Valtrak had been wrong about me feeling better. The next morning, I was sore and stiff. After struggling to my feet, I did several stretches, which helped substantially. I could move without much pain. I felt as if somebody was watching me and I turned to see Valtrak was awake. Judging from how tired he looked, Gabrithon had made him stay up all night keeping watch. I immediately felt sorry for him.
“You should go to bed,” I said quietly.
He shrugged. “I’m fine,” he said.
“Liar. You are exhausted. I can see it in your face,” I said sternly, moving to sit beside him and wincing as it hurt my back.
“It does not matter,” Valtrak replied.
“Yes it does.”
“Why are you talking to me? I know you do not fully trust me.”
I did not argue with that. “Where did you go during that battle?”
Valtrak shrugged. “I do not wish to talk about it. But I can assure you I am not a traitor.”
“How can I know that for sure?” I asked gently.
“You can trust me,” Valtrak said simply then looked down.
I stared at him for a few minutes then sighed. “Get some sleep.”
I sat and just looked around, watching for anything that seemed unusual. It was still cloudy, in fact even more so than yesterday, so I was nervous. Anything could happen.
Though the Dwarf had argued about not being tired, he had gone to sleep quickly and lay there, snoring lightly. I let both Gabrithon and Valtrak sleep. The Centaur woke an hour or two later, stretching lazily before standing and trotting around in a circle; he did that to wake up his body, as he had told me several weeks before when I had asked about it.
“Morning,” I said, smiling up at him when he finished his light run.
“Good morning Filynora!” he exclaimed, glancing down at the Dwarf with a distasteful expression. “Did he fall asleep before you got up?”
“No. He was still awake. I told him to get some sleep.
“You don’t actually trust him, do you?” Gabrithon asked, settling down to be more at my level.
“I don’t know. I don’t think Valtrak is a traitor. He just seems embarrassed when I ask him about it, not defensive.”
“But Nolan is right,” Gabrithon said firmly. “It is the quiet ones, and he is the quietest out of all of us. He almost never talks unless he is asked a direct question.”
“That does not mean he is guilty!” I argued.
“How can you defend him when you do not trust him yourself?” Gabrithon snapped.
At that moment I made a decision. “I do trust him,” I said sternly. “And you should too.”
“I am not going to trust a Dwarf. Especially that Dwarf!”
We were done talking after that. Gabrithon got up and trotted a little ways away to brood by himself and I sat watchfully by the fire pit, which had died long ago from lack of wood. There was a dead tree off to the side and I decided to work a little. I took an axe and walked over to the tree then began chopping.
By the time Gabrithon had calmed down from our conversation, the tree was nothing but a stump and there was a neat pile of wood a safe ways away from the now roaring fire. I was in quite a bit of pain, too, which meant that I had not enjoyed the work. Gabrithon walked over and lowered himself to the floor by the fire. Lightning suddenly flashed in the sky and a light rain began to fall. It was not a light rain for long, though, but I had managed to cover the firewood with a waterproof tarp we had bought in Bushacre. Soon Valtrak sat up, woken by a huge crash of thunder. He looked alarmed at first, but calmed when he realized what it was. Gabrithon and I were soaked, but I did not mind. It was a warm rain—it had been a warm spring so far—and I needed a bath anyways. Gabrithon pushed back the hair hanging limply in his face and looked at me.
“Is there anything to keep us dry?”
“We have a tent, but I do not know if you will fit. It is Human-made.”
Gabrithon sighed. “I hope this rain does not last long.”
But it did. It lasted well into the evening. I could not help but wonder how Elthinor, Nolan, and Pinnathir were faring. Had everything gone according to our plan? Had they gotten the scroll, or had they been delayed? Were they almost down?
As if on cue I heard a call. I turned and saw a figure bounding down the mountain. There was one last huge leap, and Pinnathir suddenly stood there in the firelight, dripping wet and holding a cylinder. He offered it to me and I grabbed it happily. I leaped up from where I sat and embraced the Satyr. He hugged me back then released me and turned to watch two other figures slowly and haltingly make their way towards us.
“I was so excited that I could not wait,” Pinnathir said with a grin. “They should be down within the hour.”
I laughed and we sat back down. I did not dare open the scroll until the rain stopped. It would be ruined if I did. We patiently waited for Elthinor and Nolan, and by the time they got down to us, the rain had stopped. We were all soaked through to the bone, and Elthinor and Nolan were muddy.
Nolan groaned and sat down hard near the fire, which I quickly fueled with more wood to get it hotter. Elthinor just looked tired. He smiled at me.
“You missed quite the climb,” he said. “At a couple spots it was so steep that Pinnathir had to drag me up.”
“It is a good thing he is so light. It took both of us to drag Nolan up. Humans are denser than Elves and, I would even venture to say, Satyrs.”
“I fear what would have happened if Gabrithon were there!” Nolan said jokingly.
Even the Centaur laughed at that. Valtrak only smiled lightly, but I was the only one who noticed. Now that I had decided I trusted him, I would stand by that until he did something to change it. His eyes suddenly met mine and there was hope in them. I nodded slightly and relief flooded into his eyes. How could he be a traitor?
I volunteered to sit up with Valtrak to watch the fire and guard the group. Elthinor, Nolan, Pinnathir, and Gabrithon fell asleep, the first three very quickly. Gabrithon looked at me with sharp eyes before he relaxed and shook his head disapprovingly. Valtrak moved away into the darkness to change into dry clothes. When he returned, I went and changed. We sat there silently for a while, no words coming to mind to break the sound of the crackling fire. Valtrak sighed and looked up at me, and he seemed to be a little shy and suddenly unsure again.
“I do trust you,” I said quietly. “Please, don’t let me down.”
Valtrak relaxed again. “Thank you. But you are the only one.”
“Do you know why Nolan is so against you?”
Valtrak bit his bottom lip and shook his head, looking away from me. “Not really. I have an idea, but I would rather not share it. It is just something that others called silly. What is in that scroll?” He changed the topic quickly, but since I had been wondering the same thing, I allowed the change.
“I don’t know,” I said excitedly, popping the top of the cylinder off. “Should we read it now, or should we wait for Elthinor and Pinnathir to wake up?”
Valtrak looked thoughtful. “I really want to know what it says,” he said finally. “They can always read it in the morning.”
I smiled and was just about to pull the scroll out when I heard a growl. It sounded like a Vampire. I closed the container up and shoved it into my bag as fast as I could then leaped up and drew my sword. I saw glowing red eyes and I went after him without thought. I could hear Valtrak following me. I looked back to see he had pulled his axe and was keeping as close to me as he could. I looked back towards the shadows as they led us further away from the fire. They stopped and I followed suit, Valtrak beside me in an instant. It was dark away from the fire and I suddenly realized my mistake. We were dead out here! Not even starlight lit up the field. I swallowed hard and prayed for something, anything that would give us light.
“Give up or we kill the Dwarf,” a familiar voice said.
“Rattuin,” I growled. “How is your eye?”
She shrieked in anger and I felt a claw swipe across my cheek. Warm blood began oozing out of my new cuts and I grunted in pain. Valtrak yelped and I turned to try and see him.
“Give up,” Rattuin hissed.
I did so, sheathing my sword; I would not let them kill my friend just to save myself, and they knew it. I was roughly grabbed by ice cold hands and I heard somebody sniff my neck.
“Llugat,” I said coldly.
“Hello, Strangeling,” the Vampire said smoothly. “How are you? Comfortable?” he asked smugly as he jerked my arm higher up my back, making me hiss in pain.
“Be careful now, Llugat,” Rattuin said with a soft laugh. “The poor girl fell and hurt her back.”
“Oh yes,” the Vampire chuckled cruelly then shoved his knee into my lower back.
I screamed as agony tore through me and my legs collapsed underneath me. I heard Valtrak gasp and struggle.
“Filynora! Are you alright?” he asked, his voice full of fear.
I could do nothing but moan as I hung there limply in Llugat’s iron grip, shivering from the residual pain. He jerked me up and forced me to stand then began to make me walk back towards the camp. I could hear Valtrak mumbling under his breath, but he was giving the Vampires no trouble; he probably did not want them to hurt me anymore. I was thrown down by the fire pit, now nothing but embers and ashes; somebody had put it out!
“Elthinor!” I called. “Pinnathir? Gabrithon? Nolan!”
“Hush Fily,” a low voice said. “It is alright. This is what has to happen.”
“Who are you?” I demanded.
A soft laugh came from across the embers and I saw a shadow figure.
“I am your brother,” the low voice said.
“I do not have a brother.”
“That is what mother told you. Besides, you were so young when father and I were taken that you do not remember me.”
“Llugat, back your Vampires up.”
With no more warning than that, a few logs were thrown on the fire and it leaped up. I looked up and my jaw dropped.
Nolan smiled meanly at me. “Hello sister.”