Well, I suppose you want to know how it all turned out.
The Doctor sat across from me and Jim. The table between us held several types of tea and snacks.
“Doctor, we’ve made tea and I’ve brought out all the biscuits I could find. Now do not make me wait another second! I know you said things worked out and got better. But give me some specifics. What happened to my family? And Kenwa, Crest and Ardrin?”
“Your family is doing fine. Chalynge recovered well, and Ard’s leg healed up. And though it took a while, things worked out.
Your family found a home in Kingsground. So did many of the other Southfolk. I returned to them several times to check in. Relationships between people take time to grow and solidify. Southfolk were safer and they felt- what was it they always say? Right, blessed by the ancestors. Of course the Kingsfolk took some time to fully come around to accept them. It’s a difficult to spot to find oneself in, suddenly realizing you’ve been fighting the wrong enemy. You can stick to your misguided beliefs, or you can admit you were wrong, realize the bad information you were fed, and roll up your sleeves and get to work. Some of the guard did leave. But most stayed.
Initially Kenwa and Crest faced a lot of anger for helping. The family of the guard who was killed were inconsolable for a long time. I almost thought we’d never get beyond it. Chalynge and Kenwa met every day for weeks just talking. At first Ardrin said the Southfolk could stay on a temporary basis as discussion progressed. There was so much talking, discussing- shouting! But they didn’t give up. I admit I wasn’t sure a breakthrough was possible. Then harvest time came and two things happened.
First, one of the twin trees in the courtyard began molding. Because they knew it was important to the Twin Legend, Hav and Chalynge worked to save it, and it bloomed twice- a twin blossom! Then, there was a virus that swept through the area. Southfolk and Kingsfolk alike fell ill, but Chalynge and Crest together took up places as healers. It was a hard time but everyone came through stronger. After this an agreement was reached for the Southfolk to stay on a permanent basis. The harvest festival that followed pulled in traditions from both groups. They plan to do one every year.”
“It wasn’t the same as the virus infecting me? Was it?”
“No, because as you said, you never were really there. But so long as we are on the subject I really ought to scold you for letting River poison you. Of all the irresponsible things! I’ve given her a talking to as well, though I doubt it sank in.”
“What about Dare? And Sel?”
“I believe things were very tough for Dare for a long time. Sel we never saw again, but his message was harder to remove. Dare was angry, confused, betrayed. Sel told her exactly what she wanted to hear, and made her question her trust in others. It takes time to get that ability back. But ultimately it’s fuelled her to help others avoid the same trap. Sel and those like him seek power through violence. Dare now works to convince others to reject that path. Something more’s bothering you.”
“Similar things happen here, on my own world. Why was it so easy for me to jump into the situation there?”
“The simple fact that you care about the situation here was all it took to pull you to the situation there. After that it was a question of numbers, luck, and timing. The problem there was small. Dozens. Here it’s more like thousands. Don’t mourn that you can’t solve things here. Celebrate that you can help. You have wits and voice. You won’t solve things here. But you’ll add to a solution. Don’t forget, I’m a time traveler I’ve seen the future and there’s good in it. Just hang on. You’ll get there.”
And that’s the end. Or maybe it isn’t. I still have the dNA that would allow me to travel again under the correct circumstance. The one lasting effect though has been when I dream sometimes I see Bug’s face smiling at me. Or I hear Dare’s flute. Every time I wonder— are they out there waiting for me?