The Black Cauldron
Casting Open
Location Allutheria
Characters The Horned King, Taran, Eilonwy, Dalben, Hen Wen, Fflewddur Fflam, Gurgi, Prince Gwydion
See Also The Blight, The Seasons, Changelings, The Order of Fate, The Court of the Bull

The Black Cauldron is best known as one of the hidden gems of the Disney Animated Film family, but it was originally the second novel in the Prydain Series by author Lloyd Alexander. In adapting it for use on Once Upon a Nightmare, some liberties were taken with the plot and similarities were drawn to J.R.R. Tolkien's Lord of the Rings for added depth and to lend a bit of familiarity for those unfamiliar with Lloyd Alexander and his works.

In our version of the tale, Taran is still an assistant pig-keeper, though Dalben has been reinvented as a kindly Fae tasked with protecting the oracular pig Hen Wen for the Order of Fate. Our Black Cauldron itself, like the One Ring, was originally forged during a war (The Great War between the Fae and the Gods, to be specific). It could be used to amplify and hone the powers of its possessor, and so its existence was protected by the Fae so that it could not be destroyed. Three rings were forged with the power to destroy the Cauldron, three rings which, like Tolkien's One Ring, had nefarious consequences for the possessor of said rings. Our Horned King is seeking the Black Cauldron to help him spread the Blight throughout Allutheria. In a similar vein to Alexander's tale, the only way to destroy the Cauldron is to climb within it willingly (though we demand that one be wearing the three rings as well).

The Canon Tale Edit

During the Great War between the Fae and the Pantheon, a great many weapons were created to aid either side in battle. One such weapon was the infamous ‘Black Cauldron’. Forged using the power of a dying deity, the Fae crafted it to augment their own power. Anyone who used the Cauldron would find that their power was more focused and the enchantment they wished to make was exponentially larger than it would be alone. To prevent the Gods from being able to destroy the Cauldron, three rings were forged and magically bound to the Cauldron. Only one who possessed all three rings and climbed willingly into the Cauldron to meet his or her death would be able to destroy the it. But the possessor of the Cauldron would also be able to use the rings against their bearers, for each ring was blessed with a magical power to entice the wearer into retaining it...and each allowed the possessor of the Cauldron to spy upon the bearers. One ring allowed the Cauldron's possessor to see through the ring bearer's eyes, another to hear through his ears, and the last to speak with his mouth.

The Horned King was once the mighty Fae of Autumn, until the Green Man ripped away his special powers and left him nothing more than any other Fae, banished to Allutheria to begin anew. The Horned King fed his hatred of the gods, however, and longed only for vengeance against them. When he heard rumors of something called ‘the Blight’ that could destroy the Pantheon and all of Ga’leah with them, he volunteered to become the first one infected. Since becoming Blighted, the Horned King learned that he could stave off the insanity by infecting others. Until the Blight consumed these new victims, he benefited from their impending doom. So, the Horned King spread the Blight and began seeking the Black Cauldron which would allow him to infect a wide area, perhaps even a whole Court or Kingdom.

Taran was nothing but a Changeling boy, sold to the kindly Fae Dalben to help the man live his life far from the influences and intrigues of Faery Courts. Dalben also had a secret, his pig Hen Wen was more than any mere pig…she was the first priestess of the Forebearer whose gifts of foresight were much too strong for her human mind to bear. To spare her insanity, the Forebearer transformed her into a pig to live out the remainder of her life in peace…but he failed to remove the gift of foresight, creating an oracular pig. Hen Wen was subsequently taken by the Order of Fate and entrusted to an operative in Allutheria to look after and keep out of the hands of Human and Fae alike. Dalben had been caring for the pig ever since. But the Blight which destroyed Caelum was weakening the powers of the Pantheon seems to have also weakened the enchantment placed on Hen Wen. Without rhyme or reason, with no warning whatsoever, Hen Wen has begun to resume human form for sometimes hours or days a time before she similarly once more transformed into a pig. The Horned King has learned of Hen Wen’s presence in Allutheria and sent his men to retrieve the oracular pig, believing that she would lead him directly to the Black Cauldron.

Little does the Horned King know that within his dungeon there sits a young Fae, Eilonwy, the Princess of the Court of the Bull, who might very well be his undoing. The Horned King bound her powers into a shining orb of light and cast her into his dungeons until he had time to deal with her properly. But Eilonwy has found a way to use her powers, even within the orb in which they are entombed, and she has found a way out of the Horned King’s dungeons, out into Allutheria…and she may know more about the Horned King’s plans than even he realizes…

Characters Edit

  • The Horned King - The former Fae of Autumn, this embittered Fae volunteered to be infected with the Blight to test its abilities, however to keep the Blight at bay, he infects others on a regular basis and seeks the Black Cauldron so that he might infect whole areas at a time.
  • Taran - A human boy brought to Allutheria as a Changeling, he served Dalben for many years as a pig keeper before the Horned King began to hunt Hen Wen, his pig.
  • Dalben - A Fae and an agent of the Order of Fate entrusted with protecting the oracular pig Hen Wen from those who might seek to use her visions to their own ends.
  • Eilonwy - A former Fae Princess of the Court of the Bull who was sent to the Horned King to become his wife and was instead locked in the dungeon with her powers unsuccessfully 'bound' so she could not escape.
  • Fflewddur Fflam - Someone imprisoned in the Horned King's dungeons with Eilowny. In the source material, he was a bard or minstrel.
  • Gurgi - A Fae, Human, or Creature who joins Taran on his quest.
  • Hen Wen - The first human priestess of the Forebearer and sought by the Horned King, she was gifted with foresight which eventually drove her mad and forced the Forebearer to transform her into a pig to save her from insanity with a spell that is weakened by the fall of Caelum, forcing her into her natural human form at the strangest of times.
  • Prince Gwydion - Alistair the White King blurb.

Plotlines Edit

The Black Cauldron is a Canon Tale ripe for exploration and interpretation. The aspects of its plot line have yet to be hashed out and many of its characters are available to those who wish to make this tale their own.

Related Stories Edit

  • Alice in Wonderland - The Horned King is the former Fae of Autumn who once served as one of the seasonal Fae with the Queen of Hearts, the Fae of Spring.
  • Hercules - Hercules' jealous 'stepmother' is none other than the Queen of Hearts, former Fae of Spring to the Horned King's Fae of Autumn. In addition, the Queen of the Amazons who is hiding Hercules' wife, Megara, from him was also once the Fae of Summer.
  • The Labyrinth - The Goblin King, Jareth, runs a lucrative business abducting or in some cases 'buying' young human children from Ga'leah to train and use as slaves for the Fae. These slaves are called Changelings. Taran is a Changeling and thus likely passed through the Goblin Court at some point before coming into service with Dalben. The Goblin Court has also taken up residence in the former home of the Court of the Bull whose deceased King was Eilonwy's father. The Horned King 'rescued' Eilonwy from the Goblin Court's captivity.
  • The Last Unicorn - Eilonwy was the former Princess of the Court of the Bull before the Court fell in the goblin siege. Her brother was responsible for the fall of the Court and later joined the Red Court to become the Red Bull which later abducted the unicorns under the orders of the new Red King.
  • The Pantheon - Hen Wen, the oracular pig, was the first human priestess of the Forebearer (the God of Time). The gift of foresight bestowed upon her for use in her service to the God, proved to be too much for the fragile human mind and the young woman began to crumble into insanity. To save her, the Forebearer transformed her into a pig, though he neglected to remove the gift of foresight, creating an Oracular Pig. In addition, the Horned King was formerly gifted by the Green Man with the responsibility of tending to the autumnal season. In time, the Horned King thought himself equal to the gods causing him to be stripped of his special seasonal powers and locked in Allutheria with the rest of the Fae.
  • Snow Queen - The Horned King is the former Fae of Autumn who once served as one of the seasonal Fae with Jack Frost, the Fae of Winter.