Ulrica had lain in a stupor for so long that it was a miracle she even perceived the uproar. But a stubborn hope must have been lurking inside her; it alerted her that both the tent and her guard had somehow disappeared. Without questioning the source of the commotion around her, she began to crawl, painfully. She was badly overdue for a stroke of luck: she crawled in the right direction and, unnoticed, reached a small clump of thorny bushes. There was just enough space underneath to conceal her as she passed out again. When she awoke, they were gone.
They were gone. She rose, staring uncomprehendingly at the deserted campsite. Smouldering ashes, half-dismantled structures, a shoe dropped in haste—no long-planned departure this! And apparently no living creature left to tell...
Suddenly, they were there, those two, twenty paces away, as if they had sprung right out of the ground. Lorren had her sling ready. Ulrica's stomach clenched. She had lived under a suspended sentence too long. But the girl was not about to try stoning her for adultery. She was frightened almost out of her wits; so was the boy clinging to her other hand.
'Lorren. What happened?'
Ulrica knelt on the bank, dipping her face into cold water. She had been drugged on top of a severe concussion, but her head, though painful, was clearing.
'Morgoth's troops, you say? How? Didn't our men resist? Where were the Elves that they didn't defend us?'
There was silence.
Then Lorren said: 'You don't know.'
She explained: 'There was a big battle. We fought against the Elves, for Morgoth.'
The explanation made no sense.
The boy spoke up, for the first time.
'There would be a great reward, Ulfang said. But when they came, we were driven off like cattle.'