Egil was amazed. For the last two weeks he had struggled to get a fire lit. There had been lots of excuses. His flint wouldn't strike, the tinder was too wet, the wind was too strong etc, etc. Yet, in this place, on a cold damp, foggy night and on the first strike of the flint, the fire seemed to leap from the tinder in the pan to the small stack of wood. And then mysteriously from the small stack of wood to the nearby bush and then to another bush. And yet another. Soon the crown of the mound was on fire and they were trapped within. Egil stood with his mouth open. His brain hadn’t quite registered exactly what was happening. The others, who had been busy unpacking needed gear, stopped and were equally too terrified to move. The ground shook and quivered slightly and a grinding noise of stone moving came from within and below. The three companions moved together and held each other, more in fear than the need to keep on their feet as the shaking beneath them increased in intensity. Blue fire flickered over the hilltop and the burning bushes flared up but were not consumed, making the fog glow and pulse as if it were a living thing.
A deep voice from within the mound cried “Awaken Einherrjor. Awaken and Ride to Doom."
The ground opened to their left to reveal a stone lined passage that seemed to lead to the centre of the mound. Eight horsemen rode out of the open gap in the mound. They were blood red. Their horses were red and their gear was red. The leader rode forward pointed his spear at Darkon, Egil and Graphen, touching each with its tip. None of them reacted but felt a small tingle run through their bodies and into the ground. Wordlessly the leader wheeled his horse, took his place at the head of the riders and they sped off into the night. As they left the flickering blue fires died down and the bushes winked out one by one. None of the vegetation was consumed. The gap in the mound closed as noisily as it had opened. Egil fainted. The other two sank to their knees too exhausted to comment, think or move.
Neither of the three reacted when Rooskin, who somehow had got himself free stomped up and berated them for fools. Darkon had a brief thought that not only was Egil’s fire-making useless, he also seemed incompetent at tying knots on prisoners. Really what was the point of anything. They seemed doomed now. Something had happened, or more likely was continuing to happen, that none of them understood. Further, even if they did know how, what and why it had happened, they were powerless to do anything. Darkon had some skill in problem-solving and talking to others which was why he’d been elected leader. However, truth be told, he was barely adequate in other skills and his map reading was appalling. They might have just released a doom that would bring about The End and he was feeling sorry for himself as he felt he hadn’t quite finished living yet. He had lots of things to do and he wanted to Marry the potter's daughter Esmerelda.
"Didn't you know that you should never light fire on the Hill of Kernowth on the Dark of the Moon? Fools, fools, fools. Now they ride the Straight Path”, screamed Rooskin waving his arms in the air in frustration.
"Err, what?" said Darkon, who had suddenly remembered, he was the erstwhile leader of the trio and traditionally had to explain the group's actions. "Mmm...well, we did know.. kind of ..that it was the Hill of what-did-you-call-it? .. or rather we may have mislaid that particular piece of information. And anyways, how were we to know that this was THAT Hill of Ken.. Kenth... I mean, it didn't have a sign or anything."
Darkon knew that it was important to play for time. His thought faculties were returning as the shock of the events subsided. He was hoping that the little wrinkled one would let slip some more information that he could use for plausible deniability. His attention shifted to Egil who had sat up and was sporting a wicked looking bump on his forehead where he must have collided with the ground when fainting. Failing that, thought Darkon while looking thoughtfully at the groaning Egil, he would just do what all good leaders did when they were caught with their hand in the moneybag, blame it on an underling and Egil could be framed for disobeying orders and lighting the fire without a permit.
Rooskin seemed to be ignoring them. He was craving runes in the mud where the opening in the ground had been.
"Now let's see", he muttered to no-one in particular, "Can they be coaxed back?” For two hours, Rooskin worked, drawing an ever more complex design of interlocking Runes while the Intrepid Trio shifted their weight from one foot to the other. Rooskin finally looked up.
"I should give up being a good person and go over to the dark side. It seems you have much more fun there. All l ever seem to do is try and rectify the mistakes that ignoramuses like you make. The Einherrjor riding again bodes ill for the peace of Middle Earth and even the abode of the gods might not be safe. Do you know what you have done?"
"Mmm, well kind of-" but if you could spell it out again and in plain language, cos Egil doesn't understand anything longer than two syllables. Just to be sure we get it correctly," stammered Darkon
"You've released the old magic, the unpredictable magic, the blood magic, the magic of the moon and really l dont know what will happen now. I suggest we get into shelter and see what the morning brings us" said Rooskin with more than a hint of sorrow is his tone.
To be honest, none of the Trio had any idea what Rooskin had just said but they got that something seriously major had just happened and at least two of them were beginning to think it was Egil's fault,
"Do you think," said Graphen, "we will be able to get something hot to eat now?" Whatever the situation, Graphen could be relied on to seek out food. He was a simple being and basic needs being met were what he wanted most.
Rooskin's reply was tinged with heavy sarcasm," the problem is none of you think.. ever. But equally we must get food and shelter, who knows what damage has been done and where or what the Einherrjor have done”.
Stove shook his head sadly. Again, the limits of a donkey’s physiology failed to convey the conlicted emotions and thoughts in the donkey’s head. Only an hour ago, our brave trio were threatening Rooskin with extreme pre-meditated violence. Now they were meekly following him to a cave in the side of the Green Gorge. It just goes to show that releasing Moon Magic on the world changes how the cosmos flows and impacts on an individual’s ability to make independent decisions.