Monday, April 8, 2013

Day Four-Thirty-One: Howdy, neighbour

Holy crap. Pagan's come to Pubton.

I haven't heard much from Pagan since the expedition to the mountain a while back. Every now and then I'll spot his entourage in the pub, usually having drinks with my dad. I avoid 'em. I don't mind Pagan so much, despite his gruffness, but, y'know. Dad. Rough relationship.

When we emerged from the forest this morning, after a cosy night spent in the wagon, Eve and I found Pubton to have effectively doubled in size. Most of the empty area surrounding the town was suddenly occupied by new houses, new barns, new farm fields, new walls, and, somehow, utilizing that crazy logic we like to call our own, a new hill on the edge of Pubton, sitting upon which is a manor. A big, imposing, half-built-but-utterly-recognizable manor. Pagan's manor.

I pulled the wagon up to Morris' house, feeling utterly flabbergasted. As he took in his horses and pulled the wagon into storage ("Gotta be easier on the wheels, Dragomir, c'mon, I don't have spares"), Morris explained that Pagan and his cadre of slaves had arrived not five hours after I'd left, bearing a massive amount of building supplies in a fleet of wagons. Working almost around-the-clock for four days they'd managed to reassemble most of their fire-singed barns and homes, plowed new fields along the Potos River, and generally made themselves a part of the community.

"Why?" I asked.

He shrugged. "Dunno the specifics. Go ask Harold, 'e's been runnin' 'round like 'is head's cut off, tryin' ta revamp the wall so it gets 'round all the new stuff. Mainly 'cause 'o your dad, I think. Ol' Oswald's preeeeeetty loud these days."

"Oh. Great."

I couldn't find Harold, but I easily tracked down Bora in the pub, and she pointed me upstairs. Apparently Eva had a visitor. I went up, and lo and behold, there was Pagan, talking to her through the bars. I left Eve with Bora while I went in to have a chat with the lord of the lands.

He greeted me cordially enough. As cordial as Pagan ever gets. "The mayor returns. Or are you ex-mayor? No one seems to know, these days."

"I dunno. Guess I haven't made it official yet. I'll do that this week." We shook hands. "Employer 'n employee finally get to talk, eh?"

Evangelina and Pagan nodded, exchanging rueful glances. I grabbed a chair, and they quickly explained their history: after leaving the kingdom in disgrace, her brother supposedly dead, Evangelina had wandered through the wilderness for weeks before collapsing in a small market town. One of Pagan's slaves had been visiting to collect groceries, she'd caught his fancy, and when she woke up she was at Pagan's manor, secreted in the slave's cabin.

"Lemme guess," I interjected. "Lemme just guess. Hoban?"

"He's not good at straight-on confrontations," Pagan said dryly. "Especially not with women. Guess he figured I would consent to marry them before Evangelina, here, could wake up."

Such was not the case. Evangelina awoke despite exhaustion and dehydration, and using her powers she'd wreaked havoc on the manor by manipulating the farm animals. It'd taken three days for Pagan to calm her down, another to explain the situation - and only one more for them to realize they suddenly had a mutual enemy. Me. The rest is a tale of rowdy critters, a slave army and a very big dragon.

One story down. One to go. "Okay. That's done. Now: what's, uh, up with your manor being here, Pagan?"

He cocked his head. "You asked if I would consider moving to Pubton. Here I am."

"Yeah, but you didn't sound too keen on the idea at the time."

"If opinions never changed, Dragomir, one of us would probably be dead right now." He smiled coldly.

Pagan had good reason to finally move. Aside from deciding that the Potos River would make a much more sensible watering ground for his slaves and crops, Pagan received word last week that three more kingdoms are under siege by mysterious forces. One of those kingdoms, it's reported, is Goblinoster.

Goblinoster, comparatively speaking, is kinda close to Pubton. And Pagan's manor.

"The arrangement is relatively unchanged. I still expect monthly tithes in exchange for your presence, and we can separate your crops from mine without difficulty. The primary difference is defence - my manor is much better fortified than any other buildings you have, and you will soon have a wall encircling the perimeter. Add some troops and you have a more defendable position than either of us could manage on our own."

"But first we need troops," Eva added through the bars. "Last I looked through these windows, they're lacking."

"We?" Pagan said, lifting an eyebrow. "I wouldn't think a prisoner part of the equation, myself."

She shrugged. "They can't keep me here forever. And I don't think they will. Right, Mr. Mayor?"

I bit my lip and turned away. "I'm… not that interested in this stuff so much, anymore, y'know… kinda resigned…"

"So your father's said." Pagan tapped his crane cane on the floor. "A foolish choice, if you ask me. There are few people here who can galvanize the community as thoroughly as you. You are a good choice for a leader in the event of an attack, even if your role is largely symbolic."

"I dunno. I…" Suddenly wanting to flee, I did just that. "Lemme think about it."

I went downstairs and drowned my problems in the sweet presence of Eve and Bora. Bora showed us how to make pancakes, which Eve watched with great interest, and the men of the pub glowered at me as I enjoyed the presence of Pubton's most beautiful women.

Minus one.


Dragomir the Father

1 comment:

  1. Ah, a Fontsmith. What a noble and sacred tradition of the medieval world. A little known fact is that they also specialize in the art of blackmagic and writing hurtful messages on bathroom stalls.