The Unfinished Song: Initiate
|“89” by yag65|
“…accept being smoked out of the Labyrinth like a rat?” cried Nilo.
“You’re just going to let Zumo win? You know that none of us will ever follow him as War Chief !”
“It’s too early to say it will come to that.”
“His blood flows from the Bone Whistler, and so do his ambi- tions. He’s already got you out of the way!” said Nilo. “With the White Lady under the Curse of Obsidian Mountain and your father growing older, and now you exiled—who else is there to stop him?”
“You going into exile with me won’t help,” said Kavio.
Nilo exchanged glances with some of the others. “It will—if we go to the Yellow Bear tribehold to raise an army against him. There are many of our people still living there who would follow us, who would follow you, Kavio. You could return in a year’s time with Tav- aedies and warriors at your back! We could finally wipe out—”
“Enough!” said Kavio. He inhaled air past his clenched teeth to calm himself. “Enough, Nilo. You mustn’t talk like that. You mustn’t even think it. I will raise no army to march against my own tribe- hold. And I will take no one into an exile that I alone earned.”
“I guess we all knew you would say that.” Nilo shifted his feet. “That’s why we brought you journey gifts.” He held out his spear. “I want you to have this—no, don’t shake your head. You can’t refuse, it’s a journey gift. We took care to gather nothing from the Labyrinth itself, only outlying holds.”
One by one, each one of them pressed close to Kavio to give him gifts. Weapons, clothing, food, water, even jewelry. Overwhelmed, touched, Kavio could only murmur his thanks.
When his friends had dressed him and weighed him down with almost more than he could carry, they finally allowed him to say goodbye.
Nilo clasped his hand, then hugged him. He said in Kavio’s ear, “But you are going to the Yellow Bear tribehold, aren’t you, Kavio?”
Nilo smiled, satisfied with that. “Whatever you do there, we will be waiting for you when you get back. We have no doubt you will be back. And then the blooded spear will be loosed, whether any of us like it or not.”
Kavio camped alone, as before, in much greater comfort, but with even less peace of mind. Nilo and the others had meant to encourage him to come back to the Labyrinth. Instead, the disturbing conversation made Kavio wonder—if his return to the Labyrinth would ignite a civil war, maybe the best thing he could do would be to stay away. So much for the freedom of exile. His responsibilities trailed him like spies.
Perhaps actual spies trailed him as well. He again heard a rustle nearby, a subtle crackling in the leaves that made him tense. Maybe Nilo, or some other would-be ally, still wanted to…
TO BE CONTINUED