Outside the Builder structure, with it sealed behind them like it never was, they rest in the silver shield of the rain cascading off the cliff.
Finally, as sight is beginning to return to Caerdwyn as a grey ghost-world, they lead him up the zigzag of blue-white stone and back into the town of Goodwick.
At the outskirts of town, they argue about the dead soldiers and what to do about the people of Goodwick. Slowly, Caerdwyn’s despair comes out, and Bayeo eventually speaks against him. He admits he is shatteringly exhausted and broken, and they decide to find the missing soldier if they can.
Investigating the thread of smoke from the Inn, they find the missing soldier barricaded inside. Eventually, Fodan’s persistence or his golden bard’s harp win the man over and they get in. The people of the inn he has dragged away into rooms, or laid near the peat fire to warm.
Eventually they win the man’s trust enough to reset his arm to support his broken collarbone. Partly-blinded Caerdwyn was called over to see if there was anything to be done for the soldier’s lack of apparent memory and mental presence. Caerdwyn poked and prodded the man, before gathering some of his spit and writing the binding upon his forehead.
Returning from what seemed to be a momentary trance, he announced that the man was a soldier on a ship from the capitol – Ynys Mawr – and that they were beset by sea monsters and weather and fire on their way here. His despair deepened.
They discovered that the hand that had been burned at Caer Bwyn, ignored since then, had festered. As they set about the process of using the coals from the perfectly burned hut by the Dragon’s Breath, Ssar brought forward a silver armlet – clear in Caerdwyn’s halfworld sight – and said they had found it in the tomb of Cahál (Aric had, perhaps). In the ancient script, Caerdwyn could see that it was inscribed inside with, “The flesh is weak but stone endures”. It was two snakes, each eating the other’s tail.
He donned it on that arm, “above the large muscle of the arm”, and it came to life for a moment, twining tighter (Aric must have been a muscular man), and biting him in the triceps with its silver teeth. After that, they did what must be done to Caerdwyn’s hand, Fodaan’s small black knife glowing with its own life before it descended.
The incessant grouse of the rain seemed to stop suddenly, and even the dripping of it was inaudible. Bayeo became aware of the dark silver-blue face of Gromgwd beaming down at him, making the shadows comfortable with themselves.
A knock at the door announced company, and eventually, he rose and found the ghostly knight in the hall, a wolf’s helm tucked under his arm. The ghost announced he would be willing to help Bayeo if Bayeo would perform two tasks for him:
- Informing his family that he had passed, and in service of his duty, and o
- go to a certain fort in the south of Tuhál and tell a certain Vulfen that he had passed.
Bayeo assented to these demands and asked what had happened to the knight, that he fell at the edge of Teinwood, and if he knew, what his name was. Sir Pafyk (as he revealed his name) said he had been following rumors of wolf-attacks into the edges of the Teinwood. He discovered a terrible abomination: a great wolf, the size of a horse, who had feasted on a whole family of wolves, leaving them partially-digested in a clearing of oaks.
As he spoke, the shadows of the hall came alive, the tree leaves creeping forward, and a great child’s shadowplan rendition of a wolf burgeoning on the wall.
Finally sated, Sir Pafyk donned the wolf helm and cocked his head, pained, as though a great chorus of wolves howled all too close. There was some confusion about the message, and the words used by Bayeo’s invisible spectral benefactors.
Eventually, Sir Pavyk communicated, “Where are you are going, three will await you. They will want you to decide, to choose one of them. Do not.”
Once Bayeo signalled that he did understand although he did not know the context, Sir Pavyk nodded and then struggled to remove the helm. The great shadow of the wolf grew in depth and ferocity and devoured the knight. When it turned its empty light-eye toward Bayeo, he awoke.
He and Caerdwyn discussed the dream, and checked Caerdwyn’s hand, which seemed to have healed up with some limiting of motion and sensation but wholeness of flesh.
Caerdwyn spoke of some new awakening of spirit, of a sense that he could and would attend to the task set before him – that although his sight remained grey and uncertain, he was ready to go on. He apologized for being a difficulty to his friend, a failure of the heart. He said he would support Bayeo, in return, however, he might. And after a silence, and before he left the room, the Vulfen looked around and said, “I need you to teach me how to see”. By which he meant, he needed to learn how to hear, but these differences often plague men and the other peoples of the Mother.