I hadn’t thought to go back to Cotton Crown right now, and certainly not for this reason. But when I heard about the colonel—who always knew how to find the clarity in the smoke—I told my war pack that we had to go. None of them argued. The Gwyntah respect Colonel Mitterhal as a music chief. That’s a big deal to the tribes. Not to honor him would be unthinkable. Besides, I knew I’d enjoy seeing my brothers and sister again, even though I’d heard that Enyalda was in a bad way, furious with Francis, not talking to anyone, refusing to leave the hay barn. Maybe a chat with her twin brother would set her right.
Our journey took a turn for the better when I saw Flarynn again, that sweet-scented flutist who ran past me in the square down in Wulhaven, the day Hector Xavier tried to kill me. Maybe did kill me. What happened when he dunked me in that fountain is still a blur to me. So I talked Flarynn into hiking up Cotton Crown with my war pack rather than with the orphans she helps take care of in Wulfhaven. Can’t say that went all that well. I didn’t tell the pack about her; didn’t tell her about the pack. But they sorted it out. Good thing she brought her flute along.
Now that I’m here, I’m not sure what to do. Stay to help build Enyalda’s new house—and see if I can spend more time with Flarynn? But then what do I do about Scraggs? The villagers don’t take kindly to a grown timber wolf snoopin’ around their sheep fields. Maybe I should just leave before I get entangled in more of General Rankwall’s politicking. I’ve had enough of that man’s lies, from his setting up the Haven Guard at Spaulding Pass, where my father died; to his signing up Krutzwig and the Pogesta to keep the peace in Three Havens. Yeah, right. Some peace that turned out to be. Almost had a civil war on our hands. Too many good men died that time too.
Maybe I’ll just do what the colonel would do: Fire up a pipe with ole R. E. and hash out the clarity in the smoke.