Chapter 32: Grateful

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Joseph

Grimbert scurried away and Joseph was left holding the heavy gold necklace, it's unique pendant rested face-up in his hands.

"Are you okay?" Pascual patted Joseph's shoulder.

"I don't know," Joseph shook his head. It was too much. It was all too much. Leaving Tyre, his last interaction with Corbin, the boat ride, and now this.

"Come on, let's go eat," Lorenzo suggested. "We can debrief over a hot meal."

"My mother will have a big bowl of polenta for each of us, and if we are lucky there will be some fish, too," Pascual promised with a smile.

Joseph could hardly remember the last time he ate a hot meal and his stomach growled in anticipation. Not knowing what else to do with it, Joseph slipped the necklace around his neck and followed after Lorenzo and Pascual.

Joseph's head swam as they crossed over a small arching bridge. How was Grimbert here? And what was his story about revenge?

A rowboat filled with crates glided by and the paddler shouted out a greeting towards the trio. Joseph returned it with a wave of his hand. The road they walked down was filled with pedestrians, many dressed in bright fabrics, and most of the men wearing caps on their heads. But, Joseph noticed, there were almost no horses anywhere. And there were absolutely no carts being pulled. Wheeled carts wouldn't make it over all the bridges that connected the various islands, he realized. He couldn't wait to get back to Loconge to tell Adso about all the strange sites he had seen.

The thought of Adso made him feel painfully homesick. He was impatient for this journey to be over. Only a couple weeks ago he didn't know if he would ever get out of Tyre, and now here he was, only a few days' ride away from his return.

His last days in Tyre had been a blur. After he had run into Lorenzo and Pascual he had decided that it was only right to say a proper goodbye to Corbin. He had walked down the boulevard back to the church steps where they had argued, a new bounce in his step. The sun had set by then and the street was awash in gray twilight. When Joseph arrived back at the church he found the steps empty, which made sense. Why would Corbin have stayed?

Joseph, more familiar with the various routes across Tyre than he had been just a few weeks prior, navigated back to the area of town where he and Corbin had been staying at night. As he walked, he played the various ways he could tell Corbin good-bye. Should he try and invite him along? Even if he hadn't been as generous as once promised, Joseph did feel bad for him. Corbin would always live on the streets, and here Joseph was with a ticket home.

Oddly, Corbin hadn't been in any of their usual spots, but Joseph didn't give up. He kept wandering through the now familiar part of town, trying to recognize Corbin's shape against the fading light.

And then, sitting against a fountain, Joseph saw him. But he wasn't alone. Next to him was a small soft boy with dark skin, rounded cheeks, and large doe-like eyes. They were splitting a loaf of bread and laughing amiably.

"I've been looking for you," Joseph had approached them awkwardly.

"Who is that?" the boy had asked Corbin.

"Are you here to apologize?" Corbin had asked, ignoring his young companion's question.

"Hey Corbin, who is that?" the boy had repeated, tugging his sleeve.

"I'm Joseph. Corbin and I are friends," Joseph had answered, "But I'm not here to apologize, I..."

"Friends? Is that where you have been? I thought you and I were a team," the boy had pouted towards Corbin, ignoring Joseph.

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