A bit more of Elucuna’s story. She arrives in a new location with Glohitan and is met with the prospect of a new ally.
Morning had broken, and my fatigue weighed ever more heavily on me. It started in my eyes and spread outward, dulling the adrenaline of traveling in a strange land with a man I had never met before. Glohitan remained reticent throughout much of our journey, and I was hesitant to start any kind of conversation again, given his short manner with me before. I was surprised that the amsas weren’t tired, but they seemed steadfastly unaffected.
At last, we paused. Before us a grand valley stretched into the foothills of snowy mountains, its verdant folds and ripples array with jade flora, the like of which I was totally unfamiliar with. These were Quariosian plants I was looking at, with their curious curves and spikes and colors that did not seem to belong to vegetation to me. Reds and pinks blended with greens and yellows, and it was hard to distinguish flower from leaf, so many were the hues before me.
My eyes fell over this valley, and I looked to Glohitan to permission to step off of Isma. With a nod, he himself dismounted and walked into the grass, newly bedewed and soft.
“The Valley of Voagry,” he announced with a slight air of pride. “This is the land of a woman who can help you.”
“Help me? What woman? The last woman we saw you would not explain to me!” His eyes wandered back to me, and a slight smile flitted over his face.
“You should know there is no explanation for some things.” His tattered cloak had gained new color in the dawning of the day, now showing its vermillion undertone. His eyes were now alight, his entire being seeming to be refilled with life. Despite his age, the shade of his skin was vital and deep, and he did not look as though he had ridden all night through the countryside and woods.
“The Valley of Voagry,” he began again. “Is named for its ruler, Voagry Treir. She is someone who can see far and wide. She will have something to say to you. You have come to Quarios in unusual circumstances. You are no farmer’s child, no urchin off the streets of Jitasa. You are a person who will be searched for, forever. Your father will interrogate the entire island of Orikrindia to find you, and if you wish to remain hidden, to stay on this road to liberation, you will have to work hard, for a long time. It will not be easy to do this all alone. You will need the help of more than your brother Poltyar and myself. If you are fortunate, Voagry Treir may agree to help you survive.”
I was silent. I knew Poltyar had arranged for me to be brought into an island, but all he had said was it would be a “place of respite”. I knew little else beyond that. At this time, I felt a strong urge not to be thrown around between actors in a drama greater than myself, for this was exactly what I hoped to escape in Orikrindia. I did not wish to become, at best, a commodity, at worst, a plaything. Yet here I had come to a land that was completely foreign to me, where I had no benefits of connection or history; it was a place where I would always be an outsider, and this was a fact I had come to accept intellectually, though I would find that it would be a long while before my heart would learn to accept it.
Despite my frustration, I knew I still had to take whatever I could find when it came to help from people in Quarios. Whoever this Voagry Treir proved to be, I knew I had to do everything I could to make her my friend, or at least my ally.
It was not long before we were met by patrolling guards. I hoped perhaps they would recognize Glohitan, since he seemed to be familiar with (acquainted with, I suspected) this Voagry Treir, but they did not know him by sight, and we were obliged to submit our mounts and meager packs to the custody of these grim guards. We ourselves were kept under watch by whom I assumed were their lesser ranks, while their leader went and spoke with another of his colleagues some distance away. As we waited, the morning grew late, and thirst began to gnaw at me, in addition to my lasting fatique. The sun had started to heat up the air and the humidity became cloying.
“Let the girl sit in the shade, at least,” Glohitan said to one of the guards who was watching us. “She’s no more like to run off from under a tree than from the middle of this meadow.”
The guard said nothing but nodded, and took me by the arm. It was a strange feeling being handled in a way that felt so common to me. In Orikrindia, no person of such a station would have been allowed to lay a hand on my person. I was unconcerned, but the feeling of being physically at the mercy of another was unknown to me. The guard did not bruise me, however, and led me over the sit beneath the breezy arms of a willow that bordered the small creek beside which we had all gathered. I bent to drink from the creek, and my body was a bit renewed by the cold water. I thanked the guard, hoping to make nice with the people of Voagry Treir in whatever way I could. There was no alliance that wasn’t worth forging at this point in my journey.
It was noon at least by the time the head of the guards returned to us. I had fallen asleep against the willow and was woken by my own hunger. I glanced over to Glohitan, who had joined me in sitting beneath the willow tree and had his head on one of knees and his eyes lightly closed. In the distance, I could see the guard walking back toward us.
“Glohitan,” I whispered. “He’s back.”
He lifted his head and squinted into the sun. “So he is. Now we can stop wasting time.”
As the guard approached us, his expression was much lighter.
“You are welcomed by Voagry Treir to her Valley. We entreat you, Glohitan of Naeglitan, to follow us to the House.”