My friends and colleagues in the writers group were very sympathetic and generous with suggestions about how to beat the block I complained about in the last post.
I want to thank them all, again, very much!
We need Edmund to experience some Man versus Nature. This shouldn't be too hard, since he has never before traveled more than fifty miles away from home. I only have vague ideas about this as yet, but just knowing the material should be there is a help.
Next, he has an encounter with an old woman, who treats him kindly. But, since Edmund is not terribly observant, and generally is not the shiniest battle axe on the wall, or maybe I should say the sharpest, he doesn't perceive her true nature and, since he's pretty pigheaded, she is only able to give him relatively small, unimportant gifts; useful as far as they go, but limited.
However, the very existence of this episode created the need for a later, parallel or at least similar episode. The second person who encounters the kindly old woman is more perceptive, and thus understands that she is a witch wife, albeit not a powerful one. This second person is also rather more amenable to suggestion, so the kindly crone can give the second person some useful help.
These episodes also involve details that tie this story forward to another, set centuries in the future of this world. Indeed, I'll now have to start looking for ways to incorporate similar details into other stories set in this world.
In other words, while the problem of Edmund's quest and specifically his travels hasn't been solved, it no longer seems insoluble and overwhelming. I'm working again, and that's a marvelous feeling!