Points of Departure, Chapter 26

Continued from the previous chapter, here.

đť”—he day after the fight dawned through rain, and it found the mail-clad man already having eaten and offered his prayer of penitence. It also found the green-clad man waiting for him outside the chamber that had been given to his use. After greeting him, the green-clad man said that it was time for them to make their way forward, now that the festival was done for which they had said they would stay. To this, the mail-clad man assented, knowing that overstaying a welcome is a poor thing to do and knowing that he was ready for the challenges that might face him and the green-clad man along the road. For his performance in the fight yesterday had emboldened him, as well it might, and he knew that even the most worshipful knights of days gone by would have been hard-pressed to do as he did.

So it was that that morning, they gathered up their things and made their farewells, and the proceeded east and south along the roads towards Anderitum. And their travels were easy, for the roads were good and much used, and there were patrols of noble lords’ forces and bridges, although there were tolls to cross the latter when they came upon them. Yet the green-clad man had plenty of coin, and there was no trouble as he and the mail-clad man went along their way.

But if there was little trouble, there was also little cheer. Never had the green-clad man been particularly open with his words, but after leaving the town, there was an intensity about him that the knight had not before noted, and he did not approach it to break it. The green-clad man sat forward on his horse, leaning and peering, and it seemed that he neither blinked nor breathed, so focused was he on the road ahead. And he did not run his horse, but he did force its walk as fast as it could be without breaking into a trot or a gallop, and the mail-clad man, long used to horsecraft, knew that it strained the animals they rode–for he did not dare let the green-clad man get too far ahead. Too, he saw that they did not talk to others along the way as had been their wont before, and the others on the road also avoided them, almost as if not seeing them. And he wondered at that, but not too much, for he had come to know there was a way about the green-clad man that made for such things to happen, and that it were best not to delve into it too deeply.

That evening, as the sun sank behind the western horizon and the green-clad man and the mail-clad made camp beside the road, the former said to the latter “I know that you think it strange that I have acted as I have today. Yet we are close to where we would be, close to being able to do what it is that I need to do–and what I need you to do, as well. And so we are close to the end of your obligation to me, which must be a source of joy for you, as well.”

The mail-clad man replied “I do not find it a burden to be in service, but rather a welcome thing. I have seen that you have much power, although some of it is strange and the working of it beyond my ken; it is not a small thing to be in service to such a one as you. And I have grown the greater in that service, strengthened as you have said of it, and I am not displeased that I can do more and do it better now than I could in earlier times. So it is not joy I feel at the prospect of being done, although there is satisfaction in discharging a charge laid. It is something I shall soon know, as well, for there is a penance upon me to fast and pray. It will be good to be quit of it, although I relish that I am purified by it.”

“I have noted it, and it seems to do you no harm. But now, you must eat, and then we must rest, for I hope within a few days to come to Anderitum. Too long have I been away from it, and there is much there I would resume, much that was mine that I would reclaim.”

“Are you from Anderitum, then?”

The green-clad man looked at his companion levelly for a moment. Then he gave his reply: “Not originally, no. I am from rather farther from here than that. But I did live in that tow for some time, indeed, and I was forced out of it. But I have had word that what forced me out is gone, and so I can return to what is mine and reclaim it again. Surely this is the kind of thing your chivalry calls upon you to assist, the resumption of right by one dispossessed from it?”

“I have said that I will aid you. I have accepted that I am charged to do so. You need not return again and again to the idea, as if you think that I will forget it if you do not remind me of it. I have said I would do a thing, and so that thing will be done, if I live to do it. You do ill to think that I would be otherwise, and I have done no thing to give you cause to doubt my word. So I will thank you not to voice that doubt again unless I should do so.”

“I am glad to hear you say it, then, Sir Knight, and that you will recall it. And I will be glad of your help when we arrive at Anderitum. I will be glad of it, indeed.”

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