As if history pulled me along, I headed in the direction of our old cottage. The stone foundation still stood, covered in vine and brush. I pulled back some of the growth and sat on one of the old stones. Razor climbed from my arm and sat beside me. Life had taken its toll on this place. And me. Maybe Claude had been right. Maybe I was fooling myself. I’d hoped running my father’s old business and doing an honest day’s work would absolve my sins. Forty-five years old, still young for a half-elf, but old enough to know life didn’t work like that. People reaped what they sowed. Eventually, I’d have to gather a bitter harvest.
We hunted for another hour or so, circling around in the direction of Leogard. Another rabbit ran past, and I sent Razor after it. I hurried through the bush, draeberry thorns catching my clothes. Pulling my way free, I stumbled and smacked directly into…her.
“Oh, I’m sorry. Are you all right?” I asked.
Caliphany lowered her hood and smoothed out her robes. She smiled. I admit I’d held a vague hope we would cross each other’s paths again, but I’d also told myself a woman of her class and a man of mine had no business being seen with one another. Even though I didn’t know who she was exactly, the clothes she wore told me she didn’t mingle regularly with us working classes.
She tucked some hair behind her ear and blushed. “Captain Trudeaux.”
I bowed. “My lady.”
“Please don’t bow.” She avoided my gaze and clenched her robe. “You weren’t at the docks this morning. I thought you had gone.”
Razor had started tearing into the rabbit, so I held up my finger. “One moment, please.” I knelt to retrieve him and the carcass before it was gone.
Razor eyed Caliphany when I returned to her side. “I sent my men on to Faewood. They’ll be back by the week’s end. We had some Tilliyan coffee beans to deliver.”
Her shoulders slumped. “I’ve read a lot about Tilliya Island.” Her eyes focused somewhere in the distance, and then rested on me again. “So, you’re a falconer?”
“I’m a ranger. Razor accompanies me from time to time. We sell what we hunt and gather. Sometimes I help thin out wildlife. It’s just my job.”
The words rolled off her tongue. “A ranger.”
I nodded, a bit annoyed she found my profession so curious. I killed things for a living. It was a hard, dirty job, one I was sure she could never understand. I cleared my throat. “I’m glad to see you’re in one piece, though still unescorted. Would you like me to walk you back to Leogard?”
She held up a satchel. “I’m gathering plant specimens.”
“As you wish. Well, good day then. I’ve got work to do.” I began to walk away.
“Wait,” she said.
I turned, and Caliphany approached me, opened her mouth, shut it again, and finally spoke. “I wanted to thank you for rescuing me.”
If she was any other woman, from the lower end of society, I might have thought she was flirting. “You already did, I believe, and it’s not necessary. Good day.” I tried to walk away again.
Razor screeched and puffed his feathers when I turned back around. “Easy, now. Look, Caliphany, it’s really not necessary-”
“I want you to train me.”
I stepped closer. She blushed. I wrinkled my brow and asked, “Pardon?”
The words tumbled from her mouth. “You know how to handle yourself, handle weapons. I want to learn that as well. Will you train me?”
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Monday, December 6, 2010
Woot! 800 visitors! An excerpt is in order...
From Chapter 5 (Galadin):