Chapter 9.5: A Montage
It actually took Tomas a couple of evenings to write so much down. He was able to catch up, though, because the days following their introduction to Collins were largely uneventful. They each helped out around the tavern: Kari doing handiwork like changing kegs or washing dishes, Tomas learning to serve the people in the dining room itself. They each took to their tasks with interest, though the quick thinking required to keep up with a hungry, thirsty dinner crowd was not a skill Tomas had learned, and Kari did not relish an evening of wet hands. Still, it was pleasant work, and the thick stone walls surrounding them—and all of Vacen—lent a strong sense of security.
Speaking of the walls, Tomas continued to explore the streets of Vacen in his free time. Kari only sometimes went with him. He went back to the actual northern gate, where he found no guards posted during the day. At night, he discovered, the doors were shut and locked—not a bar, an actual lock.
“Where must they keep the key?” he wondered. Staring up at the big wooden doors, he was acutely aware of the wilderness—and the chaos within—just beyond them.
He also discovered that the further he got from main streets, the less intuitive their layout became, often complicated by sudden dead ends where he’d been expecting loops.
And finally, he spent time by the Lake. Kari came with him when it was his intention to go down to the water, but his wanderings often brought him there anyway. Accidents, perhaps, but we often find what we’re looking for even when we don’t realize we’re looking, don’t we?
Ah, but I’m wandering, aren’t I? Rest is all well and good, but Kari and Tomas felt an understandable sense of urgency underlying every waking moment—and many of the sleeping ones, too. Which actually reminds me: that final night in Jolene’s inn was one that stayed in their memory for some time.