‘At Least’ — those are this month’s words
Rodrigo Zapatero heard the curtain beads clatter as his sister entered the tiny kitchen. Tierra was kind enough to let him stay here after his shop was demolished by Fang-zhara’s golems in last month’s invasion so he did his part whenever he could, at least.
“I did not know you had already returned” Tierra’s voice was as low and tired as the sputtering flames beneath the cauldron, as the flickering fires of the candles. “The children are asleep. How was work, Rodrigo?”
“Only getting worse” he sighed, elbows on the dining table of the small room. He rubbed his aching, bandaged fingers together. “People still want their shoes and their leathers mended. But they have not the money to pay. So, I’ve been getting foodstuffs and baubles”
“The farmers are still growing food, at least. Things are difficult with this thing around Freehold that’s stopping us from leaving.”
He upended his bag unto the table, spilling out shrunken and shriveled vegetables and hard bread. “Everyone is talking about what that bright wall is. Lots of folks are putting the blame on the Sun Elves…but no one really knows.”
Tierra picked up an onion and held it closer to a candle. The farms were saved but the price of their salvation was paid to a monstrous, treacherous Witch – so said the people in the tavern. That much she believed, but she and her children were alive…at least.
“We’re not starving” Rodrigo did his best to sound hopeful but found it harder to do than shape leather with ravaged fingers.
“But we will be soon” Tierra started cutting with a nearby knife, starting with the onion and then moving on the rest while she spoke. Shriveled or not, it needed to go into the cauldron with the rest of the foodstuff she traded for her husband’s things. “I heard that the Emerald Chalice and Swift Shipping Guilds have opened their stocks and reserves to the needy, but there is only so much food here. Hinterlanders line the streets of the north and west markets, trapped in town and hungry”
“And desperate?” He was suddenly aware of the weight of the club hanging from his belt.
“No, they left me alone. But this can’t last for long”
“It can’t. It won’t” His fists hurt as he clenched them. “But I know that we will endure this and see this through! There are people out there that will make things right for Freehold!”
She stopped cutting and her voice was a whisper as she signed herself with the symbol of the Seven United. “You don’t mean Primus do you? Celia said that she saw his cultists skulking in the streets, yesternight”
Rodrigo looked at her aghast. “No, no, that’s terrible. No- I mean, the Freefolk! They’ve beaten Primus before and the rest of those other monsters. They even defeated the three Immortals last moon! They’re practically gods and they were scattered like crows! They’ll fight their way out of this!”
Tierra finished cutting as he raved and dropped her work into the simmering interior of the cauldron, handful by handful. She felt, rather than heard, the children stir at his voice– but she couldn’t find it within herself to rebuke her brother.
“And if they don’t?” she said quietly into the cauldron.
“Then it would up to us?” He grinned at her and patted his club. “And no one wants that to happen”