|Photo: King Arthur, from the "Nine Heroes Tapestry" on display at the Cloisters in NY (part of Metropolitan Museum of Art). Copyright Lisa Vooght 2013|
King Arthur was holding court at Caerleon upon Usk, and the knight Owain had set out upon his quest. The road Owain traveled passed through copse and ford and hill, and he was fair worn when he came upon an old man toiling in a field.
"Good fellow, have you knowledge of a spring nearby where I might wash and refresh myself and my horse? And might you spare me a morsel of food? I have found the hunting poor hereabouts."
"Over yon is a spring, and welcome, but food I have none. Lord Innit demands all that we grow, and gives back less than your fine steed would eat in a day."
Then Owain gazed steadfast upon him, and was sorely troubled. For the old man spun a tale, as rich as any told at the Round Table. Lord Innit of the Tromain Castle held others captive, not by the sword but by an enchanted tongue. For all who came to him with complaint were captivated by his voice, which rang like silver bells and dripped with pure honey; they came in wrath, or to plead their case, but went away with empty hands and without malice, until striking hearth and becoming filled with dismay as before.
With that Owain mounted his snorting steed and rode to the castle. Weary and footsore, he was led by a yeoman to the great hall, where a man of surly countenance bade him disarm with words most foul. And Owain would have smote him, but for the fact that some enchantment made those words full heavy with sweetness. A repast was spread, and then the good knight was led to a chamber for the night.
It befell upon the morn that Owain heard a fierce buzzing in his ear. Rising quickly, he sought and found Lord Innit already at table.
"This fare would be well served by fresh honey. Allow me my armor, that I might procure some from the hive which I spotted last eve."
And permission was granted, as Lord Innit was sound in his conviction that none could defend against his silvered tongue. So Owain donned his armor and was shown by a servant through the postern onto the grounds, whereupon he strode to a massive oak by the gardens. And there he helped himself to a goodly portion of the honey, and the comb. Then returned the knight and servant to the great hall. The honey was placed on the table, and with a voice of thunder Owain demanded that Lord Innit surrender himself. The noble, ever open-mouthed, called upon his enchantment to sway the knight; but Owain had filled his ears with beeswax, and so bore the silvered words with impunity. Then Lord Innit commanded the servant to fetch the guards; but the servant's ears were likewise filled, and it was to no avail. Lord Innit drew his sword in challenge, but his arm was easily struck down by the seasoned Owain. He was bound, and his mouth stopped, and messengers sent to the court of Arthur so that knights might be dispatched to hold the castle and contemplate its fate. And Owain resumed his quest, wandering through various countries, engaging in perilous enterprises, and covering himself with glory.