Keelath wasn’t the only one standoffish and careworn the next time the troubadours rolled through. When they clasped hands, Mirium’s eyes seemed to slip past him, and she seemed particularly forgetful of their scheduling together. Anxiety over Tyrric’s words gnawed at him, and finally Keelath broached the subject to her.
“I wish you hadn’t said anything,” Mirium admitted.
“Why? Is something wrong?”
“Not exactly. We both have responsibilities now, Keelath. I don’t know if I could commit to you.”
It was his worst fears, but Keelath refused to let them overwhelm him. “Do you not want to be with me or not?” he asked delicately.
“It’s not that,” said Mirium uncomfortably, “but, well, think about it. You’re a landed baron. Once you take the title, you have to stay here, govern your lands. I’m a troubadour. I travel from the Eastweald to Silvermoon every year. If I don’t, I make no money.”
“You could stay here,” said Keelath, and his heart leapt at the thought of having her around more often. “Live off of my wealth….”
Mirium, however, seemed less than convinced.
“I just don’t see how it would work out,” she told him.
The next day she was due to move on, and she gave Keelath an apologetic goodbye and a sweet kiss on the lips. Keelath felt hope raise his insides as he waved her caravan on.
The next year, however, the troubadours didn’t appear in Thalas’talah. Keelath felt crushed between fear, doubt, and grief. He uneasily rolled back and forth in his mind if he should seek her on the road, but his father, perhaps anticipating that course of action, started trotting so many suitors through their cottage that Keelath had little time to brood.