"Aye, lass, that sounds like young Charlie. Shame about him it was," Gregory looked at her with a slight frown, as though wondering what on Idalos she was doing asking. "Nice young man, intense he was, lass. He used to come here and help me out, from time to time. Got thrown from his horse and he died. Shame it was, he was dressed up real nice and had this bunch of flowers and a beautiful ladies' necklace with him. Looked like he might be going to ask someone to be his wife or something. Something important, anyhow. But no one knows. Over an arc ago, now. Poor lad. Why'd you ask, lass?"
"I saw him. His spirit hasn't passed on yet."
Gregory jumped, physically, almost spilling his cup of tea. He looked around wildly as though he was expecting to see the young man and then he looked at Faith with an expression of disbelief on his face. His mouth opened into a smile and then he started to laugh. "Oh, you got me good there, lass. Yes, so you did. Yes. Now then, I've got to get on. You'll um... see yourself out, aye?"
Faith nodded, amiably, wondering why Gregory thought that the situation was funny, but she didn't comment further. People were, at their core, strange. He left as though someone was chasing him and Faith washed up her mug and his, then left also. As she closed the door to the small hut where he worked, Faith had the taste, once more, of mint in her mouth.
"I can't see your anchor. It isn't here."
"No," he replied. "It's where the winter savory grows, though."
"You shouldn't be there?" That made sense to Faith.
She was starting to get a little irritated, he really wasn't helpful, "Is it where you died?"
"Yes. No. Close by"
As far as chatty ghosts went, Faith considered, this one really wasn't. She looked at him and sighed, somewhat resigned. "I'll help you. In Famula's name. Were you going to propose to someone?"
"If I wanted to spend my trials pulling teeth," she explained in her usual soft and unassuming tone, "I would be learning to be a dentist. Tell me?"
"Can't or won't?"
"Can't," he sounded worried, not stubborn, she thought.
"Can you show me?" Faith considered that course of action might be a good compromise. He didn't reply, but he moved, and Faith moved with him. It wasn't far, which was a good thing because she had no intention of leaving the city, or the quarter they were in without Padraig knowing. But it wasn't far, not at all. She saw that there were, in fact, winter savory plants growing at the side of the street and the anchor which held him was there, amongst them. She moved over and picked some of the plants, allowing her to see more closely. Taking cuttings with care, she looked up at him, who was now kneeling opposite her. He nodded and Faith felt the taste of mint overwhelm her mouth, to the point that her eyes were streaming and she coughed.
She parted the winter savory and there, nestled into it was a small, but very beautiful, ring. It looked to be old, antique. It was gold with a single emerald in it. The quality was exemplary and she reached out to touch it, her hands trembling slightly. "This is the anchor. Not the place. You shouldn't be here. This shouldn't be here." She looked up at him and smiled and, for the first time since she had seen him, the trapped soul smiled back. "Were you going to give this to her?"
"It was my grandmother's. She gave it to me before she died. She told me to give it to the girl I love. So, I was going to. I had flowers and a necklace I'd bought. Saved up for months I had. But then, I was distracted and a child ran out in front of me. I could have handled it, she was far enough away, but then her mother ran out to catch her and the horse..."
"Just stopped?" Faith prompted, well aware of how very differently the situation in the Eastern Territories could have been for her. It seemed that, once she had found the anchor, this one was more willing, or more able to talk to her.
"Yes. I flew, just for a moment, I flew. Landed over there, but I'd been holding this in my hand. Will you take it to her?"
"The woman you were going to propose to?"
"She works in the market. Her name is Eve, she sells herbs."
Faith felt her heart tighten for this man. How must it have been, she wondered. To be so full of love and excitement, anticipation at what was about to happen, only to have it dashed by a freak accident? He must have been planning their future together, the two of them. What a tragic thing. But then, she considered, he got to feel that love and many died without it. Her job now was not to regret it, but to help him move on, to serve Famula and this soul the very best she could. "I'll take it, in Famula's name. Is there anything you'd like me to tell her?" Faith looked, but he was gone. So, she made her way to the market and looked around, not seeing the bright colours or anything, really, until she found a herbalists stall. The young woman behind it was pretty, with long blonde hair and blue eyes and she smiled a ready smile as Faith approached.
"Can I help you, miss?" she asked.
"I'm sorry to disturb you. Are you Eve?" Faith asked with a smile and managed not to drop a curtsy, but only just.
"Yes, that's me, can I help you?" understandably, perhaps, the young woman frowned. Faith moved around to the side of her and she looked at her with a calm expression. There was no way that this was ever going to be easy, so she thought that the best thing to do was to just come out and say it the best she could.
"My name is Faith. I know how shocking this is going to sound, but I wanted you to know," as mint flooded her mouth, the soul appeared behind the woman and he raised his hand to stroke her hair. Faith glanced at him and she thought about it for a brief trill. This man loved this woman and, from what she understood of that, the last thing he would want to do is scare her. Faith knew that Padraig would do anything to protect her and so she must assume that the same was true for Charlie. "I met a man called Charlie. Only briefly, but he told me about Eve, about he was going to ask her to marry him." Tears sprang to the woman's eyes and she looked at Faith without speaking. "He showed me something. Something that he wanted you to have," she didn't say when she'd met Charlie, she left that for Eve to infer and to fill in the blanks for herself. "Then this trial, I was picking herbs and I found it in the winter savory. I think he would want you to have it." She took Eve's hand and placed the ring in it.
Eve gasped and held it, amazement on her face. "It was his grandmother's, you know," tears were running, but she didn't seem to notice as she held it. "He showed it to me and he said that one trial, I'd wear it. Oh, Faith, thank you. You've given me a wonderful gift. He and I met here, you know. Came to my stall, he did and I knew the moment I saw him. Love at first sight it was, and he felt the same, very first trill."
Eve slipped the ring onto her finger and Faith smiled as the soul disappeared, just fading as though it had never been there. She gave a heartfelt prayer to Famula in that moment, thanking her for the freeing of a soul and for the blessing which allowed Faith to play her small part in that. Turning her attention back to Eve, she could not help but ask a question. "What did he come to buy?" she wondered and Eve, who was looking at the ring, crying and smiling at the same time didn't seem to mind how odd the question was.
"Just a sprig of mint, miss."
With a smile, Faith nodded her head and left, leaving the woman to her memories. As she left, she prayed that Vri might grant Eve some peace, as Famula had granted it to her love.