They soon dismounted, and Pine led the animals as Tora went about the actual business part of things. Pine was simply content being away from the estate, and the sights and smells were enough to occupy his thoughts. It’d been two hours since they left home when something latched onto Pine’s shoulder. He turned quickly to see Duran, shouldering an open pack filled with vegetables. His face was kindly as always, though there was a strained quality to it.

                “I thought you were in trouble with your mother. Have you run away from home?” Duran murmured, wearing a devilish grin.

                Tora came forth, shaking her head with a smile, “I’ve kidnapped him.”

                “Ah, dearest, I didn’t see you there,” Duran lowered his head to her.

                “Mother wanted us to gather some things for her.”

                “Yes. The city watch decided to throw him a party…and as it seems, your mother was volunteered to host,” Duran spoke with resignation. It was obviously more trouble to him than he thought it was worth. “She’s quite panicked over the whole affair. It’s but a few nights from now.”

                Pine cocked his head, “party for my father?”

                “Yes, dear,” Tora spoke, “His twentieth anniversary being chair of the City Watch.”

                “He never said anything tome,” Pine frowned.

                “I don’t believe he remembered himself, dear. It’s all for the Watch. Besides, I’m sure he wouldn’t really wish for such pleasantries. But of course, for others it’s quite the deal…your mother included. We simply cannot refuse to have it,” Tora told him, turning towards the nearest vendor and looking about his wares.

                “How much longer are you at market?” Duran asked.

                Tora looked at her sheet of paper, “not much. Perhaps a few more linens, and then I must talk to a furniture lender to accommodate the number of guests.”

                “How many did they say?”

                “Eight gross,” Tora told him flatly.

                Duran sputtered, and then rubbed absently at the fur beneath his chops, “and all of the head captains.”

                “Could be more if they decide to bring their families, those are simply the invitees. Regardless, we must prepare accordingly, and she’s sent all the servants out to gather things. Poor Master Demasa, he’ll hear no end to our lady’s complaints on the matter.”

                “And still he won’t call it off,” Duran nodded.

                Pine wandered a short way from them as they continued fretting over the forced gala. His eyes wandered from trinket to trinket, and at some point he even saw an exotic arms merchant. He stared at the blades with longing, dreaming for the days when he could spar with something more than a stick. Tora was soon along to push him to their next destination, but the thought of arms stuck with him. Duran had left for home, it seemed, and so again he and she wandered back into the fray.

The End

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