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Life with Chainey

    • 473 posts
    September 16, 2018 3:57 AM PDT

    Growing up in Thronefast is supposed to be great.  Growing up a street-orphan in Thronefast isn’t really that great at all.  I know I wasn’t born in Thronefast.  I am told I showed up one night on a wagon with several other kids. A wagon that was part of a convoy of wagons from “other places” seeking refuge from marauders or bandits or some reason or another.  I never learned why.  I don’t recall how old I was when I got here, but it was pretty young.  I remember hiding from everyone once past the gate.  Adults were grabbing kids and whisking them away to somewhere too scary for me to imagine.  I hid under a building until night fall.  I am not sure how long I made on my own or with other kids, but I am sure that pretty soon someone grabbed me and took me away.  My imagination at the time was pretty wild.  I imagined I was in the last moments of my life and fought like hell.  I fought and scrambled as much as I could all the while grabbing everything I could grab.  After what seemed like forever, I was dumped in front of a frumpy old woman.  I fought her as hard as I could, but she won and I was bathed.  But I recall thinking I made her pay for it.  She had a necklace that she wore and by the time my bath was over, it was safely tucked away inside my new clothes.  I say new because it was new to me.  It was dry and scratchy and later I learned it was made from grain sacks.  This woman said her name was Sister Magrain.  We called her Sister Mags, only not to her face.  We spent a couple of weeks doing this bit.  She would bathe me and feed me and scream at me at every chance she had.  Always asking my name.  I didn’t know.  One day she found my stash.  I had collected several items by then in my own little treasure.  Some keys, coins, her necklace, the tie-tips from the priest’s shoes, some arrowheads from the city guard, a few other things.  When the city guard showed up they asked her my name.  She stared at me as she gave them a name that wasn’t mine but stuck to me from then on.  “His name is Robby”.

    Growing up in Thronefast as an orphan is NOT supposed to be fun in any way.  Just ask Sister Mags.  Years go by and all you do is go to school.  Then you go to different houses and do chores.  And then you go to the orphanage and do chores.  We never got to play.  Some of us made up our own little games.  My game was called misdemeanor thievery.  I like that game.  But I’ll be damned if Sister Mags didn’t catch me.  Every. Single. Time.  One day she had had enough and she dragged me down to the wharf.  She threw me in a chair and talked to some old guy with a kindly face.  I don’t pay much attention to Sister Mags when she is in one of her moods.  But I was somewhat surprised when she snarled at me as she walked towards the door “I hope you get what you deserve!”.  I didn’t see her again for several years.

    The old guys name was Thulfulsson.  Er, Thuflosson, um, Therfulsosson?  I never did get that right.  I suppose that after a few dozen attempts at getting it right he gave up and said “Call me Shame”.  This is the part where I tell you about how great it was growing up in Thronefast.  Don’t make swear.  I’m bad at it.  “Shame” wasn’t my new father.  He beat me.  Sure, he beat me only if I deserved it – and I deserved it a lot.  He made sure I went to school.  He was constantly on me to learn numbers and math.  He was really good at those and made me work on it all the time.  He even helped me understand it better.  And beat me when I didn’t perform to his standards.  Still, he wasn’t as pushy as Sister Mags.  I guess I kinda missed the old girl.  Every few weeks I would sneak by and mess with her.  Stick a dead mouse in her shoes, put fish oil in her bath soap, those kinds of things.  I would have stolen from her, but she really didn’t have anything to take.  I never touched her necklace again.  Shame explained to me that the Roguish Arts required near perfection in math.  “What’s the point in taking something if you don’t know it’s value?” he would say.  He would say this to me every day.  Sometimes he would say it several times a day. 

    One day Shame called me in to his office.  “Robby, after years of study I have come to the conclusion that we really are just some small time Captains of Free Willed Industry.  We graft small time for small amounts.  Oh sure, we make some decent coin from time to time, but the REAL Dealers of Dastardly Deeds are within these very city walls.  Robby, it’s time YOU went to work for them.  You will learn their ways and will do what they say.  You MUST learn their thieving ways and learn to be as cruel and heartless as these monsters.”  He took me down to an office and just like that I was assigned to the King’s Taxation Services.

    Working for them wasn’t as simple as it was made out to be.  Sure, there were beaters (the guys who beat people for not paying their “owed taxes”), but after proving to them my skills with counting I was given different tasks.  I was told to go to a section of the wharf area and apply the King’s taxes to those businesses there.  I was even given my own pair of beaters!  Thod and Miln were a pair of humans that were only called human because no other race would claim them.  Their counting skills consisted of saying “I am one and he is one – so we are one”.  They liked to show off their counting whenever they could between beatings.  “I hit you one and he hit you one, so we hit you one”.  They would repeat this if you didn’t stop them and claim they only hit the guy one time.  Not too bright.  After a while I realized that these “taxes” weren’t quite correct.  At the office they would say “We expect you to bring in so much coin every day” but by actually counting I could tell they were being overly generous to the King and not so much to the fine people of the Wharf.  I approached them and asked them about this and they became a bit angry.  It short time I was given a new assignment.  I was sent to an office near the front gate.

    “Robby,” said Master Fergnon – a man more closely related to a rat or weasel than an actual human – “you have shown us how well you can count and so we have a very special task for you.”  He walked over to an old chest near the back wall and opened it.  He pulled forth a short sword that was less of a sword or more of a stage prop in a comedy about war.  The steel was black as night.  It was also pitted and had holes.  So many near the edges that you would swear it was lace trim.  Hitting something with this would most certainly result in a broken blade and an angry target – a target without a scratch on him.  “We are outfitting you with the finest equipment from the King’s own arsenal!  Some camping gear, a ledger, and some chests.  You are to go to the area north of Wild’s End and gather a census of all those living under the King’s own banner – and then tax them.  Be sure to bring the money back with great haste!”.  I was then pushed through the front gate with all of this stuff.  No horse.  No wagon.  No beaters.  I thought that I might actually miss Thod and Miln, but they really weren’t much in a conversation anyways.  I walked.  And walked.  And walked.  You would be surprised at just how far you could actually be from the great walls of Thronefast and still see them.  But eventually I did lose sight of them.  I walked a few more days along the river.  Eventually, the river forks near the Steppes of Ru and I took that as my cue to turn East.  Three more days of walking and I found myself near a river South and to the West of The Great Veil.  The sun was lowering and I thought I would set up camp at the next creek.  An hour later and I found what looked like the perfect spot.  I set up my camp and decided to relax a bit.  The river wasn’t on the map I had.  This map had been provided by the Tax Service and was about as accurate as a Skar catapult at a family reunion.  It had to be right about something right?  Just like that catapult was bound to hit a Skar.  As I found myself nearly nodding off I heard a voice.  “Um, excuse me!  Hellooo!”  I could see no one on or near the river so I looked over my should along the creek.  “Hi!  Here I am!  Hi!”  I spotted her.  She was cute.  I was sixteen at this time and she looked like she might be nearly that age as well.  She had bright red hair and the most marvelous green eyes.  Even at 20 paces away I could see those amazing eyes!  She was thin and athletic at the same time.  The single most amazing thing about her though was the fact that she was hanging by her legs from a tree limb over the creek, and that held in each of her hands, was a rather large fish.

    “Hi!  I’m Chainey!  Could you help me out of this tree?”  I asked her what she was doing there.  “What’s it look like I am doing?  I am fishing!”  Being a bit wary I walked up to her.  Her arms had to be tired as each of the fish were bigger around than her arms.  “um, how the hell do you fish like that?” I asked, noting there was no fishing pole around.  She glanced at the two fish for a moment and then glared at me like I was an idiot.  “Um, I have fish and you don’t.”  I asked her “If I help you down will you share your fish for dinner?”  She smiled at me and winked.  “Not only that, handsome, but I will give you a kiss too!”  Did I mention to you how green those eyes were?  I stepped forward and grabbed the two fish.  She grabbed my face and kissed me.  I want to tell you how amazing that kiss was.  I want to tell you that in a single moment my life changed for the better. I want to tell you that magic was in the air.  And so magic was in the air.  You see, the next thing I knew I was on my back.  I was looking up from my bedroll in my lean-too that I had built by the river the night before.  I knew the exact time of day and the exact day of the year that it was, even though I hadn’t known any thought of those things before.  Ever.  There was an explosion of movement to my left as a doe crashed through the undergrowth being chased by something.  Without a pause and in less than a moment my bow was nocked and aim was trued.  Where the hell did I get a bow?  A pair of lowly goblins were chasing after the deer with no hope of actually getting anywhere near it.  “Aw!  You missed it!  Now what we gonna eat?” one said to the other.  Where the hell did I learn to speak Goblin?  I yelled to them and threw them a couple of apples.  They accepted and walked off into the wood.  My clothes had changed a bit.  They were more weathered, but sturdier.  Not the sheer cold inducing rags I had worn but now a descent weave that would keep the cold at bay.  What the hell had happened?  CHAINEY!  I looked around for her but found nothing to show that she had ever been near me.  Something weird was going on.  I checked my possessions.  Same camping gear.  New Bow.  And arrows.  And clothes.  I wasn’t hungry so I must have eaten, right?  I pulled my sword and looked at my blade.  The handle was different.  It was curved and angled at the same time.  It felt like a perfect fit – like I was born with it in my hand.  The blade was perfect.  I could cut stone with this.  Weird.  The same small chests given to me by the Tax service was there too.  And the ledger, although it had a bit more wear to it.  I picked it up and looked at the pages within.  It was full.  Names and races and taxes owed/collected.  Oddly enough, every single tax owed had been collected according to the ledger.  This WAS strange.  This ledger had been empty the night before.  Dawning hit like a thrown rock.  I opened the chest and within were piles of coins.  There were even two uncut gemstones.  One red and one blue.  I thought it may be glass, but then reconsidered.  They were real enough I was certain.  One other thing popped out at me.  Every single mark and word within the ledger was in my handwriting. I cleared camp and grabbed an apple.  Packed everything onto the mule (where the hell did THAT come from?) and started on the journey back to Thronefast.  The rest of the journey was uneventful, save for twice when other travelers saw me – and refused to come any nearer.  It was if they were trying to stay away from a sixteen year old kid.  Strange.  Like I said, a few days and I was back at Thronefast.  I headed straight to the Tax Office once inside.

    Master Fergnon sneered at me when I walked in.  “Where have you been? We were about to send forth a recovery party!”  I had no idea what he was talking about.  This had to be some kind of record run.  Less than a month out and back AND all the taxes too!.  I asked him “What do you mean!  I have the taxes and it only took me”, he didn’t let me finish.  “It took you over 4 years.  Where have you been?”  While he been talking I had placed the chests on his desk and opened them.  His greedy beedy little eyes darted to the treasure as if counting every coin at a glance.  I said “I am sorry, I guess time got away from me.  But here are the taxes and the ledger”.  I turned to go.  I was done with this.  I was done with the Tax Service.  I was done with Thronefast.  “Wait a moment.  You owe the king one sword.  Since the one he gave you is not here, this one will have to do”.  He reached forward to take my blade and before I could stop myself the blade was out and pointed to the space between his eyes, leaving a thin red slice down the length of his nose.  The cut was enough to appear to bleed, but in fact not a single drop of blood beaded.  “The bow and blade are mine.  If you ever reach for either, ever again, I will remove your head from it’s shoulders.”  I turned and sheathed the blade.  In less than a minute I was through the gate and heading towards Wild’s End once again.  I didn’t even take the mule.

    • 562 posts
    September 16, 2018 9:36 AM PDT

    What a fun ride that leaves me wanting more. I thoroughly enjoyed your vivid character descriptions:

    Thod and Miln...were only called human because no other race would claim them.

    The single most amazing thing about her though was the fact that she was hanging by her legs from a tree limb over the creek, and that held in each of her hands, was a rather large fish.

    The mental imagery you conjure is magical. The mystery of the lost years enticing. Thank you for a tantalizing tale.

    bravo!

     


    This post was edited by Kumu at September 16, 2018 8:33 PM PDT
    • Moderator
    • 8201 posts
    September 16, 2018 5:49 PM PDT

    That was a fun read, thanks Neph! :)

    • 3814 posts
    September 17, 2018 6:06 PM PDT

    You have an awesome imagination Neph!

    • 473 posts
    September 18, 2018 11:38 PM PDT

    That's what my wife says...