The Village Market
Aaron was awakened by a loud knock on his door.
“Aaron, wake up. Mathew is leaving” came Brandon’s voice.
Aaron jumped out of his bed and opened the door. He quickly grabbed the sword and followed Brandon downstairs. Everyone, including the servants and the helpers of the house had gathered near the door to see Mathew off.
Mathew looked at Aaron, who was grumpy. He said, “Your day will come too Aaron! It is your Destiny”.
“Here is your sword”, said Aaron, presenting the sword to Mathew.
Mathew smiled and said, “I don’t have any use for this anymore. I think it will be of great use to you one day. You should keep it.”
Aaron didn’t think much about what Mathew said. He kept the sword aside and hugged Mathew. He reluctantly said goodbye.
Mathew left and as days passed, things returned to normal at the house. Aaron’s responsibilities at the farm grew even more since Uncle Sentas was not around much. Uncle Sentas kept himself busy with the council’s work to get over his sadness of Mathew leaving.
Weeks passed, the village festival was now only a few days away. Flynn came to see Aaron many times, but Aaron could not find the time to go and see Flynn. As the festival drew nearer, Aaron’s work increased even more. He had to look after many arrangements on his Uncle’s behalf and also handle the preparations for the grand feast at their house.
Aaron stood in the fields with the list his uncle had given him right after breakfast. It was a list of things he had to do for the day. He was a little weary from his early morning sword practice. Aaron went through the list thoroughly; most of the work he had to do was at the market.
After finishing the work in both the farm and the fields, he walked towards the house to collect the things that had to be taken to the market.
“Master Aaron!” Billy said, as he saw Aaron.
“Yes! Billy” said Aaron, still lost in his thoughts.
“Are you going to the market today, sir?”
“Yes! I am. Why do you ask?”
Billy’s expressions changed suddenly. The smile vanished from this long rugged face. He looked at Aaron gravely and said “Be careful out there sir”.
“I will be, thanks for your concern Billy” Aaron said and began to walk away.
But Billy caught Aaron’s hands and stopped him.
“No! You should be really careful, sir! There is something out there and it’s dangerous”.
Aaron looked at Billy confused. He felt uncomfortable at the way Billy was looking at him.
“What is out there?” Aaron asked.
“Something that should not be spoken of even in the daylight, sir. There are evil creatures lurking in the woods” Billy came close to Aaron and whispered.
Aaron had never heard such things from anyone in the village before. The village was the safest place he ever knew. The city of Kantar where Matthew lived had some problems. Mathew had also mentioned something about ‘an Evil Force’ a few times during his visits. But these things were unheard of in the village. After all, Brinsar was a peaceful little place.
“Evil creatures?! What are you saying?” Aaron stared at Billy. “Why would there be any evil creatures here, Billy? Besides, how do you know about it? The council should be informed about this, if it is true.”
Billy was sweating, there was a fear in his eyes. He looked down, trying to avoid Aaron.
“Aaron”, came uncle’s voice from inside the house. Aaron rushed in immediately. But Billy still stood there and watched Aaron.
Uncle Sentas told Aaron about some arrangements that had to be made as per the orders of the village council. Aaron headed to his room to take his cloak. It would be cold outside on the way to the market, he thought. Aaron was also thinking about what Billy had told him earlier. ‘Could it be true or was he just trying to scare me? Billy must be crazy’.
As he stepped out of his room, he took the sword with him and hoped that there was no truth to what Billy said.
He filled his bag and carried it on his back. He had to do a lot of things at the market. Aaron started for the market on foot. The village market was set up in one of the big fields outside the village. The villagers came there, set up their shops and sold their wares at a good price. Sometimes, if they didn’t have enough money, they would even exchange their goods for others. Aaron’s had some old things he had gathered which he thought would fetch a good price from the scrap dealer. He also had a few metal decorations which needed mending.
As he entered the marketplace, he saw many familiar faces. The market was set up on a huge leveled ground. It was like a carnival there. Many vendors even waved at him, to ask him to join them. But he signaled that he was busy.
There were many shops at the market that sold all kinds of things. Aaron waded through crowd and finally found the scrap dealer’s shop. After getting enough money for the scrap, he set out to go to Flynn’s father’s shop for mending the metals. The market place was very crowded and Aaron was inching his way forward slowly. Suddenly, his eyes fell on a tiny shop at the corner. It was a book shop. Aaron had never seen any book shops in the market before. He was curious. He walked towards the shop.
Aaron entered the tiny shop and he couldn’t believe his eyes. From the outside, the shop looked so small like it could hardly fit three people. But on the inside, it was like a big library with a huge collection of books.
“Can I help you dear?” Aaron was startled by a shrill voice.
A woman appeared from nowhere. She had long curly blond hair and her nose was of a peculiar shape. She was standing right behind Aaron.
Aaron turned and he stepped back. “Yes! I.. was wondering… when you opened this shop?”
“Oh! Yes” smiled the strange lady. Her clothes were shabby and she had a pencil tucked behind her ears. “Just today dear…just today”. “Not many readers in this village, not many” she said, disappointed.
She turned to Aaron, grinned and said, “But it looks like you read a lot. So, what can I show you? History? Geography? Maybe Adventure? How about Magic?”
“Magic?!” Aaron said in surprise. He knew that there were some people in the far eastern kingdoms who practiced magic. Aaron’s curiosity grew even more.
“Yes magic! Do you want to learn Magic? I have whole section of books on magic, right here.” She said pointing to one of the book shelves. She then led him to the section of Magic books.
He looked at several books there. There were books like ‘Know your Monsters’, ‘The Big Book of Spells’, ‘Curses – the Worst Kinds’, ‘How to make Fire from Nothing’ and many more. He picked a small book named “How to bring back the Dead”
“Can I have this one?” Aaron handed the book to the lady.
The lady looked at the book and almost shrieked “How did this get in there?”.
She then tucked the book under her long sleeves and said, “No dear, it’s a dangerous book. It is not for the commoners”.
“But I want that book, I will pay you the full price” Aaron offered.
The lady was not convinced. She then started to panic and paced around in the shop. “No! No!, I should not have shown you the Magic section. Why do I do this all the time? Why don’t I learn?”. She then sat on her chair with her head down. Suddenly she leapt towards Aaron and said “This is not good. This is a book of Dark Magic. You don’t know who practices such magic. How did this book get here? This is not good.”
She scared Aaron quite a bit. ‘She surely is mad’, Aaron thought to himself and slowly got out of the shop. The lady sat on the chair mumbling to herself.
The sun began to go down and it was getting dark. Aaron lost track of time. He rushed towards Flynn’s shop. The crowd had died down now and most shops were preparing to close.
Flynn was sitting outside the shop. He spotted Aaron coming towards him.
“Hey! Aaron!” he waved at Aaron.
Aaron kept his bag down on the floor and took a few things out that needed fixing.
“So, how are the festival preparations going?” asked Flynn, looking at the pile of metal Aaron had just taken out of the bag. “Seems like you have a lot of work”
Aaron smiled. He knew he has been busy lately and had hardly enough time for Flynn.
“It was hard, but it’s almost over now”, said Aaron.
“At least your work has brought you here” Flynn said picking up some broken metal and putting them inside his shop.
“I heard the whole village is planning a performance”, Flynn said.
“What kind of performance?” asked Aaron curiously.
“ The girls and boys are preparing dances for the festival”.
“Really?! That sounds like fun.”, said Aaron.
“Fun?! How is that fun? Did anybody tell you about it” Flynn asked irritated.
“Not really” said Aaron.
“Exactly! Let me tell you Aaron, the whole village is jealous of us” Flynn said folding his arms.
“And why would that be?”, Aaron asked calmly.
“Because you are rich and I am friends with you” Flynn said narrowing his eyes.
Aaron didn’t say much after that. He knew that the other youngsters in the village did not like them. Not because Aaron was rich, but because Aaron and Flynn were different. When the youngsters created trouble for the villagers, Aaron and Flynn would step in to help the villagers. This always annoyed the trouble makers.
Flynn liked to help everybody. Listening to the birds sing and collecting fruits is what he enjoyed the most. He dreamt of seeing the world outside of Brinsar one day. And Aaron was his only true friend. Aaron and Flynn had been friends since the first time they met near the big oak tree. This was where Aaron was trying to get a kitten off the tree and Flynn came running out of nowhere to help Aaron. And since then, they were inseparable.
Flynn’s father came out from the shop and greeted Aaron.
“Long time Aaron. Flynn tells me you have been busy lately”.
Aaron smiled and nodded.
“I heard about Mathew. The house is your responsibility now. I know it must be hard, but it will be all yours after your uncle’s time”
Zack looked at the pile Aaron brought.
“Hmm.. These will be fixed in two days. I will have them delivered to your place Aaron”, said Zack.
He then disappeared into the shop. Aaron could hear him giving instructions to his workers.
Flynn said so many things to Aaron, he was being quite talkative as usual. The sun was almost down and most of the shops were closed now. People were leaving in a hurry to get to their houses before it got dark.
Aaron suddenly stopped Flynn. He said, “Flynn, I need to tell you something”.
Flynn was surprised, “What is it?” he asked.
“It’s Billy! The weird guy at the farm that I told you about”.
“What about him?” Flynn asked.
“He asked me to be careful”.
Flynn frowned a little, “Careful.. From what?”
“He said, there are evil creatures in the woods near the village. I don’t know what to make out of It”.
“What?! how does he know?” Flynn asked.
“I don’t know, he wouldn’t say that” Aaron said.
“Why is he telling you this? If he knows anything, he should be speaking to the village council or your uncle”.
“I know, but he asked me not to tell anybody. He says it’s dangerous”.
“That’s strange. I have not heard any such thing. May be that Billy is just crazy. You should tell your uncle about him. Billy should not be telling you such things”.
“I don’t know what got into him today. Normally, he doesn’t bother anybody” said Aaron.
Aaron wondered if he should tell Flynn about what he saw in the woods the other day.
“Do you think there is anything in the woods?” Flynn asked.
“I don’t really know. But I thought I saw something on the way back home when I came to your house last time”.
“What did you see?” Flynn almost jumped “I told you to throw a knife if there is anything”.
“Relax… It was not even near me. Besides, I’m not even sure If It really was something”.
“What did you see Aaron?” Flynn asked with his eyes wide open.
After some hesitation, Aaron said “ I think I saw a pair of glowing red eyes looking at me. And I heard a howl like I have never heard before”.
Flynn seemed to be in a deep thought now. “Why didn’t you tell me about this before Aaron? Do you have a weapon with you now?”.
“I have a sword” Aaron showed Flynn the sword hanging at his belt inside his long cloak.
“Can you use it?” Flynn asked.
“Yes, I have been practicing” Aaron said with confidence.
Meanwhile, it was getting dark sooner than they expected.
“I should accompany you today” said Flynn boldly.
“That won’t be necessary. I can take care of myself” Aaron said with a smirk.
Flynn narrowed his eyes again.
“It’s going to be all right Flynn” Aaron tried to assure him.
When their argument was over, it was almost dark and all the carts had left the market place. The empty ground looked bigger than before.
Suddenly, a stench hit Aaron’s nose. He looked around. “Flynn” he said
“What’s wrong?” asked Flynn.
“Something is over there” said Aaron, pointing towards a few trees that stood nearby.
“What is there?” asked Flynn.
“I don’t know but I can smell it. And it is the same stench that I smelled in the forest the other day.”
The stench had hints of sweat and blood. And they could smell it really close.
Suddenly, there was a loud howl right behind Flynn.
Flynn froze as he realized that something was crouching behind him.