On the other side (part 2)

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Ferry studied the young man bowed in front of him. Under the black cloak, he wore a dark-green tunic which seemed to be made of an expensive material such as silk but as resistant as sackcloth. The dark trousers looked like they were made of leather, but Ferry knew that fairies didn't kill animals for such infamous purposes as clothes. The knee-high boots looked just as sturdy, and the marks and stains on them showed that they had been worn for a long time. And yet, the young man looked noble and proud in his austere attire. The long hair, the color of a raven's feather, was caught in an elaborate ponytail, adorned with green branches and feathers, and the sides of his head were shaved, giving way to elaborate tattoos representing a lion with five twisted tails. The unusual haircut completely revealed his elf ears, sharper than his own. When he looked up, Ferry noticed the dark, penetrating, and curious, but at the same time proud and confident look. In the moonlight (or better yet, the sun of Akna), his olive complexion shone and Ferry suddenly felt small in his presence.

 In the moonlight (or better yet, the sun of Akna), his olive complexion shone and Ferry suddenly felt small in his presence

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Thyme stepped closer to them. He put a hand on the stranger's shoulder, and the young man stood up, but his gaze remained on Ferry. 

"Garrett, this is Raghnall. He's one of the most promising lieutenants in our army. He will be your companion from now on. He'll show you everything you need to know about Akna and its people. He will help you with training, as well."

Ferry reached for Ragnall's hand. "Nice to meet you."

 Raghnall did not extend his hand but nodded briefly. Ferry stood there with his hand outstretched for a moment, then slowly withdrew it. 

He saw Sage approaching them, a wide smile covering his face. "Ragh, my friend, it's been a long time," he said, hugging him. 

Ragh hugged him back, a smile just as wide on his face. 

"You haven't changed at all," Sage added.

Raghnall laughed. A burst of strong, loud laughter, but at the same time pleasant and contagious. "I couldn't say the same about you, old friend."

"Well, a lot had happened since the last time we saw each other," Sage said. "I have so much to tell you ..."

Parsely stepped closer, too, smiling at Ragnall. "Sage, we have plenty of time for this," he said, hugging Raghnall in turn.

"Parsley, you haven't changed at all, my friend," Raghnall said.

"It's kind of hard to get wrinkles under the scales," Parsley joked.

Ferry suddenly felt a bit of an outsider in their companionship. He looked for Matilda, instead. He was worried about her. The girl was now leaning against the trunk of a tree, and Rosemary was letting her drink water from a flask. She looked just as pale and weak.

Ferry wanted to go to her, talk to her and tell her that everything would be fine and that he would always be by her side. But Raghnall cut him off. He stopped laughing and examined him again with the same penetrating look. "Come," he said. "The horses are in that direction."

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