Wolves at the Door (part 75)

Together they walked back to the doorway in the woods. They had no trail of marked trees to follow this time. Now that he knew where it stood in relation to other towns nearby, Gil was pretty sure that he could find it again, though it might take him a while. Of course, Alfvin would have made this journey dozens, if not hundreds of times. There was little chance of him getting lost without the midday sun blinding him. Gil realised that the marks on the trees must have been entirely for his benefit, to keep him from getting them both lost in the daylight hours while Alfvin was unable to lead.

Along the way, Gil gave a lot of thought to his situation. He considered the words the elder had spoken to him before banishing him. He weighed the speech Fargrim had made, and the motivations behind it. He reconsidered the feelings that had made him leave home in the first place.

There was plenty of time for thinking. Even a brisk walking pace still felt like a strain to Gil, encumbered as he was with equipment. At this rate they would be lucky to complete the journey by daybreak. The wound on his neck was beginning to itch, but he knew that the best thing he could do would be to avoid touching it. Luckily, Alfvin had given him back the spear to use as a walking stick, so that kept one hand occupied. Whenever the urge to scratch his neck grew, he forced his mind onto other things. That usually meant returning to his introspection.

Finally, the long, slow, uncomfortable trip was over. The sky in the east was just beginning to lighten as they stood together before the doorway.

“So, my friend, shall we be away? Perhaps you would like me to carry some of your equipment. The road ahead of us is shorter than the one behind, but more gruelling.”

“That won’t be necessary. I’m not coming with you.”

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