“But no-one trusts me,” the red haired man objected.
“You’re the only one it can’t be,” the dark haired girl-woman sitting next to him pointed out. “It could have been me – that was when I was found and everyone though I was her.”
He objected, “How could that have happened?”
“I could have gotten my injuries from her defending herself,” the girl everyone had been calling Karen for the last four years pointed out. “We’ll have a better idea whether I’m capable of that after they run me through the Missing Persons database. It’ll be nice to know my proper name, too.”
“Why didn’t they do that in the first place?” He was leaning forward on the bench, elbows on his thighs, hands clasped together, simply gazing at the pond in front of them and probably not seeing it.
“They were sure they knew who I was,” she pulled her jacket tighter around her. “That all the anomalies were from the head injury: the not knowing anyone or recognising the name they called me; spouting foreign phrases; even not sounding at all like Karen when I talked about things.”
“I didn’t think you were my sister the first time I saw you.” He glanced at her sideways.
“Turns out you were right,” she gave a cold grin, “but no-one wanted to listen to the doubts of a head-injured girl or a man who might have changed allegiance to his captors.”
“So what do we do now, with you not being my sister and all.” He glanced at her again.
“Nothing. Not while you don’t know that you can trust me.” She leaned forward too, mirroring his posture. “You need help, but not from anyone local.” She took a deep breath in. “Frankly, I think you need a Knight of the Church.”
“You think I need the help of an anachronistic, sword-wielding, religious fanatic?” He kept his head turned towards her.
“I think...I think that sometimes in the air I catch a trace of taint.” She turned her head to return his gaze. “I don’t know how I know what it is, but sometimes it’s there. Church Knights might be everything you say, but that is the sort of thing they’re supposed to deal with.”
“I know,” he agreed. “I think I should take the train up to town tomorrow and see some people.”
“That’s an excellent idea,” she agreed warmly.
“You’re coming with me.” He said it firmly then looked away again to gaze across the lake once more.
“After everything I said?” Annoyance fluffed through her voice.
“Yes.” He kept gazing ahead. “I catch that trace of taint too, sometimes, but never around you. You might be my sister’s killer, but I doubt it, those injuries sound familiar from another context. You might be a victim of her killer who managed to get away. You might be my only ally against another darkness, hiding behind the shadows of the human world.” He looked at her again. “That’s a war I can still fight.”