"You surely are hard to find, aren't you, Windrider?"
Putting the glass back on the tavern bar, Sywyn glanced at the young man who sat on the wooden stool beside him. Brown curls flickered in the firelight, and clear green eyes returned his gaze, inspecting him and looking for a reaction.
"I see you do recognize me. I must admit I really wasn't expecting so much," he said smiling, "it saves me the embarrassment of introducing myself again, at least."
The scarred elf looked away without a word, while his new companion kept staring at him with genuine curiosity.
"It's not like I thought you were going to be happy seeing me either, of course..."
No response came, and the young man just nodded peacefully, his smile still on his lips.
"You're not very talkative, I see... is it just because of me, or shall I assume you have other qualities to make up for it?"
Sywyn clenched the glass in his hand and held his breath in an effort to remain calm, teeth gritted behind pressed lips. The other noticed and rose his hand in an accommodating gesture, "you're right, I'm sorry. That was very insolent of me, I swear I'm not here to pick a fight with you and get killed as a result."
The elf finally looked back at him, cold eyes staring at the young man's calm face as if they wanted to pierce him from side to side.
"What are you doing here?"
It was the man's time to look away. Sadness clouded his eyes for a moment before the soft smile reappeared on his lips.
"It's a legitimate question I suppose... it really doesn't look like I just stumbled into you, does it?"
Sywyn kept staring at him, the scar under his eye emphasized by his stern expression, and the man sighed.
"Mom died. A week ago".
The elf's eyes widened a little at his words, but as no other reactions followed, the man kept talking.
"She died peacefully in her sleep. We were expecting it of course, she was going to turn sixty-eight next spring... she kept saying she was living way too long for a single woman..."
Sywyn lowered his eyes and went back staring at his glass. Silence fell for a while before the young man talked again.
"She was waiting for you, you know?"
The elf kept his mouth shut, lips whitened from the pressure. He kept staring at the glass.
"She would have never admitted it, but I could see her. How she looked at the door, the delusion in her eyes every time someone entered the infirmary and it wasn't you, for years after you left her that last time... when was it? Thirty-seven years ago?"
"She knew I wasn't coming back. I told her."
The man smiled again somberly, "of course you did... and she believed you. Yet, she still hoped you could change your mind. It's the women's heart, I suppose. She had always been faithful to you, no matter what..."
"She was faithful to her God. She was faithful to her beliefs. Not to me," answered Sywyn clenching his teeth.
"Yet, you've always been her only man."
The elf finally raised his head and looked at the other "Not me. You. You were her only man. I've never been with her, you were."
He shrugged, "yes, she used to tell me that all the time. She said that I was the best thing you gave her. Sometimes, I couldn't help but feel like I was a sort of consolation prize..."
"Bullshit. She loved you, you were her son."
The young man's eyes darkened, "yes, she was my mother. I loved her too. She was great, at everything. She never made me wish for a father. She never made me wish for you."
Before he could even finish his sentence, Sywyn had grabbed him by the collar with such violence the man's teeth clattered together, "then, what the hell are you here for?" He hissed, tugging the other close to his face, "what do you want from me?"
For a moment there was fear in the man's eyes, then he just sighed and looked away.
"Nothing, I just needed to know," he replied in a whisper.
The man's eyes met again the elf's stare, "I needed to know if that man she was waiting for so badly at least remembered about her. Now I know he does."
Sywyn's hand tightened on the man's robe, "this doesn't change anything"
"To me, it changes everything."
With a grimace the elf let him go, then without hesitation he stood up and picked up his bag from the floor.
"I'm done talking with you. You'd better get back to the temple; they're going to need you now that your mother is gone."
The young man's eyebrows rose with surprise "How do you know? I'm not even wearing my clerics robe right now..."
Sywyn stared at him for a while before answering.
"Thirty-seven years ago, you told me you were going to be like your mother. You don't look like someone who gives up easily."
The sad smile appeared back on the man's face. He lowered his head.
"She knew you so well... she didn't want me to look for you, not even when she was still young. She already knew how this was going to end up."
Locks of blond hair covered the elf's eyes, as he turned his head away, "you should have listened to her then."
"Yeah, maybe. But I still think this was well worth the effort..."
Sywyn walked away, "whatever..."
"Will you visit her grave sometimes?"
The elf didn't answer.
He was almost to the tavern entrance when the voice of the young man reached him again.
Sywyn stopped one last time and looked back at him, "what?"
"About the last time you met my mom.... did you know? You have a daughter too..."