Chapter 6: Return

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Answard the luckiest on earth, having met Kári. He genuinely believed that. If he hadn't, he might have died in the past two and a half years.

"However, you are not allowed to speak a single word during the entire trip, aside from the incantation necessary for the entirety of the trip."

"Yes, Master."

He had wished to speak with Kári. If the boy had sent him anything, he had never got it. If he tried to send anything, his Master would confiscate it. They hadn't been in touch since Kári left.

Like the Spirits, my heart is always where you are.

The last thing Kári said before they said their farewells echoed in his mind.

At the time he hadn't thought much of it, but now that he was older and he interpreted it differently. At least he thought of the possibility that it meant something.

He had snuck in some commonfolk reading between his studies thanks to a few priestesses who were nice to him and had given him scrolls as compensation when he worked extra hard, because the thought it was unfair to whip a child. Had he been an adult, then they could perhaps accept it. Edflaed had also been kinder recently and would sometimes tell him stories while he did some manual work. Not to mention, he heard stories in town when he snuck out. Many were about bitter or forbidden love, and what Kári had told him then sounded exactly like something a man would tell a woman in those stories while he left her before something happened and the woman either married someone else, or the man found another woman, died, forgot the heroine or something the like.

His understanding of love was, at best, lacking. He could admit that much. He had thought what he received from his Master, from Edflaed and Rídan, from even the meanest of priestess was love. He had realised that, aside from the sympathy of a few, it was just fear.

He couldn't understand how caring for someone would feel like. He thought he had cared for his Master and the guards, the priests and priestesses, but was that really the case? He had purposely shut his heart away in a box and the only thing that seemed to make the box rattle was Kári.

Yet, despite feeling grateful that he could go to the North, he was scared. It was very possible that Kári wanted nothing to do with him anymore. All he could do was pray to the God and the Spirits and beg them to guide them on their paths and that their paths wouldn't be separated.

One thing was certain, what he felt for Kári had not changed, be it whether he was six, eleven or fourteen. He held back a chuckle as he thought about their chaotic first encounter. His feelings had changed since, as he didn't think Kári was a demon anymore, but he still thought the boy was strong and confident. His laugh was like the spring, and his wide smile was bright like the summer sun, his aura like the unshakeable mountains as leaves fall bright red in autumn, his warmth comforting like a fire on a cold winter day and his eyes the colour of the sky as if to tell the world he was blessed by the God.

He could only hold on to the one sentence, in hope that Kári wouldn't reject him like his Master did. But Kári was already an adult. His view might have changed. He might no longer see Answard as an equal being.

He followed the elf, and behind him followed the two guards. Aside from when he was supposed to sleep, they followed him everywhere. He couldn't even bring the morning meal to his Master unless Rídan and Edflaed were behind his back. He wasn't supposed to leave the room he slept in, but no one had found out he did, so no one had thought of placing guards overnight. He had gotten very good at sneaking out undetected. He knew he couldn't leave the town because the wall was too high for him to jump over and the gates were all closed during the night. He could also not go too close to the town wall itself, as guards were placed everywhere, both outside and within the wall. If he was to try getting over, he'd be seen, and as such he had given up the idea.

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