Chapter 1: Dragons and Evictions
The snow from the previous night grew heavier in the morning sun. The door to the Drunken Dragon shook and heaved as those inside dug their heels into the tavern floor and pulled, hoping to overcome the frozen snow and ice that cemented the door in its frame. Droplets cascaded from old eaves. Then with one muffled chorus of huffs and grunts, the bank spilled through the tavern door while half a dozen sweaty men spilled into the sunlit morning. The last great blizzard of the season had passed and the spirits of thaw were at work. The storm had swept through the village and the patrons of the Dragon had spent the night emptying barrels of ale and telling fairy tales, heroic epics, and insufferable jokes and gibes. The morning sun burned away the dark, snowy clouds, and poured into the Dragon’s dining room casting shadows every which way. Men and women gathered their coats, tied tight their boots strings, and began to cut a path through the snow to their respective homes and hollows.
Jacob set his tricorn hat on this head and draped his scarf about his neck. “Well, Master Thor, it has been one eventful night but I must return to my brother’s house.”
“Master Travlers, don’t let ol’ Maggie kick you out without a fight. Be a scrapper, boy,” said the burly proprietor from behind the bar. Jacob nodded and stepped out into the snow. His boots sunk into the heavy terrain just above his ankles. With heavier feet, Jacob marched out of the village towards the river, towards the mill. His brother’s mill. With lanky strides, he tromped down the road reminiscing about the stories and songs of sprites, knights, ogres, and vagabonds that had been told the previous stormy night. His sigh turned to cloudy vapor before him despite the morning sun. If the sprites and mystics and magics were real, Jacob Travlers would have given his coat and scarf thrice over for their aide in what likely waiting for him.
Soon his brother came into view. Esau was thicker and more muscled than Jacob and it showed as he shoveled a path from the house to the mill. He stopped his labor and shouted. “Where’ve you been all night in this blizzard? Caught up into the mountains by frosty shades or hungry beasts?”
“Snowed in at the Dragon with the best and brightest of Norshire,” Jacob hollered back. He approached Esau only to be met with stern grey eyes and furrowed brow.
“Margaret wants to talk to you.” Jacob looked to the frozen ground at his feet. “Don’t worry she’s simmered down since last night,” Esau continued. “She was worried about you when the storm came through. We both were.” Jacob fidgeted with his scarf. “Jacob, it was just a broken plate. Winter seemed to go on for ages until this morning, and our stores are running low. Both of us were anxious and the plate only lit the tinder.” Jacob said nothing. “Go on inside and eat something. I’ll follow you in a minute.”
Jacob started towards the house. “How many days do I have to leave, brother?” he asked over his shoulder. Esau didn’t answer but continued shoveling.
“I’ll… I’ll be in in a minute. Just need to get the mill door clear.”
Jacob came upon the door to the house and knocked. “Come in,” echoed from the kitchen inside. As he pushed in the door, the smell of bread and grease enveloped him. Eggs, rashers, and biscuits were set on the table. It was a warm and inviting presentation. The scowling woman in an apron who turned to meet him was neither.
“Breakfast smells wonderful, Maggie,” unsure if he should take a seat at the table or not.
The woman took a deep breath as if trying to find words to say, only to then hand him a piece of parchment from her apron. It was old, ruddy parchment and look far from magisterial. However, written in globby ink was a brief note. Or more appropriately, notice. Jacob Malachi Travlers, you are hereby evicted from Travlers’ Mill and adjacent grounds. Please vacate within a day’s time.”