Adwin was glad to be back at SkadWind. He was very glad to have been in the care of the Priestesses of Mercy, but the temple was not a home. In fact, it had reminded him of his time in the orphanage at the temple in Willik’s Hold. While he was not sure SkadWind was really a home, he was sure that being around Calathy, being able to sleep beside her through the night, was the closest he had ever had to a home of his own. It was also good to have work to do, good to feel productive.
Addath had been back for over an eight-day before he had returned. She had reported that everything was in order and that there was a lot of work that had backlogged while they had been recovering. She had also grumbled about her lack of depth perception and how she had to readjust when it came to writing and even walking down stairs for that matter. She had been startled a couple of times by people coming up to her from the right side. She was also dealing with headaches since the failed assassination attempt and reading too long often brought them on. Despite these challenges she seemed in good spirits.
Calathy was delighted to have him back at SkadWind and for the first few days had stayed close, even going down to the office and finding ways to help him. All things considered, Adwin’s recovery was going well, he had been taking daily walks and doing the breathing exercises the priestesses had advised him to do. Calathy also did the breathing exercises with him and went on the walks, as did his security detail.
One of the first things he had done when he returned to SkadWind was seek out Hidge and make sure to personally thank her for saving his and Addath’s life. Hidge had been somewhat dismissive of his gratitude, suggesting that she was just doing her job. He had been sad to learn that the other security fellow had died in the attack, as had the teamster. Since the assassination attempt, there had not been any other trouble from the Fingures and by all reports they were laying low, possibly having fled the city.
He still was not able to do a full day of work and he usually had a short nap after lunch. The priestesses had said it would take him a while to get his full strength back. Sadly, he also had not been able to go see Tipper and Mokha yet, though they had made plans to get together in a few more days. He had yet to tell them about the express coach he had booked and did not know what he would do if Tipper rejected the idea.
Calathy knocked before coming into his office, it was getting close to sunset and while she had started to give him more space over the last few days, she still checked in on him regularly. “The kitchen is planning on roasted pheasant for our evening meal, another donation from some folks on the Eastern March.”
That was another weird thing that had happened as a result of having been attacked or maybe more to the point, surviving the attack. Many people had heard about the incident and were treating him like some kind of hero. Not just the business community, but the common folk as well. There were at least two songs going around about his exploits against the Fingures. Thankfully, he had not garnered the same level of attention he had last summer with the goblins.
“Well, I haven’t had wild bird since before we arrived in the city. That will be a nice treat. Once I’m done this file, I was planning on taking a walk.”
“I expected as much. I’ll go with you.”
He smiled, “I expected as much.”
She came over to his chair and took his face in her hands then bent down to give him a long gentle kiss. Chills and thrills ran up and down his spine, he gave her a playful push, “I thought we had agreed, no distractions while I’m working.”
She laughed, “Hurry up and finish then, I’ll grab the winter-wear.”
He watched her leave the office and not for the first time wondered how he had been so fortunate to be so close to such a fine, lovable woman. He gave himself a shake and focused on finishing his work.
They did not manage to catch the sunset, but it was staying light noticeably longer. There was a gentle wind from the south. With darkness just having settled, there were many slick spots where pools of water had melted under the direct sunlight, it made getting across some intersections a bit tricky and at least a couple of people took a tumble while they were out for their walk.
“I’m glad I have good boots.” Adwin commented absentmindedly.
“Good evening, Master Adwin!” Someone shouted from across the intersection.
Adwin looked up from the icy walkway and smiled, “Good evening to you, Master Quipfyr.”
“Looking forward to spring, no doubt!”
Adwin slipped across an icy pool, nearly losing his balance, luckily Calathy caught his arm and steadied him. “Careful.”
“What does Quipfyr do again?”
“He’s a clock maker and he also makes those wind-up music boxes.”
“Oh, how delightful. Do you know where he’s from?”
“The Principalities I believe. Though I’m not really sure, I’ve never heard an accent like his before.”
They had come around to the last half of their journey, Adwin was happy to note he was was not winded. A couple of lamplighters were on the street just ahead of them and he saw there was a bit of snow falling. If it kept snowing, the filthy black ice and refuse strewn snowbanks would be lily-white again by morning. “So, have you always know I was misusing liquid assets?”
She laughed, “Well, honestly I thought you were making a joke at first. Then, when I realized you didn’t know, well, it was really adorable. Also you seemed much less intimidating.”
“You found me intimidating?”
“Well, yeah, I did. You were all a bit intimidating. Free spirited folk, wandering the world. You were all so kind and generous, open and full of love. I was not familiar with such people. The Greensly family was petty, driven by lust, greed and status. The household staff was worse in many ways, fighting over the crumbs the family let fall by the wayside.”
“I guess I never really thought about it that way. You just seemed to fit in with us so well, it was easy to assume you were a kindred spirit.”
They walked along in silence for a while, then she said, “I think I am. I just wished Tipper saw me that way.”
Adwin gave a sympathetic laugh, “Yeah, well, if you’d seen how she didn’t get along with Mokha at first, you’d realize Tipper took a liking to you right from the start. As far as her concerns regarding you travelling with us, that has more to do with her than you. Besides, as I mentioned we have an express coach all the way to Sharlok’s Hold. That will get us to where we need to go faster than Tipper could manage on her own. So I think we’re good.”
She clutched at his arm, “I hope so, but I’m still going to fret about it until you tell them.”
“I should be able to go visit them soon. I can tell I’m much better already. The walk is nearly done and I’m breathing normally. I think that is a good indicator of my recovery.”
After their walk the two of them ate, as usual the food was excellent, the pheasant was plump and tender, served with a preserve of bitter berries and roasted turnip. It was as far from eating wild game by the roadside as one could get. Adwin suspected the birds were domestic.
After the meal they retired to the fireside and Calathy continued reading from their most recent book, Oddam Hollen’s, The Green Fields of Home. It was a fiction, presumably, about a young man’s adventures abroad after he had run away from an arranged marriage. It was primarily set in the coastal islands off the shores of Elquin. By the end of the story, the young adventurer had eluded wrathful, would-be in-laws and had won a position aboard an enchanted schooner, captained by a powerful sorceress.
Adwin had thought the story a bit silly and also thought the author had never been in a fight before, certainly the main character seemed undeterred by pain or fear. Calathy loved the story and was delighted to see that there was a second novel, with the same character, already published. Sadly it was not in Adwin’s collection of Maldorn Books.
After they finished the book, Calathy sang for him a while and then took him to bed. They made love well into the early hours of the morning. They had settled under the blankets and Adwin was nearly asleep when Calathy said quietly, “I love you, Adwin.”
Adwin smiled to himself and snuggled closer.