When we left off, Bran (king of Britain) was offering a gift to Mallolwch (king of Ireland).
“The Black Cauldron?”
“The Black Cauldron! It’s magic!” Bran saw further explanations would be necessary. “Say you have a corpse, okay?”
“Fresh corpse, it’s got to be fresh. Dead body, what’re you going to do? Can’t labor, can’t fight, all it can do is lie there and be dead.”
Mallolwch nodded. “Okay.”
“You take this cauldron, see, you throw the dead body into it, let simmer overnight, and boom, the body comes kind of back to life!”
“Kind of back to life?” Mallolwch asked skeptically.
“100% completely kind of back to life! It can fight again! It can’t talk, but otherwise, good as new.”
Mallolwch was pretty pleased with the present, and he and Bran and all their people drank and partied well into the night afterwards, as horses were transferred over and reparations paid.
In the morning Mallolwch asked Bran where, exactly, Bran had obtained a magic undead-servant-making cauldron.
“Funny you should ask! I got it off an Irish guy, actually. Llassar Llaes Gynwyd – you know, ol’ Lassy – and his wife emigrated from Ireland and brought the cauldron with them. They said, jeez, something about being trapped in a big metal box that was heated white-hot such that they couldn’t bear to touch it? I didn’t really listen. Anyway. I’m actually a little surprised you aren’t familiar with the cauldron, it being Irish originally.”
“Yeah, about that. I actually know Lassy and his wife. They’re giants, right?”
“I didn’t mention it, but yes, they are like ten and twenty feet tall, ish. So if that counts as giant, then sure.”
Mallolwch nodded. “So, a few years ago I was out, and I met them, and what with one thing and another I ended up inviting them to my court. I mean, they were magic giants and Kymidei Kymeinvoll, that’s Lassy’s wife, Kimmy was pregnant. Not with a baby, she was pregnant with a man in plate armor with a sword and a shield and a helmet. Full grown man.”
“I know, right? So anyway, having them at court was fun at first but it got old. They ate huge amounts and they were kind of dicks about it, and there was maybe some raping and pillaging that they did, even after we asked them not to.”
Bran clucked his tongue sympathetically.
“So we ended up building this big metal house, and putting a feast in it, and telling them it was their house, and while they were inside eating we locked them in and then started heating the house up with a bonfire underneath it? We had bellows going and everything.”
“What happened? I mean, clearly they didn’t burn to death.”
“When the walls of the metal house were white-hot, Lassy tore it down by slamming into it with his shoulder. You know how white-hot metals are more liable to getting bent and shaped? He just used his body for it.”
“Huh.” Bran shook his head in wonder. “Small world! I guess he came to my court after getting kicked out of yours.”
“I got to say, we had good reason to kick him out. And this story does not explain even a little bit where this cauldron came from, so, there’s that. Anyway, have Kimmy or Lassy or their kids been trouble for you?”
“Not even a little bit! They’re all the time multiplying and building stockades and fortifying my territory for me.”
“Well, all’s well that ends well.”
After another day or two, Mallolwch and the Irish delegation, with new horses and also Branwen, Mallolwch’s new wife, returned to Ireland. Bran also gave them little trinkets and baubles; not an Irishman left his court without a brooch or jeweled pin or gold-leaf amulet or something.
And things were pretty okay for several years! Then some stuff went down, which we’ll get to, but trust me when I say that none of it has anything to do with Lassy and Kimmy and their giant children. This whole story has just been a waste, in terms of advancing the Bran/Branwen/Mallolwch plot.
Also at no point is the Black Cauldron referred to by that name; it’s just “the cauldron” or “the cauldron of rebirth.” But I can’t bear to call it anything else, and c’mon, you can’t either probably.
NEXT: DID I MENTION BRAN WAS LIKE FIFTY FEET TALL? NO? BECAUSE I’M PRETTY SURE I DID!