Tales of the Bloodstone Lands
Flour for Algernon
- Spring 1372
“Let’s go. I want us to arrive before they start working.”
“It’s the middle of the night Jinx, let me sleep.” The voice was young and high pitched. No more than 11 or 12 years old.
“It not the middle of the night. The sun will be up in two hours. First loaves need to be out of the oven before sunrise.”
“I don’t want to go. I DONT want to bake bread. I DONT want to wake up every day before the sun.”
Jinx walks over to the pitcher of water and slowly pours it on the young boy sprawled on the floor desperately trying to stay under the covers. “Well now that your all cleaned up we’re ready to go.”
Jinx grabs the boy by the lapels of his shirt and hoists him to his feet. The boy stumbles a bit but steadies himself against the wall.
“ Hey Jinx, cut it out. I said I don’t want to do it. Why can’t you let this go?” Jinx pushes him into the only chair in the room and tosses the boy his boots. “Put them on. We’re leaving. And don’t say another word till your down stairs. If you wake Fierce up before the forge is hot you’ll have bigger problems than me pouring water on you. I’ll be downstairs. Now Hurry!”
Ten minute later the boy is coming down the stairs steading himself against the wall as he decends. Jinx bangs on the door between the forge and the house and yells. “ITS HOT, I’M BORROWING NELLY THIS MORNING!”
With that he leads an old field work horse from the stalls and helps the boy up. Then he hands him a plate with some dried cheese and a slice of wild berry pie. “You’re giving me your pie?” He asks the half elf as he leads the horse out. “Sorry about the water.” Jinx replies
It’s 20 minutes to the Bake shop of Corwenia Goodbar. They walk in silence. As they arrive the boy looks at Jinx in the eyes deeply and asks again, this time with a tremble in his voice. “why Jinx, why do I have to do this?”
Jinx grabs at the boys right boot and pulls it off. He stares at the boys foot. Half of it has been cut off and what remains still is not fully healed from the Frost bite just weeks back. “That’s why Algernon. You can bearly walk. You certainly can’t outrun a guardsman no matter how many shortcuts or bolt holes you know. And the other kids can’t look after you forever. You need to change.”
“I’ld rather die than work in some shop”
“Really. Well let’s head to the old quarter then and see if old Tarkis has some work for you. You can work with his other cripples and get lowered down into a chimney to scrub. Oh or maybe some nice sewer work.”
“That’s what I thought.”
“Algernon… I owe you. When I first arrived here you showed me how how to survive on the street. Let me show you how to survive off them. I promise if in 3 months you don’t like the people here or don’t like the work… I’ll find you something else. Lots of people here owe me favors. The widow Goodbar is just one of them. You’ll have a roof over your head, a full belly and a warm bed in the room behind the ovens.”
The boy looked down at him as Jinx carefully slid the boot back on his foot. “What do you say?”
Jinx assured him, “Three months, I swear on Corellons Bow”
With that he lead the boy inside and made the introductions. The widow practically smothered the boy in her Bossum upon their meeting.
Jinx spent the morning there making sure the boy was settled. By noon he was mixing dough with two other helpers in the shop.
Jinx waved the widow outside. When she came he gave her a small pouch with 100 Gold. “What’s this all about” she asked
“For incidentals Corwenia. Food, clothes, I don’t know…Bail.”
“Don’t be silly. I owe you for what you did for my sister”
“You paid me for that.”
“I gave you a pie”
“It was a good pie Corwenia. Please take the gold. Beside I don’t have a use for it. I live off the land.”
“Really, because I hear you live above a stable now.”
Jinx hops up on the horse. “You have big ears Corwenia. Thank you, I’ll be back in a few days to check on him. If you need anything you obviously know where I’ll be.” He winks at the plump widow and begins to ride off catching a look at the boy in the window, covered head to toe in flour, and smiling; finally.