The light from the campfire drove back the night as it played against the sheltering wall. The shadows of the men loomed large as they sat next to each other lost in earnest conversation.
"But what of your wife, Habeeb? Does she await your return? Does she not object to this journey you have undertaken?"
"The woman grieves, Gwalchmei. She has returned to her village and her people, lost in grief. But not, perhaps, for the reason you think."
"Why then, does you wife grieve, Habeeb?"
"Death has touched our family, my friend. During the time you stayed in the castle of the Crusaders, two of our sons were killed in the service of Saladin. Her grief is profound and there seems nothing I can do to soothe her."
"Should you not be with her? Does she not need you, now, in this time?"
"No, Gwalchmei. She wails in her sleep and calls for her ancient Mother. She rises and speaks of nothing but the evil crones that are her sisters, although to her they seem the soul of succor. So I sent her to them and my brother, Hussein, takes my place at the inn."
"Would you like some kahve, M'Lord? And you, Habeeb? There seems quite a chill in the air tonight, even though the day was very warm. Perhaps some kahve would serve to stave off the cold of the night."
"Yes, Squire, I would enjoy some kahve, I think."
"As would I, Squire. You must show me the art of preparation that Gwalchmei has taught to you."
While Squire and Habeeb went about the business of brewing a pot of kahve, in the manner of the Turks, Gwalchmei stood and walked away from the fire, letting his eyes adjust to the weak light of the crescent moon, which softened the contours of the rolling hills through which they were traveling. A soft grey mantle lay over everything, stealing away what little color there was to the landscape.
"Attend! Attend! There are villains about, I fear."
Habeeb pulled his scimitar from beneath his robes. It rang as he brandished it - as if keen for a fight.
"What is it, Gwalchmei? Have you seen something?"
"Yes, Habeeb. Lest my eyes deceive me, there are five, maybe six, dark shapes which approach from the slope of the second hill yonder. I'm afraid your lesson in the preparation of kahve will have to wait. We must quench the fire. Hurry. We need time for our eyes to adjust to the darkness."
The rest of this section of the story on Saturday.