Chapter III

Blast Back
[Philosophies of Life]

~ 13th, Lux Ter, 6734 ~
(Seven Years Later)

Chorem moved down the same streets of Altroim he always had on school mornings, but now with a taller stride. His long legs kicked out of his dark blue acolyte’s robe, only given to the upper classmen at the academy. Chorem stopped in front of a townhouse, glancing up at the lone window on the second floor. He raised his hand and a faint flash burst from his palm, causing the window to rattle in its sill. A second later, the window opened and Dylock peered out.

            “I’m still getting ready,” Dylock said hastily.

            “What a shock,” Chorem replied with little change in his tone.

            Dylock retreated back into his room, pulling his window closed as he did so. Chorem chuckled slightly and hopped up the steps. A knock at the townhouse’s front door was followed by the characteristic squeak of the hinges. Chorem poked his head past the threshold before slowly entering. Even after several years of being welcomed into Dylock and Din’s home, Chorem still opened the door with slight hesitation. There, in the den to the right of the entrance, Din sat in his timeworn armchair, leafing through the morning gazette while Dylock’s footfalls could be heard upstairs.

            “Good morning, Din,” Chorem greeted.

            Din peered up from his paper, and a smile grew over his wrinkled face. “Chorem, good morning to you, too.”

            Chorem closed the door quietly and moved into the den. The teenage acolyte glanced at the paper in the old man’s hands while he moved around the table in the center of the den.

            “And what is new in the world today, old man?” Chorem asked as he sank into the aged couch across from Din’s chair, the window behind him letting in the morning sunlight.

            “Hm…the tower mage is at it again,” Din grumbled.

            “The tower mage? Still with the abductions?” Chorem crossed his legs, leaning back on the couch to get comfortable.

            “Not quite. The mage came upon Harlton the other night with his entourage, but the villagers refused to let him take anyone…so they saw their farmland scorched, and homes turned to ash. Not many were killed, but the survivors were left homeless.”

            “Oh no…sounds like Harlton’s jingoism finally got them into trouble,” said Chorem, crossing his arms. The empathy in his voice was almost tangible.

            “You would be about correct. Their self-sufficient village is now a self-sufficient smoldering patch of countryside,” Din mumbled, folding his paper and setting it on the small table next to his chair. “The margrave is…quite embarrassed.”

            “They’re a lot comprised of farmers, dairymaids, and minutemen, not hardened soldiers…what had they hoped to accomplish?”

            “Sometimes people are wont to fight, even in the face of ruination.”

            “But most are willing to accept the loss of two in exchange for the rest of a community’s well-being, aren’t they?” Chorem thought aloud.

            Din chuckled wryly. “Oftentimes, yes.”

            “I suppose the sorcerer doesn’t show himself often enough for people to remember exactly why communities abstain from fighting back.”

            “Mayhap the Harltonians felt the lives to be taken were just as valuable as the rest of the community as a whole. We can only hope they were all ready to pay the price that they did,” Din replied thoughtfully.

            “I don’t think I’d be okay with sacrificing an entire community for only two people,” Chorem stated quietly.

            “Your sentiment is shared by many, but people are becoming restless over this razing all the same,” Din mumbled. “There are mutterings of a desire for change wafting through Troima. Parliament is under some bit of pressure.”

            “What would that mean?” Chorem asked, his head cocking to the side.

            Din shrugged. “Possibly something, possibly nothing. Communities are becoming increasingly agitated over the threat of the tower mage. I do believe they feel they shouldn’t have to constantly live within the tower’s shadow, quietly praying that shadow never falls upon them.”

            “But doesn’t much of the danger surrounding the tower mage involve attacking him?” Chorem asked. “Most of the history I remember was of soldiers marching upon his doorstep hoping to best him, or people fighting back when he attempts to take his victims.”

            Din nodded slowly. “Precisely; he never attacks, only fights back. The people, however, mistake his devastating retaliations as a concern that would only worsen; a warning sign of danger that doesn’t necessarily exist.”

            “Do you believe the tower mage would ever move to attack Troima directly?” Chorem asked, curious.

            Din was silent in thought. “No. The sorcerer has lived for a long time, and it would seem he just wants to keep on living. Fighting isn’t something he enjoys…his entourage, however, I’m not sure about.”

            “Even with the centuries of history involving him, people misunderstand his motives enough to provoke him?”

            “The mage’s actions are but small points in a larger history more involved with other events. Oftentimes a century can pass before whispers of his actions are heard of in any given region,” Din explained. “The sorcerer also goes about destroying records of himself as well, leaving naught but oral tradition to carry mention of him.”

            “But…can people truly forget about his actions in such a span of time?” Chorem crossed his arms, finding the subject difficult to believe. “Especially if he is constantly leaving smoldering ruins in his wake?”

            “Hmph…you know what they say about failing to remember history; you’re doomed to repeat it if you do,” Din chuckled.

            “Speaking of failing history…” Chorem raised his gaze to the ceiling. “Hasten your steps, breadcutter, we don’t have all morning!”

            “Aw keep your robes on!” Dylock called from upstairs.

            “Did you just say he was failing history?” Din cocked his head, looking at Chorem with vague concern.

            Dylock tromped loudly down the stairs at the side of the den. A longsword rattled in its scabbard on the lanky teen’s back, and his worn red scarf traced his movements like always.

            “Okay okay, let’s get a move on,” Dylock urged.

            “Hold on there a moment, boy,” Din said, struggling out of his armchair.

            “Huh, what?”

            The old man shuffled from the den with his arms spread open, his left arm slightly lower than his right. Din ignored the pain in having his arm raised. “Give this old man a hug,” he requested.

            Dylock was confused, but moved in to hug his father all the same. Din’s embrace was tight, despite the lack of strength the old man possessed by this time in his life, almost as if he was putting everything he could into it.

            “Do good, my boy,” Din said, smiling.

            “I always do, do I not?” Dylock smirked.

            The old man Din chuckled, patting the squire on the back, which caused Dylock’s longsword to rattle.

            “Well now…what’s this?” Din muttered, pulling away from Dylock and spinning the young man around. Din held Dylock from behind by his shoulders, and shook him lightly, listening to the rattling again.

            “The rain guard is loose in the locket,” Din mumbled, taking his old hand and wrapping it around the grip of the sword, pulling the weapon from its sheath part way. The base of the blade had some visible scratches on the metal. “It’s worn down. Have you been slamming the sword into the scabbard?”

            “Uuuuh…” Dylock stalled.

            Chorem peeked out from past Dylock’s shoulder saying, “He has sir, I’ve seen him; he flourishes it while pretending he’s a fancy knight.”


            “And are these nicks in the blade?” Din asked.

            Dylock rolled his eyes.

            “Have you been parrying with the edge again?” Din continued.

            “Uuuuh…” Dylock repeated.

            “Hmmm…you’re going to have to see the farrier soon, have them repair it,” the old man murmured, lightly running his finger over a divot in the blade.

            An exasperated sigh escaped from Dylock’s lips as he turned around to face Din again. The young man nodded, bracing himself for an incoming lecture as he pushed the sword back into its sheath. “Sir, all but a man, must you lecture me so?”

            “I do believe so. You must take good care of this sword; if it snaps in twain or slips out of the scabbard and into a gutter, you’ll just break this poor old man’s heart,” Din explained playfully.

            “Aw please Din, don’t say things like that. This sword was your gift to me, and now that I finally have the opportunity use it, you want me to go easy on it?” Dylock replied.

            “Not necessarily ‘go easy on it,’ simply…not flail it about like a maniac,” Chorem interjected.

            “I want to use it to the best of my abilities, that’s all,” Dylock said to Din, ignoring his friend’s quips.

            Din rested his hand on Dylock’s shoulder, smiling. “I understand boy – simply remember that steel is as no more indestructible than a man, only more resilient, and nothing can wear down on either more than strife and time. Be sure to take care of it.”

            “Yes, sir…”

            “Now go, or you boys will be tardy and the martinets will have your heads,” Din said, guiding the boys out the front door.

            Chorem glided swiftly down the few steps out in front of the townhouse, and Dylock followed behind. As they began moving through the streets, Dylock turned back to his home, where Din stood on the stoop, slowly and tiredly waving his left hand with a pleased smile etched into his wrinkled countenance. Dylock smiled back and waved, before taking off into a sprint to keep the pace with his acolyte friend.


            The courtyard that the teens used to train was a simple space. Surrounded on all sides by the brick of the academy, it had no proper flooring and was simply a mess of footprints formed from traveling students in paved dirt. It was a large space though, perfect for swinging a sword and slinging spells to perfect martial and magical crafts. Dylock and Chorem often came to the courtyard after classes had ended, to use the academy’s space and resources, much like today.

            A blue blade slammed against the buckler strapped to Dylock’s left arm. The squire slid backwards on his toes, bracing himself against the sword wielded by an attacking warrior, fully clad in shimmering plate armor. Dylock broke off from the clash and hopped back in the dirt. The armor-clad warrior was enveloped in a pale blue aura that danced like fire as it moved, and as the warrior rushed forward it produced only hushed clanks. Dylock held his sword low, crossing his buckler in front of him while the warrior advanced. The warrior moved in, and Dylock blocked its strike with his shield, countering with a swing of his sword through the warrior’s chest. It sliced clean through, only meeting resistance like that of water.

            “Another point for me,” Dylock celebrated, turning around to face the warrior again, keeping his shield raised to it.

            Chorem, reclining on some boxes in the corner of the courtyard, nonchalantly raised his hand and traced a circle in the air with his finger. The warrior stepped forward and kicked Dylock’s shield aside, and then swiped at the staggering squire. Dylock reflexively brought up his sword, slamming it against the warrior’s to parry.

            “You’re still using the edge of the blade,” Chorem muttered, leafing through his textbook.

            “Yes! Thank you, I know!” Dylock responded, parrying the warrior’s sword again.

            “Then stop doing it,” a smirk tugged at the corner of Chorem’s lip.

            “Must you babble like that while I’m fighting?”

            “Of course! You asked me to help you train. I’m providing the training dummy…and I get to make colorful remarks about your form.”

            “Okay, yes, and I appreciate it!” Dylock called to the heavens in frustration.

            The phantom stopped attacking, remaining motionless. “Really? Well then start making use of said remarks, your sword will thank you,” Chorem said, snapping his book shut and hopping up next to Dylock. “You’re supposed to parry with the flank of the sword, otherwise it will dull, chip, and then break.”

            Dylock sighed as Chorem took the longsword from his hands.

            “Y’see…you don’t hack at the opponent’s weapon, you block it – creating a little wall out of your sword,” Chorem said, demonstrating the proper technique with slow swings and turns of the sword.

            Dylock snatched his sword back. “Yeah, I get it! I’ve been studying this for years now.”

            “Hey, studying it is one thing – putting it into practice another. It’s easy to forget something like this, especially after you’ve begun training with shields for a few years.” Chorem shrugged.

            “Why do you even know about this? You’re an acolyte, you don’t use swords.”

            “No, I don’t use swords, you’re right,” Chorem said, turning to his friend.


            The young mage tapped the squire on the chest. “You, however, do use a sword. I wanted to help you train, so I learned some things, so that I could help you.”

            “Y…you…did that to help me?” Dylock stammered, suddenly sheepish.

            Chorem nodded with an exaggerated smirk.

            “Well…then…uh,” Dylock muttered, tapping the tip of his sword in the dirt. “Uh…thank you. I do appreciate that.”

            “What are friends for?” Chorem said, slapping Dylock’s arm with a genuine smile on his face.

            “Now…I just wish I could fight something more than…this,” Dylock said, pointing at the armored blue warrior that stood paused before him.

            “My little phantom knights are the best, you can’t go wrong training with them,” Chorem said, leaning against the boxes he had reclined on earlier.

            “But cutting through a phantom doesn’t have the same effect,” Dylock replied, swiping his sword lazily through the phantom knight’s torso. It quickly lost its essence and evaporated into a puff of white smoke.

            “I’m still learning, too. You know the bigger the illusion I make, the less of it can be made tangible. If you ever want me to make hardier dummies, maybe you should help me train some time, as well.”

            “Unlike you, I can’t quite make heads nor tails of magic…” Dylock muttered.

            “Then you’ll just have to wait until my magic gets stronger.”

            “Yeah, I know, but…I just hope that someday I can put the things I’m learning to good use,” Dylock said. “There are battles taking place all over the world.”

            “Heh, well…that’s you. I, on the other hand, do not wish to put my life in danger so readily.”

            “So many dangers exist in the world, so many people who could use our help. Monsters terrorize small villages all the time, just like the one you came from.”

            “The extent of problems with the local fauna in my sleepy little hamlet is never grander than a pack of hungry wolves.” Chorem chuckled. “Demons don’t even bother.”

            “Okay, maybe not in Burgstowe, but the monsters do exist. Monsters that all need dealing with – goblins, trolls…”

            “Oh…dragons?” Chorem asked, his eyes wide in thought.

            “Yes, even dragons!” Dylock said nodding.

            “You wish to fight dragons?” Chorem checked, crossing his arms.

            “Well, yes…if needs be,” Dylock answered.

            Chorem smirked, glancing past Dylock to address something behind him. Dylock’s brow furrowed, and he turned around eye-level with a broad, scaly chest. His gaze rose up to the maw of a giant reptilian monstrosity, as smoke billowed from the edges of its mouth. Dylock screamed out in terror as the dragon’s jaws opened wide and descended upon him. The squire crouched, dropping his sword and holding his arms up to cover his face as the dragon chomped down on him. Dylock sat there for a moment, opening his eyes to see nothing around him; no forked tongue, no razor sharp teeth, no smoky breath, just Chorem, who wore a very pleased grin.

            Dylock turned to the mage and shot him an angry look. Chorem burst out laughing, pointing at his friend.

            “…dragon still looks fake,” Dylock said with a pout, scooping up his sword from the ground.

            “Aww, fake? Come now, I get you with that glamour all the time!” Chorem laughed.

            “You shouldn’t be doing those kinds of parlor tricks in public. Remember how you almost caused a panic at the café?”

            “I fail to see how that’s my fault, considering sahuagin don’t have a habitat anywhere close to here for one to have wandered into Altroim, let alone a bustling café,” Chorem said. “They should have known it was an illusion.”

            “Most people don’t know such irrelevant trivia, Chorem,” Dylock responded.

            “Irrelevant trivia? We learned that last week in survival class, it’s in our bestiary.”

            “Ho…so that means it’s going to be on the test this week…doesn’t it?” Dylock asked.

            “Boys!” a martinet called from the archway into the courtyard. He beckoned to the squire with one hand. “Come to me.”

            “Do you see? You just got us in trouble again,” Dylock chastised the acolyte, who simply shrugged at the accusation. “I’ll handle it.”

            “Ho I bet you will,” Chorem replied, stifling a grin to keep a straight face.

            Dylock turned his longsword’s blade downward and jogged across the courtyard to the martinet. Chorem watched as the two conversed, chuckling lightly as he returned to his textbook. His gaze darted back, however, when he heard Dylock’s sword clanging on the cobblestone.

            “What?!” Dylock cried.

            The martinet raised his hands, trying to calm Dylock as he fell back against the wall, as if he had taken a heavy blow to the gut. Chorem slapped his book shut and pushed off the crates he leaned against, taking off toward his friend. The martinet explained the situation. “Dylock’s guardian collapsed a short time ago. He was taken home, and is being examined by a physician. We’ve been told that his health is declining rapidly.”

            Chorem shook his head in disbelief. The acolyte reached for Dylock, and he pulled him up from against the wall. “Dy, come. We need to go home.”

            “Well, my…my sword, where is it?” Dylock looked around, stammering.

            “I’ve got it, don’t worry. Let’s just get home,” Chorem said, lifting the longsword from the ground with telekinesis. The sword disappeared in a cloak of light, and Chorem pushed Dylock to move down the hallway.


            Dylock and Chorem burst through the townhouse’s front door, the characteristic squeak of the hinges a shrill cry as the door flung open.

            “Din!” Dylock howled.

            “Dy, this way,” a middle-aged, dark-skinned woman called from the top of the stairs.

            “Mrs. Dunrowdy.” Dylock climbed the stairs, leaping over several steps with his stride. “What happened?”

            “Din and I went to the market, and he collapsed…I only turned my back for a second. I shouldn’t have asked him to come out today. I’m so sorry Dy,” Mrs. Dunrowdy explained, her eyes tearing up as she guided Dylock to Din’s room.

            “It’s okay, I just…need to see him,” Dylock said, walking into the room with Chorem following behind.

            Din’s room was flooded with orange afternoon light that shone in from the window beyond his bed, where the old man lay under his covers. The physician that stood next to Din’s bed quietly approached the boys when they entered the room.

            “What is it, sir?” Dylock asked, frantic.

            “Din claimed of having felt light-headed moments before he collapsed. He regained consciousness little more than an hour ago and was asking for you,” the physician explained.

            “Can…can you heal him? What can you do?” Dylock asked. “What about magic? Isn’t there some sort of spell we could use?”

            “Dy…magic can cure light wounds, but…not frailty,” Chorem muttered.

            The physician shook his head slowly. “I am sorry son, there is no cure for old age.”

            “Hmph…none worth paying the price for, at any rate,” Din muttered from his bed.

            “Sir, are you…?” Dylock motioned to the side of Din’s bed and knelt down.

            “As well as to be expected,” Din replied weakly.

            “Sir, I…what’s going to happen?” Dylock reached for Din’s right hand, which rested over his lap.

            Old man Din took a deep breath, slow and drawn out. His eyes became glossy as the words came to him. “I’ll be leaving you…shortly, son.”

            Dylock’s lip quivered, and he tensed up. His mind raced, imagining a world without Din, a future bereft of the man who raised him. He didn’t even want to think about it, blinking to return his focus to the moment. Chorem moved closer, setting a hand on the squire’s shoulder.

            “Everything has been arranged, nothing will be required of you. All is taken care of,” Din replied.

            “All is taken care of? How will I…carry on?” Dylock asked, gripping the old man’s right hand tightly.

            “As I know you can. It is okay to grieve over what you lose, but remember the comfort that others can also bring you. Chorem?” Din turned his gaze to the young man behind Dylock.

            “Sir?” the acolyte responded.

            “Please, look after our boy here,” Din requested weakly.

            “Of course,” Chorem nodded.

            “You boys will need each other more than you’ll ever know. Stay strong.”

            Tears began to roll down Dylock’s cheeks, and he inhaled heavily. “Sir…I…don’t know if I can do this,” he muttered.

            “Oh, son…” Din lifted his left hand and lovingly touched Dylock’s cheek, brushing away a tear with his thumb as he ignored the pain in his shoulder. “…I know you can. You don’t need these old bones to lead the way anymore. You’ll forge your own path from this day forth.”

            Dylock nodded reluctantly.

            “Give me a smile, boy. I want to remember that, not those big watery eyes,” Din said.

            Dylock exhaled heavily, trying to compose himself. A smile slowly stretched across his face, and a lone tear rolled down his rising cheek. Din’s left hand slid from Dylock’s head, and the old man smiled brightly. He lived for an eternity in his surrogate son’s smile, in that singular moment, and it left Din wholly content.

            “I’ll miss you Din,” Dylock said, his composure breaking again.

            “I know Dylock, but I’ll always be with you,” Din said, raising his right hand to Dylock’s chest. “Right here.”

            Dylock clutched Din’s hand again; it was hard for him to think of letting go. The young man could feel himself holding Din’s hand up.

            “Din…?” Dylock muttered.

            “It’s okay Dy, just…getting tired,” Din said, smiling uneasily.

            “It’s about time you got some rest, isn’t it old man?” Chorem jested, kneeling down beside the bed next to Dylock.

            “Hmph…if you only knew. Enough adventures for a lifetime, perhaps two,” Din mumbled.

            “Of course, and you’ve told us about most of them,” Chorem chuckled, trying to hold back tears of his own, to little avail.

            “It took you a while to tell us any, though. You used to keep them from me,” Dylock chided.

            “I only wanted to wait until you were older,” Din grumbled playfully. “But you’ve…been old enough to understand them now. And you boys will have your own adventures, I’m sure.”

            “Do you have any regrets, sir?” Chorem asked.

            “Oh a life’s worth…but there’s nothing I can do about them. There never was, really,” Din mumbled. “If there’s one last piece of advice I can leave for you boys…it’s that you must take responsibility for your actions, never dwell on them, worrying about what could have been if you had only done something differently. There’s no way you could know…and there’s no way you could change it.”

            Both Dylock and Chorem nodded slowly at the old man’s words.

            “Honor the decisions of your past self, and…move forward with…confidence,” Din’s breathing became more labored as he had continued to speak.

            “How are you feeling, sir?” Chorem asked.

            Din shook his head very slowly. “It’s a good thing…I’m in bed,” he chuckled. “Dizzy.”

            “You simply rest, Din, we’ll be here for you,” Dylock said, smiling.

            Dylock and Chorem stayed with Din for the rest of the night, waiting for the time. Mrs. Dunrowdy sat at the edge of the bed, listening as Dylock and Chorem talked about the many stories they had heard from Din; battling bullmen in the southeast, protecting a chieftain’s daughter in the north, skulking beneath the earth in ancient ruins. It all put a grand smile on the old man’s face, hearing the youths’ excitement. By nightfall, Din had passed away quietly, surrounded by the voices of those he cared about.


            Din was put to rest in the Thornwood Cemetery, to the right of Dylock’s mother, father, and uncle. Decades earlier, the old man had helped bury Dylock’s family after they had made it to the capitol, succeeding the incident with the highway bandits. Din had helped the young Dylock grieve; shedding great tears himself for the loss of the boy’s family. Dylock had thought it fitting to lay his surrogate father to rest with them. The funeral was small, as Din wasn’t any sort of a pillar of the community beyond what status he gained as an old adventurer, but the gathering of people who came to pay their respects was of a decent size. Neighbors and shop owners alike bid farewell to the old man, and offered help to Dylock in any way they could.

            As the gathering dispersed, Dylock stayed, looking over his family’s graves. The sun had begun to set, bathing the cemetery in twilight. The wind blew harshly, sending Dylock’s red scarf whipping about, while brittle leaves were blown from tree branches, crackling against headstones. Chorem approached from behind, and stopped next to Dylock on his right, in front of Din’s grave.

            “Here lies most of the Luftmac family,” Dylock stated. “I suppose I’ll be buried here as well.”

            “Not any time soon, Dy. We’ve got long lives ahead of us,” Chorem assured.

            “I have told you about what happened to my parents, correct?”

            Chorem nodded. “Bandits, right? When you were young? Din saved you from them, too.”

            Dylock nodded in kind, stepping forward and brushing some fallen leaves from his mother’s gravestone.

            “And about that time I was being accepted to Luna Caeruleum and Lomley’s new phialboy. Hard to think our lives could intersect after our fortunes as children.”

            “The bandit that killed my family…he spouted this philosophy about how everyone had some sort of value, like their lives were a currency,” Dylock began. “When Din had felled his followers, he turned the bandit’s philosophy right around on him – said that to let the bandit go free was to devalue the lives of all the people the bandit would come across in the future.”

            “Din was a smart man, indeed.”

            “Yes, but…so was the bandit, I think,” Dylock finished.

            Chorem crossed his arms, curious as to what Dylock was getting at.

            “Obviously, the man was a snake and deserved what punishment Din gave him, but…the philosophy is sound. Din had mentioned the value of lives on occasion when we spoke of heavier subjects, and I agree with the sentiments – lives are precious and invaluable things.”

            “What does this mean for you then, Dy?”

            Dylock was silent for a few moments as he scanned the gravestones before him.

            “When we graduate, I’m going to enlist with the Lionhead Corps.”

            “What? The Lionhead Corps, are you serious?” Chorem blurted out. “Dy, they mostly support military groups. Many of the other companies think they all have a death wish.”

            “I think they understand how important life is. They commit themselves to helping save lives, and fight back against anything that threatens it, because all life has value,” Dylock explained.

            “But the cost of death, Dy – it’s steep,” Chorem pleaded. “Are you certain you want to risk that?”

            Dylock set stern, determined eyes upon his friend. “Honestly, I’m starting to feel there’s no greater risk worth taking,” he responded. “Din risked his own life to save me. He valued my life over his, so I have to do what I can to live up to that worth he saw in me.”

            Chorem sighed lightly and shrugged. He hid a small frown, turning away and looking towards the afternoon sky.

            “If you say so…” the acolyte mumbled. “…and if you’re going to put yourself in harm’s way, you’re going to need this.”

            Chorem held out his hand, and a vertical shaft of light appeared in it. As the light subsided Dylock’s longsword materialized. Chorem held the weapon with the blade pointed to the ground, and he motioned it to Dylock.

            “Thanks,” said Dylock as he took the sword, resting the blade along his open palm, and looking at it longingly.

            It was the sword Din had gifted him years ago when he enrolled Dylock at the academy. At the time, he was too small a boy to use the longsword to proper effect, but Dylock had taken it upon himself to excel in martial arts so he could make use of it when the time was right. It truly was worn from training, which Dylock had pushed himself diligently to do. The young man wanted to do right by his surrogate father who gave him such an opportunity. Truth be told, however, even Dylock thought he should heed Din’s words and take it to the smithy.

            Dylock smiled and sheathed the sword.

            “So…I spoke with Lomley; he is okay with us going to my family’s farm over the week. I surmise you could use a bit of time to get away from all this,” Chorem said. “Let’s get you home to pack.”

            Chorem waved his hand from Dylock to the cemetery’s entrance. Dylock followed behind as the mage trudged down the cemetery path, kicking fallen leaves with his stride.

            “Taking me to the farm, huh? Are you going to task me with saving the village from the troublesome fauna?”

            “You said you wanted to help others,” Chorem jested. “There might even be bears.”

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