“I will go with you,” Nashtra was the first to say.
Himeko looked up at him. She seemed surprised, but pleasantly so. “Is that really such a good idea?”
“If it affects the king of Summerlay,” the elf explained, “then it has the potential to affect our forest. That I must protect at all costs. The rest of my tribe would very much agree.”
“But what about us?” Peter asked. “How can it be safe to send a bunch of teenager is to face evil?”
“Peter,” Cerys sighed, “you know from history that teenagers used to do a lot of things that we don’t expect them to do nowadays.” She looked over at James. “Do we really stand a chance?”
“More than a chance,” the baron’s son confirmed. “It may be about time for some extra training for all of you, but you can do things that not everyone in Summerlay can.”
“So at this point,” Peter said, “is there any chance of you just sending us back home? Aren’t there any of those crystals in the capital city?”
The young noble gave him a solemn look. “Is that really what you want to do? Go home?”
Bayani slipped his fingers around Peter’s under the table. “We’ve talked about this before,” he half-whispered.
“When it was just a message,” Peter whispered back.
“Are you going to back down now?”
Peter scowled and shook his head.
“Let me explain something,” James told him. “Apparently I was not clear when we spoke before.”
Peter muttered something under his breath, but let him go on.
“When you arrived here, your ability with the bow–”
“Be came real; I know that!”
“You do not know just how good an archer you really are,” James added, remaining calm even though he had been interrupted. “You would only need a little more work to realize what kind of potential you have.”
“And you want me to use it to fight noir beasts as we make our way across–” Peter paused and thought for a moment. “To who knows where?”
“We have clues now,” James told him. “We nearly have a plan for what we need to do next.”
Nashtra looked over at him with a certain degree of interest. “Do you really? I would be very interested to know the details of this plan.”
James nodded to the elf. Meanwhile, Bayani gave his boyfriend a hopeful look. Peter only frowned and stared in the other direction.
“The boy should go home,” Nashtra added, his voice sympathetic and not at all disdainful. “If his heart is not in the endeavor, he is safer going back where he came from. Do not keep him here against his will, James.”
With a heavy sigh, James looked over at Peter. “I suppose you’re right. Surely the old ministers have something down in the lower chambers that could work for getting him back to Earth.”
Peter’s ears throbbed as he listened to them talk, but he dared not open his mouth to add even a single word to the conversation.