Our serial series is set in Kenneth Shumaker’s medieval fantasy realm of Quantos. We find the Apprentice Mage Morgus is out from the Mage’s University and on his one-year walk-about before he returns for his journeyman certification test on Autumn 50 of Pine, during the reign of King Regeanus III in the royal city of Mount Oryn’s South State district. Our intrepid hero, with a checkered past, is an attractive thirty-three-year-old human Jalnoric male with a bold personality and is determined to survive his walk-about year at any cost, even if it means snuggling in and working with nobility.
We continue now with Episode 004:
Autumn 68 Unicorn
Arriving back at Hessan manor, an hour and a bit after gods-set, Morgus is impressed how fast Gendal drove the carriage back and kept the ride comfortable.
Now sitting and eating an impressive hot meal of turkey, tubers, and vegetables with mulled cider, Morgus asks again, “Baron Hessan, it is now around two hours until midnight. I have a three-hour walk back to the Perch Inn, so I’ll even pay for a room for the night.”
Larap carefully sets his fork beside his plate, washing down his mouthful of food after he thoroughly chews it. He looks at Morgus, saying, “You have a lot to learn if you are to be my chamberlain, yet you seem to have much to offer. I can’t just ask for these skills from someone off the avenue. So, I feel I am in a quagmire. What do I do with you? Of course, you can have a room tonight. Don’t offend me again with offering to pay for the room or for my hospitality, Mage. You currently are my guest. Do you want to change this?”
Contemplating Larap’s statement and query, Morgus responds, “As I understand you, you’re offering me a position. Correct?”
The baron nods curtly once.
Morgus, seeing Larap is concise and to the point, does likewise, saying, “Yes.”
Smiling for the first time with a handsome genuine friendly smile, Larap says, “Good, I’m not offering you the position of chamberlain … not just yet. You have to show me you’re earning that. No one gets the position knowing all its details; they earn the position, and then learn the details while on the job. But you have too little knowledge right now to be of service to my estate or me. What I will offer you is a position as my aide and as estate mage. That is what I think you qualify for. Remember, the position only lasts as long as I live. After I die, my children decide if you stay on. Which could be tonight, at my age.”
Not able to resist, Morgus burst out in good-humoured laughter, as does Larap. Morgus responds, “For as long as the position lasts, it does fit my abilities. Will I have a laboratory and library?”
Larap starts tapping the table, saying, “Not yet, you supply your own supplies and equipment.”
With a sad, sullen face, Morgus asks, “What about a room, or rooms?”
Larap, still tapping, mulls this over and then replies, “If we agree on this, you can have two adjoining rooms on the fourth floor.”
Sighing with satisfaction, Morgus sees a future here, however temporary. He asks, “Then the matter of pay comes to bearing. How much?”
With an expression that would freeze water, Larap stares at Morgus while still tapping the table. “I think one Flair a day is fair.”
Choking on the frugal amount, Morgus counters, “My dear Baron, no self-respecting mage will enter into a contract for that price. A chamberlain or aide might. A mage may if you supplied a laboratory AND library. No, a minimum of three Flairs a day, or two and a laboratory.”
Guffawing, Larap answers, “Not likely, two and no laboratory.”
Evaluating this counter offer, Morgus counters, “Eighteen Dyns per day and a laboratory.”
Shifting uncomfortably in his seat, drawing frustration from negotiations, Larap replies, “No, two per day plus an initial two-hundred coin.”
Seeing an out from the impasse, Morgus offers, “How about two Flairs per day plus an initial bonus of two-thousand Flairs?”
Leaping forward, Larap’s friendly smile returns and he stops tapping the table. Extending his arm, he says, “Done, this is for you to be my estate mage and my personal business aide.”
Morgus leans forward clasping arms with Larap while adding, “With the caveat that on Autumn 49 next year I take leave to return to the Mage’s University to administer to my testing for master journeyman mage certification.”
Grinning happily, Larap says, “At your own expense, of course, agreed.”
They seal the agreement with the gentleman’s clasping of arms.
Finishing their meal together, Morgus asks, “Who do I eat my meals with?”
Larap commands, “The staff … I will get Ada to show you to your room now, Morgus. Have a good night. You officially start your position at midnight tonight. But you can fetch you gear tomorrow from Perch Inn.”
Smiling mirthfully, Morgus stands and bows to Larap. Morgus is happy that his financial situation is resolved, and his residence is situated firmly, at least for a while.
Larap rings his bell for Ada.
In his rooms, Morgus finds the bedroom to be large – a richly appointed wooden room with two windows and a double size goose-down-filled mattress. The attached room is slightly smaller but big enough for a study, or laboratory and library, with its shelves and large intricately carved oak desk. Both rooms have area floor carpets and many wall-mounted hooded lanterns.
Saying good-night to Ada, Morgus washes and then crawls into bed just after midnight, unable to sleep.
By Kenneth Shumaker
To be continued in episode 005, ‘Black Sword Pangolin’…
Dealing with becoming Hessan’s mage Morgus begins studying advancing the estate. But death comes calling and Morgus meets the manor’s defenders. Himself becoming one of the estate’s defenders.
©2016 by Kenneth Shumaker with Inevitable Unicorn Press
All Rights Reserved. No part of this work may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by an information storage and retrieval system (except by a reviewer who may quote brief passages in a review or other endorsement or in a recommendation to be printed in a magazine, newspaper, or on the Internet) without permission in writing from the publisher. However, when contacted, the author may be generous with reprint rights and articles.
Trademarks and myriad names used in this work are not authorised by, associated with, or sponsored by the trademark owners. No association with the corporations or names is implied or intended.
About the author: Kenneth Shumaker (Rusty Knight)
Following a long break from writing, Kenneth recovered his passion for writing. He is a science fiction and fantasy genre author, as well as a non-fiction writer, with Inevitable Unicorn Press (InUPress). Kenneth has been blogging with the Owerton Challenge and other blogs for many years. He now writes several serial short stories. Kenneth’s two businesses, his wife, his two children, and his six grandchildren keep him busy.
Join Kenneth Shumaker (Rusty Knight) in his Dragoman Bloodgrue anthologies of serial short stories. ‘Dragoman Bloodgrue, Volume I: Fare Where?’
Find this volume to purchase on: