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A Fool's Bucket - Ch. 10.2

by ExOmelas

The best place to hide turned out to be up a tree. It was a fir tree, with close together branches and thick blankets of needles. And in the middle of summer, it was nearly impossible to see through one side of it to the other. It was situated a little bit up the hill and to the east from Raddig's farmhouse, but it was the closest Buck could get without crossing the wall into Raddig's land, and he felt that would get him noticed quicker.

As he scooted forward on his belly along a branch, he screwed up his eyes to see through the wall of needles. He spotted the farmhouse just on the edge of the farm, with a narrow space for a path behind it, and a little decking poking out from the front. Buck hoped that would be where Erson and Raddig appeared when they reached the farm.

He'd followed them back from that night's revelries, having faked drinking alcohol all night to make sure he was in the clearest mindset possible. The tree he'd scoped out earlier in the day, and would have gone to get set up sooner if he hadn't been in charge of announcing the night's acts again. Somehow the list of viable talents had increased, as more and more people picked up instruments for the first time and discovered a knack, and in some cases a love.

There they were. Buck could only see the backs of their heads as they looked down on the valley below them, each of them with a thick cloak pulled tight around themselves. He thought maybe they were holding hands, but tried not to look in too much detail. All he was here for was to see if Erson gave Raddig a gift, and then what Raddig did with that gift.

Unfortunately, it turned out that their voices carried.

"You know, you could get up and do something one of these days," Raddig said. Buck winced at the blunt harshness in his voice. Was he witnessing a fight of all things?

"I have duties to perform, unfortunately," Erson said, his voice deep and serious.

"What duties?" Raddig scoffed.

"Well, I don't entirely understand. But Myal and Buttane seem to have got a handle on things. I just go along with what they ask of me. It seems to make Myal the happiest I've seen her since our father went off to the war effort." Erson's voice sped up towards the end, and louder as his argument developed.

"Whatever," Raddig said.

There was a long moment of silence. At one point Buck scratched his nose and a few pine needles scattered to the ground. He felt certain they had heard him.

"I have something for you," Erson said.

"Oh?" Raddig asked.

There was a shorter silence, then Erson said, "For you, my love." They turned to face each other and Erson handed Raddig a flat parcel of thin paper tied up with string.

"Ah, thank you," Raddig said. He untied the parcel and let the paper drop to the ground. As he held up the contents, Buck saw that it was a purple shirt of some kind, presumably trimmed with real gold or diamonds or some such.

"Well, let's see it on you," Erson said, nudging him.

Buck started. He really hoped this wasn't the start of a more intimate moment.

"Perhaps another day," Raddig said, "I'm all stiff from the dance."

"Shall we go inside?" Erson asked. Buck had worried about what he’d do if they disappeared from sight – should he sneak up from the window? But he’d decided just to keep an eye on the building, be sure he knew when Raddig left.

"Actually, I'm just realising how tired I am," Raddig said, "My whole body is stiff. I think I need a rest."

"Oh, okay," Erson said. He stood with his hands at his sides, fidgeting with the thick material of his cloak. "We can meet up tomorrow if you like? I could sneak out early?"

"I work in the palace tomorrow, so I'll see you there," Raddig said.

Erson nodded. "Sure thing. I guess I'll go now." He smiled and offered Raddig a small bow. "It's been a pleasure."

"Yes, it has," Raddig said, leaning forward to give Erson a quick kiss.

Buck gasped as Erson practically melted! Just at that little peck on the lips. He watched aghast as Erson grinned and waved at Raddig, then jumped down off the decking into the farm. As he walked off he wondered how in all the valley he hadn't noticed Raddig's coldness, his shortness, how little of a care he had for Erson's feelings.

Buck was still ranting internally when Raddig turned around and headed inside the farm house. He leaned back against the trunk of the tree, and settled in for a long night, but at least he'd have his fury to keep himself awake.

He thought about his conversation with Erson and Myal the day before. He’d almost tuned out after the talk of Raddig, his plans busy formulating in his mind. But there had been a hefty revelation afterwards as well. Erson had spoken about what the queen had discussed with him.

“She looks at me very seriously, eyes narrowed,” Erson had said. Myal had squeezed his arm and smiled with pursed lips. Erson had put his other hand on hers, then went on, “And I know something big’s coming. And yes, it’s the big moment. It’s finally official. She’s disinheriting me.”

Myal had dropped his hand and stopped walking, whirling around to face him. “She what?”

“Well, unless I can assure her I will provide heirs for our royal line,” Erson said. He shook his head and stared at the ground. “Maybe I should just marry Pires.”

That had caught Buck’s attention, and ensured this chat remained stuck in his memory. They had moved on from there, Myal determined to cheer Erson up with talk of how the coming festivities were shaping up. But he remembered that part well enough to review their exact words in detail.

As it turned out, he didn't have to wait much longer than it took him to run through the conversation in his mind. It was perhaps about twenty minutes -conventiently the amount of time it would likely have taken Erson to get back inside the palace - before Raddig re-emerged from the farmhouse and once again jogged down to the front of his farm.

This time he vaulted over his wall and started to sprint off, so Buck had to shimmy as fast as he could down the splintery bark of the tree and run after him. He knew where he'd be going, the question was just if he could catch him in the act of selling this one. Buck's knees felt like they were going to shatter as he thundered down the hill. He was catching his entire weight on them, falling more than running. But before they had the chance to split he was back on the path and tearing along it.

He could see Raddig off in the distance, also sprinting, with what looked like a package clasped tightly under his arm. Buck started to sigh with the relief, but by now his breathing was so ragged that he just spluttered and thumped himself on the chest. He shook his head, tilted his body forward, and kept running.

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120 Reviews

Points: 1849
Reviews: 120

Tue Mar 31, 2020 12:32 am
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JesseWrites wrote a review...

The cliffhanger was extreme. It made me very mad. The scenes were so well written it makes me want to write more. The detail is good, but i'd like more. That is just my preference though. I felt like i was there.

I enjoyed this very much. You write so good. Raddig is not my favorite. I don't like him. He is so cold and just rude to others.

Good job!
*PS- I hate Raddig!*

ExOmelas says...

ahaha Raddig is the WORST!!! I just got to write a scene of Buck being very *very* mad at him and it was extremely satisfying!

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1360 Reviews

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Reviews: 1360

Wed Mar 25, 2020 6:59 pm
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JabberHut wrote a review...

Whew, I am here now! (You'd think I wouldn't be so busy right now!)

This was such a mean cliffhanger though. :( I want to know what happensss! I wasn't quite sure why Buck sighed with relief, unless he was relieved to have Raddig in his sights? Or relieved to see suspicions may be true since Raddig had the package from earlier? I wasn't sure.

But you write chase scenes pretty freaking well, man. I felt out of breath just reading it.

The opening paragraph mentioned the tree in summer, so I assumed it was currently summer, but then the characters shortly thereafter had thick cloaks on, so I'm not sure what season it is. (Or maybe I know by now and it's just been long enough to escape my memory.)

BUT MORE IMPORTANTLY, I DON'T LIKE RADDIG. He was off-putting before, but now I straight-up don't like him, and I freaking adore Erson now too. Before I wasn't sure, but now it's like 110% love Erson anD I AM MAD. I am MAD that Raddig is being so cold when Erson is being so sweet, and it's so hard for Erson to be so kind with the situation he's in but Raddig is being A FREAKING JERK ABOUT IT. hnng.

Is Erson, like... lying to himself. I'm worried. :( He's probably so invested in his feelings for Raddig that he's brushing off Raddig's behavior as a personality quirk. Not only is Erson in love with Raddig, but Erson might also be thriving in the idea of challenging his mother's traditional values, too. It's probably a mix of ALLLLL that. UGH BUCK, DO SOMETHING.

I wonder how Myal truly feels about Raddig. She was being kind to Erson about it before, but I wonder if she's ever felt Raddig was off-putting, too.

And I ASSUME Raddig is running to that merchant earlier. Maybe he's in a rush because the shopkeeper will be closing up soon? I have to admit, Raddig would only ever wear that shirt if he were going to visit Erson or the palace, so even if Raddig's feelings for Erson were genuine, the gift isn't really practical for a shepherd or farmer. Still, it's straight up rude to turn around and sell it so i mean. Raddig has NO EXCUSE. OFF WITH HIS HEAD!

ExOmelas says...

Yeah the sigh of relief was because he worried he'd lost sight of him - will stick that in xD

YES RADDIG IS THE WORST. I've had to slightly bite my tongue to let this develop naturally but I've planned his true nature this way from the beginning. Frankly he's toxic and Erson could do better. He is indeed heading to the market seller before he closes up shop, that'll be evident at the start of the next part. By the way, if I forget to mention in the next part that Buck hadn't planned to confront him this early, please shout at me! :P I meant to mention that in here somewhere but keep forgetting.

It's night time so a very cloudless night - v chilly :P

Thanks for the review :D

ExOmelas says...

Btw, zero pressure on this but I'm planning a silly Dracula story (the daring quest of Trans Dracula and WereSpiderBoy!) for Camp NaNo and I was wondering if you'd like to read it? Absolutely fine if you're too busy or not interested or anything else :)

JabberHut says...


And yes, I'd love to read it! :D Just ping me when you post!!

ExOmelas says...

Awesome to both! :D

If you have to ask, "Is this cliche?", it probably is.
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