|Posted on August 26, 2014 at 12:05 AM|
The old man looked at Tor.
“My uncle was one who tried Fanchon as an apprentice,” Tor said. “I heard him talking to my father about Fanchon. He said that Fanchon was a quick learner, but would never be content as a farmer. Fanchon pointed out things that could be done more efficiently and told him how to do them differently. It really annoyed my uncle that someone so young could be right about things he hadn’t figured out in all the years he had been farming.”
“So where did you come from?” the man asked as he turned back to Fanchon.
“Far north of here. We come from a narrow valley and there are almost too many people living there. We decided that we should establish a new village or town somewhere. We have been traveling for over a year now and finally found somewhere that suits us.”
“I still worry that you will expect to rule over us. Why build a castle if unless you want to be king?”
“It seals the entrance to the dragon’s cavern and protects their eggs from cold and predators. They have tunnels that exit the mountain they can use instead of the main entrance,” Fanchon said. “I don’t expect to be a king any more than you do. We both serve as leaders because it is what others expect from us. It does not exempt us from working beside those who follow us, but places an additional responsibility upon our shoulders. If one we are responsible for breaks a law, we must deal with the consequences.”
“You can make any law you like and punish or spare at a whim,” the man challenged.
“The laws of the lands we travelled through had to be obeyed,” Fanchon replied. “I saw my best friend killed because he broke that law. I stepped in to calm the wronged party and prevent others from dying. I made the casket with my own hands knowing that I would have killed him if I had gotten to him before the other man did.”
“He dug most of the grave too,” Tor said.
“You have your own laws to keep peace within the village. We will respect your laws and your property,” Fanchon said. “All we ask in return is the same.”
“What of the dragons?” the man asked. “Something that large can take what it wants. So far they have left our cattle alone.”
“We are establishing a large herd in a mountain field to feed them from. They have long been aware of your presence and reliance on your cattle for food. They will not bother your cattle.”
“How old are you, Fanchon?” the man asked sternly and Fanchon wondered what to say. “I expect the truth.”
He realized that the truth would be far better than attempting to lie.
“You may find the truth hard to believe but I am one hundred and seventy two.”
The man’s eyes widened and the other men stepped back to murmur amongst themselves.
“We are of a very long lived people. If I were of your people I would be seventeen, hardly more than a boy.”
“So that’s what I see in your eyes,” the man said. “Your eyes are far older than your body. You could have simply said you were seventeen.”
“Yes, but I will age far slower than your people. I will see generations of your people born, live and die before I appear as old as you are. It is better that you and the others here understand that since we are neighbors. Any agreements we make this day will be long remembered by myself and my descendants.”
“Come with me, Fanchon,” the man said. “I want to speak to you alone. The rest of you go back to your fields. These are now our friends.”
“Watch the horses, Tor,” Fanchon said and Tor nodded.
He followed the man to a small house in the center of the village. They went inside and sat at the small table.
“Certainly if you live so long you must have new ways of doing things that make life easier,” the man said as Fanchon noticed that besides the table and chairs there was a bed, a fireplace, a ladder and a tub of water with a bucket nearby.
“Yes,” Fanchon said. “We know how to bring water into a home without drawing it from a well with a bucket and how to clean the dirty water before it returns to the stream. That is only one of probably many things we do differently. There are things we have chosen to abandon so that we can live outside the valley we were born in. Life will be harder, but we have confidence it must be done.”
“It will take time to convince the others to trust you, but perhaps in time you can teach us some of what you know,” the man said.
“I will speak to my group about your village. We have not yet discussed laws of our own, but I’m glad you brought that need to my attention. My wife and I will make laws that are simple and fair.”
“You are welcome in this village Fanchon,” the man said. “My name is Buckley.”
Categories: Tales of Asculum