Mog complained the whole way, muttering about her feet and how slow Gluma and Finian were walking. As they left the village they passed old Edwyn McConnell—the only person not invited to the castle—leaning against his cane and gazing into the sky as he stood watch at the palisade gate.
“See you later, Mr. McConnell,” Gluma said as they passed, but the old man was shaking his head and muttering something to himself as he watched the stars coming out.
“. . . Signs,” old McConnell said softly.
“What?” Gluma said, slowing down and looking at him. Finian stopped too, watching.
“Do you see?” McConnell said. His boney arm reached out and pulled her closer, pointing to the heavens. Finian moved forward in an instant to Gluma’s side, ready to break the old man’s hold, but he released her, hardly paying any of them any attention. “The signs are bright—bright omens . . . .”
“Omens of what?” Finian blurted, his voice hushed though he did not know why.
The old nightwatchman looked away from the stars and at Finian.
“Something powerful, something important,” the old man said. “I cannot tell what. Something of great significance will happen this night.”
“Enough of this!” Mog snarled, clapping Finian on the back of the head to get him moving again. “You’re going to make me late! Now move!” Slapping Finian a few more times for good measure, they set off down the dirt lane that led up to the castle.