A travelers story

The story is about the the 15 year old James and the friends he meets on his journeys. James carries a big burden and a big hate, which eventually will lead him and his friends to a battle whit the strongest of demons.

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6. Chapter 5

It took a few days to get to Waterville and they had eaten all the apples the day before. They really needed that bag of jerky now. And that were more than ever. Emily complained about the lag of food even though she were the one eating most of the food. James and Charlotte had thousands of time told her to stop whining. But whatever little it helped it were still the only thing they could do. “Emily either you set a camp outside the town and wait for us to come back which might take a few days or you stop your whining and come with us. Your choice.” James eventually said. That made the biggest impact on Emily so far. From that, point on Emily said nothing more about the lag of food. She had heard James and Charlotte talking about what great meat dishes there were in the town. Ragout, pork chops, lamb, rabbit and last but not least deer. However, they would only stay in the city for a few hours if everything went according to plan otherwise they would have to stay for a few days. That were the original plan that they still were set on following. Already half an hour before they even saw the city the scent of meat hit them like a wall. The juiciness of the meat almost hang in the air. Unwanted both James and Charlottes stomachs growled. Emily weren’t the only one that were hungry. Charlotte were the first to set into run, then James and then Emily who didn’t want to be left alone. They ran until they could see the city a few hundreds of meters away, “Let’s go” James said. No matter the cost, he had to try what it were he could smell so strongly. It were some sort of sweet meat mixed with some kind of strong spice. James stomach growled by the sound. “What do you say we split the payment of that strong sweet smelling meat?” James asked. Charlotte nodded, but Emily tipped on her toes. “You already know I have way of paying” she said and looked at James with an evil glare. “For something like this and because you’re in the party ill pay for you, however we should find a job soon so you can make some money,” James said. Emily looked happy for a sec before then realizing. “I have to work to get money?” she asked. James nodded “What we do is killing monsters, not animals but something stronger. I can’t remember how big monster problems this city has, but I know that every bigger city has at least a few. And as most travelers come here to buy meat we should be able to find something. And if not we have other things we can do.” James said. Both Charlotte and Emily looked at him with surprised looks but decided against asking. Charlotte still weren’t that used to Emily but she had gotten pretty “sure” around her. Now she talked in sentences with her. James began walking to the city and Charlotte and Emily followed.

 

“A whole bag of this size?” the butcher asked when James took out a bag of a more medium size, almost big and said that he wanted to buy the cheapest yet still tasty jerky the butcher had. The butcher stood and looked like he needed an excuse not to sell that much at once. There could easily be 30-40 kilos in there and he weren’t sure it would be good for business to sell that much at once. “Can I ask why?” he asked them. James who had the word responded “I and my companions over there are traveling to Saijei and knowing that the travel will be a long one it would be a quite good idea to have some jerky which can last for long and still has some taste other than leather,” James answered. “I see,” the butcher answered “Wait for a second while I find the meat, and give me the bag so you know that you have the amount you’re paying for” he said. James gave him the bag and walked over to the girls. “Seems like he aren’t happy about selling this much at once but still understands why we want that much.” James said. Charlotte nodded and Emily said, “That’s good but why don’t we get some high class meat?” James sighed “Emily if we had the money to get top quality food and supplies we wouldn’t be traveling like this. Or traveling at all actually” James said. James did have a lot of money as Emily quickly noticed, but some and 40 kilos weren’t that much when you thought about it. “Yeah yeah, if you say so” Emily said. I really don’t want to teach her about the world as it is right now, James thought. A few minutes went by before the butcher came back with the bag of jerky. The scent were quite clear even though the bag were furred with quite a big layer of wool. “What do you think this is worth?” the butcher asked. “I’d say around 3 golds.” James said being the master of trading that he felt he were. “That’s not nearly enough,” the butcher said, “it’s at least 6 golds,” he said. “I have a pretty good knowledge on buying meats. This can’t be worth more than 4 and a half. But as I only deal with full golds, what do you say we split our offers and say 5?” James said. The butcher looked at amazement at James. James had been doing this kind of thing for quite a while now and knew how to baffle sales clerks. The meat here were worth 6 golds as the butcher had said, but James knew that saying that he only traded in full golds and he saw it worth 4 and a half but were willing to pay 5 would make every sales clerks so baffled that he accepted. “I guess we can do that,” he said and thus the deal were sealed. “I thank you for your time,” James said threw five golds at the butcher and walked out of the store. Charlotte and Emily quickly followed.

“You tricked him didn’t you?” Emily asked. “That much meat are clearly worth more than that,” she said. “You’re right. I tricked him for one gold coin. But since I always pay in full gold coins I can baffle shop owners by saying I see an item worth half or three quarters the price of a gold coin, but then offer the gold coin higher. This usually baffles them and I end up richer than them in the end,” James told her. “This only applies for butchers and blacksmiths though. Restaurants and things alike are much more difficult to cut the price down on. But when speaking of the sun shouldn’t we try and find that place with that sweet smelling meat?” James asked. The girls nodded energetic.

After a while they finally found the restaurant and James ordered three plates of the sweet smelling meat. It turned out to be fish cooked with an interesting new spice from over the ocean. Chili. The fish itself had nothing special to it, but the new spice made so many new flavors come out. The rice on the side were plain and nothing new. Neither were the greens on the side. It didn’t take long before James and Emily had emptied their plates. And shortly after Charlotte had too. “That was delicious,” the three of them said at the same time. For a second they were silent but then laughed as they had for the first time agreed that strongly on something. “You know Emily even though you don’t seem like it you clearly are a quick learner. Tell me what have you learned so far?” James said. “Well I’ve learned that silver coins are of lower value than gold by the way they are traded more often with big buys and less with small buys. Nothing comes free and a need for water is necessary in this city. They get their water by going to the wells in every backyard and those wells are almost overflowing with water. Normal meat no matter how good it’s salted or in any other way prepared last less time than jerky which is dried meat. That and then strawberries are the most expensive fruit even though I didn’t find the explanation anywhere” Emily responded. Wow she learns fast. I don’t even need to teach her much other than the logic behind things. “Strawberries are the most expensive berry because they don’t grow in these areas. The ground are either way too moist or not moist enough or it’s too hot or too cold. But further south they thrive. However, there are quite a long journey from the south to here even though we aren’t even in the most northern areas yet. A big deal of the berries goes bad in the time of the journey and since there are a bigger demand than stock, the shopkeepers have to keep a higher price than the berry is worth in itself. So everything containing strawberries are quite expensive and are usually on eaten on birthdays or at festivals.” James explained. Emily look like she were turning something over in her head. “So because we are in a more middle part of this island the ground and environment aren’t good for strawberries and thus we need them from further south. But since the journey is long and probably dangerous sellers needs to take more for them than they are actually worth. Right?” James were surprised, that took him almost a month to get right the first time. “You’re completely right.” “But then I think that the nature are weird” Emily said. Both James and Charlotte looked at her with a confused face. “In the forest I’m from a smaller version of the berry grows. It’s a bit sour but it’s not bad tasting. But if they don’t grow well up here then the plantation of those small berries are an abnormally big exception.” Emily said. Every one able to hear their conversation now looked at her. With 25 voices one word sounded “WHAT!?” they all said. “Yeah it’s true. A plantation of smaller strawberries grow in the forest surrounding a town a few days walk in that direction,” she said and pointed in the direction Emily, Charlotte and James had come from. A big scatter of chairs being pulled back began and only a few stayed back. “What idiots” Emily suddenly proclaimed after all those who ran had exited the restaurant. “I were simply fooling them because I were tired of them looking at my chest all the time,” Emily explained after seeing James’ and Charlottes confused faces. The three of them burst into laughter. By the time, they would realize what forest they talked about and got back either from being pissed off by the obvious lie or would have checked the entire forest for the said berries the three of them would be nowhere to find. “You learn how to put things into practical matters this quick too?” James were both surprised and quite proud of her. “I’ve had too for all my life. I don’t remember my parents, but the only social animals in the forest were wolfs and they weren’t happy having me around. Animals fled even before I had closed in on them. So after watching the wolves hunt a few times I tried something similar. As I didn’t have sharp enough teeth to cut through the skin and fur of an animal I made a small knife from a piece of long flint, grass and a stick. From then on, I’ve tried quite a few things. One were to make a shooting device, but the only thing I got out of that were hurting fingers and a bird unable to eat.” Emily said. James where surprised “You made a bow by yourself without the instructions to know how to do it the best way? That’s amazing,” James said. Emily looked proud before sitting a bit more unsteady on the chair. “We need to find me a job, but those guys would be back before I ever got to finish something. What should we do?” she asked. James smiled “I’ll get you some money, but the next time I take a gold coin from you as payment. No matter how much I make for you and no matter what you get in payment. Understood?” Emily looked it over. She probably knew that a gold were a lot and thus she would have to do quite a big job to earn enough to have something left for herself. “It’s a deal,” she said after a short while.

 

They slept outside that night and already early in the morning James woke Charlotte. “I’m going to the city, keep Emily entertained till I get back ok?” Charlotte nodded before falling asleep again.

Already before the sun had set, James had what he needed to make the money for Emily. A box to stand on, one of his many bags and a small piece of old torn paper. He sat on the box sleeping until the sun touched his face, he were facing the sun. Then he stood up on the box and began singing an old morning song. The same song his mom had learned him and he himself always had song with her when he woke up early enough. In the start, he hummed the melody then he began singing “Dear sun whom rises in the east, show us your smile and your bliss. We who need your aid in our daily work, we who harvest the land you shine upon, pray that you will give us a nice day, and leave room for the rain.” James sang the song in such a soft tone people around him stopped and looked at him. He kept singing of the song and the farmers work. How the farmer kept praising the sun and hope for rain every now and then. He kept singing of how beautiful life was and how necessary the sun were for this life. After many minutes, he finally stopped singing. The big crowd of people who had gathered around him began clapping and a few maidens and women even had tears in their eyes. James jumped down from the box and bowed to the crowd. He then took his bag and walked around the crowd. Before he knew of it, he had already filled the bag. He then pronounced. “I thank thy for thy generosity and thy kindness.” With those words he got yet another round of applause. James left the city a little while after. However, not before a tanner had asked him if he needed anything and he said he had a companion who could use some more clothes. She weren’t that high but had a big chest, and since they were traveling to Saijei they needed to have warm clothes. The tanner nodded but before he left to find something James said “I already have warm clothes and the same with my other companion but the new one don’t, so we only need some for her” the tanner nodded and a few minutes later came out with a set of warm clothes and two jackets with fur. Apparently, Charlotte are getting another jacket James thought.

As Emily had no idea of the value of silver compared to gold, she were a bit shocked to see that James came back holding a full bag of silver coins. “Is that a lot?” she asked. James looked at her and said, “This bag probably holds over 300 silver coins. Fifty silvers equals one gold. Fifty silvers times two are a hundred. Now do the math.” Emily calculated the numbers. “It’s 6 golds right?” James nodded. “For six golds you can buy around 20 kilos of medium class jerky. Or clothes enough for a year. You can stay in the same inn for almost 3 years with that amount and still have money to spare after that. Does that tell you something?” Emily looked as if calculating the proper price for all this Then suddenly her face got hit with a giant shock “This is not just a lot this is a smaller fortune” she said. James nodded. “But when you get a job like the ones we usually do this is nothing. Last time I hardly took myself paid and neither did Charlotte. I got 50 golds for doing a life threatening thing, and the only thing Charlotte got for herself were the rapier in her shed.” James said. Emily looked confused. Her eyes told her thoughts so clear it were almost laughable. “How is that hardly paid?” she then asked. James sat down and explained. “My life were on the line, we were raiding a monster nest and needed to kill all monsters we met. We were bombarded with monsters and the two of us killed more together than all other parties did all in all. That means that out lives were the ones in the biggest danger. My life aren’t as cheap as 50 gold coins, but I got something interesting out of it,” James said and pulled the red stone he had taken as a reward out of the bag it were in. Emily almost looked as if she couldn’t understand what where going on. “That’s so beautiful.” She said. James nodded, and hid the stone away again. “It truly is.” He said. “But now that you have some money let’s get going before anybody comes back after having run all the way through the night and found out what forest we were talking about.” James said and began packing his stuff. He then closed the bag and “locked” it with the pin fitted for the hole in it, he then threw it over to Emily. “I’m gonna do a lot for you, but you will have to carry you own stuff. That reminds me before we go open the bag and try the clothes inside it on. I got it for you as we need to go through a very cold area.” James said. Emily did as he said but after she had been away for five minutes, James asked Charlotte to go in and help her get it on. It turned out one of the jackets didn’t fit her around the chest but fittet Charlotte instead. The other fitter her in a loose fit meaning that she could grow in it. It were now settled. They were as ready as ready could be if they didn’t get any other in the party.

 

They walked for days and James and Charlotte taught Emily lots of things. Her knowledge grew everyday but her mental age were still close to that of a three year old. A day when they traveled Emily suddenly asked, “In Waterville there were some sort of alters all around the places with wells. Why is that?” James looked at Charlotte and Charlotte looked at James. James then said it as it were “I hadn’t taught of teaching you about religion yet but it seems you’re curious. In Waterville it rarely rains and their wells sometimes dries out. When this happens they call to their “god” the water. The people in Waterville worship water.” James waited for a moment for Emily to respond like she always did when she understood, “So basically they see water as not only necessary for life but also as a god?” she asked insecure with her answer. James nodded. “There’s a city I think you would find funny for the first three hours. In that they worship people with animal ears like you and I. But that also means that they take you prisoner as you’re “a god sent by the other gods” and they won’t let you go. Women are afraid of giving birth because whether or not you get ears are completely random. I were there once when I were smaller. If I haven’t been in a party at the time I think I’ve still been there the day today.” James said. Emily looked thoughtful before saying “So they worship the animal aspects in humans? And they do it to such a degree it would be like me worshipping a special kind of bush then dig it up and carry it with me?” James nodded “More or less yeah.” “What a weird bunch Emily said. Emily hardly learned anything the rest of that day.

The very same night Charlotte asked James “You got so much money for Emily, how?” James had completely forgotten the girls knew nothing of his talent in singing. “I sang at the right place at the right time,” he said. Charlotte looked confused and Emily looked curious again. “Sing for us” Emily said. James knew there were no way out of it, so he stood up and began singing the song he had sung in Waterville. The minutes went by and the girls were entangled in the song. When James finished the song and sad down, the girls slowly began clapping. “I had no idea you had that kind of talent James,” Charlotte said. Emily’ eyes began being filled with tears. James and Charlotte looked over at her “What’s wrong?” James asked. “That song reminds me of an ancient memory of a sweet voice singing that exact same song to me” she said before bursting into tears and began crying. Both Charlotte and James sat and had no idea what to do. The sweet voice Emily were talking about clearly belonged to her mother, but how do you tell someone like that it’s ok to cry over the dead? After all she couldn’t remember her parents anymore and with this as the only memory of them of course she would cry when she heard the song again. Charlotte and James let Emily cry out for as long as she wanted. When she were done she fell asleep, but the tears still had a steady flow from her eyes. “I had no idea this were her only memory of her parents,” James said when they were sure Emily had fallen asleep. “None of us had,” Charlotte reassured James. A crazy thought filled James mind. He spoke without thinking “Imagine if the two of us were older and she still were that age. It would almost look like we were a happy family,” but as soon as he said those words he regretted it. However, Charlotte didn’t look like she anything against it. “You’re right,” she said. “It definitely would look like we were a family,” she added before going to change clothes. James were left in his own thoughts. I love Charlotte but I’m not sure now would be a good time to say it. I had hoped to tell her the day we met Emily but I couldn’t find the courage. How does she feel about me? James thought before changing himself. When Charlotte came back she had a few chestnuts with her. James threw them into the fire. “What’s the next city we’re going to?” Charlotte asked. James thought about it for a second. “I had just thought we could go to Saijei from here, but Emily needs a job so she can pay me back. The nearest city with known problems are probably Geart. It’s to the south east though she it will set us about a day out of course.” James said. Charlotte nodded “Then that’s what we need to do” she said and went to sleep. “Sleep well James,” she said. “Sleep well Charlotte,” he responded.

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