floating at the top. However, he is actually very shrewd and an excellent observer who enjoys the trust of King Eiddileg.

Gwystyl lives in a hidden underground waypost near the border of Annuvin. He has a pet crow , named Kaw , whom he later passes to Taran. Although their identities are apparently fluid and interchangeable, each persona has a distinctive appearance: Orwen wears a necklace of milky stones, Orddu's hair is adorned with many ornaments, and Orgoch's face is shadowed by a black cowl. They were the original owners of the Black Cauldron and lent it to Arawn , who used it to create zombie -like warriors, the Cauldron-Born.

They trade information and advice to anyone who is brave enough to enter their domain, though they nearly always ask for a magical price for their help. Adaon Adaon is featured solely in the second book, The Black Cauldron , although he is mentioned in the third and fifth books. He is the son of the Chief Bard Taliesin. He is a gifted minstrel, a strong-hearted warrior, and a capable healer. His most precious possessions are his packets of healing herbs; his bay mare Lluagor; and a distinctive brooch which was a gift from Arianllyn, his betrothed, and has the power to bestow prothetic dreams.

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. I must return to Caer Dathyl immediately. Taran sprang up. The first horseman spurred his mount to a gallop.

Melyngar whinnied shrilly. The warriors drew their swords. Gwydion was at Taran's side as the first rider bore down on them. With a quick gesture, Gwydion thrust a hand into his jacket and pulled out the net of grass.

Suddenly the withered wisps grew larger, longer, shimmering and crackling, nearly blinding Taran with streaks of liquid flame. The rider raised his sword. With a shout, Gwydion hurled the dazzling mesh into the warrior's face. Shrieking, the rider dropped his sword and grappled the air.

He tumbled from his saddle while the mesh spread over his body and clung to him like an enormous spiderweb. Gwydion dragged the stupefied Taran to an ash tree and from his belt drew the hunting knife which he thrust in Taran's hand.

The great sword swung a glittering arc, the flashing blade sang above Gwydion's head. The attackers drove against them. One horse reared. For Taran there was only a vision of hoofs plunging at his face. The rider chopped viciously at Taran's head, swung around, and struck again.

Blindly, Taran lashed out with the knife. Shouting in rage and pain, the rider clutched his leg and wheeled his horse away. There was no sign of Gurgi, but a white streak sped across the field. Melyngar now had entered the fray. Her golden mane tossing, the white mare whinnied fearsomely and flung herself among the riders. Her mighty flanks dashed against them, crowding, pressing, while the steeds of the war party rolled their eyes in panic.

One warrior jerked frantically at his reins to turn his mount away. The animal sank to its haunches. Melyngar reared to her full height; her forelegs churned the air, and her sharp hoofs slashed at the rider, who fell heavily to earth. Melyngar spun about, trampling the cowering horseman.

The three mounted warriors forced their way past the frenzied mare. At the ash tree, Gwydion's blade rang and clashed among the leaves. His legs were as though planted in the earth; the shock of the galloping riders could not dislodge him.

His eyes shone with a terrible light. The sword whistled, one rider gave a choking cry. The other two did not press the attack, but hung back for a moment. Hoofbeats pounded over the meadow. Even as the attackers had begun to withdraw, two more riders galloped forward. They reined their horses sharply, dismounted without hesitation, and ran swiftly toward Gwydion. Their faces were pallid; their eyes like stones. Heavy bands of bronze circled their waists, and from these belts hung the black thongs of whips.

Knobs of bronze studded their breastplates. They did not bear shield or helmet. Their mouths were frozen in the hideous grin of death. Gwydion's sword flashed up once more. Take Melyngar and ride from here! In another instant, the Cauldron-Born were upon them. For Taran, the horror beating in him like black wings came not from the livid features of the Cauldron warriors or their lightless eyes but from their ghostly silence.

The mute men swung their swords, metal grated against metal. The relentless warriors struck and struck again. Gwydion's blade leaped past one opponent's guard and drove deep into his heart. The pale warrior made no outcry. No blood followed as Gwydion ripped the weapon free; the Cauldron-Born shook himself once, without a grimace, and moved again to the attack.

Gwydion stood as a wolf at bay, his green eyes glittering, his teeth bared. The swords of the Cauldron-Born beat against his guard. Taran thrust at one of the livid warriors; a sword point ripped his arm and sent the small knife hurtling into the bracken.

Blood streaked Gwydion's face where an unlucky blow had slashed his cheekbone and forehead. Once, his blade faltered and a Cauldron-Born thrust at his breast.

Gwydion turned, taking the sword point in his side. The pale warriors doubled their assault. The great shaggy head bowed wearily as Gwydion stumbled forward. With a mighty cry, he lunged, then dropped to one knee. With his flagging strength, he fought to raise the blade again. The Cauldron-Born flung aside their weapons, seized him, threw him to the ground, and quickly bound him. Now the other two warriors approached. One grasped Taran by the throat, the other tied his hands behind him. Taran was dragged to Melyngar and thrown across her back, where he lay side by side with Gwydion.

Why did you not flee, as I ordered? I knew I was powerless against the Cauldron-Born, but I could have held the ground for you. Yet, you fought well enough, Taran of Caer Dallben. I remember the net of grass you wove before we crossed Avren.

But in your hands today it was no grass I have ever seen. The wisp of grass yes, it is a little more than that. Dallben himself taught me the use of it. Alas, they are not great enough to defend myself against the powers of Arawn. Today," he added, "they were not enough to protect a brave companion. Snatching the whip from his belt, he lashed brutally at the captives.

If we should not meet again, farewell. Fording the shallow River Ystrad, the Cauldron-Born pressed tightly on either side of the captives. Taran dared once again to speak to Gwydion, but the lash cut his words short. Taran's throat was parched, waves of dizziness threatened to drown him. He could not be sure how long they had ridden, for he lapsed often into feverish dreams. The sun was still high and he was dimly aware of a hill with a tall, gray fortress looming at its crest.

Melyngar's hoofs rang on stones as a courtyard opened before him. Rough hands pulled him from Melyngar's back and drove him, stumbling, down an arching corridor. Gwydion was half-dragged, half-carried before him. Taran tried to catch up with his companion, but the lash of the Cauldron-Born beat him to his knees. A guard hauled him upright again and kicked him forward. At length, the captives were led into a spacious council chamber. Torches flickered from walls hung with scarlet tapestries.

Outside, it had been full daylight; here in the great, windowless hall, the chill and dampness of night rose from the cold flagstones like mist. At the far end of the hall, on a throne carved of black wood, sat a woman.

Her long hair glittered silver in the torchlight. Her face was young and beautiful; her pale skin seemed paler still above her crimson robe. Jeweled necklaces hung at her throat, gem-studded bracelets circled her wrists, and heavy rings threw back the flickering torches. Gwydion's sword lay at her feet. The woman rose quickly. Someone shall answer for this neglect! At the pressure of her fingers, a comforting warmth filled Taran's aching body.

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Instead of pain, a delicious sensation of repose came over him, repose as he remembered it from days long forgotten in Caer Dallben, the warm bed of his childhood, drowsy summer afternoons. She sets a trap for you! For an instant he could not believe such beauty concealed the evil of which he had been warned. Had Gwydion mistaken her? Nevertheless, he shut his lips tightly. The woman, in surprise, turned to Gwydion.

Your wound excuses your conduct, but there is no need for anger. Who are you? Why do you Beyond that Do you say that you know nothing more? Now that I see you face to face," she said, her eyes on Gwydion, "I am glad such a man is not bleeding out his life in a ditch.

For there is much we have to discuss, and much that you can profit from. I offer you something you cannot have even if I loosened your hands and gave back your weapon. By that, Lord Gwydion, I mean your life. No," she said, "there are other, pleasanter ways to bargain. You do not know me as well as you think, Gwydion. There is no future for you beyond these gates. Here, I can promise It is no secret what you are! Hissing, she struck at Gwydion and her blood-red nails raked his cheek. Achren unsheathed Gwydion's sword; holding it in both hands she drove the point toward his throat, stopping only a hair's breadth from it.

Gwydion stood proudly, his eyes blazing. You scorn my promises! This promise will be well kept! Sparks flashed, the blade rang unbroken. With a scream of rage, she dashed the weapon to the ground. The sword shone, still undamaged. Achren seized it again, gripping the sharp blade itself until her hands ran scarlet. Her eyes rolled back into her head, her lips moved and twisted. A thunderclap filled the hall, a light burst like a crimson sun, and the broken weapon fell in pieces to the ground.

She raised her hand to the Cauldron-Born and called out in a strange, harsh language. The pale warriors strode forward and dragged Taran and Gwydion from the hall. In a dark passageway of stone, Taran struggled with his captors, fighting to reach Gwydion's side. One of the Cauldron-Born brought a whip handle down on Taran's head. A few feet above him, pale yellow sunlight shone through a grating; the feeble beam ended abruptly on a wall of rough, damp stone.

The shadows of bars lay across the tiny patch of light; instead of brightening the cell, the wan rays made it appear only more grim and closed in. As Taran's eyes grew accustomed to this yellow twilight, he made out a heavy, studded portal with a slot at the base.

The cell itself was not over three paces square. His head ached; since his hands were still bound behind him, he could do no more than guess at the large and throbbing lump. What had happened to Gwydion he dared not imagine.

The Book of Three

After the Cauldron warrior had struck him, Taran had regained consciousness only a few moments before slipping once again into whirling darkness. In that brief time, he vaguely remembered opening his eyes and finding himself slung over a guard's back. His confused recollection included a dim corridor with doors on either side. Gwydion had called out to him once or so Taran believed he could not recall his friend's words, perhaps even that had been part of the nightmare.

He supposed Gwydion had been cast in another dungeon; Taran fervently hoped so. He could not shake off the memory of Achren's livid face and horrible screaming, and he feared she might have ordered Gwydion slain. Still, there was good reason to hope his companion lived. Achren could easily have cut his throat as he braved her in the council hall, yet she had held back.

Thus, she intended to keep Gwydion alive; perhaps, Taran thought wretchedly, Gwydion would be better off dead. The idea of the proud figure lying a broken corpse filled Taran with grief that quickly turned to rage.

He staggered to his feet, lurched to the door, kicking it, battering himself against it with what little strength remained to him. In despair, he sank to the damp ground, his head pressed against the unyielding oaken planks. He rose again after a few moments and kicked at the walls.

If Gwydion were, by chance, in an adjoining cell, Taran hoped he would hear this signal. But he judged, from the dull and muffled sound, that the walls were too thick for his feeble tapping to penetrate.

As he turned away, a flashing object fell through the grating and dropped to the stone floor. Taran stooped. It was a ball of what seemed to be gold. Perplexed, he looked upward. From the grating, a pair of intensely blue eyes looked back at him.

I don't want you to think I'm a baby, playing with a silly bauble, because I'm not; but sometimes there's absolutely nothing else to do around here and it slipped out of my hands when I was tossing it Are you slow-witted?

I'm so sorry for you. It's terrible to be dull and stupid. What's your name? Wrong-footed, you know, or as if I had three thumbs on one hand, if you see what I mean. It's clumsy This, he realized, could be another trap. I suppose you're a lord, or a warrior, or a war leader, or a bard, or a monster.

Though we haven't had any monsters for a long time. He bit his lip as soon as the words were out; then, to excuse his loose tongue, told himself it could do no harm for the girl to know that much. He doesn't move at all, but I should imagine he is alive; otherwise, Achren would have fed him to the ravens. Now, please, if you don't mind, it's right at your feet. Well, that would account for it. Then I suppose I shall have to come in and get it.

Really, Taran of Caer Dallben, you surprise me with some of your remarks. I don't mean to hurt your feelings by asking, but is Assistant Pig-Keeper the kind of work that calls for a great deal of intelligence? Taran heard what he took to be a scuffle, then a high-pitched little shriek, followed by a larger shriek and a moment or two of loud smacking.

The blue eyes did not reappear. Taran flung himself back on the straw. After a time, in the dreadful silence and loneliness of the tiny cell, he began suddenly to wish Eilonwy would come back.

She was the most confusing person he had ever met, and surely as wicked as everyone else in the castle--although he could not quite bring himself to believe it completely. Nevertheless, he longed for the sound of another voice, even Eilonwy's prattling. The grating above his head darkened. Night poured into the cell in a black, chilly wave. The slot in the heavy portal rattled open. Taran heard something being slid into the cell and crawled toward it.

It was a shallow bowl. He sniffed carefully and finally ventured to touch his tongue to it, fearing all the while that it might be poisoned food. It was not food at all, but only a little water, warm and musty.

His throat was so parched that Taran disregarded the taste, thrust his face into the bowl, and drank it dry. He curled up and tried to sleep away his pain; the tight thongs pinched, but his swollen hands were mercifully numb. Sleep brought only nightmares and he roused to find himself shouting aloud. He settled down once more.

Now there was a rasping sound under the straw. Taran stumbled to his feet. The rasping grew louder. Taran looked around him, dumbfounded. He stepped backward. The voice was coming from the straw. Frightened and puzzled, Taran jumped to the wall. The pallet began rising upward. A loose flagstone was lifted, pushed aside, and a slender shadow emerged as if from the ground itself. I told you I was coming back. Oh, there's my bauble It came from the golden sphere in the girl's hand.

Taran blinked with amazement. Turn into a bird and fly away? Her face, though smudged, was delicate, elfin, with high cheekbones. Her short, white robe, mud-stained, was girdled with silver links. A crescent moon of silver hung from a fine chain around her neck. She was one or two years younger than he, but fully as tall.

Eilonwy put the glowing sphere on the floor, went quickly to Taran, and unknotted the thongs that bound him. She started to give me a whipping. I bit her. Achren didn't build them; this castle, they say, once belonged to a great king. She thinks she knows all the passageways. But she doesn't.

She hasn't been in half of them. Can you imagine Achren going through a tunnel? She's older than she looks, you know. It took me longer in the dark, though, because I didn't have my bauble. My ancestors," she said proudly, "are the Sea People.

Achren is my aunt, though sometimes I don't think she's really my aunt at all. My parents died and my kinsmen sent me here so Achren could teach me to be an enchantress. It's a family tradition, don't you see? The boys are war leaders, and the girls are enchantresses. But I think they must have forgotten about me by now.

But I don't imagine Assistant Pig-Keepers are often called on to do that sort of thing. One is no better than the other. Of all the people who come here, you're the only one who's the least bit agreeable to talk to and she had you damaged!

Achren doesn't do things by halves. It would be a shame if you were killed. I should be very sorry. I know I wouldn't like it to happen to me Is there a way outside?

Will you show us the passage? She tossed her head. Yes, yes," she went on, her eyes dancing, "that's a wonderful idea. I would love to see her face when she comes down to find you. Yes, that would be more fun than anything I could think of. Can you imagine You see, some of the galleries connect with the ones leading to the cells, but when you try to go across, what happens is that you start to run into passages that I don't understand why you want to complicate things; it's bad enough for two people crawling about, but with three, you can imagine what that would be.

And you can't possibly find your way by yourself. I only hope he is well enough to move. If he isn't, then you must come and tell me right away and I'll think of some means of carrying him. And weapons for us. Will you do that? She picked up the glowing ball, cupped it in her hands, and once again the cell was dark. The stone grated shut and only Eilonwy's silvery laugh lingered behind.

Taran paced back and forth. For the first time, he felt some hope; though he wondered how much he could count on this scatterbrained girl. She was likely to forget what she started out to do. Worse, she might betray him to Achren. It might be another trap, a new torment that promised him freedom only to snatch it away, but even so, Taran decided, they could be no worse off. To save his energy, he lay down on the straw and tried to relax.

His bandaged arm no longer pained him, and while he was still hungry and thirsty, the water he had drunk had taken some of the edge from his discomfort.

He had no idea how long it would take to travel through the underground galleries. But as time passed, he grew more anxious. He worked at the flagstone the girl had used. It would not move, though Taran's efforts bloodied his fingers. He sank again into dark, endless waiting. Eilonwy did not return. Taran hastened to press his ear against the slot in the portal. He heard the heavy tread of marching feet, the rattle of weapons.

He straightened and stood with his back to the wall. The girl had betrayed him. He cast about for some means to defend himself, for he had determined they would not take him easily. For the sake of having something in his hands, Taran picked up the dirty straw and held it ready to fling; it was a pitiable defense, and he wished desperately for Gwydion's power to set it ablaze.

The footsteps continued. He feared, then, they would enter the other cell. He breathed a sigh of relief when they did not stop but faded away toward what he imagined to be the far end of the corridor.

Perhaps the guard was being changed. He turned away, certain Eilonwy would not be back, and furious with her and her false promises. She was a rattlebrained fool who would undoubtedly giggle and take it as a great joke when the Cauldron-Born came for him.

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