Having been introduced to the world that is Copia, we can now proceed with the story. In the first chapter, the story opens up and the quest begins. I hope you enjoy it.
Nicolas closed the book.
“That’s enough of Origins I for today,” he sighed with accomplishment.
He took the book and laid it on the table that sat across from his bed. The pages were barely torn and the cover still looked brand new. A ray of light from his window reflected off the cover of the book. There were no scratches – Just the flood of light that saturated the cover.
Nicolas stared at the book. It was the kind of stare that reflected a sense of duty or obligation. So many pages. So many books. A tapestry of Copia’s rich history. But why learn it? What is the point to learning the past when all that matters is the future? Nicolas turned away from the book and stared at the doorway. He plopped himself on the bed and sighed.
Nicolas then heard footsteps, each one getting progressively louder. Nicolas cupped his hands to his ears and closed his eyes.
“Open up, Nicolas!” A voice shouted.
Nicolas tried to drown out the sound in whatever way he could. Still, the knocking continued. The shouting continued. A catnap was out of the question now.
“Nicolas Gillings, open up the door right now or I’ll…”
“Okay, mother!” Nicolas interrupted.
Nicolas got up on his feet and stamped over to the door. Here we go again, Nicolas thought. No rest from sun up to sun down. When will there be time to relax?
Nicolas gripped the knob and shoved the door open, almost hitting his mother in the face.
His mother caught the door in mid-swing. “You better change that attitude right away or I’ll have you working on the garden until dusk. I work real hard around here and I expect you to do the same.”
Nicolas stared at his mother, who was holding a bucket of water and a rag. She wore a white tattered dress and sandals. Her golden hair was wound in a bun and covered with a white cap. Her face was red, and looked like she was ready to explode.
His mother continued shouting. “Do you think you’re some kind of king? And I’m your servant, waiting on you hand and foot? That attitude will not work here at all. I need you to stop that behavior. I am not g…”
“Stop yelling!” Nicolas shouted. “Just stop already! What did you come in here for?”
His mother sat down the bucket and dropped the rag in. “I would not have to yell if you behaved like a gentleman. Now, I was just wondering….”
“…if I read my daily readings of the Copian scriptures.” Nicolas interrupted, rolling his eyes. “Yes, I have! Okay?!”
“Nicolas, don’t use that tone with me!” she snapped. “There are several passages in that book about rudeness. I want you to take a look at that.”
“Maybe later. Can’t I go out and train today?”
His mother scratched her head. “Nicolas. I haven’t seen you do enough around here. I give you chores, but that is not enough to earn your keep here. You are not going to train today. I want you to go out and look for a job. There are plenty of listings in the town square, so don’t tell me that you can’t find one.
“First, read in those scriptures about rudeness and tend to the garden. Then, I want you to go into town and look for work. Do I make myself clear?”
Nicolas grabbed the book from the table and plopped it on the ground. “Why do I have to read any of this? There’s nothing important about the past, anyway.”
His mother swiped the bucket, which caused a small splash of water to spill out and hit the floor. “You’re right. You don’t have to read any part of that book at all. You’re almost sixteen and you don’t have to listen to me anymore. But I want you to read that and do as I say because I love you, and you’re the only one I have left.”
Nicolas looked at his mother and shook his head. He waved his right fist and scowled. “Yeah. I know. Things would be a whole lot better if he was still alive. Right?”
His mother dropped the bucket and it spilled all over the floor. She buried her face in her hands and started bawling. “Yes! It would be a whole lot better! But he’s not alive anymore! He’s gone!”
Nicolas stamped his feet on the floorboards. “You know what? I didn’t want him to go. I wanted him to stay here, with us! But noooo! He had to go and fight. And he died. What kind of deity is that? This “Master” we serve has only abandoned us and dealt us with the worst possible hand! That’s why I don’t want to read this stupid book!”
Nicolas grabbed the book and threw it against the wall. The pages flew open as it roughly landed on his bed, face down and wide open. Tears began to form on his face, but he wiped them off. Men do not cry.
He wiped more tears away from his face. Pretty soon, he was not able to hold them back anymore. The tears came rushing out, and he ran his fingers down the sides of his face in repeated motions.
His mother placed her hands on Nicolas’s shoulder. “Things happen for a reason, Nicolas. The Master has not abandoned us. He loves us and he would never leave us. He doesn’t always explain the why right away but take my word: he has a reason for everything that he does. It’s okay to cry sometimes.”
“It’s not okay!” Nicolas sobbed. “Men are not supposed to cry! Men are tough, and are not supposed act like a baby!”
“But men also have a heart, and they can’t deny their true feelings that come flowing out of it. I miss him just as much as you do. No. I miss him much more than that. It’s been a long four years but we can make it.”
Nicolas wiped the tears off his face and sighed. “I know we can. I’m just upset about his death. Why did he have to die?”
“Only The Master knows,” she told him. “He did not die in vain. He fought for us and he fought for Tulin. He fought to the bitter end, I just know it.”
Nicolas placed his hand on his mother’s shoulder. “It will be okay.”
He then saw his sword in its scabbard, lying against the wall next to the table. “I’m going to go train now.”
His mother shook her head and frowned. “You are not training. Have you already forgotten? I want you to read about rudeness and tend to the garden! I then want you to find a job! Do I make myself clear?”
“I already told you! I don’t want to read that stupid book!”
“You don’t want to “read” it? You should be fortunate that you’re able to read at all! Most people with our status in Tulin can not read or write. Count that as a blessing. I don’t want to start this again so I’m just going to leave this room and you’re going to do as you’re told.”
His mother grabbed the empty bucket and left the room.
“Yes mother,” Nicolas sighed, as he gently closed the door.
Nicolas plopped himself on the bed again and sighed. He closed the book and laid it beside him.
Nicolas closed his eyes. He could see his father standing right next to him.
“I have no choice,” his father told him. “It’s Tulin’s orders. I have to help defend our nation against Saris. It will be a tough battle, but I will be back. I promise!”
“Don’t go!” Nicolas shouted.
His father bent down and hugged him. “I’m sorry son, but I can’t go against their edict. To do so would be treason against the kingdom of Tulin. I must follow their orders. I promise you that I will return.”
“Promise?” Nicolas asked him.
“You have my word, son!” his father replied. “Goodbye, Nicolas!”
“Bye dad….” Nicolas sighed.
His father embraced Nicolas and left the house.
Nicolas ran outside, where he saw his father boarding a pegasus. Before Nicolas could even reach his father, the pegasus already took off.
“He…” Nicolas gulped. “He promised!”
Nicolas tried to picture how his father died. The only thing that he could envision was three soldiers, all yielding swords, pointing them directly in his face. He could almost hear the cry of his father. A rat slain by a pack of wolves.
“Those idiots!” Nicholas sobbed, wiping away the tears. “Saris will pay for killing my father!”
His mother opened up the door and handed him a dry rag. “Use this to sop up all the water that I spilled. And please start reading!”
The door closed and Nicolas picked up the book. He opened it to Words of Copian Wisdom and found the passages on rudeness. “Rudeness is a virus that affects a man and harms everyone around him,” Nicolas read. “Politeness is the cure for the man and makes everyone around him better.”
Nicolas sat the book down on his bed and glanced at his sword, which was lying next to the table across from his bed. It was in its scabbard, just sitting there, begging to be used. Not now. Still have some work to do.
Nicolas lied on his bed for a moment, staring at his sword. Training was out of the question today, but oh, how he wanted to train! He wanted to train to be the very best. “I better train hard if I ever want to be in Diamondheart,” Nicolas murmured. Yeah…he thought. That would just be great. I would just love to be part of them.
Nicholas then remembered what his mother said. I better listen to her. He finished reading the passages on rudeness and sat the book down. He sopped up all the spilled water and walked outside to tend to the garden.
The garden outside was enormous. There were flowers of many kinds, with a row for each one. There was a row of roses, violets, tulips, lilies and many others. The flowers were only the beginning. Several different crops grew in the other rows. Most of the crops were sold to the marketplace, and the remaining crops were used to feed him and his mother. This practice was typical in each Tulinite house of that class.
As Nicolas was watering the flowers, he began to think about what he said to his mother. Was that behavior really called for in there? Why was I so destructive? As he thought about this, he wondered if he should go apologize to her. She wasn’t really asking for much. She just wanted her son to be obedient to her. He was the only one that she had left to love and care for.
I’ll do this later, he thought. I at least want to find a job first. It can’t be a rushed apology. I want it to be sincere.
After he finished watering the last row of flowers, he went back inside the house and approached his mother. “I read, sopped up the water, and watered the garden,” he assured her.
“Okay,” she nodded. “Now go out there and get a job.”
“I will,” he told her. “Don’t worry.”
©2011 K. L. Walker
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