Even Pellan, who lived on the edge of humanity, knew that not all stones of enreithment are man made, and that beshes which are not menhirs can appear anywhere people have brought their dead. He understood at once that this was a minor besh, that Taipai was in communion with it, and that it was best to stand back and let him finish whatever he was doing. So he settled in, ignoring the falling snow, and became as patient as the stones themselves.
The snow continued and the sky darkened further. Gradually Pellan’s cloak of ragged fur and Taipai’s cloak of coarse cloth became identical under the falling flakes. Finally, Taipai sat up in an explosion of snow, shook himself, and made a movement with his hands that evoked a rose which glowed briefly in the air.
So. Taipai had come here, away from his home menhir, to worship the ancient gods. Pellan could hear him reciting:
Elmirandel, the Stem,
Simicababar, the Deep Root,
Encaritremanta, the Blossom.
The Three who were One
at the end of their world,
The Flower of the Waning Day.
He nodded approval. If you had to worship, the Three were a pretty good choice. At least they had stood with mankind against the other gods in the last days of the Comanyi. Of the new gods who inhabited Taipai’s menhir today, Pellan had no good opinion.
Taipai turned back toward the valley and saw him for the first time. Pellan stood, shook the snow off himself, and said, “Are you ready to go back?”
“Why are you here?”
“Not to spy on your worship, that’s for sure. You gave me food when I needed it. I owe you a debt. I will see you safely back to your temple, and then we will be even.”
Taipai looked surprised. He said, “I did not intend for you to feel a debt.”
“No matter. The debt is there, whatever you intended. Now let’s get back down, so I can get back to hunting.”
“I don’t really see any need . . .”
“It’s stupid to argue in a snowstorm,” Pellan said, and turned down toward the streambed. Taipai shrugged, and followed. More next Monday.