Time traveling is one of the most exhausting forms of human transportation. However, it’s the only way I could go back and visit Kalarn, a time when King Oden and his Raiders threaten an entire nation, all to find The Girl with the Scar.
Eva Solace has been gracious enough to sit with me, albeit briefly. And after inviting me into a small tent of one of the Strikers, she’s even been hospitable enough to offer me some pine needle tea.
“Is it always this snowy around Winter Hills?” I can’t stop shivering, and this deerskin coat does nothing to ward off the bite of the cold.
Eva’s wearing nothing but this black leather, and she doesn’t appear to be cold at all. Taking a sip of tea, she shakes her head. “I don’t know. It’s the first time I’ve ever been this far north.”
The way she examines me, she seems to be far more suspicious than others I’ve met from the past.
“How did you find me?” she asks. “And the letter,” she shows me the note that I wrote to her, “how did you get it here? How did you know you even know I was in Winter Hills?”
Trying to keep the conversation calm, I say, “I talked to a few people who saw you heading this way.”
“A few people like who?”
“I…just a few people a long the way. Why do you ask? I mean, if you think I’m a threat of some kind, you can just talk to Wolf or Jahn. I saw them both on the way in and they vouched for me to the Strikers. Both of them did.” I thumb over my shoulder.
“I don’t care who vouched for you. I need to know who you are and why you’re looking for me.” Her grasp tightens on the handle of her mug.
How could I explain that I’m from the future, merely just a reporter interviewing those from the past? It’s too much to say, so I try a different approach. “I saw the Raiders not far from here, and they looked to be coming this way. Why? I don’t know. But either way, you and all of these people might want to think about leaving.”
That deflates her somewhat. “The Raiders? How far?”
“I don’t know. With an army that size, a week, maybe two. Word is that they’re looking for the Girl with the Scar and they’re closing in on her. If she’s hiding up this way, then she’d do best to keep her head down and lay low for a while.”
She stiffens at that, and resolutely, she adds, “Well, I hope for her sake that stays out of their way.”
“Was the Dark Queen with them?” asks Eva.
“The Dark Queen?”
Her eyes narrow. “You know about the Raiders, but you’ve never heard of the Dark Queen? Lord Sekah, they call her.”
This is the first I’ve heard of the Raiders’ commander, and my astonishment only serves to unnerve Eva even more than she already is.
No longer offering me her full attention, she hurries out of her seat and starts out of the tent. “I’m sorry, I have to go and alert the Strikers. If the Raiders are close, then time is running short.”
I call after her, but before I can get the words out, she’s already out of sight.