PWYLL BECOMES A KING
In the southwest of Wales lived Pwyll, the Prince of Dyfed. On a fine autumn day he decided that he and his men would go on a hunt. Gathering his best hounds they set out on their travels. They journeyed into the depths of the forest where his hounds picked up a scent. They rushed into the underbrush letting the riders know of their find with the command of their barks. Pwyll's horse, swifter than the others, was soon far ahead. The great steed bounded effortlessly over rocks and debris from the trees.
Through a clearing of trees Pwyll, spotted a pack of white hounds over a stag lying on the ground. His hounds were in great distress as the pack of white hounds pulled at the flesh of their kill with sharp fangs. Pwyll had not seen hounds like this before. Seeing no one in sight he drove the strange hounds away allowing his own to feast.
From out of "nowhere" a huntsman appeared upon a large dapple stallion. His eyes met with Pwyll's then stated he would not welcome Pwyll to his land, to him; the prince was a thief for stealing another man's kill. After Pwyll asked where he was the hunter replied,"You have entered Annwfn, and I am Arawn, King of the "not world.'
Pwyll realized that he had crossed a fairy border. Knowing he had broken the law of the land he stood tall and proud and asked the Lord how he might clear his honor.
The two rode to the highest mountain where Arawn, with arms spread wide, stated that this was his kingdom and for a year and a day Pwyll would rule disguised as Arawn, and then battle Havegan, his greatest enemy. If he succeeded they would meet again and each would have their identities returned. Before leaving he told Pwyll to only strike Havegan once for twice would restore Havegan back to health. The two rode off in different directions. Pwyll, now shaped fully as Arawn, rode into open gates and was greeted as a King should be. His grooms rushed to take his mighty steed. The young knights gathered to tell the tales of their hunts. Pwyll could tell by the people that Arawn was an honored man. In his castle where the glow of roaring fires was lighting his way, he saw the most beautiful lady. He thought to himself, "What an elegant Queen."
When all were called on to feast Arawn's wife watched her husband with adoring eyes. Pwyll could feel the love she held for her partner. In his heart he could not break the bond, the trust and faith that she had for the true King Arawn. For a year and a night he spoke not a word of passion to her, he would turn away from her to face the cold stone wall.
When the year ended Pwyll set forth with Awarn's knights to honor his pact to battle King Havegan. Finding the boundary between the two fairy lands, and looking across the bridge, he commanded Havegan's presence. A heavyset man, Arawn's enemy, stood across the stream. Havegan lifted his blade high above his head. He told his knights that this was a battle of ruler ship and no one may join. Mounting their horses, the two Kings nodded to each other and then charged directly toward one another meeting with a mighty crash. Pwyll's lance struck Havegan splitting his armor. The fairy King slumped over his horse and then stumbled into the stream turning the clear water into a pool of red. As his life force began to leave his body, Havegan looked up at Pwyll with sleepy eyes and could see the illusion. He stated, "I had no quarrel with you. Finish what you started. Release my pain. Bring me to death."
Remembering the warning from the true King Arawn, that the second blow would restore Havegan, he looked around and told Havegan's knights that whoever wanted to cast the second blow was welcomed. None chose to step forth to cast the last stone. Havegan, lying in the shallow water, slowly died.
Pwyll told Havegan's men to decide who wanted to follow Arawn's rule. One by One they crossed the bridge to pay their new king homage. Thus Havegan's kingdom became one under Arawn ruled by Pwyll.
The next day Pwyll left the palace and rode to the clearing to meet Arawn. Once the two joined Arawn, already knowing the deed was done, told Pwyll his honor was restored and shape-shifted both back into his own skin. The two returned to rule their own lands as before.
When Arawn returned to his palace he was greeted once again as if he had never left. His wife was withdrawn. When he took her in his arms his heart began to race. She stood stiff as she turned away from his lips. She wanted to know why, for a year and a day; he turned his back on her, and now expected her to care. She stated that no caress from his arms had she felt, and now he was loving as he had been a year before. Arawn stood pondering over all she claimed. He wondered if, for a year, Pwyll had been a faithful friend and not taken liberty with his Queen. Seeing the hurt in her eyes and the confusion in her mind he explained all that had occurred. Relieved, she told the King that Pwyll was a noble and loyal man and deserved great respect.
© 2008 Angie Skelhorn