Your (last) summer adventure
You keep telling yourself that it is okay. That's what you've expected anyway. Who cares that you weren't chosen. You won't be living much longer anyway. After all, winter is coming! You know that you won't survive another winter. And you barely survived the last one. Although it is still summer, you can already feel the chill in your bones. This will be your last summer. So you decide to make full use of it. You say your farewells. Mom and dad are sad to see you go, but they don't stop you. You pack your stuff into a backpack. You don't bring much, just a few sets of clothes, a loaf of bread, some biscuits, dried meats and a few apples. Mainly just clothes and food that wouldn't go bad. And you bring Goldie for company. Goldie is your pet hen. You got her last year when she was still a golden chick. Although her feathers are brown now, you still call her Goldie. So, with everything packed, you set out eagerly for the adventure of a lifetime.
As you take those first steps, your mind is already going wild with all sorts of crazy thoughts. Who would you meet? A knight? That would be a dream. Thiefs? Hopefully not. Actually, you think that would be fun, but only if they weren't the bad type. You would like to meet good thiefs. The kind that robs the rich to help the poor. Perhaps if you arelucky, you would meet a Wizard who would apprentice you and teach you magic! Perhaps you will even meet a healer that could cure you! That would be awesome won't it? Then you won't have to die. Or perhaps you would meet a lion, who would eat you. Or perhaps you would just fall down a hole and die. So many thoughts are flying through your head as you head out of the village.
It doesn't take long before your feet start to ache. Your fail body is already trying to protest the adventure. Your shoulders feel tired and the backpack feels so heavy. You see a nice green spot of grass by the roadside and decide to take a break. You fling off the backpack and sit down on your backside. Then you take out a loaf of bread from your backpack and break it in half. You eat some and toss a few chunks to Goldie. She eagerly pecks it up. But Goldie wants more. The starts cooing, begging you fore more. But enough is enough, so you shoo her off instead. She squawks and begins pecking at the grass instead.
You have barely rested when you suddenly hear a rumbling sound. You turn and see a wagon rambling down the road. It has come from the village. You see that Master Aeries, the village blacksmith is driving the wagon. He stops the wagon when he comes near. You greet the old man with a smile.
"What are you doing here, boy?" asks Master Aeries.
"Just resting, sir," you say.
"You'd best be heading back," Master Aeries says. "It isn't safe out here. There are brigands about. Outside the village, it isn't safe. You should know that."
You do know that. After all, your father just told you this morning. But obviously, you don't listen to Master Aeries.
"I'm adventuring," you say instead. "Where are you heading sir?"
"There's a caravan carnival in Tinstletown. I'll be selling some wares there." Master Aeries said.
"Do you think I could hitch a ride with you, sir?" you ask in your sweetest voice. A wagon ride would certainly speed up the adventure. "I was heading there myself," you add.
Master Aeries eyes you warily. You just smile back.
"Pah! You should run back home now," he says instead. "Don't say I didn't warn you."
Without another word, the stinking old man cracks the whip and the wagon begins rolling down the road.
As you watch your ride disappear, you realise that opportunity should not be wasted. So you get off your backside, sling on your backpack, catch Goldie and dash after the wagon. And somehow, even though you are so weak, you manage to climb onto the back of the wagon. Not bad for a dying boy. So you sit there, with your legs hanging off the ledge, with Goldie squawking in your arms. You pet her and hope she shuts up. It won't be good if Master Aeries discovers you.
Sitting at the back of the wagon is rather uncomfortable. Your legs are already numb from hanging off the back, so you lift them onto the wagon instead. Bad mistake. Instantly, pins and needles strike and you almost cry out in pain. Once the sensation passes, you take out an apple from your backpack and nibble on it. It is a hard apple and it hurts your gums. You wish that you had a knife. It was silly of you not to bring a knife. It could come in handy if you meet some brigands. It would be good to stick it into their gut. You toss a piece of apple skin over to Goldie but she refuses to even look at it. She is still flustered. Just then, the wagon rolls over a stone again, and it sends a jolt through your backside. Goldie begins squawking again. So you put the apple into your mouth and begin coddling Goldie again with your free hands. At least you manage to quiet her.
The journey is rather boring and not turning out like what you had imagined. At the very least, you should have met some brigands by now. Several hours have passed, although you are not sure exactly how many. You can't tell because everywhere around you, is just greenery. You totally loose track of time. Conifers everywhere. So boring. You almost fall asleep. No sign of brigands anywhere. When you need to pee, you just stand up and do your business. But you are careful and hang on tightly to the wagon with your free hand. Your urine stream hisses as it hits the dusty yellow road below. After about the twentieth time squawking like a mad cow, Goldie finally gets used to the jolts. Instead of squawking here and there, she begins pacing up and down. She is bored, just like you.
Finally, when the sun is already setting, you reach Tinstletown. It is awkward watching the scene from reverse. You see the massive gatehouse first, then the twenty foot walls, then the dashing guards upon the walls. The guards look like knights! They are clad in black leather armor, and all have longswords hanging at their hips. There are about ten of them, and each carries a crossbow. You are quite impressed. Their crossbows are ready to fire! Perhaps there are brigands after all. The wagon rolls on, and soon you lose sight of them. Instead, you start seeing houses and other buildings. They are made of stone or brick, unlike the wooden houses in your village. And they are all painted. Most white or cream, although you do see some blue and green houses too.
Finally, your adventure truly begins. There are so many people in Tinstletown. And the people here don't even notice you when you stare at them. This is your kind of place. You could fit in here, blend in with the crowd. No one would recognise you as "The sickly boy" here. As the wagon rolls on, you hear music, shouting, laughter, grunting and all sorts of noise. You can't tell what is making it, but you conclude that it must be the carnival. True enough, you begin seeing some caravans, and just like that, the wagon stops. So sudden that you are almost jolted off. You quickly put on your backpack, pick Goldie up, and jump off the wagon. You don't want Master Aeries to find you here, so you quickly run into crowd.
With Goldie in your arms, you begin exploring the caravan carnival. You see all sorts of odd things, things that you don't know what they are. But you do recognise some things; jewelry, trinkets, tools, books, clothes, food. Each caravan has a table out with wares displayed. And each caravan is different. Even though they sell trinkets, but all are different. You look at everything but don't touch. You don't have any money anyway. The sellers are mostly adults, although you do see a few boys your age helping with the sale. Maybe you could get a job tomorrow. All in all, you count about 30 caravans. And so you continue your adventure, while taking care to avoid Master Aeries.
You stop to listen to a trio of singers sing a song. The music is odd, beautiful, but strangely haunting. Their voices, one low, one medium and one high, provide the melody and harmony. They don't use any instruments. It is unlike anything you have heard. So you stand there, like a moth drawn to a lamp, listening to them. After each song, you notice that some of the audience would toss a coin into a collecting dish. The collecting is nearly full by the time you come to the 6th song. It's a rather good business after all. And they don't even have anything to sell. Since it is getting late, you force yourself away and continue your adventure.
The tantalising smell of roasting meat lures you like a bull led by his nose ring. It is getting late and you are getting hungry. You wish you had some coin. You watch the skewered meat roasting above a charcoal grill. You see the fat dripping, sizzling onto the embers. Every once in awhile, the cook would fan, and the charcoal flares back to life. You force yourself away, it is too tempting. It makes your stomach rumble. what an adventure indeed. By now, it is already very late, and almost dark. You suddenly shiver. A creepy feeling creeps over you. Something sinister is near. Perhaps it is the clowns, or the freak show at the next caravan. Goldie eyes them suspiciously. Especially the dwarf carrying a battleaxe. You feel a chill and don't like it one bit. So you leave the caravan carnival.
You find your way to the townsquare. By now, the sun has already set, so the only light comes from the street lamps. It is dark, but at least not completely dark. You have dinner, some bread and some dried meat. You feed Goldie some bread too, and soon she is asleep in your arms. You try to find a place where you can rest, somewhere not too open. Somewhere safe. You manage to find a hole and you crawl into it. You feel so lonely and cold, and you hope to die. Your last thoughts are that you would surely die.