In the morning, she left. There was little fanfare for it; Bast and Sebastian packed Cibwarra high with packs, and he looked like a very odd pack horse indeed with three instrument cases slung across his back.
The silence of the inn after nearly three months of her presence unnerved him. It was no longer a comfortable blanket, but a choking damp that clawed at him as he went about the business of every day. The lingering smell of horse faded in the barn, and once the sawdust in the work shed was cleaned, there was nothing left of her stay.
Summer came and alleviated the worst of it; traders and caravans came through town and kept the two busy. Even a traveling troupe made their way through town, but it wasn't long before Bast abandoned any hope that they were Edema Ruh, let alone any of Baron Rehali's company. All the while, the shadow of Kvothe slipped farther and farther away.
One morning, a gentleman walked into the inn, full of purpose and carrying a small sack under one arm. "I'm looking for someone named Bast."
"That's me," he said.
"Good." He put the sack down on the table in front of him. "This has come a really long way. Way out by the capital. Place called…Amary."
Bast smiled. "Imre."
"Whatever." The man held out a hand, and Bast gave him a few pennies for his trouble, then a few more when the man wrinkled an eyebrow.
"Come on now," Bast said. "I know she gave you at least two talents on the outs."
"I bought this from someone in Rannish for a whole talent. Make it worth my while, if'n you please."
"Fine." He dug a talent out of his purse and added it to the pennies. The man stormed out.
He waited until the evening to open the sack. It was soft, and he realized later that it was because it was an object being cushioned by a small blanket. A book?
He uncovered it and smiled. The book was of pretty good size, and bound in fine leather and brass: Small Histories of the Edema Ruh: Thoughts on Storytelling and the Oral Tradition, by one Eilonwy Siyelle. He cracked the book open to the first page to find a letter written in a precise hand.
I wanted to send a copy of this to you. It's one of only three in the world right now, so take care of it; it might be worth good money someday. By the time you read this, I will have graduated from the University with the Master Archivist and the Master Artificer as my sponsors. We will be leaving Imre to meet the family in Vintas, traveling most of the way with the first caravan we find. As I predicted, Father was unhappy but cooperative. We used my dowry to have a fine wagon built, and it'll serve as both our home and my on-the-road workshop. I've made more improvements to the vihuela, which stands to become one of the most popular instruments my father sells. It's too bad I can only manage to make one per month, and possibly fewer on the road.
I would stop to see you on our way, but I fear Newarre is too far off the beaten path for most of the caravans we find, and we'll be getting a late start as it is, so this book will have to make a poor substitute for our presence.
Again, thank you for the companionship and the perspective. It's meant more to me than I can express in a letter, or a book.
Be sure to thank your teacher for his suggestion for the vihuela. He's proven to have quite the skill in names. I only wish I could have heard him play it.
Pstscrpt. What have you done to my horse?
The next evening, another set of travelers rolled into town, and Bast had made up his mind. He waited until Kote had descended into the basement before he spoke to the well-lathered men sitting around the table.
"I heard the Kingkiller is still alive," he said, casually. "And living not far from here. Whaddaya think of that?"