The midsummer celebration at circle was a welcome change. The weather was hot but fair and sunny and he almost wished he were training a newbie. As a new journeyman he got his first duties which were to act as guard for the Apprentice initiations. He had already expected this and was not surprised. He got there early in the morning and changed into his black robes. From that point on he was on duty and not relieved until the last newbie was initiated late that night. It was a long day and he really missed being at the circle and being with Becca.
Even though he was not at the circle he did hear the news. Sarah, Anne, Derdre, Seth and Crow each proclaimed their newbies ready to solo. This time the elders gave their approval. Tyrone, Zee, Kevin and Butch each had newbies to initiate but that had been expected since they had spent the entire month waiting for newbies. The surprise was ten newbies to initiate. Becca and Melanie had each not only gotten newbies to initiate but had both proclaimed them ready to solo. The Elders agreed.
Melanie and Becca each received their fifth chevrons. Nikki was not there but had received her fourth. Tara and Nick were not there either and he thought they were probably at sanctuary also.
Becca gave him a brief kiss and hug when she brought her last newbie to the guard post. She was the one that told him Rafe was now one of the Council of Elders. She was glowing and happy.
"We'll talk later." She promised and held him close. Then she kissed him and went looking for Melanie who had already dropped her newbie off with Tobal earlier.
Nikki had lost out and was still waiting at sanctuary with some others for her last newbie. To everyone's sorrow Mike had quit the program and so had one of the other Apprentices that Tobal didn't remember. Butch took it hardest since he had been close friends with Mike.
Later, after the initiations were over Tobal walked into the circle area for the first time dressed in his black robes. As Tobal mingled and chatted with his old friends they congratulated him and were glad to see him but he couldn't help but notice how some of his friends looked at him a little differently now that he was wearing black instead of gray.
"I'm still the same person." He thought to himself. But then realized that he really wasn't the same person. His old friends had mostly been Apprentices and while he had known a couple Masters like Rafe and Ellen, most of the time he hung around with the same group of people. There were a lot of the newbies that didn't know who he was. He noticed that some of his brothers and sisters in black tended to keep to themselves and hoped he would always feel friendly toward the newbies and Apprentices and not distant himself too much from them.
He was heading toward the beer barrel when he ran into Wayne and Char. They looked gloomy and were thinking about quitting the program.
"Why don't you talk to Crow first?" He suggested. "I've heard he is taking a group back to the village. Maybe you can check the village out. I was there last month and it was a pretty neat place."
Char looked doubtful. "I can't imagine why we would want to live in some primitive village. Still." She nodded. "We can treat it like a vacation and see what happens."