Inifra should be back any day now, but there has been no sign of her. I know that if anyone can take care of herself in this jungle, it is Inifra, but I cannot help worry a little. There are dangers in the Nanten that no one can face alone.
I worry about her because she has begun to feel like one of us. So far my survival can be attributed almost entirely to either my companions or dumb luck. There is little doubt I would have died by now without friends by my side.
And then there are those who have helped us along the way, like these men and their canoes. They instantly treated us like friends, and only because Inifra sent them to us. I cannot imagine showing the hospitality to complete strangers that they do. Even if I were ordered to take care of someone, I would never behave like this.
They aren’t the first. It’s humbling. I would rather act like them, but I don’t know how.
Then there are those who have given us knowledge, like Bantish, or those who saved our lives in the night, like Prestorn. Even with my companions, death has ever been near. During this entire journey we have relied on the good graces of the Nantese we have met along the way.
If Gorung hadn’t taken us under the palace in Senida, we may never have found the vaults in time to make our escape. If Inifra hadn’t shown us how to deflect the attentions of the Makonga, we would still be plagued by it. Perhaps we would have given into it.
I entered this jungle thinking I would subdue it. Instead it has shown me just how powerless I can be on my own.
We float down this river as the rains pound us unceasingly. Water below and water above, with water in every crack and cranny we could hope to keep dry. Nonda and the other guides maintain uplifted spirits. They laugh as much as they talk, and sing more than they do either. It’s almost enough to keep the gray drudgery of this voyage at bay.
Gods, I wish I was lighter of spirit like these men.