The Apt Chapter 1

Chapter 1 Support

Scene 1 Bad Deal

The deal had looked good on paper. All the arrangements had been made and the events were in motion. Of course her father had considered the usual risks and taken precautions in case they became a reality. He had hired guards for the transport. He made sure that he had reserves in case something else went wrong, like bad stock. The chances of a storm of the magnitude that had hit were low. It was rare to even see a storm that bad in a lifetime. The fact that it had washed out the road to the market while his goods were on the way to market were astronomical. The additional chances of his barn being hit by lightning and catching fire, thus destroying his other product were even higher. Never the less it had happened. This was supposed to be the year that he would become a player in the regions economy. He had borrowed heavily to have the ability to buy more sheep and cows in order to corner the market on wool and smoked meats. Being on the edge of the kingdom meant that the fresher goods from the inner regions were rare.

All of his plans and debt seemed to have paid off as well. He had the goods, everything had come together. But then the storm came. It ruined him. He lost all of his property except for a small cabin on some rough land that he usually let newer families farm for him. It never yielded much in the way of crops and he let those that farmed it keep most of the harvest anyway. It was his way of giving back to the community. Most couples only stayed a year or two, by then they had saved enough money to move on to better things. His father-in-law had provided that land to him to prove he was worth marrying his daughter. He had told him, “Any man that can turn that land into a living can wed my girl.” He proved that he could. Clearing the land, raising crops on unforgiving terrain and even building a small cabin earned him the love of his life. So in appreciation he did for others what that land had done for him. Now here he was twenty years later back there again.

The lenders sympathized with him and even extended him more time to pay them back what he still owed. This was unusual for them, but he had made them a lot of money over the years through various deals. Their hopes were that he could rebound from his misfortune. Maybe not as high as he had once been, but if anyone could do it, it was Meekal Randor. That was the idea though. After his losses though, he started to decline in health. The cause itself could not be detected. His daughter thought it was from crushed hope. He had put everything into his gamble and he had planned carefully. The disappointment had reduced him to a shell of his former self. Angilik hoped that he would recover and all he needed was some time. Her brother was not as sure and took over what remained of the family business.

The bad news was that even with the extension of time, they were not sure if they could meet the repayment deadline with what little land they had and how late in the season they had planted. It had not taken long for Angilik to decide to head out on her own and look for work to help her father. Her brother, Joshua, was against it but knew that it was the only choice they really had. They had cousins that would help with the farm as much as they could, but even with them they would be lucky to make enough to make the payments, let alone feed themselves. So she was heading out the next day to search for work in the nearest town.

Scene 2 Morning

The dawn seemed to come quicker than normal. Or at least the sunrise that shone down on her was more magical than it usually was. When Angilik thought about it though it was just the notion that something new was in front of her. That is what made it seem all magical. Deep down she knew that she would just end up being a cleaning girl for someone or maybe a farm hand with lighter duties. But all the same she was venturing forth to see something new. The journey was the exciting part. She was determined to enjoy it, because she didn’t know how long it would be before she would move on to the next thing. She loved her father, but she was aware that her brother would get the family business and everything else. By going to find work she would be meeting new people and seeing things she normally would not. This also met maybe meeting someone who she could fall in love with. If she stayed at home it would mean her family would more than likely find someone for her to marry. And the way things were now that would mean a business arrangement.

The thought of marrying an older business associate of her fathers in order to help the family did not sit well with her. There were few of them that she could stand let alone see herself with, at least those that had no wife. There were a few with son’s she was she could stand, but it made more sense to marry the patriarch and get direct assistance than marry a son and wait to see what happened. The one thing she had going for her was her father’s stubbornness to prove himself, this was passed on to her brother as well. So she did have some time before an arranged marriage would even be put on the table. This enabled her to talk her brother into letting her go out and try to find work to help the family. Joshua had always had a soft spot for her.

This was due to the fact that she was the only sibling he had, adopted or not. At one time or another he had others, but all had fallen ill and passed before they were years old. Living as far as they did from the central cities made access to proper medicine hard. This was a factor with his brothers and sisters not making it, not that it would have helped much. Many children rarely made it to ten years. When they found Angilik it wasn’t expected for her to make it either. The diseases farther out where her family lived had resulted in their deaths. She was barely four at the time and she was malnourished as well as being exposed to whatever it was that had killed the others. Meekael took her more out of pity than anything else. He fed her on the way back to his home. By the time they got their though she was as lively as a child could be. That is when he decided to adopt her. If she made it or not was irrelevant. His own daughter had only passed recently and his wife was overjoyed at having a new child to raise. Joshua was already fifteen by this point.

In all the family had lost three other children. So Angilik became the object of all of their affection, even Joshua. He was the oldest, or would have been if any of the others had lived. So he protected her and did all he could to make sure she was comfortable. Even though she was spoiled her father made sure she did not act that way and saw that she received proper schooling and took part in running the family home. Her mother made sure she knew all of the duties that would be required as a wife and mother. This would have been enough, but she insisted to learn as much as she could about everything. Her father and brother couldn’t say no. When her mother passed when she was twelve she took over all of her responsibilities in addition to doing more and more with her father.

As she got older Joshua would say that she knew more about how to run things than him. He wasn’t jealous though, he actually admired her. On many occasions he said that he would never let her get married and that he would keep her around to run things. Of course this all changed when their father lost everything and they ended up where they were. She was hoping that she could find work that would be more than menial labor. It would pay more, but being a rural maiden she didn’t think that she would even get a chance to try for one of those jobs, if any were even available. Most of the time the nobles were the ones that required educated people to help administer their holdings. Most of those were done by educated assistants that passed the job onto a child. So the likelihood of one even being open was rare.

Scene 3 Arrival

She was deep in thought for most of the trip. Her horse, Benjamin, knew the way to the town. It was just more than half a day’s ride and he had made it many times before. Usually Joshua was the rider and went to town for business. This time though he was taking Angilik to a new life. She just stared off into the country side looking at all the beauty that it contained. She had only made this trip a few times in the previous years. She used to come once a month when her mother was alive to see the market and shop for pretty things. Since she passed though the trip usually depressed her and the occasions in which she would com were few. She avoided it. It had been at least three years since the last time. A lot had changed, or it appeared that way. Maybe she just forgot how scenic it was. Whatever the cause, she was enjoying it this time.

Bejamin came to a sudden stop. It almost caused her to fall off. She wa startled and looked down the road. She saw the edge of town before her and realized she had to actually take the reins now. She remembered where the market was from her previous trips and directed him down the left path. The town had grown since her last visit. The buildings were bigger, or just more of them that were. The atmosphere seemed more vibrant and more people seemed to be around. As she approached the marketplace she saw that more stalls had been added and expanded. More goods were available too. At least in the area of clothes and incidentals. It used to be mostly food and other crops as well as things for farmers in general.

She took it all in as she approached the center of the market. It was where the people that ran the market were located. Also the board that advertised jobs. It had to be close to someone, since most people couldn’t read they announced jobs that were common, like cleaners and farmhands. She wanted to see if there were any jobs that paid more and that she could use her skills for to make more. She was doubtful, but it never hurt to ask. As she approached she could see the booth where merchants and farmers paid for space and an old man that had an air of familiarity about him. It took a few minutes before it clicked. It was Mr. Wellman. He was the the town’s administrator, he also oversaw the market. Since its fees were a large part of the towns income it made sense that he was in charge here as well. She dismounted Benjiman and tied him to a post that was close to the booth. She fed him a carrot from a pouch and walked towards Mr. Wellman. “Are you ever going to retire?” she asked with a bit of ass in her voice.

The older man looked up. He had a puzzled look on his face as he sought to recognize the voice that had addressed him. After a few moments he spoke, “Is that you Angilik?”

“I guess you still have your wits about you.”

“My lord. How long has it been?”

“About three years if I remember right.”

“You have grown child. And what a sight you have become. I dare ask how is your father, we miss him.”

“He is not doing too well sir. That is actually part of the reason I have come.”

“I am sorry to hear that. So what can I do to help?”

“Are there any good jobs that a girl can get?”

“Just the usual rubbish. I doubt that you want to milk cows for a few copper on a farm.”:

“If I have to I will. My family needs whatever I can get, at least until Joshua can get things back up and running.”

“Well rumor has it Lord Umberton will be coming to town tomorrow. If he is looking for servants or just to make his presence known I don’t know. But it could present an opportunity.”

“To get any job in the Lord’s household would be a godsend. I fear though I am lacking anything worth wearing even if I was able to present myself.”

The old man reached under his cloak and opened a pouch. He took a few coins from it and presented them to Angilik. “I have been on the receiving end of more than a few profitable transactions because of your father. The least I could do is offer his daughter some aid in her time of need. Use this to get yourself something presentable to wear. Most of the finer dealers are on the northside of the market.”

“I can’t take charity sir. You know how my father would view such a thing.”

“Don’t think of it as charity girl. You can repay me by joining my wife and I for dinner tonight. Ever since my last son moved to the city, it has been lonely for us. Just entertain us and the debt shall be repaid.”

She smiled at the thought of a home cooked meal and talking with an old friend. “I can do that,” she said as she took the coins and put them into the pocket on her jacket. “I assume you still live in that hovel you call a home?” she commented with a smile.

“Well yes I do. Though I consider it one of the finer homes in town.”

“So you are slightly delusional then in your old age?”

He smiled at her, “I expect to see you there shortly before sunset then my girl.”

“I look forward to it.” She smiled back at him and headed towards the north side of the market.

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