A sudden gap in the story. Scarlett remembers getting closer to Viendenbourg with the others, but then all is confusion... now she's woken up in a hospital bed. She remembers accusing Allain of being the old man, of disguising himself somehow... but what happened then? Did he hurt her? She trails off, too tired to tell any more.
I'm writing this from a hospital bed. We've been taken to a facility in the Tanraga mountains and I... everything's so confused. The last few days are a blur. More than a blur, I don't remember... I just don't know where to start. Maybe the best thing is to start from what I know I remember. From where I'm sure. There's not much I'm sure of.
When I last wrote to you, we were setting off to Viendenbourg. I remember that. I remember writing it. It seems longer ago than just a few days. We packed up our kit and set off on the trail. We'd calculated it'd be about two and a half days' hike out to the place where Viendenbourg ought to be, so we'd hit it at about lunchtime on the third day.
The first day was fine, uneventful. There had been some showers the previous night, but the skies had cleared. We all seemed a bit clearer too, now that we were actually on our way. I walked with Brede, Margot and Sanj walked with Allain. We were just five friends enjoying a hike. That was the first day. I remember it.
I remember the second day, too. That was when I started to realise that everything wasn't quite as it seemed. It was at the end of the day's hiking. We'd come through some densely wooded terrain and out into a plain where we'd camp for the night. We all had our jobs to do. I went to gather firewood so that I could make the fire. Margot and Sanj arranged the camp. Allain was helping Brede set up the tents. That was when it happened.
Allain was putting in tent pegs. I'd been to gather firewood and walked to the camp from the back, coming up through some trees close behind him. I stopped for a moment to rest. He didn't know he was being watched. Perhaps that's how I saw it, through both of us being off our guards. He was swinging his mallet down onto the tent pegs with such concentration, lifting it high and bringing it down hard. And I found myself thinking: "so strong, for an old man". And I saw it then. It must be. Allain has the same gait, the same height, the same pale blue eyes as the old man I met in the library all those weeks ago. I knew, just knew, that they were the same person. That Allain must have disguised himself, for some reason, to talk to me. That he's still doing it now. I only knew I'd dropped the firewood when Sanj ran over to see what was wrong.
I watched him all that evening, while we ate our dinner and sat round the campfire talking. I couldn't get away from the others to talk to Allain. But I watched him and I knew that I was right - his eyes were the old man's eyes.
The next day, we set off early. We didn't know what we'd find at Viendenbourg. On the map it was barren, not even any trees. We thought we'd have to come back to the forest edge to make camp. I remember walking and the sun was so bright, amazingly bright, glaring. Maybe that's just in my memory and not real at all. I only have fragments, shards of information. I think I was confused then, but perhaps that's because I'm confused now. The morning dissolves into trees thinning into nothing, and mountains growing closer and I remember... I remember a conversation with Allain. I remember walking and falling behind in step with him. I remember taking his arm and whispering urgently.
I said: "I know it was you. In the military archive that day. I know that was you. Disguised, or something. You tricked me! To get me to come here - you made me come here!"
I remember he looked at me with his pale blue eyes.
He seems calm, in my memory.
In my memory he says: "No, I didn't, that's not how it is."
I don't think I believe him.
I'm getting so tired now. I don't know if this makes any sense. I'm just trying to... put it all together. It doesn't make sense to me either. I remember Viendenbourg, a shape on the horizon. I remember Brede, trying to... do something? Say something? I'm sorry, I'm so sorry I can't make more sense than this. I remember being injured (but was that in my mind? or where do I hurt?) and I remember Brede trying to help me, and then... I don't know.
I have to go now. They say I ought to sleep. Please don't tell anyone else what I've told you. I'll write again when I can.