Hello, Benjamin from Brother’s Campfire Here! Today was amazing. I went shopping with my Beloved, saved 80 dollars on a car repair by doing it myself, had lunch with my Beloved, got sand for my ducks guts, watched crows chase a hawk,
Went for a walk, and then built a Campfire!
Warm yourself near it and I will spin a tale!
The quillion dagger rested comfortably in the small of his back as he walked the trail to the Wanton Thief Inn at Hahyrst.
It was a beautiful blade given to him by Ishaan. His advice for use was simple.
“You will have many teachers, young one, but knife fighting is the art of mastering your fear and pushing through it. Time will teach what that means. I can show you a lot of things you will forget, but practice with the blade by using all of your range of motion to slash OX and striking a line across it. A thrust here and there will not hurt one bit when you practice.”
Ashton had given it a try and it felt a bit awkward.
Ishaan assured him that he would get better but it would take thousands of oxen. He laughed at his own joke to Ashton’s irritation.
Ashton hardly knew Ishaan, but he insisted that the piece belonged to the great Chandra of Vijayapura himself. Even amongst the longboatmen, his benevolence towards his men and ferociousness in battle was chanted. Ishaan had fought with Chandra in a battle for honor where he alone was the sole survivor. Chandra and his men wore immaculate white armor and it was because of his grief that Ishaan wore black. It was a great honor to be given such a blade.
His parting words to Ashton were unsettling and a little humorous.
“I have fought with the great Chandra and failed to follow him in an honorable death. I have looked fervently for it, but wherever I seek,death I fail to find it. As a consequence, I must marry. Die with it in your hand lest you face my plight, young Ashton.”
Jeptha and Colette laughed at Ishaan’s view of marriage, but he stood firm by his beliefs.
They too had some farewell advice as they had traveled a fair bit from a town called Viegmanshire. Ashton was assured he had a place to stay if he decided to return.
A few coins in his waistband, Ashton was well on his way. Clothed, shod, and shaven, he felt pretty good about leaving it all behind. As he walked briskly down the trail, He took stock of his newfound ruck provided by the couple.
The hand tooled leather merchant bag slung over his shoulder was well made and spacious. It could be slung over a shoulder or both as the situation dictated. He had never used anything other than woven sacks for gathering and it rode well as he moved.
The pack had once belonged to Colette’s father and he was thankful as could be.
Contained in his bag were a few essentials such as hygiene items, a flint and steel, his mother’s pestle and mortar, and a small saw.
His two woolen blankets were wrapped in sailcloth and secured with leather straps.
Upon his waistband an axe was secured for work and defense if need be. He had become quite handy with it, and he figured he could find work anywhere he decided to go.
The letter his mom had written to his father close in an oilskin bag on his chest. At the moment, it was the most important item he carried. It was the only memento he had.
Ashton looked again at it and resolved to show his mother that she had done a good job raising him and did not forget his promise not to curse.
After running with Jeptha, he was in fine shape and made Hahyrst by dusk, but nearing twilight. Ashton marvelled that he had not been here as close as it was, but working the family farm without a father was no simple task and granted little free time.
The Wanton Thief was a small half timbered building, with a stone base. Cleanliness was not the top priority just by looking at the exterior. A few men stood near the door complaining about something. They nodded and gave way as he passed.
To open the door of the Inn was a new experience. It was just as filthy inside as the outside was. The lighting from the hearth and a few candles were all one could use as a light. He could see a few very small rooms with down a hall and straw mats with woolen blankets near the hearth. Some were already bedded down.
Trying to remember what to do, he sat at a bench with a table and he was met by the innkeeper, a buxom oldish woman. “Hello handsome, my name is Sybel. You be passing through and need a bed for the night?”
“Yes ma’am” he replied. “I am almighty hungry from my journey and would admire somewhat to eat, If you don’t mind.”
She leaned in almight close, making Ashton squirm a little. He could smell the rankness from her breath. She flitted her eyelashes.
“Of course,” she said slyly.
From her apron she pulled a wooden slate with writing on it. It read,
Boiled Eggs and Dried Potatoes
Tankard of Cider 8c
Boiled Eggs and Dried Turnip,
Tankard of Beer 8c
Ashton ordered the boiled eggs with turnip and asked for a cider.
Ashton stifled a gasp when she opened a crock and took a handful of eggs out. The turnips still had dirt on them and were exactly what he ordered.
The tankard of cider was most surprising. Sybel slammed it on the table splashing cider everywhere. ” For you my love,” she swooned.
“I recommend a room with the ruck you have in tow. Eight coppers.”
She lifted her apron and wiped her mouth. “Can you pay?”
Jeptha and Colette had given a little assistance in these matters and it was coming to memory. He did not want anyone to know if he had any coin.
“I can pay. Well at least most of it. I may have to work off the rest. Need any wood split in the morning?”
From a pocket, she handed him a key.
“After you eat, get on to bed. You may be fighting rats for the flat.”
She whispered. “folks will be trickling in for a drink soon and you will draw attention with those new clothes. If you want a good night’s rest you best eat fast.”
Ashton shook his head and smiled. Colette was so insistent on him being dressed just so and this is what became of it?
He looked at his meal. The eggs were pickled and ill flavored. He had paid for them and he would eat them. The turnips would have to go some where that was not his mouth. He slipped them into his coat so he could wash them properly at another time.
For now, it was off to bed.
His key said RM1 and he found the corresponding door. It was open and he shut it behind him, securing it. It took a few minutes to adjust to the darkness as he did not think to ask for a candle. It was probably extra expense anyway.
Ashton felt around the room. There was a bucket and a bed. The woolen blanket on the bed smelled of unwashed men and he coughed from the stench.
Unrolling his sailcloth bedroll, he opted for more familiar scents and went to bed. Slumber came quickly. ..Then the music came.
Some minstrel with one string and a tambourine played for ever it seemed. Out of tune dunkards drank and sang along to the out of time tabret.
Finally, it ended and Ashton woke sweaty and queasy. Those eggs weren’t all they were cracked up to be. Quickly, he grabbed the bucket and none too soon. Eight hard earned copper pieces were liquidated.
Feeling relieved, he again drifted off, dreaming of chopping wood.
Stirred, he woke up with a start. It was no dream. It was the Innkeeper rapping on the door. “It is seven in the morning and we need the wood you promised. Time to split!”