Colina walked along the trail, head down, heavy footfalls announcing her arrival for too many to hear, despite Allen’s warnings.
“Why didn’t you let me fight? I could have taken all of them down!”
Allen pulled his collar up then tightened his scarf about him. “You tend to jump into fights ill-prepared; still a horrible habit to have, even after all Professor Desmon taught you.”
“How would you know? You only wait around to provide punishment. What makes you so sure that I couldn’t do it? Maybe I know the forbidden spells?”
“How is it you failed to ask meaningful questions when you had the chance?” Allen handed her one of the stuffed leaf-rolls. He’d have to gather more rations to keep them going.
Colina grabbed the roll, stealing a second glance his way. “I never invited you and I don’t need you and-.”
Allen stopped. “Fine. You think you’ve mastered the trilogy you need of mind, body and soul – wonderful. You ignore me about the first, scoff me about the second and dismiss the existence of the third. Go forth in your quest for the further unknown. The next time you feel a need to draw your wand or wish for a sword; ask yourself if it might be the last fight of your life.”
Colina turned to look at him, a look of superiority and annoyance on her face. “I wish the magistrate arrested you when they had the chance.” She waited for a response he refused to give. “I don’t like your tone or attitude or-.”
“Company,” he interrupted, moving forward. “I’d say the feeling’s mutual; however I’m curious as to what other foolish beliefs you hold on to. As you say, I’m of the ‘uneducated era,’ so, teacher – teach.”
His pace slowed as the pain in his back increased, despite the remedies he had picked up along the way. As much as he’d hoped to get off the main path for the sake of avoiding a possible return by the raiders, he had a challenging time of persuading Colina to follow his suggestion, grateful she hadn’t caught on to the direction of their travel.
Seeing a broken, vine-wrapped branch pointing just beyond where the stream forked, Allen motioned for Colina to follow. His lip curled a bit as she frowned upon the sight of the small cave he found. “This wouldn’t have been marked as a secure dwelling if we were made vulnerable. Go.”
The small fire cooked their meal and warmed them from the quickly cooling night; Allen removed the scarf and rolled it up to act as a small pillow. By the time he remembered why he had it on most of the day, it was too late.
“You shaved, Allen,” Colina said, her voice a mixture of surprise, confusion and uncertainty, not as attentive to the berries she was straining into her cup as the juices left thick, sticky tracks on her fingers.
Allen replied in a mock-serious tone, “If that’s what it took for you to stop calling me ‘professor,’ I’d have done it before we left.”
Colina shook her head. “I don’t understand.”
He signed. “Consider yourself lucky that Professor Desmon isn’t around to hear you say that. Do me a favor? By sunrise, maybe recall a few other useful things he taught you, so I can tell him why you’ve survived where you should not be in the first place?” With that, he turned his back on her and did his best to rest, hoping he’d have Colina back before others would pay for her absence.