Achren runs screaming from the hall with Gwydion and Fflewddur in pursuit. Taran, assisted by Gurgi and Rhun, lifts Eilonwy and carries her out of the flaming chamber. Fflewddur returns to announce that Magg has opened the sea gates, and the water comes rushing in, destroying Gwydion’s boat and breaking down the walls of Caer Colur. Taran holds Eilonwy tightly as the castle crumbles and the waves claim them, and he passes out. If you’re drinking – drink!
Just for fun, let’s look at how many times Taran has lost consciousness so far in the series:
|It’s amazing the poor kid has survived this long.|
Taran wakes up on a beach, with Llyan standing over him. Fflewddur says she means no harm, and tells her to behave: “Don’t stand on my friend; he’s not up to it yet.” Loving the “yet.” Apparently, everyone was half-drowned, not just Taran, and Llyan helped get them all to shore. She’s in love with Fflewddur’s music, and he’s going to keep her, or vice versa. Rhun and Gwydion are fine; Eilonwy and Achren are alive but unresponsive. Gwydion says Achren no longer has any power. Taran asks Gwydion why he gave up the hiding place of the book and the bauble. Gwydion says (stretching all plausible credibility, in my opinion) that he suspected the bauble had the power to destroy the spells, and set Eilonwy free. Hmmm. He says that now they must wait for Eilonwy to wake on her own, if she ever does. Taran says that he’d give his life for hers, not that the life of an Assistant Pig-Keeper is worth much. Gwydion counters that Taran saved Prince Rhun from harm, and refuses to believe that it was only due to the oath he swore. Taran agrees, saying they needed each other, just like how Gwydion helped him when they first met.
Achren, having awakened during their heart-to-heart, accuses Gwydion of having denied her the sweet release of death. She conjures a dagger from a piece of driftwood and tries to stab herself in the heart. So dramatic, that Achren. Gwydion wrestles the dagger away from her. As she crumples to the ground, sobbing, he gently advises her: “Seek life, Achren.” Oh, get a room, you two! Achren says no life remains to her “but that of an outcast.” Gwydion knows just the place for her. The Island of Misfit Toys! No, he says she can take refuge at Caer Dallben. They hang out on the beach and watch over Eilonwy all morning. A little after noon, she finally stirs and wakes up. But is her memory back? We’ll find out in the final chapter!