Is There Hope?

In a time of kings and swords, Ronki finds that the simple life of a farmer is not what he dreamed it to be. The nightmare of life just continues to get worse and threatens to rip everything away from him. He can’t let it take his magical little princess from him, but really is there any hope?
This is for A Hidden Power competition.

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1. Flowers

                       “Daddy, daddy wake up!” the little voice cut through the dreamful peace that so often eluded the worn and exhausted farmer. Did he have to get up; did he have to leave Her? He was happy here. Worries gone, pains gone but most of all when his subconscious had free rein it liked to bring Her back. Why couldn't he just die and go to Her. Why was he continually punished with life? What deity did he offend to receive such torture? He had been cursed with life. He had survived years of war against the most powerful tyrant in the land when so many others had mercifully died. When his turn to die finally came, in the form of a large gash in his left leg, it was ripped away from him by some supernatural doctor who was able to save him by removing the leg. At the time he thanked the doctor profusely for saving his life. Only later did he learn that on that day his precious jewel had been overcome with a fever and died. He cursed that doctor every day for the past year to the day. Had it already been a year since death rejected him and took his wife instead? It had felt more like ten years, but yes, today was the anniversary of that horrific day. He silently pleaded to whatever god would have pity on him, “Just let me die.”

                “Daddy, these are for you.” a tiny voice echoed inside his head. He pictured Her one last time. Imagining Her in perfect detail. She slowly vanished as his eyes slowly slid open. First her legs disappeared, then her torso and arms. His heart wretched in two as she slipped away until only her beautiful brown hair, heart melting smile and bright brown eyes were left. He looked deep into those gleeful brown eyes and for a second he thought that she was back. No, she was gone and instead of a loving companion was the girl that now consumed his life and gave him the strength to go on one more day. She was his only joy in the world. She was worth it though, to go on living. He had to give her a chance for the happiness that so frequently fled from his presence like a wild boar. To him, she was life itself.

                “What are those?” he asked his little angel.

                “Flowers! I picked them for you, daddy.”

                 “Those look like they're from Mr. Galden’s garden? You know he doesn't like it when you pick his flowers.”

                Idra crossed her arms and made a pouty face and in the lowest voice that the seven year old girl could muster said, “Little girl, flowers are for smelling, not for picking.”

                The impersonation was not that good, but he still had to smile and laugh. How many times had he heard Mr. Galden say those exact words? “You know we will have to go visit Mr. Galden and you will have to say sorry, again.”

                Thud, thud, thud. Now who was it, thought the farmer? He hushed his little girl out and quickly pulled on a pair of brown pants and a shirt. He then grabbed his walking stick and using it as a crutch; he hobbled over to the door. As he pulled the door open Idra ran out with a pail heading towards the well to no doubt get some water for the flowers.

                “Ronki, I was beginning to wonder if you would ever answer the door” said the short man named Kalps.

                Kalps was a ruthless money lender who enjoyed tormenting and teasing those under his thumb. Many believed that this crave for power over people was due to his short stature or that he was repeatedly picked on when he was growing up. Therefore Kalps was overjoyed when Ronki, a well known and respected soldier from the king’s army, came to beg for money. Ronki would have rather cut off his other leg then borrow from filth such as Kalps, but last year with the death of his wife and the recent amputation of his leg Ronki was unable to care for the crop and it had all died.  He was forced to borrow money, a lot of money in order to plant a new crop and only Kalps had had that kind of money to lend. Ever since that day, Kalps loved to stop by and remind Ronki that he was in his debt. This not only did wonders for Kalps moral but it also sent a recurring message to the towns folk that if even the mighty Ronki could fall under his debt then they could as well. Everyone tried to be nicer to Kalps or simply avoid him like the plague just in case they did end up in the same state as Ronki, Kalps wouldn't have any reason to single them out and make their lives even more miserable. It was a good thing that all sense of pride and honor had died with Ronki’s wife because he would have been hung for murdering the sniveling little whelp a long time ago. Now Ronki just did not care. He found it harder and harder to care for anything these days, except for Idra of course.

                “Sorry I was sleeping” replied Ronki.

                “Now how will you ever pay me back sleeping the day away you lazy dog? While we are on the topic, when dooo you plan on paying me back? You do realize that your payment is almost due and you have yet to give me a single tin chip.”

                “As I have told you before, I won’t have money to pay you until after the harvest. The little that I have is just enough for me and my daughter to get by until we can sell the grain.”

                “Let’s be honest, shall we. I have seen your crop and it looks as horrible as you do. With crops like that you won't be able to pay me back until I am so old and gray that I will need a cane to walk, like you.”

                It was true and Ronki knew it. His crops were overcome with weeds and bugs. He would be lucky if he could harvest one twentieth of what he had planted. No way would that be enough to pay back his debt, let alone pay for a new crop and food for the upcoming year. He had two options. Make some kind of deal with Kalps and he hated thinking what sort of deal Kalps would force him into. The other option was to be thrown in jail and sell the farm and all his other belongings to Kalps for a fraction of its worth. 

                Kalps gave one of his wicked smiles, the kind he got when he knew that he had complete control over someone and said, “But I did not come all this way to check on my investment. I have come to give you an offer. I will forgive you of all your debt and give you the money that you will need for another years worth of crops if...”

                “If what” thought Ronki “I sell my soul to the devil?” That wouldn't be so bad. He was already living in hell, so whatever Kalps offered, Ronki decided that he would accept it. It would give him a way out and he desperately needed one. Kalps could not do anything to him now; he was already at the bottom. What was Kalps waiting for? Dramatic effect or did he expect that Ronki would just agree to a way out without hearing it first. Ronki almost did say,” Ok, you win.  I'll do it, whatever it is” but then Kalps finished his sentence and Ronki gasped and his face went white as stone.

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