… Continued from Chapter 1/Cont.
The Next Day
His half-open eyes saw…leaves swaying in the breeze above him, waving to him across the sky, falling to the ground. He lay wrapped in his cloak and listened to the birds while the light hardened into day. The rising sun gave the tops of the trees a golden hue. Everything was changing; he felt it – feared it – but he couldn’t stop thinking about it.
They set off along the A1067 at a mellow stride, with the early sun warming their backs and birdsong everywhere in the trees. They had gone less than two hundred metres where they stopped by a great patch of brambles and breakfasted on berries. A great thicket, no doubt full of fruit, hid the rubble, but they had no yearning to delve. Locksley Hall had fallen onto hard times after the War, and then it had burned down – a dodgy affair. He could see it as it used to be <Locksley Hall: Images> a cheesy 21st Year-hundred theme park makeover of an earlier manor. After ten minutes or so they stopped eating and walked on. They talked, wiping their mouths and laughing at the mess. Swan tried to pick some seeds out of his teeth with a fingernail.
“Well,” Mavis said. “Are you ready to be a Seer?”
“Yes,” he said. “Kindly.”
“Yes, you are, Swan. ‘You have done well, my young Padowan’!”
“Shouldn’t it be <Done well, my young Padowan, you have. Yes, hmm?>”
“Do not gainsay me.” Mavis giggled. “I’m still your Teacher.” She sighed. “But not for much longer.”
He looked across at her as they walked. Mavis seemed light in mood as if worry had lifted off her shoulders, but she also looked tired and somehow older.
“Your training is over. In truth, I ran out things to teach you months ago, and you’ve already done things that some Seers never do.”
“Thank you, Teacher.”
“Well, I guess it shouldn’t astound,” she went on, looking ahead. “I took more chances with you than I dared with the other two. I let you sleep wearing the Stone from a young age – some folk were shocked – but you’d never known any great fear, and you didn’t have any bad dreams.”
(Or did she say ‘many’? He couldn’t think back which, later, when it seemed important.)
They came to a road junction. Straight ahead, the A1067 began to skirt the borough in a wide sweep to the right; to the left, the Norwich Road went straight into Fakenham through houses with allotments on either side. They kept left, and their stride slowed right down as they were greeted by everyone, dwellers and fellow wayfarers alike. Everyone knew Mavis and her learner; they smiled and waved and greeted them warmly, and they all looked at Swan as if they knew him and what was going on.
Everyone chatted to Mavis and told her some gossip, most of which they knew already. Had they heard? So-and-so sent their best; Missy had had the baby, a boy/girl/stillborn. Granny had died; their eldest was now a learner miller. It had been a good harvest; there was a new fishing boat in the wick; what’s-his-name had run off with next door’s missus. That odd-looking kid down the road was causing woe again; old Pa Scrote was always pissed now, etcetera, etcetera and et-bloody-cetera. Everyone knew everyone else’s business and made comment upon it: a tight fellowship – how kind.
At last, they turned off the thoroughfare and made it to the Blacksmith’s, an aged, yellow-brick house next to some old trading units. Mavis smiled at Swan’s scowl and squeezed his arm. She knocked on the door and it was opened by the smith, who grinned and pulled Mavis into his arms, whereupon she burst into tears and sobbed into his chest. They had ended up at this house every few weeks for as long as Swan had known, but he wasn’t used to Mavis getting so overwrought when she saw Buck, and, for the first time, he felt that he was in the way.
Sadly, that’s it for now!
The story began … here.
More about ‘Misput Fealties’ here.
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