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Soon a Squire


by rosemmary

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A small farmhouse, far from the edge of town; inside, there was a flurry of motion as a family worked in synchronicity in preparation for the day at the market. Into bundles and pretty glass baubles, flowers were organised. By scent, colour, and the magic of the mix, they were carefully and skillfully placed. The warm Meridellian sun allowed for all sorts of beauties to grow on the quiet little plot of land. Watered by hand by both little girls, the Springabee and Draphly could be seen floating on the breeze.

     Draikriel was very excited, as this would be her first time accompanying her father to work the booth in White River. She would eventually take it over, so he could return to selling the fireworks that he made. But for now, she was too small to be left alone, and her sister would be going to sit in the back of Mum’s Candle Shop to do her letters & numbers. Draikriel almost shivered with her excitement.

     “Na mair bugs ‘n’ wibreth fur me. A wullnae hae tae chase they darn Symol or seese fur a hail weekend.”

     When the sun rose, it found Draikriel and her father, Draimier, pulling their flower wagon along the dusty rutted track some called a road into town. They were wet from the sweat of the effort of moving the wagon through all of the potholes and over the hills. Running late they were, and the market had already started filling up with customers. Hurriedly, they pushed and pulled and finally made it into the square and set up their display.

     “Git yer flowers ‘ere! sweet, fresh, bouquets fur yer loue! sweeten yer tea wi’ a spray o’ colour!” Draimier called to the folks hustling past. Some would stop and smell the bouquet, but most couldn’t afford more than that. It’d been a rough year. The rains hadn’t come like they were supposed to, and the streams and ponds had all but dried up.

     “Papa?” Draikriel began as her stomach rumbled loudly. “Can I run over to —”

     “Yes, Sweetling. Go ahead.” He replied as he tossed her some worn Neopoints.

     Without another word or thought, she flitted off to the food stand in search of something to quell the rumbling. As she browsed, she noticed that the options were scant and mostly small shrivelled things. She was about to move to the next stand when Eulalia touched her shoulder and handed her a meat pasty. Draikriel smiled and tried to pay her, but Eulalia wouldn’t accept the coins. Wordless, Draikriel curtsied and headed back to her father’s wagon. He hadn’t had much luck with sales, but the day was mostly ahead of them, and she was hopeful…

     As the sun sunk behind the worn buildings, Draimier turned to his other occupation, town lamplighter. He quickly flew around to the few streetlamps in town and spit each one to life with his fire breath. Draikriel loved watching his deft movements, never hitting anything and smooth as silk in his movements. As soon as he finished, they both harnessed up to the wagon and began the journey home to the farm. Hopefully, dinner would still be warm. A good bowl of gruel sounded amazing right now. The trip home somehow went quicker than the one into town, and they parked the wagon and took most of what they had left with that morning back into the cool farmhouse to protect the delicate blooms.

     Inside, they found that Draigona had already fallen asleep, but Draisiree, her mum, was awake and working on some candle pretties. They all sat down and ate the gruel together and quietly talked about their day. This was the best part of the day. When they could just enjoy each other’s company.

     As the years passed, Draikriel took over the Flower Stand and was able to procure some regular customers that allowed her to move into an actual Market stall, which meant she could close up and keep things safe at night while she slept inside the wagon. Soon, she had her own apprentice that helped, and they moved into their own storefront. As much as the progress pleased her, Draikriel dreamed of something else. She dreamed of becoming a knight, like the handsome Draikslye that came through on parade days and always purchased a bouquet that he promptly “forgot” on the counter. She had read everything from the library that she could discreetly about the knightly code, and what training is required for the annual tests. *Maybe this year I will enter the tests* she thought… It was the last year that she could age-wise. Next year she would be considered too old. The rule book did not specifically specify that the would-be squires had to be male, but it was assumed. Never in all of the years of Meridell had there been a female squire, much less a knight! She anxiously twisted her hands together. Sir Draikslye had discovered her training in the woods a few years ago and taken it upon himself to teach her forms, so she could submit to the trials.

     Just then as if she had summoned him, Sir Draikslye came through the doors. His eyes darted around the shop until they settled on her blonde hair.

     “Good evening, young lady!” he said liltingly, “I have some news for you. They’ve moved up the tests to this weekend. If you’re going to enter, you need to go to the centre of town now and put your name on the list.”

     Draikriel’s breath caught in her throat, and her face drained of blood.

      “Th’day! bit tis suppose tae be neist munth!” she managed to croak.

      “There is a war on the horizon, and the Council wants as many squires as they can get their paws on. I feel in my bones that it’s going to be an ugly year,” Draikslye replied solemnly. “I am sure your assistant can watch the shop for you while you slip away?”

      “Aye, ah hawp that wid be a’richt.” Draikriel stammered nervously. “Let me git mah shawl ‘n’ we kin gang.”

     It felt as though she was marching to her death, although Sir Draikslye very calmly took her hand on his arm and strolled along pleasantly to the Town Centre. She heard roaring in her ears, and everything faded from her sight but the parchment on the news board in the square. All of a sudden, they were right next to it, and a pen appeared in her hand. The crowd around her paused, frozen in shock at what was happening. In what seemed like perfect silence, the scratching of the pen on the paper could be heard as she signed her name on the Squire Test List. The noise returned in a rush and overwhelmed Draikriel’s ears as she put the pen down. Her knees collapsed, and if Sir Draikslye hadn’t caught her arm, she would have fainted on the cobblestones.

     "Now come on, young lady, we need to get you back to your shop. Draikriel could hear Draikslye saying, but it sounded like he was at the end of a long tunnel. And he carefully steered her back to her shop, through the door, and to a stool in the back. She sat down with a thump and realised where she was.

     “Ah juist did that, didnae ah?” she asked. “Yes you did, and it is a good and right thing to do.” Draikslye replied.

     The End.

 
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