The Iron

Desperate, I sought a new route. Denis would not co-operate, and sat moodily playing chess with himself in the back of my tent as we wasted away the night of the eighth of Azure.

How unpromisingly developed the Regal Year, I mused, and in my fury seized Denis's chess set and cast it into the flames.

I might have suspected a second miracle, for, behold, as the wooden chess pieces were consumed in the fire, curious small shapes began to form in their stead.

Clearly Denis knew what was going on, for he said to me, calmly, "I think it would be better if you did not see what is about to take place." Obediently I left the tent, but not without shooting a questioning glance at the ancient cartographer.

Later, quite a while later, Denis, walking without assistance for the first time since he had appeared to us, sought me out among the trees by our encampment, where I had gone for some meditative quiet, and told me that all would be well.

On questioning, he revealed that, at the price of the chess set, we had now sufficient beasts of burden to meet our needs.

We all sang a hymn of glory to the Termatephalos, and began to pack our bags, noting how much the dwindling of the food had lightened them.

Denis whistled a marching tune, spun thrice around, and strode off.

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