We decided not to move Bolton yet as he remains too frail. I cannot overemphasize how anxious this makes me. The KoraKora are coming, I am certain of it now. There are instincts you learn in the field, instincts that are honed through experience which you cannot rationalize and which no science or study can prove.
Perhaps there is magic behind the sensation, but it seems most profoundly human. Call it intuition, call it paranoia, call it whatever you will – this feeling in me is rarely wrong. Bad things are coming, and worse are bound to follow.
But I cannot move Bolton too suddenly or his recovery will be jeopardized. Balthandar keeps shaking his head and wishing aloud for a real hospital, for a real Healer, but such wishes are not to be granted by the gods of the Nanten. There is no one to help us now.
When I saved Dionus’ life it felt much the same as this. He had been drugged by a pair of assassins sent to claim his feather – an invaluable prize. We were all staying at the same Inn up near Gromond.
I had drunk far too much for my own good that night, but at least that made things interesting.
The Tetrarch hunt in packs. There is a reason they call us the Wolves of Silver Hall: we very rarely go at any mission alone. We never deter the parallel. It is our accepted practice to stick together when in the field. Security for our brethren is paramount, and most easily found among the pack. That night was different – I left my pack behind.
That summer I had been leading an expedition of four of my brothers into the Lorendian Wastes, tracking a particularly elusive Daedric sect. We often stayed in a rundown inn west of Gromond between raids. The beds were hard, but the food decent and the price right. The tavern was always full.
That night I saw Dionus drinking alone in the corner. I recognized him immediately. He kept his back to the wall, something I have come to know he always does. I sent him a drink with my compliments, but left him well enough alone. Approaching a Walker uninvited is inviting trouble. Later in the evening I saw him get up uneasily and stumble outside.
Two men followed a little too quickly.
I was curious, and drunk, so I decided to see what would happen next. It’s not every day you get to see a Walker defend himself. Foolishly, I left my brothers inside.
To my surprise, when I got outside I saw the two men dragging Dionus off behind the stables. I followed. No sooner did I come around the corner than did a bolt strike me in the shoulder. I don’t think I’ve ever been so surprised to be shot.
They were good. Damn, it gives me tingles to think about it now. The rush of that fight has stayed with me so clearly. One of them had the crossbow, which he tossed aside in favor of two curved daggers. The other wielded a slender, double-handed sword with a hooked tip. Both intriguing choices, perhaps even moreso to me in my intoxicated state.
When I stepped forward to fight I can remember smiling, even though my left arm hung practically useless to me. The weight of my sword felt right regardless. I was really drunk. That’s probably what made it such a good fight, I had a bolt through one shoulder and liquor on my brain, but all I remember was the exhilaration of a fair match.
I can still hear the whistle of that slender blade and the clack of those daggers on my own. Sometimes a little alcohol frees your mind of its encumbrances. You speak Truan a little more fluently, or you laugh a little easier. My footwork was divine. They couldn’t touch me if they’d had nets. They didn’t die too easily though.
Whatever they’d given Dionus was intended to be lethal, and even with my Healer it took a few days to bring him around. We had to stand guard over him the entire time: as soon as it was known that he was vulnerable there were plenty willing to try and take his feather. It was incredibly stressful, not knowing how many might come or how powerful they could be. Standing guard with no reinforcements to be had.
It’s why he has come with me to this place – it’s why he is willing to spend his last few days bound to this earth at my side.
When he came to he was silent for a full day, sullen even, before he finally told me that no one had ever cared for him. No one had ever risked their life for him. Most would have simply taken the place of his assassins for the simple trophy of his feather.
He had never had a friend.
It’s funny, but until that moment I hadn’t thought it possible for someone like Dionus to even be my friend. Since then, I have always thought of him as such. And what a good friend he is.
Bolton, on the other hand, is no friend to any of us. In fact he was my enemy until only a few years ago. Until the Nantese began to soften his heart, he remained my enemy in spite of his service. Now he is something else. He even attempts to change us, to help us see the Nantese in a different light.
I find what I am about to write to be as strange as anything I have seen in the Nanten, but suddenly I hope he does not die. Not because he doesn’t deserve to, and not even because we need all the swords we can get, but because in some strange way I hope he truly can change. The possibility bodes well for all of us. I hope he can cease to be my enemy, and perhaps he could even become my friend.
We are in a great deficit of friends out here.