Hembila’s reaction to our encounter with the Latala has been a combination of fury and increased diligence. We’ve seen less of him for it; he keeps to the perimeter to ensure its integrity. Conversely, we see more of his men, a sign that the perimeter itself has shrunk as a result of their losses. Thankfully there were more than the thirty we initially guessed. Balthandar offered to join the rotation, but Hembila refused with a silent shake of the head. He does not trust us.
For my part, I will stay close to Wudan and Dionus. They seem to be the only two in real danger, both from those who assail and those who are supposed to protect us.
Hembila’s men harass Dionus whenever they get the chance, goading him as if they think he might turn and fight them. If only they were aware of how dangerous a game they play. Inifra has taken to positioning herself between them, glowering at any who dare to mock Dionus. That quenches most of their foolishness.
Inifra respects Dionus and holds him in high regard. She has told these men of how he risked his life to save the fishing village with her on the Nanten River. How he fought valiantly to destroy Zorga’s fortress and free captives destined for the KoraKora. Unfortunately these men do not seem capable of extending their respect for Inifra to Dionus, regardless of how highly she lauds him to them.
The sooner we can leave them behind, the better. I overheard her ask Dionus if he doesn’t like girls at all. He shrugged and said he’d liked a few. I wish he’d laugh it off, but he’s still too angry. I remember once when a man asked him the same question and he said that if he was drunk enough, he could overlook a woman’s failings for a night. I wonder what Inifra makes of it – it’s clearly a foreign concept to her that one man might want another. At least she seems to accept him regardless. If only our escort would follow suit.
I’m surprised at how many there are traveling with us. I would have thought losing twenty men to be a crippling blow, but even leaving a few behind to tend the wounded didn’t put Hembila in a mind to halt our journey. Lighter numbers leave us more vulnerable, but I trust Hembila’s judgment. I would continue on in any case, even if he decided he must turn back.
Hembila got things in order quickly yesterday morning, and after marching all day yesterday and again today I doubt we have lost much progress. He’s certainly efficient. I hope his bigotry doesn’t ruin him as an ally. If we are to mobilize the other two nations for the assault on Matasten, he will prove useful. If not necessary.
The more I think on it, the more certain I am that I need to see Matasten myself. At the very least, I need to hear first-hand accounts to have a better idea of what it is we face, to know how developed this society is. Perhaps an all-out war is avoidable if only we can find and assassinate their leadership. I’ll have to ask Dionus about that tomorrow. If anyone among us knows how to pull something like that off, it’s him.