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May 16, 2012 / Daniel

Trial and Error 6: Turncoat

(Read the complete Trial and Error series in the GSU: The Wastes section.)

[754 words, rated PG]

Not knowing whether he made any headway with Jayce, Toby walked his way along the backpath off the overlook’s edge, returning to the bunks. Jayce was young enough still to learn from guidance, but so angry, and vocal about that, for being as young as he was. Toby wasn’t done trying, but certainly running out of options.

Just as he was about to round the back corner of the bunkhouse, he felt something small bounce off his back. He quickly spun around, crouched, looked into the darkness for whatever could be there.

“Toby… here…” said Kella.

Toby sneaked over to where Kella was hiding behind the standing corner ruin of a nearby building. “Kella, what are you doing.”

“Shhh,” she pulled him slowly around the corner, gripped his arm to signal him to keep quiet and still.

Jayce came by, headed back to the bunks. They let him pass before moving.

“C’mon,” she said, heading back up the backpath to the overlook.

At the bench there, Toby mumbled, “Popular place tonight.”

“What?” she said.

“Mmm nothing. What are you doing awake?”

“I wanted to talk to you. I didn’t get a chance to see you after digs today.”

“Yeah, things have been a little scrambled lately.”

The light from the village below shed just enough ambient light up to the overlook to keep the darkness from flooding in. He sat on the bench.

“Ohh, look…” said Kella, noticing the stones stacked nearby, “Someone’s started a prayer here.” She looked around in the darkness, found a branch with a leaf in reach. Pulling it down, she plucked the leaf carefully at the stem node, and carried it over to the stones. She placed the leaf carefully onto the stones, and recited, “And thereupon will thrive the life, that Drael sees fit to bless, and upon her cheek will man at last, find bountiful caress.”

“Did you see, Toby? It’s been years since I’ve seen someone start the Prayer of Earth Unified. Even longer since I finished one for someone. I wonder who needs our help.” she sat on the bench next to him. She added, “I wonder who’s getting our help.”

Toby smiled in the darkness.

“How are you, Toby? With everything, going on?”

“I’m fine. Good. Some worried.”

Toby made motion toward her arm, petting her hand and upward her forearm, caressing. Just above the elbow, he felt the Oath Band, ‘a knot that only another can tie’.

She made no motion, but Toby retreated respectfully, taking his hands away from her skin.

“When do you think we can see Liam?”

“I’m going to check on him after work.”

“I want to,” she said, “but I won’t intrude. Just please tell me?”

“I will.”

“It was Jayce, wasn’t it?” she finally asked.

“It was Jayce that what?”

“His fault. Liam.”

“Jayce was there. Wasn’t his fault.”

“Everyone says it was. It always is. He’s the worst. Always tries to mess with people.”

“You worry about you.”

“I’m not good at only worrying about me.”

“Me either. You should be asleep. It’s late. We have alot to dig tomorrow.”

“Okay bossyman,” Kella jumped off the bench and kissed Toby’s cheek and hugged him tightly.

After giving her enough time, Toby followed the backpath up, and returned to bed, where he quickly fell asleep.

In one rapid snap, Toby woke up and pinned the wrist of whoever it was that just touched his left shoulder. He looked up and saw it was Jayce in the early light.

“It’s me, Jayce, time to get it.”

Toby looked around, a little confused, he’s normally up before anyone, getting people awake, making them ready for the day. No one was yet ready, but everyone was up and started.

“I got them going for you. We’ll get all the light today.”

“I guess we will. I guess we will.”

“It’s dried leathers today. New drift blew in according to scouts east-north-east, so, leather bags and lashed scoops. I’ve laid out gear for everyone already; an hour drying in the first sun should be enough to move out. I’ll get breakfast together now.”

“Jayce. Last night, I had the feeling that you were done here.”

“Change of heart. Just doing what I know I can do. Some of us won’t. Some of us can’t,” he looked at Liam’s bunk, not a wrinkle on it. “Some of us have a debt. I’m getting my quota in early so I can go check on him.”

Toby booted up, went outside with the others.

[Jump to Part 7]

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