“Storm god’s teeth.” Torgood’s incessant whistling drove into my skull, adding to my already overflowing headache.
He gave a small laugh. The world amused him, and although I would normally prefer a companion who had a sunny disposition, I really wanted him to stop.
He dug through his saddle bag and moved his mule closer to mine. He tossed me a floppy hat.
The cool shade of the brim cut out the biting light of the mid-day sun, and my head pounded slightly less. We were half a day out of Oakvale, moving east through the neighboring valleys along the trader’s road. The oak forest had thinned out and we rode mostly among scrub bushes and tall grasses. I couldn’t decide if the drought had hit here or not; the road remained dusty and full of ruts. Wulfgit’s mules didn’t mind. They plodded on. Uncomfortable though my mule was, I was glad not to be walking.
Torgood started to whistle again and then stopped to take a sip of his water skin. He passed my skin to me. I took a long pull.
“Yes,” I started to answer but the water skin reminded me of the morning and that burned me up. “No. What was the weaver’s issue this morning? I’ve never done anything to him.”
Torgood’s snort made me glance at him. He sat like a pile of sticks atop his mule, his long legs sticking out, feet free of the stirrups.
“Do you know something I don’t?”
He laughed out loud at that. “I can assure you of that.” I glared at him and he finally gave an answer, of sorts.
“Noth and you were,” He paused and rubbed his lips, leaving his reins slack on the mules neck. It didn’t seem to notice. “You were courting the same woman.”
“I have never courted a woman in my life.”
His “Ha” made me want to punch him.
“Do you notice,” he said after a while, “that you don’t remember what you should remember?”
“No. How could I remember if I don’t remember it?” Ah logic puzzles, that really made my head pound.
“There’s a stream. Let’s have lunch.” He pulled his mule off the track and we settled in the shade under a small clump of trees. The mules drank from the stream and we filled our skins up river from them.
“You think I should remember something that I don’t.” I tried to get him to talk about it again.
“Right. I know you don’t remember. The thing is, I remember but I couldn’t talk about it before – which I find odd, because, you know, I can talk.”
Yes, a born bard for certain.
“So tell me.”
I really wanted to hit him, and found that I had actually picked up a rock. I threw it in the stream instead of at his head.
“Maybe when we get further from the village. I have my suspicions. But, maybe you can remember also.” He looked at me, his blue eyes crinkling. “I’m not joking with you, about remembering or not being able to speak of it.”
“I didn’t think you were.”
“Good,” he nodded and ate a piece of cheese.
We finished our lunch in relative quiet and didn’t speak of it again until we’d come to sunset and were looking for a place to camp. We’d passed a few small farms, but nothing offering lodging until tomorrow, when we’d come to a village slightly larger than Oakvale called Scrubplains.
“Can you remember when you met me?” He asked, laying out kindling for our fire. The sun had gone down and we’d found a dip just off the track that provided some shelter from the wind or whatever. I’d pulled out my lamp to give us light to set up camp with.
“Of course. We grew up together – the village kids. You and I used to read your mother’s…” I paused and put down the hunk of cheese I’d been cutting. “You’re Elder Ponmay’s son.”
He gave me a cheery smile. “Yes, you remember.”
“How could I forget that?”
“Exactly my point. What else do you remember?”
I came up with some more recent things we’d done together, like fighting the wildfire, singing in the tavern, drinking and playing dice.
“Your head hurts,” he commended.
It did. “How can you tell?”
“You get a little crinkle between your eyes. Don’t worry, it’ll come back to you. And if it doesn’t and I still can’t tell you, we’ll find someone in Crown City to fix that.”
We ate and settled in to sleep, tired from riding all day, but I couldn’t sleep long after he’d started to snore.
Was there something I didn’t remember? Weaver Noth. Why did he hate me? I reviewed everything I knew about our interactions. As far as I recalled, they’d had been polite. Not friendly, but not outright antagonistic. I don’t remember courting a woman, certainly not as Wulfgit seemed to do it, although I know I’ve known love and remember the physical aspects of it – so I must have. My head gave a warning pound and the old injury on my arm burned. What else didn’t I remember?