The gang makes good time. There's a whole bunch of will they/won't they tension between Saba and Jack, and Jack gets pretty emotional when Saba opens up about Lugh.
A few days later, Emmi tells Saba that she sees something in the distance in Jack's "long-looker," which is what they call a telescope (8.115). Saba doesn't see anything, though.
The next night, Emmi's fears are confirmed when Jack sees a light in the distance. And it's moving closer. Our heroes quickly get moving.
Our heroes end up in a giant, dead Wrecker city the next day. Emmi grabs the long-looker and sees their stalkers in the distance, but she accidentally drops and breaks it. Bummer.
The kids decide to make a makeshift "pit-trap" to catch these interlopers (8.185). Surprisingly, it works. Even more surprising, however, is who their stalkers end up being.
It's Ash and Epona. They decided to tag along to repay their personal debts to Saba, though Saba suspects that Ash harbors a crush on Jack.
Strangely, this all really ticks Saba off. She doesn't have any choice but to take Ash and Epona along, of course, but the mood has noticeably soured.
After a bit of traveling, the gang reaches a nasty mountainous area Jack refers to as "the Devil's Teeth" (8.334). He needs to meet with a buddy at the One-Eyed Man, a tavern.
Saba nearly falls down a waterfall crossing a stream, but Jack saves her. Don't ask her to admit it, though, especially after he plants another kiss on her unsuspecting lips.
The kids arrive at the One-Eyed Man, and Jack starts shouting for a guy named Ike Twelvetrees. When he finds Ike, however, the dude straight up punches him in the face.
Saba whips out her bow, but it's all good—just run of the mill macho posturing. These two are as thick as thieves. Probably because they are thieves.
Introductions are made, stories are told, and Ike flirts like a shameless dog. He also introduces Saba to Tommo, a deaf orphan he semi-adopted some time back.
To make a long story short, the gang gets hammered. Saba wakes up with an agonizing hangover.
Ike and Tommo decide to close up the tavern and join the group. They head off into the wild unknown together, hangovers a-raging.
There are only "seven days to midsummer," however, and people will probably go through with the sacrifice even with the King dead (8.714). Our heroes better get moving.
The kids start to see some horrifying sights as they get closer to Freedom Fields. You know, hanged bodies and all—the whole nine yards.
One night, Jack and Ike decide to come clean to Saba and tell her that they've actually been to Freedom Fields before.
Basically, Freedom Fields is a giant chaal plantation, and Jack and Ike were slaves there. They escaped together, and Jack ended up in Hopetown soon afterward.
In other words, this is going to be really tough. Saba ties Maev's ring to Nero's leg and tells him to head back to Darktrees.
After a few days, the kids reach a large, dried-up lake. Jack tells them that this is going to be a dangerous section, which he proves by showing them three giant scars running up his back.
This lake is populated by lovelies called "hellwurms" (8.926). It's going to be practically suicidal to attempt a crossing, but everyone agrees to stick together.
The kids move relatively quickly, but it soon gets dark. That's when the hellwurms come out to play. Hellwurms apparently hate fire, so the group builds a few and starts wrapping booze-soaked cloths around their arrows.
The kids hear a rumble. It's on.
The hellwurms have claws, which means that this brawl gets nasty—and fast. It's a really brutal fight, and Saba gets a nice slash on her shoulder, but the hellwurms all suddenly disappear.
Good news, right? Wrong. The hellwurms scattered because a real king daddy hellwurm has just entered the fray, and this behemoth soon makes its presence known to our heroes.
The hellwurm starts kicking the crud out of Jack, so Saba leaps into action and climbs up its back. She stabs it in the eye a bunch until it descends back into the earth.
And Jack is still alive, thankfully. Seems like we got away scot-free, right? Well…
Although Saba can manage the pain of her wound, it must be infected or something, because she abruptly passes out. She has a series of trippy dreams before she comes to.
The gang is right outside of Freedom Fields. Before they can make their grand entrance, however, Jack has to suture up Saba's wounds. It hurts so much that Saba faints immediately.