“We’re nearly there, right?”
“Mm hmm,” she answers, “maybe another five minutes?”
“He has a farm?” I ask, looking around at the surprisingly green meadows rolling by. We’ve turned down so many narrow, windy roads, I’ve lost track of everything but our heading: West.
“No, no—he’s restored an old monastery, or something, I think. It’s a big place, lots of stone.”
“Big family, then?”
She doesn’t answer immediately. Just before I turn to look, she says, “Um, father didn’t tell you . . . about him?”
Uh oh. Now I do turn. “Ah . . . no? What exactly should he have told me?”
“Oh, no, no, “ she says, shaking her head quickly, “it’s nothing you need to worry about. It’s just . . . Torrin’s a bit . . . odd.”
“Odd,” I say, and wait.
She shrugs apologetically. “Um . . . well, he doesn’t have a family.”
“Well, it’s just . . . he lives alone, right?”
“You mean, completely alone,” I say, frowning. A lone wolf? Does that even really happen? “No mate, no pack, no nothing?”
She shakes her head.
But, how does he . . . . I shake my head, confused. “And he has a territory? All by himself?”
“Um, well, it’s not big, or anything. But, yeah. At least, well, Father insists on treating him like he does.”
Wait, what? “Meaning?”
She blinks at me, worried. “Well, I kind of get the impression Torrin would just as soon, well . . . not deal with any of us. He’s some kind of artist, I think? Famous, even. Every time I’ve been there, he’s had . . . human guests. I mean, he was nice enough about it, but, well, it just seemed like he’d rather we leave him alone.”
“Human guests,” I hear myself repeat, like some kind of idiot.
“Yeah,” she replies—again, apologetically.
I glance over at Brennan, but he’s giving nothing away.
A lone wolf. Who hangs out with humans . . . . What the fuck?!
I pull my attention back to the problem at hand. “Is he going to let us pass, then?” I ask.
“Oh, yeah,” she nods. “Shouldn’t be a problem. I don’t think he really cares about his territory, to be honest. I kind of got the impression, last time, he thinks the whole formal thing is kind of quaint, unnecessary. But, well, you know . . . Father’s pretty insistent that the rules be followed.”
I nod slowly, though none of this is making much sense.
Suddenly, she thrusts her arm forward, past Brennan’s ear. “There! You’re turning there.”
Brennan slows, and pulls us onto a dirt road. We climb a ridge, and tops of trees come slowly into view.
For no reason I can put into words, I brace myself for trouble.