The grass smells glorious with my nose this close to the ground. The rich earth below is staining stained-upon stains on my shirt but I don’t mind. The precipice I’m peering over is a grand and terrifying one, dropping almost instantly before us. The wind steals the crackle of the flames from the campfire below, let alone the warmth, but the night is barely brisk.

  “How long do we have to watch them?” Little-One says from beside me. I can feel her there, wriggling impatiently, not nearly as interested in the two campers that are similarly huddled up near their site.

  “Until we can be sure,” I reply quietly, letting her know with the tone of my voice that I expect her to follow suit. She does.

  “Sure of what, exactly?”

  “Sure about who they are. Until we can be sure they’re safe. Until we can tell they might just be worth our trust.”

  “How are they doing so far then, on the Stavren-scale?”

  I smile at this but she doesn’t see it. She too is watching now, uncaring, I think, of the answer I may or may not disclose. She’s judging them herself. She may be young but she knows how important our safety is. How vital our secrets are.

  “With the tribe the way it is now-” I start, choosing to let her in a little “these guys will have to score a perfect ten to even get a shot. We’ve got enough problems on the inside without letting in newcomers.”

  Little-One is quiet for a time; sad, I think. Despite her reluctance to join recruit-recon this evening she likes new members. It makes her feel a little less alienated.

  “It will be over soon though, right?”

  “Hmm?” I mumble, my thoughts somewhere else entirely.

  “The civil conflict,” she says, wrapping her tongue around the phrase that seems so strange to us all. You can hear it on her voice, the weird taste of the words. We started anew to get away from such things, such political idiocies, but here we are, our very own war brooding between our brothers.

  “I don’t know, Little-One,” I say truthfully, “with the sisters of the wood refusing to pick sides I fear this may go on for far longer than we would like to anticipate.”

  The night picks up where our conversation leaves off, sending in the crickets to soften the blunt period that hangs in the air between us. The trees rustle delicately in the breeze behind us, the bark of their trunks creaking ever so slightly. I hear Little-One sigh.

  “I bet you they’re nice,” she says, motioning towards our marks. I gaze again at the two sleeping figures.

  “I hope so, Little-One, I hope so.”


~ by Joseph Blame on March 15, 2011.

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