Rouben retired to the barn, where Dragomir and Cyril were lying. Dragomir looked in much better shape, Rouben thought as he approached them. He ignored Cyril.

–Why did you come back?– Cyril asked.

–They said it was my turn to sleep.

Though the skin around Rouben's face was sagging and creased, and there was a blue shadow around his jawline, his eyes were, as usual, glittering with manic fire. –Good news,– he said, after a while, and suddenly, as if the thought had just occurred to him. –We're getting aid.

–From where?!

–Around the world,– replied Rouben arbitrarily. –People have come together, and they sent us some weapons and food today, smuggled into the barricade by one Aleksandr...Aleksandr Alexandrov.

–What a name,– remarked Dragomir weakly.

–Hold on,– said Cyril. –I've heard of Aleksandr Aleksandrov from somewhere. Oh, yes: he's a famous freelance journalist. He once came to our village to research for an article on rural life in Europe.

–Then he must be stopped!

–Not so fast,– said Cyril. –He was trying to help you. Don't be paranoid.

–Don't tell me what to do, Cyril,– said Rouben, with real malice in his voice. Dragomir was momentarily glad that he had gotten on the right side of the young man.

–Maybe Cyril's right,– Dragomir tried to mediate. –Maybe he's helping us, and even if he is a traitor,– he added, carefully catching Rouben's eye, –we can still take his aid, even if we refuse him access.

–What kind of image is that going to bring?– said Cyril hotly. –We already look like militants to the rest of the world, now we're going to look like paranoid militants. Added the weapons: dangerous paranoid militants. And not to mention the fact that...

–Be quiet, Cyril,– growled Rouben. He went unheard, and Cyril's next words were damning:

–Freedom is an incomprehensible language to slaves, we've all got to remember that. Nobody's going to support us if we haven't got a comprehensible goal.

There was a heart-stopping silence. Dragomir desperately tried to intervene, as Rouben presently looked like he was struggling to resist the urge to grab Dragomir's knife and stab Cyril repeatedly with it.

–Perhaps we ought to tell the vloggers and Aleksandrov all about our cause,– he said hastily.

There was still a silence. –At any rate,– continued Dragomir, feeling as if he was babbling on to himself, –we need to press for a case to free Krasimir, because we need him back.

It had the desired effect. Rouben stopped staring at Cyril and looked around. –Cyril, if you could go to the barricade and keep watch,– he said. –Dragomir, I hope you're better, I'd like you to help bring in some weapons. I'll be out for a bit.

He turned and dragged himself towards the communal sleeping-area. Dragomir noticed how his form had aged since he had first met him, on that damp Summer night.

The End

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