A light rap upon the bedroom door confirmed the boy was still awake when an answer of, “Come in,” replied from inside. He was sitting in bed when the prince entered, knees drawn up, with his gaze fixed on a tapestry hanging on the opposite wall.

“Just thought I’d stop by before turning in for the night,” Wisdom said as he approached, candleholder in hand. “Need anything?”

“Think I’m good.”

“I appreciate your help bringing things in.” He set the candle on a nightstand as he glanced around the room. “Finally nice to get the place looking livable.”

“Got some good stuff here,” Ashpin agreed. “My father used to sell those.” He pointed to a throw rug near the bedroom door. “Well, the furs ones, anyway.”

“So what’s he do now?” Wisdom pulled up a chair and took a seat.

A shrug. “Don’t know. That’s just one of the things my mother used to tell me. I vaguely remember him. He was gone most of the time, though. Then he just didn’t come back. When my mother starting getting sick, she’d tell me all these stories about him. I got used to staying up all night, just watching over her and thinking about all she had to say. Now, her stories are all I have. Some of my father. Some of Healers.”

“Is that why you came to Trully? Were you looking for a Healer?” Wisdom asked.

“Not unless you could bring back the dead.” There was a slight smile that quickly disappeared, and the boy’s gaze returned to the tapestry. “I thought I’d look for my father in Lexington. Course, all I have is this to go from.” He held up the tip of gold necklace hidden beneath his shirt, of which a small, heart-shaped pendant dangled. “It’s not much. My mother told me there were two, one for me, one for my father. If he still has it, it’ll look just like mine.”

“So you went to Lexington?”

A nod. “I was trying to watch the merchants. You know, see which ones dealt in fur. But you can’t stand around very long. They have these guards….”

Wisdom chuckled. “Those guards act like ravaging wolves sometimes. I’ve been through some…experiences with them as well.”

Ashpin frowned. “I don’t know what they thought I was doing, but I could never stay long. I had to keep moving. Eventually, I heard about some merchants coming here. So I followed.”

“But no luck.”

Ashpin shook his head. “He may not even be around anymore.”

“Well, you’re welcome to stay here as long as you like.” The prince rose and put his chair back in its place. Retrieving the candle, he continued, “I may know someone who might be able to help you. Are you familiar with Lord Gracie?”

“Very little. Stays in Luxor, doesn’t he?”

Wisdom nodded. “The only floating castle in No’va.” He started for the door. “Try to get some sleep tonight. When I get ready to leave for Luxor, you can come with me. Then we’ll see if we can’t locate you father.”

Wisdom caught that appreciated grin before departing and heading for his own room for the evening.


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