The year turned again and at Maytime the dog roses bloomed, the lanes filled with the smell of wild garlic and the court returned to Gelliwig, the forest grove.
Nobles travelled from far and wide to join the court, but Cador and his sister Tegan didn’t have so far to go.
Their father had been King of Cornwall, but he had recently died.
The pair were on their way to see the High King Arthur to claim their father's land. Cador was a lord of great valour, Tegan a lady of great beauty and virtue. Many Lords had fallen in love with her, but she refused them all. Aalardin du Lac loved her most of all, and he found it hard to take no for an answer.
As they rode towards Gelliwig a well armed knight appeared out of a valley.
“Oh no, it’s Aalardin,” whispered Cador.
“Oh Cador, give your sister to me, or I will strike you where you are tallest.” cried Aalardin – if he couldn’t have Tegan by fair means he’d have her by foul.
“I wouldn’t give her to you for all your weight in gold,” cried Cador, putting on his helmet and preparing for a fight.
The knights, lances drawn, charged at each other full pelt. The lances shattered, the horses and knights fell and tangled in one mass. Cador’s horse fell on top of him – his leg was broken and he was trapped under his horse.
Aalardin leapt up, swept up Tegan onto his own horse, and rode off with her. She was trapped like a dog rose tangled in briars. Tegan howled the greatest cry of sorrow you have ever heard. Cador, lying in the road trapped under his horse, despised himself- he couldn’t rescue his sister. Pounding hoof steps heralded the arrival of a new knight galloping down the hill on the way to Arthur’s court.
He heard Tegan’s cries: “Free me from this devil, this monster. Help me, help me!”
The new knight jumped to the rescue. He grabbed the horse’s reins and Aalardin fell off – the battle had begun. A fierce battle, it was. They battled and buffeted, thrust and pushed, for each found the other fearsome. The men had drawn blood before they retired from the first skirmish. When they had their breath back the two knights seized their swords and went for each others’ heads – they stained the earth with great streams of blood.
The knight split Aalardin’s helmet open, and drawing a deep breath finally split his sword in two. Aalardin surrendered, handing over his broken sword, hilt first. "Now you have broken my bones, tell me your name.”
“My Lord, my name is Caradoc, and I am Arthur’s nephew.” Tegan sobbed her worries for her brother, and all three set of to find Cador. He was lying by the road, breathing feebly, gravely wounded. The knights, weak with loss of blood from their fight, managed to hoist Cador up on Caradoc’s horse, and the two rode on together, their blood mingling in the mane of Caradoc’s fine horse. Mingling blood leads to firm friendship, made them blood brothers.
They rode gently on, and came to a fine pavilion. It was decked in cloth of silver and gold and situated by a beautiful riverbank full of wildflowers. At the entrance to the pavilion were two magical statues that opened and closed the doors. One statue guarded the door with a javelin in hand. The other played sweet harp music. Aalardin astonished them by saying this magical place was his home, and introduced them to his sister, the Lady of the Pavilions, who was skilled in the arts of healing.
Heal them she did, both her brother and his enemies who had become his friends. Some became more than friends. Caradoc and Tegan fell in love, as did Cador and the lady of the Pavilions.
Aalardin remained on his own, serves him right. After a healing week in the pavilion (which remarkably was a sanctuary and a spa and hospital all rolled into one) they all rode off to Arthur’s court and further adventures.
retold by Sue Field