DargonZine 12, Issue 3

When Things Get Woolly

Firil 7, 1016 - Firil 13, 1016


It was a bright night with both the moon Nochturon and Regehr the sailor’s star shining their light down upon Makdiar. This unimpeded light gave the two men on the hillock a good view of the animals grazing around them. From somewhere down below a predator howled, as if telling the two men that he knew they were there. Even as the last of the rain clouds emptied its contents, the sheep continued to graze peacefully.

 

One of the sheep drifted close by. “Come here you pale skinned beast,” called out one of the shepherds. The ewe bleated in return but held her ground.

“Mefin,” the other man spoke, “leave them alone. I doubt if even the sheep want to listen to you ramble.”

 

“But I miss my women,” Mefin replied. “I have no one to keep me warm.” He crossed his arms and faked a pout.

 

“Don’t you think it is time you settled down?” Doth asked.

 

“And rob all the women of Dargon of a chance to sample my charms?” Mefin said with a grin.

 

“Baaah,” said the ewe.

 

Mefin grimaced and asked,”Why did I agree to watch over these creatures?”

 

“So that our shepherd could be there at the birth of his child,” the other man replied.

 

“I was kidding, Doth,” Mefin interrupted. “I was there when he asked.”

 

The ewe wandered closer to the two men, intrigued by their banter. Doth patted her head, causing her to lean into the touch of the larger man and receiving a good scratch in return. Satisfied, she bleated quietly and went on her way. Doth rubbed his hands together, working the lanolin into his skin. He closed his eyes and leaned against the tree and waited for sleep to come.

 

“Ever wonder what sheep think?” Mefin asked, his words piercing the veil of sleep that was lowering over Doth.

 

“Probably that you talk too much,” Doth replied. “Now go to sleep.”

 

Mefin whined, “I’m trying.”

 

“Then try harder,” Doth sleepily said. “We have to be up with the dawn.”

 

“Don’t shepherds usually stay up and guard the sheep?”

 

Doth glanced over at Mefin. It was useless to remind him of the dogs sleeping amongst the sheep. They were the best protection from the creatures of the night.

 

“You do it then. And when you get tired, wake me and I’ll watch them.”

 

“Fine,” Mefin said. “You sleep while I protect our charges from the evil wolves of Beinison. Let them charge and I shall rally my woolly soldiers and rout them from this pristine pasture.”

 

Doth gave a sleepy smile. “Don’t forget about the shivarees.”

 

“Let them come,” Mefin boasted. “I am strong of arm and full of spirit. My companions …”

 

Doth was starting to get irritated. “Would you shut up?”

 

“Oops, sorry Doth.”

 

For a while it was quiet. Then, somewhere off in the night an insect chirped a curious song, causing Mefin to join it. He was well into the climax of a great composition when Doth reached out and slapped his leg. The whistle died on his lips.

 

Sheep passed by, looking for better grass or merely following the lead of some other member of the herd. Occasionally a yip could be heard, but it was far off in the distance. Doth squinted, watching Mefin trying to relax but not go to sleep.

 

It was in those passing moments between consciousness and sleep when the rains finally stopped and sky cleared. Mefin blinked. He rubbed his eyes and look again. A bright light was shimmering in the sky where none had been before.

 

“Well lop off my head and call me a prophet,” Mefin quipped. “Doth, wake up. Wake up man, something is happening in the sky.”

 

Doth jumped to his feet. He grabbed for his sturdy wooden club but Mefin grabbed his arm and raised himself up by it.

 

“Not someone,” Mefin said, pointing to the sky, “some thing!”

 

Doth followed the path made by Mefin’s arm until he could see the object of excitement.

 

“What is it?”

 

Mefin shrugged his shoulders, for once unable to talk. Doth looked from the sky to his friend and back again. Whatever it was, it was bringing more light to the already bright night. Doth looked out across his herd and watched as the sheep calmly carried on with their late night grazing.

 

“I’m sure this bodes ill,” Mefin said.

 

“It is too far away to cause any problems,” Doth said. “Probably walk half of ‘diar and still not touch that thing.”

 

“Let’s gather the flock and move them closer to home.”

 

Doth looked over at his friend, asking, “For what reason?”

 

Mefin replied, “I don’t know; just a feeling I have.”

 

“You’re just upset over nothing,” Doth said.

 

“And why is that?” Mefin asked.

 

Doth held his arms out over the flock. “They aren’t afraid. Can’t be too important if they didn’t get scared.”

 

“Simple creatures like that have nothing to fear,” Mefin said. “We humans on the other hand, should watch what we make of this. A little too much of the natural can become supernatural.”

 

Doth slowly digested the meaning of those words while he watched Mefin. The smaller man clearly wanted to find something to be humorous about, but the strange light in the sky had him unusually subdued.

 

***

 

The wagon crossed the causeway, creaking and groaning all the way across. All around them people hustled to and fro, making their way.

 

“Busy for this time of the week,” Mefin said.

 

“Too busy if you ask me,” Doth replied. “It’s times like this when I wish they had built some rails on this thing. One day somebody is going to get run off into the Coldwell.”

 

“Probably wash up in Bichu,” Mefin agreed. They both got quiet, looking over the edge of the causeway at the river passing beneath them. As if in response the horse moved a little further toward the center of the stony bridge. Doth glanced at the reins in the hands of his partner and snickered. Mefin shrugged in response.

 

“Doesn’t hurt to be safe,” Mefin said.

 

Doth nodded in agreement.

 

As they got closer to the end of the causeway Mefin said, “Hey Doth, look at the crowd.”

 

The gate into Dargon was usually crowded with people coming and going, but today was worse than normal. While there were places for guards to stand watch over the people coming into the town, they remained empty. Today would have been a good day to have someone keeping the gate free of loiterers.

 

Over the noise of the people waiting for their chance to enter, Doth could make out someone speaking, no, preaching. He listened in order to understand the tone of the voice correctly.

 

“Listen,” he said to Mefin.

 

“… listen all of you,” the speaker said. “This event was foretold to us by our great prophet. Each of you needs to repent to keep the angry god of the sky from coming down and punishing us.”

 

“Great,” Mefin said. “Last thing I wanted was to hear someone speculate about the light in the sky.”

 

“Repent,” the man said, “for there is not much time left. Offer something so that the god might overlook the things you have done.”

 

Doth started to say something but Mefin spoke up first. “I’m probably going to regret this.”

 

He jumped off of the wagon and waded through the people. By the time Doth had recovered the reins and got the pony to come to a halt, Mefin was at the foot of the hastily erected pulpit.

 

A man passed by the cart. “Better get home, tomorrow the god is coming to destroy us all.”

 

“You are fools,” Mefin yelled at the preacher. A few people turned their heads at the intrusion. Most still milled about, still engaged in individual conversations. Doth watched as Mefin drew himself up for a tirade.

 

The preacher ignored Mefin and continued his to preach by saying, “We have survived the onslaught of the marauders from Beinison but the gods are not happy with the way we have behaved. Rather than being thankful and giving them the sacrifices due to them, we have coveted our goods and earned their disfavor.”

 

A murmur went up from the crowd. Then Mefin shouted out, “And why is it that the gods cannot fend for themselves? We have struggled to recover from the war. Isn’t that enough?”

 

The preacher lowered his eyes to rest on Mefin. He paused, as if in thought. Then he said, “Brother, you are wrong. We would not have suffered if we had given willingly.”

 

“I’m not your brother,” Mefin shouted. He turned to face the crowd around him. “Go home people. Feed your children and take care of your loved ones. This fool knows nothing.”

 

There was silence. It took a moment for the preacher to recover. He started to get red. His hands gripped the pulpit as he said, “I knew of the coming of the god. These people have heard the truth of my words and know that my story is the one true explanation. Turn your back on the truth and you shall be one of the first to feel the rage of the god in the sky.”

 

“Rage,” Mefin said. “You want rage? What about the mother who feels rage when she reaches for her husband and then remembers that a Beinison sword cut him down? What can your god in the sky do to her?”

 

“You must believe,” the preacher said, at first speaking to Mefin and then raising his gaze to the rest of the crowd. “You must believe or the god in the sky will come down and destroy you.”

 

Mefin asked, “Why were you chosen to deliver this word?”

 

“I have been faithful,” the preacher said. “I did not take from the gods and instead I gave to them willingly.” He lifted his arms to emphasize this. “I have nothing but myself to give and this is what the god in the sky asks of me.”

 

The crowd cheered him. Mefin clenched his fists, his face getting redder with every word that the man said.

 

“There is nothing to fear,” the preacher said, “for I have the key to turning away the god in the sky.”

 

Doth watched as Mefin tried to climb upon the pulpit to push the man out of the way. A few members of the crowd grabbed Mefin and pulled him down. He fought as much as he could but they overwhelmed him. Soon he was pushed back and he found himself a short distance from the wagon.

 

He walked up to the wagon and looked up at Doth. “Somebody needs to beat some sense into that man.”

 

“Oh fark,” Doth said. “Don’t let him get to you.”

 

“You are right my friend,” Mefin replied. He clicked the reins and the horse picked up his pace. “I have been away from Dargon far too long. There are tavern wenches whose lust has gone unfulfilled. Let the false prophecies increase their need for my company in these last days. While the prophets of doom fill the streets, I’ll take my rolls between the sheets.”

 

Doth started to say something and then stopped. He shook his head at the grandiose talk that Mefin spewed.

 

“Perhaps I overdid it a bit,” Mefin said.

 

They passed through the gate and Doth turned to watch the speaker, so impassioned in his pleas, imploring the people to help turn away the angry spirit. He shook his head again.

 

Doth said, “They should be in the temples asking for understanding instead of waiting for doomsday to occur.”

 

Mefin was still pondering his last soliloquy. “Did you think it was a bit much?”

 

Doth asked, “What was too much?”

 

“My statement,” Mefin grinned.

 

Doth sighed. “I don’t think that the tavern girls are as lusty as you say. Besides, describing a night with you as fulfilling is stretching the truth further than I can stand.”

 

Mefin winked at Doth causing him to laugh. Mefin feigned being slighted. “I beg to differ. My name is spoken in hushed whispers amongst the girls who tote ale to patrons of taverns around the town.”

 

Doth laughed, saying, “They are afraid to say it any louder in case you are within earshot.”

 

“Do I really talk all that much?” Mefin asked. “I always try and keep things to a minimum.”

 

“But you never listen when someone tells you to shut up,” Doth replied.

 

“Not true,” Mefin said, “I remember the time we were in Magnus during the war and you were listening to a story of mine. Some big lout from Beinison jumped a bulwark and came crashing down …”

 

“Shut up,” Doth said.

 

“… but, you pushed me out of the way and …”

 

Again Doth said, “I was forced to serve my time in the levy with you. But now I can tell you to shut up. So do it.”

 

They rode in silence for a few moments and then Mefin asked, “What do you think it is?”

 

“What?”

 

“The thing burning in the sky,” Mefin said.

 

“Oh,” Doth replied, “I don’t know. I’ve thought about it much since it appeared and I still have no better understanding.”

 

“Perhaps it is a god,” Mefin said, “and we are doomed.”

 

“Then you should join him on his pulpit,” Doth said, pointing behind them with his thumb.

 

“I don’t believe that,” Mefin said, “but it might be what people will choose to believe.”

 

“So the sailor who watches stars to navigate is going to see a moving light in the sky and think that it is a god?” asked Doth.

 

“I can’t answer that,” replied Mefin. “I have never been a sailor and the only time I use the stars is to woo some woman with feelings of sincerity.”

 

Doth laughed. “You always come back to a common theme.”

 

“Well,” asked Mefin, “what else do I have to think about?”

 

“You could worry about the flock.”

 

“Now why would I need to do that when you do it so well?” asked Mefin.

 

Doth laughed again. As he finished he pointed to the warehouse that they were fast approaching. A boy lounging in a chair jumped up at the sight of them and ran inside the building.

 

“I guess it is time to get down to business,” Doth said.

 

“Just be careful,” Mefin said, “I trust this man about as far as I can spit a mouse.”

 

They slowed the horse to a halt. Mefin took the reins and tied them through a ring built into the wall. The boy returned with the man whom they had started dealing with.

 

“Good day, sirs,” he said, slightly bowing his head. “What wondrous fleeces do you have for me today?”

 

“It was a good winter,” Doth said.

 

“Ah,” the man said, “I can see as much. What, two bags more than the previous harvest?”

 

“You have a good memory.”

 

Mefin snorted. Doth let it go, preferring to lead the merchant to the wagon for a sampling of the goods they had brought. Though the merchant appeared to be in a good mood, Doth knew this would change as soon as coin was discussed. Whether it was tactic or genuine distress Doth did not know. He did not intend to go away without a profit, so the theatrics had better dissolve early in the bargaining process.

 

Mefin must have read his mind. “I’m going for a drink,” he said. The merchant watched Mefin leave and then asked, “Not much of a head for business, eh?”

 

“Mefin prefers to lead a simple life,” was Doth’s reply.

 

“No wife?”

 

“Not to my knowledge,” Doth said.

 

“Ah, those were the days,” the merchant said, letting out a small sigh. “And you?”

 

Doth said, “Happily.”

 

“Well,” said the merchant, “let us go get a drink and talk about what I’m able to spare for your goods.”

 

***

 

The selling had gone well and Doth counted himself wiser in the ways of bargaining after dealing with the man. Wool was harder to trade after winter than before it, but he felt comfortable with the jingle in his pouch.

 

Trying three different taverns had produced no sign of his companion and Doth was faced with the prospect of spending a night away from Ilsande. However, Mefin was entitled to spending his part of the profit, even if he chose to spend it on women and drink.

 

He listened as he walked up to the door to the sounds of the people in Belisandra’s tavern. Somebody was angry. Doth pushed against the door and walked into the smoky tavern. He immediately found Mefin. He was shouting some warcry learned in Westbrook.

 

The two men opposite him looked amused. Doth walked up behind his friend and held up his hand to the two men. They straightened at the sight of a hand as big as Mefin’s head. Doth held a finger to his lips indicating they should keep quiet. One man started to nod but a frown from Doth ended it.

 

“You ignorant savages,” Mefin said, once he regained the air expended on the warcry. “I’ll say what I want in this tavern, and if you don’t like it you can move.”

 

One of the men moved forward and Doth stepped back, crossing his arms. As long as the fight was fair he would not interfere.

 

“Ah,” said Mefin. “a foe emerges. At least one of you isn’t a coward as well as ugly.”

 

The second man started forward, appraised the size of Doth and decided to keep his place. Mefin kept talking and the first man decided to end it with a punch. Quick as a shivaree, Mefin shot forward and hit the man squarely in the stomach. As the man bowed from the pain, Mefin smashed him in the face with a mug. Doth winced and reached up to feel his own mug scar. Sometimes getting introduced to Mefin was hard going.

 

“Now,” Mefin said, “do you want a little of what your friend got?”

 

The second man took the look on Doth’s face as disinterest and grinned, moving forward to try and do better than his companion. Mefin looked over his shoulder at Doth.

 

“Howdy Doth,” Mefin said, grinning, “I’ll be with you in a moment.”

 

Doth shrugged and watched as Mefin turned back and raised his fists. The second man, a little better prepared, came in swinging and scored on a shoulder. Mefin bounced around the inn, feigning pain and managing to pick up a drink intended for another patron.

 

“That hurt,” he said.

 

The man smiled and stepped forward. Mefin’s leg shot out and smacked the man against the outside of his knee joint. The man went down howling.

 

Mefin brushed his hands together and said, “And that does it, I think. Doth, I’m sure I’m liable to owe a few coins for this ruckus, so would you be so kind?”

 

Doth shook his head and made his way to the bar. Everyone expected him to be the violent one and Mefin proved them wrong every time. Mefin joined him as he was paying and patted him on the shoulder.

 

“I’m glad you got here,” Mefin jovially said, “I was thinking that the whole place was going to jump on me at once.”

 

“Fark. I should have stopped and gotten something for Ilsande,” Doth chuckled.

 

“Very funny,” Mefin replied. “What do you think you would do if I got killed?”

 

“Well,” said Doth, jingling his purse, “I would probably see an increase in profit.”

 

“Fighting makes me thirsty,” Mefin said. “Would you like something cool?”

 

Doth held up a hand, saying, “Perhaps you should tell me what happened before we get too comfortable.”

 

“A difference of opinion.”

 

“And you resorted to beating someone to resolve the difference?”

 

“Look,” Mefin said hotly. “I merely mentioned the fact that money tossed at the preacher at the gate was coin ill-spent. Is it my fault that they felt embarrassed by the truth I told?”

 

“Perhaps you could use some tact,” Doth said.

 

“I tried it once,” said Mefin. “I recall that the noble was less than flattered by my attention on his wife.”

 

“I take it back,” Doth replied. “You need a leash.”

 

Mefin ignored the remark and grabbed for the frothy mug that the barkeep placed in front of them. Doth savored his own drink. He was about to tilt the mug back to finish it when a man burst in the door.

 

“The burning god will not go away,” said the man.

 

He stumbled into a table and drinks flew. One of the people at the table picked the man up roughly and said, “What is wrong?”

 

The man said, “We tried to pray and end it, but the god still glares down at us. You must abandon your drinking and carousing and join us so that the god will turn away.”

 

Mefin thumped his mug against the bar. “*Fark*.”

 

The man pushed away from the people who held him up and wandered back out the door. A few people followed him outside but most returned to their drinks. Doth was curious and started for the door with Mefin close on his heels. As he stepped across the threshold, Doth was amazed by the amount of people standing in the streets and staring skyward. He looked to the sky and for a moment held his breath. It was still there.

 

“I’m puzzled,” said Mefin.

 

“Perhaps it is time to seek guidance from the gods,” Doth replied.

 

“Maybe,” Mefin said, “but I wouldn’t hold my breath for any answers. At this point though I am ready for some kind of explanation.”

 

Doth nodded in agreement. He was not the most devout follower, but there were times when it was best to seek advice from a higher being. Even if the interpretation had to come through another man.

 

“Are you afraid?” he asked Mefin.

 

“Of what I don’t understand,” Mefin replied. “But I do know that the light in the sky didn’t hurt me the last time I saw it, so I feel safe walking the streets.”

 

“No,” Doth said, “I meant what if it is a sign of the gods?”

 

“What do we need a sign for?”

 

“I don’t know,” Doth answered.

 

Mefin placed his hand on Doth’s arm. “You live a good life and have nothing to fear. I, on the other hand, have to hope for a less sinister outcome.”

 

“Could it be another moon?” Doth asked.

 

Mefin said, “I don’t know.”

 

“I don’t want to die,” Doth said in a whining tone.

 

“If we go to your church,” Mefin asked, “and he tells you that you only have a limited time to live, what shall you do?”

 

“Go home to my wife and child,” Doth replied.

 

“Then go home,” Mefin said, “and save yourself some more time. Do you think that the gods have given the priests of Dargon some special wisdom that will help you?”

 

Doth kept quiet, not yet sure of what his friend was saying. He had faith in his god and it allowed him to believe that the priest always had the answers. He did not need a miracle to confirm what he already felt. Unlike the Stevenes, he did not believe in a god walking through Dargon, but he did believe that the gods did give information.

 

Doth fished out a coin from his pouch. He turned it before Mefin and said, “Except for this Round, the rest of the money is already accounted for. Take it and spend tonight in luxury.”

 

“I thought we were going to visit the temple of your god?” Mefin asked.

 

“You would only cause trouble,” Doth said, sighing, “and I do not want you to do that in the presence of my god.”

 

“Well,” Mefin said, “it is a Round more than fills my purse at the moment. Are you sure that you do not want me along?”

 

Doth nodded.

 

“Then I shall be on my way,” Mefin said. “I may even pay a visit to my long lost relatives.”

 

Doth was happy to see a smile on Mefin’s face. It meant the man was not in as bad of humor after all. “Good luck to you,” he said.

 

“I have all the luck I will ever need,” Mefin said.

 

“Be good,” Doth said, “or I will worry about you.”

 

“Worrying about me is like worrying that the sheep won’t grow wool,” Mefin replied. He turned and started walking back into the tavern. “Oh, Doth,” Mefin said.

 

“Yes?”

 

“Say a prayer for me just in case.”

 

Doth nodded and said, “I already had something in mind.”

 

***

 

It was a few days later when Doth again thought of his prayer for Mefin. The light in the sky still showed up at night causing confusion amongst the people of Dargon. Still, it disturbed Doth even more that his friend had never shown up at the farm.

 

“Doth,” a quiet voice called out.

 

“Over here, Ilsande,” he said.

 

“One of the hounds showed up with a hare,” she said as she walked up to him. “Would you mind cleaning it?”

 

“Of course not,” he replied. He dropped the pickaxe and nudged the stone he was trying to repair in the fence.

 

“What’s wrong?”

 

“Nothing my dear,” he said, “nothing at all.”

 

She touched his face. It made him realize that he had not taken the time to shave in the last day or so. Her soft hand against the roughness of his face had a calming effect on him.

 

“I’m worried about Mefin,” he finally sighed.

 

“Is he sneaking around with that girl again?” she said with a tease.

 

Doth shook his head. “Not even Mefin would ignore a man who said he would have him pulled apart by horses if he ever saw him again.”

 

They both had a good laugh. Before long the smile disappeared from his face.

 

“He promised to meet me at the tavern after I went to the temple and when I returned there was no sign of him.”

 

“And what is unusual about that?” Ilsande laughed.

 

“The light in the sky was making him act strange,” Doth replied. “He kept getting upset with people.”

 

She grabbed at a strand of her hair and twisted. They stood together in silence until the sound of the baby wakening pulled them from their thoughts.

 

“Doth, Paeya is crying,” Ilsande said. “Come to the house when you are done.”

 

He smiled at her. She knew him so well. He rubbed his hand through her hair and watched her as she went to get their little girl. He returned his attention to the stone.

 

***

 

After mending the fence he went to the house. There were other chores to do and of course, the hare to be cleaned. Cleaning it took his mind off of his friend for a while and then entertaining Paeya occupied some more.

 

It was only by glancing out the window that he realized that the day was slowly coming to an end. He set his daughter on the floor and stood. Ilsande came to stand by him.

 

“Going out to work again?” she asked.

 

“Just for a little while,” he replied, lifting her chin and looking into her beautiful eyes. “I’ve got to finish repairing some bags and then I’ll come back in and sit with you.”

 

“Take your time, my love,” she said softly.

 

He walked down to the barn, Farrell in tow. The dog was feeling playful, clamping his jaws around Doth’s hand and dragging him around. Doth stopped and picked up a stick, throwing it out as far as he could. The dog took off.

 

Farrell reminded Doth of Mefin. The dog was quick to play, but there was no more reliable an animal to be found. Mefin was the same way. That was why it bothered Doth so much that Mefin had not shown up to meet him.

 

He looked to the sky. There, off in the distance, was the cause of all of the trouble. Doth stopped and sat on the stone wall, trying to examine the peculiar light in the sky.

 

“Kurin,” he prayed. “If this is a sign, could you let me know what kind of sign it is?”

 

But there was no answer, which was typical of the way gods behaved. He waited a moment longer only to be brought back from his thoughts by the dog bringing back the stick. He looked down at the hound. “Wrong stick,” he told the dog.

 

As usual, Farrell accepted the criticism with glee. Doth chuckled at the dog and threw the stick out into the night. In one swift turn, the dog was gone again.

 

They were so much alike, Mefin and that dog. Like Farrell, Mefin would disappear for days on end, but he always managed to come back. He shook his head and headed for the barn. There were bags to mend and that was something that he did not have to speculate upon.

 

***

 

Night passed into morning and Doth awoke without troubling thoughts. Paeya woke them. She was ready to be fed and Ilsande crawled over Doth to give the child what she wanted.

 

“Better go and check that ewe,” Ilsande said.

 

Doth nodded and put down the brush. He patted Paeya and pulled on his britches. He pulled on his boots and stood. “I’ll be back in a little bit.”

 

It was brisk outside, but not cold enough to require a jacket. He walked down to the pen and stood there watching a ewe as she waddled around the pen, heavy with lamb. He thought of Mefin and looked to the sky. To his surprise, the bright light in the sky was gone.

 

For a moment he stared in shock and then he turned to scan the sky. It wasn’t there. Not anywhere.

 

“Ilsande,” he yelled, “come look.”

 

He turned and ran for the house.

 

“Ilsande.”

 

She appeared in the door still nursing Paeya.

 

“What is it?” she asked.

 

“Look,” he panted, “in the sky. The light is gone.”

 

She looked and a visible expression of relief crossed her face. When Doth reached her, she was crying. He held her close for a moment and then held her at arm’s length.

 

“It’s gone.”

 

“I know,” she said.

 

“No,” Doth said. “I prayed to Kurin last night and this morning the light is gone.”

 

“We should thank Kurin for this then,” Ilsande said. “I only hope that it is a good sign that the light has gone.” She shivered from the chill of the morning. “Doth,” she said, “It’s cold. I’m going inside.”

 

He followed her and sat on the bed as she finished feeding their daughter. He wondered if it was really true. Did Kurin truly listen?

 

As Ilsande fed her, Doth brushed her hair and thought about the townspeople. He wondered what kind of tale the prophet was telling now. After so many days of forecasting doom, surely he was running out of excuses for why it had not happened yet. He smiled at the thought of the man being discredited.

 

There was little to do on the farm so he said, “Ilsande, would you like to go with me to Dargon?”

 

She looked up and said, “Of course.”

 

He smiled and got up from the bed. He got dressed and walked out to the barn, preparing the wagon for the journey. He looked forward to these trips because every trip with Paeya opened his eyes to the world around him. She looked at everything with fresh eyes, not knowing that the things she took delight in were overlooked by the grownups around her.

 

Watching her as they passed over the causeway and listening with delight to her squeals of joy helped to relieve some of the tension Doth felt.

 

He left them near the market and took a walk about the town, trying to find some sign of his friend. Time passed by and Doth kept looking up and finding it strange that the light was no longer in the sky.

 

He stopped in Kurin’s temple. The old priest assured him that while Kurin was aware of the distress the light had caused, the disappearance of the light was not of his doing. Doth left some coins with the priest and left the temple.

 

“I thought I would find you here,” Mefin said.

 

He was leaning against the wall of the temple. Doth joined him against the wall.

 

“How did you know that?”

 

“I saw Paeya terrorizing some vendors in the bazaar,” Mefin said with a laugh.

 

“Let’s go find them,” Doth said.

 

They started down the street. Doth waited as long as he could and then spoke. “Where have you been?”

 

“Spiritual reconciliation,” Mefin said.

 

“Recon …” Doth tried to say.

 

Mefin said, “I tried to decide what it was that was making me so against the light in the sky having a religious meaning.”

 

“I prayed to Kurin last night,” Doth said.

 

“And you want to believe that it is because of you that the light has gone away?” Mefin asked.

 

“That is what I wanted,” Doth said, “but the priest told me otherwise. It must have been caused by some other god.”

 

“Perhaps,” Mefin said slyly.

 

“What,” Doth asked, “do you know something?”

 

Mefin laughed. “Only that it has happened before.”

 

“How do you know?”

 

“A scribe told me,” Mefin said. “Told me that there are scrolls describing similar events.”

 

“Then why don’t the people know?”

 

“I don’t know,” Mefin said. “The scribes know and they have more important things to do than to worry about educating every fool who cries out doomsday.”

 

“I didn’t know you could read,” Doth said.

 

Mefin said, “You never asked. Did you miss me?”

 

Doth smiled, “How could I? It was quite peaceful without you lying about everything that ever happened to you. Although it was kind of hard to get Paeya to sleep.”

 

“At least somebody noticed I wasn’t there,” Mefin said.

 

Doth held out his hand. Mefin grabbed it and shook it vigorously.

 

“I thought so,” Mefin said.

 

Doth said, “If you knew that it was merely nothing, then where have you been?”

 

“Praying,” Mefin smiled. “Just in case they were wrong.”

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