Still no sign of Inifra. Even our carefree guides have grown concerned. That solidified for me the sense that there is something wrong. Nonda and his companions now focus more on propelling us downstream and less on joking and singing among themselves.
Their subdued humor has allowed the gloom to creep steadily back in upon our tiny armada. The trees are increasingly difficult to see through the rain as the river widens. The change is subtle, steady, but noticeable. It leaves far too much room for wandering thoughts as we travel.
I will say that riding in these canoes has proven a gift. I’ve longed for a horse, a carriage, anything in which to ride. I hate marching, especially when wet. I didn’t realize just how sore and tired my legs were until we found ourselves on the water instead of in it. I think we all needed this break.
The canoes themselves are hollowed out from solid blocks of wood. They are long and wide enough that we feel comfortable, even with four of us in each. If it wasn’t for the constant need to bail water, it would be downright relaxing.
Instead we are constantly soaking. It was nice to drop our regular search for drinking water, but I wouldn’t mind a dry day or two.
Timber has made friends with these men easily enough. She still reserves her smiles except for rare occasions, but Nonda has a knack for pulling them out of her. He puts in enough effort; he deserves what few he gets. The girl makes herself useful as much as she can, bailing water to give our guides a break or preparing their food as they navigate.
She is so small, so fierce. Far from balking at violence, she willingly takes part as necessary. She believes in her value, and that of her kind. She stands on it. Yet she doesn’t seem to hold herself in any higher esteem than the rest of us.
I can see why Inifra picked her out and brought her along. If we survive this, she will make a fine priestess in the same fashion as Inifra. Now I can only hope that Inifra returns to us alive and well. We need her if we are to stand against the KoraKora.
We heard their horns this morning, muffled as they were by the rain. By the Wing, but they are not far from us at all. Not nearly as far as I had hoped.