Darkon had forgotten all about asking Egil how long they'd been at the house of the young woman, opting instead for a game of picking the petals off a daisy saying "She loves me'. "She loves me not". He threw the daisy away in disgust when it turned out the she didn't love him. It just goes to show that even flowers have greater insight than any of the three men in the grip of a dopamine rush triggered by being in love.
It was left to Stove to try and work out what was going on and to accidentally resolve the problem. Being a donkey probably had some advantage in dealing with emotions generated by magic as he at least could think relatively sensibly about things. His greatest crush at the moment was for the carrots that he found growing in the vegetable patch behind the cottage. He was poking around in the vegetable patch trying to find one more of those delicious carrots, using his hooves to dig at the earth. He began to unearth bones. Lots of bones. Skulls, rib cages, long bones. And they were human bones. Why here? Who had killed them? He couldn't work out what was going on. He retired to the shade of the stable to think about it. It was there that Arianrhod found him.
"You used to be a man," said Arianrhod to the startled donkey, "but I guess you can't tell me, poor thing." She tickled his chin and climbed on his back. He felt his hackles rise. Stove may have had the body of a donkey and the eating desires of a donkey but he drew the line at people hitching lifts on him. He suddenly reared and bucked to remove her as fast as possible. in normal circumstances she would have been deposited on the ground just in front of him with only a dent to her pride. However, she was so light. the sudden force of the movement sent her across the stable and smashed her against one of the central columns of the stable. There was a horrific cracking noise and then silence.
Stove moved closer to the column to examine what had happened.
He couldn't find Arianrhod anywhere. There was a large piece of broken, rotten wood on the ground. at the base of the column. He looked behind the column and there was the lower half of Aranrhod's body missing its upper torso. Fearing the worst, Stove went back and examined the piece of rotten wood. He flipped the wood over using a combination of hoof and nose. On the reverse was the image of Arianrhod. Well it was her missing torso. Relief of finding her top bit was tempered by her once lovely face distorted by what he only perceived to be the beginning of a powerful magic. Self protection is a powerful driver of behaviour and before the thought entered his head both hooves pounded the torso of Arianrhod to small pieces. A chill wind that made the donkey shiver, a sad sigh on the air and the sun momentarily darkened.
Stove knew something significant had happened even if he couldn't work out exactly what.
It was as if Arianrhod was two dimensional - one side a beautiful woman, the other side rotten wood. Stove realised that he had never seen her turn her back to any of them. She was always facing toward the people she was with. What sort of creature was she? She had bewitched the three men putting a glamour on them and she had obviously meant to kill them and bury them in her vegetable plot. No wonder the carrots tasted good. Stove decided to pound the bits of wood to matchstick size and scattered them as best he could. Exhausted from reaction he lay with his head in the straw and would have wept except donkeys are unable to do so.
Darkon Graphen and Egil were calling for Arianrhod and when she didn't answer they searched for her. Stove, in his fear, had done a good job of reducing her to kindling and nothing was recognisable. With the removal of whatever glamour Arianrhod had made, the three men returned to type. Arguments started about who Arianrhod had loved most, each was convinced it was him. All three developed narratives about why she had left,blaming the other two. It is likely that it would have come to blows had the Magic not slowly dissipated and left them with a slight longing for something they just couldn't remember. It took two further days for their senses to return and they finally remembered they had a contract to fulfil. Egil secretly nursed the view that he was the one Arianrhod had chosen and he slipped one of her silk scarves under his leather breastplate. At nights he would hold it to his lips and smell her perfume.It was funny he thought, he just couldn't remember her face any more.
And so with an unexpected loss of memory and a delay of eleven days are intrepid three and donkey continued on their way still not sure what had happened. They re-crossed the river Rubicon and headed for the Gorge of the Green Man, the next obstacle in their path