Last Updated on July 29, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 556
Gawain encounters dark widows, who accuse him of cowardice. He remembers Wistan's fight with the gray-haired soldier and considers how to exploit Wistan's weaknesses. The widows continue to curse at him, and he accuses them of not knowing what his duty entails. He recalls a battle in which he helped a young woman exact revenge upon a Saxon. In this memory, Gawain also remembers Axl, known as Axelum or Axelus, and their conversation about Arthur and Merlin's plans, which may result in the loss of innocent life. Gawain trusts Merlin and Arthur's decisions, but Axl expresses concern. Gawain concludes his thoughts by telling the widows that he is content to meet the boatman. He journeys up the slopes towards Querig.
Edwin reunites with the injured Wistan, who tells Edwin that he has a hunter's gift and that together they can find Querig. Edwin agrees to hunt the dragon, but he lies to Wistan in order to guide him to rescue his mother first. Wistan also reveals the history that he shares with Lord Brennus: they trained together in their youth, but Brennus took advantage of his position to insult and ridicule others like Wistan. Their conversation concludes with Wistan saying they will venture to Querig once he regains more of his strength.
Axl and Beatrice meet a friendly boatkeeper, who offers them baskets in which they can float down the river. They accept and travel down the river, their respective baskets lashed together. Beatrice is unwell and continues to tell Axl to not leave her. He reassures her, and she has a memory about their son. She expresses concern that he left them in anger and that they turned him away.
They chance upon a small rowboat. Axl investigates and find an old woman in it. He tries to help, but she, the boat, and soon Beatrice, are all set upon by pixies. Axl struggles, succeeding in fighting them off and getting Beatrice to safety.
Edwin and Wistan climb atop a mountain and arrive at a small copse. Edwin has grown impatient and frantic. Wistan catches Edwin, binds his hands, and ties him to a tree. Edwin claims to see dead ogres in the large pool of water in the middle of the copse. Wistan expresses concern over the exhausted boy. Edwin eventually confesses his plan to have Wistan help his mother and asks for forgiveness for having lied. Wistan accepts his apology and makes Edwin vow to carry hatred in his heart for all Britons. Edwin promises to do so.
Axl and Beatrice arrive at a small homestead on the hillside and accept the hospitality of a young girl and her brothers. They rest, and the children plead with them to take their goat to the giant's cairn as an offering for Querig. The children claim that the goat, which has been eating poisonous herbs, will poison the dragon and save everyone. At first, Axl refuses, but Beatrice convinces him to accede to the children's request.
On his journey to Querig, Gawain meets Axl and Beatrice. He recalls to himself the work that Arthur tasked him with years ago and the death of two of his comrades during that first confrontation with Querig. He continues to help Axl and Beatrice on their path to the giant's cairn but anticipates the arrival of Wistan and Edwin.