The entire behavior was so odd that Bairn, the Master at Arms, put the guards on high alert. He only took them off when the House Mistress complained of all the boots ruffling up her good carpets. It still took Rant’s order to return the soldiers to their business and duties though. Bairn did not believe that Lord Rant should be trying to commission as he put it, help from other nations but instead petitioning for it from home. The problem with doing so was that “home”, the Weltithe Empire, was a very long way off. Getting here from home meant crossing first all the way south through the countryside of two provinces, then into the Biscerna Waste. Beyond the waste they still had to travel the Northern Chord and south down the Eastern Barrier Mountains.
In fact, home had not been very close over the years. Sending only a handful of caravans south to the Esson and they often took more than they left, taxes and specimens. The truth of the matter was that the Weltithe had loose connections here, and they grew looser. Soon the people of the Esson might well be another nation less clan.
Although Lord Rant’s people had now learned to be a hearty people independent and in good health, at this time they needed help. This slothful audience was more of an intrusion than anything thus far. The Lord of the House had never been one to have a temper, he was as gentle as his father, but he felt it bubbling up inside of him. Instead of barking curses and chasing the man from his chamber he decided to appease his anger and squelch the silence with a question.
“That, that thing there.” Rant pointed to the leather chord fastened to Hasser’s belt. “What is that?”
The student priest acting on behalf of his better looked down and glanced at his belt, then he met the Lord’s eyes. He stopped twirling his finger in the silver chased brass goblet and put the three times distilled wine down on a redwood end table next to his chair. He smirked a bit and then he picked up the chord and untied it from his belt which reflected the flames from the hearth in a scintillating way with its gems, silver, and bronze. Mockingly, he began to drink from the corked vial.
Hasser held the small vial up at eye level then he shook it. To Rant’s surprise the liquid inside turned into a foamy white froth, and as it settled it was no longer of green hue, but returned to its liquid state in a shade of sky blue. Hasser smirked and replaced the vial on its tassel, tying it with practiced fingers then reached into the inside of his teal shirt and brought out a small, plain, wooden box.
Hasser pushed in on the side of the box and it clicked. A small drawer didn’t exactly pop out, but Hasser was able to slide it out with the grating sound of wood on wood once the gizmo was unlocked. The drawer was thin. How even an accomplished woodworker could have created a hidden drawer in such a small block of wood was beyond Rant. But he had no hobbies and no trades except long distance politics and reading inventory lists of supplies. He took a mild hand in preparing the undermanned militia, but nothing so simple or enjoyable as craftsmanship.
The drawers was carved into separate compartments. Small rectangular compartments that ran lengthwise, bulkier square spaces that took up the length of the box or were carved in twos to take up the length of a row, and a series of thin “shelves” with the thinnest pouches of, something, tucked in between.
Beneford Andrews is the pen name of Andres A. V. Meza III. He writes fantasy fiction, short scenarios, and is trying out short stories.