On the day of his leave-taking, Jael woke up with a feeling of urgency in her heart. He must be away. She opened the secret room while he slept and brought out his things. He found them, assembled by the fire when he came out.
“So will I have any trouble following this trail?”
“It only disappears after you have taken it,” she answered with a smile. “I will lead you as far as the trail extends.”
He nodded. “I wish I could take you along. You are not safe here.”
“As I have said, I am used to danger.”
When they reached the thicket, Jael stepped inside. William stopped and stared at the thick briars. “What must I do here?”
“Just step inside. The briars will part.”
He raised his foot and touched the briars with the toe of his boot. They did not budge. “Easier said than done, I guess.”
From inside the thicket, Jael’s laughter rang out. “You must just take a step, Lord William. Surely a warrior such as you has more power behind him than that?”
William chuckled and grimaced slightly as he pushed forward. The briars seemed to disappear before him. He emerged on the other side without a single scratch. “That’s amazing! How does it work?”
“I have no idea. No one does, but no one ever questioned its usefulness. This way, my lord.”
William was very happy to see his horse. “It’s fat and sassy you’ve become, Lodan. So well fed, you will run long without complaining, I daresay.”
Jael held Lodan’s reins as William saddled his horse. She took a dried apple rind from her pocket and held it out to him. She rubbed his brow and whispered to him.
William watched her with interest. “What is that you are saying to him?”
“I asked him to watch over you, my lord.”
“Say it again in the ancient tongue.”
Jael looked away and repeated the phrase, just above a whisper. “Se lunior le amistar mis corinor.”
He stood still, looking down at her. He bent slowly and lightly kissed her brow. He pressed something into her hand and closed her fingers tightly around it. “If ever you have a need my lady, send for me. I will come to you. I owe you my life and more. I would tell you to come to me, but it is too dangerous for a woman to travel those roads.” He took the reins from her. “Now lead me on.”
Jael had not yet recovered from his touch on her brow. She took a deep breath and turned north. After crossing the brook, they walked in silence for several minutes. William looked back only once. The sight nearly stopped his heart. There was nothing there—no trees, no verdant meadow, no thicket—only the rocky riverbank, still and grey. What magic made this place? Jael walked confidently on; her steps never faltered. He could only admire her. When they came to the river crossing where the trail ended, she stood aside. “Here we must part, my lord. I wish you safe journey.” Her bright eyes sought his and seemed to draw something from his very soul. What? What was it that she saw there? He mounted his horse and turned back to look at her. “So may it be with you, my lady. Go with God.” Lodan touched her shoulder with his nose as they passed and she laid her hand upon his head. She looked up at William and smiled. On the other side of the river, he turned for one last look, but she was gone. She had disappeared.