7. EdwinMature

There had been arguments. For the past few weeks, the Alliance had been trudging steadily northwards towards the pole, braving the biting wind and the snow that clutched at tired ankles. But the question was - for what purpose? The ice caps were too harsh to be inhabited by people, so they were left as sparse wastelands for the stronger animals to enjoy. Edwin had presumed they were just travelling for the sake of keeping movement - it was dangerous for them to stay in any one place for a long period of time. But people naturally got pissed off with ambling without an aim, and when a day came where no food was hunted, the ill-feeling exploded into conflict.

In total, only 5 men shifted, including Todd. But that was enough to do significant damage to other people and the surroundings. Three men had started the fight, refusing to move onwards until they got some answers about where they were going. Jonathan had tried to suppress them with words but he hadn't been listened to. Todd shouted them down but it just triggered people to take sides. Edwin was one of the few people that watched rather than getting involved. The fact was he wasn't really sure how he felt about the Alliance and its aims. He wanted them to achievesomething, but equally, the sanctuary the Alliance provided was too valuable to risk with reckless ambition.

Nayah took sides with the rebels, merely to have an excuse to shift and fight. The battle was brief, as Todd made no hesitation in shifting himself. In his dragon form, he dwarfed those around him. His skin was a vibrant deep purple that glinted in the sunlight. Several people got charred with one breath, and the combat soon ceased in a puddle of deep snow melt.

But the conflict had ignited the issue into everyone's minds. Where were they going? What were they doing? What was their purpose?

Since the argument, the group had been walking quietly, seemingly quite subdued. But it was simply the aftermath of losing a fight that caused this, not agreement. Edwin knew more problems would happen soon.

There must be a reason for Todd's distance thought Edwin. Todd wouldn't be vague about their purpose if he wanted them to know it. He saw the fractures his silence was causing in the Alliance - which was a significant weakness as unity was the only thing that held them together against the high ones - but he left questions totally unanswered.

All would be revealed at some point - people just needed patience. But in such an acrid and unrelenting environment patience soon wore thin.

Edwin walked up alongside Aadam, who had instantly stepped next to Todd when the conflict began, which was a surprising move. It was a long-shot, but perhaps Aadam knew something of Todd's plans.

"A calm day," said Edwin, feeling stupid with his attempt at small talk.

Aadam raised an eyebrow, "Yes I suppose. Best we can hope for in a place like this."

"It seems illogical to be traipsing knee-deep in ice and snow when we could be grazing on warm fields down south," offered Edwin.

"What, grazing amiably with our oh-so-gracious high ones, sharing plates of grapes and eating soft cheese?"

Edwin managed a small laugh, "Surely there are places other than here that are seldom inhabited?"

"Of course," Aadam paused, "How does the bottom of the ocean sound? Or perhaps one of the three moons will take your fancy. I hear Giano has some beautiful mountain views."

Edwin couldn't deal with Aadam's word games, which were out of character for a man of his wit, "This ice does not stretch on forever, though I must admit it feels like it does. What happens when we reach its end?"

Aadam shrugged, "Maybe we will not reach its end."

"What do you mean?"

Aadam's voice dropped low, "I know of your intentions with this conversation Edwin, and I am sorry that I do not have the answers that you seek, no more than any other man or woman here apart from Todd himself. But I do think that Todd is a logical man, who is making logical decisions based on information we do not know. He has never made journeys in the past without purpose, and he never withholds information without good cause."

"Aadam, you seem different."

"People are not always as they seem," answered Aadam.

"I fear that everyone in this Alliance built on truth is keeping lies," Edwin muttered.

"Every man has secrets," said Aadam, "Even yourself. It is not secrets that are bad - it's the reasons behind them. Do not condemn a man for hiding something. Condemn a man for hiding something for the wrong reasons."

"So you're saying not knowing could be to my benefit?"

Aadam nodded, "Wouldn't you agree that you wished you did not know many things about this world of ours?"

"I suppose, but that wouldn't change the facts that life is a b*tch."

"No, but it would make that b*tch easier to bear."

The End

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