I followed her gleaming turquoise scales out of the goat pen and into the maze of hay bales. Of course she noticed. I wasn't trying for stealth, as I'm not too keen on being gored.
She came to a stop in the dead center of the field, where we were well hidden from the pens but still had sufficient room for take off. Her tail pressed down to the ground and her shoulders pulled in tight under the high arch of her neck. Her tension reminded me, unfortunately, of a time I saw her human raise a whip against my bonded. I let her get the first words in, hoping that they might convince me to abandon my self-appointed mission. Her voice vibrates with impatience. "Why do I have the feeling that my opinion of you is about to lower?"
"You're probably right. If I had something smart to say, I'd save it for lecture." Jara is always rolling her eyes at what I say in lecture. Now her jaw set in a grim line. I should turn away, but I can't imagine her not being there tomorrow to dominate the discussion with her pith observations. And then to hear the whispers as the others try to guess what has gone wrong down below, because it's too impolite to ask about the humans. I'll know, and I won't be able to keep my mouth shut, and her ghost will hiss at me from beyond the soul shield for my shame. "Down to business, then. Your human lives in sector three. I know because mine does, too, and they've met." She growled and stepped closer, emphasizing her advantage in height. "They're about to get themselves killed, Jana! I came to ask if you had any influence."
Her nostrils flared as she glared down at me. "You mean, will I influence it in your favor? Save your human?"
My breath began to smell of sulfur, but I focused on the warning I had come to give. The truth behind my anguish wouldn't have impressed her proud, isolationist soul. "If your human is Sertry Galath, please warn her that a boy named Chou plans to stab her tonight." It's the words I'd recited that morning, flawless and in their entirety.
I had thought that I would stand to face her questions after that, to make sure that she believed me, and to give it a go for my pride. Instead, I turned back as fast as the small space will allow me. I didn't want to see her reaction. It's my own human I've betrayed, and I risk my own life, bound up in his. I shouldn't have to convince someone else to kill him.
It's not fair that Sertry has beaten Chou's reason out of him. It's not right that she should be so cruel and have such power over him, while Jara is like a sculpture of the ancients, an embodiment of all the ideals we each strive for in vain. Me, I can't be impartial. I've begged him to abandon his plan, but he has brought the knife and now I watch and wait for that final moment of decision.
Perhaps the look on Jara's face was disbelief.