Darkness . . . everything tinted with a black as dark as the Forge’s coal. That’s all I can see anymore. Even the distant light of the Forge’s flame seems muddled by the penetrating darkness.
Every day, from before dawn to well after dusk, I shovel coal for hours. My hands used to blister almost completely from the splintery excuse for a handle the shovel is attached to, and the heat of the fire would make them burn. I felt relieved when my hands finally scarred over, but my lack of fingerprints is somewhat strange. Nothing but tough, calloused skin anymore. Like my identity is being stripped away. . .
I wish I could run away, but they blindfolded me for the entire journey to this godforsaken place. The journey alone was almost worse than the blisters — I thought I knew cold before, but I really didn’t. Cold is worse when you can’t see. Sometimes the golems threw me into a snowdrift for fun and it was hell to get out and find somewhere remotely warm. They’d laugh when I would crawl like a worm, tied up and blindfolded. Night was the worst — they would sing to Asrial, the being that gives them life and keeps them walking. Their songs made my heart sink with despair, as though his very name carried a burden I could not remove.
I figure that getting out of here can’t be impossible, and I try to fight the feeling that it is. If I lose hope, there’s no getting out, no matter what I do. I just need to find the right opportunity. Until then, I shovel. For another year, if I must.
“Tell me how you know where he is!” Eryn yelled in irritation. Yelling to nobody was frustrating her.
“Oh, I have . . . ways,” Éleglan responded mysteriously.
“And what do you mean Drystan chose me over you? How do you even know him? Why would he even consider someone as insufferable as you are a friend? And what life debt?” Eryn pressed urgently.
“You have too many questions, silly girl. Whatever happened to making the right decisions quickly? Here you are, faced with the fact that your friend is in trouble, and you’re asking about me? Stop slurping your soup and do something.”
“I highly doubt any suggestion you make is the right decision,” Eryn sighed, feeling too frustrated to bother questioning how the nymph knew of the council meeting. She adjusted her pack and continued to walk in the direction she had been.
“Come on. . . “ the nymph said sullenly, her tone changing drastically. “I’m being serious. Please help me help him.”
Eryn stopped walking and turned to the direction of the voice. The nymph actually did sound somewhat sincere . . .
“How can I trust you?” Eryn asked.
“You probably can’t, but who can you trust anyway? What if I’m right and he really is in trouble? Won’t you feel terrible if you don’t save him?”
“Well, yes, but . . . it’s such a long journey. And I need to get back to Mottlewood to tell them about Mindondelu and their glaring apathy about their personal protection,” Eryn thought aloud.
The nymph sighed. “Oh, if you insist! We can continue to Mottlewood and you can do your silly ambassador business, and then we can go save your friend! But you know that every day he’s still left in Lyenta, he’s less likely to survive the slave drivers with a right mind.”
“Drystan would want me to protect his village and his parents first,” Eryn insisted as she continued to walk towards Mottlewood. “And if you knew him at all, you would know that too.”
For once the nymph had no response.