Ravens are traditionally associated with death and bad luck. That was why Vollomeer liked the form - it suited his character and served as an excellent disguise and means of transport.
Wolfram had failed - Vollomeer knew he would. It was why he had not tried negotiating the whereabouts of the Lance from Gwydion himself - the only reason he was now in possession of the Lance was pure cunning. He had outwitted the strongest spellcaster in Fourealm and the wisest Elder of Winterealm in one fell swoop (he laughed at his own jest). Wolfram was safely locked away, and -
- but no, that couldn't be right. For once, Vollomeer was confused. His cunning theory had a gaping hole ...
... if he had not been entrusted with the real Lance of Belendar, then the real Lance wouldn't have been in the ruins of his house! Wolfram had totally forgotten that when he'd gone exploring, and so had Vollomeer ... he looked down at the staff clutched in his claws, and saw no ensignn or device of Belendar's along the whole length.
The Raven ruffled his feathers angrily and let the worthless instrument fall out of its claws.
What would Gwydion have done with the Lance of Belendar? It would surely be in Winterealm somewhere, securely guarded with the strongest enchantments, the kind he would find ridiculously hard to break -
and then his thoughts wandered to his niece, one of the finest young spellcasters in Winterealm. Honourable, trustworthy, powerful - and denied the same quarterstaff Vollomeer had been coveting for years, believing it to be more powerful than it was ...
Yes, that was what Gwydion had done. Vollomeer had been spying when Gwydion had briefed Arianwen on her mission. She knew herself that she was not capable of accosting Wolfram, and as Wolfram was noq safely locked away in a chilly cell in Winterealm the mission was entirely fruitless.
Unless Gwydion had sent them for another reason.
That was where the Lance had gone - Gwydion had planted it on Arianwen! She had unknowingly taken it out of Winterealm. It was a perfect hiding place.
No, it couldn't be! Vollomeer had to admit, it was an ingenious plan, and one that had nearly gone undiscovered. Unfortunately for Gwydion, however, it had not remained undiscovered for long.
The Raven took to the wing again, heading south, scanning the forest below for any sign of travellers.