October 18, 2010
Now you may be wondering where page 26 is. A very valid question indeed.
So a couple weeks ago it was Fresher’s Week, where everyone gets settled into life at university for another year, after that my tutors started getting work loaded in. And now things are heating up to the boil. Consequently, between various calamities cropping up as I try and re-adapt and getting work done (Because now the student loans company can pull me from my course if I don’t submit something on time) I’m a little burnt out at the moment, and making a comic is taking uncharacteristically long.
Regular comics will resume Thursday hopefully, though there will certainly be a comic Thursday if not a regular sequence once more. For now, I’m not leaving you guys empty handed on an update day, so here’s part 3 of Vikkie Moule’s literary piece for Chronicles of Arcania: Brigitte, enjoy and I’ll see you all once again in a couple days.
Brigitte: Part 3
All villages, the smaller ones especially, are usually founded around a source of water (be it stream, well or spring) and a source for business (arable land, a forest full of beasts and birds, or even the sea). And, as the water and trade flows around the space and makes it grow, words and whispers will always sail with them. In such small communities, the populace like to know as much as possible about the comings and goings of each individual. Or, they like to think they do, which some would argue is pretty much the same. Words and whispers were flowing in such a tone, and had been for a week around the (then, miniscule) village of Crestview. In 85 AC, the village had yet to gain a name from being the midway rest between Stonesea and Northpeak, and, although the population was growing and recovering from the war, numbers were still small. It was, then, in the small village of Crestview, that rumours and whispers floated around the marketplace, concerning the old blacksmith’s forge, and the young woman who had bought the place and taken up lodgings with a small boy, presumed to be her son, only a week or so ago.
“She’s a funny sort, if you ask me.” Crowed Marianne, the old woman who sold the salt she got off the flats, and who no one had asked. “Never seems to leave the house. Sends the boy out for provisions. He’s an odd one hisself; never says a word other than “please” and “thank you”.”
“Maybe they’re just waiting to be settled in.” Mused Andrew, resting his knife on the chopping block and looking out to the old forge, which sat on the hill and looked over the market place. It certainly didn’t seem like anyone was living there now. It looked as old and derelict as it had been since the Blacksmith himself had gone to fight, and later been killed in, the war.
“She’s and odd’un, I tell you.” Nodded Mrs Crayl, the rather plump and fussy wife of the school-master. “She came in with a horse. All her possessions managed to fit in two saddlebags, if you can believe that. And we all know she’s got that boy with her, but she sure hasn’t come to enrol him in the school.”
“Maybe… they’re just waiting to be settled in.” Repeated Andrew, his certainty eroding as the women shared intoning looks.
“She doesn’t seem the friendly type, so far, anyway.” Mrs Crayl shrugged. “Andrew, could you get your father to do some of his minnows for my husband. He wants a half-a-pound, reckons he’ll get fortunate and catch us something we can eat this time.”
“Yes ma’am. I can go get him now if you’d like.”
“That’s a thing.” Marianne croaked, talking as she packaged a pound lump of salt in brown paper. “Where is your father? Ain’t seen him all day.”
“Sleeping, probably.” Chuckled Andrew, before yelping as he received a swift smack to the back of his head.
“Oi. None of that. You may be taller and younger, boy, but I’m the skilled member of the family and don’t you forget it.” Arthur Lamburg, who had first come to the island twenty years ago, was not quite as old as he felt and looked. His hair was white, his skin tanned and leathery, but his eyes still sparkled blue as the seas he loved. He smiled at Mrs Crayl. “And when should I have these minnows done by, dear madam?”
Crayl, who had long been a friend of the family, simply smiled back and shook her head, before answering “This afternoon, if you could.”
“This afternoon it shall be. I shall get this shiftless sod to deliver it to your door, free of charge.” Arthur bowed slightly, before turning back to his son. “And while we’re on the subject, what, may I ask, are you stood here gossiping about when you should be working?”
“That woman who’s moved into the old Forge.” Marianne grinned, gossiping being the highlight of her day. “We all reckon she’s a funny sort.”
“What’s she look like?” Arthur asked, leaning on the counter.
“Why are you asking?” Mrs Crayl chuckled, eyebrows arched. “I don’t think your wife would appreciate…”
“I ask…” Arthur cut her off, giving her a scornful, if amused glare, “For my somewhat useless son here.”
“Dad!” Andrew groaned, his already pink skin flushing. The women chuckled as the tall, lanky young man shifted uncomfortably, sandy blonde hair shining as it fell into his eyes.
“Well you’re twenty years old, son. I think it’s time you started looking for a little romance.”
“If nothing else, you can at least tell us who she is!” Snorted Marianne, before returning to her salt.
Later that afternoon, when most of the market stalls had closed down, Andrew took off his apron and hung it by the door, as he always did. He then began to head home, as he always did, and, as ever, his father yelled after him.
“Not so fast. Got a jar of minnow-bait you need to take over to the Crayl’s house.”
“I know you hate your job, but it’ll take me a week to get over there with this hip of mine. Go on, it’ll only be a short trip.”
Andrew glared at his father, wanting to protest, but eventually he gave in. “Fine.” He snatched the jar of minnow-paste from his father’s hands, and loped off. Andrew Lamburg had a strange gait. He walked with the loping, ducking steps of a man who had grown a lot quicker than he was aware of, as though he was still trying to pretend the last foot or so of height wasn’t there. So he loped across the village to the Crayl household, where Mr Crayl paid him and told him he’d received an inside tip about some big fish by Northpeak. It was as Andrew was loping home again, wondering exactly how someone could gain “inside information” about fish, that his eye was caught by candlelight in the window of the Blacksmith’s forge. He hesitated. It wasn’t that he agreed with his father’s teasing words… of course not… he just… felt he should be neighbourly. Yes, that was it. Maybe this woman just found it hard to introduce herself to people.
He loped up the path; curiosity peaked by the gossipy conversation earlier. He cleared his throat, tried to tidy himself up, and knocked on the dark wood door that sat in the front of the small dollop of a building. It was a one story building, which seemed to be designed so that everything was circular. He supposed it could look quite pretty, with a new thatch and some flowers growing around the brick-
He was interrupted as the door swung open, and the young woman he had heard so much about stood, looking rather confused and irate, sooty smudges over her face, and her dress tucked into her knee-high boots. Her long black hair stuck out at angles, adding to the irate appearance, and being highlighted by spots of pink flushing her cheeks. She gripped the door-frame with one hand and the door with the other, her green dress as tarnished and sooty as her pale white skin.
“What do you want?”
“I… um…” Andrew was thrown. She certainly wasn’t shy, that’s for damn sure. “I-I-I… um, just… wanted to say hello…” she didn’t seem to be getting any less irritated, so he tried adding, feebly, “hello…”
There was a long silence, where the woman continued to glare at him. Andrew shifted, uneasily. He tried smiling, but the woman didn’t as much as blink. What on earth…
Suddenly, she screamed, and began stamping erratically and heavily on the wooden floorboards. Andrew leapt a foot back, startled by the sudden movement, before breathing heavily when the woman stopped moving and began examining the soles of her boots.
“What, in all that’s holy, was that?!” He exclaimed, before falling silent and flushing as he realised the act of lifting her foot had caused the woman’s dress to become untucked, and as she examined the boot without removing it, she was showing her leg. Andrew looked very resolutely the other way, and flushed bright pink.
The woman looked up at him, and a wry smile lit up her face. Not that Andrew saw, since he was still resolutely and desperately searching the sky.
“Sorry about that.” She laughed, leaning against the doorframe. “Tell you what, the kettle’s just boiled. Come in, have some tea, and we’ll try the “Hello” thing again.”