“Do not be too moral. You may cheat yourself out of much life. Aim above morality. Be not simply good; be good for something.” –Thoreau

28 May 2011

Book two, chapter six.

    The sun came up with a whisper instead of a shout; Finn opened his eyes to Marte tapping him awake. She was neat and tidy, ready for the day and eyeing him with her customary bright-eyed glint. Living with Marte, as Finn had done for over a year now, often made one feel like a lay-about.
    Finn pulled himself out of bed and allowed her to help him into his traveling clothes. He splashed his sticky face and hair with water. As Marte tucked last minute items into his packs, Finn shaved and gnawed through an unsatisfying breakfast. He watched as she pinned her long braids around and around her head, a few stray hairs curling against her thin neck. “Marte,” said Finn. “How old are you?”
    She glanced at him, startled. Her blue-gray eyes were thoughtful as she slid the last few pins into her crown. “I don’t rightly know,” she said. “Never did keep track. A course, I got to be at least fourteen. Figure I was ‘round eight when my ma died. Why d’ya ask?”
    “No particular reason,” said Finn. “Lord Llyde questioned me about it and I found I did not know.” Finn fiddled with the buttons on his waistcoat to avoid looking at her. “This life…” he went on. “It may not be, well, appropriate. For a girl of your age.”
    “Where I’m from, girls my age are married, Finn,” said Marte flatly. “Havin’ babes and tryin’ to please a husband ten years their elder.” She slid a wicked looking blade into the holster of her boot and laughed without humor. “I’ll take campaigns with you over that life any day.”
    There was a long moment of silence as Marte stood back up. Finn felt her waiting to see which way he would jump.
    Finn exhaled heavily and nodded, his cheeks hot. “I don’t know how I’d have done it without you, you know,” he told her. “Any of it. I’d still be trapped in Kamien, a pet mage and a fool.”
    “You’re no fool,” said Marte. “You’d work it out your own self, given time,” she held out her hand in a manly fashion. “But thanks all the same.”
    Finn smiled and grabbed her hand, pulling her into a hug that he hoped said more than his blundering speech could do. She stiffened a moment, in shock, and then hugged him back.