The man walked closer and waited until we all got up. The guards suddenly looked very attentive and were looking around rather than at Maeve. There didn't seem to be anyone else around, but I suddenly felt very on edge. A thought occurred to me. Would they be able to hide, lessen, their presence using Magic?
Deirdre voiced her annoyance. "Who are you?"
"Derrek Wolfe, at your service." He smirked. "Or rather mine."
I replied as well. "But who are you?"
"I'm surprised you can't guess." His voice was quite nice... Almost trustworthy.
Of course nothing else about him had anything that inspired trust. It wasn't exactly that he was shifty or grubby in any way. Quite the opposite. He was clean-shaved and his hair, dark strands interspersed with grey, was well groomed. His clothes beneath the robe weren't as extravagant as the ones of the council-members, but rather hard-wearing and still expensive. A ring on his finger had a not-unknown symbol on it.
I made a wild guess. "Leader of the Twilight Cult?"
"We prefer to call ourselves just Twilight, but yes."
I looked at Francisco and Valerius. "And you know this man?"
They nodded. Maeve looked at this with some amusement.
Valerius answered. "He visited the Castle from time to time, with news of research throughout the country. Of course, I knew he was part of Twilight, but as they never made hostile moves, it didn't seem suspect."
Francisco nodded. "More or less the same for me. And I had no idea he had spoken to Light as well."
Maeve spoke up, raising her voice just a little. "So, you caused all this aggravation and torture?"
Derrek smirked again. "You could say that. I just gave a push here and there, we didn't hurt any forest spirits directly."
That didn't sound right, I looked at Deirdre for a moment before I looked back at him. "I don't believe you. If you supplied the Castles with data, you've had to do some research yourself as well. Besides, you don't look like the type to give away all his secrets."
He looked at me critically, his smile not really fading but turning a little meaner. "Ah, I've heard of you." He paused for a moment. "Taran, isn't it? I thought you'd look a little more bruised."
It took a lot of effort not to attack him. Deirdre's hand on my arm clenched together with mine, partly calming me but partly fueling my rage as well. The man took this reaction in curiously. We had to be careful, he was intelligent. And sharp. I wondered how he would respond to this.
"The forest isn't that dangerous, we just had a nice swim today." It was worth it if only for Deirdre's hand relaxing.
Though I didn't know if it was because she felt better, or if she got ready to use it.
"Now that introductions are made, I think we can continue with the talks. I think you were speaking about some disappearances and blaming The Twilight?"
Valerius spoke angrily. "Yes, all the facts make sense now. This has all been for your own gain, to get us back into war and need your help."
The man smiled. "Now now, that would be quite shortsighted of me."
Maeve spoke up. "Then, what is your goal?"
He smiled and looked at all of us.
"You will all see very soon."