Part 4

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Last Updated on July 29, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 545

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Axl, Beatrice, and Gawain arrive at the giant's cairn. Axl ties the goat to a stake. Gawain announces the coming arrival of Wistan and Edwin, and he tells Axl and Beatrice that they are not meeting as comrades. Gawain speaks to Axl in an attempt to remind him of their shared past, and Axl has fragments of recollection. Eventually, Gawain recounts in full the moment in Arthur's court when Axl confronted the king and condemned Merlin's plan to use Querig to produce the amnesia-inducing mist. Gawain expresses some agreement with Axl's position, but he declares his duty to Arthur steadfast.

Wistan arrives and ties Edwin to the stake to keep him from running to the distant stones, where Querig waits. Wistan and Gawain speak uneasily. Axl suddenly realizes and states the truth: Gawain is Querig's protector, not her slayer. Gawain confirms that this has been his task.

Gawain agrees to lead them to Querig and tells them how he was given this task. Gawain tells Wistan as they arrive that he had hoped the mist would rob Wistan of his memory so that they could avoid confrontation. They arrive at the pit and look down at the old, emaciated, sleeping dragon.

Gawain asks them to allow her to die of old age, but Wistan is resolved in his quest to kill her. Gawain and Wistan walk away from the pit, speaking amiably and choosing a battleground. Gawain asks Axl to end the conflict, but Axl declares that he and Beatrice side with Wistan, preferring the death of the dragon and the return of their memories.

Gawain and Wistan fight, and Wistan prevails. He descends into the pit and decapitates Querig. Axl and Beatrice ask Wistan to bury Gawain. He goes about digging a hole, and Axl and Beatrice go to untie Edwin. After they do so, Beatrice asks Edwin to remember the kindness they shared.

Axl and Beatrice use Gawain's horse to leave the mountain. Beatrice grows tired and unwell. In the rain, a boatman offers them some refuge near his fire. Beatrice says she finally remembers that their son lives on an island. The boatman confirms there is an island near and that he can ferry them to it. Axl protests, but Beatrice persuades him.

They make their way to the river, and Beatrice recounts stories they have heard of the boatmen and the questions they ask. The boatman says those practices are all formalities and that Axl and Beatrice share a bond unlike any he has seen before. However, he still asks his questions of them, conducting the inquiries separately.

During his conversation with the boatman, Axl recalls painful memories, including the loss of their son to the plague and his refusing Beatrice's wish to visit his grave. Despite this pain, Axl trusts in the love that he and Beatrice share, and the boatman claims that Beatrice has said the same. He then places Beatrice into the boat, and Axl climbs in with her. The boatman says that he can only ferry one person at a time. Axl strongly protests, but Beatrice speaks to him. The two speak tenderly. Axl holds Beatrice close before leaving her. The boatman asks him to wait for his return, but Axl does not hear and walks away.

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