“That it is,” Eryn agreed. “Can I have it back?”
Drystan had sucked in a breath through his teeth as if having to make a hard decision, then let it out with a laugh. “I suppose so,” he said, and with that, he twirled the arrow toward himself, deftly flicking the knife away from his throat with the same movement. Eryn could have countered, but she decided to let this one slide. If she started a contest of dexterity, who knows how long it would persist? She did, however, catch her dagger midflight and return it to its place on her hip.
Drystan cocked his head. “Giving up so easily?” he asked with a mischievous gleam in his eye.
“I’m here to hunt, not to spar,” Eryn replied dryly.
He nodded. “Fair enough,” he said and held out the arrow ceremoniously with both hands.
“Are the fish biting?” Eryn asked, accepting the piece of ammunition. The two walked together back to the bank of the stream to peer into the clear water.
“Not particularly,” was Drystan’s reply. He turned to look her up and down. “Say, since you’re not here to fish, why did you come down to this part of the woods?”
A cold feeling started to settle in Eryn’s chest. “I already told you, I’m hunting,” she said, continuing to watch the water wash over a mosaic of round stones, avoiding his gaze.
He snorted. “Hunting for what? All that’s around this part of the woods are songbirds and owls—I’m surprised you found what you did,” he handed her the dead dove, which she took with only a sideways glance. “What’s up?”
Eryn took a long breath in before looking up. “I…I came to say goodbye,” she said softly.
Drystan’s face morphed into a look of half surprise, half consternation. “Goodbye?” he questioned. “Where are you going?”
Eryn had to force herself to continue looking him in the eye. “I’ve been chosen to be an Elvin ambassador,” she explained, trying to keep a level tone. The words evoked both unbridled exhilaration and a pang of anxiety. All she’d ever wanted was to live alongside the Elves, but now that her dream was coming true, she wasn’t sure she was ready for the responsibility. And then there were those elements of her current life that she wasn’t sure she was ready to leave, like Drystan.
Drystan’s eyebrows shot up. “You really made it?” he asked with a bit of awe in his voice.
Eryn nodded. “They sent my summons this morning.”
Drystan was silent for a moment, processing. Eryn turned and hopped the few stones to cross the stream, and he followed.
“Sorry if I don’t’ say anything for a little while,” he said finally. “I…I just don’t know what to say.” He sat amidst the roots which he had been nestled between when Eryn had first caught sight of him. “Honestly, I don’t know what to think.”
That was Drystan, never afraid to speak his mind. It made it easier that way, Eryn had realized.
She sat down beside him. “Me neither,” she said.