The two trekked in silence for a while until Aliene interrupted the quiet. “Where do you think we should go?”
Jacobus bit his lip as he thought. “To find a map, get supplies, or wait. Do you have any money or something we could trade?”
Aliene stopped walking her eyes widening a bit. “So, is it just me or is having so many choices just as annoying as having none?”
Jacobus smiled. “We assume freedom is a luxury, something so enjoyable, but structure gives us focus, and focus makes us better,”
Aliene laughed dryly. “Didn’t realize monks became so versed in the ways of life.” Aliene spread her arms dramatically, punctuating her statement with a smirk.
The monk mimicked her laugh. “They do not mostly. That was from my first commander.” Jacobus looked into the distance, caught in a provoked memory that smeared a thin smile on his face.
Aliene adjusted the straps on her shoulders, taking a moment to appreciate the plant life thriving around them. Small creatures scurried about, the pleasant smell a welcome relief after the Morbid Row had clouded the senses with smells of wet rot. She was pulled from her instinct to catalog her surroundings by an itching thought. “You said first commander. Did you have many others?”
“Three in total, all great leaders, but the first and third were good men as well.” Jacobus lost the subtle smile he had been wearing. “Did you have only one?”
Aliene hesitated to answer. It occurred to her that the world at large didn’t know a lot about the tribes; it was something Misten wanted apparently. Her stream of thoughts was brought to a halt when she realized she had thought the tribes, not her tribes. Aliene felt her stomach tighten. She had to blink rapidly as she processed her realization. She wasn’t a member; had she ever been? Was she bound to the rules still? Should she even care?
Jacobus looked over to her as she had been quiet for a few minutes. She looked back at him and cut him off before he could speak, “Yes, just one. The tribes prefer a one-to-one mentor system as it keeps the training focused.”
Jacobus nodded. “Sounds logical. We train in such large groups that much of what we learn must be uncomplicated and easy to build on quickly. Simply a difference in scale again.”
The two finally reached a small clearing as the sun began sagging on the horizon and made camp. Aliene left the fire to Jacobus and set out with her short sword to catch something to eat. She managed to catch a rabbit and returned to Jacobus weaving a cone of reeds by the fire.
“I’ll go and place this in the stream I found nearby,” Jacobus pointed, indicating the direction. “Should be able to trap some fish overnight.”
Aliene nodded and set to preparing her catch. “I’ve given it some thought, what we should do first.” Jacobus looked up but continued weaving, waiting for her to continue. “If we want to do anything, we will need money, but I don’t really know where we could go to earn anything quickly.”
Jacobus nodded. “I passed a small village that’s along the coast east of here; they should have some problem that we can solve.”
Aliene stared into the fire watching the flames dance, some jumping up to lick the meat of her rabbit. Is such a mundane path really all I have? The thought pressed to escape her mouth but she held it back by pursing her lips. She looked up to the stars as they glittered above, so detached from where she sat.