Chapter 8:

The Remedy

An Old Friend's Final Request

Gotthard and Eena march through the snow in relative silence, with the wolf they aptly named Blizzard following them from a safe distance. Normally Gotthard would fill the space with his endless talking, but today he was rather quiet. Once they were deep in the forest, he spoke. "I see you're finally getting along with those two. It's about damn time."
Which is true. After her confrontation with Gertrude, Eena would rarely participate in conversations without prodding. After another moment of silence, Gotthard realized she was waiting for permission to speak. "Damn it girl, can't you see an invitation to speak when it's given to you?"

Instead of calling him out on his clear lack of communication skills like she wanted to, Eena instead opted to just say, "If you wanted me to get along with them, why didn't you say so?"

"There's no point telling a child to do something. Best to let them feel the effects for themselves."

"I'm not a child."

"Oh my mistake. With your baby face I had forgotten you were this worldly sage. You're all children to me, girl."
Realizing the conversation is straying from his intended path, Gotthard attempts to steer it back. "I'm not trying to antagonize you girl. I wanted your opinions on them."

Curtly, Eena said, "They're nice people."

More silence.
'That's it? This girl is trying my patience.'
"I only keep them around because they remind me of your parents, you hear?"

Thinking she could finally get the answers to her questions, Eena lit up, if only for a moment. "How did you know my parents? Why did they send me here?"

"Why ask for answers you already have? You mentioned 'thee Gotthard from legend,' did you not? There are others in that legend, yes? In truth, those legends belong your father. I may have the magic, but he's the one who commanded it."
Damn it Gotthard, what are you doing? She's not supposed to know this.

"What? That doesn't make any sense. Father worked under the previous mayor as his successor. What sort of game are you getting at!?"

"That's the story he went with? Listen girl, I don't play games. I don't have time for such menial endeavors, you hear? The previous mayor was a member of the Cult of Quaggih. He sacrificed the citizens to his cult, so your father killed him. Years later, I suppose Srath took up the position himself."

Still skeptical, Eena asked, "Why would he lie to me Gotthard? What about mother then? You said you knew both of them."

He only chuckled. "I don't understand it either. Your mother was a ranger like the rest of us. She was the only thing holding Srath together during our exile."
Stop it Gotthard!

"Exile? You can't be serious."

"What do I have to gain by lying girl?"

She snapped back. "What do you have to gain by telling me the truth!?"

He stopped in his tracks and looked her in the eyes. He sat still contemplating the answer for a while.
'What do I have to gain?'
"I don't need you living in delusions any longer."

"And what benefit does that serve you? So I can live in your delusions instead?"

'This girl. Why didn't you just tell her the truth Srath?'
Instead of answering, Gotthard simply continued his walk.

"I'm not done Gotthard!"

"But I am. I won't waste my breath on someone who refuses to hear it."

"Don't walk away from me!"
Her scream echoed through the trees. When he didn't even look back, she screamed again. This time casting her rage into a nearby tree. The crescent of ice, burrowing into the trunk. Then another. Then another. Then another.
Her hands spill blood into the snow, but she hardly notices.

With her hands still leaking blood, she stormed back to the cottage.
'I've had enough of that bastard! I won't stay here any longer!'