Perhaps I could have asked Tim to watch the horses instead of doing it myself… now there’s hay and oats down my shirt. But no, I didn’t mind sleeping beside Gaunt. He’s gentle, for a stallion; he pushed his nose in under my arm during the night. My side was sticky with his saliva when I woke. Slimy, but somehow pleasant.
Since the crowds are surging toward the ships, I rode out to find the dockmaster. Only Reyla came with me; Eliana and Intimara wanted to stay at the tavern, and I asked Tim to stay with them. Reyla sat in front of me on Gaunt and pointed at people and stalls and waterways, and looked up at me and talked and asked questions as we trotted – or, in the thickest crowds, walked – along. I thought the city new and exciting myself, but it must have been completely new to her, a desert girl. Acacia was built around and over and in the mouth of a river. Many of the streets were wooden walkways over flowing water, and there were raisable wooden bridges across the deepest sections of the river.
There were three overseers at the dock. Several guards were also there, but they were wearing Brucian purple, not Lao-Khulminian, whatever color they wear. When Reyla and I approached one of the overseers, he told the guards to remove us to the back of the line; I shouted that I was looking for information, not passage. He said to go to the dockside tavern and ask for Talle. The name sounded familiar.
We went, and I asked the tavernkeeper. Talle turned out to be the same old man who had come to see Tamon’na and Jenna. He was sitting in the far corner of the tavern common-room, smoking a sandalwood pipe and drinking hot tea. He gazed at us in turn and nodded slowly. “You were with the Elf.” He recognised us. He didn’t know our names, of course, but I didn’t expect him to. I asked him what was happening. He said the kingdoms were emptying, ship by ship, onto Bechia. He sighed, and said that the Wyvern Lords lacked responsibility – the same as Meramon said. I asked where Tamon’na and Jenna had gone. He wouldn’t answer. Hmm.
I told Eliana about Talle; she asked if I had spoken to him about magic, and found out what had happened to the orbs around her. I apologised. What a fool I can be sometimes… I spoke to the head wizard of Silencia, and only thought to ask about the exodus and Tamon’na. Eliana looked disappointed, but she shrugged and said it didn’t matter. Why would she say that? Of course it did! The orbs had almost gotten her killed, and if anyone would know what had happened, it would be Talle.