The Letter Sticks is the second chapter of The High King. The basis of the plot -- the loss of a powerful enchanted item -- is developed, and the lowly skills of the hero of the series -- a mere animal keeper -- become as important to the quest to save the land as the powers of an enchanter or a warlord.

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


Achren explained that Arawn Death-Lord must have come from Annuvin in the guise of Taran, to lure Gwydion into an ambush and steal the enchanted sword Dyrnwyn. Gwydion recovered enough -- after both Taran
and Dallben had applied their respective healing arts -- to describe something of the sword's history and why its loss was so dire. Gwydion determined that he must set out for Annuvin to recover the sword, despite his injuries. Achren tried to convince the Son of Don to let her accompany him, for she knew the inroads to the Land of Death. Gwydion declined.
Rune sticks
Hen Wen2
Dyrnwyn was a threat in the hands of Arawn, so Dallben consulted the oracular pig Hen Wen to determine how the sword might be regained. While the Companions watched, Taran had to calm the terrified pig and to gently persuade her -- for all their sakes -- to use her powers of prophecy.

During the reading, the ash rods, called Letter Sticks, which Dallben used to receive Hen's messages shattered, and her prophecy remained unfinished. Suddenly Gurgi appeared, reporting that Achren had stolen a horse and fled the farm.

The High King
1. Homecomings | 2. The Letter Sticks | 3. The Prophecy | 4. King Smoit's Castle | 5. The Watcher | 6. A Clutch of Eggs | 7. The King of Mona | 8. The Messengers | 9. The Banner | 10. The Coming of Pryderi | 11. The Fortress | 12. The Red Fallows | 13. Darkness | 14. Daylight | 15. The River of Ice | 16. The Enchanter | 17. The Snowstorm | 18. Mount Dragon | 19. The Death-Lord | 20. The Gift | 21. Farewells
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