In other areas it seemed Rafe wasn't doing so hot. While Rafe was glad to meet him and participate in circle ceremonies, he also had the obligation of Journeyman circle during the new moon at a different location. The Journeyman degree was devoted to self defense and combat. There were constant challenges for combat.
Because of Rafe's age and small size, he was a prime target and considered an easy win. Most of the Journeymen wasted no time challenging Rafe whenever they could. Luckily the six victories needed to be six different people. After having fought and won they left Rafe alone. If Rafe wanted to rechallenge anyone he had the right to do that as the loser. But in general the winner could not rechallenge someone for another official fight. This was a hard time for Rafe. He was frustrated and having trouble dealing with it.
Tobal's revery was halted abruptly by the appearance of the red haired girl, Becca. She walked up in front of him and stood silently with her head bowed. His friends turned silent with curiousity. Not comprehending they looked from her to him and back to her again. She had tears in her eyes as she looked at him.
"I'm sorry", she said, "Please forgive me. I didn't mean to hurt you."
Tobal's nerves snapped, "Get away from me!" "Get away from me!", he screamed.
Her hand flew to her mouth and she stumbled away into the night crying. As she turned and ran Tobal got up and left. He moved over to a place in the shadows and savagely fought back tears. His thoughts were lost in bitterness and despair.
Rafe came looking for him first.
"What was that all about?", he asked. "Do you know her? Have you met before?"
Tobal looked at Rafe. The pain was gleaming darkly in his eyes as he raised his hand and touched the scars on his face.
"She did this to me", he choked and breaking into sobs turned away.
"Oh, God!", Rafe started and gasped. Then Rafe turned and left him crying against the trunk of the tree he had been sitting against.
Tobal guessed Rafe had gotten the word out and felt even more humiliated and angry. It was not fair, now the entire camp was going to know what happened. He'd told everyone he had been attacked by a wild animal and now was caught in his own lie. He was going to be the laughing stock of the whole camp.
Melanie came to him toward morning. She had been crying. Her eyes were puffed and red and she was sniffling. She ran to him and held him in her arms. It took a few minutes but he put his arms around her too and held her close. He had to admit she did feel good in his arms. Soon she had him smiling and was trying to get him to join the rest of the group. When he finally walked over to the others he noticed a strange silence. Ellen turned to him.
"Becca ran away last night and no one has seen or heard from her. We think she is starting her solo early, but we are not really sure of anything at this point."
Zee and Kevin both came over and apologized for their bad behavior toward him last night. They hadn't understood about Becca and assumed he had raced to sanctuary in spite of their earlier agreement toget a newbie.