Disclaimer: I do not own The Black Cauldron, Lord of the Rings; or anything associated with either of them. This story is being written just for fun and enjoyment.
The Black Cauldron and the One Ring
Chapter #1: Mysterious Revelations
In a peaceful part of Prydain, there was a small piece of land which was home to an old man who went by the name of Dallben; a kind hearted person who possessed many years of great knowledge and wisdom. Although he lived out in the wilderness which benefited him with the peace and quiet because it was far from towns and villages, he didn't live entirely alone; Taran also lived there with him. Out of his kindness, Dallben had taken Taran in in the hopes that the young boy would one day follow in his footsteps and take on the responsibility of carefully guarding a most precious secret; a secret that Taran did not yet know about until one fateful day when he'd finally find out. For now as he did for many a day during the past few years, Taran felt as though he was missing out on the joys and adventures that many other boys his own age frequently enjoyed; for he dreamed of being trained in horsemanship and swordsmanship like so that he would grow up into a great warrior some day and achieve great fame and glory as all heroic warriors and knights did throughout the land. For now however, he was stuck here at the cottage which was his home where he was tasked with tending to one of the farm animals; a female pig named Hen Wen to be more specific who was always treated with very special care for some mysterious reason.
Sitting at his desk inside of his study which was filled with books, scrolls and other such items; Dallben was talking to himself as he carefully pondered for possible answers regarding the matter he was trying to work out in his mind. The old man was almost bald except for the amount of gray hair that covered the back and sides of his head, and although he was thin on top and thick in the middle as far as being in shape was concerned, the old man was managed to stay very healthy and active for someone in his old age; which was something to be said considering how much time he spent working in his study with all of his books and so on. He was dressed in a red long sleeved garment with an almost reddish-brown vest worn over top of it, along with what looked like a purple apron worn underneath both of those that nearly hung down to his feet; leaving only his brown boats visible and covering what ever pants he wore as well. It was a beautiful warm spring day, flowers were blooming and the birds were singing; everything was alright except for the troubling thoughts on Dallben's mind.
"There's something amiss throughout the land, though I don't know what it is; I can feel it in my bones and I'm sure many other folk are aware of it too since they keep themselves behind closed doors and don't travel around as much as they used too these passed few weeks." Dallben pondered out loud as he eyed the map of Prydain carefully which was unfolded on his desk, all with a furry orange cat rubbing itself against him for attention. "It must have something to do with the Horned King, that black-hearted devil is up to something; but he hasn't yet done anything which could give even a hint of what he's planning. What could he possibly be waiting for I wonder?"
"MEOW!" The orange cat cried since it wanted attention, telling his master know that he's hungry.
"Yes cat, I know you want your breakfast; but I'm deep in thought about something important right now." Dallben answered, thinking quietly once more as he paced around his workroom which was next door to the kitchen; until the sound of the boiling pot hanging over the fire inside of the huge stone oven caught his attention. "Oh no, Taran? The pot is boiling over Taran."
Standing at the window just a few feet away from the oven, there was a young boy resting his elbows on the windowsill and holding his head in his hands; he was obviously daydreaming as he looked outside and didn't seem to hear Dallben calling out to him. This young boy was Taran, dressed in olive green pant and a yellow long-sleeved shirt with a light brown vest over top; he also wore brown boats which nearly came up to his knees. His chestnut brown hair was a little messy, but not enough to interfere with his handsome young face; his deep brown eyes almost looked like portals leading to another world if one were to gaze into them hard enough. Although he had lost track of time and was occupied with daydreaming about embarking on quests and adventures, Taran's mind was eventually brought back to reality as his ears detected Dallben's voice calling to him from the study; forcing the young boy to turn around and get back to focusing on the boiling pot hanging over the fire in the oven.
"Oh, I'm sorry Dallben; I was thinking to myself for a little bit." Taran said apologetically before there was a knock at the door. "Are you expecting visitors?"
"Rather odd for someone to be knocking at the door so early in the morning, I wonder who it could be." Dallben responded curiously as he went to the front entrance of the cottage, opening the door to see who it was; his eyes widened and a smile crossed his aged face. "Well isn't this a surprise, good morning Gandalf; I honestly wasn't expecting you of all people to pay me a visit here in Prydain. "Dallben said, backing up and politely holding the door open to allow his guest to enter. "Please come inside old friend, we can sit and talk in my study."
Taran was curious who Dallben's unforeseen visitor was, and so he wandered over to take a quick look before going about his daily chores; starting with emptying the huge pot from the oven. Standing outside the door was a very tall old man wearing a long gray cloak which covered over the rest of his clothes except for the black foots on his feet and the grey pointed hat on his head; he had a long gray beard and looked as old as if not older that even Dallben. His deep eyes held a mysterious gaze that gave Taran the impression that the man had an ability to read the thoughts of who ever he stared at which made the young boy feel just a little uncomfortable, but his worries would be brought to an end once he saw that this stranger was on friendly terms with his master. The man carried with him, a long wooden staff and also had a sword; the weapon was sheathed and secured on a belt which was tied around his cloak. Taran's eyes became fixated on the sword as soon as he had laid his eyes on it, he suddenly found himself wishing that he too had a sword of his own; he was young after all and wanted nothing more than to go on an epic quest filled with adventure so he could live his dreams.
"Thank you Dallben, I apologize for coming unannounced and at such an early hour; I hope I haven't caused you any inconvenience." Gandalf said, lowering his head slightly as he entered, carrying his hat which he had removed along with his wooden staff; carefully making his way inside so avoid bumping his head.
"Oh nonsense, we've eaten breakfast already and I was just about to…Taran!" Dallben responded, making Taran turn his gaze away from Gandalf's sword; making Gandalf look at Taran curiously as soon as he noticed the young boy had been staring at his sword. "Didn't you hear me the first time when I told you the pot was boiling over? Hurry up and empty it or else the contents will be burned and stuck to the inside!"
"Sorry Dallben." Taran replied quickly before doing as he was told, hurriedly scanning the kitchen for a rag or cloth to grasp the lid with to avoid burning himself. "I was just thinking, what if the war is over before I ever get a chance to find in it?"
"I'd call that a blessing Taran, war isn't fun and games as you think it might be; people who fight in them get injured and killed." Dallben remarked.
"But I'm not afraid…ouch!" Taran replied, suddenly withdrawing his hand away from the lid after becoming forgetful and touching the hot lid with his fingers; waving it around until the pain had gone so he could grab a damp cloth to grab it with.
"Ah ha, yes; there you see?" Dallben replied with a chuckle at the young boy's accident while he and Gandalf sat down together. "In war, people get injured far more seriously than that; some even have their hands and arms cut off and are never able to fight or work again. Now if the Horned King should ever return and cause havoc and bloodshed, you'll have a lot more to worry about that a burned finger."
"Dallben's absolutely right Taran, you should heed his warnings; I've seen plenty of young foolish folk get themselves into danger not knowing the consequences of what they've gotten into until after its to late." Gandalf added as he prepared to smoke his wooden pipe.
"I only want a chance to go on a glorious adventure." Taran replied frustratingly as he used a ladle to scoop out the pot until it was empty, filling two evenly sized wooden bowls with its contents; the food looked like porridge even though it was probably something else entirely since it had been made and cooked by Dallben. "Is that too much to ask? I feel that I'm meant for being someone better than what I am now."
"Alright Taran, that's enough; that's enough." Dallben cut in as he walked over to the boy, taking notice of the hungry orange cat that was sniffing the bowls of hot food. "Stay your paws cat, that food isn't for you; it's for Hen Wen."
"Hen Wen, Hen Wen; I'm always taking care of Hen Wen!" Taran commented angrily before quieting down and letting out a long sigh.
"And one day, my boy; you may learn why taking care of her is so important." Dallben said, before picking up one of the bowls and handing it to Taran who took it with both of his hands. "Now now more daydreaming, you have chores to do; dreaming is for bedtime."
"Yes sir, I'm sorry." Taran said softly as he obeyed, leaving the kitchen and walking outside to go feed Hen Wen her breakfast.
"Ah, he's still so young and anxious; and so blind to all the perilous dangers and await those who go on adventurous quests." Dallben said with a sigh, feeling bad that he was only trying to protect Taran even though he was keeping the boy from living his dream; until he was suddenly cheered up by the hungry cat that was now sniffing the remaining bowl of food. "Ah, you're one lucky cat; there's just enough food left over for you."
"Young men always are Dallben; don't be so hard on yourself for merely trying to keep Taran out of danger." Gandalf cut in suddenly after the cat rolled over as if it had suddenly gotten sick and was going to throw up. "Taran just wants what all young men want in life."
"Taran's not a young man, not yet anyway; he's still just a lad who had no idea of how dangerous the world truly is." Dallben replied with a sigh, before rejoining Gandalf at the table. "Now then Gandalf, please tell me why you've come here; its been many long years since your last visit even though I expect you have far more pressing places to go conducting your business in rather than Prydain."
"Indeed it has, yes I have been to various other realms and kingdoms which are far away from here as you already know; in fact I've been forced to return and seek out your help for a matter which is of the utmost importance." Gandalf explained, drawing Dallben's attention. "But before we discuss it, could I ask how things are doing here in Prydain; I should like to hear what you have to say first."
"Very well then." Dallben said, taking a minute to recollect his thoughts and find the right words to explain everything in the correct order.
Meanwhile outside, Taran was slowly walking as he once again found himself dreaming of a more adventurous life he longed to have instead of the one he presently find himself stuck in; wandering across the wooden bridge over a stream and forcing the five or six noisy ducks to get out of his way. Walking to a stone fenced area which surrounded the barn and smaller shelters where the farm animals were kept, Taran unhitched the gate and walked inside to a very small round wooden hut with a straw roof over it; he didn't enjoy doing this sort of work day after day and it was really starting to get to him. If it were left up to Dallben, Taran would remain an assistant pig keeper forever until he eventually grew into an old man; that was the last thing he wanted for himself.
"Dallben doesn't understand I'm not a little boy anymore; I wish he'd stop thinking of me as one. I should be going on quests and doing heroic deeds for Prydain instead of looking after a spoiled pig…hey!" Taran said out loud to himself as he set the bowl down and slid it inside of the hut with his foot, only to see it suddenly shoved back out which told him Hen Wen had overheard him talking word for word. "Oh alright Hen, I'm sorry; I didn't mean a word of it."
Once she heard Taran's apology, the tubby pink pig crawled out and inspected her food curiously as she took a few sniffs with her long snout; but she reluctantly started to eat it insight of the horrible taste since Dallben had cooked it especially for her and only her. Taran crouched down and watched Hen Wen eat slowly; occasionally giving the animal a few soft pets on her head and back; making her grunt affectionately as she continued eating. After a few minutes, Hen Wen finished her morning meal and the bowl was empty; she was full and would be content for a while until supper time arrived later in the day. Although Taran treated and looked after Hen Wen with great care, he didn't want to do this forever and while the pig and grown a fond attachment to the young boy; she was only a pig and was powerless to help him change his fate…or so Taran thought.
"I don't want to spend the rest of my life pampering a pig everyday until I'm an old man like Dallben, I know he think's I can't handle myself; but I'm not afraid of fighting." Taran said before his eye caught a long stick in the grass which he picked up and started swinging it around as if it were a real sword like the one he saw Gandalf carrying on him. "I can fight and use a sword just as well as any knight in Prydain, come on and fight me you cowards; see if you can match the skill of the greatest warrior Prydain has ever known!"
Running forward and swinging the wooden stick back and forth like a real weapon, Taran charged ahead a few pace as he enjoyed fantasizing for a brief period; scaring the ducks away and causing them to quack uncontrollably. The noise had even caught the attention of Dallben and Gandalf who were still inside the cottage, drawing their curiosity as they both stood up and went to the front door to see what was happening; Dallben lowered his head down and sighed at the foolish and playful sight of his young assistant who was daydreaming yet again. Gandalf found the sight to be a little amusing for the moment, as long as no one got hurt; it wasn't entirely wrong to play make believe as all young children and teens do regardless of what races they are.
"Look who finally shows himself on the battlefield, his majesty; the Horned King!" Taran said triumphantly, looking at an old furry goat that had trotted in front of his path after being disturbed from its nap by the noisy ducks which had been scared off; not knowing what was going to happen until after it was too late. "Draw your sword you lord of evil, I challenge you to a duel; a duel which will decide the fate of all Prydain!"
Taking the stick and positioning it between the goat's horns, Taran rattled the stick from side to side suddenly; making the goat's head shake and spin with dizziness which made Taran laugh along with Gandalf who tries to contain himself for a moment. Lost in the glory of the moment, Taran turned around to face Hen Wen and declare himself the victor of duel; not noticing that he had angered the horned animal he had just harassed. Once it had recovered from the momentary dizziness, the infuriated goat charged forward and struck an unsuspecting Taran from behind with its head; causing the boy to fly forward and perform two summersaults until he finally landed on his back in the dirty mud. All of the ducks were now quacking hilariously at Taran's folly while the goat returned to its place of relaxation, Taran decided to play the tragic hero who died in battle; pretending as though he had been felled and stabbed with his own sword from the fall he had taken.
"Prydain's finest warrior dies after defeating the Horned King and saving the country, only to lose his own life; and so Taran of Caer Dallben draws his last breath…" Taran said softly with an imitated tone of voice so he would sound as though he was weak and dying; closing his eyes afterwards for perhaps a moment so that his imaginary audience could pause and pay their respects in silence.
"What am I going to do with him Gandalf?" Dallben asked quietly with a sigh. "He just never learns; I doubt he'll ever learn at this rate."
"He'll learn in time as everyone eventually does Dallben." Gandalf commented before padding his friend on the back. "Come, let us disturb his daydreaming."
Hen Wen curiously approached Taran and sniffed his head, getting some mud on his cheek as her soft snout rubbed against him which made him open his eyes; giving the concerned pig a smile to show that he was actually alright even though he had taken that hit from the goat. A shadow suddenly crossed over Taran and Hen Wen, when they both looked up; they were surprised to find Dallben and Gandalf had come outside and were now watching them. Not wanting to look like a fool or get in anymore trouble than what he was probably in already, Taran quickly got up proceeded to wipe the mud and dirt off of Hen Wen; wearing an embarrassed look once he found out that the two old men had been watching him for a short while now.
"Another daydream eh Taran?" Dallben asked sarcastically. "You should learn to be more careful, you were lucky that you only aggravated a goat and not the real Horned King; now please try to stop daydreaming for the rest of today and get on with your chores."
"But Dallben, this isn't the life I want for myself; I want something more." Taran countered. "Will I ever be nothing more than just an assistant pig keeper?"
"Hen Wen is a very special pig Taran, there's far more to her than meets the eye; you just can't see it yet because you don't know how special she truly is." Dallben answered, kneeling down to rub his hand gently over the pig's tummy; she was lying upside down on her back and grunted happily as she enjoyed the experience. "Now give her a nice bath so she'll be nice and clean, come inside afterwards and tidy up the kitchen; come along Gandalf so we can resume our discussion."
"Yes sir, come then Hen Wen; time for your bath." Taran replied in obedience as he resumed his work, picking up Hen Wen and placing her inside of a small barrel full of water before splashing a small bucket of soapy water over top of her; now he just had to scrub her gently until she was clean. "Okay, now that you're all covered in soapy water; its time for your favourite part so get comfortable."
Hen Wen stiffed herself around in the water filled barrel, she was comfy enough so she could lay still and relax while Taran scrubbed her for a brief period until she was clean once all of the mud and dirt had been washed away; but this enjoyable experience wasn't going to turn out that way on this occasion however. A split second after she had shut her eyes, Hen Wen's mind became aware of a troubling vision which she couldn't ignore; for it frightened her enough to squeal in alarm as she panicked out of control a moment later. Not knowing what had come over Hen Wen, Taran tried holding her still in a vain effort to calm down the panic stricken pig; the commotion could be heard off from inside of the cottage which quickly drew Dallben and Gandalf outside to find out what was wrong.
"What's going on Taran?" Dallben asked demandingly, having been interrupted from his discussion with Gandalf a second time.
"I…I don't know Dallben!" Taran cried out, trying to take hold of Hen Wen and stop her from escaping him; looking at Dallben as he wondered what was wrong and why she was suddenly acting so scared all of a sudden. "Hen Wen's suddenly become frightened by something, I don't know what's come over her; there has to be something wrong with her!"
"What?" Dallben asked, his gaze turning serious with concern as he understood what had happened. "Quickly lad, bring her inside to the kitchen at once; hurry!"
Taran did as he was told and tried to pick Hen Wen up in his arms so he could take her indoors, but she was putting up quite a struggle; it took a few minutes to really hold her still until she eventually calmed out and became cooperative enough for Taran to carry her. In the kitchen, Dallben set a wide wooden bowl in the middle of the kitchen floor which was filled with water; he then set a small candle right beside and lit it on fire. Gandalf had shut all the doors and windows as he had been asked, causing the interior of the cottage to become dark so no sunlight from outside would disrupt what Dallben was going to perform; he then joined Dallben in the kitchen once Taran arrived with a now calmed down Hen Wen held in his arms.
"What's all of that for?" Taran asked curiously, not knowing at all what his master was planning to do after observing the bowl of water.
"Put Hen Wen down Taran, I don't ever use her powers unless I absolutely have too; and now I must do so find out what's wrong." Dallben answered, kneeling briefly for a moment to examine Hen Wen while she strode up to the bowl of water; getting the attention of both Taran and Gandalf as well.
"Hen Wen has powers?" Taran asked in surprise, drawing a look of seriousness from his master Dallben as he waited for an answer.
"Taran, you must promise me that you will never ever reveal anything of what you are about to see before you now; not to anyone." Dallben asked, grabbing a tall T shaped staff which he then dipped into the bowl of water and stirred ever so slowly; getting Hen Wen's attention as everyone watched closely. "Hen Wen, from you I do beseech knowledge that lies beyond my reach. Troubled thoughts weigh on your heart, share you now those thoughts impart."
Hen Wen became hypnotized by the end of the staff stirring the water, her eyes getting dizzy until she collapsed on the floor with her head resting on the edge of the bowl and her snout touching the surface of the water; it was at that moment when Dallben removed his staff from the bowl now that the most important phase of this act was about to unfold. Hen Wen's eyes remained open and still as a mysterious light shone out from her head on the surface of the water, transforming the ordinary liquid into a magical window similar in appearance to the inside of a crystal ball which wizards and sorcerers would use for seeing future events or making prophetic predications after having gained enough knowledge from what visions they could see. Taran was awestruck, never in his life or even his wildest dreams had he seen anything so supernatural before; nor had he any idea that Hen Wen possessed any special powers which allowed Dallben to see visions of what were occurring or could occur at any present time. Gandalf however, remained unfazed from the captivating sight; for he had scene it a few times before during his previous visits when he came seeking Dallben's aid when he had no other alternative for finding out answers or information to what ever mysteries or secretive business the old wizard constantly dealt with. Although he was already aware of Hen Wen's special powers and had kept Hen Wen's hidden ability a close guarded secret which he shared with Dallben after giving his word that he would never speak of it to anyone as long as he lived, Gandalf's attention was now drawn to the bowl of water so he could see what visions were being revealed; for that was his reason for coming here today.
"Ah, the Horned King. Shush Taran, don't interfere and don't touch the water." Dallben said softly, watching the blurry vision of a horned headed human figure riding swiftly on a horse before the image changed; showing two creatures which a dragon like appearance flying through the air and circling like hungry predators hunting a helpless prey on the ground. "He's searching for something, or maybe even someone…The Black Cauldron, so that's what he's after!"
"The Black Cauldron?" Taran asked curiously as he continued watching the mysterious visions beneath the surface of the water.
"An awesome weapon of unspeakable evil which has been lost in time and hidden for centuries, but if the Horned King should ever find it and unleash it's evil power; then nothing could stand against him." Dallben answered as the image of the Black Cauldron soon changed and was replaced by the next one, an entirely different one which even Dallben himself didn't know or recognize. "Wait, what is that?"
The three observers gazed closely at the bowl water and the visions which it revealed after they were extracted from Hen Wen's mind, although the Black Cauldron had now vanished; the Horned King's face still remained along with his skeletal looking hands which were encircling something else that now appeared. A tiny golden ring suddenly appeared along with a frightening image of an enormous eye; burning and surrounded in orange flames. The Horned King was holding out the tiny golden ring in his bony palms towards the evil looking evil and the Black Cauldron appeared briefly once more, awaking a cruel smile of satisfaction on the face of the evil person; it would appear as though the two evil figures were exchanging the two possessions as people commonly would do while conducting a bargain of some kind. But before anything more could be deduced, the image changed again; everything disappeared entirely as was replaced by a pink pig running frantically for its very life.
"I know what that is, and more importantly; who it belongs too." Gandalf spoke up in a deep voice; wearing a very serious expression on his face as he continued watching the images being revealed one after another; making Taran and Dallben look concerned and worried.
"Look that looks like Hen Wen!" Taran pointed out, guessing correctly that it was Hen Wen having looked after her for such a long time.
"He knows…stop! Enough!" Dallben said, striking the bowl of water with the end of his staff; wiping out any traces of the vision within the water and causing it to return to normal as Hen Wen was brought out of her temporary trance. "Hen Wen is no longer safe here!"
"Why not Dallen?" Taran asked, suddenly becoming more curious about everything he had just seen and wanting to know more about it.
"Only the three of us know the secret of Hen Wen's power, but now the Horned King has discovered it; we must do everything we can to make sure he can never use her power to find the Black Cauldron." Dallben answered, gathering some bread and fruit to pack up for travelling now that Hen Wen had to be relocated somewhere safe. "Taran, you must take Hen Wen to the hidden cottage at the edge of the Forbidden Forest; keep her safely hidden and never ever bring her outside until I come to see you once it's safe to return."
"But why should we hide?" Taran asked, not wanting to hide like a coward and miss the chance of performing a heroic deed for Prydain.
"Because its likely that the Horned King will come here looking for Hen Wen, that is why you must take her away where she'll be safe; we can not allow her to fall into his hands or else it will mean the end for all of the people who live in Prydain." Dallben answered.
"I'm not afraid of the Horned King!" Taran said defiantly in a tough voice. "If I had a sword, I would protect Hen Wen from anyone including him!"
"Then you are very naïve and foolish, untried courage is no match for the Horned King's evil; just remember that while you guard Hen Wen." Dallben replied after wrapping up enough food provisions for Taran's journey ahead. "Although we now know he's after Hen Wen so he can use her powers to try and find the whereabouts of the Black Cauldron, I don't know the meaning of the other visions we saw or of the other person in them who was exchanging the Black Cauldron for that golden ring; that will have to be looked into as well."
"I think I already understand the meaning behind the vision we all saw, for I saw that same vision once before during my visit to Lothlorien many days ago; it was shown to me in the mirror of Galadriel and that's what made me come here so I could attempt to confirm what I had seen." Gandalf pointed out, drawing the attention both Dallben and Taran before continuing any further. "Galadriel is known as the Lady of the Galadhrim to the elves who live in the land of Lothlorien, the mirror is similar to what we have seen because it is made by pouring water from a spring and into a silver basin from which visions can been seen when one looks into it; and only she has ability and strength of mind to repeatedly use it in order to seek knowledge which is why it is so named the mirror of Galadriel. It shows many things that were, things that are; and some things that have not yet come to pass which mean that they might not ever happen even though there is a possibility according to the glimpses that are seen."
"I see, you were unsure of whether or not the meaning of the visions were definite and that's why you came here seeking my help." Dallben deduced. "You knew that Hen Wen can see things which are real whether they've happened yet or not, since you couldn't completely reply on what you were shown in Galadriel's mirror; you were forced to come here in person to confirm the truth of all that."
"Yes Dallben, that's true; but the main reason I came here was because I alone recognized the Black Cauldron along with the Horned King and Hen Wen after hearing you tell me about them during my previous visits here." Gandalf explained, pulling out a map of Middle Earth and lining it up with Dallben's map of Prydain. "The Black Cauldron as you yourself said has been hidden in Prydain for centuries, but according to the vision I've now seen twice; the Horned King has found out about the One Ring and he intends to return it to its rightful owner in exchange for the Black Cauldron if he should acquire Sauron's ring. Now there's something out of place with what we've all seen, first of all; both of these evil weapons have been hidden and lost for countless years. Secondly, Prydain is located to the southwest of southernmost area of Gondor which is nothing more then an empty desert that is uninhabitable. You can see on your map that Prydain is separated by a vast sea which lies between it and the rest of Gondor with only the desert area connecting it with Middle Earth, as both of you can easily see; there's an awfully vast space between Prydain and the land of Mordor which is where the Dark Lord Sauron rules over. Thirdly, the vision shows that the Horned King has come into contact with the Dark Lord Sauron which means now the Lord of Mordor also knows of the Black Cauldron; I can see on your faces that both of you understand what I'm getting at."
"Yes Gandalf, you're right." Dallben responded as he, Gandalf and Taran stood around the desk studying the two maps carefully. "How could the Horned King and the Dark Lord Sauron have met without travelling across such vast distances from one country to another? , The Horned King hasn't travelled outside of Prydain as far as I can tell from all the rumours and mutterings from the people, although both evil foes intend to bargain with one another in the unlikely event that each person comes into possession of the weapon which the other so desires; we know that the Horned King still needs Hen Wen's powers to find out the Black Cauldron's present whereabouts. And besides that, why should the Dark Lord Sauron bargain for it when he could just take it by force; it would be much simpler given that he rules over all of Mordor."
"Wait just a moment, there's something I don't quite understand." Taran asked. "How could the Horned King even make a bargaining agreement if Prydain is so far away from the land of Mordor? And how can the Black Cauldron and the One Ring each be used as weapon?"
"The Black Cauldron was created from an evil king who was thrown alive into a crucible of molten iron, capturing his demonic spirit in the form of a Black Cauldron which was then created from the iron itself; this was done because he was too dangerous to be kept alive and also because no prison could contain him." Dallben answered. "As you already know, the Black Cauldron has been hidden for many centuries while evil kings and other black hearted men searched for it throughout their whole lives; one generation after another. Who ever possesses it gains the power to resurrect the dead back to life, giving them the means to create an invincible army of soldiers who can't be killed or defeated; meaning that who ever possesses the Black Cauldron can conquer all the lands until the entire world falls under his rule."
"Wow…" Taran replied in awe momentarily. "What about the One Ring then?"
"The One Ring was created from the evil spiritual essence of the Dark Lord Sauron, it was forged from the molten fire of Mount Doom; also known as Orodruin the Fire Mountain which dwells in the land of Mordor." Gandalf explained. "Now, unlike the Black Cauldron which can be freely used by anyone who come into possession of it; the One Ring has a will of its own which can corrupt who ever possesses it. If a person keeps this ring for too long, they eventually become enslaved by it; so much that they will do anything to ensure no one else can have it but themselves. The One Ring uses its evil to mentally manipulate its possessor until the person is no longer of any use to it, the One Ring then abandons the said person by literally slipping off the finger of its wearer so that it will be lost and later found by another; this cycle continues endlessly until the One Ring can find a way to return to its true master. The One Ring cannot be destroyed by any craft or destructive methods which we possess, it was made in the fires of Mount Doom and only by casting it back into the molten fire; can it be destroyed along with the evil power which keeps the Dark Lord Sauron alive and powerful. He needs only the One Ring to give him the invincible strength he requires to wipe out all those who oppose him, conquer all the lands and cover them in darkness; and we've now learned he's allied himself with the Horned King which means both of these two evil foes are working together so that each of them can come into possession of the weapons which will grant them the means to conquer all and remain unopposed.
"But that doesn't make any sense at all." Taran cut in. "Wouldn't they be forced to fight against each other afterwards once each of them has what they want? Who would win in the end if they suddenly battled against each other? The Dark Lord Sauron or the Horned King? Which weapon would be considered more dangerous and powerful? The One Ring or the Black Cauldron? One of you must know!"
"It definitely looks as though they're going to be allies until after each of them has what they want, the Dark Lord Sauron wants the One Ring returned to him and the Horned King wants the Black Cauldron; that's all we know of for the moment anyway." Gandalf answered after taking a moment to think carefully. "I'm afraid that even I can't possibly find an answer to those other questions of yours Taran."
"Nor I, and I for one don't think I'd ever want to know; those answers would be too horrible to bear. But enough of that now, its time for you to be on your way with Hen Wen; here are some provisions for you." Dallben added, handing Taran the bag of food provisions he had packed. "Gandalf, I know there a many pressing matters for you to attend too in Middle Earth but…can I ask you to accompany Taran until he and Hen Wen arrive at the hidden Cottage at the edge of the Forbidden Forest?"
"Yes you may, with so much at stake; the last thing I want is for Hen Wen to fall into the Horned King's hands." Gandalf answered, making Dallben sigh with relief. "After Taran and Hen Wen arrive at their hidden sanctuary, I myself must sail back across the sea to Gondor and from there; an even longer road awaits me until I eventually arrive at my next important destination."
"Thank you Gandalf, I greatly appreciate this." Dallben said gratefully.
"You're very welcome; it's the least I could do to repay you for all the times you've used Hen Wen's powers to help me in my need." Gandalf replied, standing up from his chair and stretching his arms and legs. "But before I go, I must take my map and my pipe so that no trace of my presence is left behind; I wouldn't want any unwelcome servants of our enemies to find out I had recently been here."
"Of course my old friend, Taran; be a good lad and take care of yourself." Dallben said, giving Taran a farewell hug before his young assistance pig keeper set out on his journey. "Heed Gandalf's instructions in case you encounter any danger, Hen Wen will be counting on you to keep her safe from harm; look after her and see that she's well protected and kept hidden while you're by yourselves."
"Goodbye Dallben." Taran said before getting out of the hug. "I won't fail you and I'll promise to protect Hen Wen no matter what it takes."
"I know you will my boy, good luck and have a safe journey." Dallben said with one final goodbye as Taran and Hen Wen walked out of the cottage doorway, Taran had a length of rope which was gently secured around Hen Wen's neck so it looked as though he was walking her like one would normally walk a pet dog. "There's so much responsibility to be resting on his young shoulders, and so soon for one as young as Taran; too soon for a boy of his age to be getting involved in such dangerous and life threatening matters like these."
"Dallben?" Gandalf asked, drawing Dallben's attention. "I must ask you something, if events should escalate and become worse in the innumerable days we must face ahead; I want your permission to allow Taran and Hen Wen to travel with me if Prydain becomes unsafe for them. I know how much you worry for Taran's safety, but this will give him an opportunity to learn that war and adventure aren't so glorious and fun as he thinks they are; allowing him to see and experience the grim reality of them both will change his attitude and teach him a wise lesson in life."
"I understand Gandalf, as much as I would like to say no; you have once again proven that some things must be done regardless of one's own personal feelings." Dallben replied softly. "I only hope Taran learns quickly enough before he witnesses anything horrible."
"Don't worry, I'll be sure to give him some good advice so that he will learn all he needs so he'll wise up soon." Gandalf countered, leaving the cottage and carrying his few tiny belongings inside the pockets of his gray cloak, using his tall wooden staff as a cane to slowly walk along until he left the property and arrived at the spot where Taran was presently waiting for him with Hen Wen at his side.
"You're late Gandalf." Taran stated sarcastically, causing Gandalf to raise an eyebrow at the boy's sudden change in attitude.
"A wizard is never late Taran of Caer Dallben, nor is he early; he arrives precisely when he means too." Gandalf countered, giving Taran a good stare with his eyes and making the boy's mouth gape open since he had no idea that Gandalf was actually a wizard with magic powers of his own which he could use when he willed at any given time. "Seeing as how you know where the hidden Cottage is, you lead the way with Hen Wen and I'll follow the two of you; we must walk efficiently if we're to arrive before the day is over so hurry up and move along."
Meanwhile, far away from where Taran and Gandalf were starting their journey; someone else was thinking hard about what to do now that an important discovery had been made. Surrounded by treacherous mountains which twisted the landscape everywhere except for the beach on the opposite side of an immense lake from which it stood, was a tall ruined castle; overgrowth vegetation of thorns steadily rose up and attached themselves to the outside walls which nearly made the old stone fortress look abandoned had it not been for the lit torches that proved it was occupied. Inside a massive private chamber which was nearly filled with armoured skeleton remains of dead soldiers, a lone hooded figure roamed silently about the room; a figure with buck like horns protruding from his head and through the hood of the dark red cloak he was wearing. His flesh and skin was stone cold in appearance and his hands were very frail, his head and face looked even worse because of the skull looking appearance with only enough flesh on it to keep him alive. If this man had any eyes at all, they were both hidden in darkness and would remain unseen to all except those to were able to look deeply enough at his face in order to see them without going mad with fear afterwards; for this man was known to all Prydain as the Horned King.
"My soldiers, be patient and lay still a while longer; for I have discovered the means to find that which can resurrect you back from the dead." The Horned King whispered in a deep voice as he walked around admiring the many dead armoured skeletons which were still clutching their weapons; all gathered together to be turned into an army once the opportunity finally arrived in the near distant future. "Oh yes my soldiers, the Black Cauldron will soon be mine and with its evil power coursing through my veins; and I shall make all of you…cauldron born. Yes, and after we've conquered all those who would stand against me; we will rule everything for all time! Oh long I have waited to become a god among mortal men, now I only have to wait a little longer until the Black Cauldron is in my hands."
Author's Note: I've wanted to do a Black Cauldron cross over for such a long time, but I could never figure out what I could combine it with in order to make a great story; until the idea for Lord of the Rings suddenly hit me and that's when I had to use it. There are all sorts of reasons why the idea appealed to me but the first one was this, I suddenly thought Princess Eilonwy would make a great younger sister for Lady Eowyn of Rohan; their names sound similar not to mention the fact that both of them are of royal blood so I thought the idea works nicely. Taran has always wanted the chance to do heroic deeds and a story like this would be a dream come true for him, having the Horned King and the Black Cauldron along with the adventure of The Lord of the Rings sounded like an excellent plot twist as the two are combined together. Please review each chapter of this story once you've read it in the event that you wish to read more, any ideas or suggestions for future events are welcome to hear as well. Also bear in mind that I am writing multiple cross over stories at once so I won't necessarily update in a repetitive order, it all depends on finding the right words to use and brainstorming ideas, etc. Anyway, thank you for your taking the time to read and review my work; I look forward to hearing from you as I continue this story.