Hawk is preparing to leave when the barman comes back, and leads them to the private room with Lord Arron, the sight of which unnerves Hawk. The nobleman is rich and sick, which, as Hawk understood, just doesn’t happen. Rich men can hire the best healers, and magic is advanced enough that most common ailments and curses can be easily cured.
Hawk still doesn’t like the idea of joining a warband with these people, especially the tree-man. But he who asks for rain must not curse the spirits when he gets wet. These men will be going downstream to Megalos, and their sponsor is obviously involved with something powerful enough to put a curse that is not easily removed. This could suit his needs perfectly.
After de Courcy had finished delivering his own thoughts, Hawk speaks.
“This Lord Arron is sick. Does not seek healer — why?” Hawk pauses to let them think about that. "Must be strong curse. Powerful enemies this Lord Arron has.
"Shamans tell a story of a hunter who killed wolf for no need. He left wolf to be eaten by jackals, and its meat did not feed tribe, and its skin did not warm tribe, and its bones did not make tools for tribe.
"Wolf’s spirit stayed in body until jackals ate it away, instead of being released when Hunter took its skin. Enraged, Wolf’s spirit found Hunter, and drove away animals he hunted, and caused fleas to infest skins he wore, and howled in his ear when he slept.
"And Hunter went to three Shamans, and asked how to lay spirit to rest. The first Shaman could not remove the curse, but said to perform rite of cleansing over Wolf’s body. Hunter did this, but still Wolf cursed Hunter.
"The second Shaman could not remove the curse, but said to make a sacrifice to Wolf’s spirit. So Hunter found a rabbit, and killed and skinned it, and lay it down by Wolf’s bones. Hunter did this, but rabbit was left uneaten, and still Wolf cursed Hunter.
"The third Shaman could not remove the curse, but taught Hunter the sacred words to ask Wolf what he wanted. Hunter asked that night when Wolf howled in his ear, how curse may be ended, and Wolf fell silent. ‘Follow me,’ said Wolf, ‘and you will be cursed no more.’
"Hunter followed Wolf over the plains and up a tall mountain, into mists and clouds, and at last Wolf stood before Hunter, and said ‘Walk to me, and curse will be ended.’
“Hunter walked to where Wolf stood, but Wolf was standing on air, and Hunter fell, and fell, and fell, and died. And Hunter’s flesh was not cleansed, and his bones were not burned, and Hunter’s spirit remained trapped in his body until jackals ate it away.”
Having finished the story, Hawk looks around warily. “If curse is so strong that rich man’s shamans cannot lift it, Death will be needed to lift curse: rich man’s, enemy’s, or ours.”