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By the time Svadilfare returned to the present, he was halfway to his house. And he could see his five children waiting for him to get just a little bit closer before runningto greet him. Well, four would be running; Clementine wasn't quite old enough for running yet. Svad stopped suddenly and set his shield down... then he opened his arms and smiled. And then the children ran. Leo, the oldest, got to Svad first, followed by the twins Xander and Ami. Leonardo, Alexander and Amelia were the offspring of Yosanji's first husband but Svadilfare had always been more of a father to them than he had. Aurelius, who was carrying Clementine on his shoulders, arrived last. The two were Svad's and reminded him the most of San every time he looked at them. He hugged each in the order they arrived, put Clementine on his shoulders, and let Leo carry his shield the rest of the way to the house.
"Did you bring us anything, Father?" Ami asked as she skipped alongside.
"No, darling, not this time. But I'll have something when I come back."
The older children looked at each other. "You mean you're leaving again? You just got back..." Aurelius asked with a frown. Perhaps more than his siblings, he hated when Svadilfare left.
"I know, son... But I will be well paid for helping this person. I won't have to leave again for a long time. Now, did you do all your chores?" As far as his kids knew, whenever Svadilfare left Kryo, it was to "help" someone in need somewhere in the world. He didn't want them to know what he really did, at least not until they were older.
Leo hung Svad's shield on the wall next to the front door. Aurelius took Clementine to put her down for a nap. Xander and Ami looked up at their father and held out their hands expectantly. "We did our chores and Clementine's. So we should get extra." Xander said with a grin.
Svadilfare untied the bag of coins from his waist and pulled four out, handing one each to the twins. "Indeed you should. However, little Clementine doesn't have any chores. Or did you forget again?" The twins took their coins and ran off to their rooms to put them away, Ami gloating about having correctly guessed that Svad wouldn't give them an extra coin. Svadilfare shook his head and chuckled lightly as he watched them. He found Leo sitting at the table, sharpening his knife. He smiled and toussled his hair before handing him a coin. "I hope you've been practicing. When I come back, we'll go hunting." Leo didn't say anything or even look up, he just smiled and put his coin on the table. Svad then walked to his room, where he found Aurelius sitting next to an already sleeping Clementine, resting comfortably in her cradle. He leaned against the door frame, watching them for a moment. He walked over after Aurelius finished his story, giving the boy his coin and patting his shoulder before leaning over the cradle and kissing Clementine's forehead. Aurelius followed his father out of the room and out of the house. They walked in silence to the snow-covered forest just outside the village. There was a clearing with a lone tree stump in the middle of it that housed a lone axe. While Svadilfare looked for a suitable firewood tree, Aurelius gathered branches. By the time the boy had all he could carry, his father had found a small tree and was in the process of chopping it down.
"Father..." Aurelius said quietly as he absentmindedly brushed snow off the branches he held. "Do you think Mother will come back this year?"
Svadilfare paused mid-swing and turned to look at his son. He smiled softly, but his eyes were as sad as Aurelius sounded. "I'm certain she will. I can feel it. Did you know, no matter where she is, I can feel your mother? I can feel what she's thinking. And right now, this very minute, she's thinking of you." Aurelius smiled a little at his father's answer, but it didn't really make him feel any better. The walk home was just as quiet as the walk to the forest. Both father and son were thinking about Yosanji, about the day she disappeared. But eventually, the silence was broken when Svad decided to tell Aurelius a story.
A few hours later, Svad sat outside his house, sharpening his swords and looking at the night sky. All the children were sound asleep. Leaving the swords leaning against the house, he went back inside to finish packing. He had his weapons and shield, a few coins and a favorite item from each of the children. He decided he'd get most of the essential items for his journey in Brysur. Since he planned on leaving just after dawn, Svadilfare wrote a letter to the kids, ending it with a promise to return as soon as possible. And then he went to sleep.
When he woke up, Leo, Ami and Xander were sleeping on the floor beside the bed. Aurelius and Clementine were in the bed, cuddled up next to him. Svadilfare carefully maneuvered around them, went to the dinning area to grab his things, then left the house. He didn't look back until he was too far away to see the village.
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