Inifra came to me twice yesterday and again today. Finally I let her sit with me in my hut. She wants to go with him. Gods help me, but she wants to go with Salisir.

She says he has a plan. Everything we have spoken of, all of the dreams she has for peace within the Nanten, all of it comes together brilliantly in this plan of his. He knows the Great Recess, she says. He knows Matasten. He has learned it all, and he knows how to make it whole.

She says that it is the Nantese who will save the Nanten in the end. That is what excited her the most: The Nantese will rule themselves again.

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How can she trust him? This man beat me as a child. He hated me and I hated him. He was exiled for his incompetence, his failures, and his rebellion against the Tetrarch. How can such a man be thought fit to unify a nation? How can he have a plan at all?

How can she want to go with him?

She is so excited.

My stomach hasn’t stopped churning since that conversation. I never had a chance to make her that excited myself. I have lost whatever chances I will have with her in the future. She is taken with this plan. With this man that I hate.

I refused to hear what he has told her. I cannot bear it.

She has asked me to join them. She told me I am needed. Now I am needed? Now, when he is here, now she needs me? But it isn’t her, is it? It’s them. They need me, whoever ‘they’ are.

Balthandar and Dionus have not found us yet and these two wish to move off into the jungle tomorrow. Can I let her go with him? How could I stop her? I may lose her forever. And finding Salisir was my mission. As false a mission as it may have been, I need to know what he knows about Matasten. I have to know his story or I can never go home. Even if I did, would your father ever let me return?

But if I leave tomorrow, what will happen to my companions? Are they even near us now, or do they need help somewhere to the south? Staying on the river is the best chance I have of ever seeing them again. I cannot abandon them, not like I abandoned Starlark.

But what if by staying here I lose Inifra to Salisir, and my companions to the dangers they face elsewhere? I could be sitting in the very place from which I can do the least good.

I am out of pages in this journal, and that is well enough. I need to put my pen down and think. I need to make a decision and must do so by morning. Gods, but I hope the right one.


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Fall of the Arbor King starts tonight!

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