Spin Offs, Grange Part b

Spin Offs, Grange Part b

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Grange confirmed that the few hidden weapons he had long ago placed were still accessible and in good shape. Then he stopped by the kitchen garden and pulled a few fresh radishes and went inside.

All three of them were at the table; Marl looking cross sitting at the head of the table, Tali looking like she received a recent scolding, slouching and hiding her face behind long curly locks, Shed looked excited and Grange noticed his son had armed himself.

“Don’t slouch.” he said and all three of them sat straighter. He sighed, “That was directed at you Tali.” He clarified as he sat at the other end of the table.

“Can you tell your son that he has no need to be armed at the family table.”

He pointedly looked his son over, saw the two fighting knives and the heavy belt with its carry pouch. “I cannot do that. He has done as I’ve told him to do. If a little more eagerly than prudently; I can not fault his precaution though.”

“Then you better tell us what is going on.” Her voice had the edge of threat in it.

He bowed his head ever so slightly then looked each of them in the eye, one after the other. Both his son and his wife had steady gazes. His daughter on the other hand held his gaze only briefly and looked uncomfortable. He knew she had recently started her cycle and wondered if it was that, regardless he needed her full attention.

His wife pointedly cleared her throat as the silence extended past her liking.

“If we continue to our operations as we have been, we’ll be out of business in five years. Roburns Trading Company has had some misfortune of late and that has bought us some time, but not much. The point being, we need to start looking at the Roburns Trading Company as hostile to our well being.”

He did not give them the time to settle on that news before he jumped to the next subject, “My niece had brought news from home, regardless of any other decisions that get made tonight, I will have to make a visit, best done sooner than later. Though, to be clear, I’ve no intention of wintering there.”

His wife settled back in her chair, her expression one of concern, but she knew he had more to say, “It may come about that the Marshal will be looking for some form of justice regarding his son’s death.”

His wife interrupted, “How’s that on you?”

“It’s not. But angry men rarely see things clearly and we all know how sensitive the marshal is about his honour. He tends to bristle with umbrage.”

“Your niece again?”

“I know not. May I continue?”

His wife sat back, anger shifting back into her expression. The other two were quiet, though Grange noticed tears on his daughter’s cheeks.

“It is likely to come out that I helped smuggle Tipper’s friends out of town. It will worsen their suspicions. If Tipper is somehow involved in Danno’s death and they have any suspicion of such, then there will likely be a direct response.”

“And what of the situation that draws you home?”

“Family issues, not simply explained, though some of it does involve Roburns Trading Company.” He gave his wife a look, letting her know this part could be saved for later.

She went to the kitchen and brought in some soup, then asked, “What do you think we should do?”

“Let’s have some soup and I’d like to hear from each of you what your outlook on this is and if there is anything else going on that will affect the family?”

They ate quietly at first, as usual the soup like most things his wife made was excellent. Second helpings were ladled around and he asked his wife to speak first. “I’m resistant to leaving my kin.” She began, “Most of them are here as you know. So many friends and neighbours we get along well with, it will be hard to establish that elsewhere. I’d put off having another child, at least until these issues settled. We can rely on my kin to stand with us should there be trouble with the Marshal. I’m assuming you want us all to go with you to Darner’s Hold, to a home you have called the most backward place in the world.” Grange thanked her and could not help notice the quiver to her lower lip, a sure sign she was upset.

He gestured to his son, “And you?”

“Well, I’m soon to drive the teams by myself and will miss that chance if we leave. I don’t want to leave, my friends or our home. I do want to see Darner’s Hold though, and see if we can help our kin there, but if we have a fight here, then this should be where we make a stand to protect what is ours.” Grange gave a nod, suppressed a smile and marvelled at youths ability to simplify any situation. He also noted his son made no mention of the young woman that had caught his eye earlier this spring.

His daughter sat up and straightened he shoulders when he looked at her. “You?”

“Ah, well, I’m pretty sure I’m a mage.”

Silence. Everyone stopped eating and looked at Tali.

Grange had not been expecting that. Not overly surprised by the fact of it, but more the timing, “Could you elaborate?”

“I started the stove one morning an eight-day back, it had gone out in the early hours, not banked properly. The coals were dead. It made me pretty mad, but then the tinder just burst into flames as though I had soaked it in oil and dropped hot coals on it. I can also sense sources of fire around me, I’m not sure how I’ve been doing that, but it has been a while. I just though everyone did it.” She gave a shrug.

“Congratulations on being mage-born, it is a rare gift these days. I know some exercises that will help you, but it would be best if you had proper training. A few of my kin are mages, they could better train you.” Grange did not have much more that he could have said, he knew that if someone was gifted towards an element it would be one of the most recognizable early manifestation of magic in a person. Left untrained it was also one of the most dangerous.

“Was there anything else you wanted to say?”

Tali shook her head, “No. That was all.”

“Back to the first point then. I think the smart thing for us to do is leave with the dawn. We can go to Darner’s Hold, visit with my family and return for the winter if nothing would prevent that.”

“So quick? We’ve nothing ready.” His wife objected.

“Other than fresh food and whatever luxuries we might want to take along, we are ready.”

Shed spoke up, “If we had to go now, we could.”

“Near enough.” Grange said.

“We should eat,” Marl suggested, and started gathering the soup bowls.

The rest of the meal was fairly subdued, each of them processing the conversation that had just passed. Shed finished first, he asked to be excused so he could see to the horses and other tasks he had been given. Grange helped clear the table when he was done eating.

He left the women to finish with the clean up and went to the room his wife and he shared. He pulled out his war chest, popped the latches and opened the lid. Within lay his chain mail shirt and leather armour, two large knives, throwing hatchet, heavy belt and a large pouch containing most of the small needful things a person might need in the fields of war.

He pulled out the quilted padding and chain shirt and donned them after a moment of contemplation. He pulled a loose tunic on over the mail. War was never something to be taken on lightly, but in this case he was sure there was little other choice. Inaction would leave him imprisoned at best, though more likely dead and if either of those things happened he was pretty sure his family’s wealth wold be lost. He placed the sack his niece had given him in the chest along with his copies of the will and business papers he had updated earlier.

He took the war chest to the entry and set it near the door then collected his bow, a quiver of hunting arrows and a quiver full of arrows made for fighting, this too he placed by the entry. Marl came out from the kitchen, gave him a hug and was surprised by the mail he had donned. “Is it so dire? What business takes you out after sunset?”

As he strapped his short sword on he gave a nod, “I’ve business with Dorn, I’ll be leaving him in charge while we’re gone and have designated him as heir should the rest of us not return within the year. As to the other, I was followed home by one of the marshal’s men. I expect more of that, maybe worse.”

She gave a sharp nod, held the door for him as he left, watching as he walked to the front gate. He turned back and gave a wave, unsure if she had seen it in the twilight.


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