So I have a Nualla now. Or maybe she has me; I’m not sure. I headed back to the pavilion after I tucked Nathaniel in (shut up!) and was going to see if there was anything I could do to help. Prince Blaise was still in an awful state. The reason I say maybe Nualla has me, is she whispered in my ear that her Queen needed me, that I could have the Prince come along if he needed to, but that she needed me right away, please, and hurry.
I checked with the Prince– he was in no condition to come, of course — and then Nualla opened a portal, and off we went down the Shadow Roads to … somewhere. Somewhere dark and if I’m truthful, a little cold. Like a cave. There was red light everywhere.
Valene was crouched on the floor: she looked so hurt, so like she might just sink into death. I was so worried for her. And there was someone else there with Valene, a woman in a mask. I could tell she was beautiful, and I wished to see her face. Val just said “Galy and I need a favour,” and I didn’t clock who she was right then. Later, I realised she must be the same Galyanna I’d met so long ago outside Castle Shithole. Then, she’d been wearing armour and her face was shrouded in shadows. It was impossible to be sure, but I think it was the same person. Behind her, there was a huge beast, a cat of some kind, who looked very big and very menacing. I didn’t approach her for worry about him.
They explained that Vedis was dead, and that this home would be moving, somehow. Val was too weak to take all the people — there was this mob of people, all huddled together — to the village. I recognised some of the people; they were the people from the former Castle Shithole. Vedis, who Nathaniel had described to me as a lust demon, had taken them all, and their children, in. She took them all in. Where were the Courts? Why had a demon shown more compassion to these poor people than anyone else in Ashmourne? I will be very confused over the problem of good and evil for some time to come; I can see that now.
Of course, I said I’d do it. I think Galy, the other woman, must have been surprised. She mentioned that Val trusted me to know this wasn’t a trap. How can saving dozens of people be a trap? What possible reason would anybody have to refuse that duty? Especially if it’s not difficult for you and might be impossible for somebody else? With the means at my disposal, I took Valene’s advice and glamoured some pretty blindfolds for the children that looked like swimmer’s goggles, then got them excited about wearing them.
I taught them how to sing “The Ants Go Marching,” which their parents will probably kill me for.
But we got away safely, no sign of the Crow, and though I couldn’t find Lord Maric, we set them up just outside the castle, pending his acceptance of them as tenants. I can’t see how he’d refuse. They’re good people, strong people, farmers and craftsmen and women and merchants.
I can’t get it out of my head, though. Val, so weak and still thinking about others. The other one, Galy, just as weak — and still thinking about others. What separates us? What is it? I know my sithen is full of good souls. But I can’t imagine these women, so full of care for others, aren’t good. I will have to think on this, and get to know more and more beings, learn about them, reach out.