Categories
Big City Lanterns

Big City Lanterns: Journey – Final Act

Deri opened his eyes to the sounds of ravens. He thought it was a strange but not unpleasant change to chickens. Although Deri forgot all about the birds as he ate his breakfast. After picking up some travel food for himself and the horse. Deri and Horse set off on the main road after he had to steal another stick of honey. As the cart rolled along the stone road towards the big city-

-a card is taken. Two dice bounced. The echo floated through time and space-

-Deri had started to call himself the honey bandit. Although in truth he hoped no one found out he was stealing. He’d end up in the dungeons for sure. And Deri had no desire to be locked away-

-a miniature is moved, and a card was played-

-he heard a noise. A cross-bow bolt barely missed his head. It took place without warning, and when a second bolt flew through the air, the horse bolted forward with all its speed. The cart rolled on the uneven stone road as she ran. Deri held on to the reins with all his power. The song he had made up was gone, because all that remained was fear. Another bolt barely missed him, and Deri wet himself as fear tried to escape.

Nevertheless, when they raced forward, Deri felt the need to look back. As he had done so, he saw four men riding large saddled mountain donkeys. As they tried to fire crossbows holding onto the reins, Deri had known who they were. Although if Deri hadn’t been so scared, he would have laughed. But fear told him to out run them. Get to the next village. Just keep going. But none of the sentences or the voice in his head helped him.

A bolt thudded and stuck into the cart. As the wheel hit the slabs at the wrong angle, his food bounced out. The only bag of food he had was gone. His hand shot up to his tunic and found his coin bag. The seconds flashed him by-

-the dice were rolled and the female hand took a card-

-the bandits began to fall behind. They fired a few more arrows, but as they fell short, they gave up. Deri would have cheered, but he was afraid to give them reason to chase him again. After all, they had already taken his supplies. Horse wouldn’t slow down until she was out of stamina, no matter how much Deri tried to stop her. As soon as they slowed down, Deri saw that the wheel was almost broken. As they trudged on, he hoped it would hold until he reached the next stop.

The next morning, hungry, with a cart that was about to fall apart and after they’d slept in a field Deri rolled up outside the blacksmiths. The man’s eyes had been lit up at the sight of the cart. He nodded at the damage and said,

‘Ten silver.’ Deri nodded and paid the man. After that, his coin bag had felt empty. Although there was some luck as the local bank was his branch, and he took out seven silver in tuppence. Five days later, when the wheel was fixed, the inn keeper and the blacksmith counted their blessings as they nearly robbed him blind. Withdrawing ten more silver, he left the village in the hope of making up the lost days on the road.

Deri was able to see the big city on the horizon long before he could see the walls of Nippa-kanta. This was due to the thick black smoke that the forges sent into the air. As the smoke rose, it collected high above the heads of the city’s residents. Like a sign you just had to follow. Although the smoke was not needed as a guide. Everyone knew that the old kings had ensured that all the stone roads in the kingdom led to the capital. They, or the people who do all the talking, said that the roads had been built so that the world was connected. All Deri knew was that it had made tax payment easier. Which made everyone happy that it was the Lords who paid the road tax. Just as the lords knew that their families had not paid taxes before the roads had been laid. And as far as taxes are concerned, they didn’t even go to the road system. The state of them told everyone that.

As the cart reached the queue for one of many gatehouses that officially became the Royal Capital of Nippa-kanta. Deri stopped looking at the King’s Castle, sitting above everything, and began to think seriously about turning around. There was a village that was not forty miles away, which might have had a vacancy in the local butcher shop,

‘If not,’ he thought, ‘then I could start a market stall.’

Deri tried to calm down as he started to stare at the castle. While looking at the large red marble blocks that had been salvaged from the sunken land of Letviana. Deri began to look forward to living in the big city. But the more he stared at the red castle, the more he wondered how the slabs had been transported across the country. Because they were enormous. And as the city grew closer, he was overwhelmed by the sight of the gargantuan castle, which could be seen by all those living within a radius of thirty miles. As the king’s home grew closer. Deri remembered his mother once telling him that the first king had built the large keep with its four larger wings. While it was the fifth king who had attached the wings to tall towers for defence. Deri’s mother had nothing to say about the thick red marble walls, but Deri knew they wanted to keep the riffraff out. And the nine towers that connected the thick walls definitely made sure that no one entered the castles without invitation. Deri also knew that everyone in the Royal Kingdom spoke about how the outer walls were added by the flamboyant king. Although the part they whispered in secret was how “he” was rumoured to have been a “she,” which Deri, of course, thought couldn’t have been true. As this would have violated the third royal law, which was established by the first king. Deri knew that some people in secret questioned it. Especially since it was chiselled into stone and no one could even regard the royal laws (unless, of course, they were kings, as a king could do everything he wanted), and the times had not moved much. [No matter what you say.]

What the inhabitants of the Royal Kingdom today described as modernity had experienced a golden age of enlightenment for the arts. The same people came to paint the king’s castle while drinking ceramic pots under the shadows, talking about the new age of peace and modern thought. And since the castle caused difficulties for local guards, as tourism always leads to crime, someone somewhere was making some money from it all. Ah, modern society, the King loved it.

The horse and cart grew closer to the massive grey city wall, which was the only thing Deri could see of the city. As he looked at the three hundred metres of magically formed rock, all Deri could think was,

‘I wondered who fixes that? The builders or mages?’

After some waiting in the long line, which had only grown behind him. Deri finally reached the front and was questioned by the local guard,

‘Eh, what’s ya business ere?’ The tall almost round shaped guard in long iron chain mail said in a strong South-Kanta accent. The guard inspecting Deri had begun to see if he could see any distrust in Deri’s face. As if it were something he could see when he met someone new. The other guard began to look in the back of his cart, and before Deri could answer, the younger, shorter guard spoke to his boss,

‘Eh sarge. He’s got nuffin in his ‘art.’ Deri smiled,

‘I just arrived. I am looking for work and the closest stables to sell the cart and horse, if you know of any?’ The first guard frowned and then replied with,

‘Where yose from?’ Deri frowned and replied with,

‘Ramming Stone.’ As no one called it Ramston outside of the village. The round guard nodded and then said,

‘Wel’ ya lordship might find a buyer at the ‘horse stables. Tis left just on the other side of tis wall. No-w move a-long your lord-ship.’ Deri snapped his reins while nodding at the guard. As the cart went through the gate, he hoped that he had understood enough of what the round man had just said to avoid going the wrong way. When Deri reached the stables, he realized that the big city was certainly very different from the countryside. But he had made it.

Categories
Big City Lanterns

Big City Lanterns: Journey – Act Two

The local village bank conducted its business from a single counter from within the ‘King’s Royal Post Office’. Although, the tiny postal office was only a minute attachment to the side of the inn. And at night, the office was given back over to the inn for illegal card games. No one in the village cared about the games. As the village’s only guardsman was also the person who organised the snacks. And although all this implied, the rural village was a small nowhere place. It was larger than somewhere in the middle of nowhere should’ve been.

Ramston, as the villagers called it, was two main roads with around three hundred people spread out amongst the thatch roofed houses and the local surrounding farms. Still, even with so many residents, all that could be said for Ramming Stone (as it was called on the maps) was that it had two taverns, a few stores, a tall red bricked inn, and was a stop on the main highway for all the dwarven mountain towns that moved their non-perishables to the big city.
As Deri wandered through the inn to reach the backroom, he ignored the deer’s heads on the walls. Whilst noticing his younger brother drinking away his inheritance.

Margie, the half elf, was stood behind the bar table, which served as the counter for all the village’s banking needs. And as Deri approached her, she smiled at him politely before saying,

‘Hello Deri. And what can I do for you today?’ He smiled politely as he removed his account booklet plus the letter from his tunic, and replied,

‘I wish to add this into my account, please.’ Margie checked over both as she took them. Opening the letter first, she stared at the stamp. After she had checked its authenticity, she began to fill out some forms. As his friend did so, Deri resisted the urge to tap his foot, and after five minutes the half-elf had stamped a new page in the booklet. Smiling, she handed only the booklet back to him as she said,

‘That is now twenty-five gold, ninety-seven silver, and thirty-eight tuppences in your depositary account. Is there anything else I can help you with today?’

Deri smiled as he took the booklet being offered to him and asked,

‘Where does Goldthread Banking Group have branches?’

Margie smiled. As he smiled in return, her cheeks began to blush slightly. Whilst she answered him with two questions of her own,

‘Why? Are you leaving town?’ Deri nodded,

‘I haven’t got anywhere to live.’ It looked like she was about to ask him a question-

-the sound of dice as they bounced across a cold, hard marble surface ringed out across the cosmos. A second in time jumped forwards on Caradesance. And suddenly-

-Deri’s lips were moving, although he couldn’t remember what he’d just said before,

‘-well, Marx got the butcher’s shop in my father’s last testimonial. And I need to go somewhere that has a job to offer me.’

Margie looked kind of hurt, but nodded and said,

‘Well, I mean we’re going to miss your singing on open-stage night.’ She blushed again whilst still looking hurt,

‘Is that so. Well, as I said, the Group has fourteen branch offices in small settlements along the main highway. And of course there is the main banking branch at Nippa-kanta. While I have to say the big city is the only place you’re going to find an actual job, they do say the streets of the big city are paved with tuppence. Maybe you can come back rich.’ Deri laughed. He nodded and said thank you and goodbye, before he then walked out of the inn.

Outside his father’s butcher’s shop. Deri found Marx already putting his belongings on the doorstep. Taking only a bag of clothes from the pile, neither of them spoke. Deri hooked up the waiting horse to the cart in less than a minute. Then as he looked at the butcher’s store, a tear rolled down his cheek, and as it faded away, Deri began to leave Ramston behind.

The sun had begun to drop below the horizon as Deri’s cart began to draw closer to the last farm on the outskirts of the village. Whilst the cart rolled onwards, the warm summer afternoon began to turn into a breezeless chilly evening.

Red, who had been pacing around his domain surveying his wives. Didn’t notice the horse, or the human, as the cart rolled closer to his land. His mind was elsewhere, as it had been for days.

Red stretched his wings and then began to wander into his harem. Halfway up the ramp, he felt the same feeling that he’d experienced three days ago. But, what with Red being nothing more than a simple rooster. He had no idea what could cause this strange feeling. Before the rooster went inside his building though, something caused him to watch the cart that rolled past. Whilst his wives wandered over to the fence to get a closer look. Consequently, a shiver rolled down the rooster’s spine, causing his rear feathers to shake uncontrollably.

The horse dragging the cart hadn’t noticed the rooster either. As she’d been thinking about food. Which for Horse was nothing new. Since she had little else to think about. Somewhere, just past the last farm leaving the village, Horse began realising that her new master still hadn’t stopped. She then began to wonder, how long this journey was going to take. The fields of grass had begun to get longer the further they went. Which she wasn’t going to complain about. Although, as the horse followed the stone road that ran through the meadows, she had a sudden realisation that the cart was empty. And after some consideration, the animal then came to a secondary realisation that its luck must have also been changing. Although later that night, Horse would have disagreed with the earlier version of herself. As all she had to eat was grass. Whilst Horse pondered the prospects of only grass, she yearned for the young girl that had come to the stables nightly to feed her carrots before bed.

The first few days on the road were lonely, bitter, and a nightmare come true for the animal. Horse missed her stables. She also missed the young girl she’d once surmised to be her master. Although, at the first village, they came to the horse’s mood lifted. The inn keeper had a shed where she found hay to eat. A stick of honey had also been hung in the corner. Which she had nearly devoured in one. And the shed was a palace to the animal, who had been kept in a small wooden structure she hadn’t been able to move about in. It was also warm. Filled with food. And she didn’t have to stand up to sleep whilst being attached to the horrid cart for another night.

However, Deri didn’t like the village. Or to be precise. He didn’t like the villagers. They were friendly enough to his face, but he’d heard them making jokes about him behind his back. So the next morning, after handing the inn keeper five tuppence coins for a breakfast, Deri left. Not even bothering to look around. Whilst Horse had to be dragged from the stables. She’d not wanted to leave the honey behind. As she kept trying to grab the stick in her mouth, Deri quickly caught on. So in the end, as no one was around, Deri stole it. And Horse soon followed him outside. Although once they were both back on the road, her attitude lifted as her master had begun to sing. And as he did so, Deri, unlike the only musicians he had ever heard before (Bards), composed his songs about what he saw. So as they left the village behind, the made-up song he sung was about the vast rose bushes in the meadows. Which for Horse sounded like a new food source. That evening, when she ate them, she decided she didn’t much like the taste of roses. And her stomach had agreed with her.

The following village along the road wasn’t that much better. They were pleasant enough folk. It was even a little larger than the last. But they were like most this far into the sticks. Two-faced to the individuals who passed through and kept their own local council. Which was why Deri didn’t stay long.

Village after village rolled by as the cart began to cost Deri in wear and tear. A wheel replacement here. The reins and leather attachment straps for the cart also snapped more than once.

Then, as the summer air began to get warmer, Deri crossed out of the region of Britstana, he was born in and crossed over into Daleum. As he did so, the people got friendlier, although he still wasn’t sure about them-

-a hand covered in jungle vines removed a well drawn card-

-Deri’s cart pulled up outside the first town he’d ever seen before, not remembering having turned off the main highway-

-two dice echoed across time and space, three cards were picked up by a female hand, and a miniature was pushed across the marble surface-

{It appeared to any observer watching from outside the situation. Like myself. That time had just jumped forwards by a few seconds.}

-Deri entered through the gates of Grof. As the gates were already open, it appeared as if that was the easy part completed. But he couldn’t figure out why he’d considered that. Then, as his cart rolled onwards, he observed the nomads hanging around the entranceway. And marvelled at the small farming plots stuck between two walls. Although the inner walls had no towers.

Grof, had once been an ancient vampire stronghold in the age of conflict. Which was captured during the prolonged one-thousand-year war by some almost forgotten lord. Whose family still ruled the whole county to this day. And Deri was impressed. So impressed, that at first he thought the place was Nippa-kanta. The tall walls, with its ramparts, nine towers and two enormous gates, were to Deri the largest construction he’d ever seen. Once the guards had let him past the inner locked section of walls, Deri was amazed by the lack of the familiar looking round plastered cottages. As every building had been constructed using the newish red bricks which the dwarfs sold.

People smiled and nodded at him as they went about their business. Inside the inn, the keeper even struck up a conversation with him, asking him about what he could do in the way of work, and then said,

‘Well, if you’re looking to settle down here, we have three butchers in town. We also have a boarding lodge if you can stand to be around trolls.’ Deri had felt a little taken aback and replied,

‘I was heading to Nippa-kanta.’ The inn keeper nodded, ‘So is everyone these days. One room for one night, then, is it?’ Deri almost said two nights, but paid for one night before he went off to explore the town.

At first everything seemed charming, welcoming, almost inviting-

-the dice rolled-

-he reached the Lord’s Manor House. Not realising he’d taken the right hand turning past the tailors and blacksmiths. As he did so, everything changed. Outside the manor house were four criminals in stocks. A crowd had gathered around them. Every person in the crowd was also throwing fruit, and not the soft variety. Carved into wooden signposts hanging under each of the criminals were their names and their crimes. Deri read them in his head as he stared in horror,

‘Jie Cobbler. Refusing to pay local tax.’

‘Alley Cat Sarin. Refusing to lay with the local lord for free.’

‘Bosin Thatcher. Sexual relations with an elf.’

‘Twiein Colegate. Sexual relations with a human.’ Deri quickly left the crowd and returned to the Inn. That night, as he slept, he dreamt about being locked into the stocks for kissing Margie. And in the morning, he left as swiftly as he could.

Other towns along the way were worse in some respects. In other respects, they were better, or all the speciesism was entirely hidden. Whatever the reason, Deri didn’t understand what he had seen in Grof. And he was pleased about that. But simultaneously, he couldn’t help but conclude that where he came from was the only place that didn’t have hatred for others. Which for the butcher’s son had come as a surprise. As he’d never seen speciesism before. And as he travelled, he hoped he never would again. As he proceeded through the land, his savings began to slip through his fingers.

The summer breeze began to get colder, whilst five cycles of the moon had passed Deri and Horse by. The leafs had begun to fall off the trees as the cart rolled up to the last town before the capital. There were no walls here, like the other towns. As there was no need. The land wasn’t owned by a lord, but by the King. And no one was going to go to war with the King. On top of that, all the land beasts created by the gods had long ago been killed in the age of heroes. Before the age of conflict had even begun.

{Although Lords are known to war between each other all the time. Seizing land, losing land. Killing each other for no good reason whatsoever.}

The town named Friemium was practically a ghost town. Deri knew in Elfen the name translated into sunshine village. But this place wasn’t close to the true meaning of the word. Especially, as the word meant the happiness place. Even all new builds that had replaced the cottages of former ages, had not only needed repair, but looked downright miserable. As did the locals, who kept their heads down low.

The inn keeper looked at him as he entered,

‘Off to the city?’ Deri nodded and replied with,

‘I am. I need use of the stables and a room for the night.’ The inn keeper made a noise in response, but said,

‘Stables, be free, but I’d tie your horse up around here. The room is five tuppences a night, food in the morning is an extra five.’ Deri paid for it and asked the inn keeper,

‘Anywhere I can get some food?’,

‘Here, or you can buy some food from the farms for travel if that’s what you mean.’

‘No butchers or groceries?’

‘Nah, not round here lad. Local goods get brought from the farms, or we send a joint three-week expedition to the capital.’ Deri began to think about opening a butcher’s store,

‘What happened to your butchers?’

‘He went bankrupt, then moved to the big city. Or that’s what I heard. I could be wrong. Businesses around these parts don’t survive long.’ And just like that, the idea of staying in this miserable place to do what he had always done, died. The innkeeper looked at him and said,

‘Why are you asking?’ Deri shrugged in reply and said,

‘Merely wondering is all. Is it possible to get an all-day breakfast? Please.’ After he ate in the empty bar, Deri went to bed, and as he slept, he dreamt of working in one of the theatres his mother had once told him about. Surrounded in his dream by tall walls and regiments marching through the streets with flags.

Categories
Big City Lanterns

Big City Lanterns: Journey – Act One

Astra and Apollo carried on orbiting Caradesance. Whilst the two moons sunk below the western horizon for all those who called the Royal Kingdom home. As they did so, Heilbronn rose over the eastern horizon, bathing the nation with a slow-moving warmth. The planet itself didn’t notice the change in the day and night cycle. As the world merely continued to orbit Heilbronn, it carried on bathing itself in what it called parental love.
The orange parent star, and the only star of that colour in the tiny universe, {the size of a large nebula} insisted on spitting waves of raw magical energy towards its children. Whilst the goldilocks planet was the only child that enjoyed the warmth its parent supplied. The star ignored every event happening in the Cosmos. And simultaneously the planet of Caradesance. After all, interstellar balls of magical plasma do not make great parents. All you need to do is ask the five children Heilbronn had already ejected.

The sphere that was larger than Earth continued to hurtle through the void-sea, never learning about the lifeforms which lived on its surface. Whilst the planet’s grandmother captured a random lost comet, that had basically been travelling from nowhere and going nowhere. Caradesance’s grandparent wasn’t a star like its mother though. Instead, it was the entire magical force that held all three hundred stars in one place. Never allowing the stars to drift apart. So far, every object scooped up in the void had been safely captured by this force. And these same objects circled around some of the planet’s aunties, playing with its cousins. As they interacted with its relatives, the cosmos carried on expanding. Whilst the orange star resided comfortably in the centre of its own miniature universe.

Certain prominent names in all time and space continued to observe Caradesance from the home of the gods. And as they watched, two D-9’s bounced across a marble table.

A warm morning summer breeze commenced its travel across the planet without thought. And yet, as the wafts of air moved, it absorbed the energy coming from the orange star. The raw magic collected by the planet’s weather cycle was usually deposited by light showers, but occasionally more independent breezes could form into colossal storms with magical properties. Which would then become erratic natural forces of nature, creating destruction. Today was luckily not one of those days.

{Sat on the thatch roof of Old Man Whistle’s farmhouse. Watching the eastern horizon in the morning. You would have seen the sun lazily rising over the tall misty mountains. And if one had good enough eyes, then one might have been able to see the light pink specks of magic falling. As the specks were slowly captured by the planet’s atmosphere. I would love to climb up the village roofs, as a child, to watch the morning sun. Experience the warmth of summer, as the rays bathed my face. Smell the pollen, as the magical flowers opened for the warmth. Ah. Describing it to you now, brings back so many memories. Ah well, I suppose I need to move on. Or I’ll be talking about the weather the whole time.}

As the rays of first light hit Old Man Whistle’s breeding coop, a simple rooster was awoken as his finely tuned internal alarm-clock went off. Whilst the animal woke up, it began to eyeball its surroundings. It knew something was different this morning, although the rooster by the name of Red simply didn’t know what. Going about his normal routine because he might never know what had changed whilst he slept, Red began flexing his wings, as he glanced around the coop once more.

The rooster began to head outside whilst it held its head high. The animal quickly decided to glance back inside the harem. {Which is what he called the coop filled with his wives.} As a strange feeling went down his spine, Red decided there was nothing wrong. There couldn’t be. Every other morning so far in his life had gone as planned. So his mind, with this point at the forefront, followed his normal routine. Even though the rooster could sense something was off.

Red knew nothing about where he lived though. He knew nothing about what his species was. Or where his life would take him. These sorts of questions, after all, are all the sorts of questions that intelligent beings ask. And this athletic, but simple male Welsummer breed of chicken, could only know what his genetics told him. Which were telling him; now that the sun had risen into the sky, that it was time to announce his presence to the world.

So, without any thought about what he was doing. The rooster strutted over to the fence which surrounded his harem. With a simple bit of mad flapping, with a half jumping action, and a lot of kicking at the ground, Red was stood on a corner post overlooking his land. He didn’t have any time to take in the view though. As there were natural urges that he couldn’t ignore screaming from within. Without any thought, Red then let out a loud, almost screaming monologue. The words (In High-Male-Chicken.) were mostly bragging about the size of his domain. But as the rooster obeyed its genetics, Red managed to get louder of his own accord.

As old man Whistle forced his eyes open. The sound coming from his rooster got louder and louder. Whilst the farmer tried to bury his head under his pillow. Everyone else in the medium-sized village, that existed along the King’s Main Highway, was roused from their beds. As more and more roosters joined in with the choir, the villagers moaned as they all cursed the many local roosters.

The local butcher however couldn’t wake himself.
{I couldn’t.}
No matter how hard he tried.
{And goddess did I attempt to.}

As the ghostly figure stood surveying the husk of his former self, the butcher finally said something,
Damn. I should have laid off the roast beef dinners.
The apparition of the butcher had been eying his body, since his heart had given out. Which had happened at some point in the middle of the night.
{I didn’t even notice it happening. And couldn’t tell you when either.}
As the ghostly figure stood there for well over another hour in silence. People outside in the street began to go about their business. Which some might say, when compared to the butcher at that moment, was simply the business of breathing.

A microscopic ball of bright white light began to form just in front of his bedroom door. As it grew, the ball began to spark with tiny white electrical zaps. Which then cascaded across itself, as it began to grow even larger. The ghost of the butcher was still gazing at his body though, and he felt like he needed to say something. Although all the apparition managed to say was,
I should have sorted out my affairs.

[Sh. This is my entrance.]

A voice answered him. Which the butcher hadn’t been expecting at all. Whilst the voice spoke; the tiny ball continued to grow. Until the inverted ball of light was roughly about the size of a watermelon. The voice had also caused the ghost to turn around. As the butcher did so, he noticed the floating bright rip in all known reality for the first time.

No time for that.The voice had said. The butcher, who was still staring at the light as it grew, didn’t know what to say in reply. So the ball spoke to him for a second time. And as it did so, the ghost began to tilt what would have been a head for someone formed of matter,
Now. If you would be so kind as to climb into the light. We can be off. I am running a bit behind schedule, as you might say.”
The butcher, who’d never speak in such a manner, still didn’t know what to say. Although he also didn’t need to be asked a second time. Especially as the body was beginning to creep him out. It had the face of someone who seemed so familiar. But as the blank face stared up at him, all memory of whom this person once was seemed to be fading fast.
Then, as the butcher climbed inside the light, someone began to knock on the bedroom door.

Deri Roge was tall. He was a wide shouldered, pastel skinned, long red haired-

[Which is basically the same for every human on Britstana, so move on.]

That was unable to use magic. Although that wasn’t a problem. Only about half of each family could use magic, and no one had ever discriminated against him for being a non-practitioner. Most mages were also so stuck up, that Deri couldn’t have cared less about what they thought of him. Which he also knew, because both his brothers were mages, and he didn’t care what they thought of him.

{He’s never gotten on with his brothers.}

[Tell the story, or I pull the chair’s functions.]

Deri’s current issue, or the one that most pressing. Was that his father’s butcher’s shop had just been signed over to his older brother Marx. And as this freckly human sat in the attorney’s humble office, which was situated above the local blacksmiths, the middle-born butcher’s son was beginning to get annoyed,
“So after working for him for the last eighteen years. For no wages I might add. I am to get next to nothing?” Deri didn’t feel apologetic about asking. His father had sent his brothers Marx and Prog to a private mage school. Leaving him to work, and basically grow up in the shop. So naturally, Deri had assumed he would at least own the place after their father’s death. Which had also happened in the form of a heart attack, whilst the old man had been asleep three days earlier. They’d buried him the day after, and had thrown the old man a better send off than it seemed he’d deserved.

The elf who was the only attorney for fifty miles shifted around uncomfortably in his seat. Somehow he was managing to ignore the looks that he was getting from the three Roge brothers,
“As I have already told you. According to this last testimonial, you are to be paid ten gold. Then you are to be given your father’s horse with the cart. That is all it states for you.” Deri frowned at the elf’s answer. In his mind what he was getting was nothing at all. Which not only hurt a little on the inside. It had begun to appear on his face. What particularly hurt though was that he’d been helping the decrepit man with almost everything since their mother had died. Whereas his two brothers, who sat either side of him, had been getting the finest education money could pay for.
Still, as the three of them stared at the elf who had twigs in his hair in almost disbelief, Deri took the opportunity to use the quiet room to ask,
“Is that all?”
Marx, his eldest brother, went to say something. Whilst it was Prog who shook his head and began talking over the top of whatever, Marx was about to say,
“After taking rent and food into account, it is more than your due.” Deri went to reply but the attorney cut him off,
“There is no point in arguing. So if I can just move this along. Then we can all go our separate ways.” The elf did not look comfortable. No one said anything either, and as such the attorney smiled before carrying on,
“Now Prog. It says here that you’re to be given five gold. And that you’re to go live with your grandmother. After that lad’s it says nothing else at all about you three individually. As such, the bank account attached to the butchers is Marx’s, as he was given the store and that is the law in these matters.”
Prog was now angry as the younger brother had imagined his last two years of schooling was still going to be paid for. Although Marx sat there as quiet as a mouse, since all three brothers knew how much the only butcher’s shop in the village earned in yearly profit. Their father had not died a poor man. Merely a disorganised one.

The attorney sat up straight as he brushed his thick fur robes before saying,
“I am sorry. But this testimonial is the last-wishes of your father. And as Lord Herman Vin Burglan has signed the document. Then I am sorry to say it’s unfortunately the law in these proceedings.” Prog said something under his breath. The attorney smiled weakly before he replied,
“I’m so sorry that there isn’t more that I can do for you all. But I simply can’t suggest anything off the top of my twigs. Now I must be hurrying you out. I have two more appointments today that I need to take care of. Oh, and a wedding license to process for the Sheltons. Do you know Mara and Boddi? Such a lovely couple. Their big day will be such a wondrous event.”
Deri couldn’t help but nod. Everyone knew everyone in the village after all. Whilst Deri had nodded, his younger brother stared at the elf who appeared to be oblivious to the threatening expression. The wood elf though simply said,
“Anyway here is your paperwork. And you all know what happens next?” As the attorney showed them the door, Deri felt like hitting Mister Doir violently in the face. Instead, he put his head down and walked out without saying a word.
The three brothers didn’t speak as they all marched down the stairs.
As they walked single file through the blacksmiths to the street outside there was a growing silence between them. As not one of them even looked at each another, the absence of sound only grew worse between them. And as the three of them stopped near the inn, Marx was the first that went to finally speak. But before he could do so, Prog simply turned and stormed off into the inn. Marx’s mouth stopped itself from forming words, as he was now left alone with Deri. And whilst the eldest brother began to look worried, Deri surmised it would be better to step away.