Wolves at the Door (part 13)

“Are you a…” Gil bit his tongue before he said something incredibly stupid. Just asking such a question was extreme provocation. Back in his village, they would be fighting words at the least, quite likely worth killing over.

“You do well to control yourself, though I suppose I invite the question, rude as it may be. Let me say the words, so there is no offence. I lived in your world longer than you might imagine, looking at me, and I have been called many things in that time. Some have called me nithing, despite the fact that I wished nobody any particular harm. Some called me seidmadr, though at the time I had yet to encounter genuine magic. Naturally I had to fight them, or forfeit my place in the community. The world was no poorer for the loss of their ignorance. But the insults became more common, and eventually the killing of obtuse yokels grew tiresome. I moved on, finding acceptance in each new place for a while, until it would all start over again. The pattern became monotonous. Even the good times were spent waiting for their inevitable disintegration. After a while, the time spent outside of society, travelling between places, became the best part of my life, so I dispensed with the rest. Living wild in the forest was not easy, but eventually it led me to stumble upon the same doorway that brought you here. And so, what has at times seemed a curse has led me to a tremendous blessing.”

“But you still go back. I mean, I saw you in the forest.”

“Quite so: I find myself with one foot in each world, so to speak. I prefer it here, I consider this my home, but inevitably from time to time I need to run errands on the other side. Indeed, that is where I think you can help me. I have… very sensitive eyes. Here, where the light is soft and diffuse, it is not a problem. But the full brunt of a noonday sun can be debilitating, so I prefer to run my errands at night. Here there is no day and night, so it can be very difficult to know what time it will be on the other side. You, on the other hand, may find the nights… problematic at times?”

“That’s putting it mildly.”

“But you have no such problems during the day. Thus we complement each other perfectly. If you are willing to assist me in my errands, I think we shall do very well together.”

Although Alfvin’s demeanour remained enthusiastically friendly – almost too friendly – Gil remained suspicious. Clearly the older boy was still holding something back.

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