Monday, November 02, 2020

Bram Trent finds his path to Cod Bay, and much more



the city of Rosered in year 44

After the fever hit, the next few years were quite hard on the residents of Rosered Iron Mining Community.  It seemed like everyone was walking in a haze.  The Claymores and the Norths had both lost children, and it was like a hole in the world for Ember North to see those two seats empty at the school, one of them being her own younger son.

The Trent boys were both almost grown men, but losing their father had hit them hard.  Bram had idolized his father's strength in mining and woodcutting - and to see him taken down sweating and then lie still and cold had made Bram wonder if he could go on himself.  But for his mother, Belinda (nee Knox of North City) and his younger brother Kirk, he made a go at being the man of the household.  But at every turn he seemed to stumble.  He dropped things.  He couldn't concentrate.  He would try to immerse himself in hard labor only to be caught by the hopelessness of it all.  He felt he needed to get away form Rosered, at least for a little bit, to find his way.

In Year 48 Abe Henricks came down from his homestead at Pennock Farm with two women in tow.  One was his new wife, Tamiya, the sister of Nicholas Long.  Nicholas had died in the Fever as well, but the people of the Presentation Mountains had avoided the town until now.  Pennock had been far enough away, and Abe so solitary in his ways, that the Fever had never touched him.  Tamiya had come down over the mountain wondering about her brother, and he had stopped her before she went on.  He continued to get messages from Rosered third-hand, through Alan Kenzie down at Vanter on the Ten-Thirty River, until he was certain all of the risk had passed.  Tamiya had also brought her niece, Talya Wright, to gather Nicholas' belongings.  

Instead, Talya got an introduction to Kirk Trent.  Bram Trent noticed it, the way her eyes followed him as if he was the only person in the room.  Over the next few days Talya broke off from her aunt over and over again to find a way to be near Kirk's path.  Initially, Bram was jealous, but decided maybe his brother had the right idea, even if it wasn't HIS idea, yet.  His brother definitely had the eyes of that girl, and Bram didn't want to be any competition or let his jealous bone get in the way.  He dropped a hint to his brother at dinner that Talya 'obviously' liked him, and the younger man's ears flushed red.  Kirk looked at his mother and she nodded knowingly at him. 

The next morning Bram packed up a bag and kissed his mother goodbye, only temporarily, and headed off to the Cod Bay bank to open an account and bring back some trade.  He had in his mind also maybe he could bring back a Cod Bay girl, as well, or from one of the other cities nearby.  Out here in the West Rosered was the closest thing to an actual city there was.. but in the East there was Ravenna, Cod Bay, Cambrey, Benson's Pointe and in the middle of course, Rivertown.  

He headed down through the valley, across the Vanter Road, and soon found himself lost in the vicinity of Eastham.  As he was retracing his steps he met Cora Eastham (nee Robinson) and her husband Conor in the forest.  They led him around the village and into Ravenna, then pointed him across the bridge.  "Take a left for Cod Bay, straight ahead for Cambrey."  Conor said and nearly knocked Bram over with a push.  'Bram, I like it.  Means the bird, right?  Too bad you can't fly.'  Conor was trying to be funny.. but Bram headed over the bridge and then stood there under the Dark Oak trees and tried to get his bearings. 


  the city of Cod Bay

In Cod Bay he stumbled first into Mandra Otrio's house, excusing himself quickly as she was pinning up a dress for a tall red-haired woman, and quickly found the Bank, it being the largest building in town.  He traded some iron nuggets to a wiry man bent down over the record books.  The man looked him up and down and said 'Rosered, Eh?  Things still bad over there?'  Bram shook his head 'No'.. then shrugged his shoulders 'yes'... 'It's getting better.'  The man looked him hard in the eye and then decided it was the truth.  'Steven Pembry's the name, come back by the Clockworks after three if you need anything, I open it up right after I close the bank.' Bram was beginning to wonder how he'd know 'three' when he didn't have a clock to begin with.  He peered at the intricate golden mechanisms hung on the wall, wondering exactly how they worked.  Steven added 'When the schoolbells ring it'll be three.. I'll see you then?'  Bram nodded quickly and headed back out into the city.

Later, Bram was running his hands over some yarn in the Blue Goose shop when a pair of long-haired sisters came in to drop off woolen goods and gather up earnings.  He couldn't really help himself and he followed them out the door and halfway up Broadway before a small dark-haired man stepped out of a house in the narrow street and blocked his way.  'Steven said you were in town.. Victor's boy, sorry to hear about your father, boy.  He was a good man, although I never met him'  Bevan DeAryl then began walking away, the way the girls had gone.  'By the way... I'm THEIR father.  So you'd better come my way before I catch you following theirs again.'  Bram felt a little like he had been punched in the gut.. but the warning was simple and adequate.  He had let his head get away from him.  He was going to have to decide whether to leave for the hills or stick around and make the way for himself.

When the school bell rang, he didn't know what else to do.  He didn't want to leave, but he didn't have any place to stay, either.  He stopped into Steven's shop a little bit later, and poked through the ingots of metal, gears and bits of redstone.  Steven said: "I used to be a miner, too, like your father."  Bram jerked his head up.  This wiry little man used to mine stone, iron and coal?  He didn't even look like he could pick up a pickaxe, much less swing one.  'Yes, well, it's been nearly twenty years since then.. but I used to be quite the thing with an iron tool.'  Steven sat back in his chair and looked at the young man.  'You have a a pickaxe?'  Bram nodded and pointed to the tool slung over his back.  'I'll tell you what.  You head down into our mine, either one of them - bring something back.  You work hard, bring things back and we'll see what we can make of them.  You can stay in Niko's old house down by the water.  He lives up here by the bank now, with his wife and daughter.  He might come cook soup in there once in a while still, but there's a bed and a chest to put some things.'


Bram took him up on the offer, and did not disappoint.  When he went down into the first mine he found redstone, lying in a corner, as if someone had broken their tool and had to leave it.  A little further on, he found some gold, and some lapis.  When he showed the items to Steven the tinkerer asked him 'And did you notice your depth, in the mine, each time you found these things?  A good miner takes a look at his Y level at all times, for both finding the right things and for safety.'  Bram had not learned this from his father - and he inquired more about how to know what 'Y' level is was on.. and what it meant.

Hit F3 and your X,Y,Z coordinates show up on the upper-left area of the screen.. compare the Y value to Steven's advice, and try to stay safe!

'You find redstone, and sometimes emeralds, down around 5 to 8... near the bedrock - but that is the most dangerous place to be. Pools of Lava can spawn right above your head at that level.  If you're trying for safety - and I would - make sure you are above 11, even 13 or 15.. and there is some redstone, gold, iron and lapis there.  I know that part of the mine you were in - it's a good place - about level 13 right there.   Sometimes the best place to find iron is about level 20, but you can find it really anywhere, as well as the coal.  And follow the andesite, they say.. although I'm not sure how true that one is.  If you follow the vein of andesite all the way to it's end you are likely to find iron.  And it's a pretty rock, anyway, lots of people will pay you a good handful of iron nuggets to put it in their house.  That's why I have a standing trade value for it at the bank.'  

Bram went down into the mine again, trying to follow those rules, and indeed found even more iron and gold than he had before.  He offered to split it with Steven, and the man said 'I can make you a clock, or a compass, or both with this... in fact, you make it and I'll help you out where you get stuck.  You look like the kind of boy who might need a compass, seen you stumbling in the forest there...  Being able to make your own compasses and clocks can take you far in life...  But mostly, I wanted to help you out for your father's sake.. and because Bevan DeAryl has his eye on you.  He's seen some work out of you, and maybe would be more willing to talk about the future of one of his daughters.'

Bram felt a bit of a warm fuzzy feeling, almost like molten gold, spread through him.  He had come to Cod Bay with little other than his tools and a few ingots of iron to deposit.  Now, he had gold, redstone, lapis and more iron, and enough stone to build a house, if he wanted to.  Getting up the courage to talk to the small hard-eyed man was still daunting, though.  He had been avoiding trouble and just diving into his work for weeks, eating large bowls of soup and baked fish, and watching Steven pound metal into huge sheets and cut out delicate mechanisms.  It was beginning to be hard for him to think about leaving.  And if he went to visit Bevan and was rejected, he felt it would also be hard for him to stay.

Bram felt like he had lived years in this town - and even the thought of heading back across the continent to Rosered, his birthplace, seemed dull.  He thought about getting lost in Eastham and the hot lava pits of Vanter.. and wondered for the first time if maybe he could really stay here in Cod Bay for good.  Would his brother take care of the house in Rosered?  Kirk was pretty capable, in some things much more forthright and sensible than Bram ever could be.  And Bram still had the same reason to stay he had felt from day one.  There really wasn't any girl he had ever seen back home, even Callista Daniels, that made his heart beat as fast as the taller dark-haired sister.  

Her name was Kira, the lady at the Blue Goose had said.  It was like a forbidden dance - he avoided them, and they avoided him, too.  When the girls saw him around a corner they turned quickly away and went the other direction!  But, more often than not, the tall one turned around and stared.  He liked the way she looked at him, and the way she giggled when the shorter one squabbled and pushed her along.  Her sister poked her in the ribs and pulled her by her elbows while Kira caught an extra glance at him.  He found himself craning his neck to catch every last bit of her before she disappeared around the corners.

Bram made up his mind and made an appointment with the weaver in town to get himself a brand new shirt.  He thought that would be the bit of courage he would need to face Bevan, along with his newfound skills.  He brought some of the yarn from the Goose and some of the blue flowers from the hillside by Cambrey.  

The weaver sized him up in more ways than one.  He didn't know she was Kira's aunt, but if he had been using his eyes he might have noticed the family resemblance in the long straight nose and dark hair.  But Bram was all tied up in knots, thinking about how he was going to knock on Bevan DeAryl's door and try to explain himself.  He kept fidgeting, and she kept hitting him with pins to make him sit still.  He was quite loud with his yelping, even when he tried to stay dignified and quiet.  Then, another shorter dark-haired woman walked in and set down watermelon on the table.  She turned and looked at Bram standing there with his arms up and huffed.  'She won't stop talking about you.  Her father is about to come pull you to the house for dinner if you don't come.  Now.'  'Now?' Bram asked?  He looked down at Mandra, the weaver and she shrugged at him.  'I'll do it later - you go while Pomra is in a good mood.'

Mandra Otrio's  weaving shop 

(nee DeAryl, Bevan's sister)

Bram found himself seated at a long table in the DeAryl household, as far from Kira as could be arranged, in between a larger copy of Bevan, his son Harran, and the wall.  He felt like Harran could easily pick him up and carry him out of the house at Bevan's whim, the man was built like a barrel with arms.  Big arms.  But as the conversation wandered from the school, to melons, to sheep, to fishing with Callum and Niko he began to realize the man was friendly and quite personable, underneath the bear-like exterior.  Bevan nodded along from the other end of the table, near his daughter, his hard eyes calculating.  Bram had seen the same kind of look from Steven when Bram tried to fit small gears into clocks and then caught pins just before they sprung.  He relaxed a bit more and enjoyed Pomra's excellent food, and tried hard not to look either of the daughters in the eye.  But he couldn't help it.. Kira just kept looking at HIM.  And he kept having to snap his head back before the conversation paused.

After dinner he thanked Pomra, who had also gained some ease, and was about to head off to Niko's little house when Harran caught him with a big mitt on the shoulder.  'I think you've got a good chance... just keep working.  Build a house maybe.. '  Bram looked around, and didn't know where to even start.'  Harran indicated the little flat area behind the sheep pens and a bit further up the hill.  Iago Orak lives in that wooden house there, moved in not ten years ago.. Go ask him and then if he's okay with it, so are we.'  Iago was a man of few words, a pirate raised by pirates in the East Seas, he had a pair of young sons and a pretty wife.  He spent his days walking along the sugarcane down on the sand beaches and fishing.  Bram had seen him talking with Niko and Callum, often, and Steven said he was the only other man in Cod Bay who could build a compass.  Bram caught him up on the beach one morning while he and Niko were bringing in some fish and depositing them in the big soup pot.  Iago shrugged and said he didn't care much where Bram built a house as long as it didn't come within a tree's crown of his own.  Bram thought that could work pretty well, and built his house pretty much where Harran had indicated.  



the foundation laid for Bram's house

For the next year Bram worked hard at perfecting his corners, his roof, and building furniture.  He knew he was under scrutiny, so he put in a little garden in the back, as well and a pen, just in case they wanted a sheep of their own.  The day he made a Dark Oak path to meet the Dark Oak road of Cod Bay was also the day he had a small gold ring ready to propose.  When he walked into dinner that night, a standing invitation with the DeAryls, he was directed not to the end of the table but to the center, and Kira was seated beside him.  It was Year 49, and that is pretty much how weddings happen in the DeAryl household.  

No comments: