The way Railtus said it, it sounded to Julen as if he considered all people, not just the Gorls, to be his duty, his guide, and his privilege. But then, that wasn’t too surprising. Railtus had a well-developed sense of duty. And he wasn’t the type to withhold it from anyone, regardless of their nationality or race.
It also sounded like the ways of his father’s people were not as noble as the ways of those they ruled over. At least, not in some respects. Apparently, Railtus had taken a little here, and a little there, shaping himself not from any one culture, but from an ideal of what he thought to be good and right. And wasn’t that better than blindly repeating his ancestor’s failings along with their virtues? The idea intrigued Julen, and he resolved to cast a more critical eye on his own traditions, and to discard any he found lacking.
Certainly, the Gorls seemed to hold some interesting beliefs, one of which Julen himself was directly benefiting from. If they hadn’t introduced the notion of equality between farmer and warrior, his relationship with Railtus would be far different. Absently, Julen wondered if Railtus really did consider him an equal. In many ways, yes. And in other ways...was it possible to think of someone as being your equal when they’re ultimately under your command? Maybe. Maybe not. It was another duality Julen still found himself struggling with.
“Chivalrous. That truly is a name that reflects your heart. Would you like me to begin calling you Aorle?”
When they arrived at the bakery, and Railtus gave his instructions, Julen nodded in agreement. Then he beckoned for Krarug to follow him. Julen remembered their journey from Shim, during which Rosemary had tried to teach the orc some basic words, and he was eager to show her the progress Krarug had already made. However, when he unlocked the door to his room, he found it vacant. The partially completed gambeson lay neatly on the floor, surrounded by Rosemary’s sewing supplies. There didn’t appear to be any sign of a struggle. But Rosemary was still...gone.
Julen opened his mouth, and breath seemed to drop into his lungs like a dead weight. Don’t panic. Don’t panic in front of the orc. He’ll tear Marn apart looking for her if he thinks she’s in danger. It’s probably nothing.
Somehow, Julen managed to keep his voice steady as he stepped back out of his room and shut the door. “Rosemary must have gone to run an errand. I’m sure Effie will know where she is.” Nevertheless, despite the calm in his voice, his body refused to show any similar restraint, and he ran over to the bakery’s rear door so quickly that he caught up with Railtus just as Railtus began to knock.
Barely a second later, the door flew open, revealing Rosemary. Julen’s relief at seeing her quickly became eclipsed by concern over her disheveled state.
“Julen! Thank goodness you’re here. Railtus escaped.”
What? Momentarily stunned into silence, Julen glanced at Railtus. He almost expected to see his friend fleeing down the street with a trail of freshly loosened bindings left on the ground behind him. But Railtus still stood beside him, looking nearly as puzzled as Julen felt. So Julen returned his gaze to his wife. However, before he could ask her to explain this apparent non sequitur, clarification arrived in the form of Andreya.
“I didn’t mean to let him go, Mister Julen. Honest! I just opened the jar a little, to feed him some flies, but he jumped out and now I don’t know where he is.”
“Oh! The frog.” Julen smiled, pleased that he’d finally made sense of the situation. Eager to share his new understanding, he turned back toward Railtus, and explained “She named the frog after you. Of course, if it turns out to be a particularly exceptional frog in some way, I suppose it may earn a second name. Do the Gorls have a word for ‘slimy’?”
“Julen of Shim!” A shrill screech from somewhere in the kitchen cut short his teasing. “This is all your fault. You brought that beast to my bakery. Now come help me catch it, or I swear, I’ll shove you in a jar and feed you on a diet of flies.”
Wincing, Julen obeyed.