Al and I helped Traeth out of the boat and he darted from our hands up the beach to the nearest tree, which he threw his arms around, sinking onto the ground. He hung onto it for dear life, as though afraid that if he let go, the dry land would disappear from beneath him.
Rutter, Al and I got everything out of the boat and then I told Rutter that he could arrange for the Earhart to retrieve it.
"Ah! So we won't be sailing back then?"
"No way," I said quietly. "Traeth's done well to do it once. We'll beam him back to the mainland at the end of the expedition."
Rutter's brow furrowed.
"I think I'd rather leave it here, if you don't mind. Just in case ... You never know..."
I laughed. "If that's what you'd prefer to do, I don't have a problem with it."
It was getting quite late in the afternoon and, ideally, it would have been perfect to camp here on the flat sands of the beach, but I knew we should move inland if Traeth was going to regain enough of his senses to continue the journey. We collected our stuff together and mounted what we needed onto our backs and took Traeth's packs to him. He looked up at me pitifully, his face ashen.
"I am so sorry," he mumbled, tears forming in his eyes.
"Don't be daft, man!" I chastised. "You've just done something that no other Dirrian has done before you. You're a true adventurer among men."
"No," he said. "You don't understand," and he began to sob, dropping his head shamefully. I bent down to him and with my knuckles, gently pushed his head to look up at me.
"What don't I understand?"
The tears came hard and fast now.
"Come on, Traeth. You need to tell me. What don't I understand?"
"HE LIED!" he screamed hysterically, so loudly that we all pulled back a little. A few moments passed but it seemed Traeth wasn't going to volunteer anything more, so I asked.
In between broken sobs, he finally replied. "The High Emperor ... he lied."
Al, Rutter and I exchanged glances. We could see this was going to take a while, so we settled ourselves around Traeth, making ourselves comfortable, and then he confessed everything that he knew.