Tianna had told right, and the rumour was true, for upon Jiltons arrival back to the real world- to which no dreams sparked his memory- he peeked out his window and came to spy the overhanging sheath of clouds, now blistered girthy and wet over the entire sky.
He had gone downstairs, to find Tianna baking in the kitchen, stirring a mixture of flour and eggs and milk, to make bread for their supper the next consecutive days. She hummed under her breath again, another ancient song to their tongues,
Dúlamán na binne buí, dúlamán Gaelach
Dúlamán na farraige, b'fhearr a bhí in Éirinn
Tá ceann buí óir are an dúlamán gaelach
Tá dhá chluais mhaol are an dúlamán maorach
He liked to hear her sing, but he knew he could not stay long in the home because of his father and what trail of anger he would bring if he were to see him, and promptly walked to the door, avoiding Tianna completely.
On days like these, which did not come often, Jilton would walk around the kingdom with Reagan and, if the other boy willed, a few other boys, though Jilton himself never spoke to them, and kept his voice hushed when he rarely spoke a word to Reagan.
Still, he didn’t mind this thought of hanging around the others, even if they were to torment him, and walked past the cattle and Suri, who wore an apron to milk the cows then, and paid no attention as she called out to him. Reagan would have likely been waiting by the trees, or still trying to find a way to get out of mining with his father, but in either scenario, Jilton continued forward, unwary of traveling to the kingdom alone.
What was there for him to worry for? The storm, to the looks of it, was not to bring rain in at least a day or two, and considering how the shutting down of school had only fallen on the edge of what was left more a meagre likelihood, the tiny bit of ‘what if’ questions, the folk knew they had nothing to worry about.
Hell, even the cows, as he walked by, grazed idly, quiet and in contempt. Usually, if bad weather was to occur or one of them sensed the presence of a predator, they would cry out to the skies, or grow restless in their ways, shifting strangely.
Even the cows stood still, grazing like any other, for they knew that the clouds held nothing but a demeaning aura for the day, and that although it was definitely going to come- it was, no doubt, going to be one hell of a rainy week-, their worry could only be held for the following day, when he assumed the clouds would usher even the tiniest bits of drizzle.
He walked in silence, letting his mind rest from its eager venture the night before, and let the chill of his sickness cast a spell over him once more. He did not feel much better, but he didn’t feel all too worse either, and in most cases this was good enough.
In Jiltons case, he considered it more than a plentiful reason to seek refuge outside his home, to find trivial activities to idle his mind away, whether it was watching the candlemaker by the trinket market make sweet-smelling candles for three hours or help one of the women haul their clothing up to the cleaners ( an activity they often did when work was slow ).
Anything was better than going back home.
It was when he had crossed a third of the fields way, having just spied the large red barn a half km away, did Reagan finally appear to him.
Only, it was not in sight that he found the boy there, leaning against a tree and eating old bread. Instead, the brown-haired boy had taken a quick hiding, upon seeing Jilton approaching unwittingly, behind one of the large trees. And as soon as Jilton crossed by, Reagan had jumped out and made a pulsing grab for his throat, squeezing hard and pulling him down to a head noogie.
But his knuckles pressed far too hard on his head, and if it wasn’t for his quick pull away, Jilton was sure that the print of his fingers would have dented his skull.
“Hah! You should be more careful of your surroundings, friend, you never know what hides behind every corner.”
Definitely not someone like you, Jilton thought bitterly, waiting to press others’ skull with their gigantic-
“Anyway,” the tall boy said idly, watching with a smile as Jilton rubbed sorely at his head, “have you any chores today?”
There was no use lying now, and in no way would it have benefitted either. So after not much thought, he shook his head, dreading the thought of perhaps running into Jared in the city.
It was not highly possible, considering how the old man knew that the storm would not take effect until the next day, he would carry on with the farmwork until the day wrestled on and the moon rose, he would sleep in the barn. But again, no possibility was completely improbable, and all it took was one favour asked by Tianna, his mother, one favour perhaps dreading along the words of ‘my love, do fetch me a glass ale in the city,’ or ‘my love, do pick up the money by the merchant to the west of us in the city’ and all would be over.
He would run into Jared, spy the mean ill look in his face, and would instantly deplete of whatever happiness he encumbered along the way with Reagan. Not that he felt particularly happy then, considering his sore head and Reagans mean glare, he felt that the day ahead held a meagre sense of prosperity, and he knew that no matter how much of an asshole the brown-haired boy could be, he could always make him smile in the end. And if not smile, at least he made the hours pass by quicker.
“Nothing for today, although when I return home I will need to help my father in getting the cattle back into the huts and securing the doors.”
“How does it include me, then?”
“Well...well I only say it, that's all.”
“If you desire for me to help you with such a thing, I'm afraid my presence will be absently induced. I barely made it out of my home alive, and if my father sees me walking around the pastures with you, he will assume I have nothing to do, and he will send me back to the mines. But anyway, not that I wanted to help you much in the first place, lets go now. Have you anywhere specifically planned?”
They had begun to work West, to where the kingdom lay. The hustle and bustle, even from their distance, was heard from across the pastures, because if it was one thing the people of Central Taru were known for, it was their noise. It went hand-in-hand with the heat of their mouths in which they spread bitter gossip, and if you desired to hear even the most irrelevant tales spoken through the city, all you had to do was press your ear against the ear and focus. Words from anywhere, everywhere, would you hear, and soon you would understand.
They spoke idly as they walked, with Reagan having told him a short story of what had occurred that late supper with him the day before.
“There was a bug, as large as my hand,” he made the gesture once more, cupping his fists together as if it were a large sweet, “with antennas like ants have, and it was sharp at the edges. There was a bug like so, at our supper table yesterday night. My mother screamed and completely dropped the pot of rice, and my older brothers rushed out of the house like a great beast had appeared from the water jugs. I, on the other hand, stayed where I was.”
“What did you do?”
“Well, I caught it,” he said, a smug grin reaching the tip of his dimples, “I took one of the old broken jugs my mother uses seldom, and propped it over its head. I took it outside and let it hang in the soil again.”
Jilton was listening idly, his mind half-drawn elsewhere, and found himself perplexed at the seamless ending of the story, “is that it?”
“What do you mean is that it? I took the bug outside and I let it go.”
“Well...it seems out of character of you, that's all.”
Reagan looked at him then, clearly holding a thought deep in his head, “what do you mean by that?”
“I...well, I thought you would have killed it. Taken it and killed it under your shoe, like how our fathers taught us to.”
“You don't know what my father has taught me,” he said, rather bitterly. It brought Jilton to a quick, lashing silence, and it was a second or two before either boy spoke again.
They reached the walls of the city in a rush, and greeted the guards standing outside with a simple nod. It was better than completely disregarding their presence, which many of the city folk did when they brushed past them, wondering what they even did with their lives.
There was no need to hang around the merchant stands, settling as sad tents and broken stands outside of the bridge parts for the poverty outside, and so they crossed over the small bridge and made their way to the second set of wall, stretching all over the city so that it hugged it more tightly than the other.
The kingdom of Central Taru spanned a little over 50km, and mostly bounded in an irregular shape west, where the mountains overlaid. It wasn’t the safest place to mostly settle, considering the animals like coyotes and wreathers that took their inhabitants there, but it was far better than seeking a settlement close to the forest, where the wild nymphs were, or the sea, where octopus and other strange creatures hid beneath the reefs.
The buildings in Central Taru were built close, compact, like the homes during the heart of the industrial revolution, only they were less dirty ( though this couldn’t be said by the etched lower class, guided by the edge of the walls ) and spanned enough space to not cause too much of a disease epidemic.
They had a colonial german look to them, of wooden beams and tall roofs that arched into triangle shapes. Some, more on the upper-classed side or with infrastructure that offered services rendered, had a Tudor design, with steeply pitched roofs, decorative and half-timbering casement windows and with walls commonly built with brick or stucco. The interiors were frequently dark with stained trim, wainscoting and doors. The hardware and lighting fixtures were often wrought or simulated iron wrought.
It was not the cleanest of kingdoms in the world, and between the three, it held the largest population kept in such a small area. It was why everything always seemed so dirty by the edges, and it was why Central Taru often had seldom visitors. Even though tourists were not a thing often accepted to any of the lands considering the danger, the Sire Nether Kingdom accepted twice as many of the lone wanderers than Taru did, and concerning their bustly close community compared to the Nether kingdoms’ free security and meagre racism, it was not a hard choice choosing between the two.
But Solestar- even with its utmost cleanliness and ordinated buildings- was not even an option. For it was a kingdom spoken about by humans by only a place of deadly worship, if you chose to prostrate yourself among the Solestice, and most lone wanderers seen going within the walls would rarely be seen coming out again.
They passed at least 20 people, all shoving and pushing and slurring their speech to all that might have passed them as an array with unruly slurs ( to which others usually answered back with the worst of their own ) before they reached the place they desired to be.
It was Reagan who led and Jilton who followed now, but beyond the crowd, he saw nothing but blurs and the stench of all that passed was too much to help him think straight.
He only followed the ruling colour of Reagan's brown hair, and because of his height, he walked differently through the crowd. Eventually, he passed by three men who had been blocking the exit by consoling words they had not even heard, and it was only when he scented the aroma of hot crossed buns and honey tea, did he realise where he was.
“Here we are,” Reagan said, proud of himself to even be standing, prompted on the spot, “have you any money with you? I am quite quenched for a delicious hot crossed bun...but I have just so happened to have forgotten my money.”