Silmeria returned from her bath wearing a dress that Rufus had never seen before. It was white and simple, no favorite flower patterns or frills sewn into it with the care of a mother like the dress that Alicia wore. When she pranced into the den clean and fresh, her hair was so much shinier that Rufus was accustomed to that he was dumbfounded. It was radiant like a goddess's should be. Just a few gold tassels around the hem of her long skirt and a set of armor and he would be in the presence of the tiniest goddess of death to ever walk Midgard.
"All clean now!" the little girl teased, and threw her hair over her shoulders as if modeling a new artisan wardrobe.
"You're kinda pretty under all that dirt," he agreed, and gently flicked her in the forehead with his index finger. Silmeria let out a trademark hmf! and frowned at him as she took his hand and began to shake it up and down.
Shayla entered the den after her. Ranald had gone back to his business. A man who ran a farm couldn't stay off his feet for very long, he explained, especially not with a wife like his Shayla. The small woman smiled pleasantly. "This is Alicia's spare dress," she explained. "Silmeria may borrow it until her own is dry, but I will be needing it back."
"Of course," Rufus answered with a nod of understanding. To make clothing was both expensive and time-consuming for common people. "I guess we may as well hang around here until her clothes dry off if that's okay with you."
"Oh, of course it is," she replied. "I suppose that I should think of something more for lunch than--"
"You don't have to go to that trouble," Rufus interjected, smiling. He looked down at Silmeria. "On second thought, your friend is at school right now anyway, right?" he asked her. "Why don't we go get some food and come back for the clothes later?"
"Okay," Silmeria agreed. "Fooooood!
Shayla began to fret even more at the sound of that. "Oh, I didn't mean to run you off! I should have said nothing at all!"
"Don't worry," he reassured her. "She was awfully good today, wasn't she?"
"Yes," Shayla replied. "Silmeria was very well-behaved."
"Then I should do something parenting-like and reward her, right?"
He had been feeling a bit more confident, but then Shayla began to look at him with undue admiration, almost like one of those girls at the inn. "Oh, that's so very sweet," she swooned. "In that case, the two of you have a lovely day, and I hope to see you at dinner."
He chuckled nervously and took Silmeria's hand. "See you later then."
"What do I get?" Silmeria asked him, failing to notice his sudden discomfort.
"I'll show you later," he answered her.
"I wanna know now!"
"But that would ruin the surprise," he laughed as he pulled her out of the living room and through the front door. The truth was that he hadn't the foggiest idea of what to get for her, but there was no reason to tell her that.
Trips into the heart of Coriander were short; the place was not big enough to warrant any sort of transportation. Even so, Rufus allowed Silmeria to take a ride on his shoulders. She smelled like good old soap with none of that rich perfume added and her hair was soft and curly.
"So what did you talk to Miss Shayla about?" he asked, hoping to initiate conversation before Silmeria started up one of her endless inquisitions.
"Bad people," she said with an uninterested sigh.
"Bad people?" Rufus wondered aloud. "What do you mean by that?"
"She told me that bad people will steal little girls like me," Silmeria explained. "So I'm supposed 'ta stay with you if I'm not at Alicia's house. Alicia always has to stay with her big brother."
"That's a good idea," Rufus agreed, wondering if there was truth to Ranald's prediction of darkness after all. With the Dragon orb safely in the possession of one very tough former associate of his, he had hoped that Midgard would not be plagued by such social unrest. "Did she say anything else?"
"Hmm," Silmeria pondered, putting a finger to her lip as she thought on it. "Oh, she asked me a lot of weird questions."
Rufus kept walking, hoping that Silmeria would not notice the fluctuation in his pace. "Like what?"
"She asked me about my momma, so I told her I don't remember 'cause I don't. Then she asked me what my favorite color was, so I told her green. And she asked some other stuff I don't remember." She went on thinking about it for a moment. "Oh," she continued. "She asked me does Mr. Rufus ever touch a place that he's not s'posed to touch."
"W-what?" Rufus sputtered. He tripped, but Silmeria was not alarmed at all. She adjusted her weight and continued riding atop his shoulders as if this sort of thing was to be expected of her clumsy steed.
"I didn't know either!" Silmeria said. "Did she mean that you pick your nose or something?"
"Uh-- not exactly--" Rufus coughed, trying desperately to keep from sounding worried. "So what did you tell her?"
"I told her that you don't do anything bad!" she said. "Wull... except when you're a meanie. Then she said that you're a good daddy. But what I told her is that you're not my daddy, you're a Rufus."
Rufus laughed, feeling relieved. Some suspicion was natural, after all. "And just how many Rufuses are there?" he chuckled.
"Well, lots!" Silmeria replied. "Like Alicia's kitty, his name is Rufus too."
"Your friend," Rufus said softly. "Her cat has my name..."
Silmeria smacked the top of his head a few times playfully. "You have his name, Fufus."
Rufus sighed at the inarguable logic behind that. "So did you talk about anything else?"
"Did you know boys and girls have different... you-know-whats?"
Rufus balked again. "Huh?"
"You know..." Silmeria hushed her voice and whispered into Rufus's ear. "Pee-pees." Then she leaned back and bucked so that Rufus nearly dropped her. "That's why boys are yucky! Miss Shaylee said so! Hahaha!"
"Hey calm down up there," Rufus groaned. "You're going to rip all my hair out."
Once they reached the main road of the town, Silmeria requested to be put on her feet. She looked here and there at all of the houses built alongside the dirt road. "How come you don't have a house?" she asked, pulling Rufus along by the hand. He allowed her to lead him wherever she liked so long as she wasn't running into other people's homes.
"I am a traveler," Rufus explained. "I don't have a home."
"Well, why not?" she asked again, unsatisfied by that answer. "Why don't you get one?"
"You have to find a place where there isn't a house, and then you have to build one," Rufus elaborated. "Then you have to find a trade. You have to do something for a living. Since my trade is travel, I can't have a home."
"I'll get one for you!" Silmeria said confidently, quite sure that this solution would put any further argument to rest.
Rufus chuckled. "Oh yeah, and what sort of trade will you earn money with?"
"Hmm..." she deliberated for not even five seconds. "Monster teeth."
"Yeah!" she replied. "You can bring me all kinds of monster teeth and I'll sell them to people."
"I am looking forward to this business you're setting up," Rufus responded as he began to take the lead again. He began to scout out for a vendor with some quick sandwiches or something for lunch, but Coriander just wasn't a place where people wandered through often looking for a fast meal.
He felt strangely naked without his hood walking among the people of Coriander. Some stopped to look twice, but there was no reason for a person who had never seen elves to associate him with being one. Just so long as he kept his ears covered he was nothing more than a strange-looking guy. Still, it felt as if somebody knew something and as if every look he received said you don't belong here.
He led her into the deli, hoping to find something to eat. Silmeria immediately went "Ooh!" and stuck her nose against the window.
"Hey, don't put your face on stuff like that," Rufus nagged. "You'll leave smudges all over that people have to clean.
Silmeria completely ignored him and began to blow at the window, so that from the other side everyone in the store could see the inside of her mouth. "Look from the other side!" she urged Rufus and began to blow again. "Baaaaaaaaaaah!"
"I told you to stop that," Rufus said, pulling on her arm. Silmeria looked more disappointed that he didn't find all this funny than scolded. "You better behave or I'm not going to get you that thing I said I'd get you."
"You won't tell me what it is!"
"Yeah, well you won't find out if you don't be good okay? Come on." He led her into the establishment, half-mumbling what the hell am I doing under his breath.
Inside there was a sign: Out to Lunch, Please Put Your OTH in the Jar. He marveled at the expectation on honesty and collected enough to make lunch for Silmeria. She only ate a little, so he ended up taking some of the samples of meat and cheese along with a few crackers.
"No veggies?" Silmeria pouted when he handed them to her.
"Maybe later," he said. Having no idea what to leave for pay, he estimated and then threw double that number.
the time they were back outside, Silmeria had already inhaled half of
Hey, slow down," he said, and took a seat on the front steps of the deli. Silmeria plopped down right next to him, rubbing against his side without any sense of personal space.
"You don't get hungry much do you?" Silmeria asked, munching on cheese.
"I'm a light eater," he replied.
Silmeria let that be and scarfed down the rest, then she jumped up and was ready to be on her way. It was such a short break that Rufus suddenly had flashbacks of the Crawsus Forest, being forced out into the rain to scout after he hadn't even had any food.Silmeria and Leone were both relentless at keeping Arngrim and himself busy at all times.
He rose tiredly to his feet without complaint and took the little girl by the hand. Silmeria led even though she had no idea where they were headed. "So what was that place?" she asked.
"A deli," Rufus answered. "They sell meat and cheese. Ranald makes the cheese on his farm and he sells it to the deli. Then the deli sells it."
"Well, because if Ranald is making the milk and cheese he doesn't have time to be selling stuff himself," Rufus tried to explain. Economics weren't his strong point. "Why don't I teach you a little about towns," he went on, figuring he may as well do something productive with her while they were here. He knew from past experiences both in this life and her last that Silmeria was a very sharp and observant person. He relied on that fact very much, considering himself a rather poor teacher.
Silmeria looked up as they passed through the quaint town shops. He pointed at each building as he explained them. "That's an item shop. They trade with travelers like me to get things that people in this town can't make on their own. If you need medicine or tools, you get them there."
Silmeria nodded, though he was not sure how much of this she understood. "Oh, okay."
"That's the inn we're staying at. Travelers like me stay at these places since we don't have houses."
"What's that over there?" Silmeria asked, waving a pointed finger in the direction of another building.
"That's the bakery," Rufus explained as he pulled her along. "Come on, I know what to get you now."
Silmeria was so excited by this that she forgot all about the lesson in progress. "Ooh!"
He led her into the bakery where the smell of fresh bread was overwhelming. There was already a woman being waited on, so Rufus stood aside for a moment. Silmeria, in the meantime, examined all of the things inside. "Look, but don't touch anything," he said. "Other people want to eat it, so don't touch it."
"Okay," Silmeria responded in a disappointed tone, but obeyed. She busied herself looking at all of the kinds of bread on display. Rufus thought it must be strange for such a small person to see a piece of bread larger than her head. Some of the loafs were longer than her height all together.
"That's a cute little girl you have, stranger," the woman said to him as she left the store with her goods.
"Uh, thanks, I think," Rufus mumbled. He was amused by how it was so commonplace to just call anyone you didn't know "stranger."
"Hey there, friend!" the baker greeted him. He was another big man, sort of like Ranald, but heavier around his stomach than his chest. "Haven't seen you around before."
"I'm passing through," he said quietly, hoping that Silmeria would not hear him and grow alarmed. "I just wanted to get some kind of treat for her. You guys sell some of those..." he stopped, realizing that he wasn't sure just what to call it. "It's sweet and it has a hole in the middle..."
"A doughnut?" the man laughed. "Ho boy, you sure aren't from around here if you don't know what that is!" Rufus watched curiously as he retrieved a set of tongs and pulled some sort of pastry out of a basket behind the counter. "Basically a fried ring of cake. It's great."
"Would a little girl like it?" Rufus asked as he looked skeptically at the basket of rings. "It is sweet?"
"Hold on a second," the man said as he pulled out something else. He took out a small bowl of something and put it on the counter. "Girls like pink, right?" he asked Rufus, as if he should know, and revealed a sugary pink substance in the bowl.
"Oh," Rufus wondered, a brilliant idea suddenly occurring to him. "Well... do you have green?" he asked.
"Normally boys ask for green,but sure enough, I've got it," the man chuckled. He put the pink icing away, and took out a bowl of the same thing in bright green. He dipped the doughnut into the viscous liquid and set it on a piece of corn husk which had been cleaned and rolled out flat to use in the place of paper. "It's messy, but kids like that," the man laughed as he handed it to Rufus. "The price is five OTH, sir."
"Take ten," Rufus answered and handed the man his pay.
Silmeria came running up just in time to see what Rufus had purchased. "What is it? What is it?" she demanded, bouncing up and down.
Rufus dropped to one knee and held out the doughnut. "This is pretty big. Do you think you can eat it all?"
"It's green!" Silmeria squealed as she took it from his fingers. She took a big bite, getting icing all over her face.
"Good?" Rufus laughed as she took another bite. At this rate she would inhale the entire thing.
"Mmm hmm!" Silmeria answered without taking a pause to speak.
"Good," Rufus said again, this time to affirm that the reward had been delivered. "Come on, I want to go to the grocer before it gets late."
"Grosher?" Silmeria asked.
He took her hand and led her out of the bakery. "Yeah, it's where a guy like Ranard sells the milk and other things he makes on his farm."
"I don't want to go there!" Silmeria retorted, tugging on his hand. "They're gonna make me drink cow juice!"
"I'm not gonna buy milk, stupid," Rufus groaned, pulling her along. A woman standing outside the doorway seemed appalled that he would call a little girl stupid, but Silmeria didn't think twice about it. The little schemer knew she was smart, and that was the whole trouble with it. "Look, it's where you buy food. Of course I'm not going to buy milk for Raynard's family. They're the ones who make the milk. They have plenty of it!"
"Oh!" Silmeria said, suddenly sweet and happy again. She swung Rufus's arm to and fro. "Can I gets broccoli?"
Rufus hid a groan behind his unoccupied hand. "A kid who begs for broccoli..."
"And potatoes!" she added. "And crouts!"
"Sauerkraut?" he answered, face contorting in disgust. "Gross..."
Silmeria frowned at his bad taste, then she looked up and smiled. "What do you like to eat?"
"Wild turkey stew with--" he said aloud, then caught himself. "Well I really don't have a favorite..."
"You just said you did!" Silmeria pouted.
"Okay," he admitted unwillingly. "I like apples."
Once upon a time, a hero shot a wild bird and brought it back to his camp. Even though the beautiful princess had never cooked anything in her life, she tried her very hardest and ended up making the best stew he had ever tasted in his long, long life.
..was not a bed time story.
It was mid-afternoon when Rufus exited the store with Silmeria. He carried enough groceries for a family meal underneath his arms. Silmeria insisted on helping, so he let her carry a head of lettuce. It would have to be washed anyway; so if she dropped it, it was no big deal.
They began heading back in the direction from whence they came, back towards the little house. When they were nearly out of town, a strange thing happened. Seemingly all of the town's children came running down the road all at once. Some broke off to go to their homes, but somewhere around fifteen of them passed Rufus and Silmeria.
"I guess school is out," Rufus said, answering Silmeria's glance before she had time to ask the question.
Sure enough, Ranald's children passed by. When they saw him, they stopped. Alicia hid behind her older brother, peeking from behind his legs with one bright blue eye, the other half of her face obscured. Rufus attempted not looking at her and failed.
"Hey! Rufus, right?" the older brother asked. "What's all that for? Are you eating with us again tonight?"
"Your mother must know I can't cook," he laughed. "I figured I'd buy this time if she's going to cook."
"If you're trying to get on my dad's good side, food is the best way to go about it," the boy agreed. He seemed intelligent and well-spoken for his age. "Are you an archer?"
"Yeah," Rufus replied, more accustomed to the rapid-fire questions of children than he had been two weeks ago.
Silmeria interjected here, unhappy with the conversation developing between the two. She grabbed at Rufus's legs much the same way that Alicia was grabbing at her brother's legs, and spoke sharply to the boy. "Rufus is a great archer," she assured him.
"I wasn't talking to you," the boy said with a snort. Silmeria did not like that one bit. He kept his attention on Rufus, which made her even more angry. "Are you good, really?"
"I've never won any contests," Rufus said, concealing the truth. He used to like bragging about his skills, but not anymore. He never participated in contests because it would be too easy to win them, and people started to dislike strangers who made them look bad.
"Maybe you can show me?" the boy asked, turning a little timid as he addressed the man. Though always curt and sometimes rude to those younger than himself, he must have learned somewhere to respect his elders. Rufus wondered what would happen if the boy could have any idea how old he really was.
"If you mother is okay with it," Rufus replied.
Alicia's tiny voice spoke up as she emerged from behind her human shield. "This way is shorter," she said softly, keeping her face turned down towards the road and waving her hand down a grassy path that led out of town.
"Yeah, you guys are going around the long way," the boy agreed. "Oh yeah, my name is Taul! She's Alicia."
"Nice to meet you," Rufus replied. "Let's take your way, if it's faster."
"Come on," Taul laughed. "You have to jump some fences, though!"
Rufus laughed, wondering if this kid had ever seen the inside of a mine or cave and all of the things that you had to jump there. Of course Alicia must be good at jumping, he thought, with either a sword or school slate in hand.
Rufus followed along slowly, allowing the children to have their space. Silmeria somehow held on a conversation with her friend, though Alicia hardly spoke at all. It made him wonder. He always assumed that her personality was the way it had been because of her father's treatment. He'd only seen the king twice, and on one of those occasions he was beheaded; but those times made it clear that their relationship was complicated.
Alicia did jump the fences with the help of her brother. Rufus helped Silmeria, though she insisted against it all the way. Finally they were done crossing fenced-in farmland (which Rufus hoped but doubted belonged to Ranald) and the quaint home was in sight.
Alicia giggled and ran ahead of the others. She's so happy, he thought in amazement. Happier than he had ever seen her before. Sparkling with the unbridled happiness of a content child.
Ranald was working out in the field, spreading grass seeds to replace that which his cows constantly ate. Alicia ran up to him and threw her arms around his legs, greeting him with "Daddy!" Ranald laughed, wiped the sweat off of his brow, rubbed his hands clean on his pants, and then lifted Alicia up into his arms. "I learned to write my name today," she said proudly, displaying her slate. "I can write other things too."
"That's amazing!" Ranald exclaimed, truly surprised. Rufus supposed that when it was your daughter who learned to write something, it called out more enthusiasm than anyone else would feel.
"Here," Alicia said sheepishly, and held the slate out to Ranald with a new message written upon it.
Ranald took the slate, turned it upright, and held it out dramatically. It read "i love daddy" in letters written very carefully by an unpracticed hand.
"I love you too," he said, and gave her a great big bear hug.
Rufus watched this silently, feeling a strange mix of emotions that tore at each other in his heart. He was so indescribably fulfilled to see a happy Alicia, loved and nurtured by a kind and warm-hearted man who treasured her every breath and step. Even so, a dark and tortured voice deep down, one that he refused to acknowledge, had to come out to remind him that he wanted to be that man.
Shayla's eyes grew wide and she clasped her hand over her mouth. "Oh my gracious!" she said, seeing the pile of food as it was carried through the door by their guest. Then she smiled and slapped Rufus on his shoulder. "Oh sir Rufus, you must really be after my heart!"
"Uh... not at all ma'am," Rufus mumbled awkwardly, careful to wipe his feet on their doormat before stepping inside. Shayla continued to giggle like a school girl, but no longer at him, fortunately. She was giddy over all of the food he had brought.
"Look at all of this bread!" she gasped, walking around him as Rufus set the groceries on a table. "And sausages! And a roast! And oh, look at these noodles shaped like wheels!"
"I'm glad you're excited," Rufus laughed. "I thought you might take it as a lot of work being thrown onto your shoulders."
Shayla failed to answer that as she began to dig through everything and plan her recipe for dinner. From there, the evening passed much as the last had. Rufus made himself as comfortable as possible in their home while Silmeria played cheerfully with Alicia.
Silmeria was very concerned with learning to write. He promised her that if the teacher approved of the idea, she could attend school like the other children. What this meant for himself, he still was not sure.
Taul seemed to have disappeared for the duration of that time. It took a moment for it to occur to him that the boy was already an important worker on the dairy farm. So youth was not all fun and games after all. Rufus was interested to learn more about children, since he seemed unable to cut his ties with one himself. The idea of making Silmeria do chores was so terribly wonderful when he thought of the valkyrie that he knew; but when he thought of little Silmeria, he felt strangely guilty.
He offered to help Ranald work, but Shayla insisted firmly against it. With her pride in mind, Rufus decided to sit and wait as she instructed. Simple people considered idle time a precious commodity, a luxury they were damned proud of being able to lavish onto their guests.
So, he had very little choice but to watch Silmeria as she played with her friend. They went out to the back yard, chasing a small cat about. It was in a sort of transitional phase that cats seemed to have where they were no longer kittens, but had not yet taken to lying lazily around and growing fat. The two girls shook a dead branch that had fallen from a tree at it, the dry leaves rustling and making a noise that the cat could not ignore. It chased after them, sometimes with the grace of a prowling tiger and at other times bumbling clumsily. Its tail whipped about excitedly while the girls giggled and took turns tossing and shaking the branch.
He sat on the stone steps that led from the door to a path through the grass. It was mossy and shaded by canopy of leafy green trees. On the surface, he seemed to belong there, his green hair and the earthy tones of his clothes blending into the background of this tender scene. He was unobtrusive and inarguably separated by a careful designer from the focal point.
He looked down at his garments, once again wondering things that no one could answer. These clothes were a figment of his own imagination, materialized along with his body and bound to him. He had never changed in the years that passed, and had never needed to. His clothes never experienced wear from his constant travels, never collected an unacceptable amount of filth, and never smelled of sweat and blood though he was constantly painted with those things. Despite their mystical ability to deflect dirt and damage, they appeared faded and dull. The bright red of his bandana and the sash around his waist had faded to a rusty brown. The once bright green his tunic was muted and grey. All of his metal adornments and shiny trim lacked their original luster and barely stood out any longer, and even the beads on his tassels had grown smoky and dim.
This left him looking not as rich as he once did, but still he thought that if he really was going to make a habit of passing through Coriander, that he should get a few changes of clothes to avoid suspicion.
Dinner came and passed much as it had before with another prayer. Rufus felt more comfortable this evening, but still worried that he would wear out his welcome too soon. Shayla handed out the candy pieces he had procured from the market to the children after dinner, even to the little one who drooled on it for some time before chewing and swallowing.
Ranald sat down in his chair and lit his pipe, filling the den with a sweet, smoky scent. This seemed to be his daily routine. Rufus took the odd chair in the room that seemed placed specifically for guests as he had been doing so far. Silmeria, who had already changed back into her clean dress and gotten it dirty all over again, went back to playing with Alicia. Both girls yawned every few minutes, giving away their exhaustion though both would like to deny it to anyone who told them to go to bed.
Rufus stood, announcing that it was time for his departure. "Thanks again," he said.
"Oh, thank you for the gracious gifts," Ranald answered, without rising from his own chair. "You really didn't have to buy that much, though. You're going to spoil Shayla. What am I supposed to do about that? I'm a simple man, you know."
"Sorry," Rufus laughed. "I guess we should head back."
"Before you go, have you thought at all on that proposition?" Ranald asked, cutting quickly to the matter at hand now.
"Don't make up his mind for him," Shayla nagged gently as she came out of the kitchen, finally done with her long task of cooking, feeding, and cleaning. She stood just over his shoulder, as if watching for something else to fret about.
"Yes, I did think about it," Rufus answered, putting Shayla's concerned to rest with an easy tone. "But... I mean to head to Villnore first," he went on. "Actually... if I could possibly ask you to do me another favor..."
"Don't hesitate to ask," Shayla offered. "What can we do for you?"
Rufus nodded his head at Silmeria, who was thankfully distracted, and then raised his eyes to Shayla. "Take her measurements if you could, for clothing and shoes."
"Can I have new shoes?" Silmeria gasped, suddenly very excited and beaming with joy. Rufus had been hoping she wouldn't notice the conversation and that he could inform her later, but that was all out the window now.
Rufus scratched his head. "We'll see, all right?" he answered. "Promise me you'll be good while I'm gone, and I'll think about it."
"While you're gone?" came another gasp from Silmeria. She abandoned whatever game she had been playing with her friend and slapped her hands angrily on Rufus's knee as he stood. "Why do you have to go there?"
Rufus knelt on one knee in front of her. Silmeria backed away from him angered, but clasped her tiny fists around the tail of his cloak tightly so that he wouldn't get away. "Call it a trial," he said. Silmeria failed to understand this and pursed her lips. He placed his hand on the top of her head to try and alleviate her worries. "I'll be back in a matter of days, I promise. I am not going to just leave you here."
Shayla decided to step in here and help Rufus. For that he was grateful. "Silmeria," she cooed softly. "Would you like to spend the night with Alicia? You can share her bed and have plenty of fun."
Silmeria looked back at her friend, who was watching all of this from a few steps away, fearing intervention. "Aw... yeah I wanna stay, but Rufus should stay too!!"
"Hey," he said. "You stay here with Alicia for three nights, okay? Then I'll be back, I promise."
The little girl looked up, eyes glossy and her lip puffed out as if she might cry. "I want you to stay!" she wailed. Rufus was not familiar with how children became even more irrational when they were tired. It was a lesson learned. The only thing that saved him from going through another of her tantrums was her friend, who very quietly took Silmeria's hand.
"He will come back," she said. It was not a reassurance. She spoke as if this was a certainty, a fact of life.
The touch of the girl's hand calmed Silmeria and banished her tears. It was a true miracle, but not one that Rufus would ever question.
Silmeria was asleep when he left. She wasn't an early riser, that much he had learned. At the crack of dawn, he took a seat on the back of a wagon bound for the mining town of Villnore. Somehow, setting out on his own was hard despite his life-long practice of doing so.
He had to travel the human way. He had to wear real clothing and make real money in his attempts to present himself as a real person, and not as an immortal spirit chained to the most powerful of the four treasures. It was all going to be hard work, hard on his back and hard on his soul.
As Coriander faded into the distance behind the cart, he contemplated what he was doing yet again. It was a constant thought. What am I doing here? He should leave Coriander in the distance, and leave them out of his fate. If his motivations were merely his own guilt and loneliness, then it would be a violation of his vow to give Alicia the normal life she deserved to stay here.