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[personal profile] amelia_petkova
Now that we're into the Yuletide reveal, I can show what I wrote. Reposted here.

Title: The Truth of Kings

Fandom: The Chronicles of Prydain by Lloyd Alexander

Disclaimer: All the characters and events within The Chronicles of Prydain belong to Lloyd Alexander.

Summary: Friends meet one last time before the Sons of Don leave Prydain.

Author's Notes: Although at the end of The High King it is implied that everyone departs soon after Taran is declared the High King, for the purposes of this story I have taken the liberty of inserting a longer space of time between the ending events of the book.

"The Truth of Kings"

The Sons of Don were to leave Prydain in the afternoon. Everyone had not yet departed from Caer Dallben. It followed the day upon which Taran and Eilonwy had been declared the High King and High Queen. That day had been full of loud celebration but this morning yet retained its peace. So soon after dawn, most of the company remained abed.

Taran went to the stables. He was still not accustomed to everyone addressing him as somebody so important. Horses, at least, did not care whether it was the High King or the Assistant Pig-Keeper who fed them. Unwilling to leave the quiet warmth of the stables, he groomed Melynlas until the horse gleamed like new silver.

"So uneasy as High King already?" Gwydion asked behind him.

Taran looked up. The warrior stood in the doorway, dressed in his traveler's garb.

"I don't think that I will ever be fully used to it," Taran admitted.

Gwydion smiled knowingly. "You have already learned the great truth of all good kings: So long as you have the smallest bit of doubt, it will keep you from falling prey to overconfidence."

Melynlas tossed his mane and pushed his nose against Taran.

"It seems that Melynlas is restless as well," Gwydion noted. "There is a short time before I must depart. It might be good to go for a ride."

Taran smiled. "I would like nothing better."

Footsteps scuffed in the straw on the stable floor. "If you think you'll leave me behind, Taran of Caer Dallben, getting up so early has muddled your wits," said Eilonwy (Princess of Llyr, daughter of Angharad, daughter of Regat, now High Queen of Prydain). "There are so many people here, it's like waking up to find yourself surrounded by overstuffed pillows. Soon I will have to wear dresses every day and be proper. Don't think you can sneak away to open air without me."

"I wasn't trying to," he protested. Eilonwy sniffed.

Gwydion interrupted. "The day grows longer. We should move now, unless you wish to bring all of Caer Dallben with us."

Despite this warning, few others had risen by the time the trio departed from the stables. They rode out of the farm in the early light.

The thaw of spring had taken hold but traces of winter remained. Melting snow dropped from the trees and thin frost lined the fields that lay in shadow. Few leaves budded on the trees. But on this morning the air smelled fresh and the sky turned blue instead of gray. Small birds chirped in the trees. The road along the fields was full of thick mud from the melting snow and it splashed up onto the horses' legs. Pale green shoots sprouted in the wet earth.

Eilonwy's nose was bright pink from the cool air but she smiled broadly. "Such good, fresh air and mud!" Taran grinned when she wasn't looking. She continued to Gwydion, "Must you really go?"

"The destiny was laid down many years before," he reminded her. "There is no escaping it."

She persisted. "But you've never seen the Summer Country. You have only ever known Prydain. What if you arrive to find that the grass is blue and the sky is green?"

Gwydion's laugh startled the crows in the trees. "I doubt that is how the Summer Country will appear. But in any case, it is home, whether or not the Sons of Don have seen it before."

"But you will miss some things here," Taran pressed.

"Of course I will. I shall remember the Great Avren, every path I ever trod, every visit to Caer Dallben. And Caer Dathyl, from before."

Taran wondered how it must have been to know the fabled fortress for many years instead of the short span of days he had been there before it fell under Pryderi's army. Thinking upon its fallen walls, he remembered another wall he planned to build.

"I still mean to return to the Isle of Mona to finish Rhun's seawall," he said. "But I fear it may be a long time before I can get there. All the days pass by so quickly now and I worry that it could be years before going there."

"If you want it enough, you will find time and a way," Gwydion told him.

"And I suppose you will come?" Taran asked Eilonwy.

"I will have to, to make sure that you build the wall correctly. It would be nice to see Queen Teleria again, though she's certain to start fussing the moment we arrive."

The road ahead continued along the fields but a path branched off into the forest. The path was just wide enough for horses. They rode among the trees, Gwydion first with Taran and Eilonwy behind him. The bare branches broke the sunlight into pieces but the world grew louder. More birds lived here and the dead leaves from winter rustled beneath the horses. Taran saw the tracks left by deer and smaller creatures in the soft earth. Though the trees still looked barren, he smelled a hint of sap that heralded their return to life.

"Could the land in Annuvin ever be fertile, do you think?" Taran asked. "Could it ever recover from being under Arawn's power for so many years?"

Gwydion turned his head to look at them. "That is difficult to say. If any place in all of Prydain could forget how to be alive, it would be Annuvin. Remember the Red Fallows. It is possible for a place to become so filled with death and hate that it is empty of life. Annuvin itself was just as evil as Arawn. It has known only darkness for many years. But I will not tell you that it cannot be done."

"You may want to start smaller," Eilonwy said. "Putting your shoes on the right feet every day for a year would be a good start. It's not that I don't have faith in you," she continued, seeing the look on Taran's face, "but starting with something that grand may not be a good idea. It's better to start small, like how a duck has to learn how to swim before it learns to fly away for the winter."

Taran sighed but she looked so earnest that he had to smile.

The path curved through the forest but didn't fork off in other directions. It led out into the open, ending in a meadow that Taran had become familiar with during his boyhood ramblings. Later in the spring it would be filled with wildflowers and tall grass, but now the new grass was pale green, growing over that which had died during the winter. The horses nibbled at the turf.

"Do you think we will be able to do this?" he asked Gwydion.

"If you were unsuitable, Dallben would have given you a sign long ago. You would not have found the Black Cauldron, or gained such respect among the Free Commots, or survived to return to Caer Dallben, or accomplished any of the hundreds of other steps you took on this path."

"And what of me?" Eilonwy asked.

Gwydion smiled. "Of your confidence, I have no doubts. The two of you are well begun. Come," he said. "We must turn back now if we are to return to Caer Dallben in time."

The trio turned away from the meadow. They traveled under the gentle sun and rode to their futures.

Date: 2010-01-04 03:43 am (UTC)
lotesse: (Default)
From: [personal profile] lotesse
Of course this was you! I had it open in my tabs, but hadn't had a chance to read it yet - tho I'm glad now that I did!

Oh Gwydion. Such a good daddy. and poor Eilonwy's sartorial woes! Really lovely work, babe.

Date: 2010-01-04 01:47 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Thank you!

I had trouble with this one at times but I think my favorite line is said Eilonwy (Princess of Llyr, daughter of Angharad, daughter of Regat, now High Queen of Prydain). :)


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