I woke up early and rolled out of my narrow cot. I dressed quickly, it was a little chilly this morning. I stopped at one of the water barrels and splashed water on my face to wake up. In the small courtyard, I began my stretches and exercises. When I finished, I gathered an arm full of wood and carefully opened the kitchen door. A glance to the right showed that Teresa, Ginger and Ms Peace were still asleep.
At the kitchen fireplace I quietly set the wood down and turned to start the fire. I left and brought in the small pieces for the stove and got it started before going out again. This time for another arm load of wood for the common room. After all the fires were going, I went back to the stables. I moved one horse into a vacant stall and fed it before cleaning its old stall. I moved the next horse into the now clean stall and fed it before moving to clean its old stall.
When I was finished, I went out to the street to get the new barrels of water. I rolled them into place and moved the empties back to the street. I put all the old straw and horse manure into one of the newer piles beside the stables. I went to the bench by the back door where Ginger had set out a pan of warm water. I washed and knocked on the kitchen door.
Little Teresa opened the door and smiled as she stepped back. Ms Peace already had my breakfast on the big kitchen table. I ate quietly and was almost done when Mrs. Hoard came in, “Edward, I want you to go to the market this morning with Ginger. You watch over her, you hear?”
I nodded and wiped my face, “Yes ma’am.”
She looked at Ginger, “You have my list, don’t forget anything.”
Ginger bobbed, “No ma’am.”
Mrs. Hoard nodded to Ms Peace and left. I finished breakfast and went out to wash. Ginger came out a few minutes later and smiled, “Ready?”
I nodded and followed her out onto the street and moved up to walk beside her. Ginger was looking around as we walked and I led her towards the large city marketplace. It took awhile but we finally got there and she seemed to wake up. She headed toward the spices first and absently handed her basket to me. After spices, it was greens and then a half wheel of cheese. We were almost to the butcher stalls when I heard the ruckus.
I knew it was young nobles acting up but wasn’t prepared for what they wanted. The group was a small one, only six. They surrounded us and backed us against a stall. I set the basket on the stall bench as one of the older boys reached out to fondle Ginger. Another grabbed her shoulder to hold her while two boy’s closest to me reached out to hold me.
I grabbed one of the boy’s hands, twisted and wrenched it back, before kicking out into the groin of the other boy. The first boy screamed as his fingers broke and the second yelled as he folded and dropped to his knees. I was moving even before they fell away. Three boys were around Ginger and the fourth had been pulling his pants down.
The one with his pants open was the first to turn and scream as I reached down to grab, squeeze and yank. I kicked the boy groping Ginger in the side of the knee and heard it snap. The other two boys were coming for me and I let them. I shifted and stepped sideways so that one was blocking the other. I brushed a reaching hand aside, grabbing the wrist and twisted as I brought my other hand down in a strike that broke the elbow.
I kicked him behind the knee and spun to back kick the last boy as he rushed in. As he folded over I turned and brought my fist down on the back of the neck. He dropped to the ground and I was left standing with six noble boys on the ground around my feet. I moved to a sobbing Ginger as several shop owners emerged.
Normally they let the young nobles do what they wished but seeing me stand up to them had an effect. As I retrieved our basket and led Ginger away, they were bending the boys over a bench and beating them. I managed to get her to tell me what meat we were supposed to get. News in the marketplace travels fast, the butcher bowed to Ginger and folded her fingers back around the coins she held.
As we were leaving several guards were talking to merchants and the bruised and injured noble boys were hanging from their arms from a large beam. The guards looked in no hurry to get the boys down either. All the way home the streets were alive with gossip and I knew I would have to face the Master. When we got back to the inn, I opened the kitchen door and let Ginger go in first. I looked at Ms Peace, “Something happened. I need to speak with the Master.”
She wiped her hands as she looked at Ginger and me. She nodded and went to the common room door and opened it. She gestured and a minute later the large form of Master Hoard came through the door. He was frowning as he looked from Ms Peace to me. I gestured to the back door and his eyebrows rose but he nodded. I opened the door for him and then followed him out. I kept my eyes down as I told him what had happened and what I had done. When I finished, he was silent for a minute, “You say the other merchants beat them?”
I nodded, “And hung them from the thieves beam.”
He grunted, “It could have been worse, you could have killed one of them.”
I nodded and he reached out to ruffle my hair, “Your momma would be proud.”
He slapped my shoulder, “go back to work. We need wood stacked and water brought in. Mr. Johanson will be here later with his boys for the muck.”
I sighed and nodded, “Yes sir.”
He laughed and headed back inside while I headed towards the wood pile. It was much later, I was filling the wood bin beside the common room fireplace when the three arrogant nobles entered. They looked around and saw me. One said something to the others and they started towards me. I finished as they drew near and turned to greet them, “Good evening my lords.”
I bowed slightly and one moved as if to strike me, I shifted and slid back. I stood and looked at them closely as Master Hoard started across the room. The one in the center put his hand on his dagger, “You are going to learn your place boy.”
I smiled and held out a hand to Master Hoard, “I take it you are the fathers of the boys that tried to rape my charge.”
The man on the right snorted, “Pleasing a noble is a privilege.”
I nodded, “So they learned their stupidity from you.”
I gestured to the door, “I give you one chance to leave peacefully.”
The one in the center growled and pulled his dagger as he stepped forward. I grabbed his wrist with my thumb on the back of his hand. I twisted and stepped sideways, causing him to stumble into one of the others. The other nobles had pulled daggers but as the one I held yelled, I pushed with my thumb and jerked his arm across in front of the other noble while kicking out into the other rushing noble.
My foot slammed into his groin and he folded with a scream. I spun and brought the arm of the noble I held, up over my head. I brought it down on my shoulder, hearing the snap of the elbow before his scream joined the other’s. I brought my other elbow back in a sharp blow to his face that knocked him to the floor. I spun and shifted sideways as the last noble was finally able to get to me.
He lunged forward with his dagger extended. My hand came down to clamp onto his wrist bending it down. My fist slammed into the side of his head and the dagger dropped to the floor. I was quick to take advantage and waved the Master off, along with several other men that had started towards us.
I used their own laces from their shirts to bind them. I pulled them out to the street one at a time while they struggled and threatened. I used pieces of rope to string the three up. As I found a narrow board, two of the city guard came by. I began to beat the three men and explained that they had entered our tavern and attacked me. I told the two grinning guards that I was chastising them and when I was finished I would release them.
When they stopped yelling and threatening me, I stopped beating them. I turned them to face me, “It doesn’t matter who you are. You are no better then the lowest merchant. Now, you think that you will send someone to take my life. When you do, know that I will come for you and it won’t be a beating you get.”
I cut the ropes that held the nobles and let them drop to the ground before heading back into the Inn. The two guards only shook their heads and started walking away.