Inifra asked me why I had removed myself these past few days. I explained how she had put me at risk. How I needed time to think it over. She seemed confused and said that what I had was an incredible gift, a powerful gift, one that should not leave me afraid.
I disagreed. What I have gives me an advantage in its secrecy.
Inifra said that it gives me no greater advantage than any other expressionist who has hidden his power. Perhaps I was right to be afraid in the Old Empire, she said, for she knew not what dangers lurked in my homeland. But here, in the Nanten, a power like mine would be prized. A man like me would be shown great deference.
I didn’t know what to say to that; she could see it and left me alone afterwards. Somehow, in spite of the danger, she made me feel better. Great deference? I never thought of my ability in that light. Timeshifts are spoken against very clearly at home. Feared.
Perhaps there really is more to it than I have always been told.
Timber saw Inifra’s approach as her opening. An hour or so later she began asking me questions again. Where had we been in the fortress the whole time we were there? What had we done to help Inifra? How had I killed all those men so quickly?
I did my best to answer, though initially I didn’t feel like talking. Still, again, I felt better for it. I asked Timber how she had occupied herself in Zorga’s fortress. She simply said she had been watching Inifra and learning. She had a lot to learn, she told me. Inifra agreed.
This little girl is so brave. She has yet to flinch at the sheer might of force and death she has seen. She hasn’t once appeared at a loss in our company, nor have I seen her act in any way that would make me think she is homesick.
I asked her about that later, if she missed her village. She thought on it for a moment before saying no, she didn’t. They were weak, she said. Unable to do what was right for fear of the consequences. She didn’t want to grow up to be like that.
I reminded her that her village had been under the thumb of Zorga and his forces. Beyond that, they were beset by the KoraKora. She shook her head when Inifra was done translating, then said that it didn’t matter. Better to die doing what was right than live under a liar’s boot. The translation was a bit rough, but I got the point.
Gods, but they don’t make children like this in the Old Empire.
They don’t make women like Inifra either.