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The Reedcutter
07-06-2013, 10:55 PM (This post was last modified: 07-07-2013 12:39 AM by woodgreener.)
Post: #1
Photo The Reedcutter
[Image: emersonph1886_marshamnreeds.jpg]
The Reedcutter
19 October 7570RH

As the sun lowered over the Fenshire, Rhys Gwilt gathered up his sythe and large bundle of reeds from his boat and began the journey home. The reedcutter carefully, yet wearily, made his way back across the marsh, using his instinct and 40 years of knowledge to avoid the dykes and ditches. He passed the drainage mill, which was used to drain the marshes and nearby fields – without it, the entire area would be underwater.

Once he reached the river, the path was much more easy-going, and after about 15 minutes Rhys reached the edge of the village. He stored the reed bundle in a small shed building on a raised area at the side of the river, before turning and looking back across the fen. A flock of geese could be seen flying low across the lonely marshes, and the sun was now setting on the distant horizon. To the north-west Rhys could see the taller buildings of the distant town of Fenlandre.

Rhys had never travelled as far as the town. While it was only about 35km straight across the fenshore, it was at least 50km travelling by boat, and 60km by land.

Most of the people in the village had little reason to travel such vast distances. Their lives were here, and their lives were good. They worked hard, but enjoyed their simple existence. There were no luxuries from foreign lands; no trains and trams, or airships. But then there was also little to be spoken of in the way of poverty or squalor. Rhys had heard appalling tales of the conditions in the city: workers lived in cramped conditions, with several families to a house, and were paid a pittance – sometimes in valueless tokens rather than money. The nine day working week of the cities shocked the people of the village, who seldom worked more than eight days a week, with a day for communal worship, and a day for stims.

Market traders would regularly frequent the village, to buy and sell from other villages and sometimes the city. Occasionally one would be invited to join in village worship, and in exchange would recount more exotic tales from the city to the children of the village. Tales of ships from far-off lands docking in the port; the arrival of princes or princesses with tanned skin and clothes of deep purple or vibrant yellow. Stories of young men who had moved from the countryside to live lives of luxury in the city.

It was at this point that the children were usually ushered off to bed, and a stern glare from a mother or grandmother sending the trader on his way.

*****

Rhys made his way into the village to his house. As the head reedcutter, he was lucky to have a relatively large cottage. It had been passed down through several generations, and was now a home for him, his mother, his wife, and their three children. Rhys' status in the village was above the farm labourers, yet below the middle class families who owned the shops in the village; the butchers, bakery, grocers and bank.

Rhys reached his house with a sigh, storing his equipment in an outhouse, and heading in to see his family.

To be continued...

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[Image: Penryn_flag_tiny.png] PenrynWoodgreener
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07-21-2013, 02:00 AM
Post: #2
RE: The Reedcutter
The Reedcutter – Part 2
See below for pronunciation guide and translations

Rhys' wife Aerfen greeted him as he entered the kitchen. His mother Gwylfai was helping Aerfen prepare food, while Rhys' two sons Elhaern and Gardd, and daughter Eilir were already sitting around the table, waiting for their father to come home, so they could eat.

“Tada, tada*! Something strange was happening in the village today!” exclaimed Eilîr, excitedly. She was his youngest child at 10 years old. Elhaern was 15, while Gardd was the middle child at 12.

“Oh? What was happening in the village, my little Lîr?” Rhys asked, humouring his daughter's excited mood.

“Some men from the city were–” Gardd began, but his sister cut him off.

“No, Carth*, I want to tell the story!” exclaimed Eilîr, glaring at her middle sibling.

“Language, Eilîr!” Rhys scolded her. Thankfully the grandmother was out of earshot, fetching the bread from the pantry, otherwise Rhys might have had to prepare himself for another lecture on the naming of his son.

“Sorry Tada. Sorry Garth. May I tell the story?” Eilîr had bowed her head, speaking in her most polite voice to win Rhys over. He nodded, and she continued from where her brother had left off. “There were these men from Fenlandre, and they are paying the Llewelyns and the Morgans to build them a house over on Longstone Hill. They say they want it finished by the end of the week, and Addfwyn Morgan says her tad* is buying lots of timber to do it. Oh, and she said they were speaking some eastern language – Addfwyn said it was Hallish, but Emlyn Llewelyn thinks it was Stoldish.”

Rhys and his wife shared a look. Stoldish was the language of the industrial empire of Helreich, and it was most commonly spoken amongst Häverists.

“I see. Did Addfwyn or Emlyn say anything else?” Rhys enquired, as Aerfen dished out the food to each of the six plates and sat down in the chair to his right.

“Just that it's going to be a really big house!” Eilîr replied.

“Emlyn thinks they might be from the gov'ment.” Gardd added.

As Nain* Gwylfai led the prayer of thanksgiving to Vind, tapping out a steady rhythm on her small prayer drum, Rhys thought about what the Häverists might want in the town. Perhaps they were from the government, and were setting up a tax office in the area. They would not win votes out here in the fenshore, so there was no point in trying to curry the favour of locals. But what if they were factory owners? There was rumours of new towns being built in the countryside, with trains bringing in homeless people to fill the factories, and locals being uprooted and forced from their homes.

As they ate, the two youngest children had lost interest in the strange city men. Their grandmother was recounting a story from her childhood – something to do with the food they ate, possibly.

Elhaern sat to the left of his father, and leaned in, lowering his voice to speak to his parents.

“Häverists?” he queried, glancing between his mother and father. He was a quiet child, but very intuitive for his age.

“Could be,” replied Aerfen. “But what would they be doing here?”

“Perhaps they're building a tax office?” Rhys suggested.

“Or something more sinister...” Elhaern looked down at the table. He often had pretty wild theories, which his parents would brush aside, but this time all three were worried.

Rhys paused to check that his mother and two younger children were still busy with story time, and then set out his idea. “I think we need to find out what is happening. Tomorrow Elhaern and I will go and investigate. If something is happening, if... if they are planning to take over the village... we need to know.”

“Be careful, Rhys cariad*, you don't want to wrong them if they are from the government,” Aerfen warned.

Rhys sought to reassure her; “don't worry, we will be offering our services as the village reedcutters – they have to roof that building somehow, whether it's a tax office or 'something more sinister'. El, you can bring your sketchpad and see if we can subtly find out what is going on.” Elhaern nodded, and his father continued with the plan. “We will speak with Mr Morgan first. See if he is interested in our services. If not, we will try Mrs Llewelyn – she's a good builder, but she tends to prefer clay tiles if her client is willing to pay more.”

“We should leave just after sunrise,” Elhaern added. “The builders will be keen to get to work before celebrations at the Maesorcana* at midday.” Rhys nodded his agreement, and the family finished their food.

*****

Rhys struggled to sleep that night, as he lay in his comfortable bed in his comfortable house. 'What if they are here to take over the village and destroy our lives?' he thought to himself, as he stared into the rafters. 'We have to make sure that these Häverists are not allowed to get a foothold here. This is an Orkanan village, not a Stellist village. Our job is to protect the land, not destroy it with giant machines and pools of concrete.'

*****


The Author Wrote:Translations
*tad is Penrish for 'dad', and tada is Penrish for 'daddy'.
*carth is a Penrish slang word similar to the Hallish words 'poo' or 'crap'. It is the short form of carthion meaning sewage/faeces.
*nain is Penrish from 'nan' or 'gran'.
*cariad is Penrish term of endearment similar to the hallis words 'darling' or 'dear'.
*Maesorcana are special squares in most Penrish towns and villages set aside for dancing and singing in worship of Vind. They are traditionally outdoors, though may be roofed or covered.

Pronunciation guide for places and personal names
Fenlandre [vɛn'lan drɛ] ven-lan-dre
Rhys [r̥ɨːs] hrees
Aerfen ['ɑːɨr veːn] eyr-vern
Gwylfai [ɡʊɨl'vai] gooil-vy
Elhaern [ɛl'hɑːɨrn] el-hayurn
Gardd [gɑːθ] garth
Eilîr [əi'liːr] ai-leer
Lîr [li:r] leer
Llewelyn [ɬɛu'ɛ lən] clew-eh-lun
Addfwyn ['að vʊɨn] ath-vooin
Emlyn ['ɛm lɨ̞n] em-lin

[Image: Penryn_flag_tiny.png] PenrynWoodgreener
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07-30-2013, 06:10 PM (This post was last modified: 07-30-2013 07:15 PM by woodgreener.)
Post: #3
RE: The Reedcutter
The Reedcutter – Part 3

"Rhys. Rhys, cariad, it's sunrise." Aerfen nudged her husband awake. It was clear he had had a night of broken sleep, as he'd been stirring beside her all night.

Reluctantly he rolled out of bed and onto his feet, stretching as he surveyed the village in the dull morning light. Clouds had rolled in overnight, but the sun shone underneath them from the eastern horizon. Downstairs, Elhaern had already helped himself to some bread and liver paste for breakfast, and was laying on his stomach on the rug in front of the unlit fire, reading a book entitled 'Death of a Planet' - a fictional account of the end of the world, where a steam-powered airship explodes and ignites the atmosphere of Gotha, and the survivors are forced to struggle on in the barren, scorched wasteland that is left behind.

"You don't believe that, do you?" Rhys asked, raising an eyebrow at his son, as he fetched some bread and cheese for himself.

"No, Tad. It's just myth. If the air could burn, we would have set it alight long before now. But I still wouldn't want to fly in one of those ships. What if there was lightning? Or what if you flew too high and floated into space?"

Rhys chuckled. "Valid concerns, El-bach! Let's agree to avoid airships, shall we?" There were few subjects which would spark his son's interest like science fiction. Rhys was no fan of technology, but he knew his son had aspirations of being a mechanician, and was resigned to the fact that one day he would travel off to the city in search of a job. All that Rhys could do was bring him up well, instilling him with Orkanan values in the hope that whatever new technology he invented wouldn't destroy the planet, but would instead help Vind to protect it - if such a technology were possible.

*****

Once the pair were ready, and dressed up suitably for seeing customers, father and son headed out towards Longstone Hill to find out who and what was invading their village.

They checked at Mr Morgan's cottage on the way past, but there was no answer at the front door. Whatever was being built obviously required all hands - even on a Tovaday morning. They continued out of the village and as they neared Longstone Hill, they could see a camp-site set up in a meadow, beside a spinney of trees. A number of horses were tied up to a make-shift stable, while several men and women busied themselves around the sizeable canvass tents. At Longstone Hill itself, a row of workers were digging, flattening the ground on the near slope for the foundations of the building, as two teams of builders assessed the site from either side. As Rhys and El reached the gate to the hill, they were stopped by a tall blonde man wearing a suit and cravat.

"Names?" The man said, staring at Rhys with his piercing blue eyes. This man was without doubt Stoldavian by birth - his height and broad shoulders distinguishing him from the typical Penrish form.

"I am Rhys the Reedcutter and this is my son El. We are here to speak to Mr Morgan about the construction project."

"Rhys who?" grunted the guard, checking a list.

"Gwilt."

"No, your names are not here. You will leave now."

"Oh, well could you tell Mr Morgan we wish to speak to him?"

"Yes. Now leave." The Stoldavian pointed behind Rhys towards the village.

Rhys spotted Mr Morgan not far away, and seized the opportunity to perturb the tall man further. "Oh, there he is now - Mr Morgan! Tân Morgan-!"

"You will leave IMMEDIATELY!" The Stoldavian pushed the smaller man back away from the gate, uninterested in the whereabouts of Mr Morgan.

"Hello Mr Gwilt! Good to see you!" Mr Morgan smiled, as the short man passed the guard to shake Rhys' hand.

"Only authorised personnel may enter the site, Mr Morgan, and they-"

"Yes, Mr Cupfer, but this road is a public highway, and you do not have any right to stop Mr Gwilt from walking here."

The guard continued to glare. "I will speak to Mr Eisennägel and get him to-"

"Very well! I will escort Mr Gwilt and his son back to the village." Mr Morgan put his hand on Rhys' shoulder, and the three of them began walking back the way they had just come. "Sorry about that Rhys."

"Who was he? I was only hoping to offer my services as a reedcutter." Rhys replied.

"I know, I know. It's just my clients are very... paranoid about people finding out what this new building is. Even I haven't been told what it's being used for."

Once they where fully out of sight of both the construction site and the camp, the three of them moved off the track past a raised tussock of grass where they knew they were out of sight and sound of anyone who might happen past.

"Stoldavians?" Whispered Rhys.

"A few of them. Most seem to be Penrish or Islish."

"Häverists?" El asked.

Mr Morgan checked around him and nodded. "I think so. They are building some sort of secret house to hide something or someone. Their land purchase warrant is legitimate, but I doubt they are government - most likely party officials. But you didn't hear any of this from me. Häverist or not, these people have money, and me and my workers have families to feed. This job will be a rush to the finish - we have a deadline of 9 days time - we may have to start working nights if we can't get it done."

"We won't tell anyone." El promised.

"Can you get me in as a thatcher?" Rhys asked hopefully.

"It might take some persuading, but I think I can get you in," said Mr Morgan, adding "Both of you," when he saw the pleading look on El's face.

Mr Morgan left the glade heading back towards the building site, while Rhys and El headed in the opposite direction, back to their home.

*****

When they got in, the kids and Aerfen were up and enjoying a breakfast of oats. El wrote 'Our suspicions have been confirmed. Häverists.' on a piece of paper, and handed it to his mother, by way of his father. After she read it, she handed it back and El set it alight in the fireplace.

They often played these games for fun; passing messages to signify the bond the eldest son had with his parents. Only this time, the message was something serious, harking back to the childhoods of Elhaern's parents. Both Rhys and Aerfen had come from families who were part of the Orkanan resistance in the village some 30 years ago. They had grown up learning of subterfuge and of who they could and couldn't trust. Back then the enemy was the monarchy and the army, but now it was fast becoming the Häverists.

*****

Tân Morgan had been a key leader of the underground movement against the monarchy. He had been reluctant to join the Orkanan Party after the second world war, despite his religious beliefs, and instead built up a career as the village's most prestigious builder. Not only had he rebuilt and renovated much of the village after the civil war, but also contributed to the efforts in other villages nearby.

Tân Morgan was not his real name, but everyone called him that. Tân was Penrish for 'fire', a nickname Morgan Morgan (for that was his real name) had acquired due to his sharp and to-the-point manner.

*****

[Image: Penryn_flag_tiny.png] PenrynWoodgreener
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