The Iron

November wore into December, on to Yule, and behold, we set out with the pilgrim of the New Year, grey and green as he is, on the route to the Equinoctial Fertility.

On the first stages of the journey we encountered few problems, for our own experiences of the nearer regions stood us in good stead, and this was supplemented by the lore of these parts which had found its way into our own traditions.

Local guides were secured by impressive royal missives, heavy with the Golden Seal of the Labrador, which weighed nearly as much as an iron hunting-knife.

It was with some dismay, however, that I noted several inaccuracies in the maps of Denis of Pernia, which I had thought should be the mainstay of our navigation. What he represented as a pit turned out to be a highway, and his forests were invariably swamps.

Suddenly maddened, Wollis wrenched the maps from my grasp and pitched them into the fire. It seems curious to record my gratitude for this act, but it proved to be a great boon.

For, as the ancient documents did burn, the great pall of smoke rose and curled in the shape of a man, heavily bearded and weighed down wi' brazen and bronzen ornaments. It was the very effigy of Denis of Pernia, Denis de Moulins as he is sometimes called. At length the spectre crystallised and solidified and lo! Our master stood in our midst.

"Thank god you burned them ruddy maps," he drawled, as he slouched by the fire, "I thought you'd never suspect."

But though no one would own it, we all knew that once again our thanks were due to Wollis.

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