One did not take from a holy man as it could lead to bad fortune.
Silently, Vipponah crept around the sheep fold. He was thin and lanky, his dark hair pulled tightly back.
He skirted around the building with the beautiful windows. The stain glass was costly and beautiful. It would trade for many furs in the innermost forest villages.
Something about the building emanated a power he could feel. It gripped him tightly when he approached and he could not understand it.
The village of Northwich lay unprotected.The patrols had left and quite simply,
Vipponah would take.
A goat that had hopped over the barrier, walked up to him,and spat. He quietly swore at the animal.
There was no central leadership among the Heron. One could come and go as he pleased, fight or leave on a whim. Ahusaka advocated for peace.
That was not his choice to make.
He had seen the beautiful bolt of cloth at the mercer’s store and he would not be imposed upon to trade for it.
He had been brought up to believe a warrior takes what he wants and does not work.
Like a fox, he was gone.
Brother awoke to start the Campfire for the day and make a pot of coffee. The Heron brought it to him from an unknown source. It most assuredly was not an indiginous plant. Coffee could be had in La Longi, but a dark group of individuals ran coffee houses. The coffee houses were sad venues to Brother, with sad poetry and even sadder music.
Galvin the Bard liked coffee houses, but there was a reason they called him a fool in some circles.
No sooner did the coffee simmer than Jeptha came to the fire with a skinny Heron man in tow led by a rope. He threw the stolen fabric on the ground. “HERON STOLE. HERON PAY. “
“Let him go, Jeptha.”
Jeptha untied the rope and glared at Brother.
Brother smiled at the warrior. “Idan na sake ganin ku, Zan cire fata daga jikin ku”
The warrior looked unsettled and left. Jeptha looked at Brother. “WHAT DID YOU SAY TO THE THIEF MAN?”
“ Why, I told him he could come back any time he would like. Everyone is welcome to the Campfire, Jeptha.”
We are training this morning, would you like to join us?
Jeptha looked into the fire.
“Beast is not stupid Brother.”
He must have been deep in thought as his response did not make sense to Brother.
Brother looked at Jeptha. There was something a little different about him. He was not so hunched over and he looked more confident. He was wearing somewhat acceptable clothing and he had cut his hair. No doubt Jeptha was a force to be reckoned with, but he seemed calmer.
“You are not stupid, Jeptha.”
As the sun came out, Jeptha began looking pale and sickly. It was his condition, and it had never been properly diagnosed.
Nicholas the Town Watch, one of the 16 came to the fire for drill.
Slowly, the men of Northwich arrived.
Skip Maxwell was livid about the recovered fabric. Brother shut him down. ” take the hate and discontent somewhere else, Skip. We are building a community and there will be bumps in the road.”
Nicholas assembled the men in two lines and drill commenced. Basic strikes and blocks were practiced in unison. Nicholas gave an elementary explanation of stance and a high guard. He beckoned Jeptha over.
Brother had seen Jeptha interact with tiny animals and insects with an incomprehensible gentleness. One day, Brother watched Jeptha talk to a grasshopper for hours as if he were having a conversation.
He had also splinted a brigand’s broken leg that Jeptha snapped clean in two.
Brother was nervous when Jeptha got in the line and practiced with the men. He was ridiculously powerful but demonstrated restraint. The 16 enjoyed the training session especially.
They had worked with one handed wooden practice swords. Tomorrow would be polearms.
The men were dismissed. Emerson Berengar was sore from all the training. Jeptha looked invigorated from it all and built up the fire. Brother chuckled. ” You are in high spirits, Jeptha, I like it.”
Jeptha growled. His focus was to the south.
Someone was coming. A very capable looking man with a black pullover cap and grey shirt approached. He led several donkeys. Brother liked him already. An older woman and a young man accompanied him. As he got closer, he saw eyes that held untold stories. He sported a goatee and mustache.
The stranger spoke first.
My name is John and this is my mother, and my son.”
I will trade from a Jar of Poems for a cup of coffee! “
” Hi, I am Emerson, nice to see you! The coffee is free. Help yourself!” He tipped his hat when he greeted John’s mother.
Jeptha growled. There was vibrating in the air he could sense, almost feel. It made him wary. He lifted his nose and sniffed.
John poured a cup for his mother and himself.
Emerson was direct.
” So what brings you to the fine village of Northwich?”
John smiled, giving Brother a knowing look.
” I am looking for a place to settle. I am from an island far south of here. I am a former soldier and a medic. I worked the harbour warehouses for a while in La Longi and I am looking for a place to call home.”
John’s mother eyed the Beast with disdain.
She spoke. “Who dresses you? Come over here.”
Jeptha was shocked and meeky obeyed. It was amusing to see.
She pulled out a fabric ruler and began taking measurements.
John laughed. ” my mother is a seamstress. She does not tolerate ill fitting clothing. ”
John’s mother went to one of the donkeys and pulled out a bolt of fabric. Within minutes, Emerson watched in awe as John’s mother pinned fabric and cut with precision.
She sewed so fast that if you blinked, she was already on another section.
In no time, Jeptha Berengar was wearing a fine pair of breeches and a top. She threw his old clothing in the fire. Jeptha scrambled for them. “MY SHELL!”
The woman snapped her fingers and he turned around. She pointed at his shirt. She had the foresight to affix it to his breast pocket.
” Why Jeptha, you are getting hemmed up and fitted today.”
Jeptha was ecstatic. ” THANK YOU SEW WOMAN!”
“Emerson looked at the woman. “Thank you! He looks great! What do I owe you?”
The woman shook her head and would not accept payment.
Emerson showed keen curiosity. “tell me about your jar of poetry.”
“I thought you would never ask!” He reached into his bag and pulled out an earthen vessel with a cover. “Here, push this button.”
Emerson Berengar looked at the pottery. Strange writing was inscribed on it. He
pushed the button. €£€£
The jar opened and sound emanate from it. It spoke.
Emerson was impressed. ” wow! I have never seen anything like that before!”
Jeptha did not even see the jar. All he could feel were the vibrations. “BEAST FEELS VIBRATION. SMELLS STRANGE.”
John was full of surprises.
“Beast you say?
Why don’t you look sharp today!
I have a gift for you,
No need to pay.”
Follow me, I think I know what is bothering you.
A wooden box with holes was affixed as a saddle bag. Inside was a cat with kittens.
Beast stared. They were so tiny. John handed Beast a kitten. ” it is yours, Beast.”
Beast became teary eyed. “THAT SOUND!”
“She likes you, friend. Listen to her purr.”
Beast began to cry. ” thank you, Noisy Pot Guy! Thank you, Sew woman! This is the best day of my life!”
Emerson looked at John and mouthed the words, thank you. It was apparent they had met before.
He looked at Jeptha Berengar with his new friend.
“Happy Birthday, Beast!”