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Chap 12 – The Bruinshire

The night proved ill favored for the three travelers the next morning. They began walking later in the morning, when they should have aroused far earlier.
Jaden and Matthias kept astute eyes ready for any sign of prey that could be caught for food. Missing breakfast was no less anguishing as missing it the night before as well. Trying to maintain courageous faces in vain, the three trudged on.
They trekked for half a day without sign of any animals or birds, when they decided to rest. They sat on a large knoll, breathing heavily.
Though when it soon stopped, all three scanned the horizon still searching.
“Jaden…what’s that?” Matthias leaned forward, his eyes becoming slits, and focused on one point.
“What is what?” Jaden replied wondering what Matthias could possibly be looking at. There was nothing that came to sight at first, due to the blaze of the sun, though the watery image of a town soon came to Jaden’s view.
He huffed with relief and disbelief. “That…Matthias, that’s the Bruishire!” He exclaimed standing. Bree stood up after him squinting far ahead, asking, “Where is it? Where is it?”
Matthias whooped with joy, and told her she’d see it soon. He reached down, picked up his pack, and began to run down the hill. Jaden laughed and followed him, pulling Bree along with him.
Mostly, they were all thinking of the food that awaited them…they had passed three meals by, and it had given them quite a nasty stroke. They began laughing off the anxiety, and allowed relief to overcome them once again…and at least their path was correct.
Jaden realized how precise the council of Wynpen had been, to estimate their needing to replenish upon reaching the Bruinshire. And indeed they had only run out of provisions merely the day before. Jaden forced the images of Wynpen out of his mind…the small town he thought of was now his home, and he did not take too kindly to remorse over leaving it behind. Right now he would simply take pleasure in the new city he was arriving in.

* * *

As the town drew nearer, they’re hopes rose all the greater…it could be none other than the Bruinshire.
The river Fenrien, as the council had noted, ran straight along the city, allowing it effortless access to water. The town itself, however, was not large, and the whole of the river Fenrien was very much enough for it to live on.
Rather diminutive in size to what they had guessed a real city should be, Jaden, Bree, and Matthias eyed its peculiar making as they headed forward. It was still quite some ways until they would be reaching it, considering that when they had first spotted it, it was no more than half a fingers length when they held their hand up to it.
There was a stone wall surrounding the Bruishire…not a large one for holding enemies at bay, but for keeping unwanted animals or creatures from entering.
The Bruinshire had not what someone might call an ancient past or story to its origin, but rather one that was fascinating to a point. The town itself was a descendant of Ereth Londale, the larger more commonly known town fifteen or so miles to the northeast.
Even though the two cities had many trade routes between them, and associated with the other much, they had their own laws set down for them, and were seen as two completely different towns.
The three travelers had soon reached the wall of the Bruinshire, eager to get in. At the moment the wall itself served no purpose the city gate was wide open to anyone.
Even from a hundred yards away, the loud chattering of city-folk could be heard laughing, talking, and cheering. At first Jaden, Bree, and Matthias figured there must undoubtedly be festival taking place within the Bruinshire, and stepped through the entrance carefully, glancing around.
What they saw brought smiles to them all.
For there really was no festival or party happening at all in the Bruinshire at this time. Or for what they could see so far of the city, was a main courtyard of gray stone before them. A marble fountain was set in the middle of the courtyard spewing forth clear water. Young children, hands clasped together, danced merrily around the base of the fountain.
Some other people, full grown, and most likely their mothers and fathers, were gathered a ways away from the fountain laughing at the sight of their children’s dances.
Jaden noticed two younger boys fighting to a side of the courtyard, then off they went chasing one another followed by stray dogs that thought it all a game. Bree saw ladies of the city standing next to their large stands that held beautifully sewn dresses of blue, violet, and green; they were calling out to all to come and have a gander at their merchandise. Matthias also noticed oddly dressed entertainers walking among the courtyard, greeting the townspeople, and showing off their skills in juggling, and walking around on their hands.
But what caught the three of them best were the many aromas wafting around the courtyard. And sure enough, there were bakers, strolling through the middle of the courtyard pushing along carts that held many kinds of breads and pastries; and there were others carrying trays of delicacies to sell.
The three companions headed immediately over to these, Jaden already at the bag of coins in his sack. Pulling a handful of arcs, he greeted a man wielding a picturesque tray of foods.
“Here you are, dear sir, it’s your lucky day for selling,” Jaden exclaimed loudly, taking the entire tray off of the startled young man and stuffed the handful of coins into his empty ones. The peddler was stunned at first, though upon seeing the great amount of money in he now carried, he whooped with glee, and shook each one of their hands quite vigorously.
Bree, Matthias, and Jaden were soon walking around different paths filled with just as much delight and contentment as the courtyard, munching thankfully on the bit of food they had had in a few days. They tried to look just as pleased the common folk here in the Bruinshire, and found it rather of an easy thing to do, seeing as there was so much enjoyment flowing through the streets.
One child had even run up to Matthias, and shook his hand. “Hello there!” She smiled, greeting him warmly for such a small one. “You’re new, I bet, I’ve never seen you before!” And with that, she ran off, chasing after her friends.
Matthias laughed aloud. So that was how much those in the Bruinshire knew each other…they could even point out someone they had never seen before.
“I rather like this place,” Bree remarked, finishing another pork muffin. “In fact, I love it a lot! There’s so much—happiness going around. It’s hard to believe there’s not even a celebration happening!”
“I agree…perhaps we ought to just stay here forever.” Matthias suggested absentmindedly.
“It was merely a joke…merely a joke…” He apologized, blushing, and bit down into another bit of a small cherry pie.
The street they took soon opened up into yet another courtyard very similar, except in the middle of this one stood a large bronze statue. It was the statue of three objects, one standing straight and the other two crossing it on the sides. The object in the middle was a giant hammer. It looked somewhat like a war hammer, but anyone would know that it was the hammer of a carpenter. Crossing the hammer on the right was no doubt a telescope of a sort. The kind of scope that a captain sailing the seas would use to spot things from afar—there was a strange symbol on the telescope that looked somewhat like a star. And for the object crossing on the left, it was a large branch of some unknown tree, bearing diamond shaped leaves.
Matthias happened to be the only one of the three that caught the statue as being significant. And this reason was for the many times he had spotted it since he was here. Whether it was on banners, or for markings, they were all a hammer, crossed by a telescope and branch.
Just then, as a man was passing close by them, Matthias grabbed him by the arm and pointed out the statue.
“What does this statue mean, sir?”
“What…what means what you say? what?” The man asked stupidly looking around.
“This,” he pointed further, “the statue.”
“Oh that! Are you happening to tell me you don’t know what that is? Ha! What a fool, anyone in the Bruinshire knows the meaning of our crest!” He slapped Matthias roughly on the back, and revealed a small bottle of amber liquid and taking a swig, laughed drunkenly, swaggering off.
“A crest?”
“Yes, Bree, it obviously has to mean something; something significant, I suppose, each object representing a law or tradition they follow.”
Jaden looked around in thought. “Well then I supposed we’ll just have to take our chances asking another soul who, perhaps, is not as drunk as the former!” They all chuckled and continued walking.
More streets and buildings were passed, they soon were met with yet another citizen of the Bruinshire—however, this one looked none too friendly. He had a stern look about him, and he came to the three of them at a trot. It was obviously a guard of the city, donned with light armor, and a sword at his side.
“You there, you three! Yes you!” He pointed out to them, halting only a few feet away from their own faces. He was not much taller, and had long black hair, tied in a tail behind his back.
“Allow me to introduce myself: I am Captain Tyran Paxtus, and I have heard rumors of your three. You’re new aren’t you? Oh, I shouldn’t say new, that term is used for new citizens here of the Bruinshire,” Tyran pulled a nasty smile, “more like trespassers, I should say!”
“We weren’t trespassing!” Matthias retorted.
“Then why do none of the guards in my command have record of you entering my city?”
Bree was not ready to let themselves be bullied by this man not so much older than they were, and objected with somewhat of a good excuse. “Your gates were wide open, Captain! I’ll have you know, any fool could find his way through there without the noticing of a guard! Y-you don’t have the right to accuse of trespassing!”
“You will not retaliate to the captain of the guard here in the Bruinshire! Or I shall have you all thrown out of the city…without your belongings, mind you!”
Jaden figured it was his turn to get involved in the uncomfortable mess arising.
“Don’t speak to her that way! And she’s right, with any guard training you might have had, you would have known better than to leave your gates open so wide, they…” But he never finished.
For at that moment Captain Tyran Paxtus hit Jaden across the face, sending him on to the street grounds.
“Have you not heard anything I’ve been telling you!?” Tyran cried, outraged by their behavior. “This is unacceptable! Let that teach you to speak back to a captain of the Bruinshire!”
Jaden at this point, was indeed not listening, and he fought back. Whipping out his leg from his position on the ground, he caught Tyran by the back of his ankles, and tripped him. Captain Paxtus fell back, landing headfirst. He grunted and then moaned, rolling over and putting his hands to the back of head.
Jaden rose again.
“And let that teach you to speak to a knight of Arndain…” He said quietly.
At those words, Tyran stopped moaning. He forgot completely about his wound, and turned around. There was blood at his nose. Strangely none of the innocent folk of the Bruinshire noticed what was taking place.
“A—A knight of Arndain? Y-you don’t say! Oh, my lord, please forgive me…your servant did not know better! Please have mercy though kill me now if it pleases you…” Tyran whimpered on the floor, bowing before Jaden’s feet.
Matthias and Bree were undoubtedly impressed with Jaden announcing his position as a knight of Arndain, and experiencing the reactions of Faolan Firman when
they were back in the Lum woods. But now to see these responses from the captain of a guard of the Bruinshire! They began wondering if Jaden was something more that they did not know.
Immediately captain Paxtus withdrew a pouch from his side, apparently holding much money, and offered it above his head.
“As a payment for my utmost foolishness…there is nothing more to give, all I can ask for now is my life. Is There nothing more I can do, my lord?” He rose to his feet, and seemed much smaller now, before Jaden.
Jaden stared at the captain with no expression, though in his mind, he looked rapidly for something that he and his companions might need.

“A place to stay would be of my primary concern,” Jaden suggested, glancing quickly over at Matthias for any support. Matthias winked back, agreeing.
“Oh, of course! My lord is so humble, why you ask for so little…surely there is more I can do!” He turned stretching out a hand leading them in a direction.
They began walking. “Perhaps it will take me some time to think of anything else we may need.” Jaden replied.
“Oh but of course! And if there is anything your admirable companions would enjoy as well, just inform me…”
“One thing is that you can treat them the same as you do I.” Jaden nodded solemnly.
With now the captain among them, Jaden, Bree, and Matthias not only had a guide to show them around the city, but they were being offered whatever they wished for!
They passed an open area of meandering citizens of the Bruinshire. Captain Paxtus raised his arms and shouted loudly.
“Make way! Make way, all, for a knight of Arndain is among you! Step aside, or be forced!” He stepped quickly, shoving some out of the way and clearing a path for the three to walk through. Jaden already could see where they were headed.

For at the other end of the clearance, there was an inn standing tall. A wooden sign hung from chains above the doorway. On the sign was a wispy silver willow, standing solitary against the wood. Above it, it read: “The Weeping Willow”, and below, “Where you can drink your sorrows away!”

Captain Paxtus walked up and gestured to the sign. “Of course you will be staying at the finest hotel, will you not? Only the rich and prestigious foreigners who pass through the Bruinshire afford to stay here.”
He walked to the door, followed by the three travelers, and opened it for them.
As they entered, Bree, Jaden, and Matthias knew at once they would be more than contented in this place, for they were met with the aroma of fresh pine and of hot drinks being prepared in the bar behind.
Up at the front desk, there was a fat man who reminded them very much of Bree’s father, Gregory Basil, and she felt a pang of sorrow thinking of her family. He had a scruffy blonde goatee that attached to his sideburns, and running all around the sides of his bald head.
“Hello there,” He nodded trying to sound as enthusiastic as possible.
“Welcome to the Weeping Willow. Can I help you?” He asked glancing at them all with a suspicious look since Tyran was present.
“Uh…yes,” Jaden spoke first. “We’d like to rent a room for the night.”
“Just the three of you, or is he joining along?” The innkeeper reached for a key while nodding towards Captain Paxtus.
“Just us.”
“Right then, you are room twenty-three on the upper floor. That’ll be fifteen arcs,” the innkeeper announced, tossing the key across the desk towards Jaden.
“They’ll stay for free!” Tyran Paxtus exclaimed, slamming a fist on the desk.
“And the lady will have her own room…object, and I may have to arrest you for charging the regular commoners price for a room on a knight of Arndain!”
He did not even pause to allow the innkeeper any bit of a reply, but grabbed the key, and began leading the three stunned travelers to their room.
They climbed a small flight of wooden steps to a large hallway with rooms on either side. Tyran found room twenty-three as if he knew where it was to begin with. Opening the door, he stood aside to let them in.
After all three entered, he stood in the doorway and bowed. “I will bring the other key for the lady’s own room. If you’ll excuse me,” he bowed once more and took leave of the spot.
Matthias and Jaden were soon well acquainted with there new room, just before Tyran came back with the key, and Bree left to her own room.
They lay flat on the beds, soaking up the comfortable feeling of being on a bed for the first time since their travels. There was silence among them for a few minutes, and they rested, eyes closed.
“What do you say to some dinner, Jaden?” Matthias suddenly sat up, turning to him, smiling wide. “I suddenly feel safe in this town…goodness knows I’ve wanted to visit this place many times. I don’t feel weary any longer, and I’d like to explore the Bruinishire more…”
Jaden rose half way on his bed, looking back at Matthias with a chuckle on his face. “If you wish Matthias…I on the other hand am fatigued from our day’s travels, even if we haven’t eaten much. I don’t wish to prevent you from doing what you wish, Matthias, by all means, explore the city you have longed to see…but I think I’ll stay here and rest for a while.”
“I understand, Jaden. And I tell you what, I’ll bring a meal back for the three of us all to enjoy here. What say you to that? Good. I’ll find the most excellent shop for foods, and do a bit of touring…if only that Tyran Paxtus is still around….” Matthias began speaking more to him, and rose from his bedside, leaving the room.
Jaden smiled once more after himself, and fell back down to his pillow, closing his eyes once again, and drifting off to a peaceful sleep.
Bree had also fallen asleep in her room, her mind swimming with the recollection of exciting events that had happened to them over the day…they would be enjoying here in the Bruinshire, no doubt.
As Matthias reached the main floor of the Weeping Willow, he was fortunately met with the sight of Captain Paxtus explaining to the innkeeper the meaning of his intrusion on his inn.
When he saw Matthias, however, the conversation was cut short with Paxtus paying the innkeeper for the rooms with his own pocket money left over.
“Hello! You are one of the knight’s companions! I don’t believe I have been introduced to you properly,” Tyran stretched out a hand to Matthias.
Matthias shook it welcomingly, not at all alarmed in the least by the captain. They then met each other fittingly; and when Tyran learned of Matthias to be the ruler of the town of Wynpen, and all that had happened to his city, he sympathized with him much.
“I am greatly sorrowed by your tale, Matthias. But perhaps you had come down for some other reason. What may I help you with?”
“I’d like to explore the city, and perhaps purchase some suitable food for my companions who are wearied from the day’s events. Is there a place where I may do that?”
“Indeed! Come, let us leave this place, and I will show you all that you wish, and the delectable eateries of our city!” Tyran exclaimed, putting a hand on Matthias shoulder, and leading him out once more to the rest of the Bruinshire.

Nathan D. Gage

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