Chapter One

I am the Historian, I am immortal, I am ageless, I am nameless. I am carried by my own feet through times and worlds to witness great stories

This is one such story.

I felt colder than you can possibly imagine.

Somehow the forces that hold death at bay for me welcome the elements with open arms. I have been in situations where I envied people who had frozen to death, as their suffering had an end to it.

I could be frozen to the core, every normal sensation numb from cold, and yet the urge to move on would be as strong as ever.

Lacking a great story, I was cold enough that anything indoors would have been more than enough temptation to hold me for the night. Winter was coming to an end in the land I walked, but the night was cold and the wind was strong.

At that moment, as numbness crept up my arms and legs, I would have settled for a cave or a fallen tree if nothing more hospitable could be found.

To my surprise and delight, a city opened up beneath me over the next hill. In the distance, a broad castle sat over the city like a brooding hen. My luck held and the first building I could see on the outskirts of the city was obviously an inn.

I quickened my pace. I felt like running, but even half-frozen, I still couldn’t go scampering off over the country. The dignity of my office, or something like that. I can’t honestly say I understand everything I do.

I stepped through the doors into a wall of stuffy warmth and the smell of stale sweat. I moved quickly to the side, hoping the innkeeper wouldn’t notice me for a while.

For someone who walks endlessly, money is a pointless burden. One society’s valuables are another society’s trash, and all of it eventually becomes dead weight.

However, my lifestyle seems to be the polar opposite of innkeepers’, who stay in one place their entire life and try to acquire as much of all types of money as possible.

Innkeepers and I have never been able to reconcile this extreme philosophical difference. So most innkeepers simply do not want me around once they discover I have no money, nor any ambitions to acquire any. Some get downright rude about it.

As luck would have it, this innkeeper was quite busy harvesting money from a large group of men. They were all dressed the same and had swords hung at their belts. It didn’t take much to see that this was a soldiers’ bar.

I successfully worked my way to a corner table that was still hidden in shadow, in spite of the bright fire and several lamps around the room. I slid into the chair, my eyes on the innkeeper. My luck held and his attention was completely focused on the soldiers pressing about the bar.

“Any reason you don’t want to be seen?”

I jumped. Not very dignified, being startled like that, but even a Historian can be surprised. I had been so intent on the innkeeper, I had not noticed that the table in the dark already had two silent occupants. The lights of the room flickered in their eyes as they studied me. The first one spoke again.

“In my experience, people who don’t want to be seen are either sneaking up or sneaking away, which are you?”

I smiled sheepishly.

“I am part of a special third group of very cold people; the kind who don’t have any money and don’t want the innkeeper to ask them to leave before they can enjoy the fire for a while.”

The man grunted.

“I suppose it doesn’t matter either way, we were about done here. You are welcome to the table and the fire. Everyone else is here for the grog.”

The two men had started to retrieve their cloaks from the backs of their chairs when loud voices rang out from the bar. An especially drunk man had lifted his mug above his head, heedless of the pungent ale that sloshed down his arm.

“And this drink, this drink I’m drinking to the health of our dear King Tibian!”

Even in the dim light at the table, I could see my new companions tense as the drunkard continued his toast.

“May he live long, or at least long enough for someone to drag him down from his pillows and wine and bleed him like he has bled us!”

Several voices cheered loudly, but most of the men had gone quiet. I knew nothing of the political situation in this land, but to hear a soldier talking about his king that way could easily be taken as treason. The fact that so many had still cheered told me that things were not all right in this kingdom.

The man I had been talking to rose and moved around the table like a cat stalking its prey. His eyes were fixed on the drunk man who was now doing his best to keep his feet beneath him as he drank even more.

The men surrounding the drunk fell silent and moved away as the man from the table approached. They had been cheering right along, nearly as drunk as their friend, but they sobered quickly under the fiery glare of my new acquaintance. The drunk saw him as he approached and began a feeble explanation.

“Now, Captain, all I…”

The drunkard’s attempt at justification gurgled to a halt as the Captain’s hand snaked out, the web of his hand striking the man’s throat. A harder blow could have killed the man. I was certain the restraint was intentional.

As it was, the man fell to his knees, suddenly sober as he grabbed at his throat and gasped for wisps of air through his bruised windpipe. His eyes were pleading as he looked up at his Captain, expecting a finishing blow.

None came. Instead the Captain’s gaze fell on each of the men around him in turn. Each looked down or away under the intensity of his stare. The room had fallen completely silent; so when he spoke, barely above a whisper, he could be heard clearly throughout the room.

“Guard your tongues, men. I will not stand for such a gross breach of discipline from any under my command. Is that clear?”

No response was expected. None came.

“Innkeeper, the bar is closed for the rest of the night. The men will return to their barracks.”

I leaned forward. They called him Captain, but the man spoke with all the authority of a general. Every last man in the inn moved to obey, even those who weren’t soldiers. Such authority did not come from position. This was a man of personal power.

Men shuffled out of the inn, avoiding eye contact with anyone else. The Captain walked back to the table, his stride unchanged by the tide of men around him. They flowed around him like a river around a boulder. He turned to me as the two of them finished putting on their cloaks.

“Well, stranger, I’m afraid I have cost you your fire. I am truly sorry about that. I hate to see a man put out in the cold if he has nowhere to go. If you don’t mind a bit of a walk, you can come with us.”

I have never minded a walk.

Chapter Two

All feel justified. To find truth, a man must consider the possibility that he is wrong.

-Musings of the Historian

“So then, traveler, what should we call you?”

“Call me whatever you wish,” I responded. I immediately regretted my quick response as the Captain glanced over at me, suspicion and irritation in his eyes.

“You moved into that inn like you were trying to avoid someone. Now you won’t tell me your name? You don’t strike me as a criminal or a spy, but you aren’t giving me much reason to trust you. Perhaps we should be taking a walk to the blockhouse instead of a warm hearth.”

“You see…” My mind raced through possible explanations. Each one died on my lips as I met his eyes.

They were a pale blue and focused like lightning. This was not a man I could lie to. He saw too much and thought too deeply. In the end, after stammering for a moment, I decided to try the truth, some of it, anyway.

“You see, the fact is, I don’t actually know my name. People have usually given me a name wherever I went and that suits me fine.”

The Captain scowled at this, searching my face for any kind of deception. The hard lines in his face softened a little as a trace of pity entered his eyes. The suspicion remained, but it was tempered with the thought that perhaps I was in greater need than he had known.

“What do you remember of your younger days? Did you have a family? Were you abandoned?”

I shook my head.

“I cannot say with any surety. I remember nothing of my childhood. Still, I do not believe that I was abandoned. Sometimes, when I dream, I feel the love and warmth of family. I think I must have known it once.”

This was only partly a lie. I never actually slept, so I never actually dreamed. However, when out wandering, when time got fuzzy and the horizons shifted, I would get the faintest glimmers of lost emotions and memories. They were never anything I could piece together into a full image, just scraps.

“I have known men who became addled after a strong blow to the head or having too much to drink, but they all recovered their wits and their memories after a good night’s sleep. Have you really lost so much of your life?”

“Not remembering it, I have no idea what I have lost.” I smiled. “I have been wandering for as long as I can remember, I have no other life to compare it to but what I see in my travels.”

“How does a man live without a name?” It was the younger man who spoke now for the first time. I looked to him, trying to study out his features by moonlight.

He was several years younger than the other man, but only slightly shorter. His face held confusion and suspicion, but they were clearly not natural emotions for him. His face was built for smiling, though he was making a direct effort to look as serious as his companion.

Past these simple observations, one thing became clear: these men were brothers. I hadn’t noticed the family resemblance during the confusion at the inn. When he spoke, however, the voices were practically identical. They also had the same shape of face and brow, though the older one had darker hair, almost black.

The younger one had seemed content to let his older brother handle the situation up to this point. Apparently, he could keep quiet no longer. He pressed his question.

“I mean, a man lives to bring honor to his name, to his family. What do you do if you don’t even have a name to bring honor to?”

His older brother, the Captain, gave him a withering look. The younger man melted under the scorching gaze, suddenly realizing how rude his question had been.

“I’m sorry, I just meant…” he stammered. I spoke quickly to rescue him.

“It’s fine, I have often asked myself the same question. All men have different roles. Surely a farmer or a blacksmith could argue that their role in society is more vital than another.

“Each would be right in their own way. The blacksmith would starve without the farmer’s produce; and the farmer’s land would be much harder to work without the tools the blacksmith makes.

“When all is said and done, each man has to use the gifts he’s been given. We would waste our lives if we only looked to what we don’t have.

“As for me, my role is an observer, a storyteller. After all, what use is a smith’s blade, a farmer’s fresh bread, or a soldier’s quiet sacrifice, if none remember it? That is my role. I see what men do with the time they are given. I remember them.”

“Do you judge them, traveler?” It was the Captain who spoke now. His voice was as intense as ever, but out of nowhere there was a tone of desperation. The man who commanded with such confidence suddenly seemed unsure of himself. I was equally unsure how to respond.

Something I had said had struck a deep chord in the quiet military man.

“Umm, I suppose that would depend on how you see judgment.” I stalled. “The limitations of time force me to judge who and what I should stay around to witness.

“However, I don’t believe any man can know the end from the beginning. Only a man himself knows what is in his heart.”

It was a cliché bit of fluff. The captain waved it away with irritation. He had been walking slightly ahead of our group as we traveled through the night, leading the party. He rounded on me, stopping us just outside the city.

His face, barely visible under a waning moon, was deadly serious. He locked onto my eyes and I knew that he would know any lie I attempted. I resolved to tell the truth and see where it led. The questions came rapid fire.

“Are you from this land?”


“Do you know anything about us or our people?”


“Have you seen other lands, other peoples?”


“Have you seen good men?”


“Have you seen evil men?”


“Do you believe that man has a soul?”

“I know it.”

“Would you always tell me the truth?”


This last answer brought him up short. I still don’t know what he wanted from me, but it was important to him. I had seen men before who looked like the Captain did at that moment.

It was the look of a man trapped, forced into a corner and facing defeat. Such men were capable of terrible things. What the Captain wanted, I didn’t know, but I knew he wanted it more than anything.

“Are you saying you would lie to me?” he continued after pausing for a moment to absorb my last response.

“Now then, if I were going to lie to you, that would have been a good time to do it, wouldn’t it? I simply meant that not all truths are yours. I will not answer a question you have no right to ask of me. Some truths are mine alone.”

He paused again, his eyes searching mine. Finally he nodded, more to himself than to me. Something had satisfied him and his confident manner fell back around him like a cloak.

“I can respect that, traveler. I would like you to come with us. I will tell you up front that I would like you to learn of us and my people. Once you have done so to your satisfaction, I want you to judge me.”

“Simeon! You can’t…!” his younger brother protested, the Captain raised a hand to silence him.

“Even criminals feel they are justified in their actions. How can we be so sure of ourselves?”

“But you can’t…” The brother grasped for words, trying to voice some valid argument. “There is too much at stake!”

The Captain nodded.

“That is exactly why we must question ourselves, Joseph. However, if it will ease your mind, if at any time this traveler seems like he will betray us, you may kill him yourself. Would that pacify you?”

The younger man’s face paled, but he nodded weakly. The Captain then turned to me.

“You must understand right now what you would be getting into. As Joseph has already made clear, we face a matter of life and death. Honestly, my reasons for including you are purely selfish.

“If you would like out of this, say so now and we will speak no more of it. I will see to it that you are back on your way warm and fed. Perhaps I could even get you to tell me a story or two before you go.

“But if you agree to come with us, it must be a complete commitment. Once you have heard our story, I must insist that you remain with us until the end. What do you say?”

I am not ashamed to say I felt downright giddy. Any historian who would pass up such an intrigue was no historian at all. I kept my emotions reined in and nodded solemnly, as befitted the situation.

“I will make my place with yours until your story is done. I hope you will appreciate that I cannot offer judgment until I feel that the story has played out completely.”

“Of course.”

We shook hands in the old style, clasping forearms, to seal the deal. The rest of the walk passed in silence, each man lost in his own musings, until we came upon our destination.

Chapter Three

To weaken the body, remove blood. To weaken the character, remove struggle.

-Musings of the Historian

It took another twenty minutes of walking to reach our destination. I guess the brothers enjoyed their solitude. Their dwelling was a squat, solid stone block of a house. The craftsmanship was quite good, though built for defense more than appearance.

“Our father built it,” the Captain answered my unspoken question. “Back when he was a young man, Marauders from the East would raid through this land. Some men would fight, some would run, some would win, and some would lose.

“In the end, so much was destroyed in the melee it didn’t matter much whether they won or lost. Their homes were ravaged one way or another. My father built stone walls on top of his log home, working with his sword lying next to his tools.

“When he was attacked, he would stand and fight. In the end, I think the Marauders came to fear his sword more than his strong walls. In any event, by the time the house was done, few ever attacked.

“Shortly after, King Stephan brought the clan chiefs together in alliance and formed the Land Guard, a force large enough and strong enough to secure the territory against the Marauders.

“Our father served with the Guard for years, so the stone house went unused until the war was over. He finally retired and came home to find a wife to bear him sons. Two sons.”

By then we were settled inside the dark structure, and Joseph set to work building a fire. He had skilled hands and the fire sprang to life in no time, lighting the solid structure to the corners. It spoke of military men. Everything was in its place, no space was wasted or decorated.

If one looked carefully, one could see edges and handles of various weapons placed around the room, where they would be at hand if something unexpected happened.

I noticed that Joseph never strayed far from one handle or another, always keeping an eye on me. Simeon, however, lounged at ease, having already mentally included me in their plans.

Joseph busied himself around the house and soon I had a piece of bread and a bowl of soup in my hands. Warm food and a warm fire had been all I had wanted less than an hour earlier. Now it was the story that held my attention.

So far, it was the same story I had heard thousands of times. It was the way kingdoms were born out of chaos, order from madness. He didn’t make me wait long.

“King Stephan was a good king, and he conquered when he was still young. He was as good at peace as he was at war, and the kingdom flourished. Our borders grew ever more secure. As our people felt safe, they spread out, they traded, and they loved their king.

“It seems to me that people started to think that Stephan would be their king forever. But even kings are mortal.”

Simeon was a natural storyteller, and he felt strongly about the subject. He paused, a sadness in his eyes, I worried that I was going to lose him to reverie.

“What happened?” I nudged.

“A plague,” he answered simply. “A devastating plague hit our kingdom. It seemed to be random in its selection, but where it touched, none survived. Nothing could cool the fever. Nothing could dull the pain of the suffering.

“We lost our father, we lost our mother, and we lost our King. It was the winter the world ended, or at least it felt like it. Perhaps worst of all, it also destroyed the royal family. The crown prince perished, as did the Queen and all of the children, save the youngest son.”

“Tibian?” I guessed, remembering who the drunk had been toasting at the bar. Simeon nodded.

“Yes, young Tibian, who was only a boy at the time. For years, the kingdom was run by advisers. They manipulated the boy and fought over him for their own advancement and agendas.

“The Land Guard became fractured, torn by infighting. Luckily for us, the Marauders in the East were as decimated by the plague as we were, so there were none to take advantage of our weakness.

“Finally, the boy king came of age and wrested the throne back from his advisers. The Land Guard supported him in this, uniting at last in a common cause. All hoped for better times, a return of Stephan.”

“I take it the boy was no Stephan.” I guessed. The story was hitting all of the stereotypes. The boy king would have been flattered and pampered endlessly by the sycophantic counselors. Such luxuries are ruinous to a young character. Simeon shook his head sadly.

“The palace intrigues and power struggles were over, the King was on his throne. However, it soon became clear how simple his rule would be.”

The Captain paused now. He knew he was crossing the point of no return. What he would say next would be treason, likely far worse than what he had punished back at the inn. He may have hesitated for my benefit. After all, charges of treason were seldom selective.

Just by hearing this, I would be implicating myself, endangering my own life over words I had heard. After a moment’s reflection, his eyes steeled and he pressed on.

“He taxes the people harshly. Those in his inner circle live a life of luxury far beyond what Stephan would have ever allowed. The rest of the people are ignored.

“Things carried on for a while under their own momentum, but the drag of taxes eventually took its toll. Business slowed, crops were left in the field because farmers knew that to harvest them meant to turn them over to the crown.

“That was ten years ago. Things have gone from bad to worse. The Land Guard is now just a collection of different factions. We fight each other almost as often as the Marauders, though that isn’t hard.

“You see, the raids have all but stopped. The attacks that come now have a different feel to them. They are becoming ordered in their attacks, probing and retreating. I think they are testing us.

“There are whispers of a new king in the East, someone who is uniting the Marauders and training them into an army. If this is true, our kingdom is all but lost.

“The Land Guard could never put up a true defense at this point. Most of the commanders don’t even know each other; some don’t even know their own men.”

“So something must be done,” I finished for him. He nodded in agreement and the conversation was over. My eyes wandered to the door, considering the open road beyond.

This was a story I had seen before, far too many times. A young military leader makes a grab for power from a despotic king.

Sometimes it worked, sometimes it didn’t. Sometimes the new king was an improvement, more often he wasn’t. I liked the Captain, but it seemed to me that the rest of this story would just be bloodshed. And boring.

Still, I had told him that I would remain with him. Maybe I could witness one more coup. I hoped a more interesting story wasn’t happening just over the horizon, maybe with this new king of the Marauders.

I laid down on the worn cot they offered me and waited until morning. It was a long night. Before sunrise, I heard them get quietly out of bed and get dressed. I remained motionless, “sleeping.” I had found that the best way to avoid suspicion was to not do anything suspicious.

Travelers who finally get a place to rest sleep until something wakes them up. Neither of them had been loud enough yet to give me an excuse to say I had woken up.

In fact, I was quite impressed by their stealth as I realized they had also managed to strap on some hardened leather armor and wrist bands. I also caught a glimpse of some strange looking swords.

I waited until I heard a series of dulls thwacks before I rolled out of bed to have a peek outside at what they were doing.

The two men stood apart from each other in the clearing, strange brown blades flicking back and forth in furious attacks and parries. I tried to get a closer look at the swords, but it was too far and they were moving too fast to get a clear look.

I am an ardent fan of sword fighting.

In my travels I have seen a great many fighters. The weapons have ranged from sticks and stones to reciprocating sonic pulsers. Where there is a weapon, there is a master of that weapon. Any time you get to see a master use his weapon, it is art.

Never is this truer than with a sword. I have seen swordsmen who seemed to dance through the air, the sword an extension of their own body.

They seemed to be completely alone, lost in their dance, as their enemies fell around them, as if in reverence. But that is another story.

Both brothers had skill, though I would have hesitated to call them masters. It was the kind of sword fighting taught to soldiers, used in groups and tight quarters. It was simple, direct, and deadly.

There was no doubt in my mind that there were none in the Land Guard that could have matched them. Of course, I also doubted that any of the Land Guard were up before the sun to train as hard as these two.

They were tireless. The swords clacked back and forth in a steady rhythm as one pressed the attack, then the other. Their breath was white and wispy in the frozen morning air and it puffed steadily above them as if they were two steam engines.

Every now and then, Joseph’s blade would twitch a bit too far in response to some feint or counterattack from Simeon and the Captain would score a hit on his younger brother, tapping his leather jerkin or arms.

In many training sessions I’ve watched, a solid hit such as that would have meant a break in the action before a new round began, or perhaps a chance to go over what had happened and advice on how to do better.

That was not the case with these two. Nothing changed at all when Simeon would score a hit. Joseph would nod slightly, then press forward into another attempt to break past the elder’s wall-like defense.

It made a lot of sense. The last thing you would ever want to teach a soldier is that he should stop when struck. If anything, he should act more decisively than ever to save his life. A pause at the moment of impact would be fatal, giving your opponent another fraction of a second to finish you off.

Whatever the blades were, they weren’t metal. There was no clang when the blades met, and there was no blood drawn when blade met flesh.

The only sign of humanity from either of them was when one sizzling fast attack landed right across Joseph’s knuckles and he yelped. To his credit, he did not drop his sword and even managed to sidestep a follow up thrust.

It occurred to me I had been given my opening. That yelp was plenty loud enough to awaken a sleeping traveler, assuming he slept light. The sun had also risen while the two men were training.

While it didn’t seem to give off any warmth, it did send rays of light into the small stone house. It was time for me to make my appearance.

“Is everyone all right?” I called out from the open door, doing my best to look sleepy. Simeon’s eyes flicked towards me for just a moment, long enough for Joseph to slip his sword point past his brother’s guard and land a light tap on the leather chest plate.

Joseph danced away, a broad smile on his face. Simeon threw him an annoyed scowl, then turned to walk over to me.

“Yes, traveler, everyone is fine. My brother hurt his poor little fingers.”

Now it was Joseph’s turn to scowl at his brother’s retreating back. As Simeon drew closer, I could see the sweat coursing down his face. For the ease with which they moved, the two brothers had been working very hard.

I could see the swords now up close. They were made from some kind of heavy wood. Raw leather had been wrapped and stitched around the blade, wetted, and allowed to dry. As the leather dried, it shrank and hardened, compressing the wood and making it very hard to crack.

It was impossible to tell what other modifications may have been made without a closer inspection, but these practice swords were close to the real thing in balance and weight, more than sufficient to give the men a good training without hurting each other.

At least not too bad, I amended my thought, as they moved closer to me. I could see that the hardened leather had dark stains on it that could only be blood.

Simeon noticed my interest in the sword and misunderstood. He offered me the weapon, handle first.

“If you would like to train for a little bit, it is a good way to get the blood flowing on a cold morning like this. I’m sure Joseph would be happy to spar with you.”

I raised my hands in a warding gesture, shaking my head and smiling.

“I was more interested in how it was put together. I wouldn’t know the first thing about using a sword. I feel that I am too old now to start learning.”

“A man is never too old to learn something new, and the time may come when you might need it,” Simeon insisted, proffering me the practice sword one more time. I shook my head again.

“I’m afraid I can’t. A soldier might sometimes be a storyteller, but a storyteller cannot sometimes be a soldier. If I am to judge your story, I cannot be preparing myself to be a part of it.”

Simeon puzzled over my words for a moment, then shrugged and leaned the sword against the house.

“I suppose we all have our roles to play in what is about to happen. I promise to do what I can to protect you should danger arise, but I hope you’ll forgive me if one day I find my priorities divided.”

“Of course I understand. If you ever had to choose between your brother and a stranger, none would question your choice. However, now that you bring it up, what does happen next?”

Simeon nodded, unsurprised at my question. What was surprising was how fast Joseph snuck forward to listen.

It struck me that Joseph didn’t know any better than I did what his brother had planned. His loyalty had made his stand clear before he even heard the call to battle.

So we two sat in silence, waiting to hear what Simeon would say of his planned future. In a frustrating show of nonchalance, Simeon had turned his attention to removing his training armor and rummaging about for a simple breakfast of bread and cheese.

I looked to Joseph, but he only shrugged. He would wait on his brother, trusting to his wisdom. He didn’t trust me enough to side with me in pressing for information. So it came down to me. I simply had to get him talking and the rest would become clear.

I had seen plenty of military takeovers and the format was fairly straightforward. First, an ambitious man, for reasons that seemed good to him, would gather supporters around him.

This not only served to increase his strength and chances for success, but would also cement in his own mind the righteousness of his cause.

Then came a tipping point. By the time a man had enough supporters to make the coup happen, it was already too late for him to turn back, even if he wanted to.

Since it was obvious that Simeon was ready to move, his supporter base must be broad and powerful. He was no fool, after all. Therefore, this seemed like the perfect place to get the conversation moving.

“Will the others be joining us soon?” I probed. This close to a takeover, there must be daily meetings, at least among the key commanders.

Simeon, however, looked confused, and maybe a little angry.

“What others? If you know of someone else who knows of this and haven’t told me about it, you will regret it, I promise you.”

“No, no, no.” I hurried to reassure him. “I simply meant the others who will be helping you. Surely you don’t mean to move the world with only you and your brother.”

I meant the last bit simply as a bit of a joke to diffuse the tension in the room. Still, Simeon looked fondly at his brother and mused softly.

“I suppose we could try, traveler,” he spoke to me, though he looked to his brother. “You’d be a fool to bet against us, in any event. However, I have thought a long time about this and I do believe we will need another.”

Joseph leaned closer, interested, as I leaned back, flabbergasted. I still trusted my instincts about people and could not believe that Simeon was stupid or insane. Still, he seemed to be talking about taking the throne with three men.

At least, I assumed the third person would be a man, perhaps it was a woman. It seemed I was taking too much for granted recently. For all I knew, the third member was a spirit, or a dog, or a fish. The possibilities were endless when you abandoned common sense.

He had made it clear that his sights were set no lower than the throne, but to try and take it with three men would be suicide.

Even if some miracle of strategy and luck occurred to place him in the chair, it would only last as long as it took for someone with ten men to decide he wanted a turn at being king and threw Simeon off.

I shook my head slightly, symbolically banishing my preconceived notions from my head. It was time for me to admit that I didn’t actually know what was going on. Simeon hadn’t said anything more and didn’t seem like he was going to, but he had managed to capture my attention once again.

With one more look out the window to the distant horizon, I bid it a temporary farewell in my heart and turned myself back into the stone cottage, intent on seeing this story through to its end.

I didn’t have long to wait for my next chapter, only the space of one more meal. When Simeon finished his breakfast, he stood.

“Well, no reason to wait, let’s go see if he’ll join us!”


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