The day was dying, especially in the shaded landing, but the monks, Ezekiel and all, disappeared up a stairway leaving Smoke by the boat. He pondered the meaning of this as he made his way up the same stairs but cautiously because of his unfamiliarity and the growing darkness.
As he crested the stairway and looked out over the abbey, for that is what he assumed it to be, he saw the greater sun at the horizon turning the clouds red and gold. Across the fields he could see the small harbor he had hoped to reach when weather and bad luck had cast him up on Gospel’s shore.
Shining Star had not climbed much above that opposite horizon so it’s weak blue light did nothing to the magnificence of the light show. Below him were more of the little huts that he’d found so uncomfortable on the skellig. It seemed that the poverty of Gospel’s order extended to the mainland. And then he knew why they had left him. Psalmns began in the cool dusk, praise to a Creator that this moment of startling beauty made real.
Their voices were beautiful too, thought Smoke. Oddly alien to his ear were harmonies that Gospel alone could not perform. Did Gospels hear his brothers when he sang alone on the skellig? Was that the secret of the solitary devotee? This chorus, this night, was wealth that could not be bought. And too, Smoke knew they had books.
Beyond the little abbey was the sort of world that Smoke had known. The bustle of trade, of commerce. This backwater would be a far cry from the cities he had mastered, but the challenge was the same. What if his connection, his hold stake, secreted away in this far corner of the world wasn’t safe? He’d started with less, but nobody wants to start from rock bottom if they don’t have to.
A sigh of relief burst out unbidden. There was nothing for it but to make his inquiries and then his plans. A new life awaited and he was master of his destiny again.