Chapter 25: Twists and Turns

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Ber, Day 16 of Melia, Winking Moons, Year 602

"A different tone, another word choice, and I might have laid happily in the palm of your curled hand. But you have clapped violently, and scared the wild animal of my heart away." —Beloved Poems of Urda

* * *

It was the first pull of the day, and she loved it.

Farax faced the row of targets by the treeline and shook out her hands and arms, limbering them.

The day was gorgeous, sunny but cool, and the fresh green of the leaves almost sparkled with luminance.

Then she stooped to pick up her bow, already strung, and fit an arrow notch to the tight gut, sizing up the distance from where she stood to the farthest target. She took a breath, glorying in the feel of her filled lungs, and then released it at the same time she let her arrow fly. It struck true, close to the center, and she gave a whoop of triumph.

A little way off, she heard someone laughing, and her finely tuned ears discerned it was a man.

She whirled—moving toward her was a familiar shape—

Bricot. It was Bricot.

Farax huffed in relief and dropped her bow once more, shielding her eyes from the sun so she could see him better. He was loaded down with a traveling pack and strolling easily down the road toward the village and away from the school.

She hadn't spoken to him since his suspension, and had wondered to herself how he'd taken it. Not well, from the looks of things.

"Are you leaving?" she yelled at him, surprising herself with her own insensitivity. Belatedly, she glanced about to see if she'd embarrassed him in front of anyone else.

But there was no one near them, and he waved and yelled something back at her.

"What?" she shouted.

Camdetch laughed again and held up his hands, indicating she should wait for him to get closer. A moment or two later, he answered, "Just for a while."

"Why?" she asked, without thinking.

He reached her and dropped his pack to the ground, seeming relieved to relinquish the weight for now. "I'm not earning my keep for the next four months, so I thought I would take the opportunity to travel. Make the best of it."

She raised her eyebrows, impressed. "Good for you."

He nodded by way of reply, suddenly finding something very interesting toward the edge of the horizon and squinting off in that direction.

"Where will you go?" she asked more gently.

Bricot looked back at her. "I'm from Boradîn," he began. "I have family there. My mother isn't all that well, and I'd like to visit before—before too long. It would be nice to see Tengue, where I went to university—though that's a bit far from my parents' home. We'll see."

Farax was nodding. "Are they letting you take the Facerum with you?"

For the first time, she saw a glimmer of real regret in his eyes. "No," he answered. "It stays locked in Colin's office, where nothing can happen to it. He just asked me to expedite my translations not long ago, too... it's truly terribly timing."

"Sorry," she told him, not knowing what else to say.

"Thank you," he said, lifting his eyes to the archery range appraisingly. "I'm hoping the time passes quickly while I'm visiting. Maybe I'll be back here before anyone else really misses me."

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