Primary Sources: the Mabinogion 16 (Manawydan loses Pryderi)
When last we left off, Manawydan and Pryderi were chasing a magic boar, despite Manawydan’s singular refusal to do anything that might advance this story’s plot in the slightest. The two of them ran after the boar with their dogs, chasing it to a mysterious fortress in the woods which they’d never seen before, despite having spent literally years screwing around hunting in this very forest.
They sent their dogs in and stood around outside, waiting to see what would happen, because total passivity is Manawydan’s thing, apparently. What happened: nothing. They couldn’t even hear the dogs barking, which was itself kind of a bad sign.
“Okay, I’m going to go look for the dogs,” Pryderi said, finally.
“What? No!” Manawydan exhorted Pryderi not to undertake such a dangerous course. “That’s a terrible idea! This is obviously a magic fortress, and it probably has something to do with all the disappeared people! You don’t want to disappear, do you? Better to just stay out here, doing nothing!”
“Nope!” Pryderi’s mind was made up. “I’m not going to just abandon my dogs. Maybe you’d do that, but not me!”
Pryderi stomped off alone into the fortress, promising to shout if he got into any trouble. Manawydan resumed his silent passive vigil.
In the fortress, Pryderi found zero dogs. He did discover, however, an open central courtyard, featuring a big fountain with a golden bowl and a marble slab and chains fastening the bowl in place. The chains extended upwards into the sky, rather than down into the earth, but otherwise, pretty straightforward.
“Wow, cool bowl,” Pryderi said to himself, and rushed to touch it, because it was made of gold. Naturally this led to his total paralysis! He stood there, touching the bowl, totally motionless and silent, because of magic.
“I’m sure Manawydan will rescue me,” he thought to himself, then tried to convince himself that he wasn’t just crazy with fear and confusion.
Meanwhile outside, Manawydan stood around for a while longer, and then decided that Pryderi was probably dead.
“Oh well,” he said to himself, and returned to court, where Kigva and Rhiannon had been sitting around doing nothing.
“Where are your dogs and my son?” asked Rhiannon, when she saw him.
Manawydan shrugged. “Probably dead.” He explained about the boar and the fortress and how he’d tried standing around outside, but it hadn’t helped.
Rhiannon smacked Manawydan across his smug face! “Jerk!” She immediately went the way Manawydan had come, and found the magic fortress. Entering, she soon discovered Pryderi, paralyzed. “I’m coming, son!” she cried, and ran to free him, only to suffer total magical paralysis herself.
Mother and son stood alone in the magic fortress for a few hours, and then the fortress teleported away with them in it.
Back at the halls of Arbeth, Kigva was fretting because Pryderi was gone, Rhiannon was gone, the dogs were gone, and all the people of the cantrev were long-gone. “This is freaking me out!”
“Don’t worry,” Manawydan reassured her. “It’ll be all right. I promise I won’t rape you.”
“Oh, well.” Kigva cleared her throat nervously, the way you do when someone unexpectedly brings up rape in conversation.
“I mean, I might, except Pryderi is a good friend of mine, and you’re his wife…”
“…that’s good to hear, I guess…”
Lacking a better plan, Manawydan and Kigva returned to England and got back into the shoemaking game, because Manawydan insisted that was a good idea over Kigva’s objections. Just as before, Manawydan’s incredible shoemaking expertise made him many shoemaking enemies, and just as before, they sent him death threats.
“Maybe this time we stay and answer these threats?” Kigva suggested.
“Nope. Back to Dyved! Maybe Rhiannon and Pryderi and the people of Arbeth have returned!”
(Spoiler alert: they haven’t.)
Primary Sources: the Mabinogion 16 (Manawydan loses Pryderi) — No Comments
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