Gabrithon was very uncomfortable with a strange physician touching him. It was worse because the Elf's touches were causing him pain, but he said nothing. I opened my mouth to scold the Elf, but Gabrithon looked up at me sharply, and his eyes clearly said 'Don't say anything.' I settled back down and sat there silently. Neither king had come over to talk to us yet, so we just watched Gabrithon's wounds being soothed. Elthinor looked like he was ready to slap the Elf. When I had asked him in a low voice why, he replied that the physician wasn't doing it right. So I looked over my friends, and my eyes stopped on Valtrak. I immediately assessed his eyes for the first time in a while. They were dim. Not only that, he was grabbing his stomach. We had just eaten and it seemed the meal wasn't agreeing with him.
"Valtrak, are you all right?"
"I haven't had the necessary component to my diet in a while," he said in a gruff voice.
"Does it hurt?"
"A little. It's not as bad as it can get."
"How long until it gets that bad?"
"A few weeks."
The medical Elf looked up. "And what component do you need in your diet?" he asked.
Valtrak was silent.
"I, too, am curious about this," came the king's voice from behind me. "Please tell me."
"Gems, your majesty," he finally said, albeit reluctantly. "Or, more preferably, crystals."
"Gems or crystals? Absurd!" the physician laughed then turned back to Gabrithon. "Nobody can eat those."
"What is your name?" I asked.
"Geonicrin, how much do you know about Dwarves?"
He turned to me, and I saw that his hands were bloody. "Not much other than the fact that they look strange and are short."
Valtrak bristled and surged to his feet. "I am not short! Why does everybody say that I am?"
"He means in comparison, Valtrak," Gabrithon said with a chuckle.
The Dwarf crossed his arms angrily. "I am not short," he groused then sat down.
I resumed my conversation with Geonicrin. "So since you know so little about Dwarves, how in the world are you expected to know about their diet?"
He stared at me and narrowed his eyes. "Though you have a good point, I still believe it is impossible for any creature to eat crystals."
"If I gave him one, would he eat it in front of me to prove that this isn't a ruse to steal our valuables?" the king asked.
"I would gladly prove that," Valtrak said before gripping his stomach and grimacing. "Though I doubt you have any."
The king got up and went towards the fire that was closest to his tent. He came back with his sword.
"May I borrow your knife, girl?"
"My name is Filynora."
"That doesn't sound like a Human name," the king said thoughtfully.
I stared at him then focused. His eyes widened.
"That is impossible. Even if an Elf and a Human did marry, they should produce no children!"
"God made it possible. I don't know why He made me, but He did," I said with a nod.
The Elf looked at me strangely. "That is an odd answer. I simply meant that mud and tree are not compatible like that."
"What she said does make sense if you have the whole story," Elthinor replied.
"Wait a minute!" Jaiden exclaimed.
"What?" Pinnathir asked; he said he preferred our company to the other Satyrs.
"Mud and tree! He knew!"
I smiled. "Truth and remembrance do still permeate the races, although in quite small doses."
"What is he so excited about?" the Elf king asked.
"You knew what Humans and Elves were created from," Gabrithon said. At a look from me, he quickly added, "Not that I believe in it."
"You must tell me the story, but later. Now, may I have your knife, Filynora?"
I handed him the blade, freshly cleaned and sharpened. He shifted his sword to where the hilt was in his lap then he began digging at the large purple jewel in his hilt. It took him five minutes, but he finally got it out. Then he handed it to Valtrak.
"Eat it. If you can, as you say you can, I shall give you all the crystals you need when we get back to the palace," he said.
Geonicrin turned again to look and we all watched Valtrak. He glanced around, clearly uncomfortable, then took a bite. The two Elves looked extremely surprised, Geonicrin more so than the king, and watched fascinated as the Dwarf finished off the gem.
"Well, well, well," the king said. "So you really can eat gems."
"Yes," he said.
"Did it help?"
"Yes. It helped, but it wasn't enough," Valtrak answered honestly.
"Well maybe your food shall settle a little bit."
We descended into silence. I looked over the king. His colors were purple and green, the exact same shade as Elthinor. I could only see one cheek, which was a purple cat with green eyes lying in front of a bush with purple berries. His eyes suddenly turned to meet mine. They were purple around the pupils and green along the outside, and on the other cheek were purple flowers with green stems that curled into one. The designs were shimmering slightly in the moonlight, though the moon was just a sliver.
"Do you regularly stare at people, or is it just me?" the king asked.
"What is your name?"
"Lolaiken," he said. "And my question still stands."
"I was studying your designs and your eyes. New ones always fascinate me. God is so creative."
Lolaiken looked like he was about to say something when Gabrithon squealed angrily.
"What are you trying to do, two legs!" he roared.
"I need you to lie down on your side. You have bite marks on your belly," Geonicrin said then pushed on his side.
Gabrithon was on his feet in a second. "I would not trust you near my belly!"
"But the wounds need tending to!" the physician argued.
"Then tell Elthinor how to do it! But I want you on the other side of the fire!"
"You trust this inexperienced Elf over me?" Geonicrin asked incredulously.
"I have so much trust in him that I kneel in his presence every time we dine."
"You kneel for him?" Lolaiken asked.
"I kneel for all of them," Gabrithon said sternly. "I trust them. Even the stonehead."
"Mule," Valtrak replied.
"I see," the Elven ruler said with a hum.
"Why is that a big deal?" I asked.
"Centaurs are creatures of immense speed and power. They are revered amongst Elves. They are what our warriors strive to be like," the king answered. "To have one kneel means baring his head and heart to easy attack. It is a gesture of vulnerability. A sign of trust. A sign of respect."
"Oh," I said. "Gabrithon, how did you know that?"
"I didn't," the Centaur said matter-of-factly. "I just went with it when Lochanor looked surprised and awed."
"Speaking of your son, he is doing something disrespectful and irritating," I said slowly.
"Let me guess," Lolaiken said blandly. "He's playing king again."
"Yes," we all answered in unison.
"That boy will never learn I fear," the king sighed.
"Oh, I think he learned a powerful lesson," Jaiden said gleefully.
"And what's that?"
"Never make Filynora angry," Elthinor said. When he saw Lolaiken's confused expression, he chuckled. "She beat him in a swordfight. I'm sure it humiliated him. He might not try to be king for a while."
"You must be quite the accomplished swordsman," the king said with a solemn nod. "He is quite good and can beat nearly all the guards."
"I don't know about accomplished," I said hesitantly.
"You are," my friends said together.
"If you say so," I said with a shrug. "Now, why are you being so nice to us?"
"Well," Lolaiken said slowly. "You intrigue me. I have never seen a female wield a sword before."
"And I figure you will answer more questions if I am kind to you," the king added after a moment.
"That is a very good thought. It is better than what Jestyn is doing," Jaiden said.
"That is all well and good," Geonicrin said suddenly. "But this Centaur's underside needs tending to. Elf boy, please get over here!"
Elthinor stood and walked over to Gabrithon. He knelt, placing a hand on the golden colored hair of the Centaur's horse half. Even I could see it was trembling, though in pain or fear, I wasn't sure.
"Valtrak, come help him lie down," Elthinor said as the physician backed off across the fire.
The Dwarf obeyed, grabbing his friend's hand gently and helping to lower him to his side. Gabrithon was practically helpless on his side, but he met my eyes and smiled.
"Don't worry about it Fily. I can get up from here, though it takes a moment or two," the Centaur said. "But, as you can see, I am quite vulnerable in this position. I'm glad we are all such good friends. Except for you, but Filynora could take you down easily," he said to the king.
"Duly noted," the king said.
We watched as Elthinor worked to sew up the wounds then he turned and got in his pack, digging through it to find the Raysiam cream. He had some made when we had drawn close to the Elven city just in case Pinnathir or Laetitia got hurt.
"What is that?" the Geonicrin demanded. "I did not say to put that on there."
"It's Raysiam," I said irritably.
"Oh. Well then, by all means, put some of it on him."
When they were done, Gabrithon, with what looked like a mighty effort, heaved himself onto his belly again, but there was a few seconds where I wasn't sure if he was going to make it up.
"Well," Lolaiken said slowly. "I suppose we should get some rest. We have long talks with the Satyrs tomorrow. I bid thee goodnight."
With that, he stood and left. We were left in silence. I yawned and kicked off my shoes, crawling into my bedroll, the others doing the same.
"Filynora?" Jaiden asked.
"Don't ever be my enemy."
"What brought that on?" Elthinor asked sleepily.
"Just thinking about how she looked fighting the Rakshasa."
I didn't reply to them, but drifted off to sleep.
"Hello my dearest one," came a familiar voice.
I sat up, still wearing that black and red dress from before. "Jesiah?" I asked. "It's been a while."
"Since we last spoke like this, yes."
"Jesiah, why did God pick me to do this?" I asked, feeling insecure.
"That is not for you to know yet."
"Of course," I sighed, pressing two fingers into each temple.
"Every race always wants to know this, or has to know that, but just be still and know that He is God. He has everything planned out."
"I suppose you're right. I'm sorry for my impatience and the like, but…I feel too different. I don't want to be a girl anymore. It would be easier if I were a boy."
"On the contrary," Jesiah said solemnly. "It would make things much harder. Be grateful for who you are, Filynora." The forest started melting around us. "And before you go, think about this. If you were any different, in any way, then you simply wouldn't be you. Send Laetitia to negotiate with the Satyrs. You just focus on the Elves. Goodbye dearest one."