Chapter 7: Stew

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Grimbert avoided his mother that next day. Or maybe she avoided him. He wasn't sure. When he woke up in the grass, wet from dew and with ants marching over his exposed forearm, she was gone. Probably running morning errands with Boda or helping Greta with her newborn.

He didn't wait to find out.

Instead, he did his best to straighten out his tunic and wipe his pants clean. He splashed some water on his face and then started into town.

His head felt like it was filled with lead. His whole body felt heavy and clumsy. Maybe he had overdone it with the wine and ale. It was just that his mother could be so overbearing. So opinionated. It could drive him mad!

It was time for him to make his own mark on the world and to shed the burden of his mother's disappointment! He was done feeling like a failure! A fire filled his chest, and it was with that determination and blossoming confidence that he headed over to Richart's shop.

There was a cool breeze in the air. The trees rustled hushed tones and birds could be heard chirping in the branches. Grimbert inhaled the surrounding beauty and wondered about what awaited him on his upcoming journey.

Grimbert was not a stranger to travel. As a journeyman, he often left Loconge in search of work in neighboring towns. He'd been over the mountains that loomed in the south. Had even seen the sea. So, he knew both the joys and the dangers of the road. When he'd been far from home he had seen magnificent and beautiful sights and met wonderful people. But he'd also been ripped off and robbed and gotten into fights.

That was why he agreed with Father Cristianus about Hildegund needing to dress like a boy on their pilgrimage. Traveling with a girl would make them a target for men with evil in their hearts. He would prefer Richart left her at home, but if he insisted on bringing her, a disguise was the only practical solution. Not only would it protect her, but it would also lessen the dangers that Richart and he would face. Why didn't his mother understand that?

As Grimbert got closer to Richart's shop the streets became more crowded and several times he had to sidestep around an overburdened cart headed to market. He entered the shop and saw that Richart was busy helping a customer. Instead of interrupting, he made his way to the back of the room, around the loom and behind the shelves of clothe. He helped himself to a mug of ale, and sat on a corner stool.

He must have dozed off because the next thing he knew Richart was shaking him awake, "Grimbert, my friend, are you okay?"

"Yes, yes, I was just closing my eyes for a moment. I was up late discussing our plans with my mother," Grimbert stuttered out, clearing the sleepiness out of his voice.

"Ah," Richart nodded understandingly, pulling up a stool next to his friend, "And how did the conversation bear out?"

"As you would expect," he trailed off momentarily, taking a sip from the half-full mug of ale that still sat in front of him. Then, remembering his earlier conviction, he said, "But that is of no matter. I made an oaths pilgrimage before the priest."

"Before God," Richart interjected.

"Yes, before God. And I am well aware of the consequences of breaking a promise of pilgrimage."

"Hmm, but I also know your mother, remember. And the fire and fury she is capable of bringing down on your head might be equal to the lord's smiting!" Richart said in a mocking serious tone, wagging his finger and raising his eyebrows.

"Well, she can't unleash her wrath if I'm a thousand leagues away in the Holy Land."

"So, I can still count on your companionship?"

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