Thia lowered herself to the ground, her back against the wall. Torches burned at regular intervals, illuminating the passageway. “How far down does it go?” she asked, staring at the slope ahead.
“Several miles,” Valerie responded. “Nothing is likely to disturb us. Not until we reach the Runestone Caverns themselves.”
“Doesn’t matter,” Jinnaari said. “We’ll still keep a watch.”
“Put me as third,” Thia said as she removed her boot. A pebble had been rolling around in it since the fight at the pass. Even if they weren’t staying put long, she wanted it gone.
She felt the paladin’s gaze on her. “We need you to have your spells, Thia.”
Looking at him, she said, “I’ll have them. I’m taking a watch.” The last time I let you talk me into sleeping all night, I ended up with Lolth! And Adam and Caelynn left us! She didn’t know what hurt more; that her friends had left, or that no one had told her why. She missed them. They had to have left, she reasoned. If they were dead, Pan would’ve told me. Or Helix. But why leave when they did? Did they feel the fight wasn’t winnable? Or that I wasn’t worth saving?
“Did you ask anyone where they went?” Kelemvor’s voice broke through her thoughts.
Raising her head, she looked around her. The tunnel was gone. She sat on a bench, surrounded by a walled garden. It was the same one she’d go to at the cloister when she needed to be alone.
Kelemvor sat next to her. His face was calm, as always.
“No,” she stammered. “I haven’t. I thought they’d tell me.” Absently, she looked at her feet.
“Something troubles you enough that I came, brought you here. Don’t let it rot inside you, Thia. If you do, my Sister will win. Eventually.”
“Why’d you do it?” she blurted out. “Why’d you command him to kill me?”
“Ah, that. How did you find out?”
“Lolth showed me, in a scrying mirror.” She closed her eyes, trying to push aside the memory.
“She did not show you everything, Thia. My Sister is adept at manipulating truth to show only what She wants you to see.”
“Scrying mirrors don’t lie,” she whispered.
“No, but they can be made to only show part of what happened. I cannot, I did not, command Jinnaari. He is not one of My followers. All I could do was make a request. It was always his choice if he wanted to act upon it. Here,” Kelemvor waived His hand in front of her.
The air coalesced and swirled, opening a portal into the past. It was the same area Lolth had shown her. Only this time, the entire conversation played out in front of her. She saw Jinnaari draw back in shock at Kelemvor’s request, but that was the only reaction before he stepped through the portal.
“When?” she asked. “When did you ask him to do this?”
“Just before he returned to all of you. Bahamut did not know beforehand that I would make the request. Jinnaari never gave Me his answer. That you are alive tells Me that he chose not to do that. Or that you were never in danger of being lost.”
“I was, though,” she whispered. “When I came out of that cocoon, all I wanted to do was kill him. Kill all of them. I felt betrayed. I still feel that way.” She sat back, crossing her arms. “I would’ve welcomed that blow, honestly. If he’d told me, I would’ve had that to draw on. Why couldn’t either of you tell me? I went down there blind to things that I should’ve known, things that Lolth used against me.” The words came out in an angry rush. “I trusted both of you! Did either of you trust me enough to be able to fight back? Did either of you think that maybe, just maybe, I’d be capable of handling this? That I’d draw strength from knowing he had my back if things went bad?” She looked away, shaking her head. “He couldn’t even tell me he was royalty.”
“Thia, you cannot go through life expecting everyone to tell you what you want to know without asking the questions first. I do not know his motivation for not telling you. I did not ask him to keep silent. If you believe you deserve answers, you must ask him for them.”
Something nudged her. Opening her eyes, she saw Jinnaari kneeling next to her. “You wanted a turn on watch,” he said, his voice quiet. “You’re up.” Turning, he moved to his pack and laid down. “Wake me in a couple of hours, or if you hear anything.”
She pulled her chain mail on over the padded undergarment, then tossed her tunic over her head. Standing up, she wrapped the cloak around her for some extra warmth. Forgiving Kelemvor was easy. But how would she initiate a conversation with someone who never believed he was wrong?