You can catch up on the story here.
Three days later, Tarrin’s aunt gave birth to a Changeling boy, just as his mother predicted. They hadn’t cut the babe out, but his aunt was bleeding and the women rushed about the hut. The men waited outside, consoling her husband. Tarrin’s mother opened the door flap and shoved a bloody bundle into Tarrin’s hands, since he was the only one doing nothing. “Take it to the cove.”
He couldn’t believe his luck. He grabbed the fire-starting kit in their hut and practically ran down the stone path into the cove. He started a fire in the cove and sat beside it with the babe in his lap. Its cries had long-since turned to starved whimpers by late afternoon, and he whispered to it that the Changelings would be there soon.
In the distance, Mountain grumbled.
Dusk fell. He waited next to the fire, cradling the now-silent babe. It would fuss now and then, but for the most part it was still. As full dark settled on the coast Tarrin began to worry the Changelings wouldn’t come. He thought he saw a shadow in the trees, but it was hard to tell. He dozed, and it was only after the moon had moved some distance across the sky that a dark shape approached him. He squeezed the babe, which gave a weak cry, and the shape stopped at the edge of the cliff’s shadow.
“Hello?” Tarrin said.
“You’re supposed to leave the babe alone,” Faye’s voice travelled across the moonlight sand.
He thought about it a moment. “That seemed cruel.”
“Crueler than drowning it in the ocean?”
“Yes.” He stood, the babe in his arms. “If you didn’t come it would have died, and I didn’t want it to die alone.”
She was silent for a long time. “Did the mother die?”
He listened for the sounds of death from Gaerlom, but could hear nothing over the crash of the waves on the rocks behind him. “Not when I left. They didn’t cut him out, but they were trying to stop the bleeding.”
Faye finally stepped from the shadows, the moonlight turning her golden hair silver. She hung back and studied the top of the cliff as if she was worried someone was watching.
“No one comes here anymore, except to leave the babes,” he said, trying to put her at ease. “The cove is unlucky for the People.”
“Then why are you here?”
“I told you.”
“You’d wish yourself ill-luck for a babe you’ll never see again?”
“He’s my cousin,” Tarrin shrugged. “I’ll remember him, same as I remember you.”
“I told you, I don’t remember you.” She stared at the sand as she said it.
He stepped forward. “What do you remember?”
She was silent for so long he thought she wouldn’t reply. She seemed intent on staring a hole into the sand. “I remember…Ali. The way he used to be, before his mother died and he became angry. I remember playing with him on the beach.” She gazed past Tarrin to the ocean. “I miss swimming.”
Tarrin glanced behind him at the water. “I won’t stop you…”
She continued as if he hadn’t said a word. “The ocean took my father. It took Coyle’s daughter, and Moray’s. Who knows how many others you hid from us? It would have taken Montie, but Aleda saved him. Aleda saved all of us.”
Her face crumpled and tears shone in the moonlight. “I don’t remember you,” she said softly. She glanced at the babe before her devotion returned to the sand. “I’m sorry for that.”
He took a step closer and handed her the babe. She rocked it for a moment, then finally met his gaze. “The night you said was the worst of your life? When you lost your friends? We lost everything. Home. Safety. Friends. We slept in the rain on muddy ground. I remember that.”
“I remember my brother – who isn’t a child of Mountain – whimpering all night against my mother’s chest. I remember Erie getting sick, and Ali breaking his leg for the first time. We couldn’t go any further.” She stared at the babe; a look of wonder and worry. “We never went further. We’ve never been safe, or left the safety of the valley.”
“We didn’t seek you out,” Tarrin said. Something dark passed over her face, and he regretted it immediately.
“No,” she said. “You didn’t. Memories did. That’s why I forget. When I remember I do stupid, rash things, like I’m still in Gaerlom.”
A wail from the village sounded over the wind – Tarrin’s aunt must have died. Faye took a step back and without thinking he put his hand over hers. “Faye.”
Her hand retracted as if he was a jellyfish stinging her. “I remember watching the village to see if the men had left on the hunt. I remember the sounds of childbirth, and a final scream. A man – his energy ripe with murder – carrying a newborn to the cove. He was going to kill her. Kill her for being born.”
Faye rocked the babe in her arms and kept her eyes on its face. “I remember feeling his intent, so I stole the babe from his arms. I flew her home and went back to distract him, because he was going to hurt Aleda. I remember him grabbing my ankle and yanking me to the ground.”
She look at him again and he wanted nothing more than to wrap his arms around her and tell her she was safe. That he wouldn’t let anyone hurt her again. Instead he kept silent and let her speak.
“When I woke he was dead. Aleda was ashes in the sky, mixing with Mountain’s. She was a Goddess. That’s what I remember.”
Tarrin didn’t know what to say. He had told her the night they left was the worst of his life, but it didn’t compare to her worst nights. Not by a long shot.
“I’m sorry,” he finally whispered.
“I have to get the babe home before it dies.”
He nodded and stepped back, watching as she flew away. At the top of the cove’s path he saw someone waiting, and as he ran up the path his sister’s features clarified in the moonlight. She looked unhappy and worried.
“Was that a Changeling?”
“It was Faye.”
“They’re called Faye now?”
His sister turned away. “Doesn’t matter. Father needs us. Aunt died and Mountain is stirring. The Elders say it’s the Changelings fault. Or the Faye. Whatever they’re called now.”
Tarrin jogged after her, trying to explain that Faye was the name of the girl, not the Changelings.