Caleb’s Story (continued)

Owen The Ranger              Floren the Dwarf            Misa the Elf

Chapter 1 – The Journey Begins (part 2) This episode picks up where the last one left off. I’m sure you can see a LOTR influence as well as “How To Train Your Dragon.” Writing this story has been a fun adventure.

     “You might know.” The trio probably wanted to order a meal. Calebth sighed and got to his feet, making his way over, all ready to rattle off an explanation as to why they’d get nothing but ale this time of day. Halfway there, he stopped dead in his tracks.

     A dwarf with a scar that ran down one side of his face, barely missing an eye, barreled over to a table by the door and sat down so hard it’s a wonder the bench didn’t splinter into kindling. “I don’t care what ye say. I’m starving. Ma belly thinks my throat’s been cut.”

    One of his companions, a tall, slender elf with braids in her hair, rolled her eyes and joined him. “How could you be so hungry? You ate three rabbits for breakfast and washed them down with a gallon of goat’s milk.”

     He patted his rotund belly and grinned. “It takes a lot to keep this physique. Besides, folks have been talking about this place. It’s got a four-star rating.

     They continued their debate while the third member of their party, a tall man dark-haired man, took a seat with his back to the wall and glanced around the room. Something about him caught Calebth’s attention. Not his appearance so much. More the way he carried himself. Quiet. Watchful. Piercing eyes. Tension coiled through the man’s body like a spring as though he was ready for trouble at any minute.

     No farmer or merchant. Not even a soldier. Something else. Calebth gasped and swallowed when he realized he was standing face to face with Owen, the greatest Ranger of all times. What were the chances?

     His stomach twisted when the ranger spoke to him, but his heart was thudding so loud he didn’t hear a word.

    The dwarf waved a hand in front of Calebth’s face. “Are ye deaf,? Did ye not hear what Owen said?”

     The elf frowned. “Don’t be so hard on the boy, Floren.”

    Calebth stuttered. “I’m sorry, sire. What did you say?”

     “Ale all around.”

     The boy backed away and ran into the kitchen where Granny was stirring something in a kettle over the fire.

     “You’ll never believe who just came in.”

     “Some Johnny come lately, looking for food? What does he think this is? An all-day buffet?

     No—well, yes.” He sighed in frustration.  “It’s Owen. The Ranger! Can you believe it?”

     “Oh, him.” She wasn’t impressed. “He must be here to deal with the dragon.”

     “What dragon?”

     “The one Cedric told me about when he delivered vegetables this morning. It’s been holed up in an abandoned Goblin’s cave for the past week or two. Stealing livestock and wreaking havoc in general. So the farmers got together and posted a reward.”

     “Seriously?”

     She nodded. “Twenty gold coins to whoever gets rid of it.”

     Calebth rubbed his hands together. He had an idea. As soon as word got out, there’d be bounty hunters swarming the hills, looking for the cave. And he knew a shortcut. He could lead Owen and his friends there. Surely they’d be so grateful they’d led him squire for them. Nothing like good fortune to make people agreeable.

     With that in mind, he talked Granny into letting him serve them a fresh loaf of bread and bowls of stew along with the ale he poured.

     “I don’t know why. It’s not like those rascals deserve it. They do what they do because they think it’s fun, not because they’re trying to be noble.”

     “What if it was Pops? I’d like to think someone took pity on him from time to time when he was traveling and gave him a home cooked meal.” Long ago, Calebth’s grandfather had been a ranger.

     She didn’t say another word, but he noticed she also added butter and honey to the tray. When Calebth brought the food to the table, he told the three of them about the dragon. “And, I know a shortcut to the cave. I’d be glad to take you there. On one condition. Let me join you on your journey.”

     The dwarf swallowed and wiped his mouth with the back of his hand. “You’d only be another mouth to feed.”

     The elf glared at him. “Don’t be so hard on the boy, Floren. He could be a big help.”

     “That’s a thought, Misa.” He scrubbed the side of his face. “Can you cook?”

      Calebth prayed his Granny wasn’t listening from the kitchen. “Of course I can. I made the mutton stew you’re eating. And baked the bread.”

     Floren smacked his lips and rubbed his stomach. “How are you at preparing dragon meat?”

     “Is food all you think about?” Misa tossed her braid over her shoulder.

     “What d’ye mean by that?”

     “It’s all you ever talk about.”

     “No, it isn’t.”

     Own slammed his mug down on the table and shut them both up. He poured himself another drink and eyed Calebth. “Thanks for the offer, kid. But it wouldn’t work out. You’re a little young. And besides, I don’t have the time to teach you.”

     “Please, Sire. There are other things I’m good at besides food.” The boy wracked his brain, desperately trying to come up with something. “I-I can tend to your animals. Do your laundry. Polish your boots. Anything it takes as long as you to teach me how to be a ranger. It’s what I want to be more than anything. I’ve been dreaming about it ever since I heard about your adventures.”

     Owen raised his voice. “You don’t understand, boy. What we do isn’t just fun. It’s dangerous.”

Caleb’s Story

Written and illustrated by my twelve-year-old grandson with a little help from me. This is a learning experience for both of us. He’s learning what it takes to write a book, and I’m learning how to point him in the right direction without stifling his imagination. We plan to post it in episodes as the story progresses. Let us know what you think. We’d love to hear from you.

Chapter 1 – The Journey Begins

     Calebth smothered a yawn as he lugged the wooden bucket full of scraps left over from the midday meal out to the pen full of pigs behind the tavern. Since his Granny took over Meats and Grains customers had been coming from far and wide. Word had spread that the new owner of the tavern in Raintown could cook up a mighty tasty meal.  

     He couldn’t complain. Business had been brisk. There hadn’t been a dull moment in the day. If he wasn’t clearing the tables or washing dishes or scrubbing pots and pans, he was hauling bath water emptying slop jars or changing sheets in the rooms to rent upstairs.

     The busier it was, the more coins filled the bag Granny behind the loose bricks of the hearth in the kitchen. Granny counted them by candlelight late at night after locking up. The less they had to pinch pennies. Or worry about paying the bills

     Granny could afford to pay for other things they needed. Like the clothes and shoes he had the pesky habit of outgrowing. The visit to the dentist when he developed a persistent toothache. Or the herbs from the apothecary to ease her painful joints. She even gave him spending money on fun things like an occasional visit to the fair for spun sugar candy or a front seat ticket to see the juggling act.

     Still, he sighed. Not that he didn’t appreciate their good fortune. He remembered how it was when they had to scrape by. But lately, life had been less and less fun and more and more work.

     He’d complain to Granny, only it wouldn’t do any good. She worked harder than he did. Got up earlier and went to bed later. But he didn’t understand. What good did it do to be making so much money if they couldn’t enjoy any of it? Even just a little.

     Lately, the boy had spent a lot of time daydreaming. While he slaved away, working from sun up to sun down, doing chores that never seemed to end, he had an inspiration.

     If things kept going like they were, he’d be making more than just spending money. He’d started his own stash. So far he didn’t have enough coins to rub together, but he had plans When he’d saved enough, he’d leave the tavern behind and do what he’d always wanted to do. Go on an adventure.  

      By the time he finished feeding the animals and got back inside, the tavern was deserted. Lunch hour and come and gone, leaving a short lull before customers started trickling back in for supper. He’d done everything Granny asked. For the moment his time was his own.

      Calebth hurried over to the nook beside the hearth, in the hopes of catching a little shuteye. It was warm and cozy. The one place Granny couldn’t see when she poked her head into the room looking for him so she could give him another task.

      He crossed his arms, leaned back into the corner and closed his eyes, letting visions of his future filled his head. He wanted to be a ranger just like his grandfather had been. He even had his sword. He kept it under his mattress, wrapped in a soft cloth. It was a beautiful thing. Never mind that he had no idea how to use it. He had that all worked out.

     Why not learn from the best? He’d heard stories all his life about Owen, a ranger with the reputation of being the best fighter ever. A brilliant swordsman. Afraid of nothing.

     If there was only some way to track the ranger down and pledge himself to him. He could teach him how to use the sword. Never mind that he had no idea how to find Owen much less convince the man that his services as a squire would be invaluable. He’d cross that bridge when he came to it.

     Just as Calebth dropped off to sleep a loud noise made him jump. His eyes snapped open. Three figures stood in the open doorway silhouetted in the winter sunlight.