Chapter Twenty Two: Refuge from the Storm

Posted on August 29, 2014 at 1:05 AM

Fanchon woke to a loud crack of thunder that rattled the shutters. He sat up to find Aloysia sitting in on the settee between their children Greta and Matias with a quilt wrapped around them. Their faces were pale and eyes wide.

“I don’t know how you could sleep through this,” she said as there was a knock on the door.

“Come,” Fanchon said.

The door opened and Kennard entered.

“Everyone is frightened Father,” Kennard said. “They are afraid of the storm.”

“Gather everyone in the dining hall,” Fanchon said and Kennard left.

‘I will have word passed by the dragons,’ Aylward told him as more thunder rattled the shutters again.

Greta pulled the quilt over her head and Matias buried his face in his mother’s shoulder.

“Let’s get dressed,” Fanchon said. “It will be alright.”

Kennard would soon turn one hundred and showed signs of being a good leader. Greta was fifty but still timid at times. Matias was nineteen afraid of nothing, well nothing except this storm. Fanchon led the family out into the hall where others were coming out of their rooms. They met more people going down the stairs to the dining hall. Eventually everyone was accounted for. He stood at the head table and looked out over the frightened faces as a lightning lit around the shutters for a second before thunder followed. Some of the children hid under the tables.

“I know this is the worst storm we’ve ever seen, but this castle is strong and safe,” Fanchon said. “Having several weeks of storms that have gotten progressively worse has made all of us nervous.”

“What about the lightning Lord Fanchon?” someone asked. “There was a cow that was struck last week. It was killed instantly and half cooked. The tree it was next to was split in half”

There were gasps and murmuring among the people.

“I know,” Fanchon answered. “We are safe within this castle. When we were building it Malvin mentioned the lightning was drawn to the veins of metal in the mountains. We made a thick rope of metal to go from the very top of the castle to deep under the ground on the north side of the castle. I’ve seen lightning strike the pole on top of the castle and the rope carry the lightning into the ground.”

Another crack of thunder interrupted him.

‘The village has been flooded,’ Aylward said. ‘The people are frightened and confused.’

“Aylward just reported that the village nearby is flooded,” Fanchon said. “Their homes are built from wood alone, not the strong stone we are surrounded by. We may need to give them aid in rebuilding. This storm will pass and we will be safe.”

“I am grateful for this strong castle along with all of our friends and family here,” Kennard said as he stood up beside Fanchon.

“The village has flooded before and will flood again,” Fanchon said. “Here we have water that is clean and safe to drink that comes to every bathing chamber in the entire castle. It is warmed by the heat of the volcano. I know the storm is frightening but here we are safe.”

“Let’s all have some warm cider to drink until the storm passes,” Aloysia said.

Everyone spent the rest of the night in the dining hall. The storm broke and began to clear at sunrise. The courtyard of the castle was full of debris blown in by the storm and the kitchen garden was barely salvageable. It was late afternoon a few days later that they finally had most of the courtyard cleaned up. As he walked out of the portcullis Fanchon noticed a couple of men approach from the south. They were covered in mud and appeared exhausted as one dropped to the ground.

“Bring two horses quickly,” Fanchon said to Tor.

He ran over to where the second man sank to his knees beside the other.

“Are you from the village?” Fanchon asked and the man nodded. “You are safe here. We’ll get you inside so you can clean up and rest. We’ll be having supper in about an hour.”

Tears began to run down the man’s face. Fanchon helped Tor get the two men onto the horses. Other men joined in to carry them up to rooms on the first floor. Fanchon helped with the man who had been on his knees. The man was at first frightened of the dragon head faucet but soon relaxed into the warm water.

“The village flooded and most of the fields were washed away,” the man said at last. “Some are now covered by the stream. It won’t be long before it starts washing homes away. Everyone wants to move. Some have left already.”

“My dragon told me the village flooded,” Fanchon said.

“It’s happened several times before. Last year I went south to Brinley to see if there was somewhere to build a new village, but the villagers I found said that they barely survive on what the king leaves after collecting a portion of their harvest for his own use. Every man is taken from his village at seventeen and forced into the army for at least three years.”

Fanchon remained silent.

“Everyone in the village is terrified of the dragons, but there’s nowhere else,” the man said softly.

“I know,” Fanchon replied.

“Is it true you live longer than we do?” the man asked.

“I am two hundred seventy two years old,” Fanchon said nodding. “We arrived a hundred years ago. I visited your village shortly after we arrived.”

There was a tap at the door.

“Come,” Fanchon said.

“Here are some dry clothes, Father,” Kennard said. “What about the rest of the villagers? Will they be safe where they are?”

“We should build homes and shops outside the castle wall for the villagers,” Fanchon said as he shook his head.

“What would you expect in return?” the man asked.

“Only for your men to help build the buildings and care for your own fields,” Fanchon said. “It makes no sense for us to not help you when we have been so fortunate.”


Categories: Tales of Asculum