Swamped Chapter 138 Page 15

“It’s a proverb,” Elliot says. “The kingdom will survive the storm, but the stones will outlive the kingdom, and the wind will blow long after the stones have crumbled to dust.

“So, you can wait out small problems, but in the long run, we’re all dead?” you ask. “A bit morbid.”

“Yeah. But people tend to be in a morbid mood when their kingdom’s been wrecked,” Elliot says. “Which is why it’s specifically a Theletian saying. Don’t know of anything comparable in another language. Anyhow, I think that’s all I can tell you about it.”

He hands the papers back to you, and starts walking back. You get the feeling that he’s not interested in taking this any further. And he probably can’t help you much, so you opt to head back in and share what you learned with Badger.

Badger doesn’t seem very satisfied.

“I’m not sure we’re actually getting anywhere,” he grumbles. “We’re chasing vague suspicions, and even if they lead to something, it might not be what we’re looking for.”

“Actually, I think we’re on the right track. Elliot didn’t think it was a translation… but it could be if this saying was originally something else. Something like the warnings in the other two stories, that happened to be similar to the proverb. Which, I can’t help but notice, mentions wind.”

Badger still looks skeptical.

“And we’re supposed to puzzle out the form pure wind takes from that? Not to mention, how does that fit with the title?”

“Well,” you muse, “the title doesn’t say anything about what we’re distilling, and Elliot couldn’t figure that out. And isn’t distilling a form of purification, when you come down to it?”

Badger’s eyes widen. Then he sighs.

“It’s an interesting theory, but unless we can find someone fluent in Theletian, there isn’t any further we can go with it. And Leonard…”

He pauses suddenly.

“Does Leonard Flame know Theletian, then?”

“I’m sorry. I was thinking of something else.”

His reactions remind you of earlier, when he talked about the village’s history. He said it was attacked, what, forty years ago? And Leonard Flame is about fifty or so.

Old enough that he might have lived in the same village where the heirs to Theletia’s throne were hiding. Which could be a subject he doesn’t want his pal Badger blabbing about to strangers.

Well. That’s just a hunch, but you don’t have a lot to do right now besides following hunches.

Question is, say you’re right. What would you even do about it?

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