Halfway down the trunk, Alakina paused. She looked down.
“Why did the Presbytery send me to kill you?”
“They didn’t. Come down, it’ll be dark soon.”
Once she was on the ground, it continued: “The Presbytery sent you to get rid of you. That’s my best guess. They never expected you to survive the journey. You were privy to information that they prefer to keep secret. You were talented, but also worrisome. They were concerned about your loyalties from the beginning.”
“I’ve never been anything but loyal!”
They passed out of the square of trees, and the light faded from morning to dusk in a moment. Nighsilver pointed up. “See? Time is different in there. I presume you came from the south bank?”
They found their way back to the shore. Nightsilver disappeared into a thicket and returned dragging a wooden canoe. “I found this when I arrived here. I have a certain luck with finding things.” It smiled and pushed the canoe into the water. “After you?”
Alakina climbed into the little boat and almost tipped it over. Nightsilver steadied it and then stepped in without causing so much as a ripple. It pulled out a crude paddle.
She shivered; the evening air had turned cool, and her clothes were still damp from the swim over. “Why did you say those things about me? How do you know anything about the Presbytery, or about me?”
It paddled, one side then the other, pushing them south. “You don’t remember me at all, do you.”
“I think I would remember if I met you.”
It smiled. “I was the first person you met at the Redemption Home for Unwanted Girls. Seven years ago. Your father brought you. You were ten years old.”