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 The Black Cauldron

The Black Cauldron

A Canon Tale of Allutheria

The Black Cauldron
A 1986 Motion Picture & 1965 Novel

Locations:The Labyrinth
Characters:Dalben, Eilonwy, Fflewddur Fflam, Gurgi, Hen Wen, The Horned King, Prince Gwydion, Taran
See Also:
Links to Shit
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).

Canon Tale

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. He reinvented himself and built a court called the Court of the Bull. In time, his court was targeted by a powerful rival, the Red Court, who with the help of his own son, Lir, were able to release the Gobins as a weapon to bring them all down. The Horned King fled the wreckage of his kingdom with those he could save, including his son, Lir, who he punished severely for his transgressions by cursing him with the form of an enslaved, great, flaming, Red Bull.

Desperate to get revenge on the Fae for the loss of his Court, the Horned King aligned himself with Maleficent and became the first victim of the Blight. Unable to find the mythical Black Cauldron, a lost weapon of the war with the gods, he instead forced his son to round up the unicorns to sacrifice in the hopes that their ability to nullify magic would make him impervious to other's enchantments. When Amalthea, the last unicorn, turned herself over to them, she believed she could still save them. Instead, she was forced to watch them slaughtered one by one. Furious over their death, she helped Lir to kill his father and assume his title as the Horned King.

Lir was not as willing to forget the legend of the Black Cauldron, the weapon forged during the war with the gods that could amplify any magic into something godlike and unstoppable. The newly crowned Horned King with his Horned Queen, Amalthea, by his side were determined to locate the Black Cauldron by any means necessary so that they could use to destroy magic once and for all.

Taran was nothing but a Changeling boy, found by Dalben and invited to remain with the High Priest of the lord of time 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. Dalben had been caring for the pig ever since. But the Blight which destroyed Caelum weakened the powers of the Pantheon and also weakened the enchantment placed on Hen Wen. Without rhyme or reason, Hen Wen has begun to resume human form for sometimes hours or days at a time before she’s once more transformed into a pig. The new Horned King has learned of Hen Wen’s presence in Allutheria and become determined to retrieve the oracular pig, believing that she would lead him directly to the Black Cauldron.

Little does the new Horned King know that within his dungeon there sits a young Fae who might very well be his undoing, for the Princess of the Court of the Bull and his sister, Eilonwy, was saved from the labyrinth by her father, the first Horned King. Unsure how to be a father to her after all he had suffered, 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…



  • The Horned King - Lir, son of the Horned King and one time prince of the Court of the Bull, betrayed his people to the Red Court resulting in their fall to the Red Court. He was captured by his father the first Horned King and cursed with the form of the Red Bull and enslaved to serve the Horned King until the Last Unicorn helped him kill his father and assume his title with Amalthea as his queen.
  • 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 saved from the Labyrinth by the Horned King and locked in the dungeon with her powers unsuccessfully 'bound' so she could not escape.
  • Fflewddur Fflam - Once called Schmendrick, he was Amalthea's only friend believed killed in the Ocean Blight, instead he found himself taken by the Red Bull and tortured or the location of the Last Unicorn. Time has now run together and his sanity has been corroded by what he has endured.
  • 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. She has taken temporary shelter, under the guise of a faemiliar, with a freehold of Fae in Neverwood and begun using the name Molly Grue to hide from those who seek her.
  • Prince Gwydion - King of the White Court, he was once a part of the Horned King's Wild Hunt.


The former Fae of Autumn and first Horned King plotted to kill the Unicorns to use their ability to nullify magic to make him impervious to other's enchantments. He sent his son, the Red Bull, to retrieve the Last Unicorn who eventually surrendered in hopes of saving her people. Instead, she was forced to watch as he murdered them all. In anger, she joined Lir in killing the Horned King and usurping his throne. Now they seek the Black Cauldron, not to make themselves all powerful, but to remove magic from the world.


Related Stories

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.
Anastasia - The Horned King is the former Fae of Autumn to the Queen of Hearts' former Fae of Spring title.
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.

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