"Newbies are just fine", Tobal said blushing. "They do what I tell them to most of the time and are glad to leave after training. The Apprentice degree is not really good for romance. I just got an earful about it from Char. She's afraid Wayne is going to tear her newbie's head off."
Tobal's distraction was successful and they gossiped about Char and Wayne a bit. He excused himself later and said he was going to help bring some wood in for the fires. He headed off looking for Rafe or Dirk intending to work with them for a bit. He found Dirk near one of the fire pits splitting logs with a stone hammer and some stone wedges.
"Hey Dirk, have you seen Rafe around?" He asked casually.
"Don't know and don't care", came Dirk's surly reply.
"What's up, you sound kind of grumpy", Tobal quipped as he picked up a second hammer and wedge to help.
Dirk sighed and rubbed his shoulder, "The weather is getting to my shoulder. It aches and makes me grumpier than usual."
They worked together for about an hour splitting the larger logs into sizes that would burn in the fire pits.
"You still at two chevrons?" Tobal enquired.
"Yeah, been having some tough luck lately. Rafe won his second fight and is he crowing about it. You will have to let him tell you about it. I'm tired from hearing it so many times."
"That sounds interesting", Tobal replied. "I was planning on talking with him later anyway. I'll have to ask him how it went."
They finished the last log and Tobel put the stone hammer and wedge down. "I'm going to get something to eat. That was hard work. I'll see you later ok?"
"See you around Tobal and thanks for the help."
After grabbing a bite to eat and changing into his robe Tobal wandered around chatting with people till circle started. He found a place to sit with Melanie and Becca during the initiations. They spent most of the time gaily chatting back and forth about where they were going to go. The past month had really brought them closer together as friends. He wasn't in the mood for such levity and moved off for a little solitude.
This time it was Misty who was the High Priestess as Ellen stood in the back ground waiting to help out if needed. He was surprised to see Angel wearing the red robes of a Master. She had certainly come quite a way since he had first seen her laid up with a leg injury in sanctuary.
He finally caught up with Rafe after circle. This was Tobal's last chance before winter to go back to the lake and check out the abandoned gathering spot and it was Rafe that provided him with the seed of an idea.
"I've been thinking about this", Rafe said. "I'm not really supposed to talk about Journeyman stuff with you but I don't think it really matters. We meet in a large cave and have our fights. There are always several medics because people get hurt during the fights at times and the signals from the med-alert bracelets don't go through the rock."
"You can't take the med-alert bracelet off because the monitors would show you are dead. Also if you are found without a med-alert bracelet you need to start training from the beginning. You don't want to do that."