“I can’t believe you punched him,” Nerui said.
They trudged slowly through the sinister wood. The trees grew from the sludgy ground and disappeared into the sky, stopping all but a little bit of the already dim light of Nefern Dale’s sky.
Deadrick said nothing. He hadn’t stopped moving since his confrontation with Danyel.
Once Nerui had stemmed Danyel’s bleeding, they had caught up with him and Bruad, but Danyel had stayed a few metres back from him.
Bruad was now walking with Danyel, and Nerui was now using her special brand of annoyance on Deadrick.
“I mean, we all want to do it, but you got to have some self control, big guy,”
Deadrick didn’t know if that was intended to be a joke, but either way he didn’t laugh.
There was silence for a moment, until Deadrick finally spoke.
“Why are you still following me?” He asked.
Nerui looked at him and narrowed her eyes.
“I mean, Danyel’s here because he can’t go home until Juhra is gone, Bruad is still here because Skrule ordered him to- Werewolves don’t disobey orders from their pack leaders,” Deadrick said, not once making eye contact with her, “But why are you here?”
Nerui was dumbfounded.
“But you,” Deadrick interrupted, “You could just go home, you could be safe in Rillwynn- the Council would think you were still with me and you could be protected behind the tree border in case I… in case I failed,”
Nerui’s face was blank for a minute. There was another, horrible silence.
“When I was young, the clan arrived at the Meivari Well. We went there every four years,” Nerui started, “It was a source of Thray magic, we stayed there for three days and three nights- it allows the Elder and the Chanters to channel their energies for the next four years,
“It wasn’t just a source though, inside it, the Demon Meivari was trapped. The tales told that he was a sorcerer, who’d been trapped centuries ago because he used the blood of two Elf children in his magic,
“Meivari was forced to stay behind a magical barrier within the cave where the pool was. The Clan would wait outside during the day, while the Chanters and the Clanmaster channeled the energy. They would come out at night and seal the entrance,”
As she spoke, Deadrick listened intently- but he didn’t show it.
“I was so young. I was curious. I stole the key that opened the entrance, inside, I saw the Demon. It wasn’t what I expected- Meivari had taken the form of an Elf, and I know now that only the Chanters and the Clanmaster were allowed in because only their minds were tuned enough into the Thray to ignore Meivari’s tricks,”
“You let him free,” Deadrick said quietly.
“When he was freed, he stormed through the camp and hunted the Chanters and the Clanmaster,” Nerui said, her voice cracking a little, “My father managed to seal him- but only after the ground ran red with the Chanters’ and the Clanmaster’s blood,
“It takes twenty full years to train new Chanters- and they are the Clan’s link to nature. Elves perceive the world differently to other races- through the magic the Dragons left behind, they see the world as a living, breathing creature. When the Chanter’s died, the Clan was torn violently from their connection- I wont even try to describe what that feels like to you, but they suffered withdrawal symptoms, they were angry, and when they found out it was me who released Meivari, it was all my father could do to stop them killing me,”
“He banished you,” Deadrick said.
“Yes, stop interrupting me,” Nerui snapped, “The Clan would have to go into hiding whilst five new Chanters were chosen and trained- he said it wouldn’t be safe for me until then- and even after the new Chanters fixed the connection, the Clan would most probably be unwelcoming,
“The moment I stepped over the border line, I was no longer part of the Clan. And without any connection to the world, I simply wandered aimlessly. I was found- eventually. I trained myself to be stronger, and faster- and tougher. And then, after eight years I found that I didn’t want to go back. So I kept on wandering, until I met you,”
Deadrick stopped walking and turned to her, she stopped and looked back at him.
“And I’m going to stay with you until the end,”
Deadrick’s face flickered for a second, before he nodded, and began walking again.