After Dechar had left, Oliana seized the opportunity to finally state her true plans to Keon. “Keon… you don’t think Orlo would mind my staying, do you?”
Keon’s expression went from pensive to startled, almost excited. “What do you mean? You want to stay?”
“Hush! We can’t let Dechar hear us. He doesn’t know. But I would like to stay. I want to see if you can help me with some things.”
Keon’s brow was raised. “What sorts of things?”
“I think it’s only fair that, since I saved your life, you teach me how to be a proper thief. More accurately, I’m interested in learning how to wield a weapon and remain unseen. And if you teach me how to speak the Alfarian language, I’ll teach you how to read.”
“Why the sudden interest in learning how to wield a weapon?” Keon posed. “Do you think Gillireth is looking for you, as well?”
“I wouldn’t doubt it. At any rate, I’d like to be able to defend myself.”
“And how long do you plan to stick around, dear?”
“Difficult to say. Ylva will teach Dechar many things about the Dechi and about magery. She told me that the dynamic of Dechi magic lends itself to learning teleportation after several other skills, and she said teleportation alone can take months to learn. Dechar need not master it, but when he gains enough ability, he’ll come find me. I’m positive. And when that day comes, Dechar and I should have a clear idea of what it is we have to do next.”
“Hate to worry you, dear, but we’ll be packing up and moving on today. We don’t tend to spend too long in one place. Even if he can teleport, how do you expect him to find you?”
“I don’t know. But he will. The fortune teller said so.”
“That’s why you’re doing this? Because that eccentric old woman told you to stay with me and let him leave?”
“She wasn’t just some old woman! She knew things about me that were far too personal, far too true. She had an undeniable connection with Fate herself.”
“Be realistic, dear. Even if she does know the future, you can't just blindly trust her. For all you know, she could be in league with Gillireth.”
“Don’t be silly!”
“Well, how can you know for certain? All I’m saying is, it might be awfully convenient to send Dechar away with this strange Dechi woman you know nothing about so that she can deliver him to the king in exchange for, say, the immunity of her tribe.”
Oliana looked at him with concern in her eyes and a quiver in her voice. “Ylva saved your life. You shouldn’t say such things.”
Keon relinquished a sigh. “Alright, well, I’ll go speak to Orlo. Something tells me he’ll be obnoxiously delighted that you’re staying. He’s already been calling you my girlfriend, and the teasing never ends with these Alfar. Seriously, you might reconsider learning the language--”
“Just speak to him, will you?”
“Ylva,” Dechar found her sitting near the stones that had contained the flames of the night before. “What’s going on with Oli? She’s not one to withhold anything from me, but she’s been acting a little odd lately, and I think you know something about it.”
“Well Dechar, we’re keeping a secret from you.” Her voice was smooth as her eyes remained fixed on the ashen coals. “And you two are keeping a secret from me. If you ask me, I think that brings us to a stalemate,” she told him with a straight face.
Dechar took a deep breath and a seat beside her. “Can you give me a hint?”
She looked up into his eyes now, trying to conceal a slight grin at his charming question. “No. Do I get a hint?”
“If I gave you a hint, would you give me one?” Dechar was smiling now.
“Then that’s that. At least we’re honest about keeping secrets,” she let out a light giggle.
“I’ll tell you mine when the time is right,” he said.
“And you’ll also learn mine. When the time is right.”
Ylva noticed Oliana walking toward them from the corner of her eye. “Oliana, are you ready to leave now?”
Her countenance had taken the hue of the ashes, but she said yes. She hoisted a pack over her shoulders which held her book. The kerchief of sorts that Keon had given her was sitting around her neck.
Dechar and Ylva rose from their seats as Ylva spoke. “Alright, everyone has all of their equipment and the like? Said our goodbyes? Right, no reason to linger, then. Now, Oliana, you said Fia can be called and will catch up with us? Then we won’t bother teleporting her; it’d waste my energy. All I need to do to take all three of us is hold on to you both.” She placed her hands on their shoulders, and Oliana squeezed Dechar’s hand as tears threatened to roll down her cheeks. “Close your eyes. Here we go.”