Another short story from the world of The Hounds of Annwn.
A very young Rhian discovers her beast-sense and rushes to the rescue of an errant hound.
This short story takes place before the events in To Carry the Horn.
In all of her eight years, Rhian had never had a better time out hunting. Her pony Dreinog had kept up with the bigger horses on this gorgeous fall day, and she’d jumped every obstacle that came her way. It was always fun, she thought, but somehow today seemed different, more exciting. It’s like I could feel what a good time Dreinog was having, following the hounds.
She hastened to untack him and groom him in the stables behind her foster-father’s court. Gwyn insisted that she see to the care of each of her animals, and she enjoyed doing it. Normally she liked these quiet moments after the hunt with her pony, lingering to talk to him all about the adventures they had just had. But this time there was something wrong, something nagging at her. She wanted to find Isolda and talk to her instead. Isolda would know what to do. After all, she was three years older.
She hurried out of the stables and ran to the kennels to look for her friend. Isolda was usually there, helping her father Ives and the other lutins who were responsible for the well-being of the hounds. She found the usual stir of the pack recently returned, the lucky hounds who had been out telling their left-behind packmates all about it, in their own way.
Rhian ignored the noisy hounds, but she was surprised not to see any of the hunt staff. They hadn’t come to the stable, either. She ducked her head into the kennel-master’s office, and found Isolda there instead of her father.
“What’s happened?” she asked.
“Gwennol’s missing,” Isolda told her. “Iolo brought the rest of the pack home, but he’s gone back out with the hunt staff to find her.”
Rhian was shocked. She liked Gwennol about best of all the bitch hounds. The young hound had a habit in the field of swooping after the quarry, like the swallow she was named for. Was that what was wrong, what had been bothering her in the stables?