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Captain of the Guard: Hope

September 23, 2019

Cedric awoke to the predawn light with the realization that he had left Vul’s money, and the money of several of his men were as well, and all they had in return was the questionable assistance of a three headed dog. He wondered how long it would be until his men realized the same thing.

He sat up and looked for Vul. The rogue was already up and packing his things. He did not look over at Cedric when he approached.

“Vul?”

“Yes?” There was no quip for the young man, which Cedric found slightly unsettling.

“I left your money back with the Travelers.”

“It’s only money, it doesn’t matter.” Vul’s voice was muffled.

“Something wrong?”

“No, just busy. If you don’t mind.”

Cedric left Vul and found Alstone smiling happily, like a bumpkin at the fair for the first time. The rest of the men were breaking camp. He noticed that Raven had ended up curled next to the Hound, his arm resting on Emile’s neck.

“You seem to have made a good introduction between Raven and Emile.”

“We’ll see if the boy learns anything.” Alstone shrugged. “I’m a patient man. Now if you’ll excuse me, I believe someone else needs my help. People really should learn to be more respectful of their elders.”

Cedric watched the faker get up and head to Vul. He couldn’t hear what the two men were discussing, but he saw Al hand him a small jar and made a rubbing motion toward his face. Cedric wasn’t sure, but it looked like Vul had a rash across the side of his left cheek.

He thought about that for a moment and Al’s magic trick the other day.  Those thoughts led him to the Traveler spell that had backfired and the thimblerig game that he had won despite what should have happened.  Alstone might be a bigger con than he thought.

Fin and a couple of other men were talking in low whispers next to the cook fire as Cedric pondered his situation.

Finally, Fin glanced over at Cedric and after a moment of conferring with the others, shrugged his shoulders and approached.

“Captain?” His Adam’s apple bobbed up and down nervously.

“Yes, Fin?”

“Some of the others and I were talking about last night.”

“Uh huh.”

“We were wondering, well in all the excitement, things being what they were and all . . . ”

“If I had gotten all the money back.”

“Yes, sir.” Fin looked at him hopefully.

“I didn’t.”

“Oh.”

“I wouldn’t fret too much. I’m sure the king will see it as an expense in the line of duty.”

“You think so?” Hope coming back to the young man’s face.

“Sure.”

Relief blossomed on Fin’s face. “That’s good to know, Captain.”

Cedric nodded. Hope, Cedric had learned a long time ago, was more important than just about anything else in life. People would endure a lot if they had hope.

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