01| Beginning

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My gown clings to me like a second skin, constantly soaking my sweat. I run as fast as my legs can carry me.

I earned it with all I got. I established that small shop with so much hope, it can't be destroyed like that. I have to reach market as soon as possible.

I have to stop them.

"Ho Blair! Wh're are you rushing to?!" I listen to Mrs. Wright shouting for me, raising the bag up in her hands of mud I asked her to bring for me.

"Not now, Mrs. Wright!" I keep running on my way to my shop.

I witness a crowd covering my small shop. I lower my speed.

"What's happening here?!" I yell and they all move their attention to me.

I struggle to go through them and at the end, I see what I never imagined. I see all of my carved sculptures broken into tiny, little pieces, spreading on the ground.

Shifting my gaze at the corner of my stall, I see Mason weeping with his hand-catapult dropped down near his feet.

I lapse into silence.

They destroyed everything I spent hours in making to earn a living.

"No more brain than stone, wench" one of them holding a large metal serving spoon says.

"We allowed you to open up your booth only during regional events, who gave you permission to do an open-air affair by having your carved statues kept here on the daily basis?" the other man says, stroking his beard.

"Aye, mistress like you should stayeth at home and think about your menage. This lodging is to avail only by men" interjects another.

I clench my fists on my sides.

"And who are you to raze my hardwork to the ground?!" I yell, "How could you all do that?!"

"We warned you" says one of them in small voice, taking a step back hearing me shout.

This is the excuse they're giving after tearing down my everything?

My sculpture carving work is what makes us earn our living. And seems like working hard for getting some money for my family is not acceptable for them.

I stride towards my shattered stall and slide my hand inside table's cloth just to take out a piece of paper.

I open it and shove at them aggressively, "This! This is the written permission I got from the castle's authority. Now, what are your thoughts about not letting me sell my works here? What would you feel like if I show up at the holding court tomorrow early in the morning?"

A deadly silence creeps on their faces.

Until a man from back walks in front, the dreadful look of him makes me bite back my confidence.

"That consent is assuredly not the only reason to destroy your stall, Blair" he speaks, giving me shivers of fear and doubt.

I feel like I've seen him before.

"Your father," he begins to speak further and I already realise who he is and why he is here.

More interesting question would be: what he is here for?

"He still hasn't paid me the debt. I threatened him, but he's now hiding in some rat-hole like a rat he is" he blurts.

I saw it coming in voice.

How to tell him that I stopped considering him my father ever since he begin indulging with other women after my mother's death?

His eyes points to my shop, "Consider it another threat. I would do worse if you and your father Robert don't pay me"

Mason comes to me and hugs my torso in fear.

"Shall I think myself clear?!" his devil voice makes me vince.

"Y-Yes" I stutter, "I'll pay you..."

It was a matter of time that along with people who came here with intention of distrubing me, the people who were standing here for entertainment left too. Now it's just me and my brother here.

Still, a man wearing messed up clothes who usually come to our shop to pass his long day by messing with me - arrives to me with a filthy smile on his face.

"Hey honey, are you rationed?" he asks.

I shoot him a stern look as he walks away. Rolling my eyes, I turn my attention to Mason, still sobbing and clutching my legs.

"Hey, little one, why the tears?" I crouch down, wiping away his tears. "Did they hurt you?" He shakes his head.

What did those venomous people do to him?

Our once lively shop, now reduced to rubble, was Mason's play area. Suddenly, he points towards the boy from the flower shop next door. "He broke my hand-catapult," he sobs.

I'm torn between laughter and sympathy. Of course, he'd be upset about his favorite toy.

Priorities, Blair. Priorities.

Immediate guilt washes over me. I stand up, holding Mason's hand. Digging into my pocket, I pull out the two coins I have.

Hopefully enough to dry his tears. "Let's get you a new one, Mason."

When we reach our chamber, I'm surprised to find a carriage outside. What's going on? I quickly enter to see my father packing our things in bags and boxes.

"Dad, what's happening?" I exclaim.

He turns around without saying a word, carrying a big box to the carriage. "You can't just move our stuff like this!" I protest, and in the next moment, a small metal pitcher container hits my forehead, stinging.

He stands at the door, hands on his waist, blocking the sunlight. "Raise your voice at me next time, and I'll throw a huge container at you with pointing corners."

Holding my forehead, I hope the wound isn't too bad. But it is. It's bleeding.

With no coins left to buy herbs from those wise women for my crackhead, I ponder the consequences of leaving it untreated.

Infection? I dismiss the thought. I don't fancy the idea of being confined within four walls for weeks, receiving minimal food, scratching the floor in irritation until my body and soul part ways.

I huff, hoping Mrs. Wright won't refuse to help me out.

I walk outside and see him wiping the layer of sweat off his forehead. "We are going back to Lichelle." he announces.



"I've fixed your marriage."

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