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Author’s Note:
Ok, this is not working. I tried to do the rewrite, but I just couldn't wait to write and continue on with the story. I just couldn't concentrate on the rewrite at all. Sorry, looks like the poll I had posted was useless.


Chapter 34- Midnight Snack


***June 5th, 965 A.F. (Night)***
***Belhern Village***
***Catherine McGuire***

          It was middle of the night, but her job was not completed yet. Catherine stood silently in front of the kitchen counter, preparing the ingredients to cook for the next meal. The rhythmic sound of the knife cutting on the chopping block permeated throughout the house. She wasn’t alone in the kitchen, though. Her husband was also working on the kitchen table, filling out some paperwork while munching on biscuits that his wife prepared as midnight snacks. To save money on candles, he decided to work in the kitchen where there was always a light source from the cooking flames instead of the study room he usually worked in.

“Ouch! My finger!”

          Catherine accidentally sliced her finger while preparing the food. It was not common for her to do so since she was experienced in cooking. Blood started to drip onto the counter. Noticing that she cut herself, Duncan put down his pen and rushed towards her. He inspected her fingers with care to make sure it was nothing serious. Pulling out his handkerchief from his pocket, he wrapped her finger, compressing it to slow the bleeding.

“Are you ok, dear? Is something on your mind? I have never seen you hurt yourself while cooking.”

          She looked at Duncan in his eyes with a hint of sadness. The crackling of the flames filled the silence between the couple. Giving a sigh, she finally decided to tell Duncan what was on in her mind that caused her to space out while she worked.

“I want to hear the truth from you. Are you embezzling money from the village fund?”

         Duncan wanted to refute her immediately but stopped himself from answering. He knew he couldn’t hide it from his wife much longer. Seeing that he refused to answer, she decided to apply more pressure. She pulled her hands away from Duncan in anger. With a glint of tears in her eyes, she continued to question Duncan.

“Even if I don’t know the details about our finances, there is no way the budget can’t afford a single cart iron axle. Duncan, don’t you dare to lie...”

“Yes, I am embezzling from the village fund.”

         Silence fell between the two once again. Multiple thoughts went through her head in the silence. Some worst-case scenarios, such as Duncan using the money in a brothel, welled up in her mind. Wiping the moist from her eyes, she decided to ask him more questions about the embezzlement.

“Why are you doing this? The Duncan I know would never do that.”

“Ajax is going to be ten years old soon.”

“What does that have to do with you stealing money from everybody? Everyone in the village entrusted you with it!”

“If I had noticed sooner, it would have never come to this.”

“What do you mean?”

“If I started saving money as soon as we realized Ajax is a genius, I wouldn’t need to do this. When he becomes ten, he is eligible to enter the Royal Academy in the dwarven capital. With his intelligence, he can quickly make a name for himself there. It is going to cost a lot of money. I did an estimate. It will cost about 30 gold coins to send him there. We need to send him there, Catherine. I can’t let his brilliance rot in some backwater village like this.”

“It doesn’t mean you should have stolen the money!”


***June 5th, 965 A.F. (Night)***
***Belhern Village***
***Ajax McGuire***

         I woke up in the middle of the night. Emily was still sleeping soundly in the cradle next to my bed. With a shred of moonlight from the window as my guide, I headed downstairs towards the outhouse to relieve myself. I remember the first few years of my life as a baby was quite embarrassing. Even though I can fully articulate myself, my body functions were still not within my control. I was often scolded by my mother because she had to clean up after I wet the bed. When I walked passed the kitchen, I heard the discussion between my parents. Curious about what they were talking about, I hid in the shadows of the hallway and eavesdrop in the conversation.

“... I can’t let his brilliance rot in some backwater village like this.”

“It doesn’t mean you should have stolen the money!”

“Dad…Mom...”

“Ajax! I thought you were asleep!”

        I emerged from the dark hallway and walked into the kitchen. Both of them were surprised to see me up this late. With a serious expression that did not fit a child, I beseeched my father.

“I heard everything dad. Return the money to everyone, I will not attend the Royal Academy.”

“But…”

“I will not use the dirty money, especially when it was stolen from everyone in the village. Think of all the times that we have been through. They are practically our family. It is not right.”

“You have to go, son. You are way too smart to stay here in the village.”

“If you refuse to return the money, I will also refuse to be your son. I will cast my last name McGuire away and use mother’s maiden name instead. That way, you have no obligation to send me to the Academy.”

         I can’t believe it happened again. My parents trying to force me into higher education. By all means, there was a difference between the two. Even though the actions were the same, the context was different. My parents when I was human wanted me in college because they were worried about not having someone with the financial ability to take care of them when they were old. They weren’t really worried about my future. They were worried about theirs. With Duncan, however, he was worried about me. It didn’t matter if he ruined his own future, he wanted to secure mine. Of course, I could not let him do that.

“Ajax…”

“Return the money and I promise you. I will find a way to earn the gold. I will attend the Royal Academy with the money I have earned. I will have the money before I become ten years old.”

“I can’t let you shoulder all the cost! You are just a child!”

        I smiled in pain when I heard that. Duncan was not my real father but he treats me as though, if not better, as his own son. Seeing that Duncan wouldn’t back away from the responsibility of a father, I offered him an ultimatum.

“Schedule a meeting with everyone in the village. You don’t have to tell them that you embezzled from the village fund. Just say that we have a surplus. Ask everyone for approval to lend us the money. You will shoulder half the cost using that method and I will earn the other half. If you don’t agree to this, I will tell everyone that the truth.”

         After a few second of silence in contemplation, he walked towards me, hugged me and finally answered.

“I will do that.”

          My mother joined us in the embrace, scolding dad while hugging us.

“Don’t ever do something like this again. This is what family is for. If something like this happens again, talk with everyone.”

            I suddenly pulled away from my parents with force and started to run into the hallway. My bladder couldn't hold on any longer.

“I would love to stay and talk, but I REALLY have to go to the outhouse, like right now.”

            I heard my parents giving a light chuckle while I was heading out. When I reached the toilet, I pulled down my pants and urinated into the hole. With a sigh of relief, I started to formulate plans in my head. Plans to earn money. I originally planned to take it easy and just take over my father’s place as the village chief when I grow up. It looks like the future will be a little bit crazier than how I want it to be.
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damancy

  • Slayer of Soles

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