The Completely True Tales of Jax: Part 19

It was definitely a low point in my esteemed career, trudging about a mountain trying to figure out where my father’s ax had gone. I hadn’t packed enough water either. I figured it would be downhill, and I’d be done in no time, but there I was still limping along, and it looked like the sun was going to be hitting the tops of the trees soon. That’s the signal to find shelter, you know, but I knew I wouldn’t sleep until I located that one thing.

That’s how it is in life sometimes. You can get so focused on one small stupid thing because it’s easier to deal with than the thing you really ought to be dealing with! You know what I mean?  I filled my mind with images of my father yelling at me because I’d lost that stupid ax. He was so upset about it, and him yelling at me was simpler than thinking about Baruka back there all alone.

Not that she hadn’t chosen her path. No, that was what she wanted, and there wasn’t anything that I could do about that! I just knew the type of person Captain was. I don’t know how to say it. It was like he couldn’t feel things the same way other people did. He could feel his own feelings, but I don’t think what Baruka would be feeling even crossed his mind. Why should it? He had a job to do, and he was going to do it. It wasn’t anything personal. He had a profession that was a little more unusual than what other people have if that makes sense at all. I mean, starting wars and ending them, who does that? That takes a special kind of fully individual.

I was about to call it quits for the day when I noticed a group of people were approaching. They had lamps, and donkeys, and a lot of nice things. I figured them to be more Dione tradesmen. They acknowledge me in a pleasant, passing way, nodding at me as I stepped off the trail so that they could pass. The very last man riding on this impressive donkey stopped when he saw me.

“Well, now, who are you?” he grumbled at me. He was an older man, frail and bent over from many years in this world. I didn’t think men as old as him traveled very much. He had a large nose and bushy eyebrows that giggled up and down when he talked. He was always smiling and said everything with a chuckle.

“Just passing thought,” I said, but as I went to leave, he stopped me.

“No, wait, young man!” he called out. “You are clearly not from around here. Let me guess: Arden?”

“Yeah,” I nodded. I figured the old man was guessing based on my clothes, but then he pulled something out of a bag slung on the donkey. “This yours?” It was my father’s ax!

“Now, where did you get that?” I asked as he handed it to me. It felt good to have it back. You know, like my belt felt properly weighted again.

The man motioned for me to follow along with him as we were holding up the caravan. So, I began to walk along with them. “It just fell from the sky,” he laughed. We were moving along when one of the men stopped and held out his hand. He said, is it raining or something? So we all looked up to see if there were any clouds when this ax came falling down from the cliffs above. It was a good thing we’d stopped to look because otherwise, it might have struck one of us right in the head! What were you doing, young man, that it fell?”

I remembered the events of that morning with a blush to my cheeks. “There was this venomous snake,” I began, “and I just sort of panicked and tried to hit it.” My mumbling explanation did not impress him.

“You don’t say? Well, now that is both unfortunate and fortunate! Unfortunate that you came across such peril, but fortunate that we were nearby. Now you can return to La Keytan with us.”

“Where?” stuttered.

“La Keytan? Do you not know the name of the village you have been staying at with Baruka?”

Now my ears perked up, you know. “Baruka?” I replied, dumbfounded.

Raising those bushy eyebrows, the man chuckled, “You do know her, yes? I mean, you are one of Ramoth’s men come to scout us out? I won’t mention this little incident with the ax to your superior when we meet tomorrow. It will be tomorrow, I think. We’ll arrive too late at night to meet with him today, I think.”

“You guys must be the ones Baruka is waiting for then!” I exclaimed, finally realizing what was going on. “What did she call you again?”

“I am sure she has many names for me!” the man laughed jovially. “I have known that girl since she was just this big,” he said as he held his hands about a foot apart in front of himself. “She is a bit of trouble, I tell you, getting all of us Elders together in a hurry. You young people, always in a hurry! You can mark my words; if it is a good idea to marry today, it will still be a good idea tomorrow! No reason to rush such things, and for what? Since when has there been any sort of animus between Diona and Arden?”

“I do not think Dione is what Captain is after,” I let slip, but I immediately regretted it.

“Exactly,” the man agreed, “so what is this Ramoth up to? I’ll tell you it isn’t Dione, and it likely isn’t even Pacia. Not that Pacia is not a problem, but you know the biggest threat to Arden? It is Mesu. She has the superior ports and the superior location as far as weather and the seasons. No, I think Dione is just in the way. That is fine by me. Go ahead and let Baruka fall on this sword if that is what she wants. The wedding would be just ceremonial anyway. So long as Ramoth stays out of our business, I don’t care one tiny but what that girl gets herself into.”

“Aren’t you worried about retaliation from Mesu?” I asked, but as soon as I did, I realized this man assumed I was loyal to Arden. Why wouldn’t I be? As far as he knew, I didn’t even know Baruka. I realized then I ought to have kept my mouth shut.

The man was kind enough to reinforce this idea. “You had better keep thoughts such as those to yourself, young man if you want to become an old man like Albert,” he said as he pounded his chest. “I have seen many things, and the key to success in life is knowing just when to keep your mouth shut.

Part 20 Coming soon!

The Completely True Tales of Jax: Part 18

I hope you missed me, Anny! Areal misses you! That guy asked me how you were so many times. He wants me to tell you that Julia is doing well. She starts her studies soon, you know. We keep finding her hiding in the bookshelves. Yes, we do! She pulls the books out and climbs behind them somehow, that little imp! She might be more like you than we care to admit! I found her in a tree the other day. I still don’t know how she got up there!

Ha! You don’t have to remind me; I know where I left off. Of course, I do! It was a crucial moment in my young life! You know what it is like to be rejected by your first love? No, no, no! Don’t start getting all weepy. This is about me, not you!

Okay, so as I recall, I had been fighting it, pushing, but at that point, I was done. I had been learning to fight for Baruka’s sake. Fully, I was ready to kill Captain if it came to that for her! I was forcing one foot in front of the other, trying to make something work, all for her. But if Baruka did not care anymore, then neither did I!

I still recall how frightened I was when I went to Loina’s house that someone would see me: that someone would try to stop me! Fully all of them! That was how I felt! Fully Petton and Baruka. Fully Captain and that guy with the short arms (I forget his name)! Fully the fully lot of them, I was done!

What? Didn’t I tell you about that guy? The one with the short arms? I didn’t? Well, then, when I was practicing my ax skills with the guys, there was one who I swear his arms were too short for his body. No, really! They were like this when they should have been more like this. You get me? He was a cocky fellow for someone with limited reach! He only used a spear. You can imagine why.

He had a face; you might know the type. You see it, and you intuitively knew you hated this person. They hadn’t said anything or done anything, but there is this churning in your gut that just screams, “I hate this guy!” And I did! I hated him instantly!

Anyway, I stuffed the few things I had into my bag, stole some food, and checked to make sure I had my father’s ax about a dozen times. I checked, then I checked again, then I looked around Loina’s place, making certain I had everything. I was not coming back! Satisfied, I recalled that Baruka’s dagger was still in my boot. I pulled it out, and I wondered if I ought to leave it behind or try to return it. Fully her! I stuffed it back into my boot!

Then I marched out the front gate and down the path, we had taken to get there in the first place. I felt this hotness in my cheeks, waiting for the inevitable conflict of someone asking me where I was going or what I was doing. The thing was, it never came. I walked right out of that place, and nobody tried to stop me or ask me if I was okay. Nobody seemed to care if I was there or not. Nobody.

The path meandered through the pine woods headed back towards the cliffs we had traveled up to get there. Once I had gotten far enough away that it was obvious I was free, I felt more confined than ever. I followed the path for an hour, just slowly shuffling along, looking back on occasion to see if anyone was coming. Nobody.

I felt my stomach drop to my feet. I thought, “I don’t belong here. I never did, and even if I vanish, nobody will notice.” I had nothing to go back to. Nothing to go forward to either. Where was I going anyway? I hadn’t fit in back home. I didn’t here. Where else was there? The idea came that I could just live on the side of the mountain: alone forever! I clung to that idea, parading through the mountain like I owned it!

I noticed a clearing in the trees up ahead. There was an outcropping where you could scuttle out to the edge of this enormous rock. I made my way over and could see over the trees and down into the valley stretched out below. Like I said, no one was around, so I relieved myself over the edge. That was a freeing experience! I guess you can’t relate. Anyway, then I sat down, taking a drink from my canteen. It was almost empty. I pulled out my father’s ax because it was hitting my leg. He probably missed this piece of wood and metal more than me! I was considering launching the fully thing over the edge of the cliff when I dropped it! Slipped right through my sweaty fingers! It bounced over the edge of the cliff, and I could hear it, PLINK, PLINK, PLUNK! Well, shoot. I couldn’t go home without it. Not that I had made my mind up about that just yet, but a man likes to have options!

I surveyed the landscape, and it seemed like the path would take me close to where it must have landed. I certainly wasn’t going over the edge myself! So I began down the trail once more, trying to keep track of the place where the ax might have landed.

For Part 19 Click Here