Ayla took one last look at the landscape. She could see Beran Sea in the distance and knew that it was her last chance to see her son or the Clan ever again. Jondalar had said that they could, and she had told him that he would be happier with the Clan. Now, as she stared west, tears filled her eyes and ran down her cheeks. She felt a warm hand on her shoulder.
"Ayla, why are you crying?" Jondalar asked.
"Oh Jondalar, I miss my son! I know I am dead to him, but he is a part of me! Even after four years I still feel a wrenching in my heart at the thought of Durc and now we are leaving him behind when I could see him one last time," the woman replied as she buried her face into Jondalar's shoulder. Tears stung at his eyes and he patted her head.
"Ayla, I know this is hard for you. Both of us have ones we love, and giving up this chance is a hard decision. If you would like to change your mind, I will go with you. We do not have to actually meet with them, but you can at least see your son. Maybe you can say goodbye to him properly."
Ayla pulled back from his embrace. "Do you mean it?" she asked. He nodded. She smiled and hugged Jondalar tightly. "What are we waiting for? We must pack! Hurry Jondalar!"
Jondalar grinned. She had switched to the Clan Language. "Ayla, if we are going in that direction, you should teach me some more Clan language," he motioned to her. As they packed, she chattered excitedly about Durc, Uba, the Clan, and even Broud. They mounted the horses and set off to the west, away from the Zelandonii and toward the Clan territory. Wolf padded alongside them and occasionally darted off to chase some animal. Ayla was instructing Jondalar in some of the Clan's s customs. "Women make tools from flint too, but those tools can never be used as weapons or to make weapons. Women can not touch weapons either. They must always do as a man says and can be beaten for insubordination."
As the day passed on, Jondalar learned more that he could ever have imagined two years ago about the Clan. He was still amazed at all the structure in the society. Two years ago, he would never have believed that the Clan had a language, much less a complex society with a spirit world as well. The days passed on quickly, and soon they were in an area that was vaguely familiar to Ayla. She had rarely gone very far from the cave, so the areas she knew well were limited, but she remembered some of the Clan's travels. They had seen a few Clan men along the way, but they had evaded the couple and their strange animals. At midday, they reached a clearing that Ayla knew well. It was there that she learned to use the sling. There was still a practice post in the ground. Soon she found the cave where she had stayed during her death curse and during Durc's first days. Her eyes filled with tears as she remembered cradling the precious baby whom everybody else believed to be deformed. Only she knew that Durc was simply a mixture. She looked down and saw that she was cradling an imaginary baby in her arms. Jondalar put his arms around her and whispered in her ear, "You know this place well?"
"Yes, Jondalar. This is where I stayed during my first death curse. I hid here with Durc so that he could be allowed to live. This cave was my secret and was Uba's too, for a while. We are near to where the cave is. They have probably moved out of it, but I would like to see it."
They made their way down the slope to the cave, trying to stay hidden just in case. Jondalar had insisted on leaving Racer and Whinney at her cave. They heard sounds of people before it came into view. Someone was still there.