Labora et Ora 1: A Heavy Coin

A cruel ray of light pushed past his sleeping mind gently rubbing at the edges of his consciousness. The offending light brought other concerns to his attention. Petya caught the smell of twice-burnt wood just beginning to turn to charcoal, the sound of seabirds and hammers meant they were close to the settlement, and the uneven roll of the cart placed an unbearable pressure on his bladder.

With effort he opened his eye and squinted at the indifferent daylight. Timing the sway of the cart he let the next opportune shift help him roll free from his wedge sleeping nook. A few of the travelers nodded at him as he wandered from the procession and found a larger tree to step behind.

After his relief Petya walked on in companionable silence, rejoining the convoy. He listened to those around him speak of their concerns, hopes, and goals. He wanted them all to find the things they wanted and to avoid the worst of what they feared. Though he imagined that not half of these would still be with them when the thaw came. The nights were growing longer and the fields as stiff as iron. He recounted watching a shovel snap just yesterday. Some of the Gothic born had met the morning with the same vigor they would have back home. They didn’t know that the handle of the shovel needs time to warm from its work. The wood too brittle from the nights-chill.

Petya let his hand continue his idle work. They mindlessly wove back and forth moving a pair of crooked sticks as he knit. He paused looking at his work and with a sigh began to unweave the last few rows. He had not been giving his craft any attention and he had absently switched patterns. Without letting the frustration settle he began his plodding walk once more.

As he walked he thought of all the various things to happen in Runehiem since he arrived. The terrible creatures, wonton suffering, and disingenuous ploys. It was enough to make one turn up their nose and return to lands of proper behavior and understanding. Petya shook his head as if to dismiss the thought. He learned to love God and the Throne. He traced his memories, his time in the Monastery. The contemplative and reserved nature of the monks was often just the moments between great bursts of energy and fervor. It was all one could do once a monk caught that spark of insight to not get caught up in the excitement and pursuit. Petya felt a chill in his palm. The weight, the solidness, the chill of those heavy doors still lingered on in his hands. He may have grown with them, learned with them, and loved with them but always kept separated.

He knew somewhere in the mindful part of his head, that it was not personal. They sought to protect him along with all others of humanity who were not ready for the misadventures of unsanctified knowledge. He wondered if the priests of Zuriel would have come up with a way to prevent his homeland from turning to this fetid stalemate.

A call came out from the head of the convoy. They had reached the stockpile and were going to begin to unload. He moved to start unpacking but stopped himself short. With a calming breath Petya pulled his hand back and stepped off the path. He knelt down on his haunches and bowed his head. The words flowed like a mumbled stream from his lips. The prayers of blessings, favor, hearth and home. The small honorings and chiding of the tiny spirits who only hear in whispers. The calling of the Archangels and their dominions and reverence. Someone leaned in close and briefly placed their hand in his pouch. Petya neither moved nor let the matter distract him from his prayer. Almost as soon as it started the individual removed their hand and wandered away. Petya finished his prayer, standing and stretching. He moved to collect a load to transfer to the stockpile. He felt two weights, one was the sack placed on his shoulders, the other hung lightly from his belt and heavy on his mind. He would have to wait till later to see what he had been given.

For now, all that was left was to work and pray.

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