The day is warm despite the gloom, although it may be the humidity rising off the marsh that creates this sense of discomfort. Despite the heat, I delve into my pack for my cloak. I throw it over my dark travelling dress, although ‘dress’ is inaccurate. The robe is split in front to allow for breeches. The cloak is to hide my face, as suggested.
Why are folk here wary of different eyes? I was born this way; there is nothing special about me. Certainly no one needs to fear me. Still, it is a truth, even back in somnolent Grenmassin, folk step to the other side of the way when they see me approaching.
Taking a breath, I ask Attis if he will lead me further. He has now brought me to the lower city and therefore our deal is done. It takes him an age to answer. First he gazes at me for a long time, eyes unblinking, and then he studies the old man again behind his book. I do not know what he receives from the old man, for I keep my focus on the boy, needing him to understand he is able to trust me.
Eventually Attis nods.
I want to ask why he would do so, given the dangers, but he grips my hand and pulls out into the gloomy day. After leading me rapidly across the walkway we negotiated earlier, he halts at a crossroads and releases my hand.
“I want to see the Marsh Devil,” he whispers.
Immediately I wonder if I am now able to trust him. Maybe he will take word of Damin’s location back to the authorities in upper Normur. Maybe this is a bad idea.
“Lyra,” he says, “I swear on my little sister’s life, I will tell no one.”
(This image is from Legend of the Seeker to show style of dress)