Goldmight floated apart from the group. He smiled,and put his hands out to the fire. He basked in the warmth for a time.

“You’re a lot like us, Bin.” Goldmight said. “The Leaves aren’t the best, or the most popular. We’re together, because we’re better that way.”

“That’s a stupid way of putting it.” Pidelle said. she was enraptured in her books, making notes of a cobbled spell for a tent.

“Is it?” Nutrose said. He pointed to the gnome sisters. “How often do you two get pushed aside, too brainy for your own tongues?”

Kleb grunted. “Or a troll that is too refined to participate in the older rituals of the tribe. I can’t enjoy a good glass of wine or a piece of art without it being considered a freakish hobby.”

“We’re actually cousins,” Goldmight said, hugging Nutrose close. “A couple of fairies who no one takes seriously because we’re too colorful.”

Ona set down his cuirass. He tapped it twice, and then rubbed a hand over his inked right arm. The cuirass expanded, and folded over itself, becoming a makeshift dwelling around the campfire. He sat down next to Bin, and shrugged.

“Look at me.”

“I can’t.” Pidelle shouted from the carriage. “You shut off the light!”

“Get in here, then!” Ona roared back. He grinned at Bin. “Gotta love a good chance to be together with friends.”

Bin nodded. He pretended to understand. He knew that was a thing that most people could.

Goldmight wasn’t fooled. He laid a hand on Bin’s shoulder. Bin looked up at him.

“I don’t have any friends.” Bin said. “Since I got here, everyone treats me like I’m not good enough, or in their way. Only Hilt is willing to give me any time and not sound like it’s a burden.”

“And she’s scary in her own right.” Goldmight said. “Well, look at you now!”

He spread his hand forth. “In just two days, you found six more.”

Bin smiled, and nodded.

“So can you maybe scrounge up something else for us to eat?” Goldmight grinned. “We’re not exactly the best at outdoor life, especially as dark is getting on.”

Bin ran out of the dwelling. His arms were engulfed in flame, lighting his path through the woods. Squirrels, birds, all the wooded creatures ran away, but he didn’t care. He had friends!

And friends needed food. He had seen some mushrooms, and even more of the berries. And the root vegetables. This place had food aplenty. Not the bark he had had to live on for a few days that time. He dug up a few tubers, and set to finding something better. Maybe even a rabbit…

That was probably insensitive to Ruby. Maybe something else, but bigger than squirell…

“You’re too nice, you know that?”

Bin looked up. Nutrose was perched up in a tree. He held a few birds, geese by the looks of them. Throats slit with a minimal cut, blood dripping down on the ground.

“You found food.” Bin said.

“You too.” Nutrose said. “Thought I’d help. Everyone else seems to just be content with letting you do everything.”

“They don’t know how to…”

“Goldmight doesn’t want them exerting themselves.” Nutrose waved his hand. The dead geese floated down next to him. “He knows that the Glass Cliffs are too important to waste energy on something like food.”

“Then why me?” Bin asked.

Nutrose smiled. “You’re a nice kid. In a stupid way. And you got us some fire without any fuss, so I’ll give you some free advice. You need to top trusting everybody.”

“I don’t.”

“Right.” Nutrose looked out in the dark. “Everyone at the Circle has their own agenda. And for the most part, no one cares what happens to anyone else. If you don’t watch out, you’re going to end up on the short end of someone’s little scheme.”

“You guys invited me here,” Bin said.

“And why did we do that?” Nutrose asked.

Bin didn’t have an answer.

“Food for thought.” Nutrose said. he laughed, and gathered up and shook the geese. “Better get these back to camp.”

“Everyone has an agenda…” Bin reasoned. “Including you?”

“Especially me.”

copyright 2018 Jack Holder

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