When they arrived home Colm briefly appraised his wife of the situation. Kaelyn was too well-mannered to attempt to overhear the conversation, but she could see Mama's face. She looked slightly confused, then concerned, then nodded. Then she looked surprised and shot a glance at Kaelyn. She seemed to ponder for a moment, then nodded slowly, then left the room after glancing at Kaelyn one more time. Kaelyn had no idea what to make of any of this and sat quietly waiting her master's next instructions. He turned and seemed to see her for the first time. “Kaelyn, come into the workshop.”

She obediently followed him into the familiar room. The smells of basil and cedar, the smells that Daisy had called “the scent of magic” suddenly impressed themselves upon her again and she realized how much she missed her friend.

“This is somewhat unorthodox, but there is precedent,” Colm was saying as he unlocked and opened a large trunk behind his workbench. “I know of at least three occasions where this process was followed,” he said, searching through the trunk. “Ah, here it is.”

He turned to Kaelyn, holding a small hand scythe. “Admittedly, we borrowed this from the druids, as our healing art grew out of their natural magics.” The scythe glittered like liquid silver in the candlelight.

“This was bestowed upon me by my master at the start of my Sojourn. I cared for it, used it, learned about it and from it, and returned it to him when I applied for mastery. It is a mark of no small honor that he chose me to carry it forward when he left the art some two decades ago.”

“Master I to leave you? I...I don't know that I'm ready to start my Sojourn, especially now...”

“Ah, now we come to the abnormal thing. Kaelyn, I bestow upon you the rank of Sojourner, but I also give you a special Sojourn.

“You have sworn to protect those in your care, as a healer you can have no other or higher oath. I place Daisy in your care. Your Sojourn is to find her and ensure that she is cared for. Take then the symbol of the healers, the scythe.”

Kaelyn again felt like crying. She wasn't ready, she didn't want to be ready. Master Colm noticed this and his face softened as she accepted the scythe.

“But, given the special nature of this Sojourn, it is perhaps prudent that you stay close to Daisy's last known location. Therefore, Sojourner Kaelyn, I offer you shelter under my roof, as any healer would offer their support to a Sojourner.”

It took Kaelyn a moment to understand the import of her master's words, and she laughed with relief when she did, then composed herself before answering.

“I thank you, Master Colm, for letting me take shelter with you as I embark on my sojourn. I'm sure my master will also be pleased when I inform of your hospitality at the end of my sojourn.”

Colm laughed softly and patted Kaelyn's hand.

Mama opened the door, holding something in her other hand. “Congratulations, of a sort, Kaelyn dear.” She said, holding up her burden. It was a long cloak, made of a soft and supple material, not the rough cloak her master often wore of the more traditional cloak and cowl healers often wore when traveling to mark their profession.

“It's dove gray, of course, as you studied under Master Colm,” Mama said as she motioned for Kaelyn to stand up and fastened the cloak across the younger woman's shoulders. Kaelyn looked slightly quizzical and Mama laughed. “We give you all the clues, but you apprentices never seem to think that one through.” Mama hugged Kaelyn close and said, “Okay, well, Sojourner, you are ready. But be ready tomorrow. Sleep tonight. We knew you would make your Sojourn early; would that it were under happier circumstances. You've got a lot to do, and you'll be doing it with just a cloak and a scythe. But we have faith in you.”

“One last word, Kaelyn. The scythe is sharp, yes, but do not dishonor it by using it in violence.”

“Master Colm...I would never...” Kaelyn began but Colm just held up his hands. “I know, I know. But now you know as well.”

And like all very special moments, this one passed, and they went into the kitchen to eat dinner as they had done every night. They spoke of normal things and tried not to think too hard about where Daisy was or why. As Mama had said, there was time for that tomorrow.


© 2020-2021 Nathanial Dickson. Written during #NaNoWriMo 2020 Contact me on Mastodon