Peter looked first to Bayani, and then to his sister, then to Himeko. He said nothing for several moments, keeping his face still and stoic. He had always refused to wear his heart on his sleeve the way his sister did. He insisted on not showing any of his emotions until he was certain that he was ready to reveal them. He knew very well that people would react to his expressions, to what they thought he was thinking, and make their judgment on that basis. He was not interested in letting their thoughts go whichever way. He insisted on control. At least, control of what others thought of him.
“If they go without me,” Peter said at last, “are you going to get them another archer?”
“I can try,” James told him. “Although… it would be up to your guide to make sure that it happens. I can send a message with the girls to let him know my instructions, but I myself cannot cross the border without endangering the mission.”
“And what about a bard?” Peter added.
“That might be easier to make happen,” James told him, “since most bards would be more than happy to travel to the capital city and play for the king. Still, it is Bayani who has the special abilities that will actually be of use to you.”
“Are you saying that his music is magical. but other bard’s music isn’t?” Peter asked.
“In a way,” James replied. “It takes a certain talent to really make things happen.”
Peter looked again at the girls. He still had no idea exactly how strong Himeko was, even though she seemed to have no trouble lifting her axe. He also could not be sure how good his sister was with her magic. He felt as though his hands were tied.
“What good is it leaving now?” he grumbled. “You could just as well get us killed on our way back to that cottage and the crystal. And who knows if it will even work! Even if you could hire another archer, who is to say that he would care for Cerys and her friend as well as I do? I am not going back unless they come home as well.”
“Peter…” Cerys began, although her voice was weak and timid, not entirely sure that she was willing to argue with her brother.
“Listen,” James went one. “you said that you would do this, that you would go to the royal city to warn the king. You cannot complain about wanting to turn back every time something dangerous pops up. If you want to get home, King Leonars can send you there from the castle. You must tell this to no one, and I loathe telling you even now, but he has a way to get you back to Earth.”
“He has one of these crystals?” Himeko asked.