Eres tried decide if she was annoyed. She had agreed to be responsible for Jonon’s stray puppy, so Ara’s instructions were not a surprise. Yet she found herself resenting it anyway.
“So is ‘Sis’ a title like ‘Moth’?”
She looked back at the storyteller who had caught up with her. “Yes.”
“What does it mean?”
“Don’t they have a Moth and a Sis in your village?” Was he really this ignorant, or was it an act?
“I’m not really from anywhere. Something of a wanderer, I guess.”
“So you really don’t have your own people? How have you survived?”
“It’s really not that difficult. I travel from place to place. Trading news from other villages for a little food and shelter.”
“That sounds difficult. Don’t you get tired of always moving?” She didn’t believe him. The one thing she knew was that the outside world was dangerous. Surviving on your own was nearly impossible.
“Not really, I’ve been doing it for so long that staying anywhere for longer than a few days makes me restless.”
“So you don’t want to stay here?”
Aaron shrugged at her. “Do I have a choice?”
Eres did not answer him. She wasn’t sure herself. Would Ara make him leave? Would she let him leave? The answer to either of those questions eluded her for now.
They arrived at a small wooden structure, little more than a hut. Eres opened the door, lit a lantern just inside the entrance, and gestured for Aaron to follow her. There were a few chairs at a table in one corner and two beds against the wall.
“We recently cleaned this place, preparing to move a couple of the older children in here. It should serve to give you a little bit of privacy until we figure out a more permanent situation. You have the Moth’s permission to go anywhere in the village, but I must accompany you. And there will be a guard outside while you are here. Ask them if you want to leave and wait until I arrive. Do you understand?”
Aaron nodded. “If I may ask, why so much trouble just for me? If I’m that much of a burden, why not just throw me out? It’s not as though I asked to be here.”
“Letting you leave means letting you tell others about this village. We cannot afford to take that risk. Not until we know more about you.”
“Who am I going to tell? I already told you, and Jonon, that I don’t have anybody I’m with. Why would I lie?”
Eres rolled her eyes. “How stupid do you think I am? Why would you lie? So that you can leave and go tell someone. And you just told me you visit places and trade information. Even if you don’t have anyone to tell, you might tell someone about us for a meal.”
“Maybe not. But we don’t know that. We don’t know you. Moth Ara has extended a kindness when she has plenty of reason not to….” Eres stopped herself from berating the man further. Her resentment hadn’t been with Ara after all. It was with this newcomer. That he was here. That Jonon had brought him here. That he posed some sort of threat she didn’t yet understand. Maybe he deserved her ire, but it wasn’t doing her any good.
Aaron appeared cowed by her. Fearing she might begin yelling at him, she headed toward the door. “Rest. I’m sure being tied to the wagon was not an easy way to travel. Take some time to relax, perhaps sleep. With the supplies you and Jonon brought back, I’ll send a bit of food over. We can look around the rest of the village this afternoon.” Before he could say anything, she walked through the doorway and closed it behind her.