“You say that he was seen, alive, in a strider nest?” Switio said.

“That is what Nhryda said, and I have no reason to doubt her,” replied Clwyd.

Switio shuddered and fluffed his feathers. “You have been warned, have you not, against the striders? From egg to fledging?”

“But I have also heard stories. They say that one of them fed Elynion when he thought he would perish during a hard winter. They say that one collected Ddigrif when a llew had injured him, and released her, healed.”

Switio turned his good eye to Clwyd. “All true,” he said. “But know this. The striders are pernicious, unpredictable, unknowable. They keep their own counsel and no others. You might approach one, say your right words, and be rewarded, yes. But they might also crush you, tear you from the sky with invisible death, or set their llew upon you.”

“So it’s possible that he yet lives.”

Turning away, so that only his blind and swollen eye faced Clwyd, Switio pipped softly. “It is possible. They have been known to take our kind prisoner. But few have escaped to tell the tale, and none have ever been rescued.”

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