The gentle glow of the new dayâ€™s sun hadnâ€™t even began to peak up over the horizon in the East as a new day was starting. In a small cottage tucked within overgrown manor grounds the druid Ruarc Flynnâ€™s eye slowly opened as his body reflexively woke up at its usual time. As he wiped the sleep from his eyes he was momentarily disoriented and confused by the setting he found himself in. A wishful voice suggested he was in his small home back in Ireland, but his reason chimed in soon enough to remind the Keeper that he was in the gardenerâ€™s cottage on the Kokoroâ€™s family grounds. With a wide yawn the teenager swung his feet out of bed and onto the cold wood floor as he went to stand up.
â€œThatâ€™s right, I start work as a gardener today,â€ he spoke softly to himself. With a stretch and a deep breath of the cool morning air he let out another yawn and went to get ready for the day ahead.
After getting dressed, Ruarc prepared a small breakfast of an egg and a slice of toast in the small kitchen area of the cottage. He sat solemnly in a chair at a small table as he ate his breakfast. Outside the window the first rays of the sun began to shine, the birds began singing their morning song, and back over by the bed he could sense Laoise stirring in her makeshift nest.
â€œGood morning, Laoise,â€ Ruarc said softly to his Guide.
â€œWow, this is a surprise. It has been a while since you have been the first one up,â€ Laoise said back as she stretched her wings and flew over to the table. â€œAre you feeling alright?â€
â€œI am feeling pretty good, actually,â€ he answered. â€œI think it is because I once again have morning duties to take care of. Are you hungry?â€
â€œI suppose I am feeling a little peckish,â€ the dove replied in with a pun.
The druid stood up and walked over to the fridge, where once inside pulled out a slice of raisin bread. Upon setting it down in front of his friend he could not resist smiling at her delighted reaction.
â€œOh yeah, you start taking care of that girlâ€™s yard today. Just be careful not to overexert yourself,â€ Laoise cautioned as she gleefully plucked a raisin from the bread and pecked away at it.
â€œOh I know, but a job is a job and I need to perform to my best. Besides, I do owe Raiko for setting me up here,â€ Ruarc responded casually, his eyes unfocused as they stared out the window. â€œAfter all, this is probably the most at home I have felt since coming here.â€
â€œI suppose so. At the very least these are more comfortable than living arrangements than the park or the bridge.â€
Nodding in agreement, Ruarc ate the last bit of his breakfast and finished off his glass of water before standing and cleaning the table. â€œWell, the sun is almost up. Time to get to work,â€ the druid said as he took one last look out the window before proceeding to the door.
With a weary creak the wooden door of the cottage swung open and Ruarc took a deep breath of the chilled morning air. As he looked out across the unkempt manor grounds he couldnâ€™t help but smile. For the first time since leaving Ireland he felt a sense of familiarity. On this morning at least he didnâ€™t need to worry about hunting down his target, how long his rations were going to last him, or how to blend in with a foreign culture. On this morning all the druid needed to focus on was tending to nature, and for that he was grateful.
The grass was soft and still covered with dew as Ruarc made his way over to the tool shed that was attached to the cottage. The first tools he grabbed were hedge trimmers and a tree pruner. First he would start with pruning the shrubs and bushes that he had seen choking many of the entrances and windows. From there he could prune any dead or unruly limbs from the larger trees. Once he was finished with those tasks it would be late enough in the morning to where he could trim the grass without disturbing Raiko or anyone else in the manor or neighboring sites.
â€œDoes she even have neighbors? I would suppose not, I guess. Weâ€™re way out of the way, similar to my setup back home,â€ Ruarc mused quietly to himself as he started to go about his work. â€œFor that matter does anyone else even live on this estate? One would think that with her being fairly prominent there would be someone else here with her.â€
â€œSays the guy who has lived in an isolated shack for the past two years,â€ Laoise chimed in as she flew into a nearby tree.
â€œValid point, although I am an Irishman from a small village, and she is a shrine-keeperâ€™s daughter. She was probably pampered a bit more than I was, you know? I doubt she had to herd sheep, tend fields, or mine rock when she was a kid.â€
Off to the East the sun had crested the hills and began to spread light across the landscape as Ruarc and Laoise went on discussing various topics ranging from their living situation all the way to the group of magic users that Ruarc had formed an impromptu team with. Ruarc had made notable progress in trimming the shrubs and bushes surrounding the manor back in to respectable and appealing features in the landscape. With the practiced hand of a young man who had to do similar chores since early boyhood, the Irishman began to return the manor grounds back to their former glory.
Ruarc managed to finish trimming the small shrubs around the house about three hours after dawn, which the druid gauged to be around eight-thirty in the morning. From there he proceeded to make his way around to all of the trees in the yard, pruning out dead or misgrowing limbs when needed; a task that took about another hour and a half.
"Hmm, it is still a little early to mow," Ruarc mumbled as he looked up at the sky.
"Yes, we wouldn't want to wake the sleeping princess, now would we," Laoise added sarcastically.
Ruarc merely rolled his eyes as he went about looking for another chore to finish. After a few moments of looking he went back to the shed to drop off the trimmers and the pruners, and to pick up a broom.
Broom in hand, Ruarc began to sweep the paths along the entry and sides of the manor, as well as the decks and patios. As he moved slowly along clearing the walkways of leaves and dust, the druid looked up at the sky again and remarked about what a nice day it was going to be.
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