He wasn’t there.
Asim gripped the staff tighter and pressed his forehead against the worn wood. A chill wind ruffled through the thick folds of his clothing, carrying the scent of coming snow.
Of course, Kyn wasn’t there.
What had he actually expected? Penitence? Maybe a sullen figure in the shadows, ready to follow even if it was with grumbling? Maybe… some sign he was still alive?
He was alive.
Asim shook himself and lifted his head. Insolent lad wouldn’t get anywhere near danger without a few escape routes. He’d learned that well enough. Learned the blade and the bow and anything else he cared to set his mind to. Kyn was alive. Somewhere.
Asim tilted his head back. The trees veiled the looming walls a little. Not nearly enough. Great blocks of solid stone reaching toward the stars. It was going to be hard enough to sneak inside. Escaping…
No wonder Kyn hadn’t shown up.
He almost laughed, but the urge faded as quickly as it had come. It really was best this way. He sank into the shadows of the gnarled trunks, his thumb brushing the medallion at his chest.
“You’re a wolf-born idiot, Kyn,” he whispered. “It’s gonna save your life this time. Please don’t do it again.”
He dropped his hand to his side and tugged a book from its leather pouch. Kyn would still need to know.
An ache wrapped around his throat. “I’d have told you, if you came today. Maybe I should have earlier.” He flipped the book open and eyed the blank pages. “Never mind. I shouldn’t have. You’re probably not ready as it is.”
He hesitated, then shook his head and held a hand over the pages. A warm glow flickered around them. “Doesn’t matter now. Esim help you.” The last words were soft; almost a prayer.
The light strengthened, twisting into silver pictures before streaming to the pages. Asim’s breath quickened, his pulse thudding. They’d see it from the city. They’d be waiting.
They’d been waiting for weeks now.
He jerked his hand back, closing his fingers into a fist. The book snapped shut, mist seeping between the pages.
Asim eyed it. “Such an old-fashion way to pass on memories, you know.” He scooped it up. The faintest smirk creased his lips. “He’s not going to know what to make of you.” The children of this generation.
Fortunate for them that it would work regardless of their ignorance. He scuffed a hollow in the leaves between the roots of a tree and placed the book there. His fingers brushed the leather cover. “He’ll be around. I promise.”
Straightening, he turned back toward the city. The one he was to train a warrior to take. The one he was to find a hero to save.
The prophecies didn’t account for the lack of heroes or their tendency to sulk instead of face dangers. Pity he’d not be able to watch them grow up.
Squaring his shoulders, he stepped from the trees.
They would grow up. One day.
For now, he would have to do.