These are a series of novel chapter drafts. They are a work in progress and the primary goal of the current work is to get the ideas on paper - not nessicarily for them to be well written
Ferrin, Kvatt Town Arena - 4th Age Anno 311
I watched as my father, his horse and empty cart trundled down from our mountain town. It was the first time he had left me behind on my own - not that he wanted to, but relented after I stubbornly refused to go, locking myself in my room until he promised to let me stay.
I was already sixteen, my friends were in this town and there was nothing on that road for me but dried, salty meat rope and days of monotonous riding. When we did stop, I had the luxurious job of unloading and reloading the crates off and onto the cart, while my father exchanged pleasantries with his clients. This was not how I saw my life laid out before me. I was meant to do something greater with my days than count the peaks we passed by and reckon if there were greater or fewer than the day before. No, the world had something in store for me, something special and particular. I just had to find it.
Beginning to understand that fateful destiny was the next six months work for me. My rank in the community, the glint of deep red peeking out from a small hole in my earlobes, made it easy to organise several short stints in the other professions around the village. First on my list was Pera the blacksmith, but before that I wanted to enjoy the freedom I now found myself in, so after the plumes of dust settled on the horizon, I lowered my waving hand and headed for the town
The town hall was abuzz with activity. Aside from community events like the annual stone-setting, marriage and death, the oversized domed tent served as the setting for merchant stalls, casual meetings and even smaller sporting activities all at once.
Mata and Pak were sitting on the west side of the huge arena, watching two contestants wrestle one another on the dusty floor. The crowd around them flowed back and forth as the match moved to and fro, not constrained by any concept of boundary or separation from normal thoroughfare. My friends however, had secured a cozy viewing spot above a farmer’s stall. Stacked wooden cages of scrawny hens provided an elevated platform for those light enough (and perhaps foolhardy enough) to climb them. The only disadvantage was the noise of the birds - but no-one watched wrestling matches for the sounds.
“Up here gorgeous!” *Pak called out above the crowd as I emerged into view. Those in the crowd who recognized me or caught a glimpse of my gem parted to make way for me and soon I was below my friends and beginning to climb myself up beside them. An explosion of loose feathers, dusty plumes of feed and cacophonous squalks heralded my welcome - as well as a disapproving, but resigned glance from the farmer.
Pak was the son of the town’s tailor and had laid out reams of fabric for us to sit on. Both dealing in fabric had made our fathers natural friends, but like his father Pak was not. Pak’s father was a broad-shouldered man of traditional and strict qualities, his business thrived on the reliable, impeccable supply of formal suits for the town. As a matter of preference and advertisement, he was always the most smartly dressed in the area. Pak was besotted with fabric itself and often wore drapes of it without any stitching at all. He was slender, beautiful and his rebellious nature made us fast friends.
Mata was too engaged in the spectacle to offer much more than a brief wave as she cheered on the match. An amateur wrestler herself, Mata had an ideal physique for the game - stout, strong and hands like a mountain lion. I squeezed myself better the two of them and sat down, legs dangling over the edge. The comforting, but confusing smell of dry feed, Pak’s perfumes and the lingering charcoal scent of Mata’s mother’s forge, relaxed me a little and soon I too was absorbed in the match, enthusiastically cheering on whoever was losing to get back up again.
The long bout came to an end with the smaller man immobilizing the other with a crafty feint hiding a nasty-looking headlock. A headlock in which I now found myself in under Mata’s grip. “Yes! It was just like this! And he still had a hand free! Amazing!” Mata enthused above me. I groaned in theatric display as I waited for her to release me. It was truly a great hold - I was at her mercy and my head was turned so that I couldn’t predict her next move.
The answer soon came in the form of a hand, no - two hands prodding at my side. Pak had been recruited to my torture and was trying to find a particularly ticklesome spot. I trashed my legs, shaking the unstable tower of crates and threatening a full consider. Mata loosened her grip. Not for fear of hiring me, but the knowledge that being of lower status, only she would get the blame from the farmer should their chicken castle cave in. I breathed in a long unimpeded breath and punched them both playfully.
The day went on and we spent it wandering around the building, causing minor mayhem in our wake. We danced beside the musicians in the Northern corner, listened to stories of the titanous gods who lived in the land before us, gathered and spread some baseless rumours and window-shopped with no intention of buying.
It was bitter-sweet, as we all knew days like this were coming to an end. Both Mara and Pak would be expected to be full time workers under their parents by the time summer came, and though I didn’t mind it, the elder council looked increasingly disapprovingly at our horseplay - especially when I was prone to playing the defendant. Even the headlock now had been unusual - ever since Mara’s mother had sat her down for a candid conversation about adult life, she had died away from physical contact with me - though she always had been fanatical when it came to wrestling, so I want surprised and neither did I complain.
We ended the night in Pak’s house. Despite his personal set of strict codes, his father was supportive of his son’s break from tradition. He was just happy either of his two sons had any interest in his craft. To that end, Pak had been allowed to have a section of the work room to himself. It looked like what I imagined a fortune teller’s tent might look like - elaborate sheets of embroidered fabric hung from the ceiling to create a closed-off sub-tent. Inside were plush cushions, incense burners and a wall floor-to-ceiling with rolls of hand-selected material. If didn’t feel like a shop, though, I suppose I never visited with the intention of buying anything - even if I did occasionally leave with something Pak insisted I simply had to have. It felt like a second home, and with noone to go back to, I expected it really would be for the next six months. We sank into the pillows and chatted until we couldn’t and we sat in comfortable silence for the rest of the night.
We woke with the sound of rustling beads - someone had come through the shop door - and by the brightness of the light streaming in, it had been opening time for several hours now. “Homir’s tits!” Pak cursed and started to usher us out as began brushing down his clothes which were still covered in chicken feathers and grain. We stumbled out of the draping cloth and tried our best to look like genuine customers. “Good day to you, what wonderful merchandise you have!” Mara called stildedly and with a swift elbow from me, quickly decided silence was a better tactic.
Once we were outside, it took a small while to fully adjust to the bright sky and brisk mountain air. I was still squinting as Mara grabbed my hand and tugged me into a run - It was the first day of my blacksmithing experience and I was already late! I shook my head roughly as if to clear it of sleep and chased the long-haired Mara in front of me
Make the departure of the father more impactful.