Silence draped over us like a shroud, filled with quiet echoes of that word. Even the forest felt colder than before. Neither of us dared to speak or even breathe. Deirdre just looked at me with open eyes, still holding the horse with one hand but otherwise paralyzed. I wasn't sure what to say either. It wasn't like I could say sorry, I'd done nothing wrong. But... neither had she in a way. It was just a normal reaction nowadays, people needed scapegoats and the 'abominations' were all that was left now that they weren't allowed to fight each other. But what could I say to her?
Deirdre clasped her hand over her mouth. "Oh! I'm sorry."
I sighed. "It's alright. I'll still bring you to Dawnbridge, if you want to."
She smiled a little, to my surprise. "That's not it. I'm sorry for calling you an abomination, I shouldn't have done that. I've just... never seen someone use it before. It was... unique."
I blinked, even more surprised. "You're not scared?"
She still smiled. "No, should I be? You scared that guy without causing lasting wounds, using your powers very subtly and responsibly... That and you've been really accepting of me. The least I could do is return the favor."
I was relieved. "This is the first time I've used it on someone."
She giggled a little. "That wasn't bad for a first time then. I've seen many people do worse."
A strange idea popped into my head. "Will you teach me?"
Deirdre looked genuinely surprised, it was something that she, apparently, wasn't expecting at all. Even though it wasn't such a strange request, it made perfect sense for me to try and learn from someone who'd been taught Dark magic. But she didn't look sure, it was as if she was thinking about it but unsure of the implications. It would mean we'd spend even more time after we reached Dawnbridge, but that didn't bother me. Quite the opposite.
Deirdre spoke clearly, she'd reached a conclusion. "I will, on one condition."
I cocked my head, curious what the condition would be.
She looked at me seriously. "If I teach you, you must show me more Light Magic. I'm curious how it works and how it looks."
I smiled. "I'd love to."
She looked at the horse, which had been a lot more peaceful during this whole encounter than we had been. "We should be on our way again."
She was right, we should be, but there was something else I wanted to do now. Maybe catalysed because the secret was out, again, I decided that I wanted to open and read the letters. Somehow I had a feeling that the sender of the letter knew about me. The star had been odd, divided in two. It was kind of odd I only realized now that it might be the symbol for Twilight. Two sides... Light and Dark. Of course it could be something completely different, but I would read the letter for my own goals. It might be very dangerous, because knowledge is not easily unlearned. At least I should be able to do it without leaving a trace.
"Almost, I'm going to read the letters first. Now is as good a time as any."
Deirdre nodded, refraining from comment thankfully. I'd rather have her not say anything about it being bad because I was supposed to be an honorable messenger. However, something told me this was going to be very important. Though part of me was prepared to see incredibly boring stuff like 'financial troubles, made deal with town council' or something, another part was curious to see what all the fuss was about.
I retrieved my penknife again and opened my messenger bag to get the letters. I sat down, a little closer to the horse, in the sunlight to see what I was doing. It wasn't easy, but with the heat of the sun and some added heat on my knife using Light, I was able to loosen the wax enough. I worked very gently, because the paper wasn't allowed to tear even a little and the seal had to be completely intact, unbroken and unbent. It took about five minutes of careful and slow progress, using the knife to hold the seal while I peeled the paper away from it, never using too much strength as each mistake would spoil it all. It was finally open, I carefully pulled the letter out and was surprised to find it in very neat writing. The Master must have spend quite some time on it, with a few drafts, as no immediate corrections were visible.
It's contents, however, were almost scary. My eyes darted over the words and sentences in disbelief and fear. This was completely unexpected. My expression changed, my usual slight smile tainted by the scowl of worry and anger. Deirdre leaned forward curiously, wondering what the letter might say. I turned to her, still not sure what to make of all of this, but she had to know as well.
"This... is not what I expected, even if I didn't know what to expect."
She was as curious as I had been. "What does it say."
"You won't believe me..."