Day 57 of 100 Word Prompts: Heart
The morning sun rose, bringing with it the pinks and yellows that could only be found at the southern base of the Kinian Mountains. Flint watched the sunrise as he guarded the gently snoring academic nearby. He turned his gaze to the southeast, toward the home he had left behind. The home he could hardly return to after the accident. He thought of Thulthram, the only father he had ever really known, and hoped that things had worked out the way he had said.
“Don’t forget where your heart is,” Awyss had said not long before falling asleep. “Your heart will lead you down the right path while your ambitions will often lead to your destruction as I found out.”
Flint understood the words the man said, but as he sat there, listening to the faint rumbles of his sleep, the meaning of them truly rang out in his mind. He understood that at some point, he would need to return home. He would have to face the head of the merchant family, and he would need to go against what Thulthram had asked him to do.
“Good morning,” Awyss grumbled as he shakily rose to a seated position. “Have you been up long?”
“I didn’t sleep,” Flint admitted.
“Why would you do a thing like that?” Awyss asked. “You need your rest, just like everybody else.”
“I wanted to make sure you were safe,” Flint said, stretching. It felt good to move. He hadn’t really paid too much attention in the last few hours, and he wondered how long he had remained in one position.
“It was unnecessary,” Awyss said, shaking his head. “I’m not some baby that needs looking after. I sleep lightly. Nothing sneaks up on me.”
Flint thought back to when he had accidentally dropped a pile of wood too hard only feet from the man. He had cringed at that moment, expecting Awyss to wake in a fury, but he had slept on as though nothing had happened.
“I just wanted to make sure,” Flint said, patting the massive blade in his lap.
Awyss got to his feet and stretched a few awkward directions, groaning loudly as he did so. He stopped suddenly, seeing the fire still burning merrily.
“Did you find breakfast?” he asked.
“No,” Flint said, “I still have a few rations left if you’re hungry, though.”
“I would much appreciate it,” Awyss replied, nodding emphatically. “It has been a while since I’ve had proper food. The berries along the mountain are sometimes a little rough on the stomach.”
Flint produced a waxed-linen wrapped bundle of dried meat, fruit, and crackers, and handed it to the expectant scholar.
“My word, you even travel better than most,” Awyss said as he unwrapped the package. “Most rations I’ve seen are little more than fire starter.”
“My friend gave them to me before I left home,” Flint said, pulling another from his bag, “I didn’t have much need of them on the ship, but they are handy when traveling out in the wildlands.”
“Well, be sure to compliment him when you return home,” Awyss said through a mouthful of food.
“I will,” Flint said, tearing a piece of meat.
The pair ate in silence as the fire died to embers. Flint was sure that Awyss had more to say to him, but was unsure of how to break the tension. He had always been terrible in social situations, and Thulthram had often reprimanded him for speaking at times when he shouldn’t. He waited as long as he could before the great bubble of anticipation was about to pop inside him.
“I need to say one more thing,” Awyss said. A wave of relief washed over Flint. “I know we talked a lot last night. Many things became clear to me, but the one thing that should remain clear to you is that your path is your own. What works for me, or didn’t work, doesn’t necessarily mean it applies to you. Do you understand?”
Flint thought on it for a moment and shook his head.
“I’m saying that just because I need to leave Kinia due to circumstance, it doesn’t mean that you will have to leave. These are your people. This is where you come from, whether you know your family or not. You are connected to these mountains,” Awyss said.
“I think I may not stay in Kinia forever,” Flint replied. “There is still so much of the world to see, and those-what did you call them?”
“Carnes,” Awyss provided.
“Those Carnes. You said there were more of them. I think I’ll try to find them. How many do you think there are?” Flint asked.
“At least two,” Awyss replied as he rolled up his tattered bedroll and fished his pack from the bush. “Based on what you said about why you came here.”
“And there are more?” Flint asked.
“I would assume so,” Awyss said, nodding. He strapped his bedroll to the top of his pack and walked over to Flint, setting his hand on the goliath’s shoulder. “Don’t be like me, Flint. Promise me that you won’t let this become an obsession for you.”
“I promise,” Flint said with a smile, unsure of what the word obsession meant.
“If you ever make it to Almewester, please come find me. I will likely continue my research on the Carnes there with the resources available to me. Perhaps I’ll even find out what they mean,” Awyss said, his eyes looking south with a longing glint in them. He stepped away from him then, nearly dancing on the road. “I’m sure to make history then! A legendary researcher that cracked the history of Kinia wide open! Can you even imagine it?”
“I think so,” Flint lied.
“Safe travels, my friend. May the wind stay at your back, and the road be easy beneath your feet,” Awyss said, waving to Flint.
“You too, my friend,” Flint said as he watched Awyss walk south.
Flint rose to his feet and kicked sand on the fire, ensuring that it didn’t pose a threat to the surrounding area before he collected the few things he had with him. He looked down at his tattoo and rifled through his pack for a spare shirt. He tore it and wrapped it around his arm roughly, ensuring that every inch of the ink was covered before collecting the rest of his things and turning north.
Four days later, he arrived at the towering walls of Madigton, awestruck from the number of goliaths he saw passing through the city gates. Never before had he seen so many of his kind in one place.
“Good day, brother!” a goliath called to him from the gate. “Are you lost?”
“No,” Flint replied, a smile spreading on his face. “I don’t think so.”