Alden, with his imaginative vagary, offered a variety of reasons for Mr. Crabbs’ disappearance. Maybe he had seen something that lead him to the Black Forest. Perhaps a crocotta had returned and hypnotized Mr. Crabb. Who can ever forget the crocotta, a wolf hybrid, that had terrorized the town a year before. Whatever it had been, something had made Mr. Crabb walk into the Black Forest, something powerful and dark.
Alden believed it was some kind of evil magic that maybe Archibal could decipher, but they had to wait until it was safe to go to Lake Alaric. Walter wasn’t sure to use his ring, thinking it could only transport just him.
They hadn’t seen Cadi either since the rains began. Who could argue when nobody wanted to be out in the rain? Walter, himself had been confided at the Swan Inn. When the waters began to rise, Walter’s Mother, Mrs. Banny, decided it was safer to stay at the inn. Uncle Obel and Aunt Edith were happy to have them, Walter was overjoyed. He felt like he had a family, but his mother detested the inconvenience. He could never understand why. Once the waters ebbed, his mother told him, they were returning to the cottage. She made that clear to Uncle Obel too.
The waters lasted for three months and for those months Walter enjoyed the company of his Uncle Obel, who told him wild stories he heard from patrons, and Aunt Edith spoiling him rotten with affection. His mother was kept busy at the inn, sometimes forgetting about Walter. When she did remember, she would put him to work, moping the muddy foot prints that patrons, hunters, and travelers plodded into the inn.
There was always a steady flow of people coming and going at the inn and it was getting busier. Walter didn’t mind since it kept him close to the colloquies that patrons had about Mr. Crabb’s departure. With him gone it would take months before another schoolmaster would volunteer for his position, maybe even years. No schoolmaster was never too eager to travel to Asbjorn. It was a long distance from the city and it was surrounded by woods, mountains and the Black Forest. Stories of magic and creatures that lived in the forest kept everybody away.