Nanashi [ Chapter 15b ]
“You are leaving so soon?” the woman asked worriedly. Mathilda was her name. Quite unusual for a woman from the Yamato Foothills, but she had explained to Nanashi that she had married a Yamato man here on the land many decades ago.
Nanashi had stayed the night with little Kathlyn, but now she was saying farewell to big Mathilda. It would have been easy to stay, and the woman would have probably even taken them in. She was a caretaker by nature, now alone since all her children had left the house at one time or another. But, Nanashi couldn’t stay, not now, not ever. “I have to. Yesterday I wasn’t sure where I should go. This child needs to be kept save from evil, and I thought I should take it back to the Black Sanctum, but now I realize that she needs to play a role she can’t possibly fulfill with such a tiny body.”
Mathilda packed some rations for the two of them. “You know that I don’t understand not a single word you just said?”
Nanashi shrugged off the grating double-negative. She had said it not just to Mathilda, but also to little Kathlyn and herself. “Long story short, I will go to Rim City.”
Mathilda gave her the care package she had compiled along with the handy backpack she had stuffed it into. “Rim City? That’s an unusual destination, and far, by the Keepers. You should look for Lars, he lives in the house all the way left down the street. He has a horse-carriage and will leave for the Saltplains today. I guess you are in luck; that’s the fastest way for you to go.”
Nanashi took the backpack and nodded. “Thank you. For everything. You have helped a wanderer in distress and done the world a great service, even if you don’t believe me.”
Mathilda gave the two of them a heartfelt hug. “Oh of course I believe you, child,” she said with a tear in her eye, “every word of it. Go now, or you’ll make me cry.”
Nanashi nodded and left, the little child held tightly in her arms. Since she had left the Black Sanctum, she had seen ignorance, and good, and evil in man. What a strange and diverse world Aqualon was, strange, but definitely worth saving in her eyes. Now it was time to head to Rim City. She had given much thought to what she would do now, and even though the Brotherhood would want her and the child safe in their embrace, she couldn’t take Kathlyn there. The baby would draw in the full force of the enemy, and to repel them, the Brotherhood would do irreversible damage to the clockwork itself. Another possibility had been the realm of the Angel Saxons. According to Günter, the enemy had had trouble finding their way there. But so would Nanashi, and just hiding the baby away while a war already heavily weighted in the enemies favor (if their reach into the heart of the Black Marker was any indication), seemed foolish to her. Kathlyn, even though young, was a great force to be reckoned with. Nanashi would of course need to get the sword out of the Tower of Five, but that was meaningless if Kathlyn was just a baby. Who then could make Kathlyn grow up faster? Nanashi had read of no such magic anywhere, but hadn’t she recently heard of a different approach to this problem? The day she had met the moth herder, Sagamund Greenhorn, she had learned of the true, awesome power of technology. He had created that marvelous tree with his own hands, had reached into the building blocks of his own body, and stretched his own mortality to live through the ages. Surely if he could make himself resilient to the passage of time, he could also make someone grow up faster. He was the best shot Nanashi had at making Kathlyn grow into the beacon of hope that she – that the world needed her to be. Accelerated reincarnation, so to speak.