I sat in the bed, knowing as soon as we were better, we had to get moving. Elthinor, Gabrithon, and Pinnathir were already looking quite well. I was healing the slowest out of all of us. It had to be the poison. I was guessing the poison was also why Nolan had not sent out monsters to capture me. That, I thought happily, was good. If he thought I was dead then he would not be expecting us to attack. And that would be a correct assumption. We were not going to attack.
“Well then what are we doing?” Gabrithon demanded; he was lying down outside the window, his arms on the sill and his chin on his arms.
“We are going to unite the races,” I said calmly.
They all stared at me like I was crazy. Valtrak was leaning back on the wall beside the window, arms crossed. He and Gabrithon had been much friendlier to each other of late. I had a sneaking suspicion it was because Valtrak had saved Gabrithon from the dungeons. And, in part I suppose, because they had missed each other. I did not know why, but they must have. They were practically inseparable now. Pinnathir was crouching in the corner, hands on the floor, as he stared at me with his head tilted slightly to the left. Jaiden stood in front of the closed door, nervously playing with his hands. Elthinor was lying on the bed, head resting against his upraised hand.
“How are we going to do that?” Valtrak asked flatly.
“Yeah. I mean, we all hate each other, Fily!” Pinnathir exclaimed.
“It is not just that we are going to come together. We must. These creatures are riled up, and now that they have seen us, we who represent all the races, work together, they will come after each race to oppress them. Just like with the Human race. I have reason to believe they came after Humans first and foremost is because they are the spiritual leaders out of all of the races.”
“What makes you think that?” Jaiden asked.
“Llugat, the leader of the Vampires, said so,” I replied.
“How can you trust this information?” the Human asked suspiciously.
“He was drunk on daylight when he told me. That and he tried to…never mind,” I said hurriedly.
Elthinor shot into a seated position. “There was never an ‘and’ the last time you told us this,” he said, his eyes flashing. “What did he try to do?”
“It did not happen. So it does not matter,” I said, raising my hands up.
“Filynora.” That one word was cold and made me shiver, and it did not come from Elthinor, but Gabrithon.
“He…well,” I shifted uncomfortably. “Oh, his intentions were rather clear. He was not just going to go to sleep. He wanted to…play with me.”
There was silence then Pinnathir leaped to his hooves and an angry bleat came out of his mouth. “How dare he?!”
“I am going to kill him,” Elthinor growled, jumping to his feet and pacing back and forth in front of me.
“Nothing happened,” I said firmly.
“And there will never be the chance for something to happen again,” Gabrithon said seriously.
“Really, you do not have to-”
“No use in arguing,” Valtrak stated with a nod.
“Fine. Can we get back on track?” I asked irritably. “Good, now Humans were attacked first, but now that they know the other races could get involved, they will not be content to let your own races be. We need to convince the leaders if we can, and if not, the youth.”
“Not just them,” Valtrak said. “Just whoever will join us.”
“But you said-” I started.
“I said that the youth are the ones most likely to join us,” Valtrak said. “And I do think that will carry on throughout the other races, though I am not sure how much. For all I know, the youth in the Centaur culture might be fiercely loyal to the adults, while Elves might be a little more rebellious. I just do not know for sure.”
I sighed and rubbed my temples. “This is going to be extremely complicated, right?”
“We are going to try to mend the broken relationships between the races, Fily,” Pinnathir said with an arched eyebrow. “Most of the races show at least deep mistrust of the other races, if not downright hatred.”
“Yes. We know for a fact there is enmity between Satyrs and Elves and between Dwarves and Centaurs,” Elthinor said, nodding once.
“From what I understand, Humans are somewhere in the middle. Nobody really hates them, but they are not well liked either,” Valtrak added. “In fact, Dwarves barely have any interaction with Humans or Elves. Sometimes we run Satyrs off our lands, but most often it is Centaurs.”
Elthinor got a funny look on his face. “Elves tend to avoid Humans. We do not like them, but our dislike is not even close to the hatred we feel for the Satyrs.”
“I believe all our hatred is derived from fear,” Valtrak replied.
“What?” I asked, confounded.
“Well think about it. You have heard stories about evil Elves, so naturally you are afraid of them. Dwarves are told of the shattered-eyed Centaurs that come to kill and steal, so we are afraid of them. Elthinor told us of crystal-eyed Satyrs that kidnapped him and his sister, and he sounded afraid. Fear is a very powerful motivator. I believe it is the Dark Ones’ most powerful tool. They make us afraid of each other, which compels us to kill each other, which leads to battles, which conjures up more fear. It seems like it is an endless cycle. If we can break that cycle by showing each other that there is nothing to fear, we could bring the races together again. Of course the hard part will be convincing everybody that the beliefs that they have been taught from childhood are wrong.”
We all stared at Valtrak. What he said made perfect sense. I had been afraid of Elves because of the stories. And Elthinor had obviously been afraid of Satyrs. The Dark Ones were very clever; I had to give them that. They must have worked very hard to get the races to a state of such dysfunction. We were going to have to work at least twice as hard to change the way they felt now. I took a deep breath and looked up at them.
“We need to get them back together. We need to figure out where we are going first,” I said steadily.
“What do you mean?” Elthinor asked slowly.
“We are going to the kings and queens. We are going to rally the troops, as it were. We are going to convince them, or try our hardest to, that the other races are not the enemy. That the Dark Ones and their lackeys are. So, where are we going first?”
There was silence around me and they all looked thoughtful. They were all studying the walls or the floors. Nobody seemed to want to talk first though. Finally Valtrak stirred.
“You were in the favor of the Dwarven king,” he said, bringing his violet eyes to meet mine. “I suggest we go there first.”
“And what am I supposed to do?” Gabrithon asked. “I am not going down those tunnels. Not where they could brand me. Besides, I do not know if I could go down them. It is said that the tunnels are tricky for Centaurs to maneuver.”
“They are purposefully designed like that,” Valtrak replied.
“You will stay here then,” I said with a nod.
“What? Why?” Gabrithon asked, slamming a fist onto the sill.
“Because I need somebody I can trust to begin to teach the boys how to fight. I shall trust Laetitia with the females, but I need at least one of you to stay behind and train them, lead them, and bring them together. Gabrithon, I know you want to come, but I cannot let you. I need them to trust me, and that is hard enough being a girl. Please?”
Gabrithon stared at me for a moment. “I know you have my best interests at heart. But promise me one thing.”
“Depends on what it is,” I said with raised eyebrows.
“That when we go to see my father, the Dwarf has to stay behind.”
“Then I shall stay.”
“Excellent. I trust that you shall whip these males into shape?”
“I shall certainly try my best,” Gabrithon said, his lips twitching with his amusement.
“Good, now we need a plan of action,” I said, settling back against the headboard as the dull ache in my side made itself known again.
“I need to lead you back into the city,” Valtrak said immediately. “If I do not, you will certainly be captured and taken to prison. Remember that you left with a knife to my throat, and I did not return after you promised that I would. They probably assumed that you killed me.”
“Well, I did not, and they will soon see that.”
“And I am glad Gabrithon is staying behind. If he did not, I fear that we would be received even less warmly than we shall be now.”
“Well, I wish we would have thought ahead,” I said wistfully. “Things are going to be so much more complicated than they should be. And they were complicated to begin with.”
“Do not blame yourself, Fily,” Elthinor said, placing a hand on my foot that was resting beside him. “We did not know that we were going to have to do this.”
“Why are we doing this anyways?” Pinnathir asked. “Why do we need to reunite the races? What will this accomplish?”
Elthinor paused. “That is an excellent question. You seem to know what is going on, but we do not. Care to explain?”
“Because we need that last scroll,” Jaiden said. Everybody looked at him; he had been so quiet we had nearly forgotten about him.
“What?” Pinnathir asked, many questions held in that one word.
“Nolan has no doubt gotten the last scroll. He obviously grew up in Shadowlyn. He would have known about the Temple. He has no doubt gone and gotten the scroll. He might have destroyed it, but we have to try to get it if it still exists. That and we need to get rid of the Dark Ones. They hold a powerful sway over everybody and Filynora is right. They will come after all the races now. Do we all really want to be taken over, or maybe even wiped out?”
“No,” Elthinor said darkly. “We do not.”
“Then we must band together and fight this!” Jaiden said with such passion that I could hardly believe it was him who said it.
“Agreed,” Pinnathir shouted leaping to his hooves again. “We cannot allow this to continue now that we know it is wrong and going to get worse!”
“Here here!” Gabrithon said, raising a fist into the air.
“So we are all in agreement?” I asked. There were nods all around. “Excellent. Now we should start preparing for the journey.”