Sabine grimaced apologetically and unclasped her cloak to reveal the white Novitiate robes beneath. “Sorry I’m late. They kept me longer than I thought they would.” Her eyes betrayed her distraction as she placed her leather bag carefully on the wooden bar top and draped her cloak across the barstool.
While the first season she'd spent in Rharne was mostly slow going, the second was busier than she’d ever anticipated. She was twenty-one trials into her role as a newly initiated Thunder Priestess, and each trial was turning out to be more challenging than the last. Her muscles were perpetually sore from her combat training, and her mind felt as though it was nearing its limit when it came to the amount of knowledge she could retain. This particular trial had been especially brutal as a result of an early morning and long day of training, and her exhaustion could be seen in the lines of her skin.
It was only when Vincent teased her about keeping her gift to himself that her face softened and her full attention turned to him. “You better not!” She poked him in the shoulder and threw him an exaggerated pout until he pulled the knife from his belt and passed it to her.
As she unsheathed the blade, she immediately recognized it as a duplicate of the throwing knife that he had given her so many seasons ago. She ran her thumb over the handle and remembered that first meeting at Ye Olde Inn: him, quiet and sombre, and her, ready for a fight. He’d surprised her by giving her the knife as his promise of protection, and it was that same knife that came up again and again during the seasons that followed. She’d used it to accidentally threaten him during their Ymiden stakeout and had thrown it at one of the Qe’dreki looters during the Saun civil war.
Sabine smiled at the realization that she’d never actually managed to use it to effectively defend herself. It seemed fitting that this version was decorative – the blade was etched with lines and inlaid with silver, and text was engraved into its center.
“It’s just like the one you gave me when we met at the inn, isn’t it?” She reached out to give his hand a grateful squeeze. “I love it. Thank you.” She set the knife on the bar top and brushed a finger across the text. “Like the moon on the waves, she shines,” Sabine read aloud in slow and choppy Rahaki. She repeated the words again under her breath before raising her eyes to meet Vincent’s. “That phrase… why did you choose it?”
She would give him time to explain, if he wanted, before reaching into her leather bag and pulled out a small book entitled A Short History of Boats
. Like the trial before, a teasing smile took over her features and she watched for his reaction.
While the book was a self-conscious and playful reminder of the lies she’d told him during their very first meeting, it was also a token of her forgiveness. She hoped that when he looked at it, he’d realize that she no longer held their first meeting against him. Somehow, despite her own obstinacy, he’d managed to become one of the few people in Idalos who she could forgive without strings attached - though she'd never say the words out loud.
Reviewer's Note: -10gn for the nonfiction book.