There was silence for a moment, just Layke smiling at Waiye and her watching him cautiously. Then she spoke.
“Are you Layke that Percy spoke about?” her voice was soft and beautiful.
“Yes,” Layke said.
“How can I be sure?” she said carefully. He smiled, and put his hand in his pocket. Sure enough, it was there. He held out his hand, and Waiye put out her palm, in which something dropped. Her eyes flicked down to it, then she, too smiled, though only slightly. Layke knew she had recognised the coin that Percy had given him.
“You’ve been in contact with Percy?” she said, eyes now resting on his face.
“Yes. He said you liked my ideas about the revolution.”
Her eyes darted back and forth, scanning their surroundings and checking for anyone listening in on them. It seemed that even though she had a gentle voice she was very alert. Then her eyes came back to rest on Layke.
“I didn’t say that. I just said I wanted to hear more about it. I … it’s an interesting idea.”
Layke nodded. “Percy didn’t like it. He said you’d be interested, though.”
“Percy’s nice in that way,” Waiye smiled for the first time. Layke liked her smile. It made her seem more innocent somehow. Then her face grew serious again. “So. Your idea.”
“Yes, my idea.” Layke cleared his throat, feeling important. Just as he was about to say it, it dawned on him that it was rather silly. “I want to … want to start a revolution.” The last word came out whispered, and he thanked the darkness of the night that allowed his blush not to be seen by Waiye.
Waiye didn’t laugh, though. She just stared at him intently. “How do you plan to do that?”
“I’m not really sure.” Layke laughed nervously. “Get enough people, then maybe...” He trailed off.
Waiye nodded, seeming not to have noticed. “That’s a reasonable first step. We’ll have to do something about that second step, though.” She smiled again.
“Don’t worry, it’ll come in time.” Layke smiled too, feeling the atmosphere lighten. Then a question dawned on him. “Waiye … you’re a girl, aren’t you?” He blushed. “Of course you are. I mean, you are a girl.”
Waiye nodded. “Why am I against the other women?”
Layke nodded. “Yes, why are you?”
“Because some women can see the truth. They can see that it is unfair, and that it needs to be changed. I’m not the only one who believes this. There are more, some who come from far away, but they are also in my village. That is why we need to run away.”
Layke was about to reply when her last statement sank in. He blinked. “Run away?”
“Yes. We need to get out of here. We need to round up those we can, and I can assure you, no-one that we need in in this village.”
Layke said nothing for a while. “When do we go?”
“Tomorrow. At the crack of dawn, before your female relatives awaken. It will be a swift getaway, and by the time everyone else wakes up, you will be gone.” Waiye looked at the ground. “We will be gone.”
“Who are you bringing?”
Layke nodded. Then a thought flitted into his mind. “What about my father?”
Waiye shook her head. “We cannot be sure that he will be faithful to the cause. And besides, there won’t be enough rations to go around. I expect you to bring rations too, by the way.”
Suddenly Waiye seemed very heartless. “He will be. He has been ordered around by his wife for twenty years; I’m pretty sure he’d be faithful to the cause.”
“We can’t risk it, Layke. I’m sorry.” Waiye looked at the ground. “I’m not bringing any relatives.”
“Fine,” Layke sighed. “Tomorrow. I’ll bring six days’ worth of rations and a hunting knife.”
“You’ll need to bring more than that. twelve days’ worth at least. We mightn’t be able to replenish our supplies in the other women’s village.”
“Why would we need to replenish them? How far away is this village?”
“We aren’t just going to the village. We’re heading for the capital city.” Seeing the surprised look on Layke’s face, Waiye added; “How else would we start a revolution? Anyway, we can gather plenty of people on the way there. Crown is a fair way away.”
“The capital is Crown?” Layke asked, surprised. “Crown is a legendary city.”
“So it is. I will see you at the crack of dawn tomorrow,” Waiye smiled.
“What? Are you going? Wait!”
But she was already gone.