Word soon spread that Tobal's newbie had skewered one of the guards on the way into camp. The guard was doing fine and in no danger. Most clansmen treated it as something that was highly funny but Tobal was not amused. Things had gone horribly wrong and someone could have been hurt or even killed and he felt responsible.
He was at the center of the circle proclaiming Melanie ready for her first solo when he noticed the red-haired girl, Becca, staring at him from the left side of the fire. Turning away, he continued talking and then resolutely returned to his sitting spot determined not to look in her direction again. He had seen the wonder and astonishment on her face and knew she was as surprised to see him as he had been to see her.
Tobal's situation was unique in that he was acting as a sponsor bringing a person into the clan for the first time and at the same time proclaiming that person ready to solo on their own in less than a month. This was not a normal situation and Melanie's escapade with the guards made a lively buzz of conversation around the camp as people congregated before the circle and chatted together. To his relief the elders approved her solo.
There were some farewells as some three year Masters left to become citizens. August was hot, very hot even in the mountains. He was thirsty and walked over to the beer barrel.
"Hi Nikki!", he said.
"Oh", she looked startled and turned around toward him. "Hi."
"Congratulations on soloing"
"Thanks", she said and bit her lip. For some reason she seemed a bit cool towards him.
"Is there anything wrong?"
"No", she said, " I've just got to get going. I want to train a newbie and need to get my things ready to leave early." She turned and walked away from him.
"Good luck", he said to her back as she walked away. There was something definitely wrong and it seemed to be him for some reason.
Moving over by the circle he saw Angel dressed in a black robe and was surprised that she was a Journeyman with three chevrons.
"I thought you were an Apprentice", he told her. "When I saw you in sanctuary with your broken leg you were dressed in gray."
"That was because of my injury", she told him. "When I went through processing for treatment I was given the old gray stuff and my other clothes were ruined."
They chatted for a bit and she was pleasant. It must just be the Apprentices that were pissed at him.
"Who is that dark haired girl with Dirk?" he asked suddenly. "I've been meaning to find out her name for two months now". He blushed a bit.
Angel laughed. "That's Misty, she's only got one more fight to win before she makes Master. Perhaps she can fight you, get you ready for being a real Journeyman?" She winked.
Tobal was embarrassed and changed the subject. He always had trouble with girls and didn't really know how to take them.
Wayne and Char were still working on their base camp and making good progress. They invited him to stop by if he was ever in the neighborhood and gave him directions.