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Rhitta

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Black sword

King Rhitta Son of Rhych was once High King of Prydain and wielder of the sword Dyrnwyn. Yet Rhitta descended into falsehood and error, and vanished from the eyes of men in the bowels of Spiral Castle.

This page contains spoilers. If you do not wish to be spoiled, do not read further.

Biography

The Foundling and Other Tales of Prydain

CelticKing
The short story "The Sword" tells how King Rhitta, of the line of Rhydderch Hael, ruled as High King from Spiral Castle in the Ystrad Valley. Once during a hunt on his lands, Rhitta trampled the gate of a shepherd named Amrys, but impatiently kept on his way, calling it a small matter, which he vowed to set right in due course.

Eventually all of the shepherd's sheep strayed, except for one lamb, which died shortly after for want of his mother. When Amrys reproached Rhitta, Rhitta drew his enchanted sword and slew the shepherd.

Spiral Castle
When Rhitta saw what he had done, he was struck with remorse. After his councilors talked him into believing that it was not his fault, he set aside things to be given to the shepherd's relatives, to show that the bore no grudge. Upon learning that there were no such people to deliver it too, he kept all of the gifts and the shepherd's property, banishing his war leader for mocking him for it.
Catacombs2
The people began to rebel against his tyranny, causing Rhitta to expand his castle's defenses, and to build hidden chambers to hide in where he slept. Meanwhile the enchantment of the sword Dyrnwyn began to turn against him, and the scabbard grew black and blemished, preventing him from drawing it.

The ghost of Amrys the shepherd visited him in his hidden bedchamber, stating that while Rhitta had slain the shepherd once, he had slain himself a thousand times over. Amrys pitied Rhitta as he would any suffering creature. Reacting in horror, Rhitta struggled against the power of his enchanted blade, forcing it out of its sheath against its will. The blade's power then killed Rhitta and all his attendant warriors. The King was mourned only by the shepherd's ghost.

The Book of Three

Years later, Taran of Caer Dallben and Eilonwy Daughter of Angharad discovered Rhitta's self-made tomb, which drew them by keening, ghost-like sounds which proved to be wind whistling through fissures in the stone wall. Eilonwy took Dyrnwyn from what the two assumed was a barrow, precipitating the collapse of Spiral Castle.

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