Halthor's expression of pained grief made Moridan sigh. "Listen to me," he said to the builder, "When you reach Memmin, seek out Count Olerand. He should be able to help you. The journey to Memmin should not be gravely perilous but when you reach the flatlands, be wary of the ones who would offer to guide you. Look for the sign of the stag. If they do not have it, do not trust them. After you have found Count Olerand, you will know what you must do."
looked over at Moridan. "The hour of twilight has passed and
deep night comes. Finish your fare, traveler," the old priest
said, "You will have a comfortable bed tonight. The traveler's
rest will not be quite so pleasant but my grandson will keep you
well. The men from Wynnwode will seek to beset you at dawn. You will
need to leave at the small hours of the night to avoid them. If the
Light Father wills it, snow will cover the signs of your passing."
stood up, setting his bowl aside. "Father Moridan," he
started when the old man lifted his hand. Ewen looked over his
shoulder at the door. The persistent feeling that something ominous
was waiting for dawn beyond the door. The ferryman looked back at his
grandfather. "Grand-da," he said quietly in an urgent tone.
Moridan frowned at him. "He needs to leave now," Ewen said,
"Something waits and grows stronger as the night passes."
Moridan looked over at Halthor and then back to his grandson.
must leave with him," the old priest said, "Guide him to
your brother. You know the path and the dark should not be a trouble
for you." Halthor looked over at the ferryman and noted his very
solemn and troubled expression.
is going on?" Halthor asked. Moridan said nothing as he stood
up. He found his way across the room and opened a chest. After
shuffling a few things around, he stood up. The old man lifted a
short spear from inside the chest. Halthor eyed the piece of
equipment suspiciously, as he had never seen one that was shorter
than he was tall before. The bronze head of the spear gleamed dully
and Halthor questioned if it was even sharp. Moridan handed the spear
to his grandson with a measure of finality in his gestures.
you return, you know what must be done. Your uncle and I will do our
best to prepare," Moridan said as he set his free hand on the
ferryman's left shoulder. Ewen nodded. Moridan looked over at
Halthor. He made a gesture of blessing. "Go with the Light
Father's blessing and mine upon you, young man," Moridan said.
Mavora looked up. He saw the spear in Ewen's hand and sighed before
shaking his head with a look of disappointment. He stood up and began
filling a sack with foodstuffs. When he had finished, he walked up to
Halthor and handed it to him. Halthor looked as though he was about
to refuse this second sack of supplies when Moridan shook his head.
shook his head slightly with confusion and took the sack. He then
found his goods where he had set them. Mavora and Ewen walked with
him to the stable. Mavora loaded the pony with Halthor's goods and
patted the hound that trotted up to him. The dog's tail seemed to
droop and it looked as though it was upset somehow. Mavora turned to
Ewen and clapped him on the shoulder. Ewen gave his uncle a brief,
but strong embrace. The clouds above parted and the light of the
mother moon and her daughter shone down brightly on the snow, making
it seem almost as bright as day.
bundled in his coat, heavy cloak, hat, and other winter gear looked
apprehensive. When Mavora went back into the temple, Ewen took the
pony's bridle in hand. "Come on," he said, "It draws
closer. We must move quickly now." Halthor found Ewen's sense of
unease contagious and he looked around himself expecting some foe to
jump out of the shadows. As the pair moved briskly down the path out
of the village of Hyle, Halthor's back itched between his shoulder