Continued from 3/366 – To the Wall (Cont.)
Leaving Cleric Josten’s house, Morn and his father walked in silence as the sun peeked over the mountains. Morn stopped for a moment and let the light warm him. He held his once broken wrist still. The pain was a distant memory already, as though he had dreamt it.
“What are you thinking about?” his father asked.
“What do you think Cleric Josten meant by ‘Rashem’s favor’?” Morn asked.
“Rashem’s teachings talk of good and evil. I’m sure it meant that if you had been injured in the service of spreading evil, you wouldn’t have been healed.”
“I’m not sure I see the difference,” Morn said, resuming his walk. “Good and evil seem like they are arbitrary things. Who decides what is good or evil? Us? The gods?”
“Do you not pay attention when we go to the temple every tenday?” his father asked, keeping stride with him. “Rashem’s teachings cover all that. Do you think you need to spend more time with the monks learning?”
Morn thought about Master Scaine and shook his head. “No, I’m not sure that I know what I need.”
“You’re still young,” his father said, placing his hand on Morn’s shoulder. “Experience comes in time and with it are many lessons that can’t be taught by anything other than the world.”
Morn nodded. He thought he understood what his father was telling him. He needed more experience. He needed to see the world.
That’s my plan, he thought.
They finished the walk back to their home in silence. Morn opened the door and let his father in first.
“You should get ready for school,” his father said as he passed. “I have to tend to the fields today. I’ll be home late, so you’ll have to make dinner for yourself.”
Morn nodded as he climbed the stairs. He didn’t bother responding. His father often worked long hours, and he was used to being alone now. He thought about going to bed instead but remembered that he was going to tell his friends about his adventure.
Begrudgingly, he stripped off his clothes, cleaned himself as best he could, and put on clean clothes. He grabbed the few books that he needed and returned downstairs to find that his father had already left.
Friends and Surprises
Morn waited outside his house for Celeste. As long as he could remember, they had walked to school together. Her father was the Captain of the Guard, and not someone Morn ever wanted to cross. It wasn’t long after Morn’s 17th birthday that her father had cornered him privately.
The mountain of a man wearing his plate armor had pulled him into the alley between their homes. His black hair and thick beard covered most of his face, but it was his eyes that Morn remembered most of all. The icy blue intensity of them that seemed to pierce through him and look into everything he had ever done wrong in his life.
“Morn, I’ve known you and your family for a long time. So I’m giving you this one warning. If you ever touch my daughter, I’ll kill you and hide your body in the mountains where no one will ever find it. Do you understand me?” he had said.
“Y-yes, sir,” Morn had replied, confused and terrified at the same time.
“The same warning stands for if you ever tell anyone about this conversation.”
Morn leaned against the house, still wondering what had prompted the interaction with her father that day. He had always seen her as beautiful, but it was her cleverness and cunning that had made him seek her out, not as a romantic interest, but as a friend. She was, by far, the most intelligent person he knew, short of their friend Jaque, who was studying diligently to become a wizard.
Celeste came barreling out of her house, smiling as her hair flowed behind her. Morn pushed off the wall and began his trudging to class.
“How’d it go last night?” she whispered, bumping into him on purpose.
“I’m exhausted, and it would have gone better if you had come. I botched the whole thing,” Morn replied. “To top it off, I broke my wrist and got no sleep because I had to go see Cleric Josten.”
“You didn’t make it inside?”
“No,” Morn said, shaking his head, “I made it to the top of the wall, but Master Scaine came out almost as though he knew I was there. There was something else too.”
“Did they see you?”
“I don’t think so,” Morn replied.
“What else was there then?” Celeste asked.
“I’d rather wait for Jaque. I think between the two of you, you might figure out what I saw,” Morn said.
Celeste nodded, “Well, let’s hurry then. We’ll need a few minutes to talk before class starts, and before Jaque disappears for the rest of the day.”
Morn’s body felt like gelatin. He did his best to run, but it just looked like a drunk cow trying to leap onto a cart. Celeste turned to see why he wasn’t keeping up, and nearly fell over laughing. Celeste spent the remainder of the walk poking, prodding, and chuckling at him until the square stone building with the bell tower surrounded by milling teenagers came into view.
“Jaque!” Celeste called when she spotted him among the few dozen students waiting outside the school.
Jaque looked up, saw her, and immediately ran over to them. His body was thin, and his face gaunt. He had once been a portly child with rosy cheeks, but the strain and commitment of learning magic had taken its toll on him. Morn and Celeste had talked about it when they noticed him skipping his meals and often muttering to himself when they saw him randomly throughout the day.
“How’d it-” Jaque began.
“He didn’t get in,” Celeste cut him off, “He said that there was something else though. He wanted to talk to both of us about it.”
Morn opened his mouth as the bell began ringing in the tower over the school.
“We’ll have to talk later,” Jaque said, rushing off, “I don’t have the time now.”
“After school, then!” Celeste called after him.
Continued 5/366 – Friends and Surprises (Cont.)