The pair entered through glade into a clearing that was obscured by fog. At the centre there was a fire, the source of the the light that had led them that way. Seated at the fireside was a crone, tending the flames and occasionally tossing pinches of some herb into a boiling pot.
“Welcome Jan. Oh, and Oskar too,” she said with a gravelly voice.
The brothers stared at each other and then back to the mystic figure before them.
“Are you surprised that I know your names? Why, I have known who you were since you were lads. Your identity is no secret to me. In fact, I have been waiting for you. You certainly have taken your time to arrive,” she said with a low cackle.
“How . . .. Who?” Oskar stammered.
“That’s no interesting tale,” the crone responded. “Let us just say I knew your mother, and her mother as well.”
“And have we met you before? I am sorry, but I don’t recognise you,” Jan said.
“You have indeed, but you were but babes.”
“And you say you have been waiting for us?” Oskar asked.
“Why yes, for days now.” You really were rather foolish with that chest, if you you don’t mind me saying. It is a greedy guts, that one. But good to see you didn’t waste too much time on trying to get your coins back.”
“How . . .?” Jan began.
“It’s all in the pot, Lad. It’s all in the pot,” she said throwing another pinch into the bubbles. “Now, you are running late my dears, so you can’t dally. You need to go north to Ringstead, and look beneath the bridge. You will know what to do then,” she said emotionlessly.
“North?” Jan repeated with a puzzled tone. “We have just come from the north.”
“North,” the crone said again, and threw a handful of red powder into her pot. Suddenly their was a bust of steam, and then the clearing was bathed in sunlight and all that remained of the crone and her fire was a cold ring of ash.”
“North?” Oskar asked.
“North,” Jan said with a resigned tone.