Part 7 – So much work to do.

Sahren looked up to the man, literally, and figuratively from the new interest blooming onto the lines of her features, something fierce to them, a hunger that even nervousness and fear cant’ quite contain.

“So much work to do…Y-yes, that I can see…So much work for you to do, and so much in your hands. I think you are just what we need to teach us, Sir. Now is not a time for lessons, for soft and steady exercises, not after last night…There is no time to learn, is there? There is only time to be shown how to prevail…A Mage has a path that only they can walk, so why worry about walking it with them, all you can do is show us how to survive until we each reach out destinations.” There was a sad knowledge to her tone a certainty odd for one so young, though in trust she’s so close to womanhood, childhood fading

Anrui took a long, slow breath.

“Hey,” he says finally with a small smile. “I thought I was supposed to be the one consoling you here. Teacher to student and all that?”

Sahren blushed, a blaze of ruddy red blooming across her cheeks, teeth chewing her lower lip as she seems to shrink a foot into the pebbly sand, muttering away out to sea.

“S-sorry, I didn’t m-mean to overstep any bounds…”

“Not at all,” the Regulator said with a laugh, wrapping a protective arm around Sahren’s shoulders. “It shows a kind of strength few of us ever bother to practice. Compassion.”

Sahren stiffened against the surprise of his arm, then as if her whole body sighs she relaxes, a shiver running down the length of her body.

“You seemed as lost as any of us,” she said, struggling for something to say. “It is easy to forget that Regulators are people, you all seem so calm and knowing. I saw my father cry, just once, when my brother died…It was a lesson I haven’t forgotten Do you feel any better, at least?”

“Mostly,” he nodded. “Though I’m still steamed that the Gault got in. And Moar…” A bewildered shake of the head. “I can’t believe they sent the Chief of the Gault tribe. Must have been after someone specific to send that killer.”

Sahren set her hand to the small of his back, a conciliatory rub, soft and unsure, her small hand a butterfly’s wing of uncertainty.

“They will not have an easy time in future, Sir, I know you will be ready for them, and with your help we can be ready for them. Do you know who they were after…I am sorry to say I still get confused over who is who and who does what here.”

“It’ll get clear,” he said with the vague certainty of one who’s had the same trials. “But as to who the Gault were after… I can only guess. And guesswork is not productive.”

He relaxed somewhat, finally, the singing of his ametrine bangle rippling to a halt. The man’s nearly dead on his feet for lack of sleep, and it’s beginning to show in his mood.

“I’ll be leaving the Blackcards to Grale and Caspiain for a few days,” he said distractedly, eyes glazed and forcing for focus. “Cas lost the majority of his class. Has some free time. And Grale is better with physical battle than I am.”

Sahren let her arm drop, just looking at him, a little disappointment rippling her face but soon hidden.

“You will come back, won’t you?” It was as close to a plea as she’d give in to, finally finding someone to talk to a coup. “Though, I’d say a little rest would go a long way for now…” The young farmgirl used to mothering it seems.

He nodded, raising his free hand to rub at his eyes.

“I’ll be back, yes. I just need to make a jaunt up to Wyvern Lake, see how Morvran is doing up there with his. Bring him a note from the Accord. Shouldn’t be more than five or six days, weather permitting.” He smiled and gave Sahren’s shoulder an affectionate squeeze before nodding, and heading down the beachfront, back toward the barracks. Five or six days yes, but only once he actually woke up. With the ache he’s in for, that might double the trip.

She offers a weak smile, but it is a start, the worry lines of her features smoothing prettily as she watching him go

“Have a safe trip, Sir…” Her arms fold about her chest soon enough. The words soft and tremulously spoken as she turns back to the waves, watching dawn break higher over the sea, tired herself, but sleep a long way off, past all the clouds of her own thoughts and doubts, and the new hopes seeded by a single conversation.

About Ian

Ian M Rountree is a roleplayer and fiction writer who has been building writing communities online since the nineties. In addition to creating the Dowager Shadow and Maredran, Ian writes a blog about content creation and content marketing strategy and helps maintain the Unspeakable Media network.