Wilom stood up.
“Hey. Good to see you,” Vanda said. She was sitting down beside the two graves, the only colourful thing in the greyed-out world. “Took you long enough. I was starting to think you’d gone to the River without coming back for me.”
“You know I’m too bad at leaving people behind for that,” Wilom said. He sat down next to her and drew his legs up to his chest. “So. I guess I know what dying is like now. You did that how many times?”
Vanda shrugged. “A few. The worst part is when you’re not expecting it.”
“Yeah,” Wilom said thoughtfully. “So … what happened?”
Vanda shrugged. “Town’s still got people in it. After that soldier with the squad shot you, the whole thing went to shit. The squad just retreated. They hung around until the trucks arrived and then I think they hitched a ride to the next town.”
“And Harie?” Wilom asked.
“One of my squad. The only one of us with actual experience. He was … unhappy with things.”
Vanda shrugged. “I don’t know. They all just got on the trucks.”
“Can I ask a favour? Can we stop past the trucks and get him tonight?”
Vanda nodded. “Will he be alright with that?”
“I think he might just be getting close to it.”
There was silence for a moment, then Vanda chuckled. “You know, I kind of wish you’d still been able to see the looks on their faces when you disappeared.”
Wilom smiled, but didn’t quite manage a laugh.
“So,” he said to Vanda. “Where are we going now? After we get Harie, I mean.”
Vanda looked back at him. “What do you mean? I thought you said you were going to become a ferryman. You said you didn’t think you’d have a choice.”
Wilom shook his head. “I changed my mind,” he said. “If there’s one thing this has taught me, it’s that I just can’t leave well enough alone. I’ll be declared dead, and probably accused of something punishable by death anyway, so we’ll have to probably go away from here. Away from Marclorn, too. Let’s just go and see what we find. We’re professional meddlers. Let’s just go find something to meddle in.”
“Not a war,” Vanda said. “Nothing this … big. Or complicated.”
“Not a war,” Wilom agreed. “But everything gets complicated eventually.”
Vanda shrugged, but it was with a little more life now. She looked thoughtful. “So … you’re really not going to become a ferryman?”
“Not for a long time,” Wilom assured her. “I’ll go back and talk to him soon — I think we need to get a few things straightened out. But I’m no ferryman. Just like you’re no lighthouse keeper. We’ll figure something else out as we go, but we can do it by starting with the things that are important to us and working from there.”
“What if … oh, I’m horrible at this. I’m not the sensible person in this arrangement.” She reached out and took his hand. Then she paused. “Alright, serious question this time. What if we get people killed?”
She pulled Wilom to his feet, and Wilom paused, thinking about that. Finally, he just admitted, “I … yes. That’s my big question, too.”
There was a long silence. Finally, Vanda said. “Alright. I’ll take those odds.”
“Professional meddlers, then,” Wilom said.
“Sounds like us,” Vanda said. “Are you ready to go?”
“No point waiting,” Wilom said.
And they left.