The Fox Emblem

The sunrise came through a stone-framed castle window, followed by gentle wind, and woke a young woman. She rolled over, beneath the linens, and groaned with reluctance to wake.

            Outside, a bird chirped.

            Oh, darn, I was having such a pleasant dream.

            A muscular dog slept at her feet, still asleep with heavy breaths and a drooling snout.

            She groped through her long brown hair with one hand, while righting herself to a seated position. Then, her arms stretched up as she yawned, thinking, I want to sleep in.

            Beside her, the dog stirred.

            And from the window came the ringing of a morning bell. Such was routine.

            An old man walked into the doorway, and stood with his hands on his hips. He was already dressed, in an olive green robe. It bore a fox's gold outline upon its breast in an emblem. Though the bell had just rung, he had an air of stern impatience. One hand began to stroke his beard, and the other moved up to rub at his forehead, above the bushy furrowed brow.

            "What is so urgent, teacher?"

            The old man sighed, and let his hands fall to his sides. A scepter gleamed at his side, where it hung clipped to his belt. And he grinned, proudly, "Your apprenticeship has come to an end. I have taught you all that I know. And the standard two years have come to pass. The rest, you can only learn from experience, and from others."

            "What am I to do, if not work in the infirmary?"

            The old man laughed, but she took it as a scoff. And he continued to speak, "One as gifted as you is not fit for the infirmary, Yorh. We're dispatching you to the field. Archmage's orders."

            Yorh looked puzzled, as she pulled on her tunic and dress, "To the field?"

            "You'll be assigned to a knight's troupe. Magicians are rare, and healer's are rarer. You'll be a boon of a recruit."

            The young woman stood, surprised by her teacher's unprecedented words. But she knew the man. He liked to keep her on her toes. She managed to speak, "Where do I go from here, then, teacher?"

            "Breakfast in the commons, as usual. Then pack a travel bag, and report to the stables. They'll be expecting you, my child. It won't be too tough for you, it is not as if we're at war. Take that mutt with you," he paused, "and Gods bless."

            The dog slipped off the end of the bed, scratched itself, and walked towards the door of Yorh's small room. He had short black fur, and white patches under his belly and face. His paws, too, had white mittens of fur. Its collar was a chain of silver, from which hung a gleaming emerald. It was odd, that such finery was wasted upon a dog.

            Yorh watched as the old man left. She still was unsure how she felt about the sudden change to her life. Yet, she had to agree that life patching wounds in the castle's infirmary was becoming ever the more dull and menial. Now, she was offered a chance to see the world and leave the sprawling capital.

            I imagine this will be a day I won't easily forget.

The End

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