“Jinny! Jinny, I know you’re in there!” Sally cried, pounding at the door to Jinny’s homestead, a combined house-barn with a shared second story. “It’s Sally, and I have something important for you!”

She heard a creaking from inside, a few heavy steps, and Jinny appeared at the door. She wore a potbellied stove cover, hung from her neck, as makeshift armor for a baby bulge that stood out starkly on her wiry frame, carried a repeater engraved with glowing runes of accuracy, and wore a sour look on her face.

“I’ll have you know, it’s not easy to answer the door for company when you’re hiding in the root cellar, love,” Jinny said to Sally. “Come in, I’ll make you some tea.”

“This isn’t a social visit, Jinny,” said Sally. “Word has gotten out.”

“Word of what?” Jinny said. She patted her child-swollen belly. “This? I think if people were gonna get upset about that, love, they might have done it sooner.”

“People set up homesteads out here just to get away from that, I know,” Sally said. A member of the wild folk herself, she nevertheless had frequent contact with Jinny and the traders working out of the Old Mission. “But someone in our band has been fast and loose with their tongue. Word that you sent those easterners to us is out among the wild folk. I heard it from some of the forest elves, and even the humans on the River Ozay are talking about it, according to them. They even know you’ve been hiding in your cellar.”

“And so what?” Jinny said. “If I cared what other people thought, would I be out here in the part of the wild where they don’t ask questions, working hedge-magic and swelled up with a bastard child? The answer’s no, love, in case it wasn’t obvious.”

“Jinny,” Sally said, taking her friend by the shoulders. “An edor is dead, desecrated. Our peoples are furious. Easterners have died. And you pointed a pair of them at our oldest and most respected edor like a pair of steel darts!”

At this, Jinny fell silent a moment. “How soon?” She asked softly. “And how many?”

Sally shook her head. “I don’t know,” she said. “But I would expect their visit soon.”

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