Chapter no 63: Walking and Talking

The Name of the Wind

WILEM AND SIMMON WERE already well into their lunches when I arrived at our usual spot in the courtyard. “Sorry,” I said as I set my lute on the cobblestones near the bench. “Got caught up haggling.”

I had been on the other side of the river buying a dram of quicksilver and a pouch of sea salt. The last had cost me dearly, but for once I wasn’t concerned about money. If fortune smiled on me, I would be moving up the ranks in the Fishery soon, and that meant my money troubles would soon be over.

While shopping in Imre, I had also, quite by coincidence, wandered past the inn where Denna was staying, but she hadn’t been there, or at the Eolian, or in the park where we’d stopped to talk last night. All the same, I was in a fine mood.

I tipped my lute case onto its side and flipped it open so the sun could warm the new strings, helping them stretch. Then I settled onto the stone bench under the pennant pole next to my two friends.

“So where were you last night?” Simmon asked too casually.

It was only then I remembered that the three of us had planned to meet up with Fenton and play corners last night. Seeing Denna had completely driven the plan from my mind. “Oh God, I’m sorry Sim. How long did you wait for me?”

He gave me a look.

“I’m sorry,” I repeated, hoping I looked as guilty as I felt. “I forgot.”

Sim grinned, shrugging it off. “It’s not a big deal. When we figured out you weren’t going to show, we went to the Library to drink and look at girls.”

“Was Fenton mad?”

“Furious,” Wilem said calmly, finally entering the conversation. “Said he was going to box your ears next time he saw you.”

Sim’s grin widened. “He called you a fluff-headed E’lir with no respect for his betters.”

“Made claims about your parentage and sexual tendency toward animals,” Wilem said with a straight face.

“‘…in the Tehlin’s cassock!’” Simmon sang with his mouth full. Then he

laughed and started to choke. I pounded him on the back.

“Where were you?” Wilem asked while Sim tried to get his breath back. “Anker said you left early.”

For some reason, I found myself reluctant to talk about Denna. “I met someone.”

“Someone more important than us?” Wilem asked in a flat tone that could be taken for dry humor or criticism.

“A girl,” I admitted.

One of his eyebrows went up. “The one you’ve been chasing around?”

“I haven’t been chasing anyone,” I protested. “She found me, at Anker’s.” “Good sign,” Wilem said.

Simmon nodded wisely then looked up with a playful glint in his eye. “So did you make any music?” He nudged me with an elbow and wagged his eyebrows up and down. “A little duet?”

He looked too ridiculous for me to be offended. “No music. She just wanted someone to walk her home.”

“Walk her home?” He said suggestively, wagging his eyebrows again.

I found it less amusing this time. “It was dark out,” I said seriously. “I just escorted her back to Imre.”

“Oh,” Sim said, disappointed.

“You left Anker’s early,” Wil said slowly. “And we waited for an hour.

Does it take you two hours to walk to Imre and back?” “It was a long walk,” I admitted.

“How long is long?” Simmon asked. “A few hours.” I looked away. “Six.”

“Six hours?” Sim asked. “Come on, I think I’m entitled to a few details after listening to you ramble on about her for the last two span.”

I began to bristle. “I don’t ramble. We just walked,” I said. “Talked.” Sim looked doubtful. “Oh come on. For six hours?”

Wilem tapped Simmon’s shoulder. “He’s telling the truth.” Simmon glanced over at him. “Why do you say that?” “He sounds more sincere than that when he lies.”

“If the two of you will be quiet for a minute or so I’ll tell you the whole of it. Fair?” They nodded. I looked down at my hands, trying to collect my thoughts, but they wouldn’t fall into any sort of orderly pattern. “We took the long way back to Imre, stopped on Stonebridge for a while. Went to a park outside town. Sat by the river. We talked about…nothing really. Places we’ve been. Songs…” I realized I was rambling and shut my mouth. I picked my next words carefully. “I thought about doing more than walking and talking but—” I stopped. I had no idea what to say.

They were both silent for a moment. “I’ll be,” Wilem marveled. “The mighty Kvothe, brought low by a woman.”

“If I didn’t know you, I’d think you were scared,” Simmon said not quite seriously.

“You’re damn right I’m scared,” I said in a low voice, wiping my hands nervously against my pants. “You’d be too if you’d ever met her. It’s all I can do to sit here instead of running off to Imre, hoping to see her through a store window, or pass her crossing the street.” I gave a shaky smile.

“Go then.” Simmon smiled and gave me a little push. “Godspeed. If I knew a woman like that I wouldn’t be here eating lunch with the likes of you two.” He brushed his hair away from his eyes and gave me another push with his free hand. “Go on.”

I stayed where I was. “It’s not that easy.” “Nothing’s ever easy with you,” Wilem muttered.

“Of course it’s that easy,” Simmon laughed. “Go tell her some of what you just told us.”

“Right,” I said with dark sarcasm. “As if it were simple as singing. Besides, I don’t know if she would want to hear it. She’s something special…. What would she want with me?”

Simmon gave me a frank stare, “She came looking for you. She obviously wants something.”

There was a moment of silence and I hurried to change the subject while I had the chance. “Manet’s given me permission to start my journeyman project.”

“Already?” Sim gave me an anxious look. “Will Kilvin go along with it?

He’s not a big one for cutting corners.”

“I didn’t cut any corners,” I said. “I just pick things up quickly.”

Wilem gave an amused snort and Sim spoke up before the two of us started to bicker. “What are you doing for your project? Sympathy lamp?”

“Everyone does a lamp,” Wilem said.

I nodded. “I wanted to do something different, maybe a gearwin, but Manet told me to stick to the lamp.” The belling tower struck four. I got to my feet and gathered up my lute case, ready to head to class.

“You should tell her,” Simmon said. “If you like a girl you have to let her know.”

“How’s that working out for you so far?” I said, irritated that Sim of all people would presume to give me relationship advice. “Statistically speaking, how often has that strategy paid off, in your vast experience?”

Wilem made a point of looking elsewhere while Sim and I glared at each other. I looked away first, feeling guilty.

“Besides, there’s nothing to tell,” I muttered. “I like spending time with her, and now I know where she’s staying. That means I can find her when I go looking.”

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