Silence haunted them before somebody spoke again.
“What you call free is very different to what I do,” Percival said sadly. Receding into his memories, he recalled the years he’d spent on the run, when happy thoughts had seemed locked away in places he couldn’t reach. He glanced at Anala and realised how much everything had changed after finding her, how everything had assembled and he’d first stumbled upon what he would later proclaim as his purpose in life. “The truth is, we are both as confined as each other, I by my status, and you by those who believe themselves higher than you. But you do have choices, Willow –,”
“Will,” he snapped abruptly. Percival and Anala both looked at him bewildered. Feeling their eyes on him, he became instantly aware of his own body and how uncomfortable he was in it. “You’ve been calling me Willow, but that’s not my name. Not the one I like. I’m Will. I – I had to shorten it so I wouldn’t get beat up. Around here, people name their kids after dead warriors and big swords. I was named after a tree.” He thought he heard Anala mumble something about how at least it was a nice tree.
“I – right, err –,” said Percival, for the first time lost for what to say. “I am not sure how I go about this, honestly.” At himself, he let out a half-despairing chuckle.
“The beginning, Uncle,” answered Anala softly. “Start from the beginning,”
“Yes…Willow –,” he stopped himself, met with a demanding glare, “Will. What do you know of Veritatem?” Anala immediately rolled her eyes, her idea of beginning different from his. She walked away disinterested, looking down out of the bay window as traders began to move out to work and stared up curiously at the grand suite where two Western strangers had hidden away.
“Veritatem? That’s what you call the creation story, right? About the Goddess and the Ten?”
“Correct,” Percival nodded. “Etr’efār athua Sequek, sra aq athua Astel. Those are the first words.”
“‘For a minute there was Darkness,’” Anala recited quietly, blankly meeting every stare from below. “‘And then there was Light.’”