The mundane noises of the morning grated on Aliene as she caved in, asking, “Do you have a large family?”
Jacobus flinched slightly. “Yes,” he paused, gathering the words, “as far as I know, my parents still live and I have a few brothers and sisters as well.”
“A few?” Aliene took a moment; most parents only had two or three children within the tribes. “That normal for most families in Schillia?”
“Generally, though mine is still bigger than most. I was the ninth child of ten.” Jacobus was staring at his fish as if it would disappear. “Most of us had joined the armies, I don’t know where they all are now.”
Aliene gazed into the flames registering his words slowly. Is that why he won’t go back? Her thought must have been showing on her face as Jacobus answered it.
“Partially.” The monks face was grim, the memories twisted within him.
They both ate in silence for awhile and gathered up their packs, leaving the campsite. The two walked the trail along the coast of the ever-widening river. For a long time, neither said anything. They eventually stopped at midday and sat for a meal. Jacobus paced back and forth along the trail while he ate; Aliene divided her time between watching their surroundings and the monk.
The monk stopped walking around. “Do you — ” He paused, turning to face Aliene. “Do you have a goal?”
Aliene looked up at him. “In general or just right now?”
“In general, no, but right now, I really just want to find a way to live outside of Misten.” Aliene sighed heavily with her answer.
“Everyone has a place,” Jacobus whispered. “I can’t help but wonder after everything if we missed something.”
“Like are we solving a puzzle with missing pieces?” Aliene said dryly.
Aliene stood up, her face neutral. “Welcome to the enigma that is my life. You’re the one who was shown something greater; I was just branded a mistake.” She picked up her pack; Aliene walked a few steps up the trail then stopped and waited.
Jacobus moved to follow. “I see.” He inhaled deeply. “Well, if we want a way of life, we should get equipped to find it.” The monk smiled softly then it vanished, and he dropped his pack at the same time Aliene did.
As the trail opened to a clearing before a large bridge, a group of men and women arrayed themselves in a semi-circle. Each bandit wore mismatched and shabby armor, and they drew weapons that gleamed in the sunlight. A large man stepped forward. “Well, well, well… look what fate has delivered on to us.” He moved in elongated steps and splayed his arms dramatically upward. “Fresh offerings.” The bandit drew a claymore from his back as his reach expanded slowly.