During the race back to the city of Abdazon, between the Betrayer who had half-hold over Andal, and Elum and Delrin, the owl familiar of Elum, Lux, returned to the Forest Villages. Lux was to retrieve aid for ailing Ayad, and burial for his poor brother Ayar, both of whom had fallen to the guiles of the Betrayer.
Upon his retrieval by a scouting party, Elan, the sister of Elum, took the unwell and convulsing Ayad under her care in the hut of her family. She laid him on a bedroll near, but not too near, the fire, his sword beside him, and plied him with strong forest herbal concoctions against his convulsions. Though she knew not the nature of his contagion, she could sense the stink of the Betrayer, and knew somehow instinctively that her charge must be kept alive, and the evil influence fought.
Meanwhile, as Elum and Delrin left the protecting boughs of the Great Forest, and crossed the plain toward the Weeping Waters, the Great Bridge, and the opening of the Passage Inward (to the Hypogeum), Morbat the magician received word of their passing from his corvid spies. As the eyes of birds and animals can detect the color and intensity of True Love perhaps with greater fidelity than humans can, they warned their Master too of this ensuing development. Fear over jeopardizing his betrothal contract had lead him, in the first place, to petition from Wormwood a Deviation, which was granted in the form of the Betrayer. But knowing something too himself about the ways of deception, he needed also to be sure of his outcome. So he set about laying his own traps under cover of darkness around the place of the Weeping Waters for the confrontation which was sure to come.
Delroy, who had grown by this time rich beyond measure, and was one of four Headmen of the City of Abdazon, felt a mounting fear. Since the return of his Best Man, Andal, with news of the failure of their mission to deliver his daughter Delrin to the faraway city of Threx (and beyond), Delroy had grown increasingly uneasy. Andal, though loved and dearly trusted, was clearly not himself, and would alternate in turns between a near stupor, and an eerie alter-ego where he spoke in strange tones and dire words about the menace approaching them, which held his daughter under its sway. So Delroy stationed a special guard to keep watch night and day over the Great Bridge, challenging all passers, and rejecting anyone not explicitly authorized from passing on into the city. But most of all, he feared Morbat, and that he would soon come to collect the debt Delroy had incurred to him in bringing his wonderful daughter into the world in the first place, so many years before.
Though Elum had seen with clarity that the initial deceptive vision presented to him by the Betrayer would come to pass, and that Andal would warn Delroy against him, what happened next was cloudy and haunted his dreams. Forking futures appeared from that point on, branches on the Great Tree, some where Elum surrendered, some where he was captured. Others appeared wherein he and half-mad Andal slew one another in single combat, as Delrin cried out in terror. In still others, Lux would appear from the sky in a flash, and he would see the Betrayer standing there, revealed, in many places at once. And a Great Beast would rise up, taller than many men, with a great white cloak, and the long face of a strange animal…
And though it was fearful, it was this future — which he sensed was still somehow open-ended — he tried to steer them toward. He sent out a message to Lux then, on the canals of light which linked their two hearts, to hurry. For battle, and revelation, would soon be at hand.
Though far away, Lux heard him, and shot into the sky.