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Pwyll

by Karen Davis
Pwyll, lord of Dyfed, encountered while hunting a strange pack of hounds, pure white except for their red ears. Beating them off their prey, he set his own pack upon them, an act for which he was chided by their owner, who turned out to be Arawn, King of Annwn (the Underworld). Arawn laid upon Pwyll the following penance: he would live in Arawn's place, disguised, for a year and a day, while Arawn lived in his place in Dyfed. At the end of the time, he would do battle with Arawn's enemy, Hafgan, and defeat him, for only a mortal man could so do.

Pwyll not only fulfilled this task, but refrained from sleeping with Arawn's wife; as reward, Arawn became his dear friend. Later, Pwyll met Rhiannon, daughter of Hefeydd the Old. She appeared to Pwyll, lord of Dyfed, as a beautiful woman in dazzling gold on a white horse. Pwyll sent his fastest horsmen after her, but could not catch her. On the third day, he spoke and she told him she wanted to marry instead of her espoused husband Gwawl. Pywll met her in a year and a day at the court of her father, where through her aid he won her from Gwawl. She bore Pwyll a son, who vanished. Her women killed a puppy and smeared its blood on her, to avoid blame at the child's loss. As punishment, Rhiannon spent seven years telling her story to all comers and bearing them, like a horse, to the court.

The child, meanwhile, turned up at the court of Teyrnon, whose mares foaled on May eve and lost the foals mysteriously. When Teirnonkept watch, he saved a foal from a mysterious beast and also discovered, outside the stable, a child, whom he and his wife adopted. Then child grew to young manhood in seven years, and was given the foal rescued on the night he was found. Teirnonrecognised the child as the son of Pwyll and returned him to his family, where he was named Pryderi ("worry") by his mother. Pwyll reigned happily afterwards until his death.


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