Master Orthus closed his eyes and was silent for a while.
‘We have to bring them to the Temple’, he finally spoke. ‘Both Ailintho and I.’
‘No, Master, your health will not let you to travel so far’, I shook my head immediately. ‘You won’t go, no way! I won’t let you!’
‘And I will not let you go alone all the way to the Temple’, he was equally stubborn. ‘This land is full of dangers, you need to have someone who will accompany you.’
‘Master, please listen to me!’, I took a deep breath and was attempting to convince him to change his mind when suddenly the warrior spoke
‘I can go with Lady Ailintho.’
We both looked at him surprised.
‘You are right’, Wanlorn continued. ‘Master Orthus is not physically strong enough to travel for so long but you cannot go without someone to protect you.’
‘I can protect myself’, I answered hastily. ‘You saw yourself that I can control Energy.’
‘I did see your skills’, he nodded his head slowly and kept staring at me attentively. ‘But I also saw how exhausted you were after spending so much of your own powers to keep it in balance. No matter how big, your skills are not enough. You will need a warrior.’
I had to admit his words sounded reasonable. Gems could not stay in the forest and had to be returned as soon as possible. Apparently the only people who could take up such a dangerous task were the warrior and me. I barely suppressed the sigh of displeasure. Events have been unfolding fast, too fast for me. Living in a quiet forest and sticking to a regular, leisurely rhythm of nature, I was not accustomed to receiving so many stimuli nor making quick decisions. I only met the stranger yesterday and now I was to set off for a long and dangerous journey with him. I didn’t like that. I didn’t like that at all.
But I knew I had no better option so I nodded my head and said,
‘Fine. We’re going tomorrow in the morning.’
Wanlorn’s face showed no emotion, I bet he experienced many dangerous journeys and this one didn’t make any impression on him. He moved toward the door and said
‘In this case let me please move to my room and prepare for the travel.’
We both bowed slightly as the warrior was leaving the room. As soon as the door closed Orthus asked me,
‘Ailintho, if you don’t want to go, I’ll send someone else.’
‘No Master’, I shook my head. ‘There is no one in the community who has enough knowledge to do it. If there is any druid who can complete this mission, that’s me.’
‘I’m not talking about the journey only, I want to know if you trust the warrior. If not, I’ll find an excuse to send someone else.’
I said nothing and came close to the window. Children were playing hide-and seek among the trees and Lendra was shouting their names to make them return to the hall. The sun was setting slowly announcing the time for rest.
‘Can you trust him Ailintho? Can you entrust the jewels and yourself to his protection?’
The image of Wanlorn carrying me came to my mind, I recalled his pulsating and alerted yet positive energy and nodded.
‘I think I can. Although I predict he won’t be a good companion’, I smiled ironically.
‘I’ll be praying to God and Goddess to protect you on your way’, Master sighed, his eyes were sad. ‘They know that sending you to Theria is the last thing on my mind but I believe in you, my child. I taught you everything I know myself and trained you in all the Druidic craft that had been passed generation after generation. There is no better candidate to fulfil this mission than you, Ailintho. Osla would be proud of you.’
I closed my eyes to prevent tears that suddenly appeared from falling. I took a deep breath, smiled and turned to Orthus.
‘I’ll do my best, Master’, I said quietly. ‘I’ll go prepare myself too. Good night Master’
He smiled to me and sent me the wave of good energy. I was still smiling when I left the room and went the corridor to the residential area of the building but as soon as I entered my room and closed the door, I burst into tears.
Leaving the forest seemed like the biggest nightmare in the world and I was about to do it in just a couple of hours.
I fell on the bed and began to cry, I was weeping so bitterly and so long that I finally fell asleep.