“Retreat!” Iric screamed, as a small fish slapped him in the face.
He and Pyri ducked around the corner of a stout stone building, relatively safe from the incoming barrage of edibles. The older watchman glared at Iric.
“What did you say to her?” Pyri asked disdainfully.
“What? Why do you think it’s my fault?”
“It’s somebody’s fault that I have mushed tomatoes under my breastplate.”
“Missus Turner is just a bit upset about having to move her cart,” Iric said. “That’s all.”
“I think she was more upset about our gall at asking her. I don’t think she intends to actually move.”
Iric glanced around the corner of the building. He could see the woman still fuming behind her cart. The cart was full of a variety of fresh foods–various river fishes and a dozen types of vegetables. But she had parked it in one of the busiest areas of Market Street, blocking traffic, inciting the protest of shop owners, and generally gaining more ire from passersby than good will.
“Parley, Missus Turner?” Iric yelled, waiving a hand gently in the woman’s direction.
“Parley?” came the woman’s irate reply. “Why you no good little weasel, Iric Raske. You think that watchman’s symbol on your armor gives you the power to toss us regular folk around?”
“No, Missus Turner.” Iric dodged a spinning carrot. “If you talk to me, I’m sure we can figure something out. No need to waste your wares as ammunition.”
“I ain’t got nothing to say to you, boy.”
“Then just listen…without turning me into a salad. Can you do that for me? Don’t you think I deserve that much, with all the help I’ve given you the past few months? Who else has been dragging in buckets of water from the river while your oldest daughter nurses your youngest?”
“Okay. Come out here. We’ll talk.”
Iric cautiously emerged from his defensive position; Pyri stayed behind. The younger watchman moved slowly towards the cart. Missus Turner waited for him with her arms crossed, a grumpy frown on her face.
“You of all people should know what we are going through,” the woman said to Iric. “Your family isn’t so well off either. And you know Runa is stuck at home taking care of my little Taina. We don’t know if our little girl will get better. And we don’t have any money for a doctor, we barely have enough for medicine. So I’m here trying to sell our little surplus to get a few coins to help.”
Iric listen sympathetically. He had been to the Turner house, had seen Taina rolling in bed with fever. He had tried to offer what little help he could, fetching water and doing chores. This was the second time the girl had fallen ill. Without a father in the home, the older sister Runa had been forced to come home from her apprenticeship with the apothecary in order to nurse her sick sibling. Iric was indeed a generous soul, but he couldn’t avoid the truth that much of his kindness was an attempt to gain the attention of the older girl.
“Can’t Runa help?” Iric asked. “She has some wages now, right?”
“It’s not enough.”
“I understand your situation. But really, you can’t keep your cart here. It’s blocking the road. People are getting angry. And if you don’t move it for me, then some older and burlier men will come and force you out. We don’t want that.”
“Then what would you suggest?”
“Let me help you pack up your things and move to a different place. You know, a spot closer to the docks might get you more business. I think I might even have a place in mind…”
Iric waived Pyri over and the trio proceeded to assemble cart for moving. They walked with the woman off towards the docks, the two watchmen dragging the cart behind them.
“You’re a good boy, Iric. I’m sorry for calling you a weasel.”
“It’s okay. I take it as a compliment. Weasels are smart.”
The woman smiled at him. Iric couldn’t help but think of the struggling widow’s family. The sickly girl. And Runa.
“You know, Iric, Runa has been making Taina’s medicine all by herself. It’s quite amazing how much she has learned in just a couple months. If you want to get on her good side, you could offer to fetch some herbs…”
The woman smiled again. It made Iric blush. Slowly, the trio continued their peaceful march towards the docks.
Previous volumes of “The Adventures of Iric” can be found here: