The young acolyte darted through the woods, looking nervously behind him the entire time.
This last bit was probably why he stumbled on a tree root, though other contributing could also be because of the lengthy robe he was wearing, a general inexperience with running, and switching to the tree root in question, the unusual size and shape of it possessed. None of which occurred to Macsen, as he toppled to the ground, screaming at the top of his lungs. Instead his greatest preoccupation was getting to his feet again--something that, oddly enough, seemed to impede his efforts.
“Need some help?” said Gwydd as he ambled into view.
“Why… why… Mister Pebble…” stated Macsen nervously. “I thought you were one of those lunatics who was attacking us.”
“It’s ‘Palepole’,” noted the Goblin with a sigh. “And the fact that I don’t even know if you’re lying or not isn’t even the worse part of this…”
“Wha… I don’t even know what you’re trying to say, you… mercenary…” began the young acolyte.
“Yes, you do,” noted Gwydd, sitting down beside the young Erl, his staff at the ready. “You know exactly what I’m talking about. Probably better than I do.”
Macsen blinked. “Are you… are you suggesting, that I am… somehow in league with those two lunatics…?”
“Well, as there’s no reason you should know there’s two, yes, yes I definitely am now,” answered Gwydd. He gave a rueful shake of the head. “You really are crap at this whole ‘conspirator’ thing, you know that?” Macsen looked down at the ground. “So, was it money, or ambition, or what?”
“Mostly money, but…” The acolyte gulped. “The man those two are working for… he’s… he’s got a reputation. He’s not someone you trifle with. And he gets what he wants. When you’re facing a man like that… well, it’s better to cash in, rather than resist. At least in my book.”
Gwydd’s always-present frown, already unpleasant even by Goblin standards, deepened. “If you think you’re winning my sympathy, you’re dead wrong. All you’re doing is making me want to hit you.”
“Yeah. Thought that’d be the case.” Macsen winced. “So… how… did you all know?”
“We didn’t all know,” answered Gwydd. “Faileuba is just full of crap, and does things like that for fun. As for me, I figured you were when you ran while the other acolytes stayed.”
“Disloyalty tells, eh?” muttered Macsen.
“A bit,” said Gwydd, “But it was more than that. The way that went, I thought someone probably tipped them off on the route we’d be taking. Your running so quickly made you the obvious target. The other monks--well, I don’t think it was just loyalty. At least some of it was they wanted to see what was happening. But you already knew. And were damned scared of it.”
“I… I am sorry,” said Macsen. “I didn’t want people to die.”
“But you knew they would, and you made it possible,” noted Gwydd, crossing his arms as he stood up. “So, no, I’m not overwhelmed with sympathy for you.” He gave a snort. “Hell, do you realize what you’ve done? You proved one of Fai’s crazy bullshit hunches correct. She’s going to be insufferable for a while.” Gwydd bit his lip. “Well… actually… more insufferable. Trust me. Not the first time this has happened.” He shuddered to himself. “Not even the third.”