Wolves at the Door (part 48)

Gil waited until they were walking again to ask:

“So that was a… friend?”

“Despite all appearances, yes. As I told you, the ways of our people are not the ways of everyone. It is Pol’s way to be disparaging as a sign of affection. I must admit, I rather enjoy the give and take of it. It satisfies an urge to perform that I barely knew I still possessed.”

You didn’t know you had an urge to perform? You, who wax lyrical at a moment’s notice? Perhaps you could have asked… oh, anyone who’s ever met you?”

“You may be incredulous, but remember that when I first came here I had been living alone in the woods for some years. Wild animals make a poor audience. They are constantly interrupting, and few can follow even the most basic narrative.”

Gil looked sideways, to see if Alfvin was serious. Now that he knew his friend was capable of joking, he had a feeling he would constantly be kept wondering. He decided to change the subject instead.

“Do you know where we are?”

“Not precisely, but I am certain that we have already completed more than half our circuit. Each step we take brings us closer to home.”

“Speaking of home, what do you want to do when we get back? Are you going to sell the rest of the stuff we brought with us? Or do you want to take another trip to the world outside?”

“Both of those and more. I shall do some more trading, and stock up on the kind of goods that we shall need to take with us. But it is probably best if we delay our return until the worst of winter has passed. By my reckoning, we can probably arrive in spring if we kill a few more hours here before leaving. I think I may visit some more friends while we wait. You may explore on your own, or catch some sleep before we leave. You have been awake longer than I have today.”

It had been a long day. Gil was inclined to lose track of time in the unchanging light of this place, but they must have been walking for several hours by now, and he had been up for a full day before they got here. Of course, when they returned to their own world, that day long in the past. Weeks, or more likely months, would have gone by, though for Gil it would feel like yesterday. It was good that they would not have to camp out in the snows of winter, but trying to think about the time difference between the two worlds still made his head ache. Maybe one day he would be able to calculate the relative durations and make plans around them as easily as Alfvin seemed to. But for now, the more he tried, the more he was certain that he needed to sleep.


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