Brown Hannah sped through the tangled trees. Their bare, bony branches seined the morning light. She cast about her for signs of passage--turned stones, broken twigs, the ashes of a camp. But she found nothing. No birds called. No creatures crossed her path. The Wood stood cavernous, still. The odor of boneset and lavender, cure leaf and healer's herb wafted from her hair. The nape of her neck itched with trickles of sweat. Her bare feet made no sound on the cool, damp earth.
Morning wore away. Hannah sank down upon a boulder to rest. A murmur of water reached her ears. Rising to follow it, she came presently to a shallow ford. A black-plumed helm lay dented in midstream. Clear current spilled through the visor, then on between the fist-sized stones upon which it rested. Deep ruts as from pivoting hooves cut the mud of the bank. Two boar spears, unbloodied, lay trampled nearby. The tall steed in black caparison sprawled lifeless at the water's edge, his injured rider in the saddle still, held fast by one leg.
"I'm too late!" gasped Hannah, running to him. "He met the Boar yesterday. . . ."