Vampires Chapter 3

Chapter 3 – The Discovery

Greg pushed his cart down the sidewalk.  The streetlamps along the road gave off enough light for him to conduct his business.  He liked to go out in the early morning before the streets filled with people and cars.  It was quiet and calm.  He hated to interact with all the others once they appeared.  He made a conscious choice to avoid them whenever possible.  It wasn’t so much that he was opposed to people, but the way that they looked at him when he was out was uncomfortable to say the least.

The moonlight was enough to show his surroundings tonight as well.  It was a good night.  He liked the four o’clock hour.  All of the bars had closed and most of the more undesirables had called it a night as well.  It was a good time to collect the cans and other things that lay out in the dark world.  He would then take them to their respective recycling locations when he felt he had enough and then be able to get his essentials, food and cigarettes.

It wasn’t the life that he had planned for himself, he didn’t think that anyone in his situation had set out to be in it, but if one was able to adapt and learn it was surprisingly satisfying.  The key was to come to terms with it.  He had been in the dog eat dog world once and the stress had almost killed him.  Now he was happy to get by.  Between the parks in the spring and summer and the various shelters in the colder months he got by rather well.

The one thing he didn’t like was when those around him had a sad ending to their stories.  Those were mostly the people that couldn’t take being homeless.  Sure, there were a lot of addicts among his population, but they usually kept to themselves.  It was still depressing when something happened to them though.  That was another reason that Greg really never got close to anyone.  The thoughts of past friends that had moved on before he decided to become a loner came back to him as he entered the alley just to the side of The Shiny Badge.

It was a cop bar, but cops, on average, could get a little rowdier than most at times.  He also had an arrangement with the owner.  Greg had been his ears and eyes on the street for a few years when he was still a cop.  In return he had helped him out a bit, and now he left out whatever cans he had when he closed the bar at night.  Greg was here to pick those up, but on his way, he stopped at the dumpster to take a look.  One never knew what they might find.

The coat that he was wearing he had found in one about four blocks away the year before.  It had a hole in it and was covered in something.  Thankfully Greg had a sewing kit and just had to wash it.  Most likely it was just some spoiled kid who drank too much and stumbled, catching it on a door or something.  His standards resulted in it being discarded, and it became Greg’s win.  So, he lifted the right-side lid on the dumpster and looked in.  After a few minutes he determined that there was nothing of value in it.   He closed it and pushed his cart.  Then it stopped.

Greg tried to push a few more times, then finally went and looked at what was stopping it.  There was a pair of feet blocking the front wheel.  He leaned down.  He hoped it was just another bum like him passed out, but his gut was telling him differently.  His gut was right.

Greg got up and shifted his cart to go around the feet.  He went to the back of the alley and turned left.  The shock was still on him.  It’s not like he hadn’t seen a body before, but the suddenness of this one got to him.  He stopped and took deep breaths, trying to calm down.  He had gotten down and seen most of the body.  The man looked familiar.  He was a local dealer.  Not that Greg had a lot to do with him, but he had seen him around.  At least if it was who he thought, the clothes are what made him think it was who he thought it was.

He finally calmed down and got behind his cart.  Then he went a little further and took another left.  He was going to exit from the adjacent alley.  He thought about calling the police, but he wanted to get a bit away first.  He had to think for a few minutes to retrace his steps from the night.  He knew that if he did call it in that of course they would question him.  He wanted to make sure that someone of some camera could verify where he had been earlier.  If he got unlucky and got some rookie, he could be in for a long night or a rough time.  He had no money for a lawyer or anything.

Not that three hots and a cot for a few days in the county lock up would be the worst thing, but Greg’s biggest worry was his stuff.  If he was gone more than a few hours all of his stuff would be stolen and sold.  He didn’t want that.  There was an old pay phone a couple of blocks away.  It was outside the old bus station.  They moved it when the city decided to modernize itself.  Now it was being converted to fashionable townhouses, but the phone was still there.   He would pop out into the main road and make his way there.  He could have just as easily gone to the station himself, but that would mean a lot of questions.

He slowly made his way up the alley, that is when he saw it.  Another body.  This one was hastily hidden.  Sitting up right behind a stack of boxes that were along one of the walls.  The body was well dressed.  Not someone that would normally be in this area.  Greg immediately suspected that it was someone looking to score.  Then he thought of the first body.  They might be connected, but he wasn’t going to stick around to ponder it.

Now he knew he had to call it in.  But he hesitated.  The new body was right below a light.  The thing that stuck out besides the apparent fact that the person wasn’t from around here was the pair of holes in his neck.  There were small trails of blood right below them.  It was something out of a bad eighties’ horror movie.  Greg just stood there and stared for a long time.  He had never seen anything like it before and it was too odd not to look at.  This was one thing he wasn’t going to tell the cops.

The clothes on the body were a little scuffed, but overall in good condition.  That was odd considering that the man was dead.  It looked as if he almost gave in to his fate.  Anyone else would have fought and it would have shown.  It was all really odd to Greg.  Another thought came into his head, look for a wallet or something.  But the total absurdity of the situation made him shale it off.

Finally, he pushed his cart past the second body and out onto the road.  He made his was to the pay phone and lifted up the receiver.  He hesitated for a long while.  He just couldn’t shake the feeling that there was something going on that was out of the ordinary.  In fact, he knew it.  But somewhere deep inside of his mind a little voice told him not to get involved.  Just to call and report it and then to move on.

His fingers made their way to the three digits.  “This is 9-1-1, what is your emergency?”

Greg paused when the voice on the other side finished.

“Hello?  Is anyone there?  Is there an emergency?”

“Not so much an emergency,” Greg started, “But I would like to report a crime.”

“What crime sir?”

“There are two dead bodies in the alley next to the Shiny Badge bar.”

“Are you sure they are dead?”

“Oh yeah.”

“Are you the one that did it?”

Greg was taken aback at the question, “No, I just found them and am calling in to report it.”

“Can I get your name sir?”

“No, I’m just calling it in.”  With that he hung up the phone and started pushing his cart in the opposite direction of the alley.  There was a soup kitchen nearby and they would be serving breakfast soon.  The line would be forming about now.

His plan was to get to the line and blend in.  The cops would get to the scene rather fast, but it would be a while before they started looking around for people.  They had to secure the scene and make sure there was nothing else going on.  That would be their focus and that was the window Greg had to disappear.  It was just too weird, and he wanted nothing to do with it.

Within five minutes after he hung up, he could hear the sirens.  A few more and the ambulances were in the area.  He was in line for a meal by the time they stopped.  He knew they were cordoning off the area.  He felt sorry for his old friend.  His business might be affected by this, at least for a few days.  That meant no cans in the alley for him either until the next week, if he was lucky.

As Greg made it through the line and got a plate of eggs and ham, he decided that he wouldn’t say a word to anyone.  The community liked to talk about what was going on in the area, but this was one of those rare cases where keeping his mouth shut might be better for him in the long run.  He had gotten by for quite a few years by playing it smart, this was just another one of those decisions that was smart in his opinion.

Greg found an empty table, sat down, and ate his breakfast in silence.

The Apt Chapter 3

Chapter 3 The Audience

Scene 1 Waking Up

It felt like the ground was shaking as her eyes opened. There was little light in the room. It took a moment for her to remember where she was. When she did though she realized that it was Mrs. Wellman that was shaking her. She sat up in bed and rubbed her eyes. The room looked the same as when she went to bed as it was still dark. One thing had changed though. Her dress was hanging on the front of the wardrobe. “You finished it?”

“Of course. I might not be an old spinster, but I can sew like one.”

“I hope you weren’t up all night working on that, I would feel bad.”

“I wasn’t. it was actually very little work. I just worked on it while Harold sat and read his papers for the day. We usually sit by the fire for a while each night. You extended out nightly schedule a bit, but nothing I cant handle. Never mind that though. It is time for you to get up and get ready.”

“The sun isn’t even up yet, why do I have to. This might be the last time I can sleep in for a while.”

“We have a lot of work to do before you go see the Lord.”

“I am not seeing him though, I am just seeing if they have any jobs. I might end up on a farm outside of town milking cows. There is no need to go out of your way.”

“I know your father raised you to be stubborn, but did you ever think that you might meet a nice man today as well?”

“What does meeting a nice man have to do with anything. Most of them around here my age are just apprentices of general workers like I will be.”

“Silly girl. Lord Umberton doesn’t come this was too often. many of the more well to do families will be visiting as well seeking an audience. Many of them have sons.”

It dawned on her then. With all of the wealthy families coming to see the Lord maybe she could catch the eye of one of them. It wasn’t the best outcome for her but it might be a way to help her family more than just getting a menial job. It didn’t seem much better than an arranged marriage, but then again she could at least see what was out there and more than likely meet someone her own age. She hadn’t planned on even thinking about starting a family for a while yet. She was of the normal marrying age though, so she guessed that it wouldn’t hurt.

“Well hurry up and get out of that nightgown. I have to work on your hair, maybe even some makeup,” Mrs. Wellman added.

“You have makeup?” Angilik asked. It was a rare thing to have access too in these parts.

“Well I have to admit I used it for social events like today when i was a younger woman and even then it was years ago. I did manage to find some old items. I am not sure how good they are or if they will even look good on you. So you need to get a move on so we can find out.”

She got up and changed quickly before she was dragged downstairs and fed a fast breakfast. Then Mrs. Wellman put her in a chair and started to work on her hair. It seemed that it took forever. The older woman even started over a couple of times. Angilik’s hair was just above her shoulders when it was let all the way out. She usually kept it in a pony tail, so she knew she did not have a lot to work with. However long it did take though it seemed like forever. The sun had come up while she was doing it. After she was done Mrs. Wellman pulled out a small box that Angilik assumed held the make up. She then started to apply some of that.

Mr. Wellman made his way down to the dining room shortly after sunrise and stopped as soon as he walked in. “My Lord.”

“What is it?” Mrs. Wellman asked as she stopped and looked at her husband.

“I have only seen that kind of beauty once before.”

“And where would that have been?” his wife asked with a raised eyebrow.

“On my wedding day.”

Angilik could have sworn at that moment that the older woman turned a solid shade of red while she was blushing. “Now I remember why I fell in love with you.”

“Well I mean your sister was stunning that day…..”

Mrs. Wellman must have turned younger for a minute after that comment as she turned and threw the container she had in her hand at her husband almost as fast as anyone Angilik had ever seen. “You old coot you,” she yelled.

“I am kidding darling, of course I meant you,” he said as he dodged the assault attempt. They both stated laughing while the young woman looked at both of them embarrassed. “Well I am off. I have to oversee all of the final arrangements so that our Mayor can of course take credit for them.”

“As usual then. Our little darling her will be along shortly. If you get a chance make sure to look out for her.”

“I was hoping that you might escort her dear. Lord Umberton is having a special lunch for all of the town officials and their spouses later. i was hoping you could attend with me after Angilik sees what the world has to offer her.”

“I would be delighted.” With that Mr. Wellman departed.

Scene 2 The Market

Angilik was out in front of the house and then remembered that she forgot to ask where in town the Lord was holding his audience. Then again she figured she would just follow the crowd and could find it herself. This was of course one of the biggest events to happen here in a long time and thus the people would go to where the action was. She also figured with all of the people in town to include lesser noble and merchants she might have a better chance at finding a good job if the Lord wasn’t hiring.

The first place she went was the outer edge of the market. She could already tell that many more merchants were here than the day before. With more people, many of them rich, coming to town it made sense to set up shop and try to make a sale if one could. This was another reason that Mr. Wellman was late she thought to herself. All the extra vendors and people would definitely make his job a bit more demanding at times like this.

She saw a lot of things that she would like to buy as she made her way around the edge. Her goal was to make it to the center to check the jobs board and maybe catch her old friend since he would have knowledge about anything that might interest her. As she made her way through the crowd she started to notice the way people were looking at her. At first she thought nothing of it. Soon though it was just not how they were looking at her, but how they were acting as well. The crowd looked big to her and when she occasionally glanced over from the booths she could see people moving slowly as they were packed in together. It was on one of these glances that she noticed around here there was plenty of room.

It was as if the crowd was giving her room to move, trying to stay out of her way. When she would try to look at someone directly, they adverted their gaze to the ground. “What is going on?” she thought to herself. She looked back towards the vendors and stopped at one. He was selling mirrors and other such household items. She stared in amazement at her reflection then it all made sense. She had left the Wellman’s without taking a moment to look at what Mrs. Wellman had done. She was satisfied when the elderly woman said she was ready to go. What she saw in the mirror was almost nothing like she had seen before. Maybe once or twice when her mother was alive and got all done up for events like this.

It wasn’t ego or narcissism that she caught up in. Just the shock of how beautiful she had been done up. The dress added all the additional flavor as well. It was tailored almost perfectly and the makeup accentuated her facial features like nothing she had seen before. Her hair was so nice as well. Everyone must have thought she was a noble woman. Angilik had butterflies in her stomach. Now the thoughts of nabbing a noble husband were becoming a serious thought. She looked around for a moment and could see no one else even close to be done up like her.

“If the Lady likes the mirror we can have delivered to where she is staying,” a voice said.

She looked up and the vendor of the booth was talking to her. She hesitated a moment, “No that is fine, I am just looking.”

“Very well ma’am, if there is anything that you like just say so. I will be more than happy to help you.”

She made her way towards the next row. Then a familiar voice called out to her. She looked and saw Mrs. Wellman. She was actually relieved. Everyone else was acting like she was abnormal, it was making her very uncomfortable. She approached the woman, “What did you do to me?”

“I admit it is not my best work, I did what i could with you in the time allotted,” she said with a smile.

“Everyone thinks I am nobility or something. You have seen how they are reacting to me.”

“Well yes. I thought we were trying to make your chances of getting work better.”

“Looking like this makes me feel like getting a husband would be a better choice.”

“What is so bad about that. Harold and I were married because our parents wanted us too. Though to be fair we did know each other for years.”

“Exactly. I don’t even know if I want to get married.”

“Tell you what, let’s go see Harold and see what is going on. Then we can go from there.”

“That sounds good. Getting somewhere I don’t stand out as much would be a good thing.”

“My dear, I think you will stand out wherever you go here.” With that the pair headed towards the center of the market.

Scene 3 Job Market

Mr. Wellman was surrounded by a group of younger men. As they approached they could see him talking to one, then that man would run off. Sometimes with papers, sometimes not. He would then turn to the next man and talk to him resulting in the same action. Angilik assumed he was issuing orders to make sure that things were running smoothly. They came up to his booth and Mrs. Wellman spoke, “I would think at your age this would tire you out, but I see you love all the activity.”

Mr. Wellman turned and looked as his wife. He walked to her and the two kissed. Angilik noticed that the group of men around him were now all staring at her. The people at the center of the market we better dressed and she could tell they were nobles and merchants here. A large tent, almost the size of a house was also on the outer edge of the area. She assumed this is where Lord Umberton was holding audience and why all the higher class people were here.

After carefully looking though she realized that there were few women here and that she still stood out. Mr. Wellman touched her shoulder, “Lost in thought dear?”

She looked at him, paused. Then did a curtsey like she was taught to do. She knew that out in public she should treat him according to his position as the town administrator. To give him the respect a man of his status deserved, then she spoke. “I didn’t realize I was overdressed for the occasion.”

“Well that you might be, but I would think it is doing very well for you. Though I would like to point out I don’t think any of these young men here are worth your time. You would have better luck over there,” he said while pointing to what looked like the start of the line to see the Lord.

There were a lot of men her age and a little older standing in all their finery. Some even had fancy swords hanging from their hips. One looked her way at Mr. Wellman who was pointing. It didn’t take long before his gaze turned to her though. Soon many of the men in the line were looking at her. She looked back at Mr. Wellman, “So do you know if the Lord is hiring anyone for a job?”

“Unfortunately he is just here to see to the needs of the people. He makes these round every couple of years to here from his subjects. There are however some fine opportunities from some of the more well to do merchant families. I can direct you to them if you like, or even have them come here. I have to warn you though, because of what befell your father I don’t know if they would offer you anything commensurate of your true skills.”

Before she answered she looked back at the line of nobles. Many were talking amongst them selves. A couple looked like they were leaving the line or at least thinking about it. She assumed it was to come over and talk to her. She also knew that if they were here representing their families and they lost their place in line that it would upset their families. So they were struggling with that fact as well, duty or passion. It was making her very uncomfortable. “I think I need to find somewhere I can think Mr. Wellman.” With that comment she lifted her dress on both sides and took off at a brisk pace. She was able to move quickly through the crowd as they gave her a wide berth when she approached. She disappeared into the town.

The Apt Chapter 2

Chapter 2 Adventures In Town

Once she Arrived at the vendors she was almost overwhelmed by the selection. When she had come here with her mother there were maybe four vendors with clothes at the most. She could easily see a dozen at first glance, and with it being the outer arc of the market they went around the corner as well. She took the next hour or so looking at tall the options. Her father had taught her the value of exploring all of ones options before jumping in. She also knew how to sew from her other, so being able to determine the quality of each item was a good thing as well. Many of the vendors were asking more than she thought their items were worth. Sure they may look good but many either had shoddy craftsmanship or used poor material. Some even had both.

Her main problem though was finding something that didn’t require a team to put on. She saw a lot of dresses that were true works of art, but it would take her too long to put on even with help. She wanted something simple, yet elegant. She finally found what she was looking for at a vendor near the end of the row. It looked like a summer dress, but with full arms and a nicer collar. It fastened in the front and had running horses on the lower portion. They were well done and beautiful.

“How much are you asking for this dress?” she asked the man in the booth.

“I am not sure that is something you would like. I would recommend something more like these,” the older man said as he motioned towards the left side of his booth. She saw that they were dresses far cheaper than she wanted. They were suited more for working on a farm. She knew they were good for their function but was confused. Then it dawned on her, she had ridden all day and was wearing her traveling clothes. She was dirty and the man must assume she had little money.

She had an idea after her realization. She shifted to the dresses he pointed out and looked at some of them. “Well these do look pretty, not as pretty as that fancy one I asked about. But I could get maybe two of these.”

“I thought so. Many a fine lady would like a nice dress. But those are far more expensive and Ladies that get those are normally of leisure and status. I don’t think you would even know how to put it on.”

Angilik could see a sign advertising price for the work dresses at 10 copper each. She reached into her pocket and pulled out three gold crowns, she could buy thirty of the dresses at the price the sign said, but she had an idea the vendor had other ideas. She was sure by her appearance, he thought she was just a dumb local girl. “Can I get two of those pretty dresses for this much?” she asked.

“Of course dear. And because you are such a sweetheart, I can actually give you five of them for that price.”

“Wow, five dresses. I don’t think I own that many dresses right now,” she said in a louder voice. It caused a few people to look over.

“Well if you just give those coins and tell me what dresses you want, I will even wrap them in pretty paper for you.”

“But my father said I couldn’t spend that much on myself. I really want a new dress though. I would be the prettiest girl in the village then,” Angilik said in a way that sounded a lot younger than she was, or at the least a lot less educated. It was a little louder than it was than the last time she spoke. Now some passerbys were looking at them both.

“How often does a young lady get to spoil herself though. I will tell you what, for you i will make a special deal. You can have the five dresses for only two of your coins. Does that sound good to you?”

Before she could answer someone else spoke up, “I would actually say that a good deal would be to give her the five dresses you promised for the actual cost of them.”

The vendor started to speak before he looked up, “Who do you think you are butting into my business?” As he stared at the man speaking to him, he almost turned pale. “I am sorry sir. I didn’t realize….”

“You shouldn’t have had too. Trying to steal from people is wrong and shouldn’t be done at all. I believe I will have a word with the town administrator about your place here at the market.”

“There is no need for that sir. I was just negotiating with the young lady.”

Angilik turned and looked at her benefactor. He was a tall, dark skinned and rugged looking man in nice clothes. He was obviously someone with influence in the town for the vendor to be so scared by him. Her plan had worked better than she thought. She was just trying to get at least another vendor to stand up for her, but this was an unexpected bonus.

The conversation between the two men continued with the taller man speaking, “Then why don’t you sell to her at the price you put out. Though I think that maybe you should make a deal to her for trying to rob her.”

“That is an excellent idea sir. She was looking at this nice dress over here earlier. I could find it in my heart to sell it her and her five other dresses for one crown.”

The younger man pondered a moment then looked at Angilik. “That is actually a good deal for you, if you are willing to take it my lady.”

She was almost shocked at the words. He was obviously from the noble class, but he was speaking to her as if she was as well. “If you think it is good, then I will. That other dress is so beautiful,” she said, still feigning ignorance. She handed a single coin to the vendor and was given the six dresses. She thanked them both and gleefully tookoff towards Mr. Wellman’s house after fetching Benjiman.

Scene 2 Home Away From Home

She knocked on the door before her after tying Benjiman to fence in the front of the house. She had trouble getting here, it had been a long time since she had visited Mr. Wellman’s actual home. It might have been three years since she had been to the town, but even longer since she had been here. From what she remembered it was pretty much the same. A modest home, by town official standards. Only half of it was two stories, even at that it was of standard workmanship. Nothing that was going to fall in any time soon, so it had the feel of an every man’s house, but was just big enough to let you know it belonged to someone of status.

The door opened and Mrs. Wellman greeted her in a warm fashion and invited her in. “My dear how you have grown.”

“It has been a while ma’am.”

“I hear your father is not doing so well.”

“You heard right. The stress of recent events has made him very ill. Our doctor can’t seem to figure out what to do. He started to feel ill after mother died and he put all his efforts into business to make sure Joshua and I were taken care of. Once that failed, he got much worse faster.”

“Well when you see him next give him our love. He was always a fair and kind man. Unlike many of these new so called businessmen that have moved into town.”

“I can see that from personal experience.”

“Well you will have to tell that tale at dinner dear. It will still be a little while before it is ready. I have a room made up for you as well.”

“I can’t impose on you like that.”

“Don’t be silly. We have empty rooms and no one to fill them. Once Harold sent word that you were joining us for dinner I decided to let you stay.”

“I can only say thank you.”

“That is all i require. I get bored with nothing to do and no one around. The local wives are much younger than I, most of the people we knew have wither passed or retired to the city. Now child you are in a state. We need to get you cleaned up as well. You have journeyed all day and are quite a mess.”

Angilik blushed a little as she realized she was right. Her clothes were al dusty and she was covered in sweat and dirt herself. No wonder the vendor had mistaken her for a simple farmhand. Mrs. Wellman took her cloak and showed her to the room she would be staying in. A portable tub had been set up in it already filled with water.

“I am sorry that the water might be a little cooled. I didn’t know when you would arrive.”

“That is alright. The fact that you drew a bath for me is good enough. The water could be ice cold and I wouldn’t mind.”

As Angilik put her things on a table Mrs. Wellman looked at the dresses she brought with her. “That is a fine dress you have there.”

“I bought it today. I heard that the Lord might be in town tomorrow and I wanted to look nice incase he was looking to fill positions in his household.”

“That is good idea, though it looks like you might be searching for a husband with that kind of wardrobe. When harold gets home we will know for sure if he is coming tomorrow.”

“That would be good, I wouldn’t want to get all dressed up for nothing.”

Scene 3 Dinner

Mr. Well arrived home shortly after Angilik had finished her bath. She was in the waiting room with Mrs. Wellman trying on her new dress when he walked in. “I did not know we were expecting royalty tonight?” he said with a coy smile.

“Oh stop that Harold or I might get jealous,” Mrs. Wellman said. They looked at each other and laughed. Mrs. Wellman was adjusting the dress in certain places to make sure that it fit better.

Angilik had just looked at it and thought it would fit just fine. But she was used to wearing dresses that were more for work than for show. Her eye was not as refined in this area as Mrs. Wellman who had to deal in town politics and society with her husband for the better part of forty years. So she was helping t make sure that the dress accounted for more of Angilik’s fairer assets. The 5’6“ girl was just below the average height for most of the girls in the area but she carried it well. She was heavier as well, not in figure though. While most maidens sat around learning the finer art of taking care of a household, Angilik had been helping with her father’s business in more than just record keeping. This made her very muscular compared to most as well as firm.

Her strength was impressive for a girl of nineteen as well as her skills. She could ride a horse better than most and even had basic knowledge of how to fight. Her best was with a bow though. She had gone with her father and brother on many a trip and bandits were always a threat. They always brought men at arms with them, but just the same they wanted to make sure that she could handle herself. This also included the ability to take of herself out in the wild if she ever had to flee an attack.

The thing that made her really stand out though was the red in her hair. She wasn’t a straight redhead, those were rare, she was more of a strawberry blonde. But any red in a person’s hair was seen as a sign of being touched by magic. No one really believed in it anymore. But in more distant and rural areas stories still persisted of red headed witches that roamed the woods and hills. Even in towns the tales could be heard from older people and the fortune tellers that tried to make a living if you paid them.

Another odd feature were her blue eyes. Though not as uncommon as hazel or green, she would still get the occasional glare from people. She thought it odd today that she didn’t get that many until she realized that most of the day she had her cloak on with the hood up. She wanted to appear as ordinary as possible until she could get a feel fr the town.

Soon Mrs. Wellman was done making her adjustments. “Now you run up to your room child and get in something more comfortable. I will make the changes tonight so that you will look good tomorrow.”

“I still can’t thank you enough, but I know I can do it myself.”

“Don’t be silly. You are my guest, and no offense, but I am sure I will be quicker about it. I do have a few years more experience at this than you.”

“Well I can’t argue with that.”

“Hurry along now, I don’t want dinner to get too cold. We had to wait long enough for this old man to get home,” she smiled as she pointed to Mr. Wellman as she said it.

“Hey now. I got home as quick as i could. But the Lord’s advanced team arrived this afternoon and I had to work with them to make arrangements for his arrival tomorrow.”

“So he is coming then?” Angilik asked while on the stairs.

“Yes, my dear. I am not sure if he is looking for any help. But word is he will be holding audience in the morning at least. I am sure that also means he will have his staff looking to hire anyone needed nearby.”

She smiled at this news and went upstairs to get ready for dinner. She threw on one of her other new dresses quickly and went downstairs. It hadn’t occurred to her how hungry she was until Mrs. Wellman mentioned that dinner was ready. Angilik last ate that morning before she left home, and that was just a small amount. She entered the dining room and there the cook was bringing the dishes out to the table. She had forgotten that they had a couple of servants. They weren’t that rich but it was one of the perks of being the town administrator. They were not full time servants just local apprentices that were tasked with helping them. They even got their own cleaning lady once a week.

They were having ham and potatoes tonight. There was also going to be a dessert and some other vegetables. An elaborate meal like this was something she hadn’t had in a while. After her father lost most of his wealth they had also lowered their quality of meals. Once in a while hey got lucky and Joshua was able to catch some game to bring home for food. Angilik also did from time to time as well, but taking care of the home and her father offered her few chances to hunt. Even when she did she never ventured far and usually only got a rabbit or two at best. This was just a feast though. It lacked the seven courses that nobility got, but to her it was more than enough.

Conversation at dinner was sparse and covered most of the things already talked about, except Angilik’s story about the vendor that Harold loved and almost spat up his dessert while laughing. He said he was told of a shady vendor trying to ripoff a girl but he had no idea it was her. But he had it on good authority to keep his eye on him. After dinner Angilik made her way to her room and got changed for bed. She hadn’t felt this wonderful in a long time. She had nice new clothes, a full belly and a soft bed to sleep on. She didn’t know what tomorrow would bring, but she was full of hope for the first time in a long time.

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.

The Battle of Golden Hills

So I was struggling with getting back into the swing of an old book I was a third of the way writing.  I thought the dreaded “block” was setting in.  I did a thing then, as I was dropping my kid off to school I asked him for a dumb idea to write about.  He gave me one.  I got home and two hours later this thing popped out.  Now here it is for your enjoyment in all of its first draft glory.

The Battle of Golden Hills

Grimwald sat at the head of the table.  He looked out over the many faces that were there with him.  His look was somber, and he exhaled loudly.  This brought the attention of the rest of the group back to him.  With all eyes looking in his direction he waited until everything was silent.  “We have waited centuries for what is about to come.”  His tone was serious, and he watched for reactions from the others.  Nothing was out of the ordinary.  His 500 plus years didn’t show that much on his face.

black steel helmet near black and gray handle sword
Photo by Pixabay on

He continued, “All of the preparations are almost complete, and soon we shall emerge from our exile and retake what was ours.  The giants that have taken our land will feel our wrath and shall be vanquished.”  The others smiled and raised a cheer in agreement.

The rest of the war council meeting went with planning and logistics, he wanted to make sure that they were ready for any contingency.  Nothing was going to stop them retake their homeland.  The Dwarves of Pigthium would prevail and return to the surface.  He had no idea what the result would be regarding the war, but the first battle they would win and revel in.

Once he was done with the council, he headed down one of the tunnels to the lower levels of their kingdom.  They had done well for themselves over the years, making a descent life under the ground they had once ruled over, but it wasn’t enough.  He wanted more for his people, the sun, the fresh air, and the ability to roam free like their ancestors once did.  Of course, Dwarves were creatures of the Earth and excelled in the mining and creating of crafted items, but that didn’t mean they belonged in it.

While dwelling on these thoughts, Grimwald arrived at his destination.   He knocked on the door and heard a gruff voice respond.  He opened the door and entered. Sitting in a chair next to a small hearth was a Dwarf much older than him, sipping on a stein of Dwarven stout.  “Good day Uncle.”

The elder Dwarf looked up and smiled, “Come for my advice again?”

“Not as much as for your words of encouragement.”

“Still nervous about the forthcoming battle?”

“Who wouldn’t be.  I have led skirmishes and such before, but nothing as big as this or against our greatest adversaries.”

“No one has in such a long time.  The last time was your father almost 400 years ago, and that is why you are king.”

“I remember, I was barely 100 when I took the crown, one of the youngest ever.  It has weighed heavy on me all this time.  I want vengeance, but I must temper that with the good of my people.”

“You have done well for them.  I can’t remember a time that we have had such numbers and made such wonders.  My greatest worry is that you may have not gathered enough information about our enemies as you might need.”

“I have few worries in that area Uncle.  They aren’t the smartest and I doubt they have advanced as much as us.  Our scouts report they now have clubs of metal, but seemingly weak compared to ours.  Of course, their size and strength might offset that.  That is why I have focused more on our armor than weapons.  No matter how good our offense is, I know that it will take many of our brethren to take down one giant.”

“That is what the people love about you, your wisdom, and for being so young.”

“We also have surprise.  The giants seem to have forgotten about us.  And that we will exploit, especially since their greatest weapon seems to only come on certain times.”

“The large metal device?”

“Yes, but I don’t think it is a weapon by design.  They seem to use it to harvest the plants they grow.  But I can see it being used as a weapon is needed against us.  By attacking when it is mid-cycle I hope to avoid it.  If we can take them out before they know what is going on, then it may never even be a factor.”

“Again, wise words.”

“My generals hope that with surprise, after the battle, we might be able to find where they keep it and use it for ourselves.”

“And with the land reclaimed, think of all of the food we could harvest.”

“I was thinking more of it as a weapon, we have no idea how many of them there are beyond what was once our lands, but I suppose.  That is later though.  For now, we must focus on the battle.”

“Of course.”

The younger dwarf smiled and thanked his uncle for his time.  He turned and exited the room. His next stop was the massive foundry complex that his people had built far below the surface.  Here the smiths crafted the finest weapons that the tribe had ever made.  He inspected many of the wares and was impressed.  Being King he had to learn many things, also being a dwarf, crafting metal into magnificent weapons was the main one.

He was by no means a master smith, but he wasn’t bad and knew quality when he saw it.  He knew these new tools of war would be essential in helping his people win the battle to come.  Once that was done, he went to the stables.  It had taken many decades, but the Dwarfs had tamed and trained one of their former underground enemies to now be their war mounts.  The large fur covered monsters would now lead them to victory.  One could carry two lancers, and still have room for more if they had to withdrawal, which he was sure would not be the case.  They had trained for too long to fail.

His last stop for the day was the great hall.  There all of the warriors were gathered, having a feast on the eve of battle.  It was something that had not been done for a long time.  The days of wars and epic tales of valor were long past.  Now it was time for a new era for the Dwarves.  They would now be able to weave the stories that would be the myths for their descendants.

He only hesitated because he knew the feeling was going to be grand and that it would not be the same in the future.  Win or lose, all the feast from this day forward would be different.  He imagined how his father felt when he had his last feast.  Grimwald had confidence this would be his first of many, so impressed with this army.  In any case it would be his last first time though and he wanted to savor it.

The guards at the main doors to the hall opened the doors for him after he signaled, he was ready. As he entered, he viewed the long tables filled with his brethren.  They all stood and raised their glasses at him.  He made his way to the far end towards his elevated table, where his generals were already sitting.  Soon songs of glory were sung as he went up the steps and took his place.  He sat, then everyone else did.  A plate of meat and vegetable was set before him and he ate.

Soon he stood and began to speak, “I have faith in our endeavor tomorrow that we shall be victorious.  For too long have we dwelt under the ground of our former kingdom.  Tomorrow we shall retake what is rightfully ours.”  Cheers sprang up through the room.  Grimwald smiled and toasted his army.

“We will ride into battle and crush our enemies!”

The night continued with many songs and festivities.  After several hours it was called so that the warriors could rest and be ready for the plight ahead of them.  Grimwald retired to his chambers but couldn’t sleep much.  He was worried about the fight, but also excited.  Most of his warriors were untested.  Only a handful of his generals had experience and even that was from a long time ago.

They had worked on their plans for months.  The vast empty fields were interspersed with woodland areas that the giants rarely went into.  These places were where they had built their exits to the surface and where the units of 100 warriors would emerge to assault the creatures.  Hopefully with the element of surprise.  He had scouts on watch right outside who would report to their commanders in the morning right before the attack.  They would adjust their plans if needed, but he felt good that they had anticipated most of the things that could change.

Finally, after he had gone over the plans again, he was able to get a little sleep.  It was restful, but he could have used more.   When the time came, there was a knock on the door, and he arose.  His attendants came in and helped with his armor.  The time had come to regain the glory of yesteryear, and he was up for the call.

Grimwald made his way to the unit he would lead into combat.  His adrenaline was rushing.  All of him men were there ahead of him.  It was silent as he made his way to the front of the group and he mounted his steed.  He would be riding solo, where most of the others were doubled up.  The beasts were difficult to control, but he had a knack for it, plus he had to lead the battle and couldn’t be bogged down with a copilot.

The last few moments before the doors to the surface world seemed to drag on.  The troops started to become restless as the time neared.  The scouts had come back and reported in.  There were not as many giants present as usual.  The king was pleased with this news.  Not that he had any real concerns, but because his troops were as of yet untested.  Knowing they battle would be easier eased some of his tension.  Soon after the signal came for the forces to go forth.  The light came through the doors and he urged his mount forward.  The legions of his command followed behind and they were off.

The trees covered their egress point and as they passed the foliage they spread out.  In front of them were a trio of giants.  The vast fields were almost empty.  He knew that most of the troops would not have immediate engagements, but their leaders knew what the follow-on objectives were.  The ultimate goal was to drive the enemy away and then move on to their fortress that was at the far end of the fields.

The look of the giants as they laid eyes on the large number of warriors was one of amazement.  It was as if they were more than surprised, but not even aware or the dwarves existence.  This was a boon for Grimwald and his people.  One of them started to laugh.  Were they that unconcerned about the oncoming storm?  It didn’t matter.  They were now committed to their action.

The giants were holding their clubs but did not move to use them.  The one thing that Grimwald did not understand was the white balls that the giants struck with their clubs.  His generals thought it was to practice attacking the dwarves, as overhand attacks would be ineffective on such a small foe.  It worried the king, since most of the giants seemed rather good at it.  That is why they went with the swarm tactics.

The other confusing this was the bright clothing the giants wore.  It seemed to draw much attention.  It was assumed it was more of a mating ritual.  They most likely didn’t have to hide from much, so camouflage wasn’t needed.  The various stripes and patterns were jarring to the dwarves and some thought it might even be a way to distract enemies.

By the time this last thought left his mind they were on the group.  They were now laughing at them war party.  Then the first group of troops moved to the closest giant and the lancers started to stab at the legs.  Now the giant roared out in pain.  The laughter stopped and the others looked worried.  After a dozen weapons hit their mark, the giant started to stumble.  Another group of warriors trained with grappling hooks tossed them, catching the monster’s clothing.  The mounts ran away and pulled the secured ropes to try and bring the large beast down.

The first target fell to the ground with a large thud.  The expert riders all managed to get out from underneath.  Soon the second dwarf on each mount close to the enemy jumped on him and started to stab with their swords and axes.  His companions looked on in horror and started to back away from the carnage.  One swung his club at the front of the mounted group that was moving towards him.  The other pulled a small device from a pocket and started to yell in it, or maybe it was his normal voice.  Being do large, it would be very loud to Grimwald.

It shouted something about small people and gophers into the thing while he started to run away.  The standing giant that was still there was swinging wildly.  He managed to hit a couple of the troops, but it seemed more by luck that skill.  The dwarves that had attacked the first target were now remounting with their original partners and heading onto the attacking giant.  The first was dead and a small cheer went up as they moved on.

In the distance the king could see similar activities going on.  His army was winning.  He felt pride.  The second enemy in front of them put up somewhat of a fight, but after less than a minute he had over 50 dwarven infantry on him, bringing him down.  The third had long since ran off.  They had won this battle.

As the commotion diminished in his area, Grimwald rallied his men and they headed towards their next goal.  The fortress at the end of the fields.  On the way he was joined by four more of his units.  They had all taken out at least one giant and forced others to flee.  They drew closer to the final feat before they knew they could declare victory.

It was massive, but their scouts had found a secret way in.  Since the giants in the field were dispatched, the king had no fear about the next phase of their plan.  As they drew closer he saw the sign the hung above the building, it read “Golden Hills Golf Course 19th hole.”