Irrel was halfway through milking Black-Eye when the sky went dark with dragons. He looked up to see what had happened and saw dozens of winged shapes obscuring the sun in the east. They were flying low to the ground; that might mean rain, but if they were riding-dragons it meant battle was coming. He shrugged and turned back to his work, resuming his interrupted song:
Five riders in a ring
Round Bessie’s udder
Bessie bring milk
Milk bring butter
Milk fell into the bucket with each pull, thick and yellow with cream drawn by the charm. Irrel’s daughter Niiv sat on a stool across the yard churning the milk: With every fourth stroke she clapped the churn-staff down hard to catch the hands of any witches or devils that might try to spoil the butter. She stopped partway through a stroke and pointed over Irrel’s head.
He turned just in time to see the load of worm-cast falling a short distance away to the west. Irrel gave one more pull of Black-Eye’s udder and patted her on the side. “Good girl,” he said as he stood. Then he called out: “Sifrid, get the wagon and shovels.”