Hemmet Lutx sat in his favourite chair. It had a tall back, fine and detailed embroidery, and hard wooden arms carved into wolf heads. It made him feel powerful. Like he was in control and could do or say anything to anyone. That he could speak to people in whatever way he wanted. While sitting in this chair he could convince anyone to do what he wanted them to do.
And that’s exactly what he would do this morning.
He had the kitchen prepare coffee from the fields south of Renidar. The finest that could be found this time of year. There were also spiced muffins with large chunks of stewed apple. He knew that was the Committee member’s favourite.
The coffee would be freshly brewed and its aroma would permeate the room. The spiced apple muffins would be displayed and offered, even though at least 50 had been made there would only be a small number on the table. Hemmet did not want the Committee member to think he was a glutton.
No music today.
There will be no distractions. He wanted this to be just the two of them. Should anyone else catch wind of what he had planned it could be disastrous.
He would open the window shutters. While it was still winter, the sun was out this morning and quite warm. From the third storey, one could see the docks as well as the central markets. The life of the city could be heard below making this room feel connected to the common folk while still giving of sense of power.
Hemmet loved this room.
He stood and walked over to the window as if to affirm his original stance about it. And he was right. A fine spot to look down on the commoners while feeling a little like you’re with them.
He straighten his tunic and walked to the coat hanger and took his jacket from it and put it over his shoulders. He considered whether he should be seated or looking out over the city when the Committee member arrived. Decisions, decisions. This was an important choice. He could look very thoughtful, and contemplative should he decide to be at the window. However, on the chair, his wolf-armed chair, he would look strong, but relaxed. Carefree but in control.
A knock at the door and a maid came in, ‘Committee Member Simond has arrived, sir.’
‘Excellent, bring the coffee and cakes in now. Then let him up after they are ready. And I do mean after. It’s very important. Is that clear?’
‘Yes, sir,’ the maid disappeared silently.
‘Right, the window. The window is the best choice,’ he said to himself. He straightened his jacket and strode from one side of the room to the other and back again. Then went to the window. He looked out at the ocean, then to the docks, and then to the markets and streets below. All those people working so hard. They think they are the ones that make society move. But it’s people like him. Making business deals. Creating work and ensuring progress. It’s important meetings like this one that makes all difference in the world.
Not haggling over a dead fish.
There’s no way they will knock back this opportunity. It’s too important. There’s too much going on. They will be foolish, indeed. Foolish.
The maid entered again and placed the coffee and muffins on the table, ‘Will you require anything else? Or shall I let him in?’
Hemmet looked around the room, making sure everything was just right, then back to the maid, ‘Let him in.’
He took his place at the window and looked out over the city. He breathed deep and sighed putting his best contemplative face on. Before long he heard the footsteps coming down the hall. The door opened and the maid entered followed by a man dressed in well-made, but plain clothing. That of the working class as opposed to nobility.
‘Sir, Committee Member Simond,’ the maid said with a curtsy.
As the door opened Simond almost had to catch his breath. The room was filled with the scent of burned coffee and overly spiced baked goods. His eyes were assaulted next. Standing by the window looking out over the city was a slight man, with an extravagant pomp of hair, a ridiculous jacket and an expression of attempted thoughtfulness.
‘Sir, Committee Member Simond,’ the mad said with a curtsy.
It’ll be over soon.
‘Welcome, Committee Member Simond,’ Hemmet Lutx said, ‘So happy to have you join me today.’
‘Simond, please. There is no need for such formalities,’ Simond strode forward and took his hand. He shook it, firmly, and saw that Hemmet’s whole body shook. Simond looked out over the city. Where all his people worked. Today was good. There was trade and sunshine, and the rains had been good.
‘You know, it’s them down there that make all this worthwhile,’ Hemmet said looking down at the street,
‘All this?’ Simond raised an eyebrow.
‘These meetings. Discussions. Deals. Trades. All the things that we do to make society work.’
Simond looked around the room, ‘Of course.’
‘Please, take a seat. We’ve much to discuss’
Simond took a seat on the small couch and watched as Hemmet gracefully hung his jacket on the coat hanger and then dropped into the ridiculous armchair. With wolves on the arms. He doubted that Hemmet had ever seen a wolf. Simond assumed it made him feel assertive or some such. Silly.
Simond agreed, even though they did not seem appealing. He sipped the bitter coffee and took a bite from the cake. He reminded him of how far he was from home. Spiced apple muffins were a staple in Oatsmill. There was vicious rivalry and competition to make the best ones. Families guard their recipes and siblings have stopped talking to each other after arguments about ingredients and methods.
Simond thought that, perhaps, no one argued over the ingredients of this apple cake. No one at all.
Hemmet sipped delicately at his coffee, took a very small bite of his muffin, and chewed quietly for a time. Eventually, he wiped his mouth in preparation to speak.
‘I know why you’ve invited me here this morning, Hemmet.’ Simond said this flatly. Not wanting to sound rude, not wanting to sound interested.
‘Oh,’ Hemmet said. ‘And why have I invited you here today?’
‘You want me to lift the ban on mining in the Renidar Ranges.’
Hemmet looked at him. And then out of the window. He was thrown off guard. Who had let it slip? Who had told him already? He would find out. There were only a handful of people that knew what he was attempting. It was probably one of the dwarves. He never trusted them. They wanted everything to themselves because they thought that they were entitled to everything under the surface. Ridiculous.
‘Well, that’s not entirely true,’ Hemmet said.
‘The agreement has been set and has been in place for a long time. The dwarves of Renidar get full rights to all mining and excavation in those mountains.’
‘What I am proposing does not mean we remove that. I just want to implement a permit system. It would be-’
‘To what end?’ Simond cut him off and put the bitter tasting coffee down, ‘The system is in place and it works well. They mine, they excavate, they cover all the costs. We just get the benefits of the minerals and materials they find and create. It’s a good trade system. Oatsmill grows more than enough food. Food they can’t grow down there. It works, there won’t be any change.’
‘You haven’t even heard my proposal?’
‘I don’t need to.’
‘Committee Member Simond,’ Hemmet was trying hard not to clench his teeth, ‘You must listen. This operation could be extremely beneficial to all that are involved. It is much too important to leave in the hands of the Renidarians.’
Simond sighed, and glanced at the sad looking muffins, ‘Okay, tell me what you want to do. However, I do not think this will help.’
Hemmet stood and walked carefully placing one foot in front of the other. A look a serious concern, or possibly, contemplation on his face. At least an attempted look.
‘I look out at the people of Penkarth, the people Ammaryn, every day. I see them working. They work tirelessly.’
‘You can tell that from up here I’m sure.’
‘Of course,’ Hemmet attempted to ignore the slight. This was not the sort of encounter he had been expecting. The was under the assumption the Committee members were civilised noble types. ‘It’s my goal in life to make living better for those that come after me. That’s why I want to work in the Renidar mountains.’
‘You still haven’t told me what you want to do there. My time is limited, so, do not take my directness as rudeness. Just tell me what you want to do.’
‘Very well,’ Hemmet needed to change tactics, ‘My researchers and surveyors have good reason to believe that under the mountains between The Weeping Keep and Crow’s Bay is a powerful artifact.’
‘From my understanding, the entire mountain range is littered with magic artifacts. This is not news, Hemmet.’
‘This is believed to be able to control the weather. Bring rains. Stop rains. Part the clouds, Simond! This sort of artifact could change the way we manage farmlands. Ensure safe passage into our ports. Stop famine from ever being an issue again.’
‘Famine has not been an issue in Ammaryn in 400 years. Our farming practices have been modified and developed using ancient methods learned from the elves. We trade with the north and the south. This is not an issue. As for safe passage into our ports. The ocean has it’s own gods, regardless of what Verd’s clerics say on the matter. So, we have no control over that.’
Simond bit his tongue. He shouldn’t have spoken so openly about Verd. Not in that way. Hemmet surely believes all Committee Members to be devout believers in Verd and The Founding Five.
‘By the five, Simond! Have you no care for the safety of your people!’ Hemmet was angry. It looked legitimate to Simond as well, however, Simond would not tolerate that.
‘You speak out of turn, Hemmet’ Simond spoke calmly. Never meet anger with anger. ‘All I care for is the safety of the Ammari people. What you propose is an excavation into a mountain range. This is a dangerous task even for the dwarves. The dwarves have lived there for centuries, even they do not go into new areas without careful planning, discussion, and advice. And what of our trade agreements? It would be a serious affront to them and cause unnecessary stress on that alliance. It could lead to open war.’
Hemmet opened his mouth to speak, but Simond was relentless.
‘Do you know what beasts and monstrosities lurk in those ranges? I do not know what artifact you speak of, but from what you describe it must be old. Old and powerful. That sort of magic always comes with a price. There are reasons those things are trapped beneath the earth. Whoever put it there put it there for good reason. Whether it was done by the elves, or by whatever civilisation was around before them, it does not matter. They put it there so that people could not get their hands on it.’
An uneasy silence filled the room. Hemmet sniffed. Cleared his throat. And walked stiffly to look out over the window again, ‘What you say is speculation.’
Simond remained silent. He knew what was coming.
‘No one knows why these artefacts are left underground. No one knows why the old civilisations disappeared. But they have gone. They did not destroy these things. Even when it is clear that they could. They most definitely could. It is short sighted to leave them. To not find them, and use them to aid us.’
‘Use is the wrong word,’ Simond said as he stood, ‘The word you are looking for exploits.’
The two men stared at each other.
‘Thank you for inviting me here,’ Simond continued, ‘I will take this to the Committee Meeting today. But there will be no change in our stance.’
Simond nodded, turned, and walked out of the room.
Hemmet could not believe it. This so-called leader of Ammaryn was a short sighted fool. He had no idea what sort of opportunity he had just thrown away. And thrown it away he had. There would be no deal done with the committee now.
No, now he would need to get this done but by his own means. A means that would justify the ends. There were people in the world that would see eye to you with him. They would understand the importance of this.
Some stones must not be left unturned.
This is a series of short stories. They’re all loosely connected and I have seen that there are some storylines that may go longer. For the most part, though, they are bite-sized stories of action, adventure, and weirdness set in a fantasy world.
You can click here and find them all.
Long days and pleasant nights.