We continued to be carried along by the adults as they ran throughout the day. They never seemed to get tired despite keeping this jogging pace for hours. I have to say, this stamina is truly cause for envy. Not that I was personally envious of it. Going by all the information I had, it seemed reasonable to suspect that I would be capable of the same sort of thing.
The pace we drove was definitely fierce. It was agreed that the only thing we would stop for would be if Levin or Rolwen said that they needed something. Of course, since they had the awareness to know exactly what was going on, they kept that to a minimum, not even complaining about bathroom breaks unless they were ready to burst.
I personally did not know how capable the queen’s envoy might be at tracking, but I did not plan to question Eirlathion’s urgency. He knew more than any of us about the capabilities and disposition of the fey court and those who served them, and I would be a fool to question him on this. It was definitely a situation where blind trust seemed like the best option.
Something was beginning to bother me though. Eirlathion’s urgency was starting to give more context to Samarael’s prediction last night. He did not explicitly say it would be a guarantee we were going to be caught, but his’ tone seemed rather certain it would happen.
That was definitely concerning. Just what was going to happen? Perhaps it is time to start asking some questions.
[How much longer until we are out of the forest?] I spoke up, looking up at Eirlathion. He had a determined look on his face.
[Huh? What?] He responded as though waking up from a trance. True to his word to mother earlier, he was definitely the only one between them showing signs of fatigue. It looked like he was putting a lot of mental energy into keeping up his pace. It was almost painful to have to interrupt him, but that grim determination only served to add emphasis to my need for this information.
[Hmm… at this pace, we should make it by nightfall. Our village is close to the edge of the forest.] He spat out after gathering his breath and then went straight back to his earlier state of focus.
It doesn’t matter. He can go on focusing. I got the information I needed. If we were close to the edge, then… shit! I really should have asked him for details like this sooner. If we are close to the edge, and the Hidan are the obvious choice for someone to take us in, anyone with half a brain ought to be able to determine what we will be doing.
Eirlathion probably knows it too. Why else would he be pushing such a pace?
[Are we running on a straight line between the village and the edge of the forest?] I asked.
I watched Eirlathion’s face as his grim mask suddenly cracked and his look was replaced with shock. His pace slowed, and then he stopped in his tracks. It took mother a second to realize her master was no longer beside her. She had to double back as she had run a ways on her own before noticing, and when she got back she definitely seemed confused.
[We are taking a short break. I need to talk to Asaren.] He said and promptly put Levin on the ground. [You can feed them. We will be right over here.] He said and carried me over to a small spot a few paces over. We were easily within view of everyone else. Within earshot even. It wasn’t enough for privacy, just enough to separate us from them and any activities or conversation they may engage in.
He set me down on the ground and took a seat in front of me, according me proper respect for a serious discussion.
[Asaren. What have you figured out?] He asked, cutting straight to the chase.
[I am still thinking about it. I don’t know everything that I need to know yet.] I said. [You told me before that the capital was being moved. How close is the site of the Heaven Fall to the village?] I asked.
He gave me a sharp look. One could describe it as a glair, but it was a little off because I could tell that glair was not actually directed at me.
[It is just over twice the distance between the village and the edge of the forest.] He said.
[Fairies fly fast, don’t they?] I asked.
[Yes, they can make the trip in less than an hour if they fly at full speed. The fey dragons can fly even faster.] He said.
[Then the envoy has already reached the village.] I said in a tone that held no question or doubt. It was simply a statement of fact. [The only question is how fast it will take the envoy to learn of the existence of me and Tia, and then make the decision on whether or not he will come after us.]
I sat in thought, trying to ponder what I would do in this situation.
[There is also the question of whether or not the envoy is alone.] I added. [He will be waiting for us outside the forest. If he has subordinates, at least one will stay in the village. If he has more than one, they will search the route for us. We should move in a different direction following the edge of the forest.]
It may be an inappropriate thought given the situation, but I sorely wished I knew what the elven word for parallel might be so I didn’t sound so uneducated giving those instructions.
Eirlathion looked at the ground and shook his head when he heard my words. I wondered for a moment if he disagreed, but when he went silent and kept staring at the ground I knew immediately it was something different.
[I am sorry Asa.] He said in a remorseful tone. [I should have been the one to think of this earlier. How can I be the age I am and fail to keep these things in mind?]
[You have not had to deal with conflict of this sort before.] I said. Once again, not a question. [It is not age that brings wisdom. It is experiences. Age only means you have more time to be exposed to experiences. This is not an experience you have been exposed to before, therefore the wisdom you have did not cover it.]
[Hehe, being given such a talk by a child, fairy-like or not.] He said and shook his head. [Still, I am sorry. I am doing what I can to protect you and Tiaren, but I nearly failed just now. If you had not caught on to this…]
[It’s fine.] I said and cut him off. [We cannot do anything about that now. I do have another question though.]
[What is it?] He responded and perked his head up.
[Why is it that being found by the envoy would be such a danger to us?] I asked. [You told us before that half-orcs in the human lands become heroes in the fight against the demons. I understand that the dark elves create a pressure to scare people out of raising those like us, but why would the people from the capital be enemies? They should have the power to fight off the demons, so that should not be a factor for them, right?]
Eirlathion sighed when he heard this question and only seemed to look more tired. [If only it were that easy.] He said. [If this were the elven forest, that reasoning would be exactly right. However, here in the fairy queen’s forest, it is different. The largest advantage that a grey race has against the demons is the ability to see in darkness. Fairies can use light magic. This means that the value of a grey race simply for virtue of being a grey race is greatly diminished here.]
He paused for a while after that as though he was struggling with the next words he had to say. [If only we had more time.] He said. [You and Tia have incredible abilities. We could certainly persuade the fey court that you and her are of great value if I had the chance to approach the court first. However, in this situation, we will be meeting an envoy and will be at the mercy of the decision they will make on the spot. With the lives of you and Tia in the balance, it did not seem wise to allow us to be trapped in the village when they arrived and be at the mercy of the uncertain whims of the envoy.]
[Huh?] Eirlathion looked up in response to my sudden non-squitter of a word. Truth be told, I didn’t even fully understand why I had said it either, but I could subconsciously feel there was something important between Nymph and this envoy when I heard Eirlathion’s explanation about they mindset the envoy would be coming from.
[The envoy will absolutely decide to pursue us.] I said. I still hadn’t put all the information together in my head yet, but my intuition told me this was absolutely the case.
I looked up and realized Eirlathion was looking at me expectantly. When I glanced over to the side, everyone else including mother were paying attention to me as well. Yeah, of course they would want to know something like this.
Now… as for why… the information from my subconscious brain was beginning to percolate up and I was starting to fit the pieces together.
[They were planning to make the village an outpost because of Nymph in the first place.] I said. [They are going to discover how uncooperative Nymph is, and it will mean that they cannot aid her in becoming a dryad. Because of this, the envoy will leave the village. They are going to want a sacrifice to ward off the dark elves. Me or Tia. I do not think they will want us both. It is because there are two of us, they will definitely decide it is appropriate to appease the dark elves with one of us as a corpse. Feeling some sense of duty to protect the village they were assigned to even as they leave it, they will pursue us.]
Everyone’s faces went grim at my reasoning. It hurt to see them all so trusting of my rational abilities. It seemed like everyone here except for me was fully convinced. Somehow, I was the only one who saw there was actually one pretty big jump in logic in my reasoning just now, but somehow I knew that really was exactly what happened.
Why is it that I was so sure this envoy would serve this duty rather than simply abandoning the village? There was no evidence to lead me to that conclusion.
There was one thing. Samarael’s prediction. Samarael was certain. I do not know how that creature’s predictions work, whether he sees the future or is just very good at reading current events like I am except with a broader base of information to draw from. However, he definitely knew something.
This left another problem. I was assuming Samarael was being truthful on this one.
No, the chances he was being truthful are not 100%, but it is pretty close. Definitely above 95%. If there was a lie hidden in Samarael’s words to me, it would not be about the envoy giving chase when they really won’t be. If my read of him is right, he will not lie about anything I can confirm myself. At least, not until he has gained my trust. The envoy not chasing me would be way too easy to check him on and gain him nothing if he lied, so that part was likely 100% true.
And so, what I knew by intuition has now been fully confirmed by logic. This is going to happen. The question is, now that we know it’s coming, how do we prepare for it?