Outline of a plan.
Griz left the village early in the morning.
He left without any fanfare or farewell from anyone. To most in the village it was a simple supply run conducted by the Company. The few Military persons who had remained in the village for logistical purposes also left. Apparently their main focus of operation had shifted further south.
There was two people who were shivering by the gate looking on at the departing convoy. Chu waved his fist at the dissappearing figure of the large man.
His teeth chattering Ming sent a last wave to Simon who was riding a horse at the back.
“T-that was awfully nice of Mr Griz to wake us up before he departed, huh Chu? We must be part of only a very few people who know what is actually going on.”
Ming rubbed his cold hands and spoke proudly.
Chu simply glanced at him.
“That bastard woke us up for spite. Why do we have to be like some old woman sending off her son to battle? He was well aware we said our goodbyes yesterday.”
Chu was spot on in his deductions. Just before the first crack of dawn, Griz personally came and banged on their door. Hustling the two outside he made them help load the cargo of pelts and firewood.
After that he made sure the two personally escorted the wagon he was on to the gate. Like he told Simon who had watched the two miserable faced boys reluctantly waving as they departed.
“This may be the last I see that brat. I want to make sure I leave with a good heart. Seeing his twisted face knowing I am purposely doing this to him is the best send off from the village.”
Chu and Ming returned to the room in the Lodge. Griz had left Overseer Pi in charge, but the assistant called John was the person responsible for all the daily management of the Trading Post.
His instructions were to let the boy stay because someone would come looking for them in a few weeks. Once the merchants and peddlers started arriving for trade of pelts and lumber, John was free to kick them out to make space for paying tenants.
Chu spent the first week relaxing in the room or sometimes visiting his home. He continued to encourage the girls to focus on the basic education in counting and reading. He hustled John for some old parchements and ink for them to practice writing.
He didn’t make any trips back to the barn. They had enough food to last until the end of winter. He had full faith in the hidden trapdoor, unless someone was very curious it would remain undiscovered.
The only people still scouring the land were the remaining adventurers. And even they would be leaving soon enough.
Just over one week after Griz departure the Trading Post canceled the mission and the reward for the wolf demon.
Without this reward the mass exodus of remaining adventurers started. A few of them began a frenzied rush to secure some wild animals to be sold for meat and pelts. This was to gain some money for their next campaign.
For the ones in service of those large houses and nobles, the sublime message of pulling the reward was clear as glass.
The Trading Post was not a large and old entity for nothing. If they removed the reward there was only two reasons.
The carcass had be found or those in Headquarters deamed it to be a futile matter.
As the word spread out, those who were traveling to the area were forced to turn back in regret. No money meant no profit.
As the days rolled on the village slowly became more listless. This was in conforming to how a remote place like this should be in times of Winter.
The profits from an exciting Winter slowly decreased and affected everyone from the Trading Post to the normal village who was making money one way or another.
Chu was the least affected. Business always had an up and down cycle. He unlike most of the others had locked in his profits long ago.
Right now he was huddled in front of the fire with a large map placed before him. It was the same one that Griz had showed him previously.
Ming was sitting at the side trying to gnaw the last of some meat from a bone.
“Awagh earh uie thainkin abut knoow?”
“Don’t talk while stuffing yourself, nobody is going to understand you.”
Ming chewed and swallowed whatever he could gnaw of the bone.
“Sorry Chu, but Sue’s cooking is getting better and better. This time she went all out and didn’t skimp on the meat. I was asking what are you thinking about doing now?”
Chu looked at the map before him.
This was a small map showing the rough locations of the villages around Karst. On earth it was considered a basic map that depicted the location of places relative to the other. The town was a square, villages dots and small drawings of trees, mountains etc depicted notible landmarks.
“See this line that shows a road? From Karst all roads stretch out like a spiderweb to connect to the villages around it. But to the east of our village is another road. It runs from the north to south passing along all the villages that are located near the forest.
If my guess is right, that road runs just east of our barn. I think the few farms that we saw smoke coming from the chimneys are along this road.”
Chu pointed and moved his finger along the line.
“If Griz does get this piece of land for us, it would make our commute to and from the village much safer.”
Ming nodded in agreement.
“But Chu, are we going to remain here? Not that I mind but its hard to make the kind of money we did for the Winter. Sooner or later we are going to have to risk our lives in that forest again.”
Chu understood all to well what Ming was talking about.
“Hey Ming, would you be happy if we just settled down in this place and started farming?”
Ming looked at him dubiously. He raised his greasy hands to his chin and thought for a moment.
“I think that if you had asked me this before Winter, I would have done anything to get that chance. It’s different now. With what happened to Lucy and talking to Simon and those other soldiers from the Military, I want to travel.
I want to visit that Frost City, I want to see the Capital, I want to see the legendary fights between those demon hordes and the Military. I want to try my luck in getting a talisman stuck on me. I would even want to see that town Simon and the others moved to. I want to explore the places like Simon did with his friends.”
It seemed like Ming had caught the adventuring BUG. This was partly from interacting with those he would never have any reason to associate with in his life.
It is an amazing experience when you are happy in your own little bubble. To only find out that it was a tiny corner of a larger world. This could only pique a kid’s curiosity.
“The first thing we are going to do is organize and get our barn back to normal. With Clod around we can start the farm and get some planting done.
If Simon pulls through and his friend is helpful, we can secure a place to raise some animals. By next Winter we should be self sufficient and cut our food purchases.”
Ming stared as Chu kept talking.
“Hey Chu, did you listen to what I said? You know, like a few breaths ago? All about wanting to leave the village and all.”
Chu just gave him a glance.
“Tell me something Mr wanna be little Marco Polo. When you head out skipping along those roads to the cities. Where are you gonna get the money for food? Where are you gonna sleep when it rains?
And when those same adventurers and soldiers decide to pick on you, how are you gonna fight back? You think that killer move in the forest is gonna help?
By the time you walk out of this little nook. Your life will already be in someone or something else’s hand. If even the wind changes direction your life is gone, snuffed out like a candle.”
Ming had a shocked expression.
“Wha? But Chu YOU promised me you would take me outside this place. YOU said we would see this world.”
“What the Heck! When did I promise you that?”
Ming grabbed his shoulders with his oily paws.
“You said so, not in words but I know you looked like you would take me with you.”
Chu knocked the hands grasping onto him.
“You idiot, don’t make up things as you go along. Besides I never said we would remain farming for our entire lives.”
Ming dropped his hands in confusion.
Chu patiently explained.
“Before we go anywhere we need a place to fall back on. The barn will always be our home base. Next we need a steady income so we will always have gold when we need it. And last but certainly not the least, we need some training so we can protect ourselves when we travel. When all those conditions are met then we should be relatively safe on our trips.”
“You talk like we can get all those things here in this little village.”
Ming mumbled in a depressed manner. His dream of hitting the road was now crushed and delayed until only god knows when.
“What are you pouting for. If things work out like they should we would get even more that we bargained. Solid help and defense for the farm. Military style training for you.
Years of traveling experience shoved down our throats and best of all first hand guidance and instruction for Lucy. What more could any slum resident ask for?”
Ming continued pouting.
“BUT I WANT IT NOW!
AND WHO THE HECK IS MARCO POLO!?”