The healer stood over the bed, enshrouded in smoke from the bronze brazier he dangled over the prostrate king. Erwald lay on his royal bed of heather, wracked with fever and calling out in a strange tongue none could understand.
Garth leaned in the doorway, his face a placid mask that betrayed none of the dismay he felt. Erwald, the warrior king who swept all before him, the mighty lord to whom Garth had sworn his fealty, now laid low like a newborn child. And from what cause? Even the healer could not say, speaking only in mysteries and platitudes.
In the night, Erwald had awakened from his dreams, grabbed Garth by the arm and described his vision: a castle of ice, rounded like a hill. People in strange garb of astonishing brightness strode unarmed, arms swinging as they chattered in their odd tongue.
After the king slipped back into unconsciousness, Garth sat and wondered if this madness would pass or if he should take measures into his own hands.