Edit: I’m back, I’m stupid, I’m sorry. That’s it.


Hello and Well Met, Fair Travelers! Despite the fact that before I posted last Monday about the schedule, I had received multiple emails about changing my MS&T chapter count per re-read to 2 instead of 3, no one took me up on my offer, so I will be sticking with three chapters per session. That’s fine, it’s more fun for me!

Today’s re-read covers chapters 22 through 24. As I will say with each and every entry into this series, If you have never read this series before, and have somehow found this site by accident, there WILL BE MASSIVE SERIES-BREAKING SPOILERS throughout this re-read and analysis. I do not believe I can stress this enough. DO NOT read this if you have never read the series before, unless you just don’t mind knowing how a many-thousand-page epic series concludes. There will be Spoilers. The will be MANY Spoilers. You have been warned.

As Guthwulf would say, “By the Devil’s black arse, just get on with it!” And I shall.

Chapter 22 – A Wind From the North

Summary

Guthwulf sits outside the Hayholt throne room, awaiting his turn to speak with Elias, and has been waiting for quite some time. He ponders that “undoubtedly because of the wet weather, the halls of the Hayholt seemed to reek of mold, mold and . . . no, corruption was too melodramatic a word.” Pryrates finally invites the earl in, who then discovers that, instead of a warm, inviting fire in the throne room, Elias is sitting in the cold, with the upper windows open and allowing cold winter air. Elias apologizes for keeping Guthwulf waiting, and they chit-chat a bit, with Guthwulf noticing that Elias is wearing “the sword with the strange crossed hilt” that he has been wearing for weeks, and Guthwulf has no idea where it comes from. Elias now keeps secrets from Guthwulf, the King’s Hand, and Guthwulf doesn’t like that.

Things had changed, and Guthwulf felt sure he knew who to blame. He looked past the king’s shoulder at Pryrates, who was watching him fixedly. When their eyes met, the red-robed priest lifted a hairless eyebrow, as if in mocking question.

Guthwulf must let Elias and Pryrates know that Fengbald has returned, with no word about “Morgenes’ henchman,” but their “master huntsman” is still on the trail of the spy. Guthwulf asks about the health of Miriamele, and Elias and Pryrates seem to cover her whereabouts by saying she is sick and is taking vacation in Meremund. Finally, Elias gets to the point of his summons to Guthwulf, and tells him the earl must go to Hernysadharc with a dozen knights and threaten some sense into King Lluth. Guthwulf agrees.

One his way out of the throne room, he runs into Fengbald, and mocks the man on the fact that he cannot marry Miriamele since she has gone off to Meremund.

******

Rachel the Dragon and the chambermaid Jael are cleaning a hallway when Fengbald comes storming down said hall. Rachel tries to get Jael out of the way, but not in time; Jael dropped a bucket of water, causing Fengbald to slip and get his boots wet. Rachel quickly sends Jael away, and must accept Fengbald’s physical and verbal wrath.

Later, Rachel remembers when she heard news of Simon’s “death,” and even dreams of him that night.

And in her dream Simon was not dead, had not died in the terrible fire that had also taken Morgenes, and several of the guardsmen who had rushed to put it out. Even Count Breyugar, they said, had perished in the catastrophe, crushed beneath the collapse of the flaming roof . . . No, Simon was alive, and healthy. Something about him was different, but Rachel could not say what – the look in his eye, the harder line of his jaw? – but that did not matter. It was Simon, alive, and as she dreamed Rachel’s heart was full again. She saw him, the dead boy – her dead boy, really; hadn’t she raised him like a mother until he was taken away? – and he was standing in a place of near-absolute whiteness, staring up at a great, white tree that stretched into the air like a ladder to the Throne of God. And though he stood resolutely, his head flung back and his eyes upon the tree, Rachel could not help noticing that his hair, that thick reddish tangle, was badly in need of cutting . . . well, she would see to that soon, right enough … the boy needed a firm hand . . .

When she woke, pulling the smothering blanket aside in a panic to find more darkness around her – this time the darkness of evening – the weight of loss and grief came sliding back down like a wet tapestry. As she sat up on the bed and climbed slowly to her feet the washrag tumbled free, dry as an autumn leaf. There was no call for her to be laying about, pining like some fluttery girlchild. There was work that needed doing, Rachel reminded herself, and no rest this side of Heaven.

******

Duke Leobardis of Nabban and Count Eolair sit and listen to a musician sing songs in the duke’s throne room – Eolair wants to speak of important matters, but the duke insists they wait for the proper time for such discussions. Benigaris, the duke’s son, enters the throne room, to let Leobardis know that Sir Fluiren has come to see the duke as an emissary of King Elias.

Benigaris curled his lip with impatience. “He’s waiting for you. I think you should see him quickly, as a gesture of respect to the High King.”

“My, my!” Leobardis turned an amused glance toward Eolair. “Do you hear my son order me?” When the duke turned back to Benigaris, Eolair thought there might be something in Leobardis’ gaze beside amusement – anger? Worry? “Yes, then, tell my old friend Fluiren I will see him . . . let me think . . . yes, in the Council Hall. Will you join us, Eolair?”

Benigaris leaped in, “Father, I do not think you should invite even so trusted a friend as the count in to hear secret communications from the High King!”

“And what need, may I ask, is there for secrets to be kept from Hernystir?” the duke asked. Anger had crept into his voice.

Eolair excuses himself politely, noting as he is leaving that the duke and his son are arguing behind him – also noticing the various ladies and men of the court staring at, and whispering about, him. He suspects they do not think highly of him.

Eolair spends the afternoon walking around the castle, remembering the grand and noble history of the place, but also noting how the (metaphoric) waves of this place seem to constantly be changing the (metaphoric) landscape. He longs for his home, where life is simpler, and in his opinion, the people are more rational in the ways they live.

That evening, as the duke and Sir Fluiren sit at one end of the table, away from Eolair, he sits with the duchess of Nabban, Leobardis’ wife Nessalanta, who asks about Miriamele. Father Dinivan, the Lector’s secretary, is sitting close by and informs them that Miriamele has “indeed, gone to Meremund,” as she has taken ill, and the doctors believe she needs sea air.

“Well,” Nessalanta pronounced, sitting back in her chair as a page scurried up with a finger basin, “it just proves that you can’t force people to be what they’re not. Miriamele has Nabbanai blood, of course, and our blood is salty as the sea. We are not meant to be taken away from the coast- People should stay where they belong.”

And what, the count wondered to himself, are you trying to tell me, my gracious lady? To stay in Hemystir and leave your husband and your duchy alone? To, in effect, go back to my own kind? Eolair watched Leobardis’ and Fluiren’s discussion wistfully. He had been maneuvered, he knew: there was no gracious way he could ignore the duchess and insinuate himself into their conversation. Meanwhile, old Fluiren was at work on the duke, transmitting Elias’ blandishments. And threats? No, probably not. Elias would not have sent the dignified Fluiren for that. He had Guthwulf – the King’s Hand – ready for use whenever such a tool was called for.

Resigned, he made light talk with the duchess, but his heart was not in it. He was sure now that she knew his mission and was hostile to it. Benigaris was the apple of her eye, and he had been avoiding Eolair all evening. Nessalanta was an ambitious woman, and doubtless felt the fortunes of Nabban would be better assured if they were yoked to the power of Erkynland – even a domineering, tyrannical Erkynland – instead of the pagans of Hemystir.

And, Eolair realized suddenly, she has a marriageable daughter herself, the Lady Antippa. Perhaps her interest in Miriamele’s health is not just that of a kindly aunt’s for her niece.

Eolair puts together that Nessalanta may have the high ambitions of her daughter marrying the Earl Fengbald, thus meaning Miriamele’s absence may not be quite as innocent as an illness, and he worries for her safety. He and Dinivan then joke resignedly about politics.

Commentary

Well . . . what we have in this chapter is what I like to call a Catching Up chapter for all the stuff going on that is not directly related to Our Hero(es). And what we also have in this chapter is a lot of politics.

From the very beginning, we are seeing secrets – why is Guthwulf, the King’s Right Hand being treated the way he is? Why do Elias and Pryrates keep giving each other knowing looks? Where did Elias get his new, funky sword? Where, oh where, is the Carmen Sandiego Princess Miriamele?

We know some of these answers – well, we know where Elias got his sword, anyway. As for the others, we eventually find out about Miriamele, and the other secrets are just some ‘general secrets’ that are meant to let us know that things are not what they seem, and Elias and Pryrates unfortunately no longer have much use for one such as Guthwulf.

Speaking of Guthwulf, I like what we see of him here. Sure, he is a bit too gung-ho for the mission given to him by Elias regarding King Lluth and the Hernystiri, and he definitely doesn’t seem to be the nicest chap in the world, but unlike many of the people we meet who are in direct association with Elias, he has a brain on his shoulders, and it appears the things he does, he does out of friendship to Elias, loyalty to the High King, and because he believes he is doing the right thing. I could be wrong, but I do not recall ever hearing anything about Guthwulf in these three/four books that makes me think he’s the power-hungry, blood-thirsty sycophant that most of Elias’ court is made from.

Such as Fengbald. Holy Shites. That dude needs a beating, and the kind that comes with decapitations. I don’t normally condone the kinds of punishment that comes with lack-of-head-ness, but for people like our Earl here, I would make an exception. And he never, in the entire series that I can recall, gives me a reason to think I have misplaced that sort of reaction. I did not quote his exchange with Rachel about getting his boots wet, but in three separate sentences, he called Jael a slut, said he would “get his due,” for the mishap, and then offered to slit her throat. Yikes.

And then Rachel is sad. Poor Rachel – it must be hard to lose a child, and extra-hard to not truly even know what happened. And with Pryrates and Elias spreading the word that Simon and Morgenes were traitors, that cannot sit well either.

I find her dream interesting, because it is very obvious both currently accurate, and futurely accurate, as though it is a Foretelling. She is seeing Simon at the Rimer’s Tree (which doesn’t happen for several more months), and also seeing Simon ‘on the lamb,’ as he is fleeing from danger, and having to develop skills to safely live his life as it is currently set up. I find this interesting because it almost seems to say to me that Dreams in this story and world are possibly things that are often true, accurate, and prophetic – not just for Simon, heroes, and people who walk the Dream Road. One could argue, I assume, that it is merely Simon’s “powers” as a dreaming adept, and that he is dreaming, or thinking, of Rachel, but that seems a little far-fetched to me, since we have no indications that anything like that happens with Simon. Otherwise, I’m pretty sure Miriamele would be having some pretty interesting dreams from Simon’s brain as well.

Ahem . . . moving on, our meeting with Leobardis and Benigaris is interesting. What I see this scene as having a purpose for is to show that Leobardis is a ‘good guy,’ and Benigaris is a ‘bad guy.’ And I wonder what kinds of secrets Elias would be sending towards Leobardis that Eolair could not be privy to, unless he is mentioning the coming confrontation between Guthwulf and Lluth? Obviously, I believe, a lot of this is just to set up the tension between the various factions of Osten Ard, and we may never find out, in-story, what specifically was said to Leobardis from Sir Fluiren – I honestly cannot recall. So it’s just to help show how F-ed up things are between the different nations.

Eolair gives us some of the best descriptions of the Hernystiri “pagan” religion that we ever receive, and to me, it sounds very animistic. At least, from what I know of animism, they sound similar. But I don’t know a lot about animism. So that’s all I’m going to say about that.

And finally we get to see that, through Nessalanta’s conversation, perhaps not is all that it seems with Miriamele’s illness. It is mentioned in three separate instances in this chapter, which by the Rules of Story-Telling (TM), makes that information Important with a Capital I. And at first, it could certainly be that she has indeed taken ill, and she needs more salt in her diet. But as the conversations come up again, there is very obviously much more to it, and even Elias’ and Pryrates’ glances with one another showed that at the beginning as well.

Are we ever given a clear indication of exactly when Miriamele ran away? She was obviously in the Lichyard when Simon awakened after his journey through the Sithi city, but was she running away then? Or was she just chilling in a graveyard. And also, do we ever hear anything else about Nessalanta’s daughter Antippa, who Eolair shows so much interest in regarding the whole marriage thing? And does Nessalanta know about Benigaris’ plans right now re-Leobardis, or does she find out later? I cannot remember.

So yeah, lots of politics in this chapter. Williams pulls it off very well, showing us there are very deep undercurrents of ambitions, maneuverings, and strange tidings going on throughout the world, and giving Osten Ard a bit more of a realistic feel. I wouldn’t say the politicking that happens in MS&T are nearly as extravagant as some of the more recent series, but on the other hand, I wouldn’t want it to be – otherwise, I would read politicians’ and lawyers’ memoirs, instead of reading fantasies. Right? Right.

Chapter 23 – Back into the Heart

Summary

Simon and Binabik are fleeing the battle between the diggers and Rimmersmen, with Simon slowly running out of steam, but wanting to know what’s going on. Binabik tells him simply, “later,” and they continue running, then walking. Binabik finds a camp for them – where Simon immediately falls asleep – and tosses the bones, to see The Shadowed Path, Masterless Ram, and The Shadowed Path again, all not-good throws. He goes to sleep with Qantaqa. The next morning, Simon bitterly accuses Binabik of playing games with him, and demands to know what is going on. Binabik explains that his master Ookequk, the “Singing Man” of Qanuc, and Morgenes were good friends and colleagues.

Binabik had trained with Ookequk as his apprentice, and had been asked by the Singing Man to accompany him on a journey south – Ookequk had been receiving ominous tidings from Morgenes, and the two (and others) planned on meeting to discuss these things in person. Ookequk seemed very worried on the journey south.

“One night, when first we had crossed down into the northern parts of Erkynland, he asked me to be standing watch so that he could walk the Road of Dreams. We were in a place much like this,” Binabik gestured around at the bleak plain below the hills, “spring arrived, but not yet broken through. This would have been, oh, perhaps around the time of your All Fool’s Day or the day before.”

“All Fools Eve . . .” Simon tried to think back, to remember. The night that terrible noise awakened the whole castle. The night before . . . the rains came . . .

Binabik explains that something seemed to capture Ookequk on the Dream Road, and though Ookequk was strong in spirit, and struggled long, he could not escape. He said some words to Binabik, and then died. Binabik had buried Ookequk, and then tried to decide what to do for two days, before deciding to head back to Qanuc. However, on that morning, a messenger bird, meant for Ookequk, showed up, containing information about Simon.

“It was written by Morgenes, and the subject of the note was you, my friend. It told to the reader – who should have been my master – that you would be in danger, and traveling alone from the Hayholt toward Naglimund. It asked my master to be helping you – without your knowing, if such was possible. It said a few things more.”

Simon was riveted; this was a missing part of his own story. “What other things?” he asked.

“Things only for my master’s eyes.” Binabik’s tone was kindly, but firm. “Now, it needs no saying that here was a difference. My master was asked a favor by his old friend . . . but only I could do that favor. This was also difficult, but from the moment I read Morgenes’ note, I knew I must fulfill his request. I set out that day before evening toward Erchester.”

The note said I would be traveling alone. Morgenes never thought he would escape. Simon felt tears coming [. . .]

Simon asks if it was Binabik calling him outside the Lichyard, but Binabik denies it, saying he did not find Simon’s trail until the Old Forest Road. They talk about whether or not they should continue on their current path, and Binabik asks if they could send a message to Morgenes. When Simon realizes what he is being asked, he is forced to break the news to Binabik that Morgenes is also dead, which is a great blow to the troll. Binabik goes off to think for awhile.

When he returns, he gives Simon the White Arrow and Morgenes’ manuscript, then shows Simon a pendant and explains that Morgenes and Ookequt were both members of the League of the Scroll, “a group of learned people who share knowledge.” He then tells Simon they should be on their way, and that they will be going back into the Aldheorte to continue their journey north, because the forest’s strange powers will likely keep the diggers away from them, as well as because Binabik needs to visit Geloë, a wise woman who lives in the forest. Simon asks if they must truly leave right that second.

“Simon,” Binabik said as Qantaqa jogged up, tongue lolling, “please believe me. Even though there are things that I cannot yet tell to you, we must be true companions. I need your trust. It is not only the business of Elias’ kingship that is at stake. We have lost, both of us, people who we were holding dearly – an old man and an old troll who knew much more than we are knowing. They were both afraid. Brother Dochais, I am thinking, died of fright. Something evil is waking, and we are foolish if we spend more time in open ground.”

“What is waking, Binabik? What evil? Dochais said a name – I heard him. Just before he died he said . . .”

“You need not … ‘” Binabik tried to interrupt, but Simon paid him no heed. He was growing tired of hints and suggestions.

“. . . Storm King,” he finished resolutely.

Binabik looked quickly around, as though he expected something terrible to appear. “I know,” he hissed. “I heard, too, but I do not know much.” Thunder tolled beyond the distant horizon; the little man looked grim, “The Storm King is a name of dread in the dark north. Simon, a name out of legends to frighten with, to conjure with. All I have are small words my master was giving me sometimes, but it is enough to make me sick with worry.” He shouldered his bag and started off across the muddy plain, toward the blunt, crouching line of hills.

“That name,” he said, his voice incongruously hushed in the midst of such flat emptiness, “is of itself a thing to wither crops, to bring fevers and bad dreaming …”

“. . . Rain and bad weather . . . ?” Simon asked, looking up at the ugly, lowering sky.

“And other things,” Binabik replied, and touched his palm to his jacket, just above his heart.

Commentary

And now we finally learn the truth about Binabik, and it is just as innocent and awesome as it should be in a fantasy story – Binabik, the diligent student of a wise man, must shoulder the burden passed on to him by those much more able. He has taken on the responsibility of making sure Simon is safe, and he will see it through.

This is where we first begin to learn about the true nature of Binabik’s character, and I must say again, there are reasons (many that are shown in this chapter) why he is my favorite character (and many others’ favorite, as well) in this series. He takes his duties very seriously, in an almost deontological way, and will make sure that he does right by Simon and his dead master.

Aaaaaaand, we also learn a bit about the nature of the Storm King, this particular fantasy series’ Namless Enemy – which, yeah, I get why, in a world where true evil and magic exist, you wouldn’t want to draw the attention of whatever Dark God might be out there, but I sometimes wonder at the logic of that, when you also see in this kind of magical and fantastical story, that knowing the name of someone or something usually provides some sort of power or advantage over that entity. Ah well, that’s not the kind of magic in this particular world (though I feel sure that Cadrach once mentioned something very similar – I’ll try to see if that’s true if it ever comes up).

We see some more Aldheorte anthropomorphism in this chapter as well, as though the forest itself has the will and the strength to keep the diggers out from under it.

And, that’s kinda about it. It’s a short info dump chapter mostly. Oh, and some good ironic foreshadowing when Binabik wishes that Morgenes’ manuscript was something more suitable for providing information for their current predicament. Nice. I wonder if Binabik remembers thinking that once they realize how important Morgenes’ writings are.

Chapter 24 – The Hounds of Erkynland

Summary

SIMON DREAMED that he was walking in the Pine Garden of the Hayholt, just outside the Dining Hall. Above the gently swaying trees hung the stone bridge that connected hall and chapel. Although he felt no sensation of cold – indeed, he was not aware of his body at all except as something to move him from one place to another – gentle flakes of snow were filtering down around him. The fine, needled edges of the trees were beginning to blur beneath blankets of white and all was quiet: the wind, the snow, Simon himself, all moved in a world seemingly without sound or swift motion.

The unfelt wind blew more fiercely now, and the trees of the sheltered garden began to bend before Simon’s passage, parting like ocean waves around a submerged stone. The snow flurried, and he moved forward into the opening, into a tree-lined hallway of swirling white. On he went, the trees leaning back before him like respectful soldiers.

The garden was never this long, was it? Suddenly Simon felt his eyes drawn upward. At the end of the snowy path stood a great white pillar, looming far over his head into the dark skies.

‘Of course,’ he thought to himself in dreamy half-logic, ‘it’s Green Angel Tower.’ He could never walk directly from the garden to the base of the tower before, but things had changed since he’d been gone . . . things had changed.

But if it’s the tower, he thought, staring upward at the immense shape, why does it have branches? It’s not the tower . . . or at least it isn’t any more . . . it’s a tree – a great white tree . . .

Simon sat upright, staring.

“What is a tree?” asked Binabik, who sat close by, restitching Simon’s shirt with a bird-bone needle. He finished a moment later, and handed it back to the youth, who extended a freckled arm from beneath his sheltering cloak to claim it.

Binabik tells Simon he saw fires in the night, and when he says he doubts it was Isgrimnur and his men, Simon jumps on the troll, saying “you said they would be alright!” The exasperated troll explains that it is unlikely Isgrimnur’s group because the fires were from further south, and Isgrimnur would already be further north. They eat a meal and relax a short while as the troll reads through some of Morgenes’ work.

Binabik asks Simon if he may read the youth a portion of text, and then does so. It is about a famous battle between Prester John and the Nabbanai, in which John and Camaris fought for the first time to settle the battle mano-a-mano. John allows Camaris to pick up his sword once, and in return, when John falters, Camaris does not kill John, but asks him to yield at swordpoint.

” ‘John, who had not expected his mercy to be repaid in kind, looked around at the field of Nearulagh, empty but for his own troops, thought for a moment, and then kicked Camaris-sa-Vinitta in the fork of his legs.'”

“No!” said Simon, taken aback; Qantaqa raised a sleepy head at the exclamation. Binabik only grinned and continued to read from Morgenes’ writings.

” ‘John then stood in his turn over the sorely wounded Camaris, and told him: “You have many lessons to learn, but you are a brave and noble man, I will do your father and family every courtesy, and take good care of your people. I hope in turn you will learn the first lesson, the one I have given you today, and that is this: Honor is a wonderful thing, but it is a means, not an end. A man who starves with honor does not help his family, a king who falls on his sword with honor does not save his kingdom. “

Binabik uses this story to explain to Simon that it would have done them no good to stay and help Isgrimnur and his men, and that the ‘most obviously honorable’ thing to do in a given instance is not always the best. They then break camp and head for the forest. Binabik warns Simon that he must stay very close to Binabik in the forest, as there may not be any chance of finding each other if they become separated. As they approach the forest, they hear hounds in the distance, possibly pursing them. To Binabik’s shame, Simon insists the troll ride Qantaqa so they will be more evenly matched should they have to flee the hounds.

It is dark inside the forest, and they have been running a long time when they finally take a break. Binabik leads them to a hill for camping, and after setting up, offers Simon a pleasant surprise – a small jar of grape jam he had found back at the abbey and forgotten about until just recently. They share the jam, and before going to sleep, Simon sings a fun song about Jack Mundwode and his adventures in the Aldheorte forest.

It is early the next day when they realize the hounds they heard previously have somehow passed them during the night, and have turned back around, likely hunting them. The two trek eastward into the forest, hearing the hounds throughout the day getting closer and closer. They are stopped at the top of a long rise that drops into a deep canyon. Behind them, they can finally see the shapes of hounds running through the forest, less than a league away. They prepare to defend themselves.

Commentary

Cliffhanger! Woot!

Anyway, I like the story Binabik reads Simon, which, as Simon notes, does make Prester John seem a bit more human, especially in the eyes of a boy who only ever saw the king. It also has a good point about ‘means’ and ‘ends’ to it that is applicable in less-fantasy-ish situations,

Simon has a dream this chapter (as he does often), and it’s a bit of a confusing one. Not right up front of course – right here, he figures he’s looking at Green Angel Tower with branches, and then realizes it’s a tree. He has the dream a few more times, and then at the end of this book, will come to ‘realize’ that he was seeing the Rimer’s Tree the entire time. However, as the story progresses, he still has the dream, and it turns into a ‘realization’ that it was Green Angel Tower the whole time. So which was it? Did Simon just apply whatever current experience he was having to fit the white column in his dream, or was he really seeing the Tower the whole time, and just assumed it was the Rimer’s Tree at the end of this book? Or did his dreams actually change slightly to represent his most current goals? And if so, why would that have happened?

Which also leads to a question relating directly to what I spoke of about Rachel earlier – it does seem a bit coincidental that Simon just had this dream immediately after Rachel dreamed the same thing, which may put into light what is happening. It seems obvious to me that it must be one of two things. Either Simon’s dreams somehow can force themselves into the heads of people he cares about (though why Rachel, and not Binabik or Miriamele get these emanations is a good question to ask), or the willpower of Utuk’ku, Pryrates, and Ineluki is forcing these dreams upon people, and we are seeing results of that – though still, why other people wouldn’t mention it seems odd. I suppose a third option is that Rachel, completely separately from Simon, has her own dream-related talents, and it is just never really fully explored . . . perhaps every fourth person in Osten Ard actually has the ability to read the future from their dreams? Ah well, questions that we may never get an answer for, unless Mr. Williams ever does a sequel to this series (or if he’ll let me interview him sometime! 😉 ).

So after all that, we get to the chase. I guess it is understandable that Simon and Binabik did not immediately realize they were the quarry of the hounds, but that seems a bit naive to me, especially since Simon already knows Pryrates wants him. Anyhoo, the hounds chase them very rapidly through the forest (which is an extremely clear forest, if they could actually see for half a league – I guess the sentient Aldheorte doesn’t like a lot of brush) – right into a battle. Which is odd. Because, as we’ll find out soon, those hounds definitely seem to be going for the death, and Pryrates and Elias were both very adamant to Guthwulf about bringing “the boy” back alive. More about the dogs soon.

By the way, what was the ritual Binabik was performing at the beginning at the chapter? Sometime to do with the bones? Something for finding directions? It didn’t really explain. Inquiring minds would like to know.

And that’s it. See you again soon!

Cheers,
E.S.

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