Conversation After First Market

Hadrien walks through the door to his home.

“Ma, Pa, I’m back”

“Oh, Hadrien, dear. Welcome back. Your father is resting,” Merle DuBois emerges from a back room, smelling of bitter herbs and dirt. “Please, please, tell me of Market. Was it good?”

“Well, I had a bit of a rough start, you know. Me and a few other folk got a bit twisted around in the mists and got a bit jumped by some walking corpses full of bees. We had a couple fellas with us who cut them down well enough, but it looked real painful, on account of the bees. Apparently the corpses had honey in them and everything, but also apparently someone tasted the honey later, and the honey wasn’t so sweet, so it’s anybody’s guess how much of the honey was people as opposed to, you know, honey. But anyways a little ways on we found some poor woman with her skin cut off who we had to carry into town. I shouted for some help, and they tried to bandage her, but I’m not sure how you bandage a person when they are missing all of their skin, so they took her to a tent, and I guess whatever they did works and she ended up living somehow.”

Merle could barely hide the shock on her face, “Well, that certainly sounds like an introduction to Market. But I am sure that is the only excitement that happened.”

“Well, actually, it was just a bunch of people standing around and talking for a while. But then I found our family, and they took me to the grove–”

“Oh, you met the circle. What did you think?”

“Well, I gotta admit, I don’t know how to feel about it. When we were walking to the grove, we met some kind of weird ghost or something who was offering us items and stuff in exchange for other stuff, but he was being real creepy, and later I heard he might have cursed the town, but the Mother was real enthusiastic about trading with him for simple stuff like wool, but I wasn’t sure how to feel about it until this man who looked real smart said something like ‘do we need to trade with these strange beings when we can provide for ourselves’. And I asked him straight if we was so hard up for food and supplies that we needed to make weird deals, and he was all ‘No, but some people are impatient’. And then later when we got to the grove, and elf just showed up–”

“You met an elf!”

“Yeah, an elf was there talking something about a spirit who wanted something and she wanted us to do something. I don’t know, I didn’t understand it, and I kinda zoned out a bit there, but a woman who I think was staying in my bunk came out, I think she was with the elf, talking about something. But apparently later someone said that the elf wants to kill a bunch of people, and that would be bad. But in the moment the Mother seemed real keen to do what the elf said the spirit wanted us to do if I caught the bits and pieces right, but someone else suggested we talk to the town about it, and I thought it was weird that the Mother was just jumping to do all these things, and other people had to bring up other considerations on how many to do things better. I just didn’t get a real leadership type vibe from her. But it’s a good thing we talked to other people about it, because that’s how we learned the elf probably just wanted to kill people”

“Oh, so you didn’t do what the elf wanted you to do?”

“Well, not exactly. From what I could tell the elf wanted us to have a big feast and worship the elf like a god like to make it bigger, but the next day Vecatrans and Benalians were like ‘What if tonight we have a party and instead of worshiping the spirit, we teach it what community is’ on account of maybe the spirit caused some people in town to eat people. I don’t know, it seemed like there was some history there that happened before. But anyway, the town was supposed to have a party in the woods to show it how much we liked each other, except when the elf and the spirit came apparently one guy was told the elf ‘you said you was my enemy before, and so you are my enemy now, and I wish you would go away’, which kinda killed the whole party energy, so people who just standing around all tense like. But, apparently the spirit said it found out what community was ok with it, but we needed to invite it to our feast in the morning and how it as our guest of honor, which I thought was kinda weird because I was told worshiping it wasn’t what we was supposed to do, and having something as a guest of honor sounded an awful like worship as far as a spirit was concerned. But anyway I almost got stabbed by one of my new friends, but he said it was an accident because his hands got possessed or something, and I wouldn’t have believed it if it wasn’t for something trying to make people stab and shoot each other after the elf and the spirit left, but no one got hurt. But I got real scared because we were all standing around while something was trying to creep into our minds, so I shouted real loud for us to get the fuck out of there, pardon me ma, but that seemed to do the trick and we all started moving back towards town. Then the next morning got kinda tense there because no one knew what to do with the spirit. Some people wanted to talk to it, but I think most people thought it best to just ignore it, but Mother got real heated because a magic guy who was suspicious of the spirit was, I guess, trying to protect people in the tavern, and Mother didn’t like that much, but he wasn’t doing nothing to her, but she called for some people to take him down anyway. Luckily someone else spoke up and talked some sense into her and said there was no harm being done so no harm should come to him, and things calmed down for a little while, and I think things calmed down after that. People were encouraging folks to be happy and jovial and not angry on account that we were trying to still teach the spirit about community, instead of how to yell at us I guess.”

“Oh, well, that does seem like an eventful market, but at least it sounds like no one was harmed. Well, no one besides that, umm, flayed woman you mentioned” Merle looked pale and felt for a chair to sit in.

“Oh, no that wasn’t all that happened. I went into a weird smelling old forge. They said some kind of earth wizard or someone built it a long time ago, and at the end of it there was a weird moving statue that people were calling an “atomatom” or some approximation, and that thing swung a real heavy sword real hard at us. I just kinda tried to run out of reach of it because I aint no good at fighting. But one guy did get got in the chest, and I had to hold the blood in him until we could get some bandages around him. A real strong woman ended up knocking the statue over eventually and hit it a bunch. And then there were the weird blood mud puddles in the forest that apparently hurt like hell if it got on you, and when it did it jumped at something else to try and hurt them too. I think some kids got caught in that stuff, but they turned out ok. And then there was a lot more corpse bees. And then I saw some trolls attacking some lady who sang real loud to call for help. And then apparently there were some werewolves around trying to attack people. And there were ghosts who were trying to kill the lord, but that turned out fine because apparently there was some lady in town related to an old king, and that made the ghosts go away, and she’s the head of the town now. And I think I saw some weird skeleton things, and it was all kinda blurring together.”

“Umm, I see. Well, Market seemed especially lively this go ’round. Thankfully it isn’t usually so….busy”

“Well actually I heard lots of people saying that this has been kinda normal lately, and there’s lots of problems happening that we didn’t have any right answers to, so it sounds like Market is gonna be quite busy for some time to come”

“I see, well, did you at least have any good points?”

“Well, I met a bunch of really nice people. Most of the people in my bunk house seems real nice. There was one who seemed like she was trying to get some of the Benalians to commit a bunch of sins without them knowing and then acting dumb when people were calling her out on it. She wasn’t too discreet like about it. And there was a wizard man who seemed kinda aloof and like he had a lot going on who I didn’t talk to too much, but I made him some ink, so that was something. But besides them everyone else was real nice. There was one lady with a big sword and shield who seemed honest and forthright enough about the happenings in the town, and seemed like she wanted to protect people. And there was a guy with a bunch of knives who seemed a little weary at first, but I made him some ink too, and they seemed real appreciative of it. He asked if I wanted to go out and gather in the forest, and when I said ok he asked how I defend myself, and I told him I hadn’t need to in quite some time, so I didn’t really have a way to, and he offered to help keep an eye on me. He was real impressive because whenever there was the slight hint of a yell in the forest he was off like a shot to go and help. I don’t think I saw a glimmer of hesitation in their eye the entire time I was around them. And there was a couple other people who offered to help too. One of them was a DuBois with a bow who kinda seemed like he was on the outs with the family, but he seemed to be alright and honest enough. And there was a woman who was small, but real bubbly and cheerful like, but carried a heavy looking weapon that was bigger than her. Her whole body must have been one huge muscle for her to carry that thing. I didn’t get to see her use it, but it must be a spectacle when she does. And then there was the guy who accidentally almost stabbed me in the chest. Like I said, I would have been more weary of that particular event if the whole town wasn’t fighting off some kind of crazy, but also the whole Market I saw him do nothing but work making stuff for the town, Vecatran and Benalian alike. And he seemed like he just wanted to work hard to provide for everybody, and it was real sweet watching him work, but it seems he might be overloading himself with all the responsibility. Well, actually, the same could be said for most of the people in the bunk. Well, anyway, there was another man who I think someone said had the charisma. And while he was real nice and charming like, and people really seemed to like him, I don’t exactly know if he was more charismatic than a lot of other people. But people seemed to think he was something special. He could tell things not to hurt him, and then they couldn’t, and then he would jump in front of things. I’m not sure how effective it was, but it was real entertaining to watch. I also met a person who sung real well, and made me feel all energetic and happy hearing them sing, and I think it was that song that gave me an awareness to jump away from the sword that one guy accidentally swung at me, so I was real appreciative towards them. And there was a bunch of nice people doing things.”

“Well, it is a relief that it wasn’t all bad. And I’m glad you met some kind people who you can lean on for the next market”

“Actually, Ma, I was hoping there wasn’t going to be a next market. To say the least it was scary as shit. And it seems like they already had people who could do what I could do and more. And mostly I felt like I was a liability on most occasions. So there’s no real reason for me to go.”

Merle paused for a moment and folded her hands under her chin before meeting Hadiren’s gaze. “Look Hadrien. Taking you in has been the best decision your pa and I made. You saved Pa’s life, and for that we will be eternally grateful, and we have tried to keep you safe and sound. But I fear we may have taken that too far. You said when you were out on your own you were still scared as hell on those streets, but you had some capabilities for hiding and scapping if you needed to. And while we tried to teach you useful skills, I’m afraid we might have coddled the scrap right outta you. Now, we can’t do much about the past, but we can try to instill a sense of confidence and capability in you, and you ain’t gonna find that around this ol’ house. Now, it doesn’t much matter that there are people out there who can do that same things you can. That isn’t what matters. What matters is that you can do it yourself, and you can provide for yourself and people and add to the helping that everyone else is doing. And it matters that you get to know people who can teach you to do new things, and who can help you make up for your shortcomings. What matters is everyone is able to do slightly different things, and all those things working together helps make the town and every individual in that town that much stronger. Now I know there was a little more than any of us bargained for this market, but you made it out alright because you depended on the people who could help you, and you helped some people in return, and maybe next time you can help a little more. And the more you help and the more people help you the more you grow, and I think you will grow to surprise yourself in what you could do.”

Hadrien looks down at the ground and takes a deep breath. “Ok, I think I know what you’re getting at. I’ll go to the next Market, and try to do what I can do for people. If I got past my fear this time I can do it again, and make you and Pa real proud of me”

“But Hadrien, you also need to be proud of yourself. You have already made us so proud, my son.”

“Thanks, Ma”.

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