The dawn was beautiful, despite a flock of clouds partly obscuring the crimson sky. Standing on the doorstep of the Brians’ little fortress, Kan watched Sylvia and Flavus leave the town together. They dressed lightly, as if for a simple walk in the forest, and took nothing with them but a picnic basket with some food and water. Both shivered and it wasn’t because of the cool morning breeze... Sylvia knew of the plan too; her little face was so serious, so determined, so brave…
On Kan’s shoulders, was Flavus’s grey cloak.
“Take it,” Flavus had said before they parted. “You will look more presentable to the elder Hunters and know that I’m always here, with you in my thoughts. Good luck, my friend.”
Kangassk took his cloak with a respectful bow, just like he would take a sword passed to him.
“I was so wrong about you!” That was another thing Flavus had said, in a fervent tone, with a shaking voice. “I thought you were weak, helpless, soft… I’m so sorry! Yes, you did judge yourself too harshly and were pessimistic about everything, had zero faith both in yourself and in your masters’ choice… You were so convincing that you made me think of you as a softie, maybe even a coward. But - jokes on me! - in the face of the real danger, it was I who gave up and you who made me stand up and fight. Thank you.”
“Thank you, master Kangassk,” said Sylvia. “I’ve never doubted you. Not even for a second.”
They disappeared from sight into the forest. No one tried to stop them: a little girl in a cute colourful dress and her big brother no longer wearing the grey uniform but clad in simple white tunic and pants. Both did their best to look cheerful, just like a couple of kids heading to the forest for a picnic and a bit of berry-picking.
They would wait for Kangassk by the little stream, icy cold in the mornings, thе nameless tributary of Gileda where he had met Flavus.
“Well, Kangassk Del-Emer, you look a proper battlemage now,” said Kan to himself as he put the grey cloak on. It was heavy and warm but he still trembled like a leaf in the wind. The words Flavus and Sylvia had said to him that morning made him emotional. The task awaiting him - convincing the elder Hunters to raise the shield - terrified him to no end. How was he going to do it? Would a word from the worldholders new apprentice be enough?
Kan made a deep breath, touched the silver clasp of the cloak at his shoulder, and made the very first step on his way to the grey camp.