A group helped carry the bull’s fresh corpse to the altar where some cursory words were said over it and the jugular was cut. Blood still ran from the wound. Josh sauntered over to the sheep, bent over, and whispered something in its ear.
The night was filled with celebration, dancing, singing, drums, and a huge bonfire. Skins of wine and jugs of beer were consumed in copious quantities. Yaway and Lilith walked off to be alone, while Josh raucously drank beside the sheep he saved, telling tales of heroes even greater than himself.
The last revelers did not sink into sleep until the first hints of morning light could be seen. By midmorning, some people began to leave, though the bulk continued to slumber in the sun.
Yaway nudged Josh with his foot, but Josh swatted him away. He bent over him and put his hand on his arm, and told him he needed help.
“What?” Josh moaned, shielding his eyes from the sun.
“I can’t find Lilith.”
“She’s the women I spent the night with.”
“She wasn’t the one, my friend.”
Yaway sighed and sat down. “She could have at least said goodbye.”
“Remember this moment,” Josh replied.
“Remember how horrible it feels to have sex for the first time and have the other person scurry off. If more men learned that lesson… well, women would be infinitely happier.”
Yaway smirked. “Always thinking of others.”
They met up with Kyron and began their trip home. What they had no way of knowing was that Wile had been at the very same festival and was behind Lilith’s sudden departure. Wile set out with his female companion well before Yaway woke up. Along the way home, he saw a group of nine farmers clearing a field with scythes.
Wile called out to them and told them he would sharpen all of their tools to a razor’s sharpness with a single pass of his whetstone. He proceeded to pass the stone over each scythe once, and the blades were miraculously honed to a sharpness one might expect after a thorough stone sharpening and smooth leather stropping.
The farmers each stared at the blades, and then moved to the stone in Wile’s hand. They inquired how much it would cost to purchase it from him, and he replied that the cost would be too much for them to bear. They begged and pleaded. Finally, he relented, pointing out he could only sell it to one of them. As the farmers quarreled, Wile looked back at Lilith and winked, then threw the stone high into the air over the farmers.
In the mad scramble, all nine of the farmers died while lunging for the whetstone. Wile retrieved the stone, took Lilith’s hand, and they continued their journey.
Hours later, as the sun was setting, Yaway noticed the grisly scene. The three of them sought out the nearest home and asked to stay the night. The widow living there agreed, saying she and her neighbors had discovered their husbands all dead in the field. The thee guests agreed to help bury the bodies in the morning.
After the graves had been dug and filled, the nine widows looked expectantly at their strange guests. Josh could not help but promise he would help make sure their land was tilled and planted so that they would be able to survive the winter. With the help of the widows, Josh and Yaway finished the task of preparing the fields for the spring.
They also slept with the widows. Over time, the widows came to love their two guests and their strange goatman companion. When the bulk of the planting season was over and they were planning on leaving, the widows offered them the knowledge of a magical mountain cave where a cup was located that had the power to grant any who drank from it enchanted speech. A single draught from it would allow one to talk the hangman’s noose off his own neck.
But the knowledge was not free. The widows demanded the three stay until the harvest. Considering they had nothing more pressing, the group unanimously decided to remain. After the hot summer and the cooling frost of autumn, the crops were reaped and the group prepared their departure. True to their word, the women gave them the location, and they set out to acquire the enchanted cup.