“Ro was a strange one, you know that,” Jamu said, but he could not make his statement sound light-hearted. “Galen liked them, too.”
Ben said nothing. Jania pointed. “There’s your rowboat. Where are Anton and Zeb?”
Jamu pointed further along the dock. Anton and Zeb were Scout partners, and had also been assigned to Trader’s Pass. Jamu had offered to use his ship to sail to Trader’s Pass; it would get them there with a few days to spare before they were to report, despite their delay in leaving. His fellow scouts had jumped at the opportunity.
“Did you say goodbye to Humo?” Ben asked.
“Right,” Jamu said. “At least he behaved himself at the service.”
“It was a wonderful service,” Jania said.
“Wonderfully sad,” Megan remarked.
Jamu put his arm around Megan’s shoulders. The four of them watched the rowboat approach in silence.
“Jamu, I’ll go up there as often as I can,” Jania promised as the small boat thumped against the dock. Megan hugged him tightly.
“I love you, Jamu. Take care of yourself. And please don’t forget me,” she begged.
“How could I? And trust me, I will be fine. You three do what you have to do here, and let me take care of Trader’s Pass.”
Jania hugged him. “I will miss you so,” she said.
Jamu kissed her. “I will miss you, too.” He turned to Ben. “Take care of her.” He extended his hand.
To his utter amazement, Ben pulled him into a bear hug. “Watch yourself out there. I don’t want to lose you, too,” Ben whispered into his ear.
“Do not worry about me,” Jamu said.
Ben helped him into the boat, after Anton and Zeb. Megan blew kisses, and Ben and Jania waved as the boat pulled away from the dock. Jamu noticed Jania blink quickly.
“No crying, now,” he called out to her.
She stuck her tongue out at him, but turned and ran. Ben raised his hand in farewell and followed her. Megan sat down at the edge of the dock and watched him go. He was relieved that a crowd of students had not gathered to say goodbye. He had worked very hard to keep his departure a secret.
Jamu looked over at Anton and Zeb. They watched the water skim by quietly. Every scout was still reeling from the shocking announcement at the memorial service. Where the Academy students had taken news of Galen’s death in stunned silence, there had been an outpouring of grief when Rohen’s death had been announced at the memorial. It would take some time for the Academy to recover.
He looked at the rays of light reflecting off the water. The color reminded him of Galen’s eyes, golden brown when she was happy, coppery red when she was angry, deep amber when she was sad. He wondered if she was sad right at that moment. He hoped not.
He pulled out the ribbon Ben had thrown at him the day after Rohen and Galen left. She had worn it to the graduation festival, that horrible night. No, it was not that horrible. Some nice things happened that night.
One year. That is not so long. I will complete my assignment, and I will go and find you. Be patient, my love. We will be together again soon.
The scar on his chest itched. He had to find her. He knew why Rohen had taken her with him. They were necare. But they knew nothing of their powers. And if they lost control, the rage would drive them to kill each other, and whatever stood between them. He had to find a way to help them. They were in danger just being together. Rohen and Galen were both psychic. They might know how to project into the astral plane. And if they did, it would not be long at all before he was with her again.
Soon, Galen. He took the ribbon and tied it firmly around his arm, right beneath the cuff of his sleeve. The pearl strand looked strange dangling down the back of his arm. He glanced at Anton and Zeb.
They looked at the ribbon on his arms, nodding slightly. They understood. They did not say a word.