Author's Note: Brief vignettes in the life of Medwyn, and his thoughts regarding the gwythaint Taran saved in The Book of Three. Spoilers for the entire series.
There was a destiny laid upon this one.
Otherwise, it would not be here.
Medwyn's eyes narrowed and he watched curiously as the black fledging dipped lower over the valley, its ungainly wings making flight awkward.
On the grass behind him, the others seemed cautious.
He could not blame them. Gwythaints did not come to this place. Arawn ensured they did not.
His brow furrowed. Why, then, was this one here?
And as the bird finally lighted on the rippling grass, stumbling from the long journey, it made an odd, crooning whine and looked up at Medwyn pitifully.
An ache wrenched his heart as he realized.
The wing was not yet healed. The journey had been most difficult. It was a wonder that Arawn had not traced the poor thing and killed it outright.
But it was here, now.
It was safe, now.
He walked forward and gently placed his hand beneath the beak to tilt the ugly little face towards his.
"Tell me your story, little one," he whispered.
It took some time for the others to grow accustomed to the young gwythaint, but Medwyn knew this would be the case. Even here, in this place of peace and unity, they were wary.
As for the bird, it too seemed afraid. But that was Arawn's doing.
Each day he fed it a broth.
Each day he watched it grow stronger.
Each day it told him the same story.
The story of a young boy who had cared for it.
"That one also has a destiny upon him," Medwyn murmured, after hearing the tale for the ninth time.
The wolf at his ankles gave a bark of agreement.
The gwythaint merely blinked at him, benignly.
It knew nothing of destiny.
"No, you cannot," he said placidly.
The gwythaint was not fully grown, yet not a little thing any more, either.
It gave a sulky cry.
"I have told you; humans do not trust your kind. I know it is hard to understand, little one. Also, if you return, you will die. Arawn believes you have betrayed him. He will kill you the moment you leave this place."
The gwythaint sullenly shuffled outside and spread its long wings, flying to the top of a spruce.
Medwyn sighed. He knew the bird's ways already. It would not come down until it was hungry.
Fortunately, that would only be an hour or so.
And one day, it would understand why it had to remain here for now.
Because one day, destiny would call it.
Though he had seen this process for a millennium and would see it for another, it never failed to create wonderment in him.
There came the day when he was walking to the glittering lake and saw the creature soaring above the valley, its wings a huge span that created a shadow on the waving grass below.
When had it grown so? He could not remember.
He smiled as the bird dipped gracefully and dove for him, landing smoothly and perfectly on a log beside the shore.
"And yet," he murmured, "Unless I am much mistaken, you have another growth spurt to endure, little one. I believe you will be the largest I have ever seen."
The gwythaint cried out beautifully and lowered its head for a drink.
The little fawn beside it did not flinch.
Rather, to Medwyn's satisfaction, it butted its soft, silken head to the gwythaint's body.
And the gwythaint merely cooed at it once it had satisfied its thirst.
Medwyn turned to the animals remaining in his care – the soft, gentle animals that could not venture into the dangerous world beyond the valley to fight.
All but one.
He approached the huge creature with solemnity and affection. It had been the most unusual he had cared for in a long time, or perhaps it had only been a short time?
Either way, he was painfully aware of this sad moment.
The moment of destiny.
He put out his hand and stroked the hard beak.
"You have long desired to leave this place of peace," he murmured.
The gwythaint practically purred; a low rumble within her chest. She knew, now. She knew it was her time.
"And I know why, little one," he continued dolefully. "You remember one who was so kind to you."
The bird gave a long, quavering cry, a note that echoed across the cloud-covered valley. Yes. It well remembered. That was the reason it had so often asked if it could leave. To find the one it remembered.
To return the favor.
But Medwyn felt he needed to explain.
"He is not the boy you remember. He is a man now." He paused and his brow wrinkled in thought. "Or is he? Yes… yes, I am sure he is, by now. If that is the case, he will be much taller. Just as you are also much larger, little one. In fact, he may not recognize you. It will be exceedingly dangerous. It is dangerous for him, and it will be dangerous for you. Are you prepared to die for him? You often say you are, but perhaps you do not understand the gravity of such a desire."
The gwythaint cried out again.
It would give its life for the one who had saved it, if it had to.
It would return the favor.
Medwyn closed his eyes with pain.
"Then go, little one. Peace, and swiftness of flight be with you."
The bird spread her huge wings and vaulted into the air with a rush of wind.
And Medwyn watched sadly as it flew, instantly, in the direction of Annuvin.
As if it had never forgotten the way. Because it had not forgotten.
Arawn would make certain this one died for what he considered ultimate betrayal.
He only hoped she would reach her friend before that happened.