Hello! Benjamin from Brother’s Campfire here!
Lydia Potter, an amazing blogger, artist and more adopted me as family earlier this year and it kickstarted a movement of folks choosing to adopt me.
I would leave a link, but she is committed to Bible school right now and has removed herself from all other persuits. I am proud of you, little sister!
Family is important and I take adoption seriously. When I began writing Brother’s Campfire, I was not aware of a shortage of siblings.
Well, that’s my quick ramble. How about I spin a tale.
Ashton woke to the smell of his mother cooking breakfast, but it wasn’t enough to get him out of bed.
Overwhelmed by the multitude of events that had transpired, he pulled his thin blanket over his head and tried to go back to sleep and yet he could not. His focus was on Yara.
She had brought him to the table as a potential husband to get out of wedding Hallr Agnar. He was but a strategic piece in her game. Racking his brain, he tried hard to remember his best times with Yara or where he felt a strong connection with her. Laughing bitterly, Ashton was unable to do so.
Sore, frustrated and irritable, he also regretted challenging Hallr, who had perhaps hundreds of battles under his belt. When Hallt returned from his journey wherever that was, he was in a heap of trouble.
He swore, “Slubberdegullion!”
thinking of the woodcutter that pushed him to the longboatman village.
Ashton’s mother, though considered a witch by many, was not having such language so early in the morning. A rap to his forehead with a carved wooden ladle expelled any thoughts of remaining in the warm mattress of sorrow and woe.
“Don’t you EVER talk that way! Get out of bed and do your chores! There will be no cursing in my home!”
Ashton was out of bed and tending to his chores.
“Mom, ” he asked a little later, “tell me about dad.”
Ashton’s mother smiled. “Oh yes, Patrick….” She trailed off, seemingly gathering her thoughts.
“Twenty years ago, our village was occupied by Carsiolians.
They thought to construct a permanent fort near the coast to send supplies. The longboatmen now occupy where they stayed. “
“It is where I met Patrick, a soldier belonging to the Centuplicates. He was a kind man, and brought me flowers every single day. He thought it funny that I would disassemble his gifts and prepare remedies with them.”
Ashton’s mother tasted a mixture she was preparing. He hated when she did that as it often made her sick.
“Patrick was a great listener and soft spoken. After he received permission from his commander to court me, he asked my father, who accepted. He was such a proper young man. Our marriage was in the Carsiolian military fashion, outside of the soldier barracks. It was not what I envisioned, but I accept it.”
Ashton listened to his mother’s stories with regret.
She spoke of the words he spoke, his gifts, and all the wonderful things he did for her. This was no consolation for Ashton, who had not met said man. Not wishing for a ladle mark, he chose his words carefully.
” Mother, he sounds like a really nice man. Where did he go? Did he get orders to deploy?”
His mother began to tear up. “They set him adrift, Ashton, and he is forever gone.”
“How? I mean, what happened?”
His mother looked off into the distance.
“Patrick had a superior named Pontus that was jealous of him finding a wife. He found ways to make life difficult. He would do mischievous things like convince goat herders to graze my father’s fields. It was no laughing matter for us as it is how we made a living. My father appealed to his commander who punished Pontus.”
“Not one to take correction, he found ways to get at Patrick. He was calm and took his superior’s actions in stride, not sticking up for himself. It was shameful to watch. It was around this time that I was with child. “
“One day, according to the soldiers who were present, Patrick had his fill of Pontus’ bullying.
He was in a morning formation when Pontus began telling Patrick evil things he would do to me and my family in front of everyone. “
“Patrick calmly lay his weapon down and broke rank. They say he walked up to Pontus and back handed him then proceeded to slip back in formation as if nothing ever happened.”
“Everyone found it funny including his superiors and Patrick was not reprimanded. Pontus was livid and did not take this insult lying down. “
Ashton was intrigued. “What happened?”
His mother was upset yet he urged her to talk about it.
Eventually, after gathering her thoughts, she did.
“Pontus came and knocked on my door with his men, an evil grin on his face. They had tied my husband to a log and set him adrift for the sea creatures to eat.”
Ashton was shocked. “So he didn’t go off to war like you have always told me?”
She whispered, “no son. Soon after they did your father in, the fort was abandoned and the longboatmen settled here and the Alderman brought his men to rule inland.”
Seeing how it upset his mother, Ashton did not wish to dwell any further on his father than necessary. Fortunately, there was a knock on the door. Perhaps it was Zahra and Jasmine.
It wasn’t, it was Yara’s lover, or one of many of them.
Ashton’s greeting was with a broad smile and overpolite. “Hello, sir, how may I help you?”
The man was visibly shaken, perhaps from the cold. “Ashton, I am Randolf and I would speak with you.”
Ashton was courteous. “Come in, there is a chill in the air.”
Randolf hesitated a moment and sat down on a bench. “My purpose is peace with you Ashton. We longboatmen sail to and fro the reaches of the sea. I have heard what happened and the evil of Hallr Agnar. Furthermore….”
Ashton was practical. “Look, not interested in Yara. Randolf, she is yours, or Hallr’s or whatever tickles the fancy of the longboatmen. I have no part in this any more. “
There was terror in Randolf’s eyes.
“Not true and you know it. Unbeknownst to me, I took your woman and ate a squirrel you nearly died for. Your friends told me. I ask, nay, beg your forgiveness and have brought a gift of gold to repay this debt.”
From his belt, he placed a leather pouch in Ashton’s hand. “It is all I have to give good sir, I am sorry.”
Ashton was young and quite homespun, but this didn’t add up.
Randolf was built powerfully and came armed. There was not much give in a Longboatman’s life as it was full of peril at sea, home, and with each other.
Randolf hastily departed causing Ashton and his mother quite a bit of confusion.