Wolves at the Door (part 144)

The next day, Gil set out through the woods at a leisurely pace. Once again he was travelling light – if you could call it that while carrying a sword that weighed as much as any three other swords combined.

Fargrim might be out here somewhere, but he had fled unarmed and in terror of Gil’s supernatural powers. It seemed unlikely that he would pose a threat any time soon. Especially not while Gil still carried the sword.

Of course, he would have to return the sword to Alfvin soon, along with the magical sharpening stone. He owed him far more than that, of course: sword or no sword, Gil would have been sunk without his training these past weeks. Still, now that his exile was over, Gil was free to help out more. He could finally learn the business of trading in the villages, as they had originally planned.

The scents of the forest wafted to Gil on the warm breeze. They were like pale imitations of the scents he knew from moonlit nights, but he savoured them nonetheless. At the end of today’s path was a doorway, and once he stepped through, who knew when he would be back? It might be brisk autumn by then. But today the sun was shining and Gil had left his cares behind.

He enjoyed the novelty of not being in a rush, for once. That was the downside of working with Alfvin: they were always running off to one village or another. Even walking back in daylight, Gil was always trying to make good time, or as good as possible while guiding an invalid through the forest. The only time he got to really enjoy the forest was under the full moon – and even then, he was usually still running. Between that and Alfvin’s schedule, Gil seemed to spend half his time sleeping through the days and running through the nights.

Eventually, that lifestyle might take its toll. Gil wasn’t sure he could spend the rest of his life running back and forth to a handful of villages. But when he tired of that, there would be other options. He could travel to more distant towns, so long as he arranged his trips at the right time of month. Or perhaps he would leave the moon behind altogether, and take up a new life as a timekeeper or a magic-farmer.

But that was a question for another day. There would doubtless be troubles in the future, but also time enough to worry about them when they came. For now, he was as content as he had ever been. The sun was shining and he would soon be reunited with a friend he could count on. He had left behind a life that had never suited him, and whatever life lay ahead, it would at least be one that he chose and built himself.

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