Robby Ribbon falls seriously ill. His symptoms are unusual, and he becomes delirious, racked with chills and fever, and his parents despair. Mirabella sends for her friend, Frizella, who knows folk medicine, but there is little that Frizella can do. Helpless, Robby's parents watch as the boy wastes away. However, two mysterious strangers appear at the door and ask to see the lad. They are Elmira and Belmira, daughters of Lyrium. They stay only for a few hours, speaking to Robby and debating with each other as to whether he should live or not. But they, too, realize that they have no power to influence his condition one way or the other. Yet, the lad seems to respond to their presence, and, in an effort to comfort him, the two sisters softly sing to him. His fever breaks, and the sisters depart as mysteriously as they had appeared as the boy falls into a recuperative sleep.
Within the constellation of Behemoth, the star that is its eye suddenly brightens. Normally dull orange in color, it burns with a blue-white light as bright as the half-moon. Across the world, astrologers search their charts and ponder its meaning. In the far southern reaches of the Dragonlands, the slaves who are made to work the fields of darakal view it as an omen that their liberation is soon to come. After seven days, the star quickly fades until it is a dim glowing remnant of bluish haze.
Steggan Pradkin arrives in County Barley from Tracia after having acquired a farm there. He brings with him his wife and a four year old girl whom he calls Sheila, saying that she is his niece and ward.
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William Timothy Murray