“Here are your winnings,” Heinz said, handing Rolin a hefty bag of coins. “Take them and go home, get your rest, your going to need it." Rolin grabbed the bag and looked down the road. Home meant going home to a half-empty house. Home meant going home to bad memories and forgotten echoes. Rolin turned and started down the dirt path towards home.
* * * * *
Rolin’s mother and father had died two years ago. Both of them in the service of the queen. Maybe that’s why he was so disillusioned with royalty, or maybe it was because she had made magic only legal for government magicians. Either way, they died in her service, doing her bidding, using their magic for her. Leaving him and his sister to fend for themselves.
Rolin felt a tingling sensation on the nape of his neck, the same feeling he had when Gareth had sneaked up on him earlier. Rolin whipped around, his hunting knife held securely in his hand. Straining his eyes, Rolin could barely make out a slight shimmer in the air. What was that, Rolin thought. Maybe, no, It couldn’t be. His nerves had been on edge ever since he had started fighting in the arena. It was illegal, using magic without a government license. Rolin kept the knife in his hand all the way to his front door.
* * * * *
“I’m home,” Rolin called through the door, not that he expected an answer. His sister was probably not home, but to his surprise, she was sitting at the kitchen table.
“Hey, Teyla was here, she left you a letter,” Alura said, her hands moved intricately through the folds of her sewing. She seemingly ignored the purple bruise swelling on his jaw. She detested his job.
“What’s it about?”
I don’t know, it’s your letter.” Rolin grabbed the letter off the table. It was probably filled with “loves,” and “we’re meant to be’s”. He was right. Frowning, he threw the letter in the trash and sank into his seat.
“You seem tired,” Alura said setting a bowl of soup in front of him with a butter-slathered piece of bread. Rolin stared at the piece of buttered bread. Butter was for the rich, the aristocrats, where did Alura get it from. “Teyla said I could take it home, she made it on her farm, taste it,” Alura answered as if reading his mind. Rolin took a bite, and almost moaned in the ecstasy of the bite. “It’s good, huh?” Rolin knew he didn’t need to answer, Alura could read it on his face.
Pulling a seat up behind him, Alura lovingly undid his braid. It was a common thing for Eskani men to wear. “You know Teyla loves you,” Alura whispered into the soothing atmosphere.
“Why me, I mean, she’s two years older than me?”
“Well, you do look better than her dog.” Rolin laughed. Teylas’ dog was the laughing stock of the town, it was an ugly flea-bitten little mongrel.
Yes, I suppose so.” Alura finished his braid and grasped his shoulder to support herself while getting up. Rolin winced involuntarily.
“Your hurt. What happened?” Rolin shrugged.
“I think I dislocated my shoulder, I was going to go see old man Fred up at the farm about it, but I thought it might raise too many questions.” Alura frowned and rested her hands on his shoulder. Instantly a warming sensation ran the length of his body. Rolin tested his shoulder. Completely healed. Alura ran her hands to his jaw.
“Evelynn needs a dress for the upcoming ball. She’s paying me a nice sum for it, you won’t have to fight for a while.” Rolin couldn’t help but notice the hopeful undertone of her voice. She was scared he was going to get hurt, still, he was the man of the family now and the man was the breadwinner. At least, that’s what father had told him.
“Cool, I’ll think about it,” Rolin answered, not really meaning it.
Alura turned as if to leave. “Oh, and Rolin.”
“Yes,” Rolin answered, fingering the flowers Teyla had sent.
“No need to go to Freds’, got it. I’m the healer around here, if there is any healing to be done, I’ll be the one doing it.” Rolin nodded, not knowing what to say. “Good night brother,” Alura whispered, exiting the room.
Rolin turned his attention back to his soup. What was there to say?