Mother laid an arm around her shoulders. “Very well, I think we are done here. His Grace can provide us a basket of provisions, and we will walk homewards immediately. The moons will light our way, but we will be unseen by these viscious people. I will not stay a moment longer. The humans can keep their God of War. Our blessed Lady of the Moons is good enough for us.”

 

 

Esefel followed mother on the long march home. She mentally thanked grandfather for the many walks they had taken together – the journey was tiring but not exhausting. She wondered at mother’s knack for gliding through tall glass as if it were a close cut lawn, and sighed at her own dress snagging on every stiff grass and half hidden bush.

Mother had made up her mind. Esefel had made up hers too, but she bit her tongue and said to herself that life was long and there were many chances. Sometimes clusters of straight, tall leaves graced the river bank, but when she tried calling on their power, it was weak and faint and unsatisfying.

 

They crossed the Vengvet hills after a week, and saw the sun rise above the thick green forest before them. Behind them the greater moon was setting, and high among the clouds the smaller moon was fast approaching the sun in its cycle.

“I tried for the flowers, mother,” Esefel said. “There wasn’t much. I will miss that library and my real source.”

Edberene clenched her fists. “Try for the moons, then. I don’t want you to destroy yourself in that place.”

Esefel didn’t reply at once. How could she destroy herself in the place where she had found her Self? Then she said, “the moons are nice. But they are not it. I can make that place beautiful.”

Mother shook her head and took her daughter’s hand. “You can’t make beauty out of blood. There will be stains that never leave. Discord that can never be healed. Once the peace has been torn out, a soul will never again be whole. Come now.” She led Esefel down the hill and in among the trees on paths covered with enchantments of secrecy.

 

She cried when she woke one morning a mere few years later, to see her daughter gone and only a piece of parchment left for her. “Sorry,” it said. “Sorry, but I can’t stay here forever. Grandfather wanted me to learn. I will learn more for his sake and I will make my place of magic the greatest place of knowledge for his sake.”

 

 

Esefel crossed the hills alone, she tore her eyes and heart from the dense forest behind her and took the first faltering step towards the open grasslands leading to Parsan before her. She let the pull of the Source guide her, mile after mile, to the town, to the temple and to the library. She curled up to sleep on the flagstones.

 

The librarian found her there the next day. He was pleased she had come before his end.

 

 

Half a century later

“The translator will be here in a minute!”

The soldier looked up at his comrade peeking through the cell door. “Sounds great! Give me a hand with this guy?”

“Sure!” His comrade grabbed the other arm of the demon lying dizzy on the floor. “Heave, ho!”

Together they dragged the demon into an upright position and hooked the hand cuffs to nails set in the walls.

“You sure he can say anything?” The soldier looked up and down at the creature.

“Yeah – cut them the right place and they talk as well as any other. But you want to snip the horns before he wakes up. Those did a nasty job of one of my pals.” He giggled. “You should’a’ seen the translator when he did it. She threw up!”

His friend laughed with him, and brought out the bone saw. There were blood vessels in the curved antlers and the demon groaned when the blood ran down into his face.

 

The translator didn’t throw up this time. She merely cast a stone-faced glance at the blood, pulled out a quill and a silver-shimmering scroll.

“Very well,” said Esefel. “You may begin the interrogations.”

 

 

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