Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Forty-First Beginning (NaNoWriMo 2013) The Buddy System 02

Other folk lived in the woods. Most of those hunted or raised tusked pigs or gathered wood to sell at the inn. The family was one of two who made charcoal, which was lighter than wood and could be sold down the mountain with a hand-drawn cart. Nevvic had once made the mistake of asking if it wouldn't be better to go to the inn and sell the charcoal to a drayer who had emptied his cart there and could use a load for the way back.

Uncle's reaction had been slow, but violent. Nevvic had been cuffed, shoved, and bodily thrown from the house. There had been grunts and loud, strangled noises. Anger and contempt had been plain in the tone of them, but only a few words could be heard picked out clear from among them and not much more could be guessed at. Nevvic concluded, in the end, that Uncle was very distrustful. Or that he was uncomfortable with change. Or that he resented a mere boy, and one beholden to him for food and shelter, daring to question his ways. Or maybe something else. Or all. It had been a painful experience and Nevvic had never risked repeating it.

That event and the reactions of the rest of the family to it had put a stop to Nevvic asking nearly anything. He even stopped asking about his mother and his father . . . and hid name.

Jenko sounded good. He would consider Jenko. He scrambled on toward the inn, keeping on the shadowed side of upthrusts or scraggy bushes when he could.

Nevvic usually kept pretty quiet at the inn. He tended not to ask strangers questions until he'd seen someone else ask and that the stranger didn't mind answering. Even then, Gripper, the innkeeper, usually did most of the talking, balancing his store of news against inquiries as to the guest's purpose on the road and experience in the trip.

Inquiries about the weather and the state of the road were allowed and expected. You wouldn't get a direct answer to a direct question about prices of good that were passing through, but a general question about prices in general would get news about prices being up and down. Questions about the cost of fish or flour or salt would be answered and elaborated on, so long as that wasn't what was in the guests's bales or barrels.

Spreading news of bandits and taxes, traveling bards or wizards seemed to be an obligation. These things didn't have to be asked after. Some would talk spontaneously of fashion or of paladins and their quests or of thievery in other areas. And everyone swapped news of dragons.

Dragons were a bane on the land and every man's hand and eye and rumor was against them. All longed for a world free of them and all knew that world would be a joyous and wonderful thing. Strangers and known merchants would speak of recent predations and would compare the steps that people used to protect themselves against them and to make life with them bearable. Here in the wilds, the inn was as near to a kremlin as the area had. In case of attack, folk would come here, if they could. Gripper would expect them to bring blankets and food if they could, but he'd make room.

Nevvic had always listened raptly to tales of dragons. There was a new goddess in the land who was sending paladins against dragons. She was giving them special magic. there was a rumor that they could give ordinary men the magic to find dragons and to call her in. He wanted to learn more. He was ordinary, if anyone was.

There were no carts in the cutoff near the inn, so there were probably no merchants inside. There would be locals, though, gathering for the morning gossip. And maybe travelers. Nevvic scanned the sky, then risked cutting through open scrub to the inn.

There were horses in the staging area near the entrance of the overhang. Nevviv hurried and found that a group of four travelers were eating their breakfast and dickering with Gripper's son, Tote. Tote left to load the group's packs onto their horses, along with the food and fodder that they had just purchased.

No comments:

Post a Comment

If you've read much of this blog, you know what the chances are that I'll keep up with moderating comments. You may be casting your comments into the howling void.