Ironically, turning off the beacon-fire was the work of a moment, although Carlotta had Witherby send messages back to the castle first. She hoped that they would go through, but after speaking further with Salutary she decided the risks were too great to spend more than a day sending the new messages. Not to them, but to these strange Visitors. They were themselves on the verge of sickness.
“We have special appetites,” Salutary had explained to her. “Only some of your food proved suitable for us, and we are almost out of it. This pyrite of yours is a particularly dangerous contaminant; even if there was anything nearby for us to hunt, it would be risky for us to eat it.”
Jimmy peered at him. “Then why were you staying in the mine, if it’s so fatal to you?”
“It was one of only two possible shelters within reach of our ship,” explained Salutary, “and the other is full of the people who captured it. There may have been poor air and not enough food here, but at least here we could recover what strength we could.”