Kenneth Shumaker (Rusty Knight)
Kenneth Shumaker
(Rusty Knight)
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Kenneth Shumaker Rusty Knight


Episode One

By Rusty Knight


Opening episode, Episode One, ‘Home? Really!’:


            She is sitting still as her mentor instructs Lanis on proper etiquette of addressing him. 
            “I want you addressing me as Master Lenden when you talk to me. Your room that I give you, is on the second floor. You are responsible for your own laundry. You will cook both of our morning and evening meals every day for us, except the sixth-day, the day which is yours free to do with as you desire. Your other duties include: three hours of study with me each morning; three hours of self-study each afternoon and two hours each day to go to market for gathering of supplies for the household and laboratory. The rest of the day is yours. Understood, Apprentice Lanis?”
            Lanis sighs, yet nods and answers sadly, “Yes, understood, Master Lenden. My room is on the second floor, and I have every six-day free. I also understand my duties. When do I start?”
            Lenden frowns, as the seventy-one-year-old jalmal master-mage adjusts his sitting position in the plush sofa. “Tomorrow. You can settle in here today, and familiarize yourself with my house and laboratory. I understand you came to me for your one-year journey-man walkabout, to further your studies as an artificer. I am not an artificer, but you can practice your art as long as you follow my rules and do my work. Understood Lanis?”
            Lanis carefully answers, “Yes, Master Lenden, I have access to your facilities to learn and practice my art, as long as I accomplish your work as you order.”
            Lenden smiles and offers his arm to clasp. “Good, we understand each other then. The library and laboratory are both on the third floor. My personal room is on the second floor; my office is this room on the ground floor. We eat together, morning meal and evening meal in the dining-room next to the kitchen, here on the ground floor. There is no indoor privy, its an outdoor outhouse you use, if you need the facilities. As you know, I’m classed as rank seven mage, but that means nothing if I don’t have my spells and mind to use them. Once you pass a few of my tests you can view my spell-tomes. But that will come in time. Do you have your tome?”
            Lanis smiles and pats her backpack. “I have my cantrip-tome and my spell-tome, Master Lenden. Everything I own is here with me in my backpack and this sack.”
            Lenden smiles for Lanis. After they clasp arms, he says, “Then apprentice, let me show you your new home, and your room that you will live in for a year.”
            Having stood and clasped arms with Lenden, Lanis follows the old man around the house, carrying her backpack and large sack of possessions. They traverse the ground floor, then the third floor, then the half-story that is the fourth floor and finally the second floor. The last room Lenden shows Lanis is a ten-foot by twelve-foot stone walled, maple floor and ceiling room, with one shuttered window. The room contains a single maple bed with feather mattress and pillow with flannel sheets.
            Lanis sets her backpack and sack on the maple table that stands next to the four drawer chest-of-drawers. There is also a lone maple armless chair.
            She looks down at the rough woven Imvor-orange carpet next to the bed and she smirks. Her carpet in the university was much nicer; she’ll replace this one as soon as she can afford to.
            Looking at the empty three-shelf, maple book-shelf, Lanis takes her two tomes from her backpack and sets them neatly on the top shelf.
            Turning to Lenden, Lanis meekly asks, “Master Lenden, it has been a long morning, where would your outhouse be?”
            Lenden frowns and waves for Lanis to follow him. He shows Lanis his courtyard facilities with its well, garden and stable, then the outhouse. There he leaves her to do her business.
            As Lanis is entering the house a little later, she nearly runs into a crudely dressed toyfem exiting the house. Their eyes briefly meet, but long enough to cause Lanis to shiver.

To be continued …

In the next episode, episode two, ‘Lenden’s Dilemma’: Trying to study a new spell, Lenden needs a spell component and he’s having difficulty acquiring some, he sends Lanis on a search. 

© February 2016 Rusty Knight with Inevitable Unicorn Press

Kenneth Shumaker Rusty Knight
By Rusty Knight
Episode One, 'Blood'

Autumn 53 Bear

Life is harsh when you are part of the lower-class of Mount Oryn. Add to that living in North Docks, and it down right sucks plums. Markus had to rise long before the two day-gods would even consider breaking the horizon in the east. He eats a bowl of cold left-over pottage, drink stale well-water and dresses for work, all in the dim light of a single candle. He does this every day, so he can come here to Arton’s Warehouse, where he earns a grand three dusters a day. That’s more than most
labourers earn, but it goes to pay the rent and feed his family, consisting of his mother, Angeline, his eighteen-year-old sister, Terra, and five-year-old nephew, Johonna. Mom refuses to work, saying her feet bother her. His sister is with her second child, nearly ready to pop any day now, so she is not working, and Johonna’s just too young to work. So when Arton bought Markus in a contract to pay
the families year’s rent, three years ago, Angeline was more than happy to sell Markus to the rogue.

Markus wasn’t so happy. No, it was a bum deal. Now Markus has a reputation as a rogue, and damn if Arton didn’t make sure Markus received the training. They found out Markus has a knack for appraising things, so he got a promotion to the warehouse last season. And with it, a damn regular work schedule, with the regular pay of three dusters a day, instead of the chaotic random earnings of a street rogue.

Here we go again. First, the knock on the man-door; back up ten steps and then thief cant signing, ‘safe keep’; then ‘mark easy’; then finally sign ‘mark hard’ and wait for the door to open.

There, they open the door, we quickly walk the seven steps inside and wait to be acknowledged.

Routine, but it must be followed. Hidden, watching over the entry, are five Gold Retrievers armed with poison-tipped-quarrel loaded heavy-crossbows aimed at whoever enters. The poison kills in less than ten seconds. Markus watched the Gold Retrievers in target practice a few times; they rarely miss. With five of them aimed at you, your chances of getting past them are like surviving a mad pack of range dogs. It’s not likely.

There, the touch on the shoulder after the door closed. Markus takes a look to see which Gold Retriever signed him in. It’s always nice to know who you owe your safety to. It’s the eighteen-year old jalfem, Gem. She’s cute, but harsh. Don’t cross her, or that bolt from her crossbow will find you, even 'accidently'. More than one errant person has found that out.

Markus simply nods, walks away, and goes to the office to report to his manager.
Entering the office, Markus finds his twenty-four-year-old ugly-as-sin jalfem manager, with an attitude to match, sitting at her desk.

Tora looks up at Markus and sneers. “Early today Markus. Looking for a bonus? I don’t pay bonuses, neither does Arton. You’re not getting a promotion this quick either. I told you. It’ll be at least a year. Now go to the far end, in bay forty-two. A shipment of crates came in from an outter. We want them sorted and appraised as soon as possible. You have two days. Get to it boy or Captain Gerris will be giving you more of those lashes, like when you broke that statue. Hurt didn’t it, and you only got ten that time. You get twenty for every day you are late on this assignment.”

“Yes, Master Tora, bay forty-two, sort and appraise in under two days. Got the assignment. How many crates?”

Tora laughs. “Sixteen, eighty pounders. Don’t know what’s in them. Get to work.”

Markus walks out of the office, muttering under his breath. “Seven Hells.”

Walking almost the entire length of the 250-foot warehouse to bay forty-two, Markus peers at the sixteen old wooden crates. ‘They’re somebodies moving crates, damn it. Some outter was moving and his load got lifted. Could be just about anything in them. Each crate is going to be different. Damn Seven Hells. Could take four days to appraise this.’

Markus takes his parchment and charcoal, to record with, setting them on one crate. Then he opens the first crate with his crowbar. “Great! Women’s clothing!” Markus snarls.

Markus proceeds well into the day, when an older teenage jalmal stops in the aisle and calls to him. “God’s grace and good fate Markus, how is your day going?”

Not really having time for chit-chat, as Markus is only on the fifth crate, and it’s a crate of small knickknacks that will take a couple hours to sort and appraise, Markus really doesn’t want to talk. He doesn’t recall who this boy is. Looking him over quickly, appraising the teenager, Markus spots the Dendar Sailors short-sword; a rare prize few can travel with. The clothing is fine, and relatively new, but upper-lower-class. He is clean, but wet from walking in today’s rain. ‘Still don’t recognize him. Though the boy is walking around the warehouse freely without an escort, so he must be important.’ “God’s grace and good fate master, I am well and yourself?”

The fellow responds quickly in reply. “Good lad. I think my day is getting even better. Will you come with me please? We are going to see Captain Gerris. I need your help with an issue. Nothing you’ve done yet.”

‘Damn! Seven Hells. He knows my name and wants my help? This will set me back on the assignment. Lashes for sure now. And to see Gerris. This aint good.’ Markus sets down the wooden carving he was appraising. Silently he hesitates, then follows the fellow the rest of the way down the warehouse central aisle to Gerris’ office.

Completing the last forty-feet they stop and the boy ponders something, while Markus also ponders what could be happening.

The stranger knocks on the office door.

Gerris calls out in clear bold jal. “Enter.”

The stranger boldly opens the door and smiling walks into the office, ushering Markus in before him.

The stranger says, “God’s grace and good fate Captain Gerris. Arton sent us to wake you and put you to work … So you are going to train Markus here one simple lesson … Then we can do business, the three of us. Seeing as you are awake, part of the instructions are carried out.”

Markus begins to shake inside. ‘What the Seven Hells is this guy doing? Who is he, that he talks to Arton, and this boldly to Gerris? No one does this!’

Gerris stands and walks over to Markus, while asking, “Can you stop this?”

‘Stop what? I don’t see anything,’ thinks Markus, still in shock at all of this.

Gerris’ fist flies out, smacking Markus’ right arm solidly. Markus tries to avoid the blow, as he just barely sees it coming. He fails to avoid the strike, receiving a bruising blow.

Gerris walks back to his desk as Markus rubs the wounded arm.

Gerris says, “I did an assessment and I feel at this time Markus does not have the skills of a fighter … There, work done. Now pour three dark ales, Blood, and let’s do business.”

This stranger, who Gerris referred to as Blood, points to a chair and says to Markus. “Take a seat, you haven’t been hurt yet … You now get an ale, for being trained.”

Blood pours three dark ales from Gerris’ special cask. One for Gerris, one for Blood, then one for Markus.

Handing one to Markus, Markus takes it while thinking, ‘I hate ale, it tastes like puke.’

Then Blood takes a seat across the desk from Gerris.

Markus sits as he was directed.

To be continued:

In the next episode two, 'Down From Here': More news reaches Markus' ears and he is stunned into disbelief fearing for his future and he discovers uncertainty. Markus undergoes even more grueling torment by both occupants of the room. Blood makes a purchase that confuses Markus, even terrifies the rogue.

© 2016 Rusty Knight with Inevitable Unicorn Press