Smoke was pleasantly surprised by the fare. The monk’s table was bountiful it seemed the brotherhood was much more generous with its guests than it was with its brethren. Gospels ate too, but Smoke noted his restraint despite having learned that he had been fasting while they were on the rock. These men thought nothing of self-sacrifice, indeed that seemed to be the point of it all.
There were some 100 or so brothers, guest brothers, and novices here at the monastery. The weather was most likely milder, but they lived in the same beehive huts, two or three together, and spent their lives in prayer and industrious work that supplied their physical needs with enough left for guests and to procure other needful things, at least in their minds, not luxuries, or niceties, but books and scrolls and writing implements, inks, and dyes.
Smoke listened as Gospels explained how his order had its foundations over the great mountains to the East even though he himself had never seen those mountains or even met a person who had. These monks knew things far beyond their experience. A man, even a learned one, likely knew far less, because these monks had access to written records, books, documents they had a memory to be envied.
Smoke had wondered about the Gaels who supposedly lived on the other side of the great Eastern mountain range. He had lived in the south, had traded with Nubia, travelled through the lands of the Great Khan, dealt with factors of the blood thirsty Corn Kings, hired guides from the tribes, and from these he had heard whispers of the Gael, of the Celts on their islands, even of stranger, more exotic places, but only whispers. Smoke wanted to know about these places.