83. Deceptions

On the trail ahead, Sedwin and Garroth bridle their horses, and wait for Stellia and Nevynne to catch up.

“We will reach Talvain within the hour,” Sedwin says. “Remember, if anyone asks, Garroth is your uncle, I a cousin, and you are brother and sister.”

“If they hear us speak, they will know that you are not from Baramond, nor I from Hestia,” Nevynne says. “And this one—” She points at Stellia, who thinks that for all her noble lineage, courtesy is not one of Nevynne’s strengths. “She has a different accent altogether.”

Sedwin smiles broadly. “Which is why you will not speak at all.”

“You can’t be serious,” Nevynne snaps.

“You’ll have no need to. All we mean to do there is buy supplies, and find a room for the night, hopefully at the inn and not in someone’s barn next to a bunch of goats. Garroth and I will do what talking is necessary, which shouldn’t be much. He tells me the people up here are a quiet lot.”

“It’s true,” Garroth says. “An intelligencer’s nightmare, so tight-lipped are they. No wonder the Baramondine tell all these stories about how folk here have secrets hidden under secrets.”

“You’ve passed through here before?” Nevynne asks.

“We’ve heard stories.” Garroth spurs his horse, and says no more.

“I bet you have,” Nevynne mutters under her breath.

“Let us keep moving,” Sedwin says. “Nightfall can come all too suddenly in these mountains.”

Stellia looks up toward the distant mountaintops, where vast snowfields lie like cloaks on the shoulders of giants. The brilliant white has already faded to gray, and grows more somber with each moment. Underneath the boughs of the firs and pines that line their road, darkness is gathering already, a patient hunter settling into ambush.

“Intelligencer, no less,” Nevynne whispers. “Now there’s an interesting slip of the tongue, wouldn’t you say? Not to mention the silver they were seeking, last night.”

“Did they find it?”

“Oh, yes. After you finally fell asleep, Garroth went to the back of the cave. When he returned, he had a pouch in his hand. I am certain I heard the clink of coins as he handled it.”

“I remember that they spoke of it,” Stellia says. “When they first arrived, and we were hiding.”

“Indeed. Garroth must have been to the cave before, to hide the coins in the first place. So what do you think that means?”

Sedwin’s voice interrupts them before Stellia can answer. “Keep up, you two. Perhaps you would do well to practice the silence you’re meant to keep once we’re in Talvain.”

Garroth laughs. “Silence, aye! As befits a meek boy and girl who travel with their cousin and dear uncle!”

Sedwin says something to Garroth that Stellia cannot hear. Garroth nods, and turns his horse around. For the remainder of the journey, he brings up the rear, and Stellia and Nevynne speak no more of who their companions might truly be.

NEXT: Talvain


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