After her time with Atthis, Elspeth wakes up in the cold. She feels grief and remembers Jik and his death. She opens her eyes and sees it was night time, and it was so cold, colder than she had ever felt in Obernewtyn. She realises with shock that her pain suppression is gone and so too is all her other pain, but Elspeth attributes this to sleeping off the pain, and thinks that her feet must be even worse as the infection has continued, but that doesn’t make sense, why is it so cold? She rolled to try and see the entrance of the cave, and didn’t experience any pain and she found Gahltha standing next to her, licking her face. Though he wants to be known as Galta. She was about to ask him why he changed his name, when she saw behind him, she was no longer in the White Valley, she was in the mountains surrounded by snow and ice.
She still tries to justify this by rationalising that she must be mad, and her suppression of pain has destroyed her mind. Then she remembers her strange ‘dream’ she had once Daffyd had left, but the ‘dream’ explained everything, so it had to be true. And because her legs were now perfect, there was no doubt that it was not a dream. Galta explains to Elspeth that he has found a place where they will be warm when the storm comes, so they must leave, and earlier in the year there was a lake, it has now frozen over. So they left, and Elspeth found no pain whilst walking, a slight jarring, but no pain. Galta (he says he has changed his name, and yet they continue to refer to him as Gahltha) says there is wood where they are going and they will light a fire, and hopefully they will survive, it is going to be a bad storm (at least it isn’t a firestorm, right…?).
Elspeth follows behind Galta walking through deep snow and arrive at a cave that was protected from the wind. But they have to block the mouth of the cave otherwise the snow will come inside. So Elspeth had to labour for an hour covering the mouth with rocks. Once she was done there was only a small slit to the outside world, and Elspeth had to light the fire, as I don’t think Galta can do that… Elspeth starts to question Galta about what is going on and how he got here, which makes him annoyed that funaga need to know everything. Sorry but we are inquisitive creatures and we are just programmed to have to know everything!
But he explains anyway. He spent a long time ‘where the mountain ate them’, wishing that he had died there because he believed them all to be dead. He was tortured by his ‘cowardice’ but ran away when the Druid’s men tried to capture him. He did not return to Obernewtyn, but went higher in the mountains to fields that he ran in, which Avra. But he continued to go higher, searching for the place that old horses go to die. He did not eat or drink, as he was waiting for a vision. Nothing came for days, so he called himself Galta, which means ‘nothing’. And then one night he saw where they were earlier with the lake, and he was told to find that lake.
The next morning he began his search, it took many days, and he was close to giving up, but every night the same voice urged him on. When he finally found the lake, he was told that he was now on a journey that concerned all living things, not just funaga and equine. One day a funaga would come that would go on a journey and fight a perilous battle, and he must take it wherever it wants to go, and protect it with his life. It is ironic that he hated funaga so much and yet was charged with protecting one with his life. The voice also told him that no life form is greater than another, and that all life is interconnected and living in coexistence, which is completely true.
He found the cave they are now in, and waited, it was two months (moons) since he found this place, and he wondered if he was being punished to wait here forever. Elspeth has been asleep/away for two months, that means winter is nearly over, and the fate of Obernewtyn has nearly been decided, have they been warned and are they ready to protect themselves? Then Elspeth arrived, and he was shocked to find her, but obviously she was the one. They both have been involved in fantastic journeys, that are hard to believe, but they have happen because this is fantasy!
Once the storm has passed, they will return to Obernewtyn, and find out what has happened and whether they still have a home, but first they have to wait for this storm to pass, and it sounds like a bad one.