Chapter 9: Changes

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"Edana," Aislynn approached as Edana was establishing a temporary perimeter around the halted tribe. "Father requests your presence; Camlin is already with him."

"This isn't about last night..."

Aislynn's expression didn't flicker. "No. Something else has come up."

Edana finished positioning and instructing her men, then moved with Aislynn through the resting villagers towards a dense crowd that had formed along the northwestern front. At the centre of the knot, Toryn and Camlin stood facing each other, with villagers flanking. Edana marched right up to Toryn and stood at his right, pointedly, frowning at Camlin.

"What's all this, then?" Her question was nearly drowned out by the heated cries of the forming crowd.

"The people have made a petition to their chief." Camlin said. The crowd directly behind him cheered.

"Father?" Edana asked, ignoring Camlin. Toryn sighed.

"A certain portion of the tribe wish to make camp here, a half-day's journey from the edge of this jungle." Toryn gestured wearily. "There is a stream nearby that they would like to make a permanent settlement at. They are tired of traveling and wish to spare themselves and the young ones the trial of pushing through this undergrowth."


"Others wish to further explore the jungle and choose the best location for a settlement with full knowledge of the terrain."

Edana thought about this for a moment, her brows drawn together. What wasn't he saying, here in front of the crowd? She cleared her throat and raised her voice, choosing her words carefully.

"We're staying in the jungle, then? I advise against it, father. It does not seem a good place. I had thought that we would look for someplace more like our previous lands."

Toryn shot her a look of surprised gratitude, responding, "I had hoped for a better choice as well."

He surveyed the growing crowd before signaling Edana to step in closer. She leaned in, asking, "So? What's the problem? Tell them that we travel onwards."

"It's not so simple." Aislynn said, joining in and speaking before Toryn could respond. "The people see only the struggle of the children and the elderly. They care only for their own discomfort; no surprise there. Families are anxious to start building new lives and to settle. They need to be persuaded that it is best for them to continue away from here, and that will not be easy, since I cannot promise a better choice somewhere else; only the hope of a better place."

"It is foolish to take lands now." Camlin interrupted loudly, butting forward into the private conversation and hauling it back into the public domain, misunderstanding and pointing it in a new direction all in one go. "I don't know why you Ffarachs resist this place so strongly, but certainly we needn't settle at the first spot that some children take a nap. Send my party on ahead as scouts; we'll explore the terrain and report back with the likeliest areas to establish a new village. It's the logical thing to do."

"Have you forgotten so soon?" Edana reared back, nearly spitting with hushed fury. "Four scouts! Four of our warriors, our people, are gone. This is no innocent forest, it is a jungle inhabited by at least one type of creature that possesses the ability and desire to destroy humans. We cannot afford to split up our forces."

"Then you advocate squatting on this piece of land and ignoring the possibilities that exist beyond? What happened to your 'conquor all opposition' attitude?"

"Peace, captains. You quarrel like children." Toryn said, stepping away from the pair. He waved for the attention of the crowd, who were now debating the points made heatedly among themselves.

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