And here is the haunted marsh. A distant, quiet voice can be heard singing, but the singer never pauses for breath.
A light comes into view from behind a tree.
"I'm not expecting much yet but if anything I should figure out where to keep digging. Can you show me where she keeps them?"
"Where she keeps what?"
"Church history things."
"Try the bookcase under the table."
The bookcase isn't so much under the table as it is essentially two legs of the table and he wonders how he missed that before.
He picks a book at random and frowns at it. The worst part of reading is that he needs his eyes for it, but...
"Hey, can you read?" Surely the witches would have taught him how.
"Yeah, but I can't turn pages or anything."
"If I turn the pages could you read this to me?"
It's a fairly straightforward history of the church's politics, with very little space devoted to actual religious practice. It's sort of fascinating, though; it seems that certain rituals fall in and out of favor based on decade and region, but never the unbinding ritual. The writer traces back the origins of several of the rituals, but of the unbinding ritual only says that in historical documents it seems to spring up overnight. Their conclusion is that it must have been secret before then.
"...There must be wisps older than that but I don't know how you'd find one that old who was lucid and friendly."
Makji shivers. "Yeah. We should look through folklore, too, see when wisps are first mentioned."
"I don't know where you'd find that. Maybe a library somewhere?"
"Yeah. After we finish looking through these. You up for another?"
"Sure!" It's about the closest to useful he ever gets, of course he's up for it.
This one is short biographies about various saints. Saint Kede is mentioned offhand as being said to have destroyed wisps, but he also was said to have saved a village from burning down because a rabbit warned him and to have cured people of diseases by walking backwards around them, so the author does not put much stock in these accounts. Sure, he might have done these things, but people exaggerate.
"That," Makji says. "That's what I'm looking for."
"Yeah, I want to be able to talk to rabbits, too!"
"Prophetic rabbits, apparently."
"So you want to find out more about Saint Kede?"
"Seems like a good place to start, yeah."
"I don't think you can find anything else out about her here."
"Yeah, doesn't seem like a popular saint, I don't think I've even heard the name before."
He still doesn’t want to leave, though. Not without Valen, not if there’s any chance of freeing him from the marsh.
So he stays. He helps the witches where he can—ends up learning some witching informally after all. He’ll never make a good witch, but he’s better than useless. He talks with Valen, spends most of his time with him. He doesn’t want to leave.
But he wants Valen to be free.
Eventually he asks Valen if he wants to try again.
"Yeah. Let's. Right now?"
“Only if you’re feeling up to it.”
"...Yeah. I am."
“Let’s go, then.”
He’s walked the distance by himself a few times now, trying to figure out what it is that’s keeping Valen here. He’s no closer than he was when he first met Valen.