This is the first part of a series
It was the oddest thing Raelle had seen in her young life. Their was a magnetism to it, pulling her close. She ran a small hand over the flawless surface of the shield, not knowing what it was, and felt perfection beneath the layers of dust that covered it.
It was taller than her, the top forming a sweeping W, the middle point large and round, contrasting the two on either side which formed sharp points.
“Look at this Pop Pop, look over here,” she exclaimed waving.
Raelle was tall for her age. At five years old, she was slender as a reed with a narrow face framed with long blonde locks that tumbled past her shoulders.
She had never seen anything like it. The people of River’s Edge were farmer’s. They defended their lands and flocks with pitchforks, and hoes, not shields, spears, or swords. Some of the older boys knew what these things were and had perhaps even seen drawings in the few books of the village, but few if any had ever laid eyes on the real things.
Forestalling her with an upraised hand, Fallon continued his talk with the old shopkeep. “Yes, I’ll take the seeds, even if they are overpriced. The hoe will have to wait.”
Fallon was dressed in hard spun overalls. He was a large man, broad across the chest, with thick arms, and legs like tree trunks. He wore a friendly face that whistled through a wide smile as he worked the farm, turning his hands to rough callus.
The seeds were a must. They would feed him and Raelle and earn him money when he hauled the harvest to the city to sell. The hoe was a luxury he could do without.
“Pop Pop,” Raelle called again. An only child of a widower, she was not accustomed to being ignored. She stamped her foot. “Pop Pop!”
“You sure?” the old shopkeep asked, smooting his beard. “A new hoe would go a long way at harvest time.”
The shopkeep was thin enough to stand in the squalls that blew down from the mountains and not be effected by the wind. He bore a large nose that stuck out between small eyes. White hair seemed to be everywhere. Covering his face and head almost completely, leaving room enough for eyes, nose, and mouth. Even his ears sprouted thin strands of white.
Fallon didn’t respond, only rubbed the small of his back, turned away and walked smiling to where his daughter stood by the shield, trying to lift it from the rough wood floor.
The shopkeep put down the hoe, mumbled a bit of quality craftsmanship and followed the man.
“We’ve no use for that little one.” Fallon knelt to examine the shield and mumbled to himself. “As fine as I’ve ever seen.” He added to himself, even in the war.
“What is it, Pop Pop?”
“That young lady is a shield and like your pop said, a fine one,” the shopkeep noted, bushy eyebrows held high as though he was shocked at his good fortune. “Would make the defense of your farm much easier.”
“Not much need for defense at River’s Edge.” Fallon pocketed the seeds and scooped Raelle up. “Time to go home now. The sun will be leaving us soon.”
The shopkeep lowered his voice. “Times could be changing. I’ve seen some unsavory looking fellas walking about lately.”
Raelle stared down at the shield, feeling it pull at her. She reached a hand out, but could not reach.
Fallon let his daughter down. She wiped more dirt away, inspecting the strange object.
“What’s this talk? You trying to scare my girl?”
“The girl seems too taken with the thing to hear anything from me,” the shopkeep noted to Fallon.
“She has an eye for things we do not need,” Fallon said. “But I will admit to having seen the sort you speak of on the road on the outskirts. Groups of seven to ten. They look to mean no good.”
“You make my point. Even if all you have is a stick, how much more effective when coupled with a shield?” He let the question hang in the air between them.
“How much,” Fallon asked grimacing.
Fallon scooped his daughter up once again. “Time to go. If I’m to be robbed, I would do it on the way home.”
The shopkeep held up his hands in a pleading gesture. “Oh, very well, twenty five bits,” he offered hesitantly.
“You’ve already taken me for the seed. I’ve six ten pence pieces and a five pence piece. That is all. Take it or leave it.”
Raelle sensed that something was going on as she watched the shopkeep and her Pop Pop going back and forth.
“Six and a half bits.” The shopkeep spat the words. “You drive a hard bargain Fallon, and we both know that it’s worth more.”
“Good luck moving it in River’s Edge.”
The shopkeep let out a breath. “Deal.”
With the sun low on the horizon, Fallon started home, Raelle in his arms and a shield slung over his back.
This is the start of a serial. Every week, another portion will be posted with a target word count between 500 and 1,000.
I hope you enjoyed the humble beginnings of our journey and look forward to seeing you on the road home next time.
See Episode 2 here!