As Willow followed the healer she looked around, smiling when she saw that anyone sitting up in one of the beds. Knowing that the healers were on her side helped and seeing that she had done something good for at least a few of her people… it told her she had done the right thing, no matter what the elders thought. Leaving their world behind was one of the hardest things they’d ever had to do during their time in control of the council and she knew they were scared of change, so she kept think she should be less angry with them, but she couldn’t help thinking that her father might still be awake if they’d made the hard decisions when they needed to be.
“I know you talked to a couple of the palace healers before you suggested moving the ill fae to Earth as well as the healthy,” the healer said, sounding happy. “We’re all grateful to have their help here and that you took the time to think about everything before you made the move.”
“My father…” Willow sighed. “If I’d thought, even for a moment, that moving him to Earth would have affected him adversely I would have left him behind.” She hated saying those words, even though they were true. “The healers told me moving him wasn’t going to make him any worse, or any of the other ill fae, so I decided to take the chance and hope there was enough magic here to make him better.”
“You lost other family members?”
It was a question, but at the same time it wasn’t, because everyone who had followed her had lost someone. “Yes, I did.”
“Princess…” The healer trailed off, glanced back at her, and then sighed. “I’m sorry for your loss.”
Biting hard on her lip Willow stared at the healer’s back, knowing he’d planned on saying something else. “What were you going to say?”
“Please be honest with me. Right now I need that more than anything else.”
“I’m just a healer.”
“No, you’re not.” Willow thought for a moment, trying to find the right words. “Until my father wakes up… if that ever happens… you are one of my people and whatever you were about to say is important to me. The more input I have, from as many people as possible, the better I’ll be able to do the job that was placed on my shoulders.”
The healer turned to look at her, their eyes meeting, and all Willow could do was wait to see if he would say anything more. Finally, after what seemed like hours, he breathed in deeply, shook his head, and said, “Why did it take so long for someone to do something?” He didn’t seem angry, more disappointed. “I lost so many before any decision was made and now I doubt that I’m going to be able to save many of the fae within this tent because we didn’t leave soon enough, and I don’t understand.”
Willow almost smiled, but stopped herself, feeling vindicated because it seemed as though her words were coming out of someone else’s mouth. “I wish I had answers for you, but I don’t. It may have been my father’s decision to stay and wait, because he was as scared as the elders were of change, but I never had a chance to ask him. The elders didn’t want to make any choices until they were certain, so when I took charge I made the choices for them.”
“Do you think it was your father’s decision?”
The one question Willow never wanted to answer was the one she knew she would get asked. “I hope it wasn’t, I really do, but it seems like the only logical explanation is that my father was waiting to be certain too, even though…” Her voice broke and she did everything she could to keep the tears from falling. “By that point we’d lost all but one of my siblings and my mother. It was obvious to me that something was very wrong. Maybe I should have tried talking to my father, convinced him it was past time that something happened, but I kept hoping that something would happen and by the time I realised nothing was it was too late.” She wiped away a tear that had escaped. “If he wakes up I’m going to ask him what happened, because I don’t want him to be the reason so many people died.”
Nodding, the healer turned and started walking again. “Our parents often turn out to be different to the way we want them to be. If your father was responsible for what happened then he probably had his reasons for the decisions he made and…” He sighed. “It’s hard to view this without emotion, because I was on the front line, but I understand that it probably wasn’t as simple for him as I wish it was.”
“When I started taking control of everything the elders seemed surprised and I don’t think that was what I was meant to do. I was supposed to listen to them because they had experience that I didn’t, but I’d already come to the conclusion that they were burying their heads in the sand, as though it was the easiest thing to do. If it wasn’t for Alder I might never have been able to do what I did.” She smiled. “I don’t think we’re very popular with the elders.”
“You’re popular with the healers, so if you ever need any help come to us. Ask for my sister Aifric or me, Finnian. We’ll make the elders understand that the choice you made was for the best, even if living here is going to be difficult, and that they are at least partly responsible for the decimation of our race.”
“How many did die?” Willow asked, needing an answer to the question she never before had the courage to ask.
“Our current estimate is that we lost about two thirds of the population.”
Mirrored from K. A. Jones Writing.