The Prydain Project

Thirty years after first devouring Lloyd Alexander's Prydain books, I'm rereading them to see if the magic is still there. If you've arrived at this blog because you loved Prydain as a kid, I hope you’ll enjoy the chance to revisit it along with me. To read the recaps in order, start here: "The Book of Three," Chapter 1

Monday, October 12, 2015

The Black Cauldron, Chapter 7 – Kaw

Gwystyl immediately tries to take back ‘fessing to knowing that Arawn no longer has the cauldron, and instead of elaborating he simply implores the companions to abandon their quest and get to safety. Eilonwy says they should rejoin Gwydion at Caer Cadarn and Gwystyl is like, yes, yes, do that, absolutely, goodbye. Eilonwy calls him on his BS – “Goodbye?” but the Huntsmen are still out there and you haven’t done a thing to help us – and so he reluctantly offers them a powder to put on their feet and hooves that will cover their tracks. He was saving it for emergencies, you see. Doli calls Gwystyl a “clot,” grabs him by the arm and tells him he has a “skulking, sneaking look” in his eyes as if he’s trying to get away with something. He threatens to squeeze him to find out what will come out. At the thought of being squeezed, Gwystyl faints and has to be revived.

Mariana Crow Corvus kubaryi Suddenly, Kaw the crow croaks out “Orddu!” and then “Orwen! Orgoch!” The companions are quite surprised that he didn’t say “kaw” at all, but they have no idea what he means. Doli can tell that Gwystyl knows, and threatens again to squeeze him. Gwystyl hems and haws but finally reveals that the cauldron is “in the hands of Orddu, Orwen, and Orgoch.” Taran demands to know who – or what – they are, but Gwystyl says he doesn’t know. Taran then asks where they can be found. Gwystyl again pleads ignorance, but Kaw pipes up: “Morva!” With much hand-wringing, Gwystyl explains that Kaw means the Marshes of Mova, about a day’s journey west.

Should they go and tell Gwydion the news? Or go straight to Morva and retrieve the cauldron themselves? Eilonwy sensibly promotes the former, but Taran is tempted by the glory of the latter. He finally agrees Eilonwy’s plan is better, only for Ellidyr to jump in with a “screw you guys, I’m going to Morva.” He calls Taran “pig-boy” again and insults his courage. Taran flares up and says he was a fool to listen to a girl (Eilonwy and I both shriek in anger), but then quickly calms himself. He says he would be twice a fool to be goaded by Ellidyr’s taunting, but that, all things considered, they can’t risk not going after the cauldron and having Arawn find it first. Taran’s clearly matured a bit since the start of the book, since he was able to get control of his emotions pretty quickly after Ellidyr riled him up. But he seriously owes Eilonwy an apology.

Eilonwy wisely points out that it’s not Taran’s party to command – Adaon is the boss of both him and Ellidyr. But Adaon says that this is a choice he cannot make, and someday Taran will understand why. In the meantime, he will support whatever decision Taran makes. Taran decides on Morva. Adaon says, “So it shall be.” Gwystyl finds the track-concealing powder while Doli turns invisible and goes to check on the Huntsmen. They’ve camped down for the night, so it’s a good time to sneak away. They dust their feet and the horses’ hooves with the powder, and Gwystyl escorts them out from the thorny portal, seeming very satisfied and muttering, “Goodbye. I hope we meet again. But not soon.” Heh. And with that, they slip out into the night.

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