Wilfred led the donkey back over the crest of the hill and tethered it. He then placed the feed bag in place to keep the beast quiet. This accomplished, he crept back to his vantage point to observe what would unfold before him.
After about an hour, the officer who had met him at the border came out from the cave. A subordinate greeted him with a salute, and a brief verbal exchange ended with the junior man giving a shrug. The commander then gave an order and all but two of the would-be ambushers assembled in marching formation on the road and headed back to the frontier, with the officer following them on a white stallion which was fetched from the cave.
As the sun began to set the two remaining soldiers began to relax. One loosened the chin strap of his helmet, and then settled down on the right hand side of the cave entrance, while his comrade a portly older fellow removed his helmet and went into the cave, loosening his breast plate as he went.
There was not much more moonlight than there had been the night before, but a steady reddish glow came from the cavern. The wind had changed as well, and Wilfred caught the distinct scent of charcoal on the breeze, and snippets of the sound of rhythmic hammering.
About midnight, the chubby man returned to the cave mouth carrying his spear, but devoid of armour. The other man removed his own helmet, and entered the red glow of the space within.
Within a half an hour the portly sentinel had fallen asleep, and his rumbling snores punctuated the night. Though sleepy himself, Wilfred was determined not to pass up this opportunity to investigate the strange happenings at the cavern.
He crept silently towards the mouth of the cave. Reaching the sleeping guard, Wilfred slipped behind him and covered the man’s mouth before he could react. The man awoke with a start, but was immediately aware of Wilfred’s dagger that was held to his throat by Wilfred’s other hand.
Wilfred gagged the man and bound him with some cords he had in his pouch, and then threw the man’s spear as deeply into the dark woods as he could.
Although Wilfred was uncertain that the man could understand him, he nonetheless whispered, “My comrade in the woods will be watching you. Don’t try anything stupid.” To Wilfred’s surprise, the terrified guard nodded his comprehension.
The rusty page then turned and stared into the flickering red unknown.