The trio sat cross legged at the mouth of the cave. They’d eaten food but that had only partially improved the mood. Deeper in the cave, Rooskin had been working with charcoal on a smooth wall, expanding a circular line of Runes that swirled and interlinked and were lit by the flickering lights of oil lamps. Darkon had puzzled over the Runes drawn on the wall. He followed them round the swirls until the Runes seemed to glow and enlarge in his mind and he felt his consciousness drift off. Fleeting images of firelit ceremonies on bleak hills under a glowing full moon passed in front of his eyes and he had to concentrate hard to bring himself back to the cave. He tried reading the Runes rather than following the pattern, but they made no sense. His eyes kept following the swirl and flow so he eventually gave up rather than lose himself to more outlandish and disturbing visions. His concentration wasn't helped by Rooskin's constant muttering, sighs and general unhappiness. Darkon eventually abandoned trying to understand, it was definitely beyond his pay grade.
Meanwhile, the others had been picking meat off already gnawed bones and then flicking the bones at the squirrels which were becoming increasingly interested in what was happening in the cave.
"Bloody squirrels", said Graphen, "I'd swear they were spying on us!”. He threw a large rock at the biggest squirrel, who nimbly dodged it, and began to chatter as if scolding him.
"Stop it, Graphen”, said Darkon," I don't think things are what we think they are. This place has too much magic about it and I for one don’t want anymore. Those squirrels are likely to be Rooskin's friends and they probably will tell him what you've been up to."
Graphen sulked and Egil pulled a face.
"What we gonna do, Darkon?" said Egil, "l'm for getting out of here. This is just way too weird for me. I'm a simple man with simple needs. I don't need no talking about Red horsemen, moon magic and destruction. Can't we just go home, tell the Fatman it was too difficult and give him back his money?!
"Can' t", said Graphen "I've spent it, in fact we spent it. Where we gonna get money here?"
As usual, the three fell to grumbling about their life. Darkon and Graphen blamed Egil and Egil blamed Darkon for not providing authoritative leadership. Not that he conveyed it like that, it was more phrased in colloquial terms,
"You're a shit leader, Darkon. Things would never have been like this if I was the leader. And I can actually read a map."
After more arguments, tantrums and blame eventually all three fell asleep and missed the moonbeams that seemed to solidify into three woman. One was an old crone, one a beautiful woman and the other a young girl. Rooskin came out from the back of the cave and knelt before the women. He spoke in a strange sibilant language that is no longer spoken aloud in Middle Earth. Only in Járnvið do they remember such speech when the shapeshifters howl at the full moon.
As Rooskin spoke a soft tinkling music began on the edge of perception rising slowly like the incoming tide. It was the music that woke Darkon, Graphen and Egil. None could move and all lay transfixed where they had been sleeping. It seemed to them that the thee woman conversed with a beast man who had antlers coming out from his forehead. They could not understand the words or comprehend what was happening.
One of the women approached the three prone figures and touched each one on the forehead. Jolts of power pulsed through her fingertips and each heard her say “I give you the mark of Brimo”.
When they awoke they were alone. There was no sign of Rooskin, the Antler man or the three women. Relief, disappointment and anxiety battled in their thoughts.
"What now? "asked Egil
"I think we leave" said Darkon. " I'm not sure what was real and what was a dream, but I know we need to go if we want to live."
They collected their belongings and packed everything on Stove. Stove had a strange new brand on his left flank that was a series of lines either straight or slanted. None of them knew what it meant but it increased their need to leave as quickly as possible. They stuck to their simplistic modus operandi. If you don’t understand something then just ignore a it. It’s likely to go away.