Several inches of snow fell. Brother woke to the smell of johnny cakes. He was at home. Netty, his wife was preparing breakfast. Hannah and Caydon were going to school soon. It was a luxury he was willing to pay a high price for.
School for Brother was in the stables and on the docks. Stacking hay and rigging loads had made Emerson strong. Street gangs and violence were a way of life in the poor section of La Longi. He was not a stranger to a fist fight. If it were not for Emerson’s parents, he would not be able to read and write.
Netty was adamant that everyone eats at the same time as a family. A blessing was given for the food.
Hannah had been writing letters to her friends telling them goodbye. Over breakfast, she expressed her disgust of leaving the city.
Paper was much harder to come by in Northwich and they would have to use it carefully. Hannah was not enthused by this.
Caydon was ready for anything. He focused on eating johnny cakes.
The percolator was a nice addition to breakfast. The coffee was excellent and flavorful. Netty had purchased it from Penelope’s caravan. Penelope did not know who manufactured it. It was a one of a kind work of art.
There had to be a lot of science behind it.
Emerson and Netty did not see eye to eye on clothing.
She had laid out an absurd, impractical outfit for him to wear when he saw the king. He would wear it as he knew she had an understanding of what was in style. Appearances in court were important.
Or so he had heard.
Emerson Berengar saw his children off to school and walked to the gates of La Longi. He did not own a horse and preferred walking. He would be a little wet when he arrived at the palace, but that is what fires were for.
As he entered the city proper, he noticed Galvin the Bard and a very large man in the stocks. They would die of exposure if left too long.
“Galvin, what are you doing in the stocks?”
My dim witted, asinine, horse eating ogerson friend here decided to clear the way for a show with his metallic gauntlets. His piggish pugilism punched a prissy prince precisely into the pavement. The prince paid a petty price to the policing pork and here we park, precariously.”
Brother was confused and looked at the hulk of a man next to him. He looked familiar, but he could not quite place him
“Lord Berengar, I am in the stocks because I struck a man of influence at the Puking Peasant Inn and he reported it. My Lord, I am a guard. On my day off I used my uniform and arms for a performance. I deserve my punishment. Galvin here decided to take my punishment with me. I respect him for that. Lord Berengar, please put a word in for me.
“What do you request?”
Galvin says the stocks are painful, poetic poetry. He continues to sing and tell awful jokes. If you get this filthy poet away from me, I will endure my punishment as a soldier should. If you cannot, I will forever be a broken man.”
Brother laughed. He remembered this man from the wall. “Well spoke, guard. I too have suffered from Galvin’s pentameter and prose. You will make it,friend. I will see you on the wall one day.”
He looked at Galvin the Bard and shook his head.
Brother walked briskly to the palace as it was called. It was more of a fortified position in his opinion, but the king called the shots. The palace it was.
As he entered the great hall, servants moved from place to place and lords and ladies discussed their estates and issues only insiders understood. The castle proper had many rooms that were given to the royal family for their personal and business needs. The castle bustled with business activities of many divisions of the city and surrounding estates.
A page located Emerson Berengar and he was ushered into a private meeting with the king.
The meeting was business like.
Brother did not withhold information and spoke freely about his experiences in resettling Northwich. He recounted the recent incident with Lord Rainport.
The king cleared up misunderstandings about his position in Northwich.
Emerson Berengar was under the impression that he was overseeing Northwich as a steward. The title of kings thane was ambiguous and he was not one to overstep his authority. He knew beyond the shadow of a doubt that he was a freedman and left it at that.
Emerson was asked about his keep and royal household. Emerson was at a loss. He had slept most of the year outside by his campfire. He was immersed in rehoming Jeptha, building a community and being fiscally responsible to the king. It had not occurred to Emerson that he had somehow been elevated in status.
The king informed Emerson of the following :
King’s Thane was a special title given to a non hereditary noble at the discretion of the king.
He was to use the designated portions surrounding Northwich as he saw fit and make arrangements to pass these lands to his descendants
Taxes would be paid by a levy system. Emerson would be called upon to send men to war or pay a tax.
La Longi soldiers would be withdrawn and Emerson would be required to manage his position.
Emerson was to implement a banner representing himself and his estate.
The discussion continued.
There was no specific resource the king was looking for. The alchemist believed there was a portal into another dimension in the area. If such a thing existed, it would belong to Emerson.
Emerson asked the king why this was bestowed upon him. The king reminded Emerson about the bear. Emerson informed the king that killing the bear was his duty.
The king handed an envelope with the king’s seal and sent Emerson on his way.