Episode 007, Green Tomato Cow
(April 5, 2017)
August 24, 2017
Challenge: Issue 117
Our serial series is set in Kenneth Shumaker’s medieval fantasy realm of Quantos. We find the Apprentice Mage Morgus is out from the Mage’s University and on his one-year walk-about before he returns for his journeyman certification test on Autumn 50 of Pine, during the reign of King Regeanus III in the royal city of Mount Oryn’s South State district. Our intrepid hero, with a checkered past, is an attractive thirty-three-year-old human Jalnoric male with a bold personality and is determined to survive his walk-about year at any cost, even if it means snuggling in and working with nobility.
Previously in episode E006 on Autumn 79 Unicorn with:
After setting up a chapel in Hessan Manor, Morgus goes for a walk to meet an old friend, only to discover that the friend is dead. However, on his journey, Morgus gains a new friend, inviting the new friend to Hessan Manor. With Morgus’ guidance, the staff sets up a blacksmith shop in the tradeshop of the estate. As a result, Baron Hessan gives Morgus three large heavy tomes to study for a future intent.
We continue now with Episode E007 on:
Autumn 84 Unicorn
Now things can be easy, or they can be hard. Most of the time things are hard, and when they happen to be easy, people become suspicious. Oddly, Morgus is happy with today as he’s expecting a guest who is a friend, one that he easily happened upon a few days ago. It was a nice break after the difficulties of life. He may have been at odds with the laws of society as a pirate in his past, and Toaren recently reminded him of that past. Returning to South State district has reminded him of his past roguish lifestyle and his old attitudes. But life in the Mage University has altered his outlook somewhat, and seeing Leza opened up something in him he assumed didn’t exist. He had been told he was cold and calculating, at best, mischievous. But he matured in the university into something more, and Leza has warmed his soul. He actually cares about her plight and has concern for her and Sesan’s future, damn it. He has so much concern that last night he spent four hours thinking about Leza and Sesan before falling asleep, totally neglecting any spell work yesterday.
After washing, and dressing in his best clothing, Morgus walks downstairs to the staff dining room a full two hours before the staff morning meal, and an hour before Hez’s service to Imvor with Baron Hessan in attendance.
Walking into the dining room, Morgus trips on a pail by the door. Catching himself quickly, by clutching onto a chair back, Morgus looks behind himself, and he sees a steel pail of green tomatoes with flies buzzing about the pail.
Turning to the kitchen, he calls out. “Ada, what’s with the pail of green tomatoes?”
Coming out of the kitchen, the manor’s matron smiles, saying, “I’ve set them out for the dairy cow, Sarah. You can take them to her. If you do, I’ll have the cook give you a couple of extra cookies from the baking for Baron Hessan.”
Looking at the pail, then up at Ada, Morgus says, “At least two cookies for Leza, and I’d like two.”
Nodding, Ada smiles.
Laughing, Morgus picks up the pail, walking out to the corral to feed the green tomatoes to the cow, who greedily eats the fruit.
Returning to the manor in the dark, Morgus considers the whereabouts of the wights from the recent attack; they must still be in the area. One wight has a continuous light in his eyes, so he’s permanently blinded, and the other three will avoid him. But still? Where are the four?
Entering the dining room again, Morgus finds Bushnel at the table eating morning meal alone. The husbandman says, “I talked to Ada, and we agreed, I’d eat early and skip holy services this morning so that I can harness the carriage and head out before gods-rise to pick up your friend. You’ve been too happy since you returned from visiting them. So, we hope to get you to return to us by getting this over with soon.”
Sitting next to Bushnel, Morgus slaps the back of Bushnel’s shoulder, wholeheartedly laughing. “Thank you. I’ll try to focus again. When you see her, you’ll understand my preoccupation, Master Bushnel.”
Chuckling, Bushnel shrugs.
With the Imvor service over, Morgus sits with Hez. “So, what else do you need for your smithy?”
Looking smug, Hez replies, “I looked the shop over, and everything I need is there. But we’ll need more coal and iron sooner than later.”
“We’ll take care of that. So, what I need is a set of knives for my parchment crafting, but not standard knives. Top-of-the-line knives, as I’m making mage parchment of the highest quality. I can’t have any nicking, or tearing, or scratches in the sheets. The knives need to be razor keen.”
Whistling, Hez responds, “Damn, you don’t start easy or simple. To do it well, it’ll take some time.”
“You have the time you need.” Offers Morgus.
Sitting with Hessan in the large opulent office on the manor’s second floor, Morgus asks, “May I arrange apprenticeships over at Renol fief between tradesmen and citizens?”
The old man shakes his head. “No, you still need to get the guild or me to approve the contracts. At least, until you become my chamberlain.”
Nodding, Morgus answers, “I’ve started studying the first tome. I’ve studied the first ten pages containing the five principals of royal law. I’ll work quicker on the tomes.”
Leza and her brother arrive with Bushnel in the carriage during the rain, two hours after gods-rise, to the cheer of Morgus who eagerly greets the two. “Let me show you around Hessan estate. Then we can enjoy a wonderful meal in the staff social dining room, where we will be undisturbed.”
The two follow Morgus through a tour of the estate’s many acres of buildings and gardens for over an hour. Arriving back at the house, he gives them a tour of the ground level, showing them the Hessan Imvor chapel as well. Then he leads them to the cellar, and the staff social area, and lastly into the dining room. There they find a meal of roast hare, spiced roast tubers, and boiled peas in butter sauce, with a desert of a hardy bread pudding in a rich, smooth spiced cream sauce. After indulging in the scrumptious meal, they retire to sit in front of the blazing fireplace. Content, Morgus sighs, and he addresses Sesan, “So, what trade do you seek to apprentice in?”
Surprised at this turn of conversation, Sesan looks to Leza for a moment before turning back to Morgus. Sesan says with a somewhat blank expression. “I don’t know. I work stables as a labourer for a duster a day now, and I work every day.”
Stumbling a bit, Morgus nods, and looking to Leza, he grins. Morgus then views Sesan again. “Then meet with me tomorrow at the Reeve’s house around midday. We’ll see what we can do.”
Leza places her hand on Morgus’ hand, asking, “You’d do that?”
Nodding slowly, watching Leza, Morgus then asks, “How much would your shop cost?”
Shaking her head, Leza replies, “No, you couldn’t. It wouldn’t be right. I couldn’t pay you back.”
Winking and grinning, Morgus sighs and then utters, “What if I didn’t ask to be paid back?”
Blushing, shivering, Leza shakes her head. “No!”
Sesan watches the exchange and nods, and then he replies, “I’ll meet you.”
Watching the young average appearing Jalmal, Morgus smiles. “Good, I like that.”
Autumn 85 Unicorn
This morning, for hours before gods-rise, it rained so hard that there were rivers of running water. Morgus set out on foot for Renol fief, but the running and pools of water slowed Morgus down considerably, resulting in him arriving after three after noon. Morgus now realises how far it really is to the fief.
Walking to Bailiff Gaeric’s house, Morgus finds the Jalmal, who is over a century old, at home. Morgus asks him if Sesan had been there.
Gaeric drawls out, “Yes, the boy was. He seemed very disappointed that you didn’t arrive when I sent him back to the community stable.”
Grunting, Morgus considers events, then sighs. “Tell me, is there a tradesman in need of an apprentice?”
Pausing, as he thinks deeply about this, Gaeric nods and replies, “Yes. Yes, there is … Freeman Carpenter Journeyman Tensen is in need of an apprentice.”
Smiling, Morgus considers this and then nods. “Tell me where I can find Carpenter Tensen?”
Shrugging, the bailiff replies, “Currently, he works for Bargewright Toaren.”
Groaning, Morgus nods. “Where did he set up his camp?”
Abstractly pointing south, the bailiff says, “He set up at the end of the south field trail.”
Nodding slightly, Morgus exits. Walking through the sloppy, slimy red clay mud of the trail, he slips and slides working his way out to the logging and timber camp. Finding the location after nearly thirty minutes, he sees several tents and two structures standing in a tight grouping. There are many people around the two central structures. Morgus observes that the construction is being pursued on one structure, advances there. Finding Bargewright Toaren, he addresses the man boldly, “Gods-grace and good fate Master Toaren.”
Grunting, the pirate master nods.
Looking around, Morgus observes the workers. “I’m looking for Carpenter Tensen; may I speak with him?”
Nodding, Toaren points to an old octogenarian Jalmal who is toiling with building the framework for the cutting towers. “Be brief; I pay him well, and he’s slow.”
Saluting half-assed, Morgus walks over to the pampaloo, addressing him. “Gods-grace and good fate Master Tensen … I’d like to speak with you for a moment if I might?”
Stopping his work, the pampaloo heaves a sigh and catches his breath, “Yes?”
“I have a man who I would like to set up as an apprentice in a trade. The man has no trade skills, but he’s physically strong, healthy, and in his early twenties … he’s local to the area, can relocate here. He already works on this fief daily now.” says Morgus.
Looking at the mage, Tensen smiles, asking, “What’s his name?”
Having the attention of the carpenter, Morgus aims to keep it. “He is Master Sesan – works as a labourer in the stables.”
Chuckling, Tensen then replies, “I know the lad. I’ll take him for a fee of one hundred Flairs.”
Toaren, who is standing behind Morgus, clears his throat saying, “I want a hundred Flairs to let another worker on the site.”
Turning around, Morgus asks, “How so?”
Toaren boldly replies, “If any more workers are brought on my site by the journeymen, then I want a hundred Flairs fee paid to me as accountability for the worker to be here. Our agreement is for Renol workers to be hired for the site, so I’m imposing a penalty for my tradesman hiring a non-Renol.”
Frustrated, Morgus frowns and grunts. Watching Toaren, Morgus says, “Fine, done to both of you … he starts tomorrow morning. I’ll send him to see you this afternoon.”
Working hard walking back to the village, Morgus enters the stable to find Sesan mucking stalls. “Hey Sesan, gods-grace and good fate. Sorry that I’m late. But you’re now a carpenter’s apprentice with Freeman Journeyman Carpenter Tensen, out at the new logging site camp … you’re to head there now if you agree.”
Stopping and staring at Morgus, Sesan mumbles a moment and then asks, “You’re serious?”
Nodding, Morgus offers his arm.
Slowly, Sesan reaches out his arm and clasps, saying, “How do I thank you?”
Winking mischievously, Morgus boldly says, “Do your best work, learn quickly, become a master, and I’ll be repaid with that as a wondrous thank you.”
Shaking his head, Sesan asks, “Who are you?”
Firmly Morgus answers, “I’m a pirate – Mage Morgus of Lenden Estates … your friend.”
Nodding, Sesan releases his clasp grip.
Morgus says, “Now go see your new master at the logging camp before much time passes.”
Sitting in Hessan’s extravagantly opulent office, the pampaloo nods. “Your solution is fine, but you will have to fund it yourself, at least until you earn your place as my chamberlain. I will not fund apprenticeships until then.”
Sighing, taking a drink of Larap’s rare wine, Morgus asks, “Then may I send Bushnel with my coins to Renol, tomorrow?”
Pondering this, while tapping his desk, Larap watches Morgus, and then he nods. “Okay, I won’t be using him tomorrow.”
Autumn 86 Unicorn
Sitting with Bushnel on the driver’s seat of the extravagant Hessan carriage as they leave Renol fief, Morgus says, “Thank you for bringing me along and agreeing to stop at 1018 again.”
Laughing, Bushnel encourages the four horses onward to their next destination which is not far away. The husbandman and carriage driver for Hessan’s estate replies, “For you, I’ll do this. But you’ll owe me, Master Morgus. Remember that when you’re Baron Hessan’s new chamberlain … I’ve heard the rumours.”
Slapping Bushnel’s shoulder in friendship, Morgus says, “If I have your support, I won’t forget, my friend.
They pull up to the two-story wooden house and Morgus jumps down, knocking on the door at an hour after evening meal time.
Leza opens the door, with an expression fluttering from excitement, joy, and then to looking puzzled. She asks, “Why are you here, Master Morgus?”
Kissing her hand, he asks her, “Did your brother give you the news?”
Smirking and blushing, she says, “Yes, thank you for getting him the apprenticeship. But we can’t pay you.”
Winking, Morgus turns and walks away. As Morgus climbs onto the carriage, he calls back, “You just did. The carriage will pick just you up in five days for midday meal at Hessan manor. Be ready for the carriage at gods-rise on Winter one.”
Riding away, Morgus asks Bushnel, “You’ll be sure to retrieve her on Winter 1?”
“Of course, Master Morgus,” Grins Bushnel, as they return home.
Morgus’ nerves are getting the better of him. On their return to Hessan manor, his feet tap away at an old tune on the floor boards of the driver’s box. They arrive well after dark, but Morgus skips evening meal. He goes to his room to write in his journal and study the chamberlain’s tomes before retiring to bed.
By, Kenneth Shumaker.
To be continued in the next episode 108, ‘Green Rabbit Bottle’ …
Generally, work continues for Morgus, except for the return of past horrors striking out at him with a vengeance. Morgus calls to the aid of those of Hessan estate to resolve the issue, but who survives?
©2017 by Kenneth Shumaker with Inevitable Unicorn Press
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