RoF

Edan peeked from under cast eyes of prayer, only to be met with the sting from a switch. Shutting his eyes from the tears he cursed the friar, who was in fact watching. Not in prayer as well, and thus in need of a lashing.

Such thoughts, if spoken, would bring the whip; so Edan stayed silent, cursing the unfairness, the fryer, and God.

Once outside in the cold wet of Pentecost, Edans throat itching from the burning of incense, he saw his father standing under an awning, waiting. Edan was one of the last out, his father stiff with impatience. He quickly shuffled to him, his chin low, his eyes cast lower. The man did not move as his boy approached.

"Fa," Edan said as he stood before him. "The friar, he..."

"Come say not," his father said in a tone more quiet than Edan expected. "Wolk," he added as he turned to the once Roman road now fighting ivy and mud. Edan sidled besides his father and kept pace, finding it easier than his father's rushed gate. "What age has you?" his father asked.

"Twelve years, fa," Edan said looking. He should have known this answer.

"Com day fullin, the morrow," his father added after a few more steps. A day will come, his father would say when Edan was younger. That day would come. Edan had no thought as to what that day meant, but now, to Edans' surprise, that day was tomorrow.

"Morrow?" Edan asked. His father nodded as they walked on. "Day is what?" Edan tried to pry any hint he could. His father stopped in the road and looked back to the church, the blackened stone awash in mist.

"Men with that stone," he said, nodding to the church, then spat to the ground. "Men they aren't." He looked down to his son, Edan seeing his fathers eyes, fierce and unblinking. "Find the men, you will. Not the empty vassels."

Find? As in go and find? Edan watched his father for more clues, the sterness of his fathers gaze unnverving. "I am to leave?" Edan asked.

His father gave a small smile. "Boats are your name," the fishing boats his father owned, Edan grew up seeing himself a fisherman, like his father. "The world has your name as well." Edan did not understand this. His father touched Edan's shoulder, one of the few times he touched his boy without striking. "Morrow, the world." He walked on, his pace quicker. Edan fought to keep up.

The next morning, with the rise of the chickens in the yard, Edan found a man, tall and thick, sitting at the table, watching him. He was dressed in thick cloak, his beard unkempt, his stink old, as if living in his clothes.

"Edan," the man said in greeting. In Latin in continued, "How does the day find you?"

"Well, sir," Edan replied in Latin as well. The man smiled.

The man asked a question in French. Edan shook his head. His French was spotty, it always was, but he guessed what the stranger asked. Back in Latin he continued. "I am your uncle Gradle, your father's brother. I have come for you."

"Me?" Edan asked, looking across the room to see his mother and father walk in.

The uncle turned to the parents and spoke in Common, "Your boy is well learned. Are you prepared to free him?"

Edan's mother clung to his father, wrapping her arms around his. Her eyes watched Edan, swollen from a night of tears.

"Where am to go?" Edan asked his parents.

His father sat his mother at a stool and walked to the boy. "Your uncle Gradle, an important man. The King himself carries his word." Edan looked to the haggered stranger. How could a king look to the vagabond? "He is taking you to service."

Edan looked at his father, the word service like a dagger. He was meant to be a fisherman, not an errand boy for tramps. "Fa," Edan protested. "The boats..." he pleaded, looking to his mother. His father took the boys chin and pointed it back to himself.

"Live on the boats, or live in the world. I give the world."

"Where am I to go?" Edan asked, curious about the world his father was giving him.

The ragged uncle smiled. "Rome. Jerusalem."

"Crusades?" Edan asked, the word swelling inside with a sense of adventure.

"There will be a fifth," his uncle whispered in Latin. "And we will be there for our King."

Edan looked to his parents, his mother smiling through the tears that cleaned her cheeks, and his father, stoic, but with pride in his eyes.

"When do I leave?" Edan asked.

The uncle stood and Edan was surprised at how much taller he really was. A solid head above his father. "We leave when your mother lets you go."