Fenrem woke up as he always did – to the sight of the low-hanging ceiling of the Amber Cellar – his current home and his master's undisputed domain. Sunlight did not reach the makeshift living quarters he had created for himself in a small cleared-out corner of the cellar, and he absentmindedly fumbled for the small oil lamp that was at his nightstand. He did not start as the light off the lamp illuminated his master's scarred features as he had been sitting on a large comfortable chair no more than ten footspan away. This was not, however, that rare of an occurrence, and though Fenrem had found it disconcerting in his earlier years, he had long learned to accept it as just another idiosyncrasy of a man who had a mountain of them.
Unlike his apprentice, Fenrem's master was not a pretty person. Perhaps, once, he had been pleasing to look at, but something had caused his face to scar and his leg to freeze – the man walked with a limp and a cane and his scars made his face look as if his face was plastered in a permanent grimace. While his clothes were never flashy or fancy or even in the most recent styles, Fenrem knew they had been precisely tailored with quality cloth one could not find in Amber Falls. The Order paid his nameless master very well for someone who was exiled to a remote town like Amber Falls. Fenrem had never asked why.
"Good morning, Fenrem," he said in his usual customary wry tone. "I trust you slept well after last night's festivities? I noticed you'd taken an extra flask of the 10-year from your shelf."
Fenrem shrugged as he began to dress in the clothes he had laid out the previous night. "I decided to share a farewell drink to Amber Falls with my friends."
"Ah, yes, what better way to say goodbye to your childhood than with a drink that has toppled everything from monarchs to barroom wenches."
Fenrem glanced at the dangerous glint in his master's eyes at the mention of barroom wenches. He knew that his master did not approve of his relationship with the Pilkington daughter.
"We had drinks with that blasted bard-in-training, and then I took her home when she was unfit to walk," said Fenrem nonchalantly. "I didn't touch her."
It was true, too. He had left the bard at the bar with the rest of the flask while he took Sandra home. It was a somewhat uncomfortable journey, as he was aware of both Sandra's dress riding dangerously high up her legs as well as the over-pleasant sensation of her breasts pressing against his back as he piggy-backed her home. As it was, he took pains to make sure that he did not take the normal streets and paths that might have had them bumping into someone. With his reputation, he could easily guess the rumors that would have spread the next day.
He only dropped her once, when she had tightened her hold on him suddenly and without warning. Barrels didn't do that. And, while she did not wake up, the drop had left a dirt stain on the back of her white dress. He briefly considered dunking the girl into a stream to get the dirt out, but decided against it for a number of reasons.
His discomfort did not dissipate as he finally arrived at the Pilkington house, either. His plan had been to arrive at her house, break in, deposit Sandra on her bed, and be on his way, but instead he found all the lights within the Pilkington house on and a very irate Ma Pilkington standing at the doorway, glaring at him as he appeared with her drunken daughter, dress all the way up to top-thigh and a long stain of dirt on the backside of her dress. Not to mention the slight snuggling.
He had briefly – briefly – considered using his magic to dampen the rage of Sandra's mother, but had decided against it. It would, most likely, be the last time he saw the woman and he wanted to keep some semblance of truth in his hometown. And if he did dampen her feelings towards him, he did not want to ruin the morning Sandra would share with her family.
That being the case, he did not offer any excuses as he deposited Sandra into her father's arms, while slipping him a small bottle of brand, and turned away, whistling as he left.
As he checked his supplies and added few extra layers of dried meat to his travelsack, he wondered about Sandra's morning with her parents, snickering to himself. He knew that the mother wouldn't be able to say anything that couldn't be misconstrued – at least the trip there would be somewhat entertaining. His snickering abated as he noticed that his master had gotten up to check on the various flasks and herbs that Fenrem was bringing.
"As I said before," said his master. "Do not disobey orders – once you are initiated, you are but a tool the Order of Muerin may use."
"Sounds great," said Fenrem acidly. "Really looking forward to being dehumanized and a slave."
"We are all but slaves in the eyes of Muerin," said his master softly. "It's a price we pay for the power we are given over people. You would be a "
"Been working real well for you, I can see," snapped Fenrem.
Silence ensued. It was an argument that they'd had countless times, and neither was really hurt by it. Still, the tense awkwardness that came as a result of it would probably never disappear.
It was Fenrem who broke the silence first after tightening the clasps on his satchel. He gave his master a jaunty grin.
"You going to miss me, Master?" he asked, looking his master dead in the eyes. "Because, bless my heart, I think I'll miss you."
His master was grim in his silence but shook his head. "Get out of here, Rem. And remember, once you join the Order, all of this," he motioned his hand towards Amber Falls, "will no longer be a part of you. When next we meet, you'll have a different name. So will I, for that matter. Good luck. And don't die."
And with that, his master left him to go back to the shadows of his cellar. Fenrem watched his back a little longer before making his way outside. He'd said goodbye to his parents – not that they'd paid him much mind, seeing as his brother's newborn was about all they could speak about for the past month. And so, with what he believed was his master's blessing, two kukri strapped to his belt behind him, and his dark-green cloak about his shoulders, he left the corner of the cellar that had been his home for nearly half a decade and began making his way over to the agreed-upon spot.
His eyes scanned the milling children for familiar faces – well, he supposed he knew most of the children in some form, but he was really searching for the ones he felt like he'd be spending the next few weeks, at least, with.