The girl slept as they took watch, alternating their gazes from her slumbering form to the fire, then beyond and back again. The wind in the trees spoke for the both of them, with the large blue-white moon watching from on high with numb apathy.
"Sooner or later you're going to tell her the truth," Jericho said.
His other companion, the black shaggy wolf, raised his head off his paws. His human-like blue eyes fixed Jericho with a sad light shining in their azure depths. "I know," He rumbled.
"She needs to know who and what you are."
"I know." This time, the answer came with a hint of a growl.
"You haven't told me everything either."
"Do you have to know?"
Jericho remained silent, returning the creature's stare with equal intensity. The stick in his right hand waved a lazy pattern in the air.
"Once, I was a man," the wolf said. "Once, I ruled a great city. I had everything; power, money, a woman to love, a place I could call home, a father who cared for me as if I were his own. But then I lost it all and now you see me as I am."
"My name is Siegfried Vorcraft, Metalmage of Gyre. You may have heard of me through one tale or another, though I care less what you may have heard. My father was the one men named the Rag King, but I was raised by King Durza after the Fall of the Four Blades."
The wolf fell silent, his eyes clouded over with memory. Jericho let him have his peace as he scanned the shadows that enclosed the three of them around the campfire. He thought he saw a tell-tale green glow amongst the trees some distance back, but when he blinked, the glow was gone. Feeling his suspicion wax, he kept his steel-grey eyes at the very spot for a couple of moments before letting it slip away.
"Long before you were born," Sieg went on. "Durza went on an expedition, and came back with a child, barely eight winters old with an astonishing pair of violet eyes and snow-white hair. Her name was Iris, and with time she became the darling of all of Gyre, enchanting all with her quiet beauty. If only most of us had seen the danger then; if only my father, Durza, had listened to the dire warnings of our jester..."
"In the heart of Gyre was a tower; a high and mighty fortification that housed a secret from an age long before the Four Blades. Only Durza knew what lay within the tower, and it was only he that could gain access into the structure. Iris used to question extensively about the tower, even daring to ask the King for permission to enter. But Durza refused her request-too many times. Eventually my father fell sick and admitted the way of the tower to me, warning me direly to never tell another soul. Young and proud as I was, I swore to take the secret to my grave should it become necessary. Durza's health became worse and worse afterward."
"That was when Iris came to me."
Jericho looked up when the wolf failed to speak again. Sieg had his head lowered to one side, gazing off into his own world. Jericho could almost sense what was coming next. "So the two of you-"
The shaggy canine nodded; a motion that almost imperceptible. "She was sixteen winters then, and I was twenty-seven. We had both fallen into the trap of youthful love and lust at an earlier age. Yes, that was what happened between us."
A sense of pity and almost disgust washed over Jericho like a seawave.
"Eventually, she wrested the secret out of me," Sieg went on, with anger now burning in his eyes. "She ascended into the tower, which remained shut after her. Not even I could unbind the great gates. In the end, I confessed to my father what I had done and sought his blessing and his advice. Seven days later, I marched up to the tower with legions of men to wrest control by force. That did not come to pass."
"The Dark," Sieg confirmed.