As we discovered Jack’s deed, I warmed to him a little. Disgusting as his acts towards the dead creature had been, he had saved us, and now the village, which must mean he has some shred of decency. As we watched him being cheered, Destran came to stand by me.

“I still don’t like him.” He muttered.

“Give him a chance?” I suggested.

“Do not tell me you like him too?” He asked, glancing towards the new girl Brena, who seemed rather starry eyed.

“I think first impressions are difficult to keep, second impressions are somewhat untrustworthy, and the opinion you gain from getting to know someone is invaluable. Therefore I suggest we either leave him or get to know him; either way, we will be better off. Unless he turns out to be the idiot that my second impression thought he was.” I smiled up at Destran after my speech and turned to go back in to the house. He followed soon after, and sat round the map that Brena’s father had supplied.

“I wonder where Zahkon and Lyra are?” I thought out loud as Destran stared at the map.

“They’ll be together.”

“Undoubtedly. I’m just not sure I like that.”

“First you give me a speech about impressions and getting to know people, and then you don’t like that they are spending time together. Tut tut Yara.” He grinned.

“It is different. If they become involved... who knows what the tree people’s mating customs are? I only know that we fall in love with one person, and one only. If she were to fall, and he did not feel the same... I do not want my friend to be hurt.”

“I understand. But you must let them have a chance.”

“All that training made you smart didn’t it?”

“Oh no, I did that all by myself.” He grinned as he studied the map.

“Careful. Your head might grow too big for your body.” I slipped from my chair and went to stand behind him, looking down on the map. “But then, you always did have abnormally large facial features...”

He twisted in his chair and stood, towering over me.

“Are you going to continue to mock me? You know that as the Prince, I could get you in deep trouble for doing so.” A tweak at the corner of his mouth and the twinkle in his eyes told me he was joking.

“I apologise your royal big nose. I had no idea that the truth could cut you so deep.”

As I grinned and dared him to reply, he looked down on me with that same twinkle in his eye. Then there was the sound of footsteps outside the door and we broke away from each other, seemingly both aware of how close the jesting had made us stand.

The door opened and Jack appeared, looking rather depressed.

“Why the hell am I their hero? I don’t get it!” He gazed around the room and saw that there was only the two of us there. “Sorry, am I interrupting something here? Do you want me to leave you two alone?”

“There is nothing going on; we were just discussing our destination.” Destran said in his most formal voice.

“You sure? Cos if you and the water woman want to get a little heated... just don’t let her boil alright? Things might get a little too... steamy?” He was over exaggerating his words with winks, and I realised that his references to boiled and steam were meant to be jokes about me being water based. I rolled my eyes, a little offended.

“That is inappropriate.” Destran said, keeping his calm.

“So what? It’s the truth. Where are the other two? Is she watering his roots?” He winked again.

I felt my eyes go dark. He had first insinuated that Destran and I were... and then insulted Lyra’s virtue as well! He surely did not know that a sievere treasures their virtue, and are monogamous. We pair for life.

“How dare you...” I started, but just then Brena appeared, followed by her mother and father.

She glanced between us.

“What is going on?”

I cooled down and turned away, unable to look at Valenstar since he had insulted mine and Lyra’s virtue.

“Nothing.” Destran stated in an authoritative voice, and I could imagine his blue eyes piercing icily into Jack’s; daring him to speak again. The thought gave me comfort, and I turned with normal eyes to join the discussion as to where we were next headed, and whether we were to take these two strangers with us.

I very much hoped that the man named Valenstar would not be accompanying us. Any warm feelings towards him had vanished.

The End

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