The Homecoming

Last week we left Pwyll riding home to Glyn Cych…

As he rode into the clearing he got a shock.

For he was waiting for himself.

With another moment’s thought he realised, of course, it was Arawn, looking like him. When Arawn saw himself coming a smile lit up his face.

“So, you have achieved what you set out to do.”

“I have, lord,” said Pwyll, “You will find everything in good order there, and with Hafgan’s kingdom under your sway.”

“Prince of Dyfed, I thank you,” said Arawn seriously, “You have done a great deed for me and my people, which will not be forgotten. How did you like my world?”

Pwyll inclined his head, “I liked it very well. I was sorry to leave.”

“But you are excited to be home again.”

“Indeed I am, lord.” Pwyll smiled.  “Apart from one thing.  On many evenings I was there, I was served with a very delicious meat I had never tasted before.  What animal does it come from?”

“Indeed,” Arawn smiled. “That meat comes from a small pink animal called a pig or hog.  I will send you some when I get home.  I should warn you though, it will be hard to adapt them to the climate of this world.  But anyway, let us lose no more time.”

He picked up his magic wand, tapping Pwyll with it. When the melting and solidifying feeling had passed, Pwyll looked at himself in the metal of his shield. He was himself again, warm and solid, not a grey shadow.

Invigorated, he tried to bow farewell to Arawn, but Arawn stopped him with a hand on his shoulder and pulled him into a hug, which Pwyll returned, grinning. “Now we will always be friends, you and I.”

So they bade farewell of each other, and Pwyll rode as hard as he could for Arberth. When he came out of the last wood, and saw the smoke rising from the fort, he gave a shout of joy, and galloped to the stables.

He swung himself down off the horse’s back, and passed the reins to the servant who ran out.

“Greetings, Gwynn,” he cried. How wonderful everything was! The hall towered nobly above everything, the people around him called greetings, and even the aroma of the stables seemed sweeter than normal.

The servant looked at him, puzzled, but took the horse off. Pwyll went into the hall, greeting his lords with the same gladness, but each one gave him the same puzzled looks in return. Until finally one challenged him.

“Lord,” he said to Pwyll, “what has happened to you? You only parted from us this morning, and here you are acting like you haven’t seen us for a whole year!”

(Narberth Castle – Who knows, perhaps this was the site of Pwyll’s fort.)

This brought Pwyll to his senses. He stopped talking in mid sentence and stared at the wall. Of course, he had forgotten that he had ridden out of here only this morning. But why should I hide from my men what has happened, he thought.

“Lords,” he called, going to the high seat, “gather round. In your opinion, how has my rule been during this past year, compared to what it was before?”

The lords cast each other many strange and confused looks. Finally one spoke, “Lord, never have you been so just, so merciful, or so generous and kind as last year.”

“Well,” said Pwyll, “You should thank him who was here with you, not me.” And he told them the whole story.

When he had finished the lords cast uncertain looks at each other, “Well,” they said, “we thank the gods that you have gained such a friendship, and we hope that you will not, now you have returned, withhold the same rule from us that we enjoyed last year.”

Pwyll agreed, and things were prosperous in Dyfed for some years. Arawn and Pwyll kept up their friendship, and sent each other many presents. And because of Pwyll’s many adventures in the Otherworld, he earned himself another name in Dyfed, Pwyll, Chief of Annwn.