Latest Post: Fools and Hard Times
‘It won’t be for long.’ Alberic Vaer clapped Gunthan on the arm, the way he always did when he tried to persuade his friend against his better judgement.
‘Ric, this is not the way. The boy-’
‘He will learn, and he will grow. And he will be safe.’ Alberic pleaded with his eyes. ‘The road is no place for a child.’
‘Then don’t go. Make your life here with him. Vess will need you as he becomes a man.’
Alberic cast down his eyes, shaking his head. ’I have always lived the wandering life; I am an apothecary, always will be. When Liina…’ He looked back at his friend, who could see truth in his face for the first time since his return. Truth and pain. ‘I have looked after the boy as best I could on my own, but this is not the life for him. Not now.’
‘It would be little better for him here. We are as like to starve as be raided by outlaws.’ Gunthan folded his arms across his chest. ‘Besides, your son needs you. You know no life but the road, and he has learned it from you.’
‘My old friend, I am asking you to ward Vess for his own sake, not mine. I will return when I have sold my wares.’ He hesitated. ‘I go to the lines.’
‘Ah, Ric. No.’ Don’t do this. Don’t die on a foreign field. ‘The war will destroy you.’
‘My skills seemingly fit dire situations.’ He half-smiled. ‘I have been in desperate places before. It is what I must do. Potions and salves will earn enough there to give Vess a better chance.
Gunthan’s shoulders sagged and he turned away. How can I reach you, Ric? ’You cannot expect so much of us. There is little enough in Raylside for those who are stuck here. Times are tough here, as well you know.’
‘And now we come to it, finally. Times are tough for all of us, and I call you friend.’ Anger heated his words. ‘When I return, I will have coin enough to make it worth your while, if that is all you care for.’
Gunthan stared into the slate of autumn sky. Today I lose my friend either way. At least the boy might live. Turning back to Alberic, he saw the man’s expression soften with his own. ‘I don’t have the words to dissuade you do I? Vess can stay with me.’
Alberic brightened momentarily, before his expression sobered. ‘Thank you.’ He clasped his friend’s arm. ‘I will be back and you will see the right of this. I will go and tell him now.’
Gunthan held his arm as he started to pull away. ‘May the gods protect you. I will see you again.’ That last part he knew was a lie, but they both shared in its fantasy.
‘I will see you again,’ the apothecary said.
Anthologia is available here.
Books set in the world of Eald Cearo
© 2012 Lee Donoghue