[IC] Confessions {Sihphae & illirica}

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Re: [IC] Confessions {Sihphae & illirica}

Post by Sihphae » Wed Apr 22, 2020 7:50 pm

‘Cantrill’, the word rolled off Arhan’s tongue in a toneless whisper. Swords for hire always went for flavourous monickers, Arhan wasn’t sure ‘Cantrill’ was spicy enough. Thieves were a wee bit more inventive, not in the manner of flavor. No, a thief was searching for ordinance, bland tastes to dissuade other people’s interest. They also had plenty of choices up their sleeves, perhaps one for each city. Arhan had come up with a few, but he had never used them. Other men had been keen on doing so for him over the years, this was his way of defying them.

He didn’t follow after them right away. He took one last glance at the bagful of coin, biting down hard on his lower lip and wrinkling his nose, perhaps doubting his decision, perhaps guessing how much was in there. He ruffled his damp bed of hair, breathed in deeply and skittered after them, brushing a gilded statuette of a flower that stood askance a drawer chest with his index finger and grabbing it with the palm of his hand. It was swiped right into his pocket with magical speed, although no magic was involved.

The only sound heard was the shuffle of their feet as they followed the young woman as she navigated them through the hallways. Arhan had caught up with them when the shuffle was muffled by Cantrill’s voice and a rather ambiguous statement. The woman faltered in her step, indicating she more than understood the vagueness and acknowledged the hesitation in Cantrill’s tone of voice. Arhan raised a brow, shifting his gaze to look at them both when he caught sight of a group of women, silent in their dainty steps, coming from one of the side doors. Two servant girls in rags and a much taller, well-dressed woman with a lace shawl drooping over one side of her face. As soon as they saw him, they halted and the lady hid her face behind her heavily wrinkled hands. The wrinkles were not of age, Arhan noticed. It was something worse, he thought. The servants quickly retreated into the solar from which they had emerged, urging the lady to follow them. They were gone within moments.

It was a strange sight, but he pressed on, into the foyer, catching wind of that same hesitating awkwardness emerging in the young woman’s face as she looked up briefly at Cantrill, slower in her movements, her pleading beady eyes staring at the darkness behind him for fear had long forbidden her to look a man in the eye, and said with just a hint of a well-practiced smile,

“So I’ve heard… Sir,” it was difficult not to speak in honorifics. She gave a long, awkward pause before she added, “My Lord is a good man, too.” the words sounded off with some bitterness, Arhan could almost taste it. He wasn’t sure whether he should read into it or that he even wanted to. It was common knowledge that no master was a good master, whether he was a Lord or a priest.

Arhan approached the woman, sized Cantrill up and said in a cheerful tone of voice, addressing her, “Maybe Cantrill's on the market too, if yer so in need.” He played with some of the words, drawling them out in suggestive insinuation. He turned to Cantrill then, “Maybe ask ‘er what kinda good she’s in for,”

The woman quickly shook her head and gasped, “Sir, please.” She turned around, deeply red in her cheeks, and in hurried steps reached the grand entrance, a marvel of stone and wood, edges wrought in iron. She pulled at the door until it opened slightly and sunlight streamed in,

“Through here, please. There’s an inn in town if ye don’t wanna sleep in the hay. The horsemaster, Twins, and Garret, they will all provide assistance.” She spoke in a rapid pace, her heart hammering in her chest. “Good luck.” She more than itched to see them leave.

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Re: [IC] Confessions {Sihphae & illirica}

Post by illirica » Tue Apr 28, 2020 6:53 pm

The girl sounded worried, and Cantrill had the definitive feeling that there was a lot more to her story than she was saying, but at the same time he couldn’t exactly storm the keep and carry her off into the sunset, could he? Leaving aside the difficulties of storming the keep in the first place, the girl probably didn’t want to be carried off anywhere, and even if she did, it wouldn’t be with a washed-up ex-Knight. And what would he even do with her, anyway? Pat her hand awkwardly?

From Arhan’s inserted insinuation, he had some very different ideas about what Cantrill might do with the girl, which resulted in the ex-Knight giving him a look of offended disgust. “She’s a child.” Near enough to one, anyway. From the vantage point of past-forty, Cantrill’s definition of children simply kept expanding to keep up. When he’d been fifteen, twenty had seemed decrepit. Now, twenty was an infant.

Of course, when he’d been fifteen, he’d still had a life ahead of him, hadn’t he? Now what Cantrill had was a life behind him, and a future that went on too long. He might not have anything left of his own life, but maybe he could do something about other people’s. He followed the girl in silence, taking care to keep himself between her and Arhan, in case he had any other particularly brilliant ideas. The man could use a cold shower and a confession, and not necessarily in that order.

“Thank you, miss.” Cantrill made a slight after you gesture in Arhan’s direction that somehow carried the tone of after you - no, really, I mean it. Expression through gesture meant less time trying to find the right words, after all. He walked brusquely to the horse masters, his eye on stables to see what sort of care they kept. He’d learned you could tell much about a man by the way he treated his beasts. More so, often, than by the way he treated his fellows.

“We’re to be supplied by Islebury’s order. Let me see what you have.”

His tone was curt, as if there was nothing at all amiss. He didn’t mention the minor difficulties towards the end of the negotiation process - Islebury likely wouldn’t have had time to fill the men in unless he’d thought it important enough to send a runner, and Cantrill figured that the less attention drawn to how things had happened, the better. Act as if all were going according to plan, and—he had found—many would act along with you.

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Re: [IC] Confessions {Sihphae & illirica}

Post by Sihphae » Fri May 08, 2020 1:43 pm

Cantrill’s evidently displayed disgust and mistrust had only made Arhan grin, lips spread wide. She’s not a child, he thought, pondering whether he should speak aloud or avoid the sellsword’s disgust turning into something deadly or harming at least. “You’re jus’ bloody aged,” he added in a delicate whisper. He took the gesture as a mild threat, held his hands up and followed the man outside, hearing the young woman breathe a sigh of relief as she nodded them goodbye. Naturally, he’d never lay a hand on the unwilling, but he was as free-minded and spirited as one could be in the age of much scorn to things the Church would consider highly inappropriate. Oh, how they’d seethe with revolt if they learnt of his love towards Gavin. He grinned even wider.

Whilst Cantrill thought it priority to make his demands met right away, Arhan halted and turned around before the young woman managed to close the door. He thought that perhaps he had owed her an apology, but more than that he wondered if the servants would get scolded for a few missing items. Surely, he concluded. So, with that in mind, he took out the gilded flower statuette he had snatched, gave it a brief look over and handed it to her, “Pretty sure it ain’t worth much,” he said, knowing it was at least a few gold coins heavy. “Not worth the sanction anyway.” The young woman looked up, a tad bit taken aback, but fully aware of the implications. The servants were more than guilty whenever a thing would go missing – their families would often pay the price as well, although she was sure the Lord could be convinced the thief had taken it.

“Thank you,” she said, a small smile growing at the edge of her lips. She took the flower and added, the smile fading away, slowly replaced by a worried face. “Be careful,” and with that, the door was closed.

Twins and Garret, the battered lip and the paunch respectively, had found their way to the stables, a wide, wooden structure with an adjacent shed and storage areas. The men were debating whether Arhan could do what he had been asked or die trying. Twins heavily believed in the former, or at least he hoped for it, in good jest. At Cantrill’s approach, the horsemaster, Doarn, joined them, wiping grime off his hands and kicking mud off his boots.

“I gotta mare or two I can spare,” he said, his voice gone gruff with age, a grey, long beard covering most of his face as opposed to the scarcity of his hairline. He was rather tall but lanky, Twins and Garret oozed respect in his presence, but had little to spare for the newly-arrived.

“Weapons’ rack in th’back,” Twins rasped, “sum clothin’ rags too.”

“Food crates if ye need provisions, tho I’d suggest runnin’ the market for sum fresh ones. These are for the horses,” Garret added, sizing Cantrill up.

“Ye think he’d hold his own up there in th’woods?” He nudged Twins, grinning from ear to ear.

“Twenty coppa say them two come back limbs-free,” Twins said, a deep laugh tore from his chest.

“Arhan’s surely gonna lose a few!” Garret exclaimed as Arhan joined them flicking Garret the bird.

“Ye two, again. Can’t stay away, can ya?” Arhan spat.

“Ye, we started t’care ‘bout ya,” Sarcasm dripped from Twins’ battered lip. He bent over to grab a shabby looking sack that lay on the ground and threw it at Arhan, “Yer things from the inn. Quite sumthin’ ye got there.” Arhan caught it with great agility, shooting him a glare. Some sundries, a small blade or two, and homemade smoke bombs. And things he'd rather not or could not explain. He was both happy and relieved he hadn't lost them, though he was sure Gavin, the inn-keep, would have taken care of them in his absence.

Garret shifted his attention to Cantrill, “Care t’wager as well? Might earn sum more,” he offered. Doarn, however, seemed unfazed by the bet. He was a quiet man, not keen on spending much time conversing with two-legged beings. Horses were his life. He moved over to a pitch-black mare, reaching over to brush her mane with an old brush as she neighed softly, content at his gentle touch.

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Re: [IC] Confessions {Sihphae & illirica}

Post by illirica » Fri May 08, 2020 3:00 pm

“Two mares,” Cantrill responded, in the clipped tones of someone used to being obeyed about such things. He’d noticed Arhan move to the horses with the manner of someone who knew what he was doing around them. “Arhan will select them. Ones good for long journeys - sturdy beasts, calm ones.” He knew not what sort of terrain they would face, but he wanted horses that could pick their way over the terrain, and be trusted to be tied up while he and Arhan went and raided a monster lair. Charging in on horseback wasn’t his style - he was no trained cavalry. Horses were for getting places.

If Arhan had the brains the gods gave the horses, he’d pick up on what Cantrill wanted. If he didn’t... well, better to know sooner rather than later. Having him be the one to select the beasts meant they’d be decent enough quality - given how everything else in Islebury’s manor had gone, Cantrill didn’t trust the stablehands not to give them the most expendable of the animals rather than the ones most suited for the task.

If he were feeling charitable, he would have thought that it was merely because they didn’t expect to see the animals back - nor Cantrill and Arhan, for that matter. “I’m not a betting man.” It wasn’t any particular censure against the idea, but rather that Cantrill had never really had anything to bet. Everything he had ever owned had belonged to the Church - as had he, himself. Now the Church was removed, and yet Cantrill still had nothing. He supposed there was the pouch of coins he’d taken as advance payment, but beginning his first excursion by spending the supply coin on bets wasn’t a path to the sort of man he wanted to be.

The sort of man he wanted to be was the man he’d once been, and Cantrill wasn’t sure there was a path that led back there - but there were many paths that didn’t, and this was one of them. “We’ll take fodder for the horses with the tack - two weeks’ worth - and provision ourselves in the market.” Meanwhile, he moved to the weapons rack, drawing a blade from one of the slots and looking it over. Weapons, weapons he knew - and these were of about the quality that one would expect to find in the back of a stable. Pot-metal, and probably the sort that had once been pots before it had become too weak for even that and been melted down into blades. They were desperation weapons, or show-weapons that one could wear about to display being armed - certainly not a fighter’s weapons.

He pulled out each one of them anyway, in case there was a hidden gem, but in the end selected only a handful of short daggers. They could be honed well enough to skin a rabbit, and save better knives for skinning a monster. Provisions were a little better - the men took care of the horses, and it wasn’t much trouble to find decent quality stock for them. Oats could be eaten well enough by humans, too, in a pinch - Cantrill had eaten worse things than oats, now and again. He’d still provision them properly at the market, but it was always good to have a fallback.

Cloth was in about as good shape as the weapons, but Cantrill knew his fabrics well enough to pick good solid wool, looking for the quality of the fabric itself rather than the seaming. Holes could always be patched or darned, so long as the fabric was decent enough. A few large pieces would be cloaks or blankets or bedrolls, as long as one wasn’t too particular about the shapes of them - or the smell. Like everything here, they smelled of horse.

With that nasal recollection, he turned back to see how Arhan was faring with the selection of their animals. “Sorted yet?”

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Re: [IC] Confessions {Sihphae & illirica}

Post by Sihphae » Thu May 14, 2020 7:08 pm

Cantrill had shown Twins and Garret that he was far too serious-minded to wager any kind of bet. They might have even thought he was of quiet sedate nature, if they cared enough to loiter around and bug them even more.

“Suit yeself,” Garrent clicked his tongue sharply and started up, nudging Twins to follow him. They trudged away in jest, peals of laughter bursting from their chests at whatever new musing they were entertaining. Arhan was almost certain he was at the centre of it, perhaps even lifeless. He’d hate it if they returned maimed and saw the two of them grinning ear to ear. At the thought of what could be worse than mockery, he reckoned it would be not returning at all.

He narrowed his eyes and took a deep breath, swinging the shabby-looking sack over his shoulder and pulling the strap over his head. He turned to look at the gorgeous mare, as dark as a starless night. She was digging at the ground with her hoof and shaking her long, lustrous mane. Arhan’s heart skipped a beat.

“Not this one,” Doarn, the horsemaster, grumbled disapprovingly, shooting Arhan a glare but Arhan’s heart was already set on her. Their eyes had already met and there was more than a spark – it was a fully charged flutter attack. He disregarded the man’s huff and approached her, stroking her head gently as she nudged her head his way. “Those two.” Doarn pointed at a pair of much smaller, less enchanting mares. Much older too. He didn’t possess the discriminating eye of an equine connoisseur but he was sure they wouldn’t be able to outrun any kind of monster astride the back of those two poor souls.

“I want this one,” He turned to Doarn sharply, with a piercing stare. “And that one,” he threw a finger at a younger mare in the back, an adorable strawberry coat and a playful look in her beady eyes. Doarn’s frown deepened and his face stiffened. His entire posture was a bit threatening and so was the tone of his voice, crisp and cold.

“Not this one.” He repeated, but Arhan was a stubborn fool. He was to press his case and get what he wanted, one way or another. And he so happened to be very persuasive. He took a light step forward, invading Doarn’s personal space, and focused his stare on the man’s face, looking directly into his stern, disapproving gaze. The air around them steadied for a moment, as Arhan parted his lips to speak, a fiery spark come to life in his otherwise cold eyes. Doarn had an itching to look away but he wasn’t quite able to move either. Arhan’s gaze had locked him in and his frown began to mellow, as well as his resolve. “I guess… you could,”

“I could what?” Arhan pressed on.

“Take her,” Doarn said finally, feeling a bit light-headed and confused. Arhan’s persuasiveness wasn’t quite a personality trait. It ran deeper than that. It was his will made manifest inside another man’s reality, a pretty useful trick, though not one to be used lightly. “I think… I will go rest,” Doarn spoke in whispers, scratching the back of his head as he dropped his tools on the ground and retreated to his quarters – he slept in the attic above the stables.

Arhan was gleaming. He’d gotten what he wanted and he thought he had made a good choice for Cantrill as well, although the mare seemed highly energetic and playful – not quite a stark match for Cantrill’s seriousness.

At the man’s return, Arhan perked up. “Mhm, yer girl’s in the back. A lil’ strawberry-coated gem to lighten up yer staid demenour.” He jested, leading his mare back inside, so she’d feast on a bag of apples he’d spied in the corner. “I’ll saddle ‘em up in the morn.” He threw a backside glance at Cantrill and added, “Ye think ye could kill it?” He asked earnestly, “the monster, I mean,” the word itself was bitter-sounding. He’d always thought of it as a personality trait, not something one was born to be.

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Re: [IC] Confessions {Sihphae & illirica}

Post by illirica » Fri May 15, 2020 5:38 pm

When Cantrill returned, the stablemaster had gone, which seemed a bit odd - but that was Islebury’s problem, and Cantrill couldn’t say he felt too bad about Islebury having more problems. Arhan had evidently negotiated the release of two horses, and directed Cantrill to one of them, which was reddish-tinted and seemed relatively alert, and that was about as far as his knowledge of horses went.

He went over to her, putting a hand on her neck. “We gonna get along, lady, you and I? Hm? There’s a good lass.” Just because he didn’t know anything about a horse’s quality didn’t mean he didn’t know how to treat one - and most animals responded well to a soft voice and a little kindness. Humans included, as it turned out, which had proven useful on more than one occasion.

Arhan’s question wasn’t entirely unexpected. They always asked, didn’t they? “Aye. I can kill it.” His voice wasn’t bragging, just stating a fact based on decades of experience. Monsters worried him less than men, often times. When he’d been with the Church, he’d been shielded from the latter, but he’d seen first-hand plenty of their cruelties, out in the far reaches where situations were desperate and the hand of the Church seemed all too far away.

“What’s Islebury not telling us about his lady’s mirror?” Cantrill inquired, bluntly. There was much more to this tale than they’d been told, and he didn’t like surprises. Surprises got men killed - good men more often than bad, because the bad ones were warier of things. Cantrill had no desire to be a bad man, whether he’d been cast out as one or not, but he’d learned a thing or two about wariness.

There were more dangerous things in play here than a thieving nuisance.

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Re: [IC] Confessions {Sihphae & illirica}

Post by Sihphae » Sat May 16, 2020 6:12 pm

Cantrill’s confidence was a long way from cocky, no smug glow of pre-mature self-congratulation around it. Arhan wondered if he spoke from experience, he did look it. A sturdy, seasoned fellow with a few jagged edges, easy on the eyes. One might even dare say there was an appeal in his posture and the way he softened the strawberry-coated filly’s gusto – pleasing – Arhan didn’t have a better word to describe it. Gavin was possessed of the same quality – that much he knew.

He fetched a juicy apple for his filly, who was swatting some pestering flies with her thick tail, and one just the same for Cantrill’s horse, who bucked after those same flies with her teeth. When the black beauty saw it, she more than bit into it - it disappeared with one crunch.

Arhan dusted off his hands and approached Cantrill and his mare, grinning at his inquiry as he fed the apple to his horse.

“Mos’ likely that it’s not sumthin’ he ought to have.” Perhaps it was a stolen mirror, or one worth a crown or two, or one which is danger. Arhan hoped it wasn’t the latter, although the implications weren’t so assuring. He didn’t quite wish to discuss its nature to avoid the use of the not so liked word ‘magic’, but he was sure Cantrill must have already thought about it.

“What if it’s like twice as big and nimble, with tentacles for arms?” Arhan went back to imagining the monster’s appearance. He’d only seen a handful – one in the guise of a human and a very dear late friend. Some lived an unsocial recluse life in the woods, some preferred human company and flesh. “I saw one like that, big as a tree,” he wanted to say it was mild-mannered, but he wasn’t quite sure what Cantrill would think of it. He was about to journey with the man – the last thing he wanted was him thinking Arhan was on their side.

“What’s the weirdest thing ye slayed?” Instead, he posed more questions, leaning against a wooden beam, kicking it with his heel and twirling a piece of straw in his hand and genuine interested expression lit up on his face.

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Re: [IC] Confessions {Sihphae & illirica}

Post by illirica » Sun May 17, 2020 4:04 pm

So, Arhan wasn't entirely naive as to what could be out there. Cantrill never quite knew with people. Some of them had seen some of the monstrosities that were out there, others had only heard stories. "Depends how smart it is," was his answer to the question about it. "Some of them aren't too bright. Back off, take it slow, lay in a trap and bait it." Not quite the glory of running forth, sword at the ready that many of the youngsters imagined, but a spike-lined pit or a trebuchet was often a better call than any of that.

"Smart ones are harder." He was as willing as any to admit that. The ones that were intelligent weren't as likely to wander into a pit in a rage. With them, it was more about being careful, and not being the first one to make a mistake.

The second question brought a wry smile to Cantrill's lips. He'd slain a number of weird things in his life, hadn't he? "S'pose the weirdest one would be the pot of tea." Aye, there was a story there. Cantrill wasn't much for storytelling, but he supposed there was no one around to tell his stories for him any more. "Bit before then I'd taken down one that was some kind of plant. Vines, thorns, ate livestock and small children. The usual. Well, once it was good and dead, someone had the bright idea to brew up the leaves and start selling it as a cure-all. I feel the seller was like to be infected before he started the brewing. Got into their minds, it did - whole village started hoeing up the field, standing in 'em at night with their feet buried. Some of 'em sprouted."

Those had been the bad ones, hadn't they? He suppressed a shudder at the memory.

"They had the brew in a kettle in the city square. Had to boil it for days till it was gone - couldn't risk the water getting into the soil. Melted the kettle down in a forge, reforged it as a divine seal, and buried it under holy ground." Cantrill gave the horse one more affectionate pat. "If a monster offers ye somethin', don't drink it. Let's off to the market, I want to get some provisions that are better fit for men than beasts."

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Re: [IC] Confessions {Sihphae & illirica}

Post by Sihphae » Wed May 20, 2020 6:33 pm

“A pot of tea?” Arhan faintly repeated, furrowing his brow in question. Granted, he’d never hunted a monster before so he’d hardly be an expert on weird but there had to be some epic story if a pot of tea had any menacing qualities. And it so happened that the sellsword’s story didn’t disappoint. He listened with riveted attention, Cantrill’s words painting quite a vivid picture in Arhan’s mind. It must have been a sight to witness, he thought, never aloud, for fear he might be misunderstood. The poor people must have suffered greatly, and there was enough compassion in him to sympathise with them, but there was no denying how wondrous some things could be. Wicked yes, but wondrous. One could easily understand the trenchant distinctions between right and wrong and still part-take in the enchantment of the grey areas. That same enchantment could be seen glossed over his locked-in gaze. He was enjoying the tale.

Arhan nodded at Cantrill’s advice, saying in an affirming tone of voice, “I’m never havin’ tea again.” Knowing that tea could be dangerous wasn’t the only bit of knowledge he’d gathered from the story. He understood that there was far more to Cantrill than a rusty sword and the skill to use it. No mercenary he knew would have fared well against such a monster – they were pettier than thieves, he always thought. Cantrill seemed different. In a good way or a bad way, he was yet to determine.

“Ye sure know lots,” He briefly commented, starting up to follow the man to the market square. “Maybe we might jus’ pull this off.” His lips pulled into a smile as he waved his horse goodbye for the moment and exited the stables.

“I'm gonna take a look ‘round the village, maybe there’s sumthin’ we oughta know, ye know how there's always sum gossip to turn to.” He was, of course, going to eavesdrop, gather information, perhaps even swipe something he fancied, but he preferred doing such things alone without being noticed. "Meet ye later at the shed?"

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Re: [IC] Confessions {Sihphae & illirica}

Post by illirica » Tue May 26, 2020 2:58 pm

“Mm.” It wasn’t necessarily agreement, but it wasn’t necessarily disagreement, either. Cantrill was well aware that his experience gave him a bastion of knowledge that few could hope to rival - but he was also well aware that relying too much on what one knew and not one could learn had sent many men to early graves.

In his case, early might have been blurring the definition a bit.

He gave his apparent partner a nod of acceptance with the current plan, and let him wander off to gather rumors. Possibly, some use would come of them - or possibly the man would gather nothing but drink. Cantrill wasn’t entirely sure what to make of him just yet. Arhan was coarse, but it struck him as the sort of roughness that came from being defensive - if he was abrasive enough... No, Cantrill couldn’t be certain, not yet. Whatever Arhan’s mysteries were, they would have to be unraveled later, if at all.

It was possible they’d both take their mysteries to their graves. While he’d expressed confidence about defeating the monster, doing a thing and doing it easily were two very different categories of things - and even if the monster be defeated, there would still be Islebury to contend with. Cantrill had always thought of himself as a protector of the Church - but it was occurring to him how much that protection extended in the other direction. Without the Church’s might to back him up, lords like Islebury could toy with him all too easily.

It was something to think about, which was enough to explain his relative silence as he proceeded into the marketplace. His first stop was the armorer - while he still had his own armor, he’d not had the coin to keep it in repair nor polish. The loose clothing he wore covered that well enough for walking the city, but if he was going into battle, he wanted everything top notch. Repairs and replacements of a few buckles and straps he was uncertain with and the professional attention to his blade accounted for more of the coin than he would have liked, but he’d go without food before he’d go without proper armor and a proper sword.

While that was being worked on, he made his way through the rest of the market, picking up provisions - dried meat and dried fruit, hard cheeses that would keep, ground meal that could be made into an acceptable flat bread if one wasn’t too particular about expecting fine dining. Cantrill knew how to handle journey-fare well enough - indeed, after the scrapings of the last month, even that seemed appealing. He was a little uncertain about how his companion would handle it, though. If the man expected a three course meal and a bottle of wine each night, he would be in for an awakening.

Retrieving his armor and putting it on properly made him feel more like himself once more - a proper knight, not just a beggar. He had a purpose - not a Purpose, but it was something. A path to set his feet on - and if the Gods were willing, maybe he’d find something he was worthy of along it.

He returned among this silent contemplation to the shed, taking care to store their provisions properly before drawing his blade, gleaming once more as it should be, and working it through exercises that had been instilled in him as a small boy barely large enough to lift the half-length potmetal practice blade. The routine was soothing, a balm to his troubled thoughts.

No doubt, it would not last.

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