[Story] The Ghostclaw – Building

You’re in a good mood, Ru’anthar remarked, watching the ranger nail beams into place. The wooden beams would later support the stone and plaster of the outer walls, serving as the skeleton of the building.

Sath’alor took another handful of nails and started tapping them into place with his hammer. Nessna and Tylenthis would be out on their patrol for another few hours yet, and Gaelardrim was out at the targets practicing his shooting. Lin had gone into the city with a shopping list for supplies, and Orledin and Sorrowmoss were working on the stable on the other side of the lot. He wasn’t too worried about anyone overhearing him speaking to a ghost cat, at least for now. He still wasn’t sure if others could see Ru’anthar or not, he suspected it was the cat’s decision — he’d once shown himself to Kestrae, but other times he’d seemed invisible. “Yes, I am. Is that a problem?”

Yes, said Ru’anthar. You look stupid when you grin like that. Haven’t you more important things to worry about?

Sath’alor glanced out over the forest. Though the temperatures had begun to rise during the daytime, the spiders hadn’t yet stirred from their nests. They would definitely have to go hunting for them soon, though. There were no reports of Scourge from the patrols this week. The only thing that gave him any pause was the strange symbols Nessna had found inside the ziggurat. He’d wanted to scold Nessna for going in alone, and Tylenthis for allowing it to happen, but he decided she wouldn’t have done so if she felt it was too dangerous. Still, he hoped she wouldn’t make it a habit. Something about the symbols and they way they were arranged seemed familar somehow, but he couldn’t put a finger on why. Hopefully Hethurin would be able to tell him what they were — and whether they should be worried. Sath’alor had promised to leave out the mention of Vallindra, at least for now. If she was here to cause trouble for her brother, he should at least be warned. It felt wrong to keep things from his friend, especially if his safety might be at stake.

You don’t need any more distractions, Ru’anthar continued.

A cat, chiding him for not working hard enough? That was a good one. “She’s not a distraction. We’ll work better together.” Sath’alor picked up another beam and began to fix it into place.

Oh, working. That’s what you plan to do.

“Yes. Mostly.” In truth, working was fairly far down on the list of things he had in mind, but he couldn’t exactly say that to Ru’anthar — or to her. The last thing he wanted was to come across as overbearing or desperate. He’d been away from women — from anyone, really — for more than a year. She’d only just lost her husband a few months ago. A husband was different than just someone you were seeing, and she’d still loved him when he died. Probably she still did. So he had to be cautious. It was something they’d have to talk about eventually, once they had the chance. That didn’t keep his mind from wandering though, especially at times like these when he had nothing better to think about. “I can’t help it, Ru. She’s everything I wanted. Haven’t you felt like that about someone?”

No, said Ru’anthar, licking a paw.

Sath’alor tapped another nail into place. “Really, you never had a mate and cubs?”

The cat’s ears flicked backward briefly. Of course I have.

“You must have cared for them. Wanted to protect them.”

I see your point, Ru’anthar said at last. But I certainly didn’t act a fool because of it.

The ranger grinned again. It was probably the first time he’d got the cat to admit to being wrong about anything. “I’m not either.” But maybe he was, just a little. He couldn’t wait to see her again, when he made a trip to the school. He had to show the drawing to Hethurin, and Nessna mentioned that there might be kittens arriving soon. Orledin had been wanting one for some time now, and it could stay in the house until the ranger building was finished. Lani would probably be there, but they could go down to the beach and practice on the targets set up on the sand — though he didn’t really have practice in mind. When she had mounted her hawkstrider to ride home, she had kissed him goodnight, and then he was certain. Any doubt that remained had long since burned away.

He’d promised to write too, which was a little silly as they saw each other most days (as Ru’anthar was happy to point out), though they rarely had time to talk. After her patrol she had to go home to Rylad, and she retired early in the evenings in order to wake up for her morning patrol. In a few days, the patrols would be switching — she’d be paired with Gaelardrim and Lin would go with Tylenthis. Maybe their new partners could talk some sense into those two.

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