Continued… (for a full list of the parts to Ancient Fire, click here)
(Previously: Lottie met Elad the Werewolf and told him her whole story)
“That’s all you have to say?” Lottie asked. “Wow?”
“I think that pretty much covers it. You were raised by the Witch herself. And you ran away from her. And you’re still alive. I just can’t believe it. I mean I do, but it’s just an unbelievable thing.”
“Gotcha. So you can see why I refused to do anything but get this special sword. I just can’t.”
Elad sat up and stretched. “In a way. But I thought that Fyre would betray those who were not the All-Maker’s chosen – those of Nimrod’s blood. In which case, what is the use of you finding it if you won’t wield it?”
Lottie felt a twinge of guilt, a twinge that had slowly been growing since her first refusal. She tried to ignore it. “The Cloak Girl can figure that out. Or the Khentians – they’re still around, right?”
“Very small, very frightened, and as far away from the Witch as can be gotten on this continent, but yes, they’re still here. The only ones left now that Nigra shipped off across the sea six years ago.”
“So they can figure something out,” Lottie said. “My question is, I have a map, and it has Death’s Deep marked on it, but I’m not sure how to get there. Do you know?”
“Sure, I’ve been by it many times in my… wanderings. The sword is really down there?”
“That’s what the Cloak Girl said.” Lottie reached into her bag and handed the map to Elad. He glanced at it and nodded. “Yeah, I know exactly how to get there from here. Want me to take you?”
Lottie took the map back and eyed him cautiously. “You’re offering to take me? What for? What do you care?”
“Do I look like I have anything better to do?” Elad asked. He got up and brushed himself off. “Besides, it’s working towards killing the Witch, and that in itself is reason enough. And who knows, maybe when she dies, if we could manage it of course, maybe it will free me and the others from her curse. Then again, it might kill me, but that’s just one of those risks you have to take when it’s a war. You ready?”
“Sure.” Lottie adjusted her bag and followed Elad, who was already moving off.
“You take this all really lightly,” she muttered. “This is life and death, not making bets over beer. Messing with witches, especially this Witch, is no laughing matter.”
“Who’s laughing?” Elad asked over his shoulder.
“You are. You’re taking this all too lightly, like failing isn’t a big deal, like dying is just an interesting side effect. You don’t get how serious this is!” She took out an apple and bit into it ferociously.
“I know the stakes are high; I know the cost of failing. But failing is not trying. To give it all and still fall short of what is needed, that is terrible – even deadly in this case – but it isn’t failing. Not unless you didn’t try in the first place.”
Lottie said nothing. She took another bite of the apple.
“As for dying, being under my curse for as long as I have, the idea of death becomes far less perturbing. And with the All-Maker’s promise to look forward to, it isn’t surprising I’ve come to hold life so loosely.”
“Right. I can only hope I become as numb to the dangers as you are,” she muttered.
“I don’t know about that.” Elad splashed across a wide stream and altered his course. “But the only advice I can offer you is this: focus on the need, not to risks; act in spite of the dangers, but don’t become blinded to them; don’t be afraid to dare great things because of great costs; you can be afraid but don’t let fear rule you. Courage is not having no fear, but the will to do what is necessary in spite of fear. That’s all I’ve got. My father taught me that long ago, before I learned to heed it.”
“Wow.” Lottie said, stirred by the words.
“That’s all you have to say? Wow?”
Lottie grinned. “Yep. That just about covers it.”
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