Young Master Gofart
Everyday Chu would take a walk within the lodge compound. He always seemed fascinated with the contents of a small leather pouch. During this time Ming handled all the errands that needed to be done.
When the problems started in the village Chu had the Trading post guards make a routine visit to his house. The plan was to ward of any troublemakers with the visible presence from the guards.
With Ming and Clod relaying the latest news daily, he decided to take the protection one step further. Through Griz he made a plan with the captain of the garrison patrols. For a fee of ten coppers per night, the captain will send a guard to keep monitoring his house and the nearby lanes. The patroling guard assigned for the area was so pleased with his cut, that he began to just dawdle around the house for the entire night.
In the morning the guardsman would take the walk with Clod to the Trading post. Here he happily collected the money from Ming. After a couple of shifts by the guards, it became apparent that the house had some relation with the Trading post. Seeing a guard from the Trading post make his way to the house daily only served to cement those thoughts.
The patrols were smart enough to realize that the money was not kept in the house. They were not stupid enough to meddle with the Trading post properties in this turbulent time. What increased their motivation was when the boy at the Trading post offered another ten coppers for the day patrol.
Soon that little lane to Chu’s parents home was being treaded on day and night. Within the village it soon became the most secured place by being frequented by the patrols. Guard shifts for that area soon became the most fought over.
“This is the power of money, no matter where you go.”
He told Ming one night. To which the latter replied
“I think its wine Chu, Clod says that those patrolmen rush straight out the south gate to the new tavern. He said one morning the patrolman even offered to deliver the food because he moved so slow. For the love of rum.”
“You can think of it that way also if you like.”
Came the lagged reply after a moment of contemplation.
Two days after the arrival of the Hounds, the young masters of various clans made their appearances. The Trading post was now filled to capacity with renters from the higher echelons of society.
When Chu left his room to conduct his morning experiment, he found the courtyard busy.
“Hey, hey you servant boy. Come here and help me.”
Chu scanned the area to locate the owner of the voice. His gaze fell on a plump young man in his late teens or early twenties.
“Yes you boy. Run to the shop and get me the finest tea. Tell the Master to put it on my tab.”
Chu walked slowly up to the man. The fatty carried an air of disposition that could not have been accumulated in any village or town. He was certain that beneath that smiling face lurked something dangerous.
“Young Master, what name do I use that carries such weight?”
“Pretty sharp for a kid, I’ll let you utter the name most renowned in Frost City. Tell them young master Gofart sent you.”
“My apologies lord. I was not paying attention. Say what name again?”
“It’s young master Gofart kid.”
The words rolled out of the fatty’s mouth.
Chu stood for a minute then retreated a little out of the fatty’s reach. He didn’t want to incur the others wrath because he thought heard his name incorrectly.
“By your leave then, young master Gofart?“
“Yes, yes hurry, it has been a long journey.”
Chu scampered away to the shop in a daze. He avoided the busy clerks and squeezed in on the counter between some customers. The shop was too small to handle this capacity. He searched for Griz in the melee and shouted for his attention.
The Manager frowned when he saw him. Normally the boy was smart to keep a low profile in this mess. When he found out what wanted, his frown deepened some more. He signaled Chu to the back entrance and gave him a box.
“Hey kid, keep your distance from those young masters. They are not good company.”
Griz shook his head and went inside. He had seen it all to often in the city. The poor and middle class who were infatuated with those who seem to command the wind and rain. They worshiped and were attracted to them like a moth to the flame. Only to be scorched and burnt by the flames until they were discarded like ashes.
Chu delivered the box to the young master.
“Ah good job little boy. You seem capable enough in this place.”
As Chu bowed and was about to retreat, Ming came walking across the courtyard with their meal.
“Boss, I got it and paid the patrolman. He…”
Ming trailed off as he noticed the man standing close to Chu.
“Boss? Hahaha, I see so it seems that you are the local tyrant in this village. Not bad for one so young. No wonder you are allowed inside this compound.”
Master Gofart laughed and squinted his eyes.
“But kid, you need to train your underlings better. This one is too bold. Take this as my lesson for the work you just did. Spade!”
“Yes Master Gofart!”
A servant in his thirties who was carrying the luggage to a room quickly ran over. He dropped to one knee and bowed before his master.
“Run to the end of the courtyard and back, NOW!”
“Yes young master Gofart.”
The man rushed off and soon returned panting in the cold air.
“Walk on all fours and moo like a cow.”
“Yes young master Gofart.”
Without hesitation the scene was acted out in public.
“Now lick my boot until its shiny”
“Yes young master Gofart.”
Chu observed with a straight face as the man performed the task given with no hesitation. The young master grinned and looked at him.
“See, this is how a real underling should act. Consider it my free lesson to you.”
“Thank you for taking your precious time to train this lowly one. I have truly been blind. Young mater Gofart is truly the best man I have ever met in my humble life.”
Chu’s eyes sparkled with admiration and fawning worship at the man. Master Gofart could only see the face like many others who were in awe of his status.
“Good, good. I hope to see you around then. Seems like I might have some fun here after all. Dismissed”
When the young master turned to enter his room, Chu raised his head and beckoned to Ming for them to leave. Only when Chu closed the door did his he raise his false facade.
“Whew, that was close. I felt like I was facing a new client and lying about a bad product while rating it up. I can’t remember the last time I had to don that face.”
“What do you mean Chu?”
“Never mind, its nothing. Stay away from that guy’s sight from now on Ming. Tell Clod to do the same. I have a bad feeling about these ‘young masters‘.”
The next day they managed to avoid being seen by the new lodgers. The following morning however they were not so fortunate. Clod had just left them at the entrance after delivering his message.
They were now turning to enter the compound when Gofart and two companions rounded the corner. Chu quickly shooed Ming to the room after placing some exaggerated slaps behind his head. He turned and his face registered a false surprise as the young master came up.
“Young Master Gofart. How can I be of service?”
“Haha, I see you have been practicing your lessons. This great one is tired after having spent some time at the barracks. Meet me tonight at sunset at the entrance of the compound. I’ll show you how real masters enjoy themselves.”
“Young master Gofart is to kind. This lowly one will forever be grateful for these lessons.”
“No need, remember at sunset.”
“I will be waiting my lord long before that.”
Chu bowed and allowed Gofart and the others to walk first into the compound until he raised his head and followed inside. He was lucky he sent Ming inside first, otherwise Gofart might have asked him to bring him along. Somehow Chu didn’t think that would have been a good idea.
In the room.
“Chu why do you keep walking around in the mornings with that pouch. Whats so special about it?”
Chu removed the pouch he usually kept in the coldest corner of the room. Opening it he withdrew the front paw of a snow fox. It was frozen stiff but was not covered in ice since it was protected within the pouch.
If he did something like this in the old world he might have been accused of practicing black magic. In a city back home he would just be labeled a madman.
“I know it’s the paw you made me buy since the first day here. I just don’t see any meaning with you carrying it and paying so much attention.”
Chu removed his gaze from the frozen paw and replaced it back where it belonged.
“Lets just say I am using this to check how well our stocks are being preserved. More importantly, stay inside the room. I have an interesting meeting to attend with our young master Gofart tonight. I think I am going to be in for a treat.”
Ming broke off a piece of bread and dipped it into the lukewarm soup. He stuffed it into his mouth without any concern about table manners.
“Yes, yes I know what to do. Just be careful around that guy, he kinda gives me the creeps.”