Can you Dig it?

May 1st, 2015

Running running running running. I’m running!

I like this place, it smells good. I walk around in the big room. There’s a big soft place. I sleep up there. I sleep down here too. We’re going to the other big room, the one that is outside.

I step out into the sun, it feels good. It’s cold, but that is okay. We go to the big room out here. The room with the smells. So many smells, I like going in there. I like being with him, he is nice. He said something, do I have to do something? No, he’s talking to the other ones like him. I start smelling stuff nearby, good good good, bad, good good. I look over to him, he’s my favorite, he feeds me. He’s good at tracking animals too, not as good as me, but he’s close. The female one and him are doing that thing with their arms again. They are pointing at me. He talks to me, he’s using his special words, I get to go with him. He picked something up on his way out, time to inspect. Hmmmm, wood, water, it’s a tree. Well part of a tree anyhow. We’re outside, he holds the stick, waving it toward me, speaking in the not-special words. What is he wanting? Then he throws the stick.  HE THREW THE STICK!!!!! I charge after the stick, omg he threw the stick, I can’t believe he threw the stick! AHA! I found the stick! The stick is mine! I bring the stick back toward him. He reaches for it, Uh-uh, my stick, mine stop pulling, this is my stick. Okay fine, you can have it. You going to thro………..YOU THREW IT AGAIN!!!!!! This is so awesome! He threw the stick again!!!!!

More than meets the eye.

March 27th, 2015

I walk into the training yard, there are already two squires practicing with swords and shields, but I keep moving on to my target. My target is an actual target, I check it and the surrounding area, nodding at what I see.

” Hey, Drennen, I think Bryce is going to shoot his bow again. Want to bet on how many hit the target?”

” Yeah, I’ll bet a week’s worth of latrine duty he misses every shot!” answers the other squire. The pair disengage from their practice, taking seats on the benches to watch me. I don’t care what they think, they are older and think I’m stupid.

“Hey, Quentin, you see all that silverware in the kitchens?” Drennen asks, he thinks he is smart, he is a bit, but it is easy to see what he’s going to say.

Quentin nods, ” Yeah, what of it? It looked normal.” he says, looking to Drennen with a confused look.

” Yeah, it all looked -Tarnish-ed to me.” Drennen says, starting to laugh.

Quentin laughs, then coughs a bit, ” I don’t get it.” he says to Drennen.

” He’s a Hillman, he’s Ta… ah ferget it… let’s watch, he thinks he can shoot with that thing.” Drennen says, quieting down and watching.

I’ve measured my steps back, then face the target, blocking everything from my mind except my target. I pull back on the bow, ‘Urth’s embrace’ I think. They said it means death, we had to stay in the room until it filled with water and we thought we would die. I release the arrow, before it hits I know it hit my mark.

“OH! Missed on the first shot! Your supposed to hit the center ring Bryce! Not the wall!” yells out Drennen.

“Haha! You tell him, Drennen. Couldn’t hit the broad side of a building.” Quentin says with a laugh. Which is stupid, since I actually hit the building.

I line up my next shot, ‘Earth’s master’. What is Earth’s master? The mage, the moon, is it Urth? I release the second arrow, it hits right next to the first.

“Bryce! You are doing it wrong! You have to hit the target, you stubborn hill goat!” calls out Drennen. I ignore him, he’s mean now. But later he will ask me for help with his classes, he acts like that to look better in front of his friends.

I hear footsteps, drawing my arrow for my third shot, I glance back. The Quartermaster has come in, he’s watching from behind the Squires, they haven’t seen him yet.

I line up my third shot, Praxxis, he’s a mage. I hope Peroxeles isn’t one, I like her, she’s nice, and a good hugger. I release the arrow. It hits three feet to the right of the other two.

” Couldn’t hit a dead goat that was right in front of you!” Quentin yells.

” That’s even worse, you hill monkey!” says Drennen.

“That’s enough, Squires. You are in the Knights, we don’t talk about our brethren like that.”says the Quartermaster, then to me he says, ” Shoot your last arrow, Bryce.” then back to the squires, ” Watch his shot and tell me what you see, Squires.”

Both boys jump up and stand at attention as the Quartermaster speaks, ” Yes sir! Sorry Sir!” they both say in unison, then watching me as I line up my last shot.

I aim carefully, last arrow I brought with me, everyone thinks I’m stupid. But I’m not, I’m smart. But sometimes I get it wrong. I release the arrow, it hits right next to the third arrow.

” Alright, Bryce, come here.” says the Quartermaster, ” Boys, look at Bryce’s shots and tell me what you see.” he says to the squires.

I move toward the Quartermaster and stand still. Well, not everyone thinks I’m stupid.

” He missed all four shots, ” says Drennen, ” Ain’t a single one hit the target, if it was a mage, they’d all be about a foot down and to the side of they’re chest. Couldn’t kill them if you miss them.”

“Yeah, he missed them all.” says Quentin. Quentin is Lithmorran, but he isn’t that smart, but he is good with armor and weapons, he will probably have to go to the front lines.

Nodding, the Quartermaster speaks, ” You’re right, it wouldn’t kill a mage. But we don’t kill mages, we capture them. Bryce tell them what you were aiming at on the ‘mage’ and why.”

” I was aiming at the hands.” I say to the Squires, ” A mage cannot cast if their hands can’t move.”

Both boys turn and look at where I’ve shot, now seeing what I did, Drennen has a dumbfounded look on his face, Quentin….. will make a good footsoldier.

” Right.” says the Quartermaster with a nod, ” Bryce, can you see to the stables, know you like working with the horses.” then turning to the Squires, ” Bryce is going to be busy with the horses, so he won’t be able to do some of his duties. So I’ll need you two to clean up all of the armor and weapons, make sure they are nice and sharp, see to the latrines, and help in the kitchens.” he says, then heading out.

” Yes sir.” the three of us say in unison. Quentin and Drennen grumbling slightly after. Quentin heads off to go fetch some tools.

” Hey, uh, Bryce…” calls out Drennen, ” Sorry about that, I was only kidding, you know?” he says, making his way toward me.

” I know.” I say, gathering up my arrows and placing them in my quiver.

” Say, ummm, before we have to turn in for the night, could you help me with some of my lessons? I didn’t understand some of the things the teacher was talking about.

I nod, smiling to Drennen, ” Yes, I will help. But I have to go see to the horses first.”

The wall of pain

December 18th, 2014

I wake up, getting up on my hands and knees, the movement still makes my back hurt. It’s been a few days since Casimir told me my punishment and executed it. My back is healing, but it still hurts. This is good.

For a brief moment I feel her eyes coming back in my head, Lynse’s eyes. But I concentrate on my back and she disappears. I’ve been able to sleep, because I did the right thing. I killed a mage, or I killed someone that was under the control of a mage. I did bad. Everyone that does bad must get punished.

I look in the mirror, twisting around so I can see the marks on my back. It hurts to twist my neck around, but  I want to see the marks. Five slashes. I thought I only got four, I must have lost count. But I stood up for all of them, that was important.

The pain helps keep her eyes out of my head, lets me sleep. Will it be enough to let me sleep when the pain goes away? Do I need to keep hurting myself to not see her anymore?

I shake my head, No, I don’t think so. But I will do one thing to make sure I always remember. I’ll need to go to the Tubori quarter to get it done.

I cannot make any more mistakes, I must be perfect.

And I can never forget,ever.

I write on a scrap of paper, Lynse dul Etheri, then nod and head into town.

Murder in the first.

December 17th, 2014

The shadows close in on the room, the fire in the hearth barely able to hold it back. She scratches at me, her eyes are blank like ink, she’s speaking in some kind of unknown language. Kadri is scared but has a barstool as a weapon, the acolyte has a knife and a rod drawn and has used them on her. I’ve already sundered her arm, but she scratched me with the other. I have only one thing left to use. I lean my head back and then bring it forward fast and hard into her face, a crack sounds in the room, there is blood running out of her nose where I hit her.

The inky blackness drains from her eyes, Lynse looks me straight in the eye. Lynse does, not the evil thing that I attacked. Fear is in her eyes, as is confusion. ” Why?” she asks me, then the light fading from her eyes and her body going limp.

I wake up with a start, shivering. Tears start flowing from my eyes, I look around the room to make sure no one sees me crying. The barracks are empty, I’m the only one here, I’ve stayed here more ever since Father disappeared.

She was a friend, I saw her smile. And I killed her.

Everyone says I had no choice, some even say I saved the person. But they didn’t feel the life drain from her, didn’t see her as she asked that question.

I killed someone, with my hands… and I can’t take it back.

I curl back up under the blanket and try to go back to sleep, hoping I don’t see Lynse again.

Seeing red.

December 9th, 2014

” Are you listening, Bryce?” says the instructor, hitting the table with his cane, he didn’t rap my knuckles this time, he must not be angry yet.

” Huh?” I ask, shaking my head clear of the daydream, unsure of what the topic was, I think we were going over Geography, ” Uh, Edessa?” I ask, taking a shot in the dark.

The instructor pinches his nose, ” So you are telling me that thirty times nineteen is Edessa?” he asks, ” What’s going on, Bryce? You usually pay more attention than this. You keep drifting off……..” stopping his sentence and smacking me on the knuckles with his cane.

I snap out of the daydream quickly, ” Ow! Vinegar is the ingredient needed!” Wait, was he asking what I needed to make fish stew?

” What are you daydreaming about, Bryce?” he asks me, frowning as he looks over me.

I feel heat rush to my face, I’m turning red, ” Uhhhh, a girl.” I admit to him.

The instructor blinks, ” A girl? Have we gotten to that point? With how many you interact with, I thought for sure you didn’t have any interest and were going to try to become a priest.” he says to me, ” What’s her name?”

I shake my head, ” I don’t want to say.” I say to him, face burning hotter.

He nods, ” Alright then, how about this, you tell me what she looks like then. What color is her hair? Her eyes?” he asks of me.

I smile and sigh, ” Red. Green. And she likes my hot chocolate.” I say to him, starting to daydream again, but pulling myself back so I don’t get more sore knuckles.

He nods, ” Likely Charali then, but you know you are too young for marriage, right? You know the Order’s rules, and the Knight rules.” he says, watching me carefully.

I nod, ” I know, but she is very pretty, and her name is pretty too. I can make her chocolate all the time.”  then canting my head, ” Charali, they are known for horses, being wild, and selling poop.”

The instructor tries to stifle a laugh, ” Dung, Bryce. The preferred term is dung, I’m not sure she’d like it if you called it poop.”

I nod, then the bells of the church sound through the land, I count them out, one two three four five six, I slam by book shut and put it in it’s place, ” I have to go clean the stables! Thank you for teaching!” I say as I run out the door.

Something fishy about this…..

December 2nd, 2014

” No!” I exclaim, moving toward the pot, the faint smell of something burning filling the room. I hurry and take it from over the fire, pull the lid off and wait for the steam to dissipate before looking in; only takes once to remember to wait. The fish mixture is fine mostly, just a bit burnt around the edges. I carefully start spooning the mash into the fish bodies laying on the plates. I’ve learned alot from the library, like this recipe. It was easy to follow once I knew what they were writing about. On the outside it looks like a whole fish, but it’s belly is empty, the skin used as a door. I fill each of the empty bellies and close the ‘doors’. Looking at the line of plates, I can’t help but smile. I’m helping, I’m protecting the people. Some people don’t see it that way, they think I am up to something. I guess they are right, I am, I’m trying to protect everyone from everything. Currently I’m protecting the hungry from starvation.

Lysander comes in from the next room, ” Arien, boy. I should start charging you rent for how often I find you in here.” looking back into the main room, ” And for all the free food you always give out, costing me silver on food I can’t sell.” he says.

I shake my head, ” You are wrong.” I say as I pass a plate to him, ” I do not make beer or ale or anything like that. You make lots of money off that, plus the rooms. I only offer two one or two people then I take the rest to the Almshouse.” I say to him, ” And you said I could use the kitchen anytime so long as I ‘don’t burn the arien place down’.” I say to him, mimicing him a little.

Lysander nods, ” Dammit, you are right. Why can’t you be stupid like every other Hillman that I’ve met?” he asks, grinning a bit.

I grin back to him, ” Because I am smart, I am not stupid, and I am not a savage.” I say with a firm nod.

Lysander nods, ” You are that. Booksmart I mean. You’ve got a thing or two to learn about other smarts though. Like when to not tell people the truth.” he says, shaking his head, ” That man that was here drinking and getting angry at everyone for ignoring him, for example.”

I shrug, ” He was drunk and needed a bath, I told him so.” I say to Lysander.

” You said he should go bathe in the water before someone mistook him for the outhouse.” Lysander says with a quirk of a smile.

I nod again, ” That is what I said, because he smelled and was drunk.” I say as I gather the rest of the platters up, readying to deliver them.

“People don’t like it when they are told the truth straight up, Bryce. They need to be left to figure it out on their own.” he says, helping me bundle up the platters.

I shrug once again, ” Then people are stupid, they say they want the truth when they think they hear lies. Then they want to hear lies when they hear the truth. I will still tell them the truth, I am not stupid.” looking around, ” Thank you for letting me use your kitchens, Mister Lysander. Lord bless you.” I say heading out on my trek to the Almshouse.

” Aye, Lord bless ya, Bryce.” he says with a shake of the head and a grin.


Mosquitoes itch.

November 7th, 2014

“Bryce, pay attention!” the voice practically yells out. It’s the librarian in the Keep, he helps me learn my letters.

” I am sorry, but I am itching.” I tell him, even as I have a hand digging into each armpit, they are both itching alot, ” Mosquitoes itch!” I exclaim.

-THWAP-  The man’s switch finds one of my hands, a flash of pain exploding across the back of my hand.

” A Knight is able to stand still even as they are being eaten alive by ants, Bryce. You need to learn to control yourself, ignore the itching. Likely it’s just in your head.” he says, turning to the map he’s teaching about, ” Okay, so what do you remember about the Farin people?”

I shake my head as I try to resist the urge to scratch, ” My head does not itch.” I say aloud, which is true. It’s just my armpits and the area below my waist I’m not allowed to talk about in public. The itching started a few days ago, and it’s been getting worse. The lesson, I should concentrate on the lesson, ” The Farin are the people that live near the Daravi. They do not like drinking, but they like smoking. They are usually the first to demonstrate their Faith by joining the Knights or the Order. They are dark skinned, but this is because their parents were dark skinned. Most do not have tattoos, except Miss Seija. She has a skull on her face.” I explain to the librarian.

Bells from the Church’s belltower announce the next hour in the day. The librarian nods, ” Very good. Well, our time is done for the day. You should go and do your other duties now.” he says to me, starting to gather his teaching implements, ” Oh, and Bryce, if you are still itching later you should go to the physicians. You might be allergic to something.”

I nod, gathering my own things, ” Yes sir!” I say to him, rushing out to make my way to the stables. I stop in the stairwell for a moment so I can scratch the three areas that are itching. It is almost as bad as when I first wore my tabard with no shirt. After several minutes of scratching I rush to the stables. No horses yet, so I need to make sure each stall is clean and prepared for any that come in.

“One day I will have a horse.” I say, starting to get to work. The itching not bothering me now that I’m working. Likely I’ll be here for a while, but that’s okay since I don’t mind this work.

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