Guest Post By G. Fisher
Silverfinch wasn’t supposed to be a village. It had only been a rest stop between La Longi and the northern outposts to water horses.
Eventually people settled there and it grew from a hamlet to a small village. After generations it became a destination for those who wanted to study birds. Tourism was a large source of income for the town. The main Street was Robbins Highroad. The cross street was Raven’s way. That is all there was in the village.
It was not always named Silverfinch.
There had even been a dispute between the villages founding families on the village name among other things as families and close neighbors do.
The Redbreast clan wanted to name it Robin’s lane. The Blackfeather clan wanted to name it Raven’s Rest. Eventually the town elders stepped in and recommend Silverfinch after the brilliant light coloured hummingbirds that lived in the trees.
A finch isn’t a hummingbird but the elders thought it would save money on the words a scribe costs for promotional scrolls. Paper was a luxury and words were expensive. Finches were cute. Hummingbirds were an extra 2 gold pieces of type for the scribes.
There had always been unrest in Silverfinch.
A feud between the families started over the non-payment of a goat between the clans for a dowery. The Blackfeather said a goat is hardly a trade for a woman, because women weren’t a commodity. The Redbreast said it was a generous offer considering the appearance of the woman.
There was no wedding that day and people left the village in large numbers. A crossbow wedding would have just made things worse.
Through attrition and shady dealing, the Blackfeathers became the head family.
A student stopped by at the tavern which also served as the mail office, the medics, the general store and the sheriff’s.
“Excuse me, I am from the University of La Longi. I am very fascinated with your bird sanctuary. Do tell me what happened with your thunderbirds.”
The cacophony of the tavern came to an erie stand still. The band shut down and the only noise was the awkward shuffling of chairs and the odd cough. Nobody looked at the student except Clyve Därkwing the bartender and owner.
“Thunderbirds you say, why I feel mighty sorry I over served you on them there Screaming Peaches.”
The student ignored him.
“I had it on good authority that this used to be a breeding ground for the thunderbirds.”
Clyve gave a chuckle and the band nervously started playing again.
“I think you are mistaking eagles for thunderbirds, they are both handsomely big. You might want to check your facts before you adventure out chasing fairy tales.”
Clyve laughed again, but it wasn’t out of humor.
The patrons shuffled again.
They were used to strangers asking about thunderbirds, but avoided the topic at all costs.
Strangers asked questions they dared not to.
“Sir, it’s not a difficult subject. They have been seen in this area and I want to study them,” the student said semi-irately.
“Young man like you should be studying a different kind of scenery.”
Clyve gave a nod towards two women that were nearby. They smiled seductively.
The student blushed hard. He ordered for show, but had drank nothing.
“Please sir, I only want to track specimens of the winged sort.”
A stern looking man stood up from the back. The patrons didn’t look up, they focused harder on their draught games. The 16 of Northwich were highly gossiped about and had made the game popular.
“Clyve, I think I can help our young scientific adventurer.”
He spoke to Clyve as he looked over the uncomfortable student.
“I’m the law here and I can help escort this curious fellow to where he needs to be.”
He put his hand on the student’s shoulder.
“Don’t let this riff raff get to you son, I will show you the right trails. You are way further from La Longi than you should be alone, but I know some shortcuts along the back roads. You’ll get your specimen and be back to studying in no time.”
The sheriff and the student left the tavern without a glance back.
Clyve looked at a lady in the corner of the bar.
“Now Matron Crimsonhart, why you making a face like that?”
“They keep coming Clyve, they keep coming and asking questions.”
“Then we keep doing what we have always done. Sheriff Crimsonhart has always settled uncomfortable questions for the town like our families have always done. Don’t you worry nothing.”
The Matron looked away. “Your cousin can only protect us so long. Eventually the king will come asking and we won’t be able to hide.”
“Hush little mamma, the trails are slippery this time of year. I bet the student finds a nice mound pushing up daisies.”
Clyve gave a wry grin.
He knew cold days were on the wind.