Hello, Benjamin from Brother’s Campfire here!
I am working a good number of days consecutively and loom forward to the resting. There is no predictability in a prison environment so it is what it is. Without further ado,
Ashton awoke to the delicious smell of baking bread and the sound of worried voices.
His eyes were blurry and as he went to rub them for clarity, feeling the puffiness in his face.
It hurt, but not as badly as everything else. As long as he didn’t move, he was mostly fine.
A little dizzy and quite thirsty, He managed to sit up and put his feet on the floor. Head to toe, Ashton skin was several shades of red and purple from the thorough beating he had received.
He was at the woodcutter’s house.
A pullover shirt and drawstring pants were folded beside the bed and it was meticulous painstaking work to put them on. It would cost a great deal to repay him, but he did not have a choice as his other clothing was gone.
He hobbled to the door and down a short hallway. The woodcutter, his wife, Zahra, and Jasmine were seated around a long rectangular table eating.
Ashton’s stomach growled. He felt like he hadn’t eaten in a long time. The woodcutter saw him first. ” Ashton, were you going to sleep all week? There is bread and fish.”
Jasmine was horrified. “You look awful! We’ve been waiting forever for you to wake up!”
Zahra stared wide eyed and said nothing.
Apparently, Ashton looked as bad as he felt.
The woodcutter’s wife assessed Ashton with concern.Though he had not met her before, there was anxiety in her expression and posture that was not easily hidden. “Please, sit down and eat, there is plenty for everyone,”
Ashton smiled and sat down. He was relieved at the quantity of table fare, but his mouth felt like cotton insomuch as it was difficult to speak. Reaching for the pitcher, He poured himself some clear water that must have come from higher upstream. It felt cold in his throat and he could feel the liquid all the way to his stomach. He coughed and it hurt.
It was a little comforting that his friends were there but yet off putting as they stared at him so intently.
The fish was fresh, not the dried out variety that you had to soak for a while, and the bread was hearty.
Ashton began eating slowly, and after a few swallows, he became ravenous, eating a sea cow’s share of bread, and a kraken’s share of fish.
“Has anyone checked on my mother?” Ashton asked. Her wandering and collecting of unique flora for her trade disturbed him. Many times she would try her remedies on herself before a patient.
Jasmine spoke up. “She has been in and out the last couple days gathering medicine for you.
“Last couple days?”
“Yeah, you have been sleeping for the last two days.. You really took a beating.
She’ll be back. I’m just glad you pulled through. I was so worried. Sorry Ashton.”
Ashton was shocked. No wonder he was so famished.
The woodcutter interrupted the moment. In an abrubt voice that did not match his kindly manner he asked, “Ashton, you have eaten and rested. Can you walk?”
“I suppose. I am just sore everywhere.”
There was fierceness in the eyes of the woodcutter. “IT IS TIME FOR YOU TO GO TO THE LONGBOAT VILLAGE AND CHALLENGE HALLR AGNAR TO ENVEGI. GO.”
Ashton’s wife looked at her husband, shocked. Apparently, she had not seen him act this way, especially to an obviously beaten young man.
Everyone was shocked. Zahra, not easily rattled, defended Ashton. “Woodcutter, sir, I don’t know you very well, but Ashton is not well. We can walk him home if he has wore out his welcome.
The woodcutter’s eyes softened. ” you are a kind little girl with a good heart. I like kindness and those who have courage to defend the weak, but he goes.”
His attention turned to Ashton, his voice quiet, deadly. “Go. And do not return to the Alderman’s lands until you have made your challenge or you will deal with me.
Dumbfounded and bewildered, Ashton found the door looking like a wide eyed wild hare.
In unison, Zahra and Jasmine stood up. “That was mean!” yelled Jasmine. “Who does that? He is hurt and a goodly young man!”
The woodcutter smiled. The kindness in his face was stark contrast to his actions. “You ladies leave him be. He has a job to do and you must not hold him back.”
Zahra grabbed Jasmine’s hand. “Lets go, this man is crazy.”
The woodcutter’s wife shook her head and looked at her husband. “Jeptha, Jeptha, here you go again.”