Percy stared at him blankly. “Proposal? What sort of proposal?”
“A very important one,” Layke said mysteriously. “Follow me; I don’t want to be heard.”
Layke started moving off, but before he could move very far, Percy grabbed his sleeve and stopped him.
“I don’t want to go.”
Layke looked at his meek little friend in surprise. He didn’t remember Percy being so defiant. “Why not?”
“If it’s so bad that it can’t be heard, then I don’t want to hear it.”
“Oh, but you’ll want to hear it. It’ll make your life better,” Layke said, not really knowing how to persuade Percy. Percy shook his head.
“It could be about revolutionist ideas for all I know. You could be one of Them.” Percy’s eyebrows mashed together. “But you wouldn’t be talking about that, would you? People like Them get hanged by the Ruling Queen -- bless her and may she live a long and fruitful life -- and tortured severely before it.”
“At least the Ruling Queen wouldn’t personally torture and hang them,” Layke joked, trying to make the conversation a bit lighter. He’d have to navigate into safer waters, and fast. How else would he ever hope to convince Percy to join his revolutionist ways?
“Personally? If the Ruling Queen -- bless her and may she live a long and fruitful life -- did it personally, then the criminal who’s being hanged would die of shame before the noose even tightened.”
Layke said nothing. Whatever Percy says isn’t going to convince me to change my view on things, Layke promised himself.
“Criminals like Them should never get away with these horrible ideas against the...” Percy stopped as he registered the expression on Layke’s face. “Oh, no! Don’t tell me They’ve converted you!”
“They haven’t converted anyone,” Layke said evenly. “I’m choosing to believe in the revolution of my own free will.”
“They’re making you think that, Layke. Battle Them in your mind, you can do it.”
“But can’t you see? I don’t want to do it!”
“Yes you do, that’s just Them making you think that,” Percy insisted.
“I’m sure it isn’t, since I haven’t talked to any revolutionists ever. How could they convince me when they haven’t even talked to me before? Telepathy?”
“But why would you ever want to start a revolution against the powerful women? They rule this land, and if you ever try to rise against them …” Percy seemed lost for words.
“That’s exactly why I want to do something about it. The women rule this land. There’s no equality in it. I’m not saying I want to rise up against them, exactly. I just want to spread the idea around so people can see what is actually happening in this unfair world.” Layke shook his head. “If only it were that easy. The women will get angry at me for doing this.”
“I’m still not helping you,” Percy said. “If you want to go against the women, then so be it. Don’t drag anyone else into it.”
“But I can’t do it by myself,” Layke said. “I need your help. If you ever get in trouble, I’ll take full blame for it and I’ll let the women whip me all they like.”
There was silence for a while, and Layke thought he had finally convinced Percy to help him when Percy broke the silence.
“They’ll do much worse than that, Layke,” he said quietly.