ISSN 2371-3747 Episode 8 January 2016 Lanis Episode 008, ‘Reining’ By Rusty Knight Previously in episode 007, ‘Contrary’: Drake was se...
Episode 008, ‘Reining’
By Rusty Knight
Previously in episode 007, ‘Contrary’:
Drake was sent shopping to Hangela’s. Upon returning to Lenden, Drake was so contrary with him, so Lenden offers to buy Drake her own riding horse.
And now in episode 008, ‘Reining’
Spring 12 Bear
Lenden hitched the mares to the carriage after morning meal. He took two-hundred flares placed in sacks, put them in the carriage and packed a set of clothing, along with a basket of food and three water-skins.
Lenden tells Drake. “We will be away at least two days, so pack things to change into if you get muddy.
Still feeling contrary, argumentative and not social, Drake goes to her room and packs a set of her new clothing into her backpack, leaving behind her tomes.
With her studied spells in mind, Drake walks out to the courtyard finding Lenden hitching the two mares to the carriage. She places her backpack in the storage compartment and takes a seat, waiting.
Lenden looks up at her. He utters. “If we get this horse, your duties are to tend to all the horses all the time. Get out here and help hitch up the team.”
Throwing herself into getting out of the carriage and hitching the team with Lenden, unwillingly, Drake gets off the seat and out of the carriage cabin.
They finish hitching the team and set out on the wet road for Tamel’s Cartwright, traveling along King’s Avenue, then south.
It takes more than ten hours of carriage riding to get to Tamel’s. Unfortunately, he refuses to deal with the pair, when they arrive an hour after gods-set.
Lenden drives to a local inn and arranges rooms and meals for the night.
Drake had done minimal talking all day.
Spring 13 Bear
The sphere is clear when Drake and Lenden drive to Tamel’s. But, the gods have cursed the day, breathing south-east strong and hard.
Tamel’s mood matches the god’s breathing, just wrong.
The three of them walk out into the corral and Tamel lets Drake pick a horse.
Drake picks out a mare and Tamel opens with a request of 82 Flairs. Lenden only wants to pay seventy-five, so Tamel demands ninety.
They agree this isn’t the horse they want to deal on.
Tamel chooses an older mare and asks for sixty-seven Flairs.
Lenden looks the mare over. Calling it a nag, he offers fifty-two.
Tamel chases off the horse and tells Lenden to choose another horse.
Lenden walks among the thirty some mares and stallions for nearly an hour, then he asks for a rope and halter. Going back out among the horses, he approaches a stallion and places the halter and the lead rope on. Bringing the stallion back, he has Drake work with the horse.
Lenden asks Tamel, how much?
Tamel opens with sixty-seven Flairs and fifty Dyns.
Lenden watches the horse and Drake. Seeing Drake is smiling, he offers Tamel. “I’ll buy it for sixty and I’ll pay regular for the saddle and tack with a few extras. No more haggling.”
Tamel extends his arm. “Deal.”
The two saddle and gear up the stallion for Drake and then tether it to the back of the carriage.
Drake balks at this. “Why can’t I ride it home?”
Lenden commands. “It doesn’t know where home is and by the way you rode here, I doubt you do either. So, if it bolts on you, you’ll spend time lost, trying to find your way home. Ride in the carriage and observe our route.”
Drake realises she has no real rebuttal for that argument, so she climbs into the cabin of the carriage, determined to make observations during their return.
The horse calmly follows along.
With drier street and roads, they make better time and are home in just under nine-and a-half hours.
In the stable, after unhitching the carriage by herself and stabling her new horse, Drake grooms her horse last, having already taken care of the two mares.
She whispers to her stallion. “You may be average according to Uncle, but we are a team. When I leave here, you go with me. I need a name for you and I know what it is. I name thee, Crystal.” She hugs his neck.
After Drake cooks evening meal for the duo, they sit down to eat.
Drake informs Lenden. “I named the horse. I’m calling him Crystal.”
Lenden nods and replies. “If you’re going to name a horse, I guess a substance is as good a name as any. Crystal he is. But, I have news for you that I was going to share, before you got all upitty snarly like a penned rat. You are going to become a teacher. Tomorrow, you are going to purchase your student that I have picked out for you. You can refuse to take your student, if the student doesn’t strike you as teachable. I advise against that, as the next one you will have no say about.”
Looking at Lenden through squinting eyes and with scrunched forehead, her cheeks blazing red, Drake growls. “You don’t think you could have asked me about this first?”
Lenden shrugs and replies, “No. You’re my assistant. Assist.”
Drake growls a guttural snarl but says nothing. She begins to eat aggressively, forcing each forkful of food to her mouth while glaring at Lenden. After about five minutes, she drops the fork onto the plate. Sparked into saying, “You know, Uncle, I do have a mind and free will. I can choose to leave.”
Lenden swallows his mouthful of food with casual grace. Then he replies while locking eyes with Drake. “But you won’t; you like the challenge and you like the idea of authority.”
Drake sits back and grins. She looks away from Lenden at the bowls of food on the table, then back to Lenden’s eyes. “Yes, you’re right.”
She eagerly eats as they discuss her travels to get the student tomorrow.
Spring 14 Bear
After cleaning up the morning meal and completing her morning duties, Drake hitches the two mares to the carriage and heads out traveling north-west.
The trip is long and boring for Drake with no one to talk to but herself, as she had become used to discussing things with Uncle in their times together. He has such vast amount of knowledge and wisdom that it is always interesting talking with him, so much more so than anyone at the University, except maybe the Master-Mages, and Uncle make most of them pale.
Drake finds the home of her prospective student around evening meal time.
Knocking on the door of the middle-class house, Drake isn’t sure what to expect. Uncle wouldn’t tell her anything about the student or family.
A mature jalfem opens the door and gracefully addresses Drake. “Gods-grace and good fate, how may I aid you Master?” she says.
Drake smiles, thinking. ‘At least they’re jal.’ She says, “Gods-grace and good fate Master, I am Mage Drake. I come from Master-mage Lenden, seeking Melinda as a prospective student.”
The woman virtually shrieks excited to those in the house. “Melie, come quick. The mage is here for you!”
She turns back to Drake and says, “Please come in, Mage Drake. Please excuse us. We were about to do spring cleaning on my life-companion’s next free six-day off from the engineer’s work team. We have been so busy, with me working with the local tailor’s shop and my life-companion working with the ward engineer. We have five offspring to bring up in society and I believe we did an upstanding job. Melie will suit your schooling perfectly. I am certain. She is bright, young and eager to learn. We educated her well.”
Drake motions into the house and asks. “May I enter?”
The woman’s cheeks turn a bright-pink as she sputters and steps aside. “Yes! Yes, of course. Pardon me. Follow me.”
She closes the door and then leads Drake to a common room with seating for twelve. Offering Drake, the finest seat in the room, as a jalfem who looks to be fifteen-years-old, arrives.
The mature jalfem motions to Drake and says to the girl. “Melie, this is Mage Drake. She has come to see you. You talk to her while I go find your father.”
The girl flutters her hand, while saying. “Mother, you know Father will be home from work in four-and-a-half hours.” Turning to Drake, Melie says. “Gods-grace and good fate, Mage Drake. I am Melinda Castel. May I sit with you?”
Drake frowns intentionally. Thinking, ‘Smart, not over assuming, direct.’ “Yes, Melinda. And I will call you Melinda while you call me Drake. Please sit with me while your mother fetches us both a mug of water with a pitcher as well. This may take some time, before I’m satisfied that you are a satisfactory candidate as a student.”
The mother sputters. “But I was assured Mage Lenden was taking Melie. Wouldn’t you prefer milk or juice or ale. Not just water? Why the change of mind?”
Drake pauses for Melinda’s reaction.
Melinda shows a reaction as she sits in the chair across the table from Drake. “Mother, Mage Drake has traveled today and asked for water. She wants to be sure that she wants me as a student. She is not Mage Lenden.”
The elder woman fusses as she leaves the room saying, “Oh me, oh my, no this isn’t right. We had an arrangement. No this isn’t right.”
Drake looks into Melinda’s eyes, silently watching.
Melinda only lets a couple of breaths pass when she says. “Don’t worry about my mother. She doesn’t understand the difficulties of becoming an apprentice or student. I’m ready to answer your questions, Drake.” She looks down at the table politely, a small smile peeking over her lips.
Drake nods, thinking. ‘Confidence but not overbearing. Knows this will be a process I control and might deny her, but may accept her, it is my decision and she acknowledges it. I like her already.’ Drake starts by asking, “Tell me what basic educational skills you have, languages you speak and scribe and so on.”
Melinda pales white, hesitating. Then she answers, “Mage Drake, I’m not stupid but my parents didn’t invest in education or trades for their children. I took it upon myself to learn jalnoric script, just past the basics, and I am a bit ashamed to admit I learned to be good with my fists in a scrap with the boys. But other than that, I get by with cooking and cleaning, but not much else.”
‘Honest but not skilled, a clean slate. That’s why Lenden wouldn’t say anything.’ Drake asks, “How old are you, Melinda?”
The girl, still pale, hesitates again, then chokes out. “I’m nineteen. I know I look fifteen, but I’m actually nineteen.”
Drake sighs. “Can you go out and tend to feeding of my two horses while I talk to your mother, Melinda. I will come out and let you know my decision.”
Melinda starts to tear up, feeling she lost her chance. But deciding not to take any chance on breaking down, she stands and walks outside.
Melinda’s mother arrives to find the room empty, except for Drake who is sitting by herself on the worst chair in the room. Drake stands and says. “I don’t know, Letilla. Your daughter really isn’t suitable material as a mage. I can’t pay you the standard one-hundred Flairs.”
Letilla drops the tray onto her floor, gasping. “No, you have to take her. She needs work and she has no skills.”
Drake guffaws, “All the more reason I can’t pay you full fee. I’ll pay eighty-three tops. But I take her as is, with no caveats.”
Letilla rushes over, extending her arm. She rasps out. “Yes! Yes!”
Drake clasps arms with Letilla and says, “Melinda will only be visiting once every second season for ten days.” Then Drake pulls free her coin pouch and counts out eighty-three gold Flair coins on to the table for Letilla.
Drake closes the pouch and returns it to her belt.
She says with contempt, as she turns to leave. “We won’t have anything to do with each other in the future, you and I.”
Outside at the carriage, Melinda has awkwardly fed the two horses and is standing by the door to the carriage cabin. Drake looks her in the eyes with a grim expression. She asks Melinda. “How bad do you want to go with me? What is it worth to you? One-hundred flares?”
Melinda starts to weep. She nods, “Yes, it is.”
Drake extends her arm.
Melinda looks confused as she looks into Drakes.
Drake smiles. She says, “It is Kannoral trade custom when you make an agreement or deal, you grasp the arm of the one you accept with by the forearm and clasp firmly, signifying you accept and agree. Usually right arms. Do you accept being my student, Melinda Castel, student of mage Drake?”
Melinda awkwardly clasps arms with Drake and says, “I have to get my things. I’ll be right out.”
Drake releases the clasp and says, “No, you don’t; you are coming with me as you are. That is your mother’s agreement with me. You can come back and visit for ten days, every two seasons, when scheduling permits. Into the carriage. We are leaving now.”
Melinda’s jaw drops and her eyes go wide. When she regains her senses, she asks, “Are you serious?”
Drake climbs up into the cabin of the carriage, waving Melinda in. Thinking, ‘I actually like her, this won’t be so bad.’ Saying “Yes, I’m serious.”
Melinda gets up into the same vehicle and Drake proceeds to drive them home.
The team arrive home around one in the morning on Spring 15 Bear. With Drake teaching Melinda, the two unhitch the horses, then stable, groom, and feed the mares. After that, Drake settles Melinda into her new room on the second floor of Lenden’s manor.
To be continued …
In the next episode, episode 009, ‘What is a Cantrip?’
Drake begins Melinda’s lessons in more than one sphere of teaching, earning a few lessons herself.
© 2016 by Rusty Knight with Inevitable Unicorn Press
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