I left the wagon in silence, obtaining no more from my hug than a smile of gratitude. It was enough. The man nodded at me and handed me back the sword as I walked back to Muriel. To my surprise, she was sitting among them and telling stories. Little fragments of tales drifted over from her to me and I took a few moments to listen.
"... and the word Gypsy actually originates from the Latin word for Egyptian because you resembled the image of darker-skinned people skilled in the subtle arts. In older times, you were actually valued greatly for knowledge and wisdom. But as time passed and opinions shifted that faded away into obscurity and mostly the Gypsies are just seen as nomadic and often unwelcome." She looked at me. "Welcome back, Amy."
I just stood there, dumbfounded. "How did this happen?"
She sighed a little. "Well, despite the... ehm... dark arts performed by a lot of Gypsies, I've always had respect for their origin. This is the first time I've really talked to them."
Something about how she said it made me think of the story that Afentis told me. She had been like that, travelling scholars in a sense that tried to share their wisdom with the people. Travellers that told tales of the lands they'd seen, the people they'd met. Of course things must have been different in those times.
I almost wished I could have been part of it, it must be so unique to know how humanity shifted through several stages during it's existence. Did people ever really change or did the scenery change?
I smiled. "I'm glad you're letting go. Of old beliefs."
She shook her head. "No... But I'm using this one chance. I still have to go back." She stood up, nodding to those around her. "They've been telling me a little about your adventures as well, the parts they've seen obviously. Like you dancing around the fire. Your friends, they danced among them as well, didn't they?"
I nodded, a tear in my eyes. "Yes."
She smiled. "They don't allow many to dance in their midst. It's good to see traditions upheld, try and remember it well."
I nodded. "I will."
She walked with me, back towards the road. "Did the queen tell you anything important."
"Yes, they're the ones who did it to her. She knew of Isabel's blood... It was her daughter."
Muriel blinked and stopped. "You knew that already, didn't you?"
I nodded. "Yes, that's why I thought further at first. But they had known of her actions and decided it was something they couldn't let be in the world. I saw in her eyes how hard a choice it was to make."
Muriel looked at me and nodded. "Amy... I want to ask a favor of you. But it won't be easy."
I turned to her and stood still. "What is it?"
She took a deep breath. "You have to forget me and not follow me and ask Afentis to do the same. I'm going back to The Light, but I want to leave it now. They've got some good ideas, but the wrong way of... executing them." She winced at her own words. "I have to deal with it, without distractions. You and Afentis are both people who care, but I need freedom to do what is needed."
I waited a few moments before responding. "Are you going to kill them?"
She shook her head. "No. I'm going to talk to them and leave. But I doubt it will be easy. I assume some of the darkness has rubbed off on them..."
I smiled and sighed. "Yes, fanaticism is always bad."
She nodded. "Will you do me that favor?"
Was it something I could really do? I didn't know, but I could at least try and give her the peace she desired. "I'll try and I'll tell Afentis."
She smiled and gave me a kiss on my cheek.
Besides that it was something I really didn't expect, the kiss was so much more than any kiss on my cheek I'd ever felt. Her lips were warm and for a moment it was as if I could feel her whole body, every curve, every piece of skin. To feel how the blood rushed through her body with each beat of her heart. I felt those lips against my cheek as if it was the most intimate place of my body, I shivered with her presence. She was a goddess now, one that chose her destiny and set out to define it.
I felt those lips against my cheeks fading long after she'd taken to the sky and left me standing there besides the road. My body still quivering with surprise and wonder. Part of me wanted to cry as she gave me a sort of goodbye that I longed to have given to my friends. Another part wanted to cry for the news I had to give Afentis. Fortunately the largest part of me was smiling with the fading sensation of warmth inside of me.
With that warmth in my heart I set off to Afentis.