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Rated: E · Other · Fantasy · #1565817
Silas meets with the contractors.
Chapter 16 Public Works

On Monday a week later, The Bank opened. It was the buzz of the town. To begin with no one could quite understand why it was needed. Amid much speculation and jesting the town's people shook their heads and wondered why anyone would entrust their hard earned money, to the strange little man with the pointed hat.

Silas sat at a long bench in front of a cage with iron bars. Orin, had just completed the last of the riviting and was testing the door. Spatch, the carpenter and Orville, the stone Wright, were waiting to be paid. At length Silas motioned the three over. As they took their seats, the banker set a money pouch in front of each one.

"I appreciate the promptness and high quality of your work. Before you is the agreed payment and a little bonus for finishing up on time."

The three counted out their wages and tucked away the purses.

"Since it appears you’re satisfied, we can now turn our attention to another enterprise you might be interested in.

The three shifted forward, interest in their eyes.

"I've a client who needs your services. He's leased the Citadel west of town and is interested in doing some renovations. I asked you to go out and take a look and I’d like to hear your assessment of what needs to be done."

"Actually," began Orville, "the stone work is not in that bad a shape, considering it hasn’t been used in the last five hundred years. It was well built in its day and the walls, foundation and even the key holes for the joists, are still serviceable."

"I wish I could say the same for the wood structure," said Spatch. "What isn’t gone is hopelessly rotted. The roofs fell in long ago and the floors too. Any attempt at restoration will involve a complete new roofing system, as well as interior restoration."

"Much of the iron work has fallen off and been carried away," spoke Orin. "Most of what was attached to the masonry has rusted away. It too, will have to all be replaced."

"How long will it take you, to make it habitable?

"It could be habitable in a month," estimated Spatch. "Once we get the roofs on and the windows framed it could be used… but it will take at least six more months to complete everything."

"The stone work could be finished in a week. We would need to replace about a hundred stones and use limestone to seal the cracks."

"The gate and the draw bridge will require some heavy banding and there will be an extensive requirement for items of hardware."

"You need to get started right away, however, the's an additional requirement that I need to mention."

They sat attentive, waiting for him to continue.

"My client doesn’t want to attract undue attention to what's going on. What this means is that, from the outside particularly, he wants to avoid the appearance of newness."

"How do you put on a fresh roof without the appearance of newness?” asked Spatch.

"I won’t presume to tell you how to do the work, but be advised that the appearance criteria is as important as the structure and form. Your employer is very adamant about this."

"And who might that be?" asked Orville.

"You do your job," said Silas, staring back at him, "and I’ll see that you get paid on time. Is that satisfactory?"

The three nodded.

"Orville, since you won’t have as much to do on the Citadel, there's another job that needs attention. Our client also wants to have the viaduct repaired and returned to service.

"I took a trek up to Glacier Lake and inspected the spillway and stonework. The viaduct has two causeways, an upper and a lower. The upper is going to require some heavy work. The lower, however, is like the Citadel, in remarkably good condition. The engineers of old knew how to build things to last. We'll have to replace the windless that opens the sluice. Then, there will be some extensive calking of the slip stones; and of course the cisterns will also have to be rehabilitated. While these are not trivial tasks, they are manageable and could be completed in relatively short order.

"How long?"

"At first it’s going to leak like a sieve, but in a month I can have water flowing into town."

"Each of you do whatever it takes. Send me your estimates as soon as possible. If you need a draw for materials and wages, the monies are available."


Albiano entered the cabin and saw Morgolic seated before the fireplace.
He looked pale and haggard but he was starting to move around and had a good appetite. Karla and Walinda fluttered about, waiting on him and tending the housekeeping.

"Since Morgolic is on the road to recovery, there is an onerous task we need to get accomplished," said Albiano.

"What’s that?" asked Walinda.

"The council wants us to apologize to Liope."

"What?" exclaimed Karla.

"Apologize…. You know, go knock on the door and say, 'golly we're really sorry.'"

"We were only doing as they asked." said Walinda.

"That’s not how they see it."

"Then how do they see it" inquired Karla.

"In their considered opinion, we exceeded our authority."

"What did I do wrong?" protested Walinda.

"You tried to snatch the gems."

"I was only reaching out for what is ours."

"I hate to be the one to tell you this, but the stones were off a sword, that once belonged to Oswald, who just happened to be, Husband, of the first Witch of Nirvana."


"Liope is the last in a direct line that descends back to Oswald and Olivia…"

"….First witch of Nirvana," finished Walinda with a groan.

"You got it."

"So, what am I supposed to have done wrong?" asked Karla.

"You, put your hands on a Queen, without her permission."

"Liope’s a queen?"

"She is technically, and that's a serious offensive."

"So tell me Albiano, what do you have to apologize for?" Asked Walinda

"Because I sanctioned the break-in, or have you forgotten everything that happened last week."

"When do we have to go?" asked Karla.

"We'll leave this afternoon and do it first thing in the morning."


Lilith worked hard cleaning up the Deputy’s house. It has once been a cozy cottage but it had been allowed to drift into a sad state of neglect. There were broken panes of glass in the windows and only two could be opened and closed. The roof leaked and there were pots scattered about to catch the rain drippings. Several of the floor boards had rotted. The walls were covered in grime and soot. In the kitchen, the sink was full dirty dishes and pots and pans with a patina of baked on crud. On the mantel was a thin cut section of a tree trunk that was used as a target board. Three knives were driven hard into the kerfs. In the lauder was a loaf of moldy bread and some smoked venison hanging from the ceiling. On the floor was a half empty keg of ale. Over the hearth hung a kettle that had not been cleaned since antiquity. Outside the yard was overgrown, the wood fence was missing half its slats and the vegetable garden stood in neglect, long abandoned to the weeds.

Dunar returned early from work when several of his friends reported seeing Lilith, hard at work in the yard. They couldn' t wait to learn more and teased him about about his new housekeeper. He took it good naturedly because he knew they were envious of his good fortune. Walking into the house he whistled in amazement.

"You've really been hard at work. I hardly recognise the place."

"I've never seen a dwelling in such a deplorable state," Lillith snapped angerily.

"My duties are unending and I hardly ever get the chance for more than a few hours sleep."

"When you’re not throwing your knives I suppose, or drinking your ale?"

"Sometimes a friend drops by"

"When was the last time you washed the dishes or scrubbed the pots and pans?"

He was stung by her hostility and answered neglectingly.

"Don’t take that tone with me young lady… If I were domestically inclined I wouldn’t need you for a drudge."

"A drudge! " She retorted, eyes flashing. " A drudge?"

Lilith took off her apron and threw it in his face.

"I quit… You're an uncouth slob, with absolutely no self respect. Had the lamp shown brighter last night, I never would have ventured under this roof."

With that she stormed for the door. He quickly stepped in front of her. His whole life was spinning before his eyes.

"I'm sorry, so sorry Lilith. Everything you say about me is true. But please don’t walk out like this. I’ll mend my ways, I swear it...you’ll see.

"Don't give me any of that bull...!"

"No I mean it, I absolutely mean it. When I come home in the evening you can have a list of tasks for me to do and I’ll have them all finished before you return in the morning."

"You don't really expect me to believe that."

"It's true, I promise you it's true...just give me a chance and I'll make this cottage a showcase. First I'll fix the roof and on the weekends I'll be here full time, to do whatever you want me to.

"I'll believe that when I see it."

"You'll see it, by gosh, will you ever see it, and everyone in the village will notice how I've turned my life around, and the positive effect you're having on me.

"I don't appreciate it when someone calls me names."

"I didn't mean to call you a 'drudge', It was a poor choice of words and they popped out of my mouth, unwittingly. I appologize from the bottom of my heart..."

He drops to his knees.

"Look, I'm begging you please, stay on as my housekeeper."

" Oh, quite groveling," she said with distain, "I liked you better as a slob. However, since you seem sincere, I’ll give you one more chance, but if you ever call me that name again, I swear, I’ll be out that door and never come back."


Liope and Cateyln sat at the kitchen table. The chores were finished and the house gleamed from top to bottom.

"How do you feel?" Cateyln asked

"Fine," answered Liope, "you can sure put a smile on Dad’s face."

"I’m glad he’s happy."

"Tell me about Lilith, I never knew I had a cousin, or that you had a sister for that matter."

"Oh Yes," answered Cate. "The Swansons have the claim to the south of the cabin and after I came home to Gabby, we often visited. Lillith's a dear girl and I know the two of you will become best friends.

"Is she a Stray too," asked Liope?

"Have you any doubt of it?"

"And her meeting with Dumar was not just a coincidence?"

"Heavens no!"

"Like you showing up for Father, eighteen years ago."

"It’s the same thing,,,over and over again."

"Why did you pick Daddy? Why not someone else in the village?"

"I didn’t pick him, it's all in the genealogy."

"You mean someone looks in a book, a name pops up and you’re sent knocking on his door?"

"Yeah, something like that."

"Who picks the name?"

"Gabby used to do alot of the picking….now I guess it’ll be me and Olivia."

"Olivia, now who exacty is she.

"She's the patron of the LIsterian and Nobowian Elves. The Coven relies on her alot...but who chooses isn't all that important. It's the book that decides."

"The genealogy "


"On what page did Morgolic and I get paired up?"

"That wasn't exactly how it happened."

"Then what did?"

"Something very unexpected. You see, we recently found out, how should I say this? That he was genetically endowed. His great whatever, was one of the four Husbands.

"You're kidding?"

The old school elveslive for a thousand years. In counting "Generations" among elves and dwarves the rule of thumb is a hundred years. In humans we count in twenty year increments. For example since the fall of the confederation six hundred years ago there have been six generations of elves, however among men in the same period the number of generations has been thirty-six. Now its hard to grasp at first but six hundred years is not such a long time to either an elf or a dwarf. And while they can live a long time most do not die of old age. In war, through disease, freak accidents and feuds, their lives often end as abruptly as anybody living in the valley? They reproduce at about the same rate as men but have only one sixth as many offspring. ..you follow me?. Well while Morgolic was born in Tristan he grew up with his mother in Latonia. We lost track of him. It was only a couple months ago that his birth records surfaced. We knew about his Sister, Albiana but Morgolic sort of fell through the crack. Since he never got flagged he was allowed to operate in a role he would have otherwise never been considered for. We have big plans for him.

Was he going to be my "Assigned."

You were among half dozen candidates being considered.

So it came as quite a shock to realize he was in mortal danger.

Once Olivia got through to us on the crystals... I got a hold of Condor. He regularly patrols the valley and keeps us posted on visitors. We told him to be on the lookout for Morgolic. Keep in mind he was also carrying Miranda's Scarab, not to mention the Stones from Orwalds sword. I didn't realize at first how close the Snagar were and wanted you to delay him outside of town. Unfortunately you are not yet skilled in telepathy and the best I could do was plant a compulsion and get you moving in the right direction.

You trying to get me killed?

Gabby and I decided we had to pull out all the stops. Morgolic being dragged back to the Imporium with the scarab, stones and genetic heritage was the scenario from hell. We risked everything to save him. We had less than two hours to react. We had to decide and decide fast.

"So what did you decide?"

"I got you up and moving for the High Pasture. Then we got the Galreath in position. The two of you got together with less than forty minutes to spare. The first hurdle was getting him to give you the Scarab and Stones. The two of you deserve most of the credit for that. The last part was saving his life.

"I remember feeling compelled to visit the High Pasture, the mists and what happened with Morgolic. I thought he decided what to do on his own."

Cateyln clapped her hands, rocking back and forth in delight. It was one of my finest hours.


"I was wondering when you were going to ask me about it"

"Then tell me."

"Once Morgolic climbed down from the Galreath, he had already decided what he intended to do. He was going to cut his balls off and run like hell. As he bled to death he was going to throw the stones as far away as possible.

That was his plan?

It was... and as soon as she sensed it Gabby screamed to me, "Oh my god, Oh my god, the little noser's going to castrate himself."

"She was quite a ways behind but knew what Morgolic was thinking. I had gotten pretty far ahead and was close enough to get into his mind.

Wait!, I channeled out to him... look yonder... a peasant girl, maybe you can get her to help you out.

Yeah! right, he thought to himself, (at least he thought he was thinking to himself) as he pulled his pants down and drew out his blade.

"Are you sure you really want to go through with this I pleaded with his subconcious, I bet you can sweet talk that pretty young girl into helping you out of this jam."

"Don't work that way..." he said shaking his head, "It ain't like pissing on a tree."

Still he was loath to go throught with the castration and looking up, saw you standing next to the trail.

"Maybe I could give her the Scarb and the stones, and tell her to get the hell out of here. Then I could lead the Snagar around the edge of town... I'de hate it if they happened on some innocent farmers on account of me. Should I slit myself now or wait?"

"Wait wait I implored his will. When those felines catch you they're gonna tear you limb from limb... forget about your balls. Plus that damn scarab has already sucked most of the essence right out of you. Look down at that little bugger...its swelled like a blood tick."

Looking down into his tunic, it suddenly it dawned on him. When a host is in fear of life the Scarab starts sucking...it was about to bulge out of its setting... musta figured it wasn't going to get another meal for awhile.

By then Gabby was getting the mist to swirling and the fog was rising up.

"You got a choice to make," I whispered, from underneath his awareness. "Go and give the girl the Scarab and stones, or what the hell...,slit yourself and be done with it."

He looked down at his scrotums in one hand and the blade in the other.

"Hmmmm he thought," like it was some kind of hard decision, "Maybe I don't have to cut my 'nads off after all. With that he pulled up his pants and buckled his belt. The rest you know."

"That is the grossest thing I ever heard tell of," said Liope smiling in spite of herself. Shaking her head she changed the subject.

"So where does all this leave me now?"

"You know Pumpkin, You've a lot on your mind. I wanted you to be able to enjoy some sort of a normal childhood. dI'm glad you had the opportunity for some of that. Now things are moving along and I want you to stay focused on your babies. Once the delivery behind us, there are any number of things we need to discuss, not the least of which is who gets chosen to be your husband."

"For now, I’ll defer to your judgment…One more thing…"


"Why did Silas call me, First Witch of Nirvana…Queen of Light and Darkness?”

"Come on Pumpkin, no telling where he got that notion... You've got plenty to think about besides that."


Olivia was sitting at the kitchen table when she heard the door slam.

"Is that you Squire?" she inquired peering over her spectacles.

"In the flesh my dear. " He kissed her on the cheek while she looked up at him with mooning eyes.

"I have a job for you Rogo."

"Your servant," he answered with a flourish.

"I’ll be going to Nirvana soon and was hoping you’d accompany me."

"Let me check my calender," said the squire scratching his head and casting about with a wicked smile. Going to the wall he looked...and turning about in the same motion, answered.

"You're in luck my lady… for the next ten years there is nothing on my agenda that could keep me from your side."

"Oh Rogo, "she answered feigning embarassment, "When are you going to stop teasing me? In Nirvan we’ll be holding a Coven meeting to discuss recent developments."

"You perk my interest, Great Lady. My curiosity swells to the size of a pea and threatens to explode. What’s going on?"

"Nothing I can talk about yet, but once we cross over into the Valley, I’ll fill you in."

"Sounds like some high intrigue to me. "

"Oh! And Cateyln will be getting married."

"To who this time?"


"Wasn’t he the last one?"

"They never officially tied the knot."

"I thought that fell apart. Wasn't he was having problems with the break-up.?"

"That's all behind them now...however he is insisting that this time they tie the knot."

"With age comes wisdom… why don’t we make it a double wedding?"

"That’s a thought."

"A yes thought?"

"Let me think about it."

"Remember the last time we were in Nirvana?"

"With fond memories. And I’m looking forward to taking up where we left off….with some quiet time together."

"I can be ready in an hour."

"Not so fast, there’s some things we need to do first."

"For instance?"

"I want you to talk to Pluto. He'll be going with his mother to visit Miranda. What he doesn’t know is that they’ll join us in Nirvana."

"This all confusing but I’m sure it'll start to make sense, once we get to Dead End."

"...And you watch your mouth. All you need do is remind him to bring the Scarab… that you’ll be picking it up in Caladon. Now get right on it. I think they’re leaving sometime this evening."

© Copyright 2009 percy goodfellow (trebor at Writing.Com). All rights reserved.
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