What to do next. . . ?

Derek sat up, and saw that it had been a while. The fire had died down a little bit, and Gwen was sitting a small distance away by herself, probably lost in thought.

As he took in the scene around him, he saw that Soren, Kiandra and Jon were asleep nearby. Kiandra, he noticed, radiated the most peaceful aura that was possible when she was asleep. Like a child.

A child. . .Where was Thomas? Had the kid not wandered back yet?

"Der. . .rick." he heard from nearby. "You're awake?"

Derrick turned to see Gwendolyn, who must have heard him and wanted to see who was up and about.

"How long has it been?" he asked.

"An hour and one half." Gwen replied.

Derrick forced himself not to step backwards. To be near Gwen was slightly. . . .overwhelming, especially if you knew that she had the power to command anything and everything to do whatever she wanted.

When you remembered how good-hearted she was, it was a little easier, though.

"An hour and a half." he repeated. "I wonder if the kid got lost. . ."

"You mean Thomas?" Gwen asked. "I haven't seen him."

"That's what I thought." Derrick told her. "I don't suppose that he'll come back on his own at this rate, will he?"

"No, perhaps not." Gwen remarked. "Derrick. . . .what am I to do with all of this power? Must I always have to discern what it is right and wrong to use it for?"

She looked pleadingly at him.

Derrick sighed. He was never good at this sort of thing, consoling people. His father called it an unnatural thing to be unable to connect with a woman. His older brothers, however. . .Derrick shook his head. Some people in this world needed to be made examples of, but it was not his job.

"What do you think you should do with your power?" he asked.

Gwen blinked. "Shouldn't I be doing everything I can to stop Arkham and the Lords from doing evil things? But what will happen after that?"

"That's not up to me!" Derrick exclaimed. Didn't this girl know anything? Whatever she wanted to use her power for, whatever problems it gave her. . . "It's your power. What could you possibly want that's anything close to evil to being with? The only thing you should do with evil is stop it. Find something better to replace it with." he said, suddenly sure of that answer. "The only thing it's good for is getting a rile of people to do wrong. Look at that quack Arkham and what he did to you before." he added darkly.

It took him back to the day that he met Kiandra. Just half an hour before, he had secretly stopped a rich fool from  milking a innkeeper for all he was worth.

Gwen's eyes widened at the mention of wanting something to do with evil, but softened at the end of Derrick's answer.  "I understand." she said. "You seem to have a sense. . . . a sense of justice about you, Derrick." she smiled a little glancing up at him with a strange light in her eyes. "Do you want to play boy hero, and follow me to stop the evildoers?"

Derrick's mouth dropped open. A slow blush crept up into his face and he tried to stutter out some sort of excuse when Gwen started laughing softly at him.

"Oh, I was only teasing!" she exclaimed, laughing even louder. "You have no need to try and explain something like that to me."

Derrick stopped stuttering and stared at his shy, powerful comrade in surprise. She was trying to tease him at a time like this?! What could possibly be going through her head?

Gwen must have thought his expression was funny, because she laughed a little louder.

"I'm sorry!" she said. "But I didn't expect you to react that way! I thought that. . I thought. . ." she chuckled to herself, but managed to calm down. "I'm sorry."

"No, it's. . . it doesn't matter." Derrick managed, running a hand through his hair self-consciously. "What you should be doing is. . ."

Gwen held up her hand. "I know what I have to do. I'm just unsure of how or where to begin is all."

Derrick nodded. "We'll have to regroup and plan after we find Thomas Aquos."

The End

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