The ward of castoria, p.35
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       The Ward of Castoria, p.35

           Robin Silverglate


  “I thought I would find you here,” said a familiar voice.

  Dane peered down from his perch in the tree and saw his best friend. Beckwyn’s concern was evident to Dane even from so high up. “How did you know I’d be here?” he called out.

  As Beckwyn began the climb up, he said, “Because this is where you always came to sulk when we were children. Remember that time when Yara wouldn’t let you travel with her to the Crystal Cavern? You were up here for days, if I remember correctly.”

  “That’s right,” said Dane with a light laugh. “And you kept me company until your mom finally lured both of us down by offering us sun cookies.”

  Beckwyn found a place to sit next to him on his branch and said, “So how long do you plan on staying up here this time? Do I need to tell my mother to start baking?”

  “That does sound good. But I’m fine. I only came up here because I didn’t want to go back to Yara’s dinner party. And that has long been over.”

  The dinner party had actually ended eight hours ago. The first beams of sunlight were just beginning to shine through the western side of the forest. Dane had spent the entire night in his favorite tree. He and Beckwyn had often climbed the Braided Tree as children and he felt more comfortable here than in the small bedroom that he had in his sister’s house. Throughout the night, Dane thought about the things Tetari had said to him. He had come to terms with his altered duties in the Vanguard. Dane knew that as soon as he learned to hide his emotions better, Tetari would put him back in the Reflection on a more permanent basis.

  In regards to what Tetari had said about Bryn, he knew she was right. Even though he keenly felt the pain of rejection, he was still glad he had fallen in love with her. He was thankful for every moment he had spent near her. To be able to know he had protected her and saved her life was a great point of joy for him. Even though she did not love him, he loved her enough to want her to live a long happy life. Unfortunately, it was just not going to be with him.

  Beckwyn sat quietly next to Dane and whittled on a piece of wood. Dane valued his friendship so much. He knew Beckwyn suspected what had happened between him and Bryn, but he never brought it up. Beckwyn probably came here to sympathize about the change in the Vanguard today anyway. Dane turned to his friend and said, “Did Tetari talk to you?”

  “Yes. Once Castien came back, she summoned us and told us about the changes. Are you all right?”

  “I’m disappointed. Since things are so busy lately, I feel bad that I’ll be unable to do my share of the work.”

  Beckwyn shook his head and said, “That’s not necessarily true. The way Tetari explained it to us is we get first priority on the jobs. If, at some point, a job comes in and we are not available, then you get to take it. It’s really not that different from before.”

  To Dane, it felt vastly different. He usually claimed the first available job and that always kept him busy. He hated the thought of sitting around and waiting. He needed to be doing something or else his mind would be forced to dwell on negative feelings. He was proud of his role as Lead Protector. It gave him a sense of purpose during a time when he felt that part of himself was detached. He did not want to burden Beckwyn with thoughts such as these so, instead, he stood up and said, “You’re right. I should get back home now. Thank you, my friend, for keeping me company.”

  Beckwyn smiled and said, “Anytime.”

  They moved down the tree jumping from branch to branch. When they landed on the ground, Beckwyn turned to Dane with a playful grin on his face. “How about we stop by my mother’s house and see if we can convince her to make us some sun cookies?”

  “That sounds perfect,” Dane agreed.

  “Race you!” Beckwyn said as he used to in their childhood days. As they ran home to Beckwyn’s old house, Dane felt some of his cares falling away.

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