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.