Vrabin shaded his eyes, in the distance he could see the sun shimmering off Serenity Temple’s gilded roof. ‘It’s been too long since I’ve visited the temple’ Vrabin reflected silently. He had frequented it often as a child while studying mesmeric magic under Shirak Shabushi. Several of the acolytes he had played with were now full priests and one had even advanced to primate of Lyssa. Vrabin shook the old memories from his mind and opened himself to the view. ‘This is not a view of a temple’ Shirak had said to Vrabin the first time they had come here. Shirak had never explained the comment instead leaving it for Vrabin’s ten year old mind to ponder.
‘Eighteen years,’ Vrabin pondered, ‘eighteen years and I still don’t know if he was trying to teach me something or if it was simply the first sign of madness.’
A gentle presence touched the back of his mind and he turned to see his wife and sister ascending the crown of the hill. Moments later the pair stopped at the blanket Vrabin had laid out in the shade provided by the sole tree on the hilltop. Vrabin wandered over to the pair of women, calf high grass whisking at his pant legs. A quiet smile played across Vrabin’s face as he sat down. Jessica, Vrabin’s petite wife, rummaged through the basket she had brought with her up the hill and withdrew several sandwiches, which she then passed out to her companions. Sitting down next to her husband she looked even smaller than usual in the shadow of her husband’s broad shoulders. Vrabin’s sister Sophia reclined, her loose fitting robes fluttering in the light breeze that swirled about the hilltop.
“Now that we have you awake, I’m rather curious about how your studies at Ashford Abbey have been progressing.” Vrabin said between mouthfuls of his moa sandwich.
Sophia glanced over at her brother with a smile mimicking his own, “If you hadn’t run off ahead of us you would have heard me recount the past year to Jessica.”
“She’s been promoted to first acolyte of Balthazar,” Jessica said, her refined accent of Ascalonian city natives a stark contrast with Vrabin and Sophia’s southern Ascalonian farmer’s drawl. “There’s talk she may even be given her own shrine by next spring.”
Vrabin raised an eyebrow, “What do you think of that?”
“A shrine is nice for status among the order, but I hope that they send me into the Ascalonian guard to help against Charr and Krytan incursions.” Sophia replied, “Or perhaps I’ll try and weasel my way onto one of the pilgrimages going to Cantha.”
“I hear Cantha has very mild winters,’ Jessica said as she pushed a windblown strand of auburn hair away from her face.
Vrabin nodded, “I spent a year in Cantha when I was younger, mostly exploring the Echovald forest for ruins and treasure. The winters I recall were quite hospitable.”
“Your never mentioned the weather in your stories before.” Sophia said inquisitively.
“The weather was so mild I paid it little mind.” Vrabin replied.
The trio’s conversation continued on discussing Cantha, the Krytan front of the Guild Wars and the threat from the beastly Charr north of the wall. The women were particularly excited with the news of Prince Rurik’s impending engagement to the Lady Althea as neither had witnessed a royal wedding. Their conversation lasted till the sun passed its zenith and gnawing absently the last of the jerky from the picnic basket Vrabin led the way down the hill to the waiting wagon and ox.