Now Howel and Evan were beside me, wondering, but spear in hand, and I was glad. There was more than enmity in the look of these men, and one to three has little chance. Whatever strange fears my friends had felt passed with the sight of danger.
But while Morfed spoke his followers were still, listening to him intently, until at last he seemed to dismiss them; and then they turned from him with a strange deep reverence, and folded their hands on their breasts, and came past where we stood, not looking at us, but with their eyes on the ground as if they were going back, up the water course whence they came. And at that I thought they might be going to where Owen was, and that they would harm him.
“Quick, Evan,” I said; “follow them. See where they go.”
“Ay, follow them,” said Morfed. “Now I care not what befalls.”
And with that he raised his voice and called somewhat to the men, and they quickened their pace into the glen. I did not understand what they said in return, but somewhat in the words of the ancient tongue they spoke was more plain to Howel, and he cried to me hastily, hurrying after Evan.
“Guard you the priest here, and beware of him!”
Then he dashed up the water course into which Evan had already disappeared, and I heard the feet of the four on the loose stone as they climbed upward. I had almost a mind to follow them, for I thought that their way led to Owen, but I dared not leave Morfed to go elsewhere. This might only be a plan to lead us astray.
So I was left with Morfed the priest, and he did not offer to follow his men, but stood and faced me with eyes that gleamed with the fire of wrath or madness, or both. We waited, both of us, as I think, to hear if any sound beyond the lessening footfalls came from the water course, but they died away upward, and there was still no word between us. Then I thought that I would try one more plan with him.
“Morfed,” I said, “take me to Owen, and I will pledge my word that Gerent shall seek no revenge for what has been done by you.”
“What I have done!” he broke out. “I sought to rid the land of a foe, and that was a deed worth doing. Know you what you have done?—Through you is ended the tale of many a thousand years. The time is past when I, the priest and Archdruid of this poor land, should have done what has been done, since time untold, without fail, against tomorrow’s rites. That day, therefore, through you shall be unobserved. It is strange that a mere Saxon warrior, with no thought beyond his feasting and fighting, should set his will against mine and prove the stronger. Now I wit well that this is some fated day, and that herein lies some omen of what shall be.”
Then he turned a little from me, and looked at the shadow which had passed altogether from the altar stone now, and half to himself he said: