A messenger arrived from La Longi. Brother opened the sealed letter presented to him.
It was a message from the king to return to La Langi for an audience with the palace.There were no details. Brother did not know how long he would be away and if he would be instructed to return permanently. At this time, Northwich belonged to him by decree of the king.
Brother felt as if he would be abandoning a community. 16 convicted men with their friends and family farmed in the encampment. They had worked one year for their right to the land and would need guidance. This would be the end of the season for them. Harvested pumpkins and squash supplemented with apples, and grapes from the ruins of Northwich would not be adequate to sustain them. Winter wheat had been planted and was coming up, but it would not be ready until spring. Nearly all of the convicts he brought had very little experience in farming. This was not to say there was a lack of will amongst them, just a lack of education.
He had treated the men quite firmly over the course of the year. In his mind, it was for their benefit. Lack of preparation would result in starvation. Brother had not anticipated that men from Silent Gallows and Last Rites Gatehouse would have wives, girlfriends, and children that would follow them here. Any misstep would result in disaster. No one would care about their plight, and though Brother had substance, he could not solely support this many individuals if they could not support themselves. Self sufficiency was key here.
He had provided instruction in physical manifestation and through discussion throughout the year. Farming was the foundation of life or death. There were supplies regularly shipped by the by caravan from the king, but Brother suspected this would not be a permanent arrangement. Already there were too many mouths to feed. The supplies were only calculated for the kings soldiers,scouts, and the convicts to resettle Northwich. There were a few milk cows, domesticated geese and ducks amongst the encampment that may help in tiding everyone over.
Jeptha would fare well. He always got by. He would probably overwinter with the Heron or go his own way. In reality, Brothers personal objective was complete. Jeptha had a safe place to spend his days far from La Longi where death was a guarantee. The Heron had been relatively calm and Ahusaka had a lot of sway with their people. Ahusaka was a reasonable man in Brother’s opinion.
The Man with the Shepherd’s Crook had a flock of sheep. He would do well. It was obvious he had planned for the changing seasons. School was in session. He and his wife had taken to educating the children of some of the criminals. She was stricter than Brother to his surprise.
James Rainport would be placed in charge of the barracks and overall enforcement of order. He was up for the task.
Brother had waited an entire year to know what his purpose was in Northwich other than being granted many liberties in the Northern Frontier of La Longi. He had sent frequent reports to the palace officials and requested direction. He knew from the onset that a resource was nearby that was of interest to the Kingdom. Perhaps he would receive an update in person. In Brother’s mind, it was too long to be unproductive for the king.
He hoped that the visit would be short so he could provide leadership to Northwich. Perhaps he could bring his wife and children with him when he returned.
Brother gathered his pack and began walking at a brisk pace.