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Author Topic: Once upon a time  (Read 5465 times)

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Offline DonaCatalina

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Re: Once upon a time
« Reply #15 on: July 06, 2011, 04:04:00 PM »
With the town so crowded for the harvest festival, a brace of new babies with the tinkers barely rated a second look. Chrys allowed himself to relax after the first day and concentrate on the business at hand. No matter that there were only so many hours in the day; every customer wanted their wares returned in the least time possible. Every member of the extended family had an assigned chore. The oldest children and women helped at the forges while the younger children were set to husking corn or just babysitting. Maireah was set to carrying charcoal for the forges when she would rather have spent her day caring for Margery’s adopted children. A year earlier she had been unable to lift the coal scuttles but she would have preferred that to watching the other children. Her oldest brother Gerard accepted her help with a solemn nod while he worked a crucible of hot metal. This went some way to easing her disappointment, this unspoken acknowledgement between siblings that she was closer to being an adult. Once upon a time he would have shooed her away and teased her about being just a baby. The days passed without incident with the forges glowing before dawn and long after sunset. If Chrys noticed that Mario stayed out of the taverns he did not mention that to anyone. For Mario’s part, he was still nervous about the twins and dreaded what he might say if anyone were to question him after a few ales.
  At the end of only five days Chrys was very pleased to discover that the family had already made twice what they had at this fair last year. At a family conference it was decided to invest the additional income in a pair of milk cows. The pace at which they traveled would be no hardship for the animals and their milk would a welcome addition. One morning after the pace of work slacked off Chrys and Bertram went to bargain for the heifers. The man who they went to see was well known to the tinkers. Garrett was his name and he made his living by buying up cattle at rural market fairs like this one and reselling them in the larger towns, mostly for butchering. Since the cattle dealer had been a customer for years, Chrys highly expected to get a fair deal for the pair. In aid of this, Chrys intended to buy younger and smaller animals that would not fetch much at the knackers. After some good natured negotiations on both sides, the two tinker men led a pair of dun colored heifers out of the temporary rope corral. Not far along the road back to camp, the thunder of hooves on the hard packed road began to overwhelm the noise of the festival crowd. Almost like the wave before a swordfish, the crowds parted towards the side of the road. The movement was gradual at first but quickly turned frantic when it seemed that the large body of mounted men would ride down anyone in their path.
  At the very last second the officer in the lead flung up a gauntleted hand to halt his men. The people between Chrys and the riders were packed four deep so he saw this only in glimpses. But when he finally got a good look at one coal black saddle skirt, his heart froze in his chest. The crossed sabers over the red starburst could only mean the Imperial Guard and their only function was to guard the Emperor Donuil and the members of his immediate family. Even the Emperor’s mistresses did not enjoy the protection of these elite troops.
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Offline DonaCatalina

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Re: Once upon a time
« Reply #16 on: July 11, 2011, 11:10:40 AM »
Bertram was just close enough to Chrys to hear his sharp intake of breath. He saw the color drain from the younger man’s face but could see no explanation. When the mounted troops forced their way through the crowd, Bertram had moved behind the heifer that he led. “Is something wrong?” he half shouted to Chrys “Did the cow step on your foot?” Chrys shook his head sharply and answered back “No, um, nothing, I am all right now.” With a shrug Bertram turned his attention back to the complaining cow and barely looked up as a large black coach rattled past in the wake of the armored horseman. Since they planned to leave in the morning, Bertram was glad to see that Nana had chivied some of the others to pack up her wagon. Each winter the older man was a little less sanguine about the heaving lifting that made up much of the tinker life. Inside the circled wagons the only items still on the ground were needed for cooking the evening meal. Bertram and Chrys turned the two cows over to a pair of the older boys. It seemed that Chrys was being unusually taciturn, but Bertram shrugged it off and went in search of Mario. One ale or possibly two from the tavern would not be amiss, or so it seemed to Bertram. In most places Mario could be counted on to be up for joining him.
  Mario was helping his wife Rani as she sorted some ladles in the storage chest when Bertram reached them. They looked at in unison at the sound of his approach. But when he saw Rani’s expression change, Bertram sauntered on past and only bid the couple a good evening. Even on this last day of the festival, the tavern was crowded with drovers, farmers and other traveling folk. Bertram managed to get a pint after wading through the press of bodies. He elbowed his way to a corner stool and sat back to enjoy his ale. The snatches of conversation that he could follow all seemed to be about the horse soldiers unexpected pass through town. For they and the coach had not stopped but had continued on the road north. There seemed to be some disagreement among the tavern’s customers as to whether the coach’s crest had been the Imperial starburst, or Queen Adriana’s red rose. This close to the border, it could be either one. Bust most agreed that it must have been some diplomat attached to one or the other of the royal houses.
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Offline DonaCatalina

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Re: Once upon a time
« Reply #17 on: July 14, 2011, 09:54:51 AM »
Chrys shared his apprehensions with his mother and Gerard as soon as he returned to the campsite. Gerard took the news of the imperial troops in the same calm impervious manner as he took everything else. But for Nana and her oldest, the sighting meant a sleepless night. Both expected to be visited by stern men beating warrants at any moment. Unusually, Nana was wide awake when Bertram returned from the pub. She heard him as he gently opened and closed the door to his little compartment. The familiar ceiling of her berth held no comfort this night. As much as she tried to chastise herself for letting her imagination run wild, she could not seem to stop. The occasional torch flare through the oilcloth shades was weighted with ominous portents. But at last she must have slept for one of the roosters in the camp startled her awake as he began the morning chorus. With a mouth that felt full of wool, she made her way out to help with the early breakfast. Nursing a cup of hot tea, Chrys was lost in his own thoughts beside the fire; while Margery and Rani cooked up the last odds and ends of food that would not travel well. Just slightly after Nana, Bertram yawned his way to the teapot and filled a cup for himself. Little Cay erupted from under the closest wagon and positioned himself beside his idol. Nana allowed herself a tired smile to see the boy mimic the older man’s actions and posture.
“Glad we won’t have to contend with soldiers on the road today when we leave” Bertram mumbled between sips of scalding liquid “The road south will be crowded enough without them.” This brought Chrys up out of his reverie and Nana looked away from the eggs that she had been stirring. “What do you mean?” the younger man asked of Bertram “We saw the soldiers ride into the center of town.” With a shrug that was half-hearted he answered Chrys “heard in the pub last night that whoever it was pushed on without stopping. Most people seemed to believe that Queen Adriana was sending some messenger or some sort north to the Emperor’s Court. I did not see enough to say one way or the other.” Out of the corner of his eye Chrys saw Margery as she stood rigid at the end of her wagon. “You are right then” Chrys replied carefully “Queen Adriana’s business is none of ours, but the road will be easier without soldiers crowding out the rest of us.” 
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Offline DonaCatalina

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Re: Once upon a time
« Reply #18 on: July 26, 2011, 01:25:17 PM »
Their tinker family continued their journey south without any unusual events. Many small farming villages and a few medium sized towns stretched out towards the sea like beads on a long necklace. Homecoming this winter seemed particularly poignant to all the adults this year. Death and birth, sickness and health had dogged their footsteps since last they saw this coastline. Robbie and Eris came out of their cottage when the chorus of dogs started up. The dogs from the cottage launched themselves into a frenzy of welcome for the tinkers’ dogs as well as the people themselves. Chrys noticed that the older couple who took care of the cottages looked so very much older than he remembered. It seemed that more than eight months had etched deeper lines on the smiling faces. When the wagons reached the common area that was surrounded by various buildings, everyone indulged in hugs and laughter. Home again! This was the heart of the tinker family, cottages, barn and workshops that had been passed down through the generations. If a few cottages were shuttered this year, they would be full of life and love again someday. Mario was closest to Eris when she realized that Thom and Margery had returned with two babies. “Oh my dear” she exclaimed and held her hands out for the baby girl that Thom carried “These are the first twins ever in this family. How marvelous it is!” It was Mario who managed to get Eris’ attention as Margery stood stricken on the brink of tears. “Auntie Eris” he said softly, though the title of aunt was only an honorific “These babies were orphans that we have, well adopted actually. Margery’s little girl died of a summer fever.” The expression on the older woman’s face changed from excitement to sympathy in less than a heartbeat. With one arm full of baby and the other around Margery, she smiled through tears that left silver trails down her cheeks.
« Last Edit: July 26, 2011, 01:25:35 PM by DonaCatalina »
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Offline DonaCatalina

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Re: Once upon a time
« Reply #19 on: August 09, 2011, 10:04:59 AM »
The four months of true winter were relatively mild for the tinkers. An occasional storm would lash the coast. It was at times like this that everyone would hunker inside the largest cottage and gather around the roaring fire. Games and stories kept the children from being too restless. Jarrod and Jocelyn kept everyone busy enough when they were crawling. Jocelyn was the first of the twins to pull herself up and take a few hesitant steps, but not many days passed before Jarrod caught up with her. Between themselves the twins developed a system of communication that was difficult for anyone else to follow. Thom and Margery were pleased when Jocelyn first called for mama and then for dada. Jarrod was more reticent. It was amusing at first to watch him when he wanted something that was out of reach. The crock of fresh milk was on the table high out of his reach one morning. After Jarrod spotted it he looked at his sister Jocelyn. As if she responded to some silent request Jocelyn toddled over to Thom and grabbed his trouser leg. Pointing to the crock she demanded “Milk, milk.” Thom had already given a cupful to bother before he realized how the exchange had actually happened. After that, he and his wife watched the twins more closely for this behavior. It did indeed become a pattern that Jocelyn seemed to become the spokesperson for both of them. Their adoptive parents wondered if the boy was unable to speak, so clearly did his sister interpret his silent looks. On sunny days, Thom took the twins outside with him and he worked on tools or repaired harness. A couple of toy horses and some old dolls seemed to be all the entertainment that the children needed. Thom talked aloud as he worked, mostly to himself. “You seem to be a bright boy” Thom rambled as his fingers untangled leather straps “I hope you start talking soon. Do you want people to think you are a mute, hmm?” This last was said with a quick look and smile for Jarrod. “No” the boy said clearly and concisely “I don’t.” Thom was so badly startled that he fell backwards off the bench.
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Portrait Goddess

 

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